Differentiated Integrations: Lessons from Political Economies of European Defence

I am delighted to share with you a new special issue entitled « Differentiated Integrations. Lessons from Political Economies of European Defence« , co-edited with Andy Smith (Sciences Po Bordeaux), and which has just been published in the European Review of International Studies (ERIS). This special issue includes seven articles, one review article and three book reviews. Almost 200 pages! Let’s have a look at the table of contents and at the abstracts.


1) Differentiated Integrations. Lessons from Political Economies of European Defence

Samuel B.H. Faure, Andy Smith


This special issue aims at contributing simultaneously to two key literatures within analysis of the European Union (EU) which, until now, have developed in isolation of each other: one on differentiated integration, the other on defence policies in Europe. In so doing, it also brings together different theories of political economy and, thereby, more general analyses of politics and international relations.

Keywords: differentiated integration, CSDP, European Union, defence co-operation, political economy, theory development

2) When Collaboration Works: High Politics and Realism’s Renaissance in Arms Collaboration Studies

Marc R. DeVore, Nora Kristine Stai


The theoretical benefits of shared development costs and interoperability in armaments collaborations have led to an increase in cooperative projects, and the policy’s popularity is only likely to grow. Nevertheless, most states fail to achieve their desired levels of collaboration. The question must therefore be raised as to what factors favour partnerships’ success. We argue that realist dynamics play a more significant role than hitherto appreciated. International armaments collaboration is a fundamentally difficult process. Major projects cost significant sums and often require decades to complete. Multiple stakeholders, ranging from military headquarters to corporate managers, may calculate that cooperation no longer serves their interests. Governments therefore need powerful incentives to overcome domestic opposition for collaboration to succeed. Realist interests – notably, the sense of collectively balancing against threats – provide governments with the requisite motivation to overcome domestic discontent. States within alliances stand to benefit more from collaboration because they alone profit from collaboration’s interoperability advantages. Alliances, furthermore, offer assurances in terms of supply security – sometimes through formal arrangements and at others through states’ common interest in not jeopardising the alliance – that mitigate this risk. Realist concerns, as expressed in formal alliances, thus incentivise governments to steer projects through to completion.

Keywords: Armaments collaboration, defence industries, NATO, European integration, realism

3) Differentiated Integration in CSDP Through Defence Market Integration

Catherine Hoeffler


New developments in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), such as PESCO or the European Defence Fund (EDF), challenge the differentiated integration framework put forward by Frank Schimmelfennig, Dirk Leuffen and Berthold Rittberger: this policy is not and may have never been a case of low vertical integration and uniform horizontal integration. This paper presents an amended version of their framework based on constructivist institutionalist accounts of European integration. First, it discusses their explanatory variable. Rather than interdependence per se, this paper argues that it is the construction of interdependence that matters in order to understand integration. Second, rather than focusing on primary EU law, which often obscures many policy dynamics, this paper builds on legal, institutional and practice-level elements of CSDP. Based on these changes, this paper argues that national and European actors have constructed interdependence in this policy domain, by tying together armament-related issues with single market regulation and by linking armament-related issues with CSDP’s operational-military requirements around the issue of capabilities. These processes explain CSDP’s policy-making hybridity, i.e. the combination within CSDP of a more intergovernmental policy-making mode (especially but not restricted to operational-military elements) with more supranational elements (especially but not restricted to industrial armament-related elements), as well as its horizontal differentiation. The conclusion discusses the theoretical implications of policy-making hybridity.

Keywords: Aarmament; CSDP; defence-industrial policy; differentiated integration; European Commission; European Defence Agency; European Defence Fund; hybridity; PESCO

4) Differentiated Integration in the European Defence Field: the Italian Case

Antonio Calcara


Over the last few years there have been important initiatives to favour greater harmonization among EU member states‘ defence-industrial policies. However, EU countries sometimes decide to cooperate in the development of defence-industrial projects, to maintain defence procurement on a national basis or to import extra-EU armaments. To investigate the simultaneous presence of cooperation and competition, focusing on how the process of differentiated integration shapes European defence-industrial governance, this paper assesses Italian participation in two major European armaments organizations (OCCAR and the European Defence Agency), as well in two new EU initiatives in this sector (PeSCo and the European Defence Fund). Specifically, this analysis focuses on national state-arms industry relations as a crucial explanatory variable in the formation of Italy‘s preferences towards defence-industrial cooperation.

Keywords: Defence Procurement; Differentiated Integration; European Defence; European Union; Italy

5) The Choice for a Minilateral Europe: A Historical Sociology of Defence-Industrial Capitalism

Samuel B. H. Faure


In order to acquire a new military transport aircraft in the 2000s, why did France decide to choose European minilateralism (A400M) rather than the alternative of Franco- American bilateralism (C-17 and C-130)? A “configurational” argument with regard to this decision is developed, using an approach that looks at the historical sociology of a political economy in arms procurement in Europe, derived from the work of Norbert Elias. This argument explains France’s choice of a minilateral Europe as resulting from the effect of social interdependence that is conceptualised by the notion of “configuration”. Establishing the positions adopted by French state and industrial actors required two years of fieldwork (2012 –2014). A total of 105 semi-structured interviews were conducted with French actors (political, military, administrative, and industrial) who took part in the negotiations from the mid-1970 to the early 2000s. Beyond presenting this data, this article contributes to the development of international political sociology by making the concept of configuration operational.

Keywords: A400M, configuration, historical sociology, political economy, minilateralism, Europe

6) Supporting Atlas: Franco-British Co-operation to Service Europe’s Military Airlifter

Benoit Giry, Andy Smith


European defence policy clearly remains heavily dependent upon the equipment of the French and British armed forces. What remains largely unknown, however, is the extent of co-operation between these forces to maintain this equipment and thereby transform theoretical capacity into actual military capability. Drawn from a study of such bilateral cooperation over servicing the Atlas (A400M) airlifter, this article shows that modest levels of co-operation have developed but also that deeper collaboration continues to be blocked by unfavourable organisational and political structures. The first level of differentiation concerns contracting with the aircraft’s manufacturer (Airbus): the British have delegated nearly all support activity to this firm, whereas the French have retained most of it ‘in-house’. Secondly, the two countries’ defence industrial policies continue to differ significantly. In the British case, defence industrial base concerns are now addressed on a bespoke basis centred upon market conditions in general, and competitiveness of supply in particular. Conversely, neo-dirigiste interventionist industrial policy still dominates French equipment support. Weak bilateral co-operation over supporting the Atlas is therefore best explained by using constructivist political economy to unpack the problem definitions and policy instruments it has entailed, together with the national hybrids it has bolstered.

Keywords: A400M – contracting – defence equipment support – industrial policy

7) The Differentiated Integration of Defence Companies in Europe. A Sociology of (Trans)National Economic Elites

Samuel B.H. Faure, Thibaut Joltreau, Andy Smith


Why has European integration affected some of Europe’s defence firms more than others? Specifically, what explains the co-existence of national, transnational and European champions in this industry? This article develops answers to this question from two complementary angles. First, through examining the business models and turnover of the four largest companies in Europe (BAe Systems, Airbus, Thales, and Leonardo), it shows that firms who mostly produce military goods are less likely to undergo strong European integration. Second, using an original database on the social backgrounds of these firms’ board members, two further hypotheses are tested. Using data on higher education and careers, on the one hand we show that the relationship of board members to their respective state varies from close (Thales and to some extent Airbus) to distant (BAe Systems and Leonardo). On the other, our data reveals that when the careers of these actors are frequently internationalised, this correlates to either strong European integration at the level of the firm (Airbus and Thales) or, alternatively, strong Transatlanticism (BAe Systems or Leonardo). The article as a whole thus both opens up new avenues for research on the defence industry, whilst adding political economy and sociological dimensions to existing scholarship on differentiated European integration.

Keywords: defence companies, differentiated integration, Europe, sociology, economic elites

Review Article

European Defence and Security Policies vs. Brexit: National Governments as Actors of Differentiated Integration by Jean Joana

Book Reviews

Simon Duke: Will Brexit Damage our Security and Defence? The Impact on the UK and EU (London: Palgrave, 2018), pp. 120. ISBN: 978-3319961064 by Delphine Deschaux-Dutard

Rob Johnson and Janne Haaland Matlary (eds.) The United Kingdom’s Defence After Brexit. Britain’s Alliances, Coalitions, and Partnerships (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), pp. 261. ISBN 978-3-319-97168-1 by Friederike Richter

Kaija Schilde, The Political Economy of European Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp.304. ISBN 978-1107198432 by Lucie Béraud-Sudreau

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