Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

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Arming Fortress Europe? Spaces and Instruments of Economic Patriotism in EU Armament Policy

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Abstract:  How does the EU adapt its policies in response to current global changes? Extant scholarship has shed light on the EU’s geopolitical turn by analysing it as either a shift away from neoliberalism or a reshuffling of EU–US relations. This article makes the case for studying how these two dynamics interact. To do so, I draw on the economic patriotism framework, which focuses on the links between types and spaces of economic interventionism. Economic patriotism instruments can take various forms depending on their type (liberal/protectionist instruments) and space of reference (national/EU/transatlantic/international). From this perspective, the EU has responded to global changes by shifting from liberal to protectionist instruments of economic patriotism. However, the design of these policy instruments reflects compromises between the preferences of policymakers who adopt liberal/protectionist and Europeanist/Atlanticist positions. As policy instruments can create room for compromise because they allow various positions to converge, EU protectionist economic instruments cater to Atlanticist and liberal preferences too. This article illustrates this argument by means of EU armament policy. Using official documents and interviews, I analyse changes in EU economic patriotism by looking at the two major policy instruments: the 2009 Defence Procurement Directive and the 2021 European Defence Fund. Whereas the 2009 Directive reflected liberal economic patriotism anchored in the transatlantic space, the European Defence Fund illustrates tensions between types and spaces of economic interventionism in the EU’s geopolitical turn: Some clauses protect the EU from foreign interference, but its political-economic space of reference remains strongly transatlantic.

Keywords:  armament; Common Security and Defence Policy; economic nationalism; economic patriotism; European geopolitics; Fortress Europe


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© Catherine Hoeffler. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.