Bilateral diplomacy in an integrated Europe: the co-existence of institutional orders?
This paper discusses the hypothesised decline of bilateral diplomacy in the EU and presents an empirical indicator of such decline, measuring the number of diplomatic staff over time in bilateral embassies.
Bilateral diplomacy is typically portrayed as under threat by European integration, which has forged direct links between sectoral ministries, introduced an all-embracing policy arena in Brussels and, arguably, rendered traditional embassy representation irrelevant. This paper questions whether this thesis indeed holds sway, inspired by insights from historical institutionalism. Drawing on data from diplomatic service lists we present a time-series analysis of embassy staff allocation. The results from five foreign services point towards maintained representation in EU 15 and a strong increase in EU 16-27, in line with an expectation of institutional robustness. As regards variation between the foreign services, convergence in representation patterns is a dominant trend. Furthermore, it is suggested, where the foreign ministry has a strong position, changes in the allocation of embassy staff will be less radical. Among the cases, France points itself out by its high and increasing priority of embassies in EU 15.
A later version of this paper has been published in Journal of European Integration, Vol. 30, No. 2, May 2008, pp. 235-253