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Leaderless CFSP? Potentials and Performance of the High Representative in the Immediate Reaction to the Crises in Egypt and Libya

Niklas Helwig

The EU's response to the latest developments in the Southern-Mediterranean exemplifies a dilemma inherent to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the Union. On the one hand the new High Representative of the Union (HR/VP) is equipped with a comprehensive set of tasks as she wears the famous 'double hat', leads the new European External Action Service and chairs the newly created Foreign Affairs Council. On the other hand, the Lisbon treaty left the division of competences in the field of CFSP untouched and the control of foreign policy in the hands of the member states. The goals behind the latest institutional reforms - improved visibility and a more orchestrated common foreign policy of the member states - seem not to be accomplished in this first litmus test. However, drawing on interdisciplinary literature on leadership, the paper argues that the increased institutionalisation of CFSP that reached its provisional climax with the introduction of the HR/VP raised the probability of a Brussels-lead foreign policy. This hypothesis is examined in the light of the EU's response to the recent events in the Southern-Mediterranean.

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