Affiliated with the University of Nicosia
THE GRIM PROSPECTS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A COMMON EUROPEAN SECURITY CULTURE
By Constantinos Adamides
Research Fellow, Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs
possible for all EU member (and candidate) states to have a common European
security culture? No, is the obvious answer. At least this was the
conclusion from the Cambridge University - European Institute for Security
Studies (EUISS) conference that took place in Cambridge this last July.
Representatives from each EU Member State (plus
For any multi-unit entity to have a common security culture, the units that comprise the entity must share a common perception of what constitutes a threat. The EU is no exception. But, as mentioned, this does not seem to be the case in the Union and its periphery, as in most cases the perception of what is a significant threat differs considerably from state to state. As a result there is an unavoidable clash between domestic security cultures and a common European one. Indeed there is not even an official definition of what a European security culture is, much less a common one.
That each country has a different perception of what constitutes a threat for them is not surprising. However, what is many times counter intuitive is that each state may view a specific issue as a security threat for different reasons. The most obvious example is the issue of immigration. Spain, for example perceives the increase in immigration as a social and economic threat. Malta on the other hand sees immigration as a demographic problem and as such it considers it to be one of the most important security threats the country faces. This is because what is at risk for the Maltese is not just the economic prosperity of the country but rather the survival of the Maltese identity. Similarly, the issue of Turkish settlers in Cyprus creates a security threat for Greek (and Turkish) Cypriots where the referent object at risk is (among other) their identity. Therefore, it becomes obvious that defining the referent object under threat is just as important as defining the threats per se.
Can securitization play a major role in the development of a common European security culture? More specifically, is it possible to securitize specific issues, such as transnational terrorism or immigration to a degree that it becomes part of a common European security culture? This is what some states, such as the UK and the US, hope to achieve; promote the security issues that are the most important to them as common European security issues. However, so far their attempts to create such common existential threats remain relatively unsuccessful, with the exception of some cases. In Portugal for example, terrorism is considered to be the number one threat (and is treated as such by the government) even though the country has not suffered from any transnational terrorism in the past three decades and is not involved in any activities that could trigger terrorist attacks in the future. It must be noted though, that Portugal is not preoccupied with other ‘hard’ security threats (e.g. border disputes).
 The Summer School Programme was co-organized by the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) and the University of Cambridge. The event took place between the 14th and 17th of July, 2009
 Securitization is a term coined by the Copenhagen School scholars (mainly Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver). It is the process through which non-politicized issues first become politicized (i.e. subject of political debate), then presented as existential threats, and as such enter the realm of emergency politics. The securitizing actors persuade their audience that a specific issue is a security and existential threat to them and as such extraordinary measures are required). According to the School, securitization could occur in a number of sectors, namely political, military, societal, economic and environmental, with each one having specific referent objects such as identity, sovereignty, economy, etc.
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