Power, Institutions and the CSDP: The Promise of Institutionalist Theory

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The common security and defence policy (CSDP) represents an institutionalized attempt on the part of European Union Member States to respond to the security challenges they confront. As such, it is perhaps self-evident that theoretical approaches that focus on the role of institutions in shaping social life should have something to say about its nature, role and impact. This article argues that not only can institutionalist approaches enhance our understanding of CSDP, but using it as a case study can illustrate some of the strengths and weaknesses of institutionalism. In particular, it can indicate the importance of combining insights into the importance of institutional structures in shaping politics and policy with the crucial role power plays in mitigating some institutional effects. This argument is pursued via consideration of the evolution and workings of CSDP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-100
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Early online date15 Dec 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • European Union
  • CSDP
  • Institutionalism
  • EU
  • European Security


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