The Common Foreign and Security Policy: an Emerging New Voice in International Politics?

This paper accounts for changes of the late 1990s in the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. Discussing whether changes towards supranationalism could be stable and consistent, it is argued that traditional foreign policy perspectives must be supplemented to account for new dynamics.

ARENA Working Paper 34/1999 (html)

Helene Sjursen

The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union (EU) has often been overlooked and sometimes even ridiculed in studies of European integration. Until recently it was not unusual to argue that the EU did not have a foreign policy, that is, to describe the CFSP as a `myth'. Nonetheless, at the end of the 1990s, efforts to establish a common foreign and security policy were speeded up, with so-called pillar two issues emerging on top of the policy agenda of the EU. A crucial question is to what extent this development can be seen as lasting or whether or not it is only a passing phenomenon, dependent on a particular and temporary state of affairs. This chapter will suggest that the tendency to ignore the CFSP is closely connected to a specific perspective on international relations; a perspective that also points to the changes of the late 1990s as temporary. There is a danger however that important dimensions of the EU's foreign policy are ignored or not understood when this approach is used. In order to capture these 'lost' dimensions, the chapter suggests that it is necessary to employ a different perspective on international relations. In turn, this will also lead to different conclusions on the question of the durability of change in the EU's foreign and security policy.

Tags: transition processes, international relations, CFSP/ESDP, security/external
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM