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EU Actorness and Effectiveness in the Fight against Piracy

By  EU Naval Force Media and Public Information Office (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Is the European Union an international actor when it comes to security policy? And is it effective in doing so? These were the questions I tried to answer in my Bachelor thesis II for the B.A. European Studies at Maastricht University in 2012.

The short answer: yes, it is an actor, however a not very effective one. I concluded:

In fighting piracy, does the European Union “behave actively and deliberately in relation to other actors in the international system” (Sjöstedt, 1977, p. 16)? Yes, it does. The EU is an actor in its own right. In recent years the Union has developed a determined counter-piracy policy and is applying it in a relative cohesive manner. The EU has been devoting considerable political will, diplomatic efforts, money and troops to fighting piracy at the Horn of Africa. Yet, this paper also revealed that the EU is not very effective in this undertaking. On the one hand, its determinacy and cohesion score high but they are nevertheless not fully-fledged. On the other hand, contextual factors have been reducing the EU’s ability to translate its actorness into effectiveness: piracy is a very complex issue and its causes difficult to fight.

For the question of EU actorness I relied upon concepts inter alia  developed by Sjöstedt, Jupille and Caparaso  and Daniel C. Thomas. To assess the EU’s effectiveness I chose a definition by Michael Merlingen.

You may download the paper here:

I received a 8.5 (out of 10) points for the paper from my supervisor calling it a “very good piece of work and a worthy conclusion of a bachelor degree in European Studies”. Points of critique were the “rigidity of the research design” and that one “key reference is missing in the literature discussion (Bretherton and Vogler, 2006)”.

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