European Union defense integration and the effects on militarily non-allied member states: The cases of Finland and Sweden

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Craig Parsons


European Union, Defense, Finland, Sweden, Neutrality, Austria

Subject Categories

International Relations | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study addresses a puzzle which has received little scholarly attention. The question is why militarily non-allied European Union members (Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden) have undergone significant changes in their foreign and defense policies; accepting policies and engaging in activities previously deemed incompatible with their official security policy doctrines. While dominant explanations cite geopolitical changes and NATO's role in crisis management, both of which have undeniably and dramatically altered the security political domain in post-Cold War Europe, it is argued that EU defense integration and EU institutions have been most influential.

The study shows evidence of the influence of EU membership, and how the development of its security and defense dimension extensively contributed to security and defense reforms in Finland and Sweden, constituting necessary explanatory components lacking in dominant explanations. It was shown that absent the European Security and Defense Policy process, domestic reforms and policy changes would never have occurred, been significantly delayed, or postponed indefinitely. A control case, Switzerland, is also included. If arguments of geopolitical changes or NATO expansion were accurate we should find similar changes in this non-EU neutral state with similar socio-economic standards. This is not the case.

The second part of the puzzle is why these non-allied states have moved away from neutrality in different ways in response to the same developments at the EU level? An explanation for such differences can be found by looking at the domestic settings, the legacy of different types of neutrality and their effects on decision making structures, norms, national identity, and peoples' role-perceptions of the state. Focusing on two non-allied states with different types of neutrality Finland (primarily pragmatic), and Sweden (ideological) the legacies of different neutrality is evident in the ease and extent to which Finland has adapted to a European defense dimension, vis-à-vis Swedish reluctant acquiescence in many areas, less expansive ties to NATO, and continued skepticism of Swedish policy as espoused by other members' officials.


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