European Union security: institutions and policies

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Aims and scope: 

Since the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union carries out a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the objectives of which include strengthening the security of the Union in all ways, preserving peace and strengthening international security. This EU policy, however, in spite of a few modest examples of its own capacity for civilian crisis management and military action, remains eminently intergovernmental and can be said to be very much in its infancy. Conversely, internal security has been relatively more developed, based on article 3 TEU, which states that the Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured. This article expressly provides for appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime. Furthermore, the EU's understanding of internal security has gone beyond combating terrorism, serious and organised crime, cybercrime, cross-border crime, and violence itself, to include natural and man-made disasters such as earthquakes or fires, and road traffic accidents.

This course deals with what the EU does to address current security challenges, both external and internal, and how EU institutions are designed to address those challenges. How does the EU fight piracy off the coast of Somalia? What has been the EU's response to the 2014 anexation of Crimea by Russia? What are the conditions for a European arrest warrant? How does the EU connect national criminal databases? How does the Schengen Information System work? What does Frontex do? What measures has the EU taken to guarantee the cybersecurity of elections? Why is cooperation in justice and home affairs relatively more developed than CFSP? Why was it so difficult to agree an EU response to the 2015 migrant crisis? How will the Brexit crisis affect Galileo, the EUs satellite navigation system?

The key to unlock this course is understanding that EU leaders need to address the security concerns of citizens on issues that cross national borders, such as terrorism, organised crime, cybercrime, natural dissasters, or migration, while they are reluctant to surrender their national monopolies in these fields. It is this balance between demand for and supply of European integration on security matters that determines the institutions that EU leaders are willing to set in place as well as their resulting policies.

This course will be particularly helpful for students wishing to build a career in the field of security, be it in the police, the armed forces, intelligence agencies, EU agencies, or any other security-related jobs, in the private or public sectors, at national or international level. It will also be helpful for students wanting to use this course as a basis for further studies in the field of EU or security studies.


This course will be based on synchronous web conferences and asynchronous online written discussions about current cases of relevance for European security. Guest lecturers will be invited to participate under the aegis of the EUROSCI Network.

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is an approach for learning content through an additional language (foreign or second), thus learning both the subject and the language simultaneously. This approach to teaching and learning has never featured as strongly on university curricula as it does now. Besides, the great revolution of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has had a tremendous impact on education and on the development of foreign language communication skills in particular. ICT is an ideal platform for developing interactive strategies and methodologies that promote independent learning, peer interaction, and language use for real communicative purposes. In a world where students are digital natives and where broadband connections and mobile-data enabled smartphones are widespread, there is great potential for combining CLIL with ICT. If we add to this the opportunities that international university partnerships and networks offer for student interaction across borders, we have all the necessary ingredients for a successful course.

Indicative reading: 
Chalmers, D., Davies, G., & Monti, G. (2019). European Union law. Cambridge university press; Keukeleire, S., & Delreux, T. (2014). The foreign policy of the European Union. Macmillan International Higher Education; Howorth, J. (2014). Security and defence policy in the European Union. Palgrave; Kaunert, C., & Zwolski, K. (2013). The EU as a global security actor–a comprehensive analysis beyond CFSP and JHA. Palgrave Macmillan.
Teaching modules: