The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) epitomises the EU’s aspirations to be a key actor in global security. The logic underlying the policy, however, remains contentious. In order to elucidate the latter, this article compares the plausibility of different theoretical frameworks. It suggests that liberal IR theory offers considerable explanatory power in this respect, and argues that the decisive forces behind CSDP operations are governmental interests as defined by domestic expectations. European governments’ shared interest lies in being perceived to effectively further national interests and domestically held values. Yet, this preoccupation with domestic politics also entails and explains CSDP’s often-noted inconsistencies and constraints.
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