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Gesine is a PhD candidate at the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London. Her research interests include the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), EU missions and military cooperation, German and French security and defence policy, as well as questions of global order in a broader sense, especially with regard to the EU’s role in international security.

In her role as a Program Assistant at the Paris Office of the German Marshall Fund of the US, Gesine works on European security and defence and transatlantic relations. She holds an MA in European Affairs with distinction from SciencesPo Paris, an MA in Political Science from Freie Universität Berlin, and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Freiburg and Institut d’Etudes Politiques Aix-en-Provence. Her studies were supported by the German Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and the French-German University (DFH/UFA).

Prior to joining the DSD, Gesine was granted a fellowship for Chinese language studies at the Beijing Foreign Studies University and professional development in China by the German Academic Exchange Service. An advanced Mandarin speaker, she is highly interested in the EU’s relations with China and China in international security and global order.


Research Interests

  • European security and defence
  • EU missions
  • European strategic autonomy
  • French and German security and defence policy
  • International security and global order
  • China in international security



CSDP plus: flexible forms of cooperation in European security and defence

This thesis assesses the flexible choices of EU member states in security and defence cooperation with regard to different institutional frameworks. Considered a case of “too little, too late” for many years, European defence cooperation has leaped forwards since 2017 with the launch of several new initiatives and formats, such as the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the European Intervention Initiative, the European Defence Fund (EDF) or the task force Takuba. These new initiatives are particularly interesting with regard to their institutional setups because only some of them are integrated in the EU’s institutional framework, whereas others are extra-EU intergovernmental formats. Therefore, the research objective of the thesis is to explain the emergence of these different formats of defence cooperation.

Drawing on neoclassical realist theory, the thesis focuses on geopolitical/structural factors, intra-EU power considerations and domestic variables as possible explanatory factors for the member states’ choices for defence cooperation. It analysis these factors with regard to the decision-making processes in France, Germany and the UK as key member states in European security. In form of a comparative case study of the different post-2017 formats, the thesis examines preferences regarding institutional setups of cooperation in different fields of defence cooperation (like capabilities/research and development, and missions/operations). Building on the existing literature on European defence cooperation, regime complexes and institutional overlap, and informal governance in combination with recent empirical studies on these new initiatives and cooperation formats, it therefore presents a new angle of addressing flexible choices in European defence cooperation. Consequently, the thesis does not only aim to fill a gap in the academic literature, but also to provide an understanding challenges and opportunities future formats of European defence cooperation.


Dr Ben Kienzle