European defence in times of austerity: the case of Southern Europe

Research output: Working paper

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The global economic and financial crisis, which broke out in 2008, had a significant impact on European countries and, consequently, on its fiscal and budgetary decisions in the various policy areas. Security and Defence were no exception. Although the fact that the international security context continues to require a proper response to a set of transnational and sub-national risks and threats, the European countries decided to adapt their budgets to an environment of economic crisis, namely by applying austerity measures to its defence structures. This article analysis the impact of these austerity measures in four southern European countries – Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece – arguing that, despite national particularities, there are some common trends regarding the Defence and Armed Forces sector: the decline in Defence expenditure; an overall reduction in manpower, both civilian and military; the decrease of investment, procurement and R&D; and a reduction of military peacekeeping deployments. In order to overcome the consequences that the economic crisis had in the European Union Defence dimension, this article argues that the current context should be taken as an opportunity. At the national level, through the promotion of structural reforms of the Defence and Armed Forces that allow to maintain the same level of ambition, but with optimizing resources. At the European Union level, Defence cooperation should be seen as the better way to improve capabilities in any level of spending, either through overall common instruments or through sub-regional security and defence cooperation mechanisms.
Original languagePortuguese
Place of PublicationSan Domenico di Fiesole
PublisherEuropean University Institute - RSCAS
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Publication series

NamePolicy paper
PublisherEuropean University Institute. Robert Schuman Centre for Advance Studies
ISSN (Print)1830-1541


  • European Defense
  • Southern Europe
  • Austerity
  • Cooperation

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