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The Politics of EU Foreign Policy: the Utility of a Governance Approach

Skander Nasra

Even though EU foreign policy (EUFP) is characterized by a continuously expanding range of functional and geographical activities, national foreign policies retain a continued relevance outside an EU context. This paper aims to examine the influence of EU membership on EU member states' bilateral and multilateral relations outside this EU context.Authors studying EUFP have gradually moved away from traditional theoretical approaches, conceptualizing EUFP instead in terms of governance. Drawing on the governance literature, this paper will define EUFP as an international regime. EUFP will be considered an intervening variable between EU member states' individual and collective foreign policy actions. EUFP is thus conceptualized as a 'system of governance', acting as a filter on national foreign policies. Subsequently, the paper will examine Belgium's position in the African Great Lakes region. The past two decades, Belgium actively 'Europeanized' its foreign policy towards this region, vigorously maintaining its historical bilateral ties with the individual countries. Concretely, this article wishes to analyze the consequences of Belgium's engagement in EUFP on both its bilateral relations with the countries in the region and its multilateral relations (UN-MONUC, two regional Contact groups comprising regional players and the US). Furthermore, the paper will reflect on the utility of regime theories in studying EUFP.

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