The Socialization Effect of EU Membership on Foreign Policy Preferences: Evidence from Debates in the United Nations

Nicola Chelotti, Niheer Dasandi (University of Birmingham) & Slava J. Mikhaylov (University of Essex)

Does membership of intergovernmental organizations lead to more similar state preferences through a socialization effect? This question has received much attention in IR. Empirical studies focusing on the EU, claim EU membership leads to foreign policy convergence based on analyzing UN voting patterns. We argue the significant coordination between EU member states when voting means voting cohesion demonstrates effective coordination, not a socialization effect. To examine whether EU membership has a socialization effect on member states, we use a new dataset of UN General Debate (GD) statements. Every year, UN member states discuss their perspectives on major international issues in the GD. The lack of coordination and external constraints in delivering GD statements makes them ideal for testing socialization effects on preferences. Interviews with UN representatives of EU members support our argument that there is significant coordination between EU delegations on UN votes, but not in formulating GD statements. We derive estimates of states' foreign policy preferences from GD statements using text analytic techniques, and examine the effect of EU membership and engagement on preferences using these new measures.

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