Following the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU's external representation by the Council Presidency has been replaced by the multi-institutional actor, namely, the European External Action Service (EEAS) that comprises representatives from the European Commission, the Council Secretariat and individual Member States. The rationale behind the changes, generated by the Lisbon Treaty has been to increase the EU's external capacity. The paper argues that the increased complexity of institutional setup, which has to accommodate in its agreements the preferences of several institutional actors, creates the pressures on the efficiency of the policy framing and, hence, the capacity of the EU in exerting a coherent external policy. By drawing on rational choice theoretical accounts, the paper applies the principle-agent (P-A) model in explaining the effects of delegation, by showing that because of a multiple agent (the EEAS), a principal (member state) may opt for 'bypassing' the delegation chain and, instead, choose the individual, bilateral external policy actions. The higher the preference intensity, the more likely the member states will pursue bilateral solutions in external relations. Similarly, the Commission may take lead in the issues of high normative weight, e.g. human rights and development aid. Empirically the paper focuses on the European Neighbourhood Policy and offers a theoretical framework for explaining the effects of the delegation chain in framing common proposals in the field of the EU's external relations
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