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Dynamics of Alliance Cohesion and Integration

The Implications of the Eurocrisis on the European Security Architecture

By Erik Brattberg and Gergely Varga
May 2012
Johns Hopkins University SAIS, Center for Transatlantic Relations

Executive Summary

Surveying the European security landscape in mid-2012, it seems that the future of European
security, and indeed the entire ‘European project’ itself, is uncertain. The struggles of the European
Union to address the ravaging “eurocrisis” may bring to a halt or even rollback further European
integration, with ensuing political disintegration as a possible consequence. This prospect would also
have severe repercussions on the future course of European and transatlantic security.
This paper argues that the longevity and long-term vitality of the transatlantic alliance is intrinsically
linked to the well being of the ‘European project’. Whatever the actual form and shape of successful
European integration, the EU should transform to meet current challenges. Would a standstill or a
complete collapse of the European integration process take place, Euro-Atlantic security
cooperation would not remain immune. Quite the reverse, if current trends persist, the Alliance will
indeed have to prepare for a ”dim, if not dismal future”. While the United States is increasingly
focused on pivoting towards Asia, U.S. policymakers have continuously sent the message to their
European counterparts that NATO will remain relevant to Washington only as long as it lives up to
certain military expectations.

Unfortunately, most European nations have not paid heed to this message: the current state of
Europe is on a continuous declining path in both absolute and relative terms. While European
leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Alliance at the recent Chicago summit in May 2012 and
pledged to do more to integrate their defense market – under the rubric of ‘Smart Defense’ – the
real work in this regard has only started. The year 2012 will mark the first time that Asian military
spending will surpass that of Europe. If nothing is changed – and that fast – Europe have no choice
but to continue its downward trajectory towards global strategic irrelevance. In the absence of a
common imminent threat like the one NATO faced during the Cold War, sustaining the Alliance in
the 21st century requires a certain level of convergence of economic, political and security interests
among allied nations...

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