Does EU coherence matter in foreign policy?

This new article challenges a key piece of conventional wisdom on EU foreign policy:

Daniel C. Thomas (2012). Still Punching below its Weight? Coherence and Effectiveness in European Union Foreign Policy. Journal of Common Market  Studies 50:3, 457-474.

Abstract: Although scholars and practitioners have long argued that greater political coherence will make the EU a more effective international actor, the relationship between coherence and effectiveness has not been well defined or tested. This paper defines the two concepts, proposes three hypotheses regarding the relationship between them, and examines the extent and consequences of EU coherence on an issue that the EU has highlighted as essential to its foreign policy mission – the good functioning of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  It finds that the EU exhibited considerable coherence in its response to the U.S. campaign for ICC ‘non-surrender agreements,’ yet failed in its effort to shape the behaviour of other states. Coherence may be necessary for the EU to exert its influence abroad, but it is not sufficient in a multi-centric world order where many others do not share the EU’s collective policy preferences and are ready to deploy vast resources in pursuit of their goals.  The paper also considers the implications of this study for future research on EU foreign policy actorness, coherence and effectiveness.

 

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