Interests, institutions and identities in the study
of European foreign policy
The uneven but manifest emergence of a more coherent EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, which now includes significant elements of defence and military cooperation, makes it even more imperative to refine a theory and a set of analytical tools for studying the role of the EU as an international actor. As has often been noted, however, CFSP and its predecessor, European Political Cooperation, have not been well served by theory. 'Like the debate over a common Community foreign policy itself, there is no agreement among academics on the most useful theoretical approach for comprehending this activity' (Holland 1994: 129). Consequently, much of the literature on European foreign policy defines itself as 'pre-theoretical' (Hill 1993a), while limited importance is attached to the EU as an actor vis-à-vis its member states. In part, this reflects the dominance of the realist paradigm in international relations and traditional foreign policy analysis, which accords analytical primacy to states. In addition, it is a consequence of the multi-level and institutionally polyphonous character of EU decision-making in the second pillar (CFSP), and the continuing impact of national rather than communitarian approaches to foreign policy and conflict management - as the experience of the wars of Yugoslav succession amply demonstrates.
Nonetheless, as other contributors to this volume have argued, there are a number of non-realist approaches to international relations and foreign policy analysis that provide useful insights relevant to the study of the EU as an international actor. This chapter provides an overview and analysis of some of these approaches, and proposes an analytical framework with which to explore the complex interplay of factors affecting European foreign policy. This framework is based on a synthesis of elements of social constructivism, the new institutionalism and neo-classical realism. Foreign policy, it has been argued, 'is the result of a complex interplay of stimuli from the external environment and domesticlevel cognitive, institutional and political variables' (Checkel 1993: 297). The
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Publication information: Book title: Rethinking European Union Foreign Policy. Contributors: Ben Tonra - Editor, Thomas Christiansen - Editor. Publisher: Manchester University Press. Place of publication: Manchester, England. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 99.
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