Iceland and the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy: Challenge or Opportunity?


  • Alyson J.K. Bailes
  • Örvar Þ. Rafnsson



Iceland, European Union, Common Security and Defence Policy, EU armaments policies, Lisbon Treaty, Small states.


Iceland had initial misgivings about the EU’s capacity created in 1999 for military crisis management. In the current debate over Iceland’s EU application, questions have been raised about the possible impact of CSDP on the nation’s non-military status. In fact the CSDP is designed to respect national choices in defence; requires unanimity on new actions; and allows case-by-case decisions on participation. Preliminary study of six other small states in the EU suggests that none of them has been obliged by membership to abandon national preferences in this field, though all have made special efforts to support EU police and civilian operations - an area where Iceland is also well qualified to contribute. The more significant effects of EU membership for Icelandic security might in fact come in other, ‘softer’ areas including EU obligations for mutual assistance in civil emergencies.

Author Biographies

Alyson J.K. Bailes

Adjunct Professor of Political Science, University of Iceland.

Örvar Þ. Rafnsson

Graduate in Political Science, University of Iceland.




How to Cite

Bailes, A. J., & Rafnsson, Örvar Þ. (2012). Iceland and the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy: Challenge or Opportunity?. Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 8(1), 109–132.



Peer Reviewed Articles