The European Union and integration theories: The case of Europe's defense industry

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Stephen Koff

Second Advisor

Peter Marsh


Defence industry, International law, International relations, Political science, European history, security

Subject Categories

Political Science


The European Union (EU) has come to play an increasingly influential role in Europe's defense industry in recent years. This is puzzling because the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which created the predecessor of the EU, stated that issues relating to armaments production and trade should remain with national governments. Today, however, the European Commission oversees policies covering the trade of dual-use goods, approval of corporate mergers and acquisitions, research and development programs, the industrial conversion of regions dependent upon armaments production, and the procurement policies of defense ministries. The European Parliament has been an active proponent of a European defense industrial policy. The 1991 Maastricht Treaty seeks closer cooperation between the EU and the Western European Union, a defense organization seeking to construct a joint European armaments procurement agency. How and why the EU has obtained influence over defense industry issues is important because, assuming that a state's ability to influence its domestic defense industrial base is at least a partial measure of national security, it may provide us with an understanding of the extent to which states may be willing to yield sovereignty to supranational institutions. This, in turn, will have implications for theories of regional integration. However, the European integration literature has not tried to explain how or why the EU has become more involved in defense industry matters. The following research suggests that none of the integration theories, ranging from state-centered realist approaches to neofunctionalist explanations emphasizing interest groups and suprastate institutions, can, by themselves, adequately explain this phenomenon. The theoretical interpretation that best helps us to understand why the EU has assumed more influence in this sector combines an emphasis on the international environment with the concept of spillover. Changes in international politics and economics are forcing Europe's defense industry, the EU, and member states to choose restructuring at the regional level as the best option to ensure the competitiveness and survivability of this sector. The conclusions of this research have implications for several other International Relations research fields, including international political economy, international security, foreign policy-making, international organizations, and the relationships between domestic and foreign policy.


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