By King, A., 2006

The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) marks an important political moment when European integration has been extended to the issue of defence. Understandably, there has been extensive commentary on the ESDP, most of which has focused on the ESDP’s institutional, industrial or military deficiencies. These commentaries have been illuminating but by concentrating on the manifest weaknesses of the ESDP, scholars have perhaps neglected to discuss explicitly how a coherent ESDP could develop. Drawing on recent work by Ben Tonra, this paper discusses the social conditions which are likely to be necessary if the ESDP is to develop into a robust policy. Above all else, a coherent ESDP depends upon the development of a binding sense of mutual obligation between France, Germany and Britain. These nations need to commit themselves to collective defence goals. The paper goes on to argue that for this collective commitment to be developed between these nations, the ESDP requires missions. Only through missions, in which these nations together experience a shared threat, will enduring shared interests and the collective will to address them be developed. The future of the ESDP will thus be finally determined by the actions which are carried out in its name. In the end, this may mean that a European defence identity develops not through an independent ESDP but through NATO.