The Limits, Dilemmas and Challenges of European Security in Uncertain Times
Abstract: The article assesses the current state of European security, and its future, against the backdrop of several key processes: the rising political and economic power of non-western actors; economic problems in America and Europe; and the dynamic of changing security environment and threats, especially in Europe’s backyard. It also analyses the consequences of the long-term decline in EU members’ defence spending, which undermines Europe’s military capabilities and makes the continent ever more dependent on American military power. It goes on to ask to what extent the Ukrainian conflict and Russia’s involvement in it may change the approach of NATO’s European members to collective defence. According to some polls, we can see – despite conclusions reached at NATO’s Welsh summit in September 2014 – different levels of support for NATO in member states, which highlight current tensions and suggest possible future difficulties for the coalition. Nevertheless, this work concludes that given the strength of the existing political, economic and security ties between Europe and the United States, including the current prospect of a transatlantic free trade zone, it is very likely that the two partners will increasingly divide security responsibilities. However, this supposed trend toward a conscious complementarity of roles cannot, at present, fully manifest itself, as the conflicts in Europe's neighbourhood (North and sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahel, the Middle East) tend both to flare up suddenly and escalate quickly, forcing both actors to adopt improvised, ad hoc solutions.
Keywords: EU, NATO, Defence Spending, Budget Cuts, Military, Ukrainian Crisis, Russia, Middle East, Sahel, Escalation of Instability, Islamic State