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2005:2. Does the European Union Promote Peace? Analyses, critique and alternatives. By Jan Øberg.

It is common to characterize the European Union as a peace project, but what is in fact meant by peace within EU circles?

In this report, the Danish/Swedish peace- and conflict researcher, Jan Øberg analyses EU’s policies on defence, security, foreign policy, conflict management and peace. The general principles of the proposed EU Constitution, rejected by the French and Dutch voters, are also scrutinized.

The report shows that the understanding of ‘peace’ in the proposed Constitution as well as in other central EU documents is heavily influenced by a traditional military-based notion of defence and security. According to this understanding, there exists a ‘good’ violence that must balance or eliminate ‘bad’ violence. In contrast, very little is stated about civilian policies and conflict management. The many types of violence in- and outside Europe doesn’t appear as a problem.

Jan Øberg discusses two alternative approaches of peace, seen in relation to four dimensions: direct violence, structural violence, cultural violence, and environmental violence. The report presents 25 constructive proposals which, if implemented, would make EU a much more genuine actor for peace which could challenge the militarist policies of the United States in a positive manner.

While the word ‘peace’ only appears eight times in the proposed Constitution, and conflict prevention only five times, defence/defence policy is mentioned 64 times and the military/combat forces 21 times. Reconciliation, disarmament and control of the arms trade are issues not mentioned and not present on EU’s agenda at all, neither do the documents mention that EU is nuclear-based.

Irrespective of the fate of the Constitution, increased armament and militarization are destined to be key elements in EU policies. This is the more worrying since, as the report reveals, the European Union has neither a coherent analysis of future threats nor a credible European security doctrine.

In summary, the European Union and its Constitution is far less consistent and visionary in its peace policies than the United Nations and its Charter.

Other Publications (only available in Danish)

2008:1 Danish exchange rate policy in an EU financial perspective. By Jesper Jespersen Eds. Drude Dahlerup and Niels I. Meyer.

2007:3 European Voices. Eds. Drude Dahlerup and Niels I. Meyer.

2007:2 EU military operations with or without UN mandate. By Lave Knud Broch and Trine Pertou Mach

2007:1 Problematic liberalisation of the Electricity Market in the EU. By Niels I. Meyer and Frede Hvelplund

2006:3 Inconsiderate Service. About the consequences of EU's Service Directive. By Kenneth Haar.

2006:1 Our Global Trade Interests. Ed. By Trine Mach. Contributions among others by Christina Deckwirth.

2005:3 Under Flag of Convenience. The Consequences of EU's Service Directive. By Kenneth Haar.

2005:2 Does the European Union Promote Peace?. By Jan Øberg

2005:1. Voices from France. Critique of the Proposal for a new EU Constitution. Eds. Drude Dahlerup, Kenneth Haar and Niels I. Meyer.

These reports are published with the support of the Plum Foundation and of the Danish Parliament’s Council on Information about European Affairs.


'L'Europe ne dit pas ce qu'elle fait ; elle ne fait pas ce qu'elle dit'.
Pierre Bourdieu

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