The European Union and the Reconstruction of States

Chevallier-Govers Constance, December 2009


  • State
  • Reconstruction
  • government
  • political crisis
  • human security
  • international security
  • Kosovo
  • the Balkans

According to the positivist conception, the State is the legal entity formed by the combination of three components: a population, a territory and an effective government meaning a government that really has an effective monopoly of coercion over its territory and its population. The reconstruction of the defaulting State involves the re-uniting of these three elements. But what is lacking in the State after a crisis is the existence of an effective government. And the absence of an effective government is a threat both to the security of the population and to international security. The object of this paper is to study State reconstruction in cases where a State previously existed but also to look at where the European Union helped to build new States like for instance Kosovo and other Balkan States

The construction or reconstruction of failed States is a prerequisite to international security. The European Security Strategy of December 2003 considers failure of States as one of five security threats in the EU along with terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Until recently the United Nations alone was responsible for this mission within its second generation peace-keeping operations. Since 2000, the European Union has also embarked on such operations, in particular through its European Security and Defence Policy . The European Union can thus influence the characteristics of the State that is being re-built. Reconstruction aid is one way for the European Union to ensure the democratisation of the State in question. The European Union’s role in democratisation is nevertheless much larger than the reconstruction of failed States. Indeed the European Union has incorporated human rights and democracy considerations into all aspects of its foreign policy. In this paper, democratisation shall be analysed only in the context of the reconstruction of States.

The European Union seems to have become a new actor in the reconstruction and democratisation of State. The peculiarity of European Union’s action is that the concerned State is not a member State of the European Union. It is, in a way, a reconstruction from the outside. What justifies the action of the European Union is security. The relationship between the failed State and the European Union will be the thread of our analysis. The relationship between the EU and the fragile State is not the same in the context of reconstruction assistance and that of democratisation. It seems that the reconstruction of the State by the European Union is based on collaboration with the State, while democratisation is in some respects imposed by the European Union. This reflection will lead to the question whether the EU, through its action, does not question the essentials of the State.

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The full article can be found in the publication “Rethinking these Foundations of the State” (forthcoming 2010)