The core of European military cooperation or a paper tiger? A case study research into the participation incentives of the Dutch led European Union Battlegroup 2011/1

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This research aimed to provide insight in the reasons for participation of Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Finland and the Netherlands to the Dutch led European Union Battlegroup (EU BG) of the first half of 2011. The European Battlegroup is a rapid response force of the European Union and is formed by a number of European Union countries, who are on a standby cycle every six months. The research was carried out by using International Regime Theory which uses three distinct approaches that resemble the three core streams in the field of international relations: realism, which sees power relations as a key variable, neoliberalism, where the analysis is based on a constellation of interests and cognitivism, which puts an emphasis on identities and knowledge. By testing three hypotheses and making use of the power-based, interest-based and knowledge-based approaches of International Regime Theory, the different incentives of the countries were identified. The interest-based approach showed the most explanatory power of the three approaches, based on empirical evidence and key-person interviews, although the other approaches also provided valuable information on the participation incentives. In short, for all the countries strengthening the role of the European Union as crisismanagement actor and a further development of the CSDP were considered as the primary reasons for their participation. For Lithuania and Finland, interestingly, fear of Russia and its foreign policy are a reason to participate in the Battlegroup and to become stronger embedded in the military branch of the European Union. For Austria, taking part in multinational cooperation frameworks and show their commitment to a further European integration were the main reasons for participation whereas for the Netherlands and Germany, support for the European Union and international rule of law in general were considered reasons for participation. Being lead nation, the Dutch could fill in the details of this Battlegroup, allowing them to train their own troops more efficiently. Germany is looking to expand its position within the European Union and a stronger participation in the CSDP is informally being requested of them by the other European states.
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