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How European security is changing


Although migration, economic, health, tech and climate policy are increasingly thought of in terms of security, different issues are taking place in each of these policy areas.

Since the end of the Cold War, debates about security among both academics and policymakers have shifted away from traditional military or state security towards a broader conception of what security is – including, for example, ideas such as ‘human security’.

More recently, there has been a widespread perception of a ‘return of great power competition’ and even renewed fears about great power war – in other words, a resurgence of traditional security debates that many hoped and believed were a thing of the past. At the same time, and especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, the concept of ‘security’ has also been increasingly applied to other areas like economic and health policies.

These complex and parallel developments raise a number of difficult questions. First, does the changing way in which the concept of ‘security’ is used – and in particular the way people now increasingly speak of ‘economic security’ and ‘health security’ – reflect a changing reality or rather simply a changing perception of reality? Second, are these changes in the way we think about security helpful or not? In other words, is the redefinition of security that seems to be taking place leading to good policy responses and making citizens more secure, or is it rather unhelpfully ‘securitizing’ policy areas and possibly undermining democracy in the process?

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