Europeans are not per se unwilling to use force to achieve political goals. They only seem to be unwilling to do so in the framework of the EU. The perceived absence of a shared threat, the differences in strategic culture, the institutional weaknesses, the lack of resources, the lack of ambition and trust, and the fact that, with NATO, a better alternative is at hand for the management of Europe’s hard power concerns, make it unlikely that the EU will become a relevant military operator any time soon. The structural, political impediments to more cohesive defense cooperation go so deep that economic pressure alone will not be enough of an incentive to unite their military activities within CSDP.

But if Member States want EU foreign policy to become more relevant, they can’t forever dismiss hard power as a tool for the EU. A serious conversation is needed at the highest level about shared threats, interests, goals and means.

This piece originally appeared in Notre Europe's Policy Paper, No. 65.