The EU as a global counter terrorism actor in the making
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The EU as a global counter-terrorism
actor in the making
& Mark Rhinard
Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Box 27035, SE-10251,
Published online: 20 Jun 2012.
To cite this article: Erik Brattberg & Mark Rhinard (2012) The EU as a global counter-terrorism
actor in the making, European Security, 21:4, 557-577, DOI: 10.1080/09662839.2012.688809
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The EU as a global counter-terrorism actor in the making
Erik Brattberg* and Mark Rhinard
Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Box 27035, SE-10251, Stockholm, Sweden
(Received 11 March 2012; ﬁnal version received 24 April 2012)
After the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, the European Union (EU) staked
its claim as an important international player in the fight against global terrorism.
The EU encouraged new initiatives at the United Nations and devoted newfound
attention to aid and assistance programs to third states. The EU’s ambitions and
heightened activity prompts a number of questions about rhetoric versus action
and offers a useful test case for assessing the quality of the EU’s ‘actorness’. This
article applies the actorness concept to shed light on the EU’s behaviour in global
counter-terrorism activities. It draws together existing insights on actorness into
an analytical framework containing four sets of variables Á context, coherence,
capability and consistency Á and applies the framework to evidence gathered on
the EU’s international and third country role in countering terrorism. Our results
show that the actorness approach sheds considerable light on the EU’s
international behaviour in global counter-terrorism and suggests the EU has
some way to go before becoming a full actor in this area.
Keywords: terrorism; EU; actorness; international cooperation; intelligence
Introduction: EU actorness in global counter-terrorism
Soon after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the United States (US), with the
broad support of European Union (EU), declared a ‘global war on terror’. European
and other states may have contested the rhetoric used by the US (and hotly contested
the subsequent invasion of Iraq), but the broad outlines of a common global strategy
against terrorism were progressively agreed. The EU signed up to the United Nation’s
initiative to develop ‘a sustained, comprehensive approach . . . to combat the scourge
of international terrorism’ (United Nations 2001) and agreed on bilateral agreements
with the US to jointly ‘diminish the underlying conditions of terrorism by promoting
democracy, development, good governance, justice, and increased trade’ (Council of
the European Union 2004b). Responding to its own terrorist attacks in Madrid (2004)
and London (2005), the EU pledged to assist third countries with ‘the necessary
mechanisms to disrupt terrorism’ and to address ‘root causes’ (Council of the
European Union 2005a). With the Lisbon Treaty adopted in December 2009, the EU
has further heightened its foreign policy ambitions more generally.
The EU’s ambition to play a major role in global counter-terrorism prompts a
variety of questions about rhetoric versus action, and offers a useful test case for
assessing the quality of the EU’s ‘actorness’.1
The actorness concept was developed
to assess ‘the capacity to behave actively and deliberately in relation to other actors
*Corresponding author. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vol. 21, No. 4, December 2012, 557Á577
ISSN 0966-2839 print/ISSN 1746-1545 online
# 2012 Taylor & Francis
in the international system’ (Sjo¨stedt 1977, p. 16). The approach builds on the fact
that the EU is not a traditional state and thus is not easily studied using traditional
theories of inter-state power and influence. Nevertheless, the EU holds the potential
to impact upon global policy and politics, and thus requires some analytical metrics
for explaining the source and nature of that impact. Scholars have taken up the
approach enthusiastically in recent years as the EU’s competences expanded and its
external ambitions increased. We use the approach heuristically in this article to shed
light on the EU’s behaviour in the drive to combat global terrorism. By drawing
together different analytical dimensions of actorness, we devise a framework helpful
for capturing the complicated field of global terrorism, in which the EU attempts to
act both as an international partner (on the global stage) and as a supporter of
operational initiatives (in the field, at national levels).
The article begins with a brief review of the historical trajectory of literature on
EU actorness (‘Studying EU actorness’ section) before building an analytical
framework based on the actorness literature (‘A framework for assessing EU
actorness’ section). That framework is then applied to the case of EU global
counter-terrorism policy to show that the EU’s actorness in global counter-terrorism
is substantial but undermined by poor implementation of policies ‘on the ground’
(‘Analysing the EU’s actorness in global counter-terrorism’section). The ‘Conclusion’
section summarises our findings and reviews the contribution of this article.
Studying EU actorness
The literature on the EU’s role in the international system dates back to Sjo¨stedt’s
pioneering book on the role of the European Community in the international system
(1977). In that work, Sjo¨stedt problematises the fact that the notion of the
‘international actor’ is historically rooted in, and wedded to, the concept of the
nation, sovereignty and even realpolitik. In analytical terms, there was a mismatch
between the language used to interpret the international system and the structural
and political realities of the EU Á leading to what Holland described as
‘an oasis for theoretical dispute and occasional obfuscation’ (1996). It is the EU’s
sui generis nature Á more than an international organisation, not quite a state Á
combined with its potential to impact on global policy and politics which demanded
a set of criteria for understanding the extent to which the EU might have some degree
of ‘actorness’ (Sjo¨stedt 1977, p. 16).
This generic approach, which relaxes state-centred approaches and traditional
concepts of power, was further elaborated by Taylor (1982), Allen and Smith (1990),
Hill (1996) and Whitman (1997). Space limitations preclude a full discussion of each
work, but some key points are worth highlighting. Allen and Smith (1990) and Hill
(1994) suggest the importance of distinguishing between ‘actorness’, which they
imply is a state of potential influence based on factors internal to EU structures, and
‘presence’, which, as Hill writes, is about the ‘reality of a cohesive European impact
on international relations’ (Hill 1994, p. 107). Whitman takes the debate one
step further by ‘mapping the capabilities of the EU in a variety of manifestations
that reveal the structural factors of the EU’s actorness and presence’ (Rosamond
2000, p. 176).
But it was Jupille and Caporaso (1998) and Bretherton and Vogler (1999) who
devised a more structured set of analytical criteria for studying actorness Á which
558 E. Brattberg and M. Rhinard
have been widely used by researchers over the past decade. Jupille and Caporaso
measured actorness in terms of four specific variables: recognition, authority,
autonomy and cohesion. Recognition denotes the acceptance of the EU by, and
interaction with, other international actors. Authority pertains to the EU’s legal
competence to act in the international arena in a given policy area. This authority is
ultimately derived from the member states. Autonomy refers to the EU’s institutional
distinctiveness and independence vis-a`-vis other international actors. Finally,
cohesion is the degree to which the EU is able to formulate and articulate internally
consistent policy preferences (1998, p. 214). Jupille and Caporaso emphasise that any
analytical framework of actorness should be clearly observable, continuously variable
and abstract from any particular institutional form. They lean towards a more
formal/rationalistic set of criteria for assessing actorness.
Writing soon thereafter, Bretherton and Vogler (1999) devised another widely
applied framework for EU actorness. Their approach, refined in a 2006 update
(Bretherton and Vogler 2006), offers a more constructivist takes on assessing EU
actorness. Viewing the EU as ‘a complex yet dynamic relationship between structure
and agency’, the authors suggest that a complex set of interacting processes, based on
the three variables of opportunity, presence and capability shape the Union’s external
activities in a variety of ways. The first of these dimensions, opportunity, refers to the
structural context of EU external action, a context which can enable or constrain the
EU’s ability to act. Here they take into account the ideational and social environment
of EU action and describe how this can shape the EU’s role. The second dimension,
presence, considers the EU’s ability to exert influence beyond its borders by shaping
the perceptions and behaviour of other actors on the international scene. This criteria
takes into account the character and identity of the EU itself with more practical
consequences of the EU’s internal policies on the outside world (2006, p. 27). Finally,
capability refers to the internal context of EU external action (or inaction); in other
words, ‘those aspects of the EU policy process which constrain or enable external
action and hence govern the Union’s ability to capitalize on presence or respond to
opportunity’ (2006, p. 29). Capability implies ‘the ability to formulate effective
policies’ and ‘the availability of appropriate policy instruments’ (2006, p. 29) Á which
echoes the cohesion variable in Jupille and Caporaso. Bretherton and Vogler
combine variables that can be concretely measured with variables that are more
informal and nebulous in nature.
Recently, a number of studies have taken a different, and in some cases, narrower,
approach (e.g. see Hettne and So¨ederbaum 2005, Beyer 2008, Thomas 2010, 2012).
For example, a study by Thomas (2010, 2012) takes issue with constructivist accounts
of EU actorness and focuses on formalÁlegal empirical indicators. Thomas jettisons
variables related to external recognition of the EU as an actor, implying that in many
respects the EU has now ‘arrived’ in most areas of international politics.
He notes the difficulties associated with translating the determinants outlined by
Jupille and Caporaso and Bretherton and Vogler into observable variables. Thomas
focuses instead on variables related only to ‘political cohesion’, which he defines as
‘the sharing of policy preferences among EU member states and supranational
institutions, the adoption of determinate common policies’ and Á bringing in a
practical but important aspect Á ‘the implementation of those policies by the same
member states and supranational institutions’ (2012 p. 5). Acknowledging that the
score on these components is likely to vary across time, issue area and international
European Security 559
relationship, he still believes that they enable one to assess EU coherence on any given
issue at any point in time: the higher the EU scores on each component, the closer it
is to foreign policy coherence (and thus actorness) (2012, p. 460). Whereas Thomas
slims down the composite variables of actorness, Koops (2011) expands them in what
is perhaps the most comprehensive framework for studying actorness. He accounts
for factors operating at the individual, organisational, national and supranational
levels which may shape actorness, and notes that ideational and material aspects
further impact upon the EU’s role in international affairs (2011, p. 145).
Although the growing field of EU actorness studies makes significant contribu-
tions to understanding the EU’s behaviour outside its own borders, it suffers from a
domain of application problem: it is not always specified in what dimension of
international affairs the actorness concept is intended to clarify EU behaviour. For
instance, it is typically argued rather vaguely that actorness explains the EU’s impact
in the ‘international milieu’ (Cosgrove and Twitchett 1970, p. 12), the ‘international
system’ (Sjo¨stedt 1977, p. 153), ‘international politics’ (Ginsberg 2001) or ‘external
relations’ (Jupille and Caporaso 1998). Some studies on actorness tend to focus on
international negotiations between the EU and powerful states (e.g. see Bretherton
and Vogler 2006, Groenleer and Van Schaik 2007, Thomas 2012) or the EU’s role in
other international organisations (e.g. see Koops 2011, Niemann and Huigens 2011).
In both conceptual and empirical terms, the domain in which the actorness concept
is supposedly relevant is unclear, while in practice the concept is applied mainly to
the rarefied air of international negotiations on the global stage.
For cases in which the EU’s actorness may be the result of using different
methods (say, political and operational initiatives) or directed at different levels
(e.g. at international and in the ‘field’) the assumption that actorness occurs only in
relation to high-level international negotiation settings may need to be qualified.
At the same time, the component variables of actorness would need to be carefully
re-examined and constructed. An appropriate analytical framework for actorness
would thus need to include variables capable of capturing different aspects of EU
actorness, including the ways in which actorness unfolds in practice.
A framework for assessing EU actorness
The question of the EU’s actorness in the field of global counter-terrorism is a
complex one, since EU ambitions cover a variety of activities ranging from
international agreements to assisting in field-level operations. To adequately capture
the full complement of EU activities that may contribute to the EU’s actorness,
we draw upon different variables in the existing literature. The first set of variables
measure the context aspects of the EU’s role in global counter-terrorism, including
the recognition, acceptance and authority of the EU as a global actor in counter-
terrorism and as a ‘player’ in third countries. The second set of variables helps to
capture coherence conditions for actorness, including the cohesion of EU’s internal
values, preferences, decision procedures and policies on global counter-terrorism.
The third set of variables measures capability requirements for actorness, such as
practical instruments, mechanisms and resources related to counter-terrorism Á and
the EU’s ability to mobilise them in practice. Finally, we gather variables related to
consistency, an often-neglected aspect of actorness which measures the extent to
which EU actors carry out agreed policies at home and in situ. The following pages
560 E. Brattberg and M. Rhinard
elaborate upon these categories, describe the component variables, and discuss ways
to operationalise them in analysis.
Context: ‘Favourable conditions for EU action’
Actorness variables relating to context are well known to scholars of the EU’s role in
the world. Allen and Smith’s discussion of the EU’s structural presence in the
international arena, for example, is premised on the notion that ‘the EU is perceived
to be important by other actors within the global system’ (Allen and Smith 1990).
Similarly, Jupille and Caporaso’s depiction of ‘recognition’ fits into this category,
focused as it is on de jure recognition (diplomatic recognition under international law
or legal recognition of the EU as a member of an international organisation) and de
facto recognition in the international context in which the EU participates (when the
EU is seen as legitimate in the eyes of others) (Jupille and Caporaso 1998,
p. 215). Also falling within this category is the emphasis by Bretherton and Vogler
on ‘opportunity’. They describe opportunity as ‘factors in the external environment
of ideas and events which constrain or enable actorness. Opportunity signifies the
structural context of action’ (2006, p. 24). This description comes close to Jupille and
Caporaso’s discussion of de facto recognition, concerned as it is with social aspects
of international politics.
Finally, we propose that variables concerned with the ‘authority’ of the EU to act,
particularly the EU’s own legal authority to act (Jupille and Caporaso 1998), be
placed in this category. Questions about the authority of the EU to act, whether that
authority stems from treaty provisions, internal policy implications, or the judicial
principle of ‘parallelism’, shape the general context in which the EU is acting.
Authority may not relate to the global context of action, but it does relate to
structural factors that provide only the most general prerequisite for EU actorness.
As Groenleer and Van Schaik (2007) point out, authority is also bestowed informally
by EU governments ‘allowing’ the EU to represent them in mixed competence
negotiations (see also Rhinard and Kaeding 2006).
Context variables are the starting point for analysing the EU’s capacity to act.
Measuring the international context in which the EU is acting begins with assessing
formal provisions (legal statements, membership lists and public statements from EU
member states) while also examining informal arrangements, internal proposals,
participant interview data and post-event reports. In terms of counter-terrorism,
we will here look at whether the EU is a recognised counter-terrorism player in
multilateral fora, such as the UN, by major counter-terrorism actors such as the US,
and by third countries receiving EU assistance. We will also look at the legal
authority underpinning the EU’s role in global counter-terrorism.
Coherence: ‘Agreement and alignment’
Another category of variables related to EU actorness concern the coherence of the
EU in global counter-terrorism. Distilled to their essence, such variables focus on
whether four essential elements Á values, preferences, internal procedures and policy
outputs Á are compatible and clear in an EU context. Coherent values imply
similarity of goals amongst EU members and EU institutions (Jupille and Caporaso
1998, p. 219) and shared commitment to a set of overarching principles (Bretherton
European Security 561
and Vogler 2006, p. 30). Coherent preferences are singled out by Thomas as the most
important element in explaining actorness. He argues that ‘the range of preferences
amongst actors will be a major determinant of the Union’s political cohesion. . . .
The more that EU member states and supranational institutions agree on what the
EU’s policy should be, the more cohesive the Union will be and vice versa’ (Thomas
2010, p. 5Á6). The notion of procedural coherence stems from Jupille and Caporaso,
who focus on the importance of the ‘rules and procedures used to process issues
where conflict exists . . . Procedural cohesion implies some agreement on the basic
rules by which policies are made’ (Jupille and Caporaso 1998, p. 219). Coherence on
the ‘rules of the decision game’ is seen as essential, not least because a lack of
agreement on rules, or a dysfunctional set of procedures for processing policies, is a
major handicap to the EU’s capacity to act externally. Bretherton and Vogler take a
similar approach when they describe the importance of coherent internal coordina-
tion procedures (Bretherton and Vogler 2006, p. 30). Finally, output cohesion
concerns whether the EU can devise collective positions in the form of policy
outputs. As Jupille and Caporaso put it, ‘if member states succeed in formulating
policies . . . more cohesion is said to exist’ (1998, p. 221). Thomas is more specific on
that point, adding that common policies alone are not enough to influence actorness;
he writes that ‘the simple adoption of a common policy is less important than its
determinacy, meaning how clearly it articulates the Union’s goal and narrowly it
specifies the behaviours incumbent upon EU member states and institutions in order
to achieve those goals’ (2010, p. 7).
Coherence variables must be measured in multiple ways, with particular difficulty
attached to the task of determining preference coherence. Goals coherence can be
assessed by studying official texts and national proclamations, although preference
coherence requires more careful detective work. Deducing preferences by assuming
how states will behave under certain conditions is one method, while indentifying
preferences by reviewing diverse empirical sources are other options. In regard to
counter-terrorism, this variable requires us to assess the number and quality of EU
documents related to global counter-terrorism, the values elucidated, the internal
decision processes used, and actual policy outcomes.
Capability: ‘Having instruments, using instruments’
Another set of variables concerning EU actorness pertains to the practical tools
required to have effective policies. Hill (1996) includes this in his list of determinants
of EU actorness, arguing that ‘true actorness requires not only a clear identity and a
self-contained decision-making system, but also the practical capabilities to have
effective policies’ (p.13). Similarly, Helene Sjursen strongly argues that ‘actorness
cannot and should not be viewed separately from actual capabilities, even though
that is the common approach’ (quoted in Toje 2008, p. 204). Although Jupille and
Caporaso downplay the importance of actual tools and resources to pursue policy
goals, Bretherton and Vogler make it central to their definition of actorness. They
call for attention to ‘the availability of, and capacity to utilise, policy instruments’
(2006, p. 30), thus setting out a two-part definition of capability. This focus is
particularly important in the case of global counter-terrorism actorness. The
availability of instruments, for example, sheds light upon the kinds of resources
available to the Union, which could range from diplomatic tools to aid mechanisms,
562 E. Brattberg and M. Rhinard
and from military missions to trade agreements. The capacity to utilise those
instruments is a slightly different question, not least in the EU context where
complex decision procedures may hamper the deployment of missions or the
disbursement of aid. This latter element of capability focuses attention onto whether
existing resources can be brought to bear on a particular problem in a reasonably
direct and swift way.
Measuring capability-related variables is done in two ways, one by assessing the
presence of instruments via scrutiny of EU texts (being careful to gauge the gap
between intentions and realities; some EU tools and instruments are paper tigers),
and the other by assessing the extent to which these were deployed (in a specific case)
or easily deployable (in general). Empirical sources must be drawn upon here,
including policy texts, public information and interview data from key participants.
This category accordingly considers the EU’s instruments in the area of counter-
terrorism and their ‘real-world’ implementation.
Consistency: ‘Sticking to the Line’
The last category of determinants related to EU actorness asks whether the EU can
carry out its decisions and commitments in a consistent fashion. Although grouping
this consideration under their ‘coherence’ variable, Jupille and Caporaso’s approach
to consistency is really about implementation, and ensuring that whatever the EU
sets out to do does not suffer from conflict at the horizontal level (amongst national
governments or amongst EU institutions) or vertical level (between national
governments and EU institutions) (1998, p. 220). Thomas places heavy emphasis
on whether the EU will carry out what it has agreed. He states that if the purpose of
EU foreign policy is to have an impact on world order, then the most determinate
common policies matter little if Member States and institutions pursue contrary
agendas. (Thomas 2012, p. 459). This is a familiar problem in the EU, when states
may agree on a general EU position but then pursue actions that contradict the EU
(at worst) or ignores the EU (at best). In short, the faithfulness by which EU member
states and EU institutions carry out a policy in question determines the degree to
which the EU can be termed an ‘actor’.
Measuring consistency involves close familiarity with debates surrounding the
adoption of a policy, the content and nuances of the policy in question, and detailed
information of what member states and EU institutions actually do, both in national
capitals, in Brussels, and in the ‘field’. Analysing behaviour is a first methodological
step (by scrutinising steps taken by national governments, for example, or what
threats and reassurances national officials give to international partners). Tracking
where officials place their attention and resources is another method to identify
‘faithfulness’ in carrying out an EU line on a particular international issue. For the
purpose of our counter-terrorism case, this category explores how well the EU has
carried out its counter-terrorism work, both in terms of horizontal and in terms of
vertical unity of effort.
To summarise, the major determinants of EU actorness, as outlined in prevailing
approaches and often applied to different cases, are most clearly grouped into the
four categories of context, coherence, capabilities and consistency. Each refers to an
essential element of what defines the EU’s actorness. Measuring variables within each
category may take a variety of forms, but must be empirically observable.
European Security 563
We summarise our re-categorisation of the major variables defining EU actorness
in Table 1.
Analysing the EU’s actorness in global counter-terrorism2
Applying the four-part framework outlined previously, now we turn to a study of the
EU’s actorness in the area of global counter-terrorism. This study is restricted to the
EU’s external elements of combating terrorism, in light of the following provision in
the EU’s own counter-terrorism strategy:
Much of the terrorist threat to Europe originates outside the EU. [The EU’s counter-
terrorism efforts] must therefore also have a global dimension. The EU will work to
reinforce the international consensus through the United Nations and other interna-
tional bodies and through dialogue and agreements (which include counter-terrorism
clauses) with key partners . . . Assistance will be provided to priority countries to help
them introduce and implement the necessary mechanisms to disrupt terrorism, in
coordination with the work of other donors (Council of the European Union 2005a).
As such, the EU’s effort to play a global role in counter-terrorism is potentially pursued
through political dialogues (regular meetings between the EU and third countries
aimed at establishing common problem perceptions), aid and technical assistance
(funding for activities aimed at countering terrorism broadly defined) and bilateral and
multilateral conventions (agreements with third states and regional and/or interna-
tional organisations setting out common agendas and committing each side to working
towards common priorities). Since 11 September 2001 European leaders have
expressed their ambitions to be a ‘first-class’ partner in the global fight against
terrorism. At the 2002 Seville European Council, they reiterated these ambitions,
promising that the Union would ‘continue to maintain the closest possible coordina-
tion with the United States and other partners . . . to contribute further to those
international efforts . . . in its relations with third countries and international
organizations, such as the UN, NATO and the OSCE’ (Council of the European
Union 2002). We will now investigate the nature of the EU’s actorness in this area, and
by association, whether its claims to be an actor in global counter-terrorism holdwater.
Table 1. Assessing EU actorness in global counter-terrorism: a framework.
Category Layman’s description Sub-variables
Context Favourable conditions Recognition
Coherence Agreement and alignment Values
Capabilities Having instruments and using them Instruments
Consistency Sticking to the line Horizontal
564 E. Brattberg and M. Rhinard
Context: are there favourable structural conditions for the EU to act?
A major contextual criterion for EU actorness is recognition: is the EU recognised as
a legitimate actor in global counter-terrorism? One obvious place to turn first is the
EU’s role in the UN, which sets much of the international framework for coordinated
counter-terrorism. As is well-known, all EU states are members of the UN, while the
EU itself holds legal personality as a political entity (since the Lisbon Treaty) and as
a non-voting observer in the UN. The EU, via the Commission President or the
Presidency of the European Council, can address the General Assembly and the
Security Council on critical topics. From the immediate aftermath of 11 September
2001, the EU took an active role in leveraging its position in the UN. More
specifically, the EU, albeit with the assistance of EU member states, helped to craft
the UN’s initial response to the attacks, including resolutions 1267, 1368, 1373 and
1566, and direct the UN’s efforts towards particular ends (Beyer 2008, Keohane
2008). This quasi-legal status and widely accepted position of the EU in the UN
framework (which would be used by the EU to guide its own counter-terrorism
tasks) thus qualifies the EU as a recognised actor on this issue. Of course, individual
EU member states did not cede their own authority: on the contrary, the UK and
France took advantage of their Security Council seats to ensure their own national
perspectives were aired. Still, the EU was seen as a useful partner in the UN, and by
major international partners like the US. This permissive context helps to explain
how the EU institutions were able to increase cooperation with UN agencies on
terrorism, including the Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate
(CTED) and the Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In 2004, the EU created
its own post of the Counter Terrorism Coordinator (CTC), who serves as a liaison to
these agencies and attempts to spearhead the EU’s efforts. The CTC cooperates
closely with the CTED, which it has joined on fact-finding missions to third
countries on multiple occasions (de Vries 2005).
The EU has also been recognised as a relevant player in other multilateral fora,
including the Financial Action Task Force (set-up under the auspices of the G-7),
where the Commission serves as a member and where Eurojust and the European
Central Bank enjoy observer status (Eurojust 2009). Another example of a
multilateral venue used by the EU to discuss matters relating to counter-terrorism
cooperation is the biannual AsiaÁEurope Meeting (ASEM). The 8th ASEM
Conference on Counter-Terrorism, held in Brussels on 10 and 11 June 2010,
brought together 100 senior government officials and experts from countries such
as Australia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Russia.3
sions have also taken place with the African Union and the Gulf Cooperation
Following 11 September, 2001, terrorism naturally became a primary topic and
the subject of key declarations during EUÁUS summits. At the June 2004 summit,
the joint Declaration on Combating Terrorism laid out an ambitious agenda for
cooperation in this area, stating unequivocally that the EU was part of the US
‘global war on terror’ efforts:
We will work in close cooperation to diminish the underlying conditions that terrorists
can seize to recruit and exploit to their advantage. By promoting democracy,
development, good governance, justice, increased trade and freedom, we can help end
European Security 565
dictatorship and extremism that bring millions of people to misery and bring danger to
our own people (Council of the European Union 2004b).
European UnionÁUnited States cooperation on counter-terrorism has since made
considerable headway, despite some vocal disagreements. The EU and the US have,
for instance, signed information sharing agreements, judicial agreements on Legal
and Extradition Assistance, the Container Security Initiative agreement and the
controversial Passenger Name Record and ‘SWIFT agreements’.4
counter-terrorism cooperation appears broad-ranging and important to both sides.
In addition to recognition from both the UN and US, the EU seems to be
acknowledged as a counter-terrorism player by a host of other third countries such as
Pakistan. This recognition is clearly evident in the substance of bilateral contacts,
agreements and reaffirmed at EUÁPakistan summits at which the fight against
terrorism featured high on the agenda and in the final communique´ (Council of the
European Union 2009a). These summits followed repeated calls from Pakistani
leaders for the EU to boost its counter-terrorism assistance to the country
(Stratfor.com 2009). Counter-terrorism has also been high on the agenda during
EU summits with countries like Morocco and in dialogues with Algeria, Yemen,
Indonesia and Russia.
In addition to the ‘recognition’ criteria proposed by Jupille and Caporaso (1998),
the more social, informal elements regarding ‘opportunity’ for actorness outlined by
Bretherton and Vogler (2006) can also be detected in the EU counter-terrorism case.
For instance, the EU’s experience in addressing ‘root causes’ of violence, including
development, rule of law and education assistance, was widely recognised (and
perhaps mutually emphasised as an asset) in early discussion of global terrorism. EU
leaders called on the EU in June 2004 to make full ‘use of the wide-ranging
instruments of the European Union in the context of addressing all the factors which
contribute to terrorism’ (Council of the European Union Summit Conclusions
2004c). The EU’s perceived legitimacy as a collective actor also seemed to fit well
with a global effort premised on the need for effective cooperation. Several EU
member states appeared willing to ‘go in together’ with the EU against terrorism,
even if unwilling on an individual basis to take too high a profile in counter-
terrorism. Though positive to the EU playing a bigger role in counter-terrorism in
principle, national sensitivities have at times rendered difficulties of ensuring a
coherent EU approach. Keohane notes that member states have been ‘slow to give
the Union the powers . . . and resources . . . it would need to be truly effective’ (2008:
129). Still it seems fair to say, following Bretherton and Vogler, that the EU’s role in a
global counter-terrorism drive seems both ‘appropriate’ and ‘legitimate’ (2006).
In terms of the third and final contextual criteria for EU actorness, the EU’s
‘authority’ to act within its own legal framework can be traced back several decades
to the Trevi committee on cross-border crime (Monar 2007a). The Maastricht Treaty
upgraded internal security cooperation to its own ‘pillar’, while through the 1990s
the EU’s foreign policy pillar evolved to include the European Security and Defence
Policy (now, CSDP) on military and civilian crisis management missions. From 11
September 2001, both the internal security and external security pillars of the EU
were infused with counter-terrorism objectives, initially through political agreements
among member states rather than treaty changes (Sossai 2008). For example, both
the external dimension of justice and home affairs policies (JHA) and the EU’s
566 E. Brattberg and M. Rhinard
common foreign and security policy (CFSP) address terrorism in various ways.
The Lisbon Treaty eliminated (formally, at least) the pillar system and created
the post of High Representative/Vice President to draw capacities and capabilities
from the Commission and Council together. However, none of this should obscure
the fact that the ‘Community’ has long held the authority to dispense third country
assistance and aid.
Taking the three contextual criteria outlined previously, we can plausibly
demonstrate that the EU displays a considerable amount of actorness in terms of
a global recognition of its role in counter-terrorism, available opportunities to play
that role and authority within the EU’s legal context to act.
Coherence: does the EU display aligned values, preferences, procedures, and policy
A prerequisite for actorness, according to most scholarly accounts, is coherence.
Coherence is best examined in terms of the EU’s ability to align four elements of
behaviour: values, preferences, procedures and policy outputs.
Shared values are difficult to discern in any polity. We do see, however,
indications that European values vis-a`-vis terrorism generally overlap. One can
look to the EU’s past treaties to detect shared values such as the promotion of
democracy, human rights and humanitarian law (such values are articulated more
explicitly in the Lisbon Treaty). We might also turn to the EU’s European Security
Strategy (ESS) from 2003, which articulated a set of value-based priorities for the EU
to guide external security policy-making. One of the more pithy policy statements
ever made by EU governments, the ESS identified five key threats: terrorism,
proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), regional conflicts, state
failure and organised crime. The strategy presented three strategic objectives for the
Union to defend its security and promote its values. These are: ‘addressing threats
through a mixture of instruments’, ‘building security in the neighbourhood’ and
‘promoting an international order based on effective multilateralism’. The ESS
recognised international terrorism as being among the key threats facing the Union
and subsequently called for the EU to work towards countering this threat using a
mixture of means (Council of the European Union 2003).
Preferences are easier to detect empirically Á and it becomes clearer that EU
states’ preferences on counter-terrorism are not perfectly aligned. Here the 2003
schism in the European Council on the issue of whether to support the US-led
invasion of Iraq stands as stark evidence. Some preference alignment can be seen,
however. Member states have backed a common assessment of the root causes of
terrorism and common action priorities: radicalisation, religious conflicts and failed
states, globalisation and socio-economic factors, alienation, extremist worldviews
and systems of education.5
Additionally, all EU member states, following a request
from the Council on 27 December 2001 (Council of the European Union 2001) have
also signed and ratified all the relevant UN counter-terrorism conventions.
In terms of procedures for making counter-terrorism policy, institutional
and procedural alignment is fairly poor. The question of which department
should lead on certain issues relating to counter-terrorism is a prime example of the
difficulties of ensuring Commission coherence. Implementation of the Lisbon Treaty
has reignited many of these turf battles following administrative reorganisation.
European Security 567
Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security (DG JLS), which until recently
answered to two separate Commissioners, has now been divided into two Á possibly
weakening the influence of the new Directorate-General for Home Affairs within the
Commission. The expertise and authority of the Directorate-General for External
Relations (DG Relex) has also been transferred out to the new External Action Service
(EEAS), which now functions at arm’s-length from the Commission. In the aftermath
of the March 2004 Madrid terror attacks, a new position of CTC was created in the
Council. Although a potentially useful tool for increasing procedural coherence Á by
providing an overview of national policies, monitoring overlap and duplication, and
fostering better communication and learning across member states Á the CTC’s
influence over procedural coherence has been contested owing to a lack of resources
and an unclear mandate.6
Another cohering effect on procedures underscoring the EU’s counter-terrorism
effort is the role of the Council Working Party on Terrorism (COTER). COTER
consists of member state diplomats who coordinate the delivery of technical assistance
provided by the Commission and member states to some third countries. Networks of
national counter-terrorism experts are also available to train security forces and
advise on projects in third countries. The role of COTER and specialised networks,
however, has been plagued by a lack of willingness by member states to be coordinated
(see below) and a lack of personnel to partake in missions (Keohane 2008). The
Lisbon Treaty prompted structural reforms in the Council, while also formally
eliminating divisions between the previous legal ‘pillar’ structures. The effect on
procedural coherence in EU counter-terrorism, however, has yet to fully reveal itself.
Finally, in terms of coherence of policy outputs, the EU has taken significant
steps towards shared policies on counter-terrorism. Such steps include the adoption
of a common definition of terrorism in December 2001, a common position on the
application of specific measures to combat terrorism; and framework decisions and
regulations on money laundering, the identification of tracing, freezing and
confiscation of instrumentalities and the proceeds of crime. Moreover, a European
Council Framework Decision on Combating Terrorism on 13 June 2002 outlined,
according to Monar (2007b, p. 312), ‘a reasonably specific definition of the common
threat that avoids any simplistic reduction of the threat to its Islamic elements’. In
2004, the EU crafted a ‘European Union Action Plan to Combat Terrorism’, a
checklist of common actions that is regularly revised and updated. It contains more
than 200 actions to be taken by the EU to counter terrorism (although only 20Á30
actions relate explicitly to external matters) (Council of the European Union 2004c).
The Action Plan has received criticism for falling short on specification and
prioritisation, and for being rather lax in implementation criteria (Bures 2006,
Bossong 2008, Bures 2011).
Another example of policy coherence is the EU’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy,
agreed soon after the London bombings in 2005 under the leadership of the UK. The
strategy outlines four pillars on which to focus counter-terrorism policy both within
the EU and internationally: (1) ‘Prevent’ refers to the task of preventing people from
turning to terrorism, in Europe and in other parts of the world, by addressing the
conditions considered conducive to the development of this phenomenon; (2)
‘Protect’ refers to the mission of protecting citizens and infrastructure, reducing
Europe’s vulnerability to attacks; (3) ‘Pursue’ concerns impeding the planning, travel,
communications and funding of terrorist acts and bringing perpetrators to justice;
568 E. Brattberg and M. Rhinard
(4) The final policy area ‘respond’ focuses on how to manage and minimise the
consequences of terrorist attacks, should they occur.
The EU’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy urges external assistance to counter-
terrorism cooperation in a wide range of issues such as justice, human rights, law
enforcement, education, media, radicalisation, transport and energy security and
social-economic and development issues. The EU is charged with increasing
development aid, technical assistance (such as judicial capacity building, police
and law enforcement work, border management capacities, etc.), CSDP missions,
political dialogue, counter-terrorism clauses and sanctions.7
Finally, we detect some degree of policy coherence in the form of the EU’s
so-called Country Strategy Papers. These documents contain the full range of EU
activities in the third state, including socio-economic development, governance and
where applicable, counter-terrorism assistance efforts.
In short, the criteria of ‘coherence’, measured in terms of observable indicators of
value coherence, interest coherence, procedural coherence and policy coherence,
seems partly fulfilled in this case, although value coherence is difficult to detect while
policy determinacy, a quality identified by Thomas (2010, 2012), appears lacking in
many of the EU’s global counter-terrorism policies.
Capability: does the EU have, and can it utilise, practical instruments?
The EU’s instruments for counter-terrorism assistance in third countries can be
summarised as funding mechanisms, bilateral agreements, political dialogues and
military support. In this section we examine each kind of instrument, including its
nature and its deployment.
The EU’s main counter-terrorism related funding mechanisms for technical
assistance are: (1) the Instrument for Stability (IfS), (2) the European Neighbour-
hood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), (3) the European Instrument for
Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and (4) the Development Cooperation
Instrument (DCI). IfS replaced the Rapid Reaction Mechanism in the new thematic
budget line of 2007Á13. Currently, the overall budget of the instrument amounts to
t2.06 billion. ENPI is the financial instrument under the European Neighbourhood
Policy (ENP), the EU policy toward neighbouring countries in the areas of
governance, rule of law, development and security, etc. The budget for 2007Á13 is
approximately t12 billion and most of its funds (around 90 per cent) are directed
towards bilateral technical assistance activities in the countries concerned and
toward regional cooperation. The EIDHR’s budget amounts to approximately t1.1
billion towards human rights, rule of law and civil society-related projects. DCI was
initiated in 2007 with a budget allocation of about t2.2 billion (Smith 2008, p. 59).
This instrument is divided into three components, all with the aim of providing aid to
developing countries in areas such as poverty eradication, education and health,
governance, democracy, human rights and institutional reform, assistance in post-
crisis situations and fragile states, food security and migration and asylum issues.8
total, the counter-terrorism technical assistance provided by the Union in 2007 was
estimated to amount to about t400 million (Wolff 2009, p. 149). That sum is likely
even higher today. For example, the EU has pledged to step up its assistance to
North Africa following the ‘Arab Spring’9
and has adopted a new ‘Security and
Development Strategy’ for the Sahel region10
, pledging more assistance.
European Security 569
Regarding bilateral agreements, since 2002 the EU has taken the step of including
counter-terrorism clauses in its agreements with third countries. Counter-terrorism
clauses provide for dialogue and cooperation in all pillars, from political and security
issues, to justice and home affairs issues such as judicial and police cooperation, to
economic issues like terrorist financing and money laundering (Council of the
European Union 2005b). In these clauses, the obligations of the parties are stipulated,
including full implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions and interna-
tional conventions; the exchange of information on terrorist groups and their support
networks; exchange of views on means and methods used to counter terrorism
(including technical fields and training); and exchange of experiences in terrorism
prevention. Counter-terrorism clauses are politically significant as they contribute
towards raising the political profile of EU external policies and require regular
reviews of the EU’s ‘conditionality’ clauses. However, there is often no reference to
what type of conditionality relates to the counter-terrorism clauses and what the
consequences of inadequate implementation might be (Wennerholm et al. 2010).
Some third countries have ‘counter-terrorism cooperation’ included in the
framework of the relationship or the formal agreements signed with the EU. For
example, the EU has signed bilateral agreements with most of the ENP countries, all
of them including counter-terrorism clauses. Counter-terrorism clauses have also
been inserted into the agreements with the countries of the AfricanÁCaribbeanÁ
Pacific Group (ACP), enshrined by the 2005 Cotonou Agreement, and with regional
organisations such as Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Other
third countries have been deemed ‘priority countries’ for the EU in the fight against
terrorism and thereby developed specific cooperation in this area over time
(e.g. Pakistan, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen and Indonesia). There are also several
countries, especially in the EU’s neighbourhood, that have chosen to align themselves
to the EU counter-terrorism policies in the UN Security Council.
Political dialogues comprise another of the EU’s instruments for combating
terrorism abroad. Through such dialogues (enabled through different kind of
agreements, depending on the country concerned), the EU can push priorities and
discuss solutions with most countries in the world (Smith 2008, p. 6). Structured
dialogues are especially prominent with key partners in the fight against terrorism
(e.g. US, Russia, Pakistan) and countries where local terrorism may constitute an
issue of concern (e.g. ENP countries). Agenda items for these dialogues, the
frequency of meetings, and the level of official representative vary according to
the country in question. Beyond the political level, some dialogues take place at the
senior administrative and expert levels. Even though dialogues may carry little
formal weight, they can still be seen as an opportunity for both parties. With
dialogues, the EU can leverage its political, economic and normative weight into
guidance and practical steps. Dialogues are also an instrument for considering the
link between different EU policies and aid opportunities, while encouraging more
coherent approaches to a country’s counter-terrorism efforts. There are several
countries that have signed joint statements with the EU exclusively on the issue of
combating terrorism (e.g. Pakistan).
Finally, we might also consider the Union’s military instruments in the fight
against international terrorism. Initial steps were taken at the Seville European
Council meeting of June 2002 to outline how the CSDP can be used in the fight
against terrorism. A 2004 report to the Council provided more detail (Council of the
570 E. Brattberg and M. Rhinard
European Union 2004a). The report stressed the specific CSDP contribution to
counter-terrorism, emphasising the EU’s diversity of civilian and military tools as an
asset. At the same time, little work has been done since to operationalise CSDP in
the service of counter-terrorism per se (see Bruno Oliveira Martins and Laura
Ferreira-Pereira’s contribution in this special issue).
Indeed, although the EU has an array of tools and instruments in place to act
against international terrorism, it scores less well when it comes to deploying these
instruments effectively. Information on the use of funding mechanisms is rather
patchy. For example, the Indonesia Strategy Paper for 2007Á13 mentions that
‘Indonesia can be expected to benefit from activities funded under the Instrument for
Stability . . . in the security area (e.g. counter-terrorism), the area of governance and
of law enforcement’ but no further details are provided as to the nature of this
assistance (European Commission 2007, p. 26.). More well-documented is the
Commission’s counter-terrorism support through the IfS to the Jakarta Centre of
Law Enforcement Co-operation (JCLEC), a counter-terrorism training centre.
Similar support has been provided to the African Centre for the Study and Research
of Terrorism (ACSRT), which was established by the African Union in 2004 and is
located in Algiers (Council of the European Union, 2005c). The IfS has also been
used to fight drug trafficking in Afghanistan11
and for enhancing law enforcement
capability in Pakistan (Wennerholm et al. 2010).
But what broader evidence can be mustered suggests considerable problems.
Several of our studies of individual third countries illustrate problems either related
to resources or ability to carry programs out. For example, the Country Strategy
Paper for Pakistan 2002Á6 notes that ‘[for] practically all projects, there have been
unacceptable delays in execution, due to political interference, weak counterpart
implementation or absorption capacity, lengthy procedures or inappropriate
technical assistance’. Another example is the EU’s limited cooperation with
Indonesia, which reportedly is mainly due to the Commission’s lack of experience
and means in this field (interview with the European Commission, May 2009).
At other times, EU pledges to assist third countries are not backed up by clear
guidelines. In Yemen, where the EU strives to improve stability, security and good
governance by directing development to these areas, the Country Strategy Paper for
2007Á13 does not specify how this should be done in practice. As a result, there are
presently few Commission-funded counter-terrorism projects in place in Yemen.
CSDP, as previously mentioned, is another example of lack of putting existing
capacities into effect. The EU has the capacities to deploy CSDP missions in place,
but some member states remain reluctant to employ assets such as ‘EU Battlegroups’
(Lindstrom 2005, Coolsaet 2010, p. 871). Two notable exceptions are the ALTHEA
mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina Á which inherited the previous NATO mission’s
mandate and therefore included some minor references to terrorism Á and the EU
Training Mission (EUTM) for training Somali security forces to fight terrorists and
Too much time often elapses between counter-terrorism initiatives and the release
of funding. One reason for this is unwillingness within EU delegations to implement
counter-terrorism related projects. This unwillingness, in turn, stems from a decision
of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in 2007 ruling that the Commission over-
stepped its legal boundaries in a decision to fund a border management project in the
Philippines using the IfS.12
The case, brought by the European Parliament, annulled
European Security 571
the Commission’s plans and had a chilling effect on the enthusiasm of Commission
delegations to carry-out projects using that same instrument. This decision by the
ECJ can explain the reluctance of the Commission to get involved in counter-
terrorism issues (interview with the European Commission, May 2009). Moreover,
the Court’s ruling also explains why Country Strategy Papers now contain little
information about terrorism issues: all references to the fight against terrorism and
the implementation of the Security Council Resolution 1373 were deleted from these
Papers following the ruling of the Court (Wennerholm et al. 2010, pp. 20Á21).
Another problem lies in the capacity of EU delegations in third countries.
Many EU delegations (previously Commission delegations) remain understaffed and
poorly equipped to oversee counter-terrorism initiatives. Our research shows a lack
of experience and means related to counter-terrorism in the delegations partly
explains why so few counter-terrorism projects are being properly implemented ‘on
the ground’ (interview with the European Commission, May 2009). From this
perspective, it is not so much the receiving countries’ unwillingness or inability to
make use of assistance; it is the constraints of the Commission itself. Over time, we
will learn more about whether the transfer of control of the EU delegations from the
Commission to the EEAS, as a result of the Lisbon Treaty, will rectify these
In sum, while the EU can be said to have an impressive array of different
instruments and tools at its disposal, problems with either a lack of resources or a
lack of ability (combined with a lack of political will) to deploy resources severely
impedes the EU’s ‘capabilities’ as defined by our framework.
Consistency: does the EU carry out its commitments in an aligned fashion?
Lastly, EU actorness is determined by the EU’s ability to carry out its commitments
in a consistent fashion. Even if the EU succeeds in achieving the coherence and
capacity deployment discussed previously, it may matter little if decisions and
deployments are ignored. That proviso is as true for member states (denoting a
vertical relationship) as it is for the EU institutions themselves (denoting horizontal
For member states, it comes as no surprise that some enjoy special relationships
with certain third states, stemming from, for instance, a colonial past, a strong
regional presence or extensive bilateral trade relations. While this may serve the EU
well in some instances (e.g. allowing the Union to utilise a particular member state’s
close bilateral relationship to advance common EU objectives), it may limit the EU’s
ability to carry out policies of its own. Third countries often retain a basic preference
for bilateral cooperation between individual European states and third countries, as
opposed to EU-wide cooperation. The example of Algeria and Morocco is helpful
here. Both countries maintain close ties to France and Spain, respectively, because of
historical ties and a tradition of security cooperation. According to Commission
staff in Brussels, the reason why there are so few counter-terrorism projects in
Algeria is allegedly due to Algerian unwillingness to deal bilaterally with the
Commission, favouring instead cooperation with France. Similarly, EU support to
the ACSRT has been impeded due to Algerian opposition to France’s insistence on
including Morocco as a partner in the programmes (Wennerholm et al. 2010, p. 15).
572 E. Brattberg and M. Rhinard
France and Spain also maintain strong ties to Morocco, especially in the areas of
counter-terrorism and border protection where there are strong French and Spanish
national interests. Following the 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid (which involved
several Moroccan perpetrators), SpanishÁMoroccan counter-terrorism cooperation
intensified. As a result, EU cooperation with Morocco appears to be dependent (and
constrained by) bilateral cooperation for the foreseeable future. UK relations with
Pakistan present another example of a relationship that inhibits the EU’s technical
assistance efforts. The UK and other supportive member states are keen to retain
diplomatic and support links on a bilateral basis. Thus, where EU member states
possess strong strategic interests of their own, the EU may be bypassed by both EU
member states and third countries. Alternatively, EU states may ‘instrumentalise’ EU
initiatives to benefit national interests (Wolff 2009). Without the support of key
member states the EU will have difficulties designing and implementing a common
approach to third countries in the external dimension of EU counter-terrorism.
In terms of the horizontal consistency, the EU’s institutions are often hamstrung
by internal battles over implementing policies. Within the Commission several
programmes were obstructed by the internal face-off between DG Relex and DG
JLS. The question of which department should lead on migration issues in Algeria
(which DG JLS ‘won’) is a prime example of the difficulties of ensuring Commission
coherence. Moreover, while the decision not to move forward with a project on police
cooperation was Algeria’s alone, conflicting views exist inside the Commission on
how best to work with the Algerian authorities. DG Relex and DG JLS Á now called
DG Home Affairs Á have disagreed on how to move forward with Algeria. At one
point in 2008, DG Relex favoured a set of agreements with Algeria that included a
readmission agreement in parallel with ‘some kind of’ substantial visa facilitation
measures. DG JLS vehemently opposed this solution, and a stalemate was reached:
the proposal was later dropped (interview with the European Commission, May
2009). Moreover, some EU institutions remain ‘reluctant to use development and aid
money to pursue security-related objectives’ (Coolsaet 2010, p. 872). There are some
notable exceptions to such problems, however. Our research contains evidence that
different EU actors have at times worked effectively to improve consistency on
counter-terrorism. For instance, in Yemen, the EU Counter-Terrorist Coordinator
has joined a Troika from COTER during a visit to Yemen in 2009 to see how work
under the IfS can be taken forward (Council of the European Union 2009b). Such
‘horizontal’ consistency is notable, and unique.
In sum, our studies point to some significant consistency problems, on both
vertical and horizontal axes. Planning and projects between the EU and international
partners tends to be afflicted by privileged relationships governed by individual EU
states and competing priorities amongst institutions.
The EU’s participation in the global fight against terrorism is one of its latest and
most high profile endeavours on the world stage. As such, the degree to which the EU
displays any degree of ‘actorness’ in this area deserves scrutiny. This article assessed
the EU in global counter-terrorism in line with a growing literature on the EU’s
actorness on external policy questions. However, recognising that most applications
of actorness typically focus on the role of the EU in international negotiations, we
European Security 573
drew together variables in a four-part framework that allows for examining the EU in
both international settings and in regards to more operational ‘field’ initiatives.
We found that the EU is best characterised as an emerging but not yet complete
actor in the area of counter-terrorism. Summarising our results briefly, the EU scores
highly on the criteria of ‘context’ (the EU takes advantage of opportunities arising
from its perceived legitimacy in global counter-terrorism) and ‘coherence’ (the EU
has been able to adopt a considerable number of common policies, using fairly
structured procedures and based on a broadly shared values). Moreover, the EU has
a considerable number of ‘capabilities’ at its disposal, in terms of instruments and
resources. However, when it comes to turning those capabilities into projects in the
field Á and to ensuring ‘consistent’ application and implementation of policies in
Brussels and between member states Á the EU fails to impress. Drawing these
findings together, we conclude that the EU has made significant progress on
developing common strategies, policies and instruments since 11 September. But the
EU needs improvement in carrying out its objectives and doing so in a consistent
manner if it is to achieve complete ‘actorness’.
This study makes several contributions to the field of EU foreign policy studies.
In addition to being one of the few studies of its kind on actorness in global counter-
terrorism, our research has drawn data from the ‘field’ level to assess EU actorness
over a ten-year period. Including this level of empirical evidence is rarely included in
studies of actorness, which tend to remain at the global (typically diplomatic) level.
We examined cases of actual EU implementation in third countries to assess whether
the variables of ‘capability’ and ‘consistency’ were truly fulfilled Á this level of analysis
provides for a more comprehensive assessment of EU actorness. Another, more
modest, contribution of this article is the creation of a newly categorised framework Á
including context, coherence, capability and consistency related variables Á with
which to evaluate actorness in its diverse forms in complex policy areas.
1. Few studies to date have used the actorness concept for examining EU foreign and
security policy, and even fewer still when it comes to EU counter-terrorism. For a notable
exception, see Beyer (2010).
2. The data used in this analysis is drawn from a larger research project carried out by the
Swedish Institute of International Affairs and the Swedish National Defence College over
the course of 9 months between May 2009 and January 2010. Data was collected from a
wide variety of sources using multiple methods, including personal interviews, analysis of
ofﬁcial texts (both public and conﬁdential), secondary sources, and newspaper accounts of
developments. An early presentation of this data was published as Wennerholm, Brattberg
and Rhinard (2010) ‘The EU as The EU as a counter-terrorism actor abroad: ﬁnding
opportunities, overcoming constraints’, Issue Paper No. 60, Brussels: European Policy
Centre. Since then, the present authors have conducted further research to elaborate that
data and gather additional evidence.
3. For more information on this summit, see http://www.asem8.be/event/8th-asem-conference-
4. For a helpful inventory of EUÁUS counter-terrorism cooperation areas, see http://www.
5. At the same time, no priorities were established and the consensus of the nature of threat
later shifted with more emphasis being put on radicalisation, at least at the institutional
and operational level (see Coolsaet 2010, p. 867).
574 E. Brattberg and M. Rhinard
6. Recently, proposals have been put forward to boost the Counterterrorism Coordinator’s
role when it comes to information-sharing, see http://euobserver.com/9/32104
7. It should be said here that the EU has been criticised for labelling all its activities in
conﬂict and post-conﬂict environments as ‘counter-terrorism’. Doing so runs the risk of
making the resources devoted to issues such as development assistance, democracy
promotion and human rights protection conditioned on their usefulness for ﬁghting
terrorism even though this was not the purpose they were originally intended for. We give
thanks to an anonymous reviewer for pointing this out, and addressed the problem by
evaluating as objectively as possible what policies are relevant for counter-terrorism
(rather than rely only on what the EU claims is ‘counter-terrorism’).
8. EuropeAid website: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/how/ﬁnance/dci_en.htm
9. For more information about EU assistance to North Africa at the time of writing, see
10. Document is available online at: http://eeas.europa.eu/africa/docs/sahel_strategy_en.pdf
11. Drug trafﬁcking has often been singled out as one important factor fuelling insurgency
and terrorism in Afghanistan.
12. See Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 23 October 2007, Case C-403/05, for
Notes on contributors
Erik Brattberg is a Research Associate at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.
Mark Rhinard is a Senior Research Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs
and an Associate Professor at Stockholm University.
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