International Politics, European Union, Foreign Policy, Intervention in Africa

Catherine Gegout has major research interests in international relations theories and European politics, with a focus on European foreign and security policies. More recently, her attention has focused upon European military and economic intervention in Africa, and the role of the International Criminal Court.

Why Europe Intervenes in Africa analyses the underlying causes of all European decisions for and against military interventions in conflicts in African states since the late 1980s. It focuses on the main European actors who have deployed troops in Africa: France, the United Kingdom and the European Union. When conflict occurs in Africa, the response of European actors is generally inaction.

This can be explained in several ways: the absence of strategic and economic interests, the unwillingness of European leaders to become involved in conflicts in former colonies of other European states, and sometimes the Eurocentric assumption that conflict in Africa is a normal event which does not require intervention.

When European actors do decide to intervene, it is primarily for motives of security and prestige, and not primarily for economic or humanitarian reasons. The weight of past relations with Africa can also be a driver for European military intervention, but the impact of that past is changing.

This book offers a theory of European intervention based mainly on realist and post-colonial approaches. It refutes the assumptions of liberals and constructivists who posit that states and organisations intervene primarily in order to respect the principle of the 'responsibility to protect'.

This is the first book to offer a theory explaining European Union decision-making in foreign and security policies, and to provide a detailed and practical analysis of how the Common Foreign and Security Policy really works, before and since the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.The European Union's (EU) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) stipulates that all member states must unanimously ratify policy proposals through their representatives on the EU Council.

Intergovernmentalism, or the need for equal agreement from all member nations, is used by many political scientists and policy analysts to study how the EU achieves its CFSP. However, in European Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Gegout modifies this theory, arguing instead for analyses based on what she terms 'constrained intergovernmentalism'.

The United Kingdom, France, and Germany are the only states which really matter in CFSP issues. They nonetheless have to take into account the hidden veto power of the United States, the constraints imposed by the European Commission, and the precedents set by past decisions.

Three in-depth case studies of CFSP decision-making support this argument, as the  book examines the EU position on China's human rights record, EU sanctions against Serbia, and EU relations with NATO.

Introduction here.

Journal articles

Attachments of early versions of the articles below can be found here.

‘Unethical power Europe? Something fishy about EUtrade and development policies’, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 37, n. 12, June 2016, pp. 2192-2210.

This article analyses the impact of European Union (EU) policies in the field of fisheries on development in Africa. It contests the premise that the EU promoteslocal economies, and argues that it often contributes to depleting fish stocks, distorting African economic policies and harming fishers’ communities. In so doing, the EU is violating its basic duty to avoid harm to other states. However, it is now committed to sustainable development.

This article offers suggestions on policies which would enable the EU to take on both its negative and positive duties.

'The International Criminal Court: Limits, Potential and Conditions for the Promotion of Justice and Peace', Third World Quarterly, Vol. 34, n. 5, June 2013, pp. 800-818.'

The International Criminal Court (ICC) aims to promote not only justice, but also peace. It has been widely criticized for doing neither, yet it has to contend with some severe structural and political difficulties: it has limited resources, it faces institutional restrictions, it is manipulated by states, and it is criticized for an alleged selectivity in the way it dispenses justice. However, the ICC could contribute significantly to the promotion of international justice and peace, and have a major impact on the prevention of crime since its prosecutions represent a clear threat to highly-placed individuals who commit serious crimes. While this article concentrates on the work of the ICC in Africa, the only continent where it has issued indictments against suspected criminals, it also looks at its efforts on other continents. In the larger international context, it argues that the contribution of the ICC to international justice and peace depends on its institutional power and the support it receives from states, on its own impartial work, and on the way it is perceived by potential criminals and victims in the world.

Open Access: Free Download. Highly read article, over 8,000 views.

'EU Conflict Management in Africa: TheLimits of an International Actor', Ethnopolitics, Special Issue on EU Conflict Management, Vol. 8, n. 3-4, September-November 2009, pp. 403-416.

The European Union’s (EU) conflict management policy towards Africa throughout the 2003–2009 period can be understood within a realist framework. In terms of actors, big Member States, and especially France, set the agenda. In terms of motives, EU foreign policy in security issues appears to be instigated in order to enhance the prestige of Europe in the world, and its independence from the United States. EU state leaders want to be perceived as ethical actors, and they seem to use the EU as an instrument in order to share the responsibility of intervention. In terms of impact, aid and trade policies towards African states are limited in comparison with policies towards other areas in the world, and still depend on previous colonial relations. EU military missions are not consistent, and are either avoided, or limited in space and time. The EU’s conflict management policy is therefore generally not credible in African states.

'The West, Realism and Intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1996–2006)', International Peacekeeping, Vol. 16, n. 2, April 2009, pp. 231-244.

Western policy towards the DRC throughout the 1996–2006 period can be understood within a realist framework. Consequently, the West has generally had a counterproductive effect on DRC internal politics. The desire to create and defend Western zones of influence in Africa had a negative impact on conflict resolution until 1997. Following this and until the setting up of a transitional government in 2003, Western inaction and neglect meant that the West was quasi-absent from the negotiations to end the war. Between 2003 and the elections of 2006, the desire to consolidate the EU as a credible actor had an impact on DRC security through the EU’s support to the DRC state and to UN peacekeeping missions, but this was limited in time and space.


'Causes and Consequences of the EU’s Military Intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): a Realist Explanation', European Foreign Affairs Review, Vol. 10, n. 3, Autumn 2005, pp. 427-443.

Why did the EU intervene in the DRC in 2003? What are the implications of this EU intervention for cooperation among EU states on military issues, future EU military interventions, and EU presence and actorness in the world? I apply the approach of maximal realism to the action of European powers: they intervene in a third state in order to enhance their power and leadership. The EU acts after evaluating the costs and benefits of an intervention, and not merely because of the humanitarian crisis in the DRC. In terms of cooperation among Member States within the EU framework, the Artémis mission does not appear to have created long term close relationships between military, foreign affairs and political officials. As expected by realism, the EU is only likely to intervene in areas of strategic and economic importance, and at a low cost of military casualties. This article looks both at the context in which this mission took place, namely the situation in the DRC itself, and at the history of EU policy in Africa. It then analyses the reasons for the EU Artémis intervention in the DRC. Finally, it focuses on the implications of Artémis for future EU military interventions, and EU presence and actorness in the world.

'The Quint: Acknowledging the Existence of a Big-Four – US Directoire at the Heart of the European Union’s Foreign Policy Decision-Making Process', Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 40, n. 2, June 2002, pp. 331-344.

The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union (EU), its impact on the outside world and its functionality have been widely studied by academics and researchers since its creation in 1993. One understudied but major aspect of the CFSP is the way EU foreign policy communication and negotiation takes place unofficially. One group would seem distinctly essential to the EU’s foreign policy decision-making process, namely the Quint. The Quint includes only five States: France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy (named hereafter the Big Four) and a notable outsider - the US. The Quint is considered here as a Directoire, in the sense that it seems to be a leadership group in the EU decision-making process that dominates the other EU Member States. It is a group that takes initiatives, discusses EU’s foreign policy issues and small EU countries have to accept its authority. The existence of this group has implications on the nature and conditions for cooperation among the EU Member States, and on the theory related to the CFSP, EU integration and action. Despite the difficulty in fully grasping the functionality of the Quint, this paper first studies the origin of the Quint, secondly looks at its characteristics and finally attempts to shed new light on the EU’s foreign policy decision-making process.

'The EU and Security in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006: an Unfinished Business', FORNET CFSP Forum, January 2007, Vol. 5, Issue 1, pp. 5-9.

'Europe has a strategy, but is the EU a strategic actor?', FORNET CFSP Forum, January 2005, Vol. 3, Issue 1, pp. 8-10.

Articles in French Journals

'Le retrait de l’Europe et la montée en puissance de la Chine en Afrique. Une évaluation des approches réalistes, libérales et constructivistes' for the Special Issue ‘The EU in the New Balance of Powers’, Politique Européenne, No. 39, June 2013, pp. 44-75.

La Chine et l’Europe (au sens de l’Union Européenne et de ses Etats membres) sont toutes deux des acteurs politiques et économiques en Afrique. Le commerce entre la Chine et l’Afrique a pris de l’importance au tournant du XXIème siècle. Dans le domaine de la sécurité, la Chine a pris part aux missions de maintien de la paix de l’ONU à la fin des années 1980, et en plus de la présence militaire de certains Etats européens, l’UE a également déployé des troupes en Afrique pour la première fois en 2003. Malgré des intérêts similaires sur ce continent, la coopération entre l’Europe et la Chine reste, comme nous l’expliquerons, quasi inexistante. Néanmoins, cet article montre aussi que même si les acteurs européens et chinois ont des approches et donc des politiques différentes dans les domaines sécuritaires et politiques, il est possible d’observer une certaine convergence dans le domaine économique. Les approches réalistes et libérales s’avéreront plus utiles que l’approche constructiviste afin de comprendre les politiques étrangères de l’Europe et de la Chine sur le continent africain.

'To Intervene Militarily or Not? A Comparison of European Policies in the DRC and in Sudan', Les Champs de Mars n. 17, Paris: La Documentation française, January 2006, pp. 101-122.

Le conflit en République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) a duré de 1998 à 2003. Il a fait plus de 3.5 millions de morts. L’Union Européenne (UE) est intervenue militairement en RDC de juin à septembre 2003. Le conflit au Darfour a commencé en février 2003. Il est toujours en cours. On dénombre 300.000 morts. L’UE n’est pas intervenue militairement au Darfour, et il n’est apparemment pas question pour elle de s’impliquer militairement dans cette région. L’UE intervient militairement en Afrique lorsque les Etats de l’UE estiment, après une analyse des coûts et des bénéfices, qu’elle a intérêt à agir. L’action de l’UE est limitée par la politique des Etats-Unis envers le pays africain en crise. Une approche réaliste permet d'éclairer le mode des prises de décisions politiques relatives à une intervention militaire en Afrique.

'The French and British Change in Position vis-à-vis NATO in the Elaboration of the CESDP', in the Special Issue 'L'Europe de la défense. Institutionnalisation, européanisation', Politique Européenne, September 2002, n. 8, pp. 62-87.

The Helsinki European Council conclusions of December 1999 aimed at strengthening the Common European Security and Defence Policy (CESDP). The EU Member States decided that the EU should be able to assume its responsibilities for the full range of conflict prevention and crisis management tasks required to deal with crises such as the Balkan crisis. They are currently looking at the degree of the autonomous capacity of the EU to take decisions, and where NATO as a whole is not engaged, to conduct EU-led military operations in response to international crises. This paper argues that France and the United Kingdom reached a more than “Lowest Common Denominator” (LCD) agreements when they negotiated the creation of the CESDP: they changed their initial positions, and the UK changed its preference. These EU Member States were mainly motivated by the way the United States dealt with the Balkans’ crises. They were then constrained in their action by the US and the EU’s institutions. Realism, the conventional theory which is expected to explain high politics decision-making processes does not seem appropriate here to explain the change in the British and French position: the security community concept and historical institutionalism might be more useful here. This paper is divided into two main parts. The first one analyses the creation and substance of the CESDP, while the second one focuses on the evolution of the French and British change in position and looks at the possible explanations for this.

Book Chapters

'Explaining European military Intervention in Africa: a Neoclassical Realist Perspective', in Toje Asle and Kunz Barbara (eds), Neoclassical Realism in European Politics:Bringing Power Back In, Manchester University Press, 2012, pp. 138-160.

'EU Conflict Management in Africa: The Limits of an International Actor', in Hughes James (ed), EU Conflict Management, Routledge, April 2010.

Book Reviews

Grzyb Amanda F. (ed.), 'The World and Darfur, International Response to Crimes against Humanity in Western Sudan', Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 2009, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 48 (3), Autumn 2010.

Miskimmon Alister (ed.), 'Germany and the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union: Between Europeanisation and National Adaptation', Palgrave, 2007, West European Politics, 31(05), 2008, pp. 1103- 1103.

White Brian (ed.), 'Understanding European Foreign Policy', Palgrave, 2001, Millennium, Journal of International Studies, Vol. 31, n. 2, Summer 2002, pp. 417-419.

Catherine Gegout,
28 Jun 2013, 08:16