A European contribution to non-proliferation? The EU WMD Strategy at ten



    1. Marie Curie Fellow at the Centre for Science and Security Studies within the Department of War Studies, King's College London.
    Search for more papers by this author
    • The author would like to acknowledge the valuable input and support of Wyn Q. Bowen, Lucy Jones and Matthew Moran. The research leading to the article has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under REA grant agreement no. 298226. The views expressed in the article are the author's personal views and do not necessarily represent the views of the European Commission.


In the aftermath of the ruptures caused by the Iraq crisis, European states agreed in December 2003 on both a European Security Strategy and an EU Strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Ten years have passed since this attempt to kick-start common European policies on WMD proliferation. How well have EU policies performed in this area? Has a specifically European way of dealing with proliferation challenges emerged? This article traces the development of EU policies on WMD proliferation since 2003 by examining, in particular, European reactions to the nuclear crisis in Iran, as well as European interactions with the international non-proliferation regime and the cooperation with partner countries. The article concludes that the EU has performed much better than might have been expected in an area that has traditionally been one of the fiercely guarded prerogatives of national security policies. The EU's good performance is very much related to institutional flexibility, as exemplified by the EU/E3 approach to Iran; and, to a high degree of political pragmatism. However, important shortcomings remain, most notably the lack of coordination between national and European non-proliferation efforts. In other words, the EU has not in the last ten years turned into a fully fledged non-proliferation actor that can deliver tangible results in any area of proliferation concern.