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Cooperation, Competition & Co-optation? How Member States Interact with the EEAS

Nicholas Wright

The establishment of the EEAS represented a significant organisational, institutional and - potentially - ideational upgrade of the EU's external relations capabilities. Intended to provide the enhanced and augmented role of the High Representative with the resources of a genuine diplomatic service, the EEAS brings together officials and experts from the Council Secretariat, Commission and across the Member States. However, for all its promise, the life of the EEAS has so far been troubled. The process of setting up such a complex organisation has been difficult, with both the Commission and some Member States placing significant obstacles in its path. This paper examines how three Member States in particular - France, Germany and the United Kingdom - have approached the establishment of the EEAS and contributed to its subsequent development. It argues that while each has supported the idea of the EEAS in theory, they view it - and seek to engage with and utilise it - in different ways, reflecting their own historic attitudes to foreign policy cooperation within the EU. As a consequence, the EEAS has become a new arena for inter-state competition and rivalry. Drawing on data from interviews conducted in each state's foreign ministry, as well as within the key institutions in Brussels, including the EEAS, it suggests that far from resolving long-standing questions over how to achieve more coherent EU-level foreign policy, finding answers to these questions remains as challenging as ever.

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