University of Twente Student Theses


The EU, NATO and the community proposition: why does membership not always coincide?

Galdiga, Jan Hendrik (2012) The EU, NATO and the community proposition: why does membership not always coincide?

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Abstract:The relationship between the biggest security providers in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU), has been the object of extensive study by different scholars. However, the focus of such literature has mostly been on the security dimension and less so on the enlargement policy of both organizations. Departing from the constructivist proposition, according to which EU and NATO are regional organizations of one Western community, this thesis asks: Why do the EU and NATO differ in their membership composition? Both organizations are compared in terms of their membership criteria and shared norms and values that they represent. In a subsequent step, an analysis of deviant cases examines why some countries deviate from the pattern of double membership in both organizations and determines various explanations for this. The analysis focuses on two groups of countries which are either in NATO or the EU, but not full members in both organisations. While Austria, Finland and Sweden have a tradition of non-alignment in their foreign policy, which is their main obstacle for NATO membership, all three countries are nevertheless participating in the NATO framework and deployed their troops in various missions. Similarly, NATO countries which are not EU members, such as Iceland and Turkey, are tightly linked to the EU’s internal market. Thus one main finding is that membership in the EU and NATO has become increasingly flexible. Furthermore, the EU’s body of rules and regulations, the acquis communautaire, certainly fulfils a gate-keeping function so that even developed countries which have a long tradition of cooperation with the EU have troubles to adapt to it. Although it is true that both organizations refer to the same set of values and norms in their founding documents, the constructivist proposition only holds to a certain extent. EU and NATO differ in the importance they attach to those liberal values when they are about to grant membership to a particular country. NATO for instance declares to pursue an “open door” policy and has offered membership to countries which are not democratic enough for membership by European Union standards. Although this thesis largely argues Page 4 of 47 from a constructivist perspective, rationalist flavoured arguments of cost and benefit calculations should not be left out if one wants to understand the decisions made in favour or against accession. Geostrategic importance and the willingness to make military contributions as well as the economic performance of a country can be decisive factors. In the end, the criteria for membership reflect both theoretical bodies. Finally, the findings of this research can help to assess the prospect of future European Union enlargements by illuminating what has been the actual practice up until now. Future candidates do not necessarily have to become full NATO members in order to be in the European Union, but it is remarkable that all members, except for Cyprus, show at least a minimum level of institutional ties with the Atlantic Alliance.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:89 political science
Programme:European Studies BSc (56627)
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