Justifying EU Foreign Policy: The Logics Underpinning EU Enlargement

Discussing three alternative justifications for a common EU foreign policy, this paper finds the common values thesis to be the most persuasive in a case study of EU enlargement.

ARENA Working Paper 01/2001 (html)

Helene Sjursen and Karen E. Smith

This paper discusses the raison d’être of the European Union’s (EU) foreign policy. The analysis is built on the premise that the EU’s foreign policy should not be seen as restricted to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) but as a policy spanning the three pillars. Three analytically distinct approaches to justifying the existence of the EU’s foreign policy are suggested: in the first approach the utility of this foreign policy for the member states would be emphasised; in the second approach values that are particular to the European Union would be stressed and the common foreign policy would be expected to promote and uphold these values in relations with external actors; and in the third approach a set of universally recognised rights and principles would be highlighted as the core underpinning of the EU’s foreign policy. Using the policy on enlargement as an example, the relative importance of each of these three approaches is examined. The paper finds that the idea of common values appears as an important element in this particular dimension of the EU’s foreign policy. This finding is surprising given that it is often assumed that there is no common identity or shared cultural sphere underpinning the EU’s foreign policy.

Tags: CFSP/ESDP, enlargement, international relations, identity
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM