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The Nordic coalition in EU Foreign and Security Policy

Christian Opitz

The European Union is widely considered as an increasingly active and relevant actor in the global security architecture (Bretheron & Vogler 2006). But our knowledge on decision-making processes regarding EU's external affairs is considerably limited due to outdated assumptions of state sovereignty. Unlike other dimensions of European integration, the realm of foreign and security policy has traditionally been regarded as purely intergovernmental "high-politics" structure driven by big powers.However, several qualitative studies suggest the existence of a distinct group of the small Nordic countries that, collectively, "punch above their weight" in EU international crisis management (Strömvik 2006; Jakobsen 2009). But does a Nordic coalition actually exist in EU foreign and security policy? If so, how can we explain such a transgovernmental actor in an allegedly intergovernmental context? And what are ways to conceptualise collective influence on EU policy outcomes? Following Hafner-Burton et al. (2009), my paper will argue that by applying a Network Analysis approach we can systematically investigate the formation, functions and effects of informal regional coalitions within EU decision-making processes.

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