Konstantin Gavras, Matthias Mader, Harald Schoen
Convergence of European security and defense preferences? A quantitative text analysis of strategy papers, 1994-2018

European Union Politics, 2022: 23, Heft 4, S. 662 - 679
ISSN: 1465-1165 (print), 1741-2757 (online)

Since the end of the Cold War, the EU aims to advance to a relevant and autonomous actor in international politics—especially concerning security and defense politics. Scholars interested in whether the EU member states actually converge in their security and defense preferences often analyze strategy papers qualitatively, focusing on selected countries at specific points in time. In this article, we propose a dictionary approach for analyzing the development of security and defense preferences within the EU over the last three decades using quantitative text analysis. We make use of 163 strategy papers, published by all EU member states and the EU itself since 1994. The findings show that EU member states react similarly to international events, but do not converge substantially in their preferences. Furthermore, there is no substantial convergence to the position of the EU itself. We finally discuss usefulness and validity of quantitative text analysis in comparative research more broadly.