Community Policies with a Security Agenda: The Worldview of Benita Ferrero-Waldner

Clara PORTELA, Singapore Management University

RSCAS EUI Working Papers 2007/10


How does the Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner view international relations, and especially the role that the European Union (EU) takes in them? This paper argues that in Commissioner Ferrero’s worldview, the international system is a hierarchical order in which the importance of third countries is determined by their economic weight, geographical vicinity, and their willingness to co-operate with the EU. While this worldview hardly differs from traditional conceptions of power politics, what is peculiar about Ferrero’s worldview is that the EU is ready to co-operate with every single state, and she spells out the conditions that the EU expects each third-country to fulfil. Her broad concept of security coincides with that of Human Security. Threats emanate from phenomena rather than from states or human volition, and her conception of mankind is positive. At the same time, power is defined in terms of economic wealth. The EU’s international role is best described as a soft-power which exerts its leverage in a non-coercive manner, partly through a strategic use of its panoply of means, partly by virtue of its magnetism. Still, Ferrero is conscious of the EU’s limitations, and her optimism is tempered by her modest estimation of EU leverage when it comes to ‘hard security’—the Middle East or nuclear proliferation.