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Research Report

Sovereignty, parliamentary involvement and European defence cooperation

Margriet Drent
Copyright Date: Mar. 1, 2014
Published by: Clingendael Institute
Pages: 27

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-4)
  2. (pp. 5-6)
  3. (pp. 7-7)
  4. (pp. 8-9)

    The deepening of defence cooperation in Europe will sooner or later infringe upon individual countries’ ability to take autonomous decisions. So far, the most extensive progress has been achieved with cooperation in training, education, logistics and the combined deployment of assets. However, the growing responsibility of Europe for security in its own neighbourhood combined with the further decrease of resources available for defence necessitates more and deeper cooperation among European and Transatlantic partners.

    The Netherlands’ Minister of Defence, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, has made it one of her priorities to involve parliamentarians more extensively in the complex business of further cooperation on...

  5. (pp. 10-11)

    In recent years the concept of sovereignty has been very much debated, not only in light of defence cooperation, but also in terms of the interdependent state in a globalised, networked world. So-called ‘old’ and ‘new’ conceptions of sovereignty have made inroads into the discussion about the role of the state. The new sovereignty consists not of territorial control or governmental autonomy, but is defined as ‘the capacity to participate in (…) collective efforts to (…) address global and regional problems together with their national and supranational counterparts’.² It is becoming increasingly clear that the concept of sovereignty is not...

  6. (pp. 12-20)

    The German troop deployment law was established in 2004. It stipulates that German troops can only be deployed after explicit consent by the German Bundestag. Contrary to the obstructive image which the German parliament has internationally, the Bundestag has not rejected a single application by the Government for deploying German troops abroad since the Parliamentary Participation Act came into force in 2005. However, the tensions between domestic democratic accountability, on the one hand, and German solidarity with its partners in NATO and the EU, on the other, remain an issue.

    In early 2011, Germany withdrew its personnel from the multinational...

  7. (pp. 21-23)

    A key element in facilitating deeper defence cooperation and accepting dependencies is trust among partners. To build trust requires personal contact, reliability proven by practice and an understanding of the motives and obstacles of a partner country. Learning about each other’s cultural-political attitudes and sensitivities as well as the formal and material obstacles to cooperation are important. As a matter of course, policy makers and officials from cooperating countries see each other regularly. The intensification of contacts among European policy makers, however, is not matched by increased contacts between parliaments.

    As defence cooperation in clusters of countries is progressing more...

  8. (pp. 24-24)

    This report found that nowadays there are two discourses on sovereignty and defence cooperation. Sovereignty as ‘independent authority’ and sovereignty as ‘the ability to act’. Both understandings depend on legitimacy as the decisive factor. On the one hand, legitimacy because the state has decision-making autonomy scrutinized by national parliaments. On the other hand, legitimacy, because the state is effective in delivering results in a modern, international context. To make clear that everybody is on the same page when the ‘sovereignty issue’ is being discussed, these two variants of the debate should be unravelled. From comparing these two discourses it follows...

  9. (pp. 25-25)
  10. (pp. 26-26)