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EU Foreign Policy since the Lisbon Treaty: Adaptive Intergovernmentalism and Institutional Complexity

Kristi Raik, Rosa Balfour

The EU's performance on the global stage has been wrought with problems. Theoretical interpretations of the reasons for EU foreign policy weaknesses have flourished; two broad groups stand out. Intergovernmentalism sees EU foreign policy weakness in the 'logic of diversity' among the member states, which use the EU instrumentally for ad hoc cooperation or do not have sufficient incentives for cooperation. Institutionalist approaches see the institutions as shaping EU foreign policy capacity and output, but also the interests and identities of the actors involved. Weakness in performance is thus explained by problems of coordination and consistency within the institutional system. On the other hand, the impact of institutions on policy preferences and identities is seen to contribute to coherence and commitment to common policy.Innovations introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, notably the establishment of the EEAS, address weaknesses stemming from both approaches. Even if intergovernmentalism remains the dominant mode of decision-making, the role of member states is changed by bringing their representatives into the system, which may increase 'ownership' and trigger new processes of adaptation of national diplomacies. Institutional dualism is partly overcome by merging the CFSP with the former Commission DG for External Relations and by bringing the foreign policy 'toolbox' under the management of the EEAS. The paper will examine the adaptation of national diplomacies and the European Commission to the post-Lisbon structures. Empirical evidence will outline recent dynamics in EU system of diplomacy, while theoretically the paper will probe the extent to which mainstream interpretations of EU foreign policy derived from integration theory capture contemporary change.

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