To respond to security challenges posed by fragile states in its neighbourhood and beyond, the EU and its institutions have sought to develop ‘whole-of-governance’ approaches – as opposed to the ‘whole-of-government’ approaches of its member states (both referred to as WGAs) – to external conflicts and crises since the mid-1990s. The EU’s WGA policies have gradually evolved in parallel to those pioneered by Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK. Similarly, other multilateral actors (e.g. the UN, NATO and the OSCE) have been developing WGAs in parallel to the EU (Debuysere and Blockmans 2019a). This has inevitably led to conceptual exchanges and interactions among these organisations.
Concretely, the EU’s WGA policies have evolved from a minimal definition based on the security-development nexus to a full-fledged and ambitious ‘integrated approach to conflict and crisis’ (IA) that incorporates non-traditional security concepts. The rationale behind the IA is outlined in the EU’s Global Strategy (EUGS) issued in 2016 (EEAS 2016: 28):
“We increasingly observe fragile states breaking down in violent conflict. These crises, and the unspeakable violence and human suffering to which they give rise, threaten our shared vital interests. The EU will engage in a practical and principled way in peacebuilding, concentrating our efforts in surrounding regions to the east and south, while considering engagement further afield on a case-by-case basis. The EU will foster human security through an integrated approach.”
While policy documents of the past two decades have highlighted the EU’s commitment to an integrated approach, a few crucial questions remain unanswered: Has this commitment (words) truly become a working methodology (deeds)? And, if so, how has it been institutionalised and ‘operationalised’ at the headquarters level to increase the coherence of responses to external conflicts and crises? This chapter, which is based on a longer report (Debuysere and Blockmans 2019b), intends to investigate these questions.