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European Foreign Policy - Essay Example

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European Foreign Policy

It is only lately that some studies have pointed out the relevance and the need of a Foreign Policy Approach (FPA) to help explain the complex arena of the European Union's Foreign Policy. To adapt FPA to the European Union, an original and unique political organization, poses no insuperable problems. The difficulty is to apply an FPA approach to "European Foreign Policy". In my view the concept of "European Foreign Policy" is the problem. For some analysts EFP is synonymous with EU's Common Foreign and Security policy (CFSP) which should be differentiated from the European Community external competences (the traditional trade policy and the new development policy complementary to those of the Member States). Recently Hill (2002: 2-3) employs the term "European Foreign Policy" to the ensemble of the international activities of the European Union alone, not only CFSP activities but also including outputs from the other two EU's pillars, considered as a "mass of activity" which cannot be pretended to be in itself coherent. Others find the former definition to restrictive and consider that EFP takes three forms: member states Foreign Policy, Community external relations and Union's CFSP. In this context EFP is understood as a system of external relations or a Foreign Policy system where these three strands can be differentiated for analytical purpose. Although these perspectives stress that a key research task for the analyst is to establish the extent to which these forms have become interwoven over time, the fact is that this notion of EFP emphasizes the distinct sets of activity more than their interaction.
These definitions of EFP tend to ignore that CFSP provides the necessary political dimension to the Union's external action, that is to say, provides the political dimension which complements Community action. Moreover they fail to recognize the fact that in spite of its limitations and deficiencies the Treaty on European Union has allowed the formulation and implementation of a Common Foreign Policy which is more than the sum of member state's foreign policies. The Policy towards Central and Eastern Europe is a clear example of the later. It showed for the first time a common Foreign Policy strategy, combining Community and CFSP measures.
Another example is, the EU has also a CFP towards the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Russia, Ukraine, the Western Balkans. This is not to say that it is, or should be, a single foreign policy of a federal type but to recognize that the Union is an original and unique political organization where the CFP coexists within national foreign policies, which should be coherent nor contradictory with the later.
The concept of "common" foreign policy invokes the existence of interests in common. The Treaty on European Union makes a clear differentiation between areas of common interest and matters of general interest on which the Member States will inform and consult one another within the Council (Art.16). The common interest doesn't emerge automatically. It is the result of a process of overcoming narrow national interests for the shake of a shared common interest. The common inter ...Show more


Understanding the European Union's international presence is not an easy task. Scholars concur that the EU has an international presence (it is visible in regional and global foray) and that it exhibits some elements of 'actorness' (it is an international actor in some areas but not in others)…
Author : heathcotemarcel
European Foreign Policy essay example
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