European Union: Power and Policy-Making

By Jeremy J. Richardson | Go to book overview

14

The EU as an international actor

Michael Smith

INTRODUCTION

From the beginning, the European Communities and now the EU have had to exist in a changing international context; indeed, many treatments of the history of European integration place great weight on the international dimension of both the foundation and the development of the phenomenon (Story 1993; Wallace, W. 1990; Pinder 1991a). The EU, as will be shown in more detail later in this chapter, is also a major presence in the contemporary global arena. It is thus not surprising that there should have been consistent and growing attention to the international 'credentials' of first the EC and then the EU.

To state this position, though, is to beg a central question. Although the EU is a major component of the contemporary world arena, just what is its status, role and impact? At one end of the spectrum, there are those who can discern a progression in the EU towards full-fledged international 'actorness', comparable to that of the national states that comprise the major concentrations of power in world politics. But such views have to wrestle with the inconvenient fact that the EU is not a 'state' in the accepted international meaning of the term, although it undoubtedly demonstrates some 'statelike' features. Notwithstanding its ability to act in the economic and diplomatic fields, the EU does not yet possess a coherent security policy or even the beginnings of a European-level defence policy (Hill 1990, 1993, 1995; Smith 1994a).

Thwarted in the search for an EU version of statehood, others have attempted to define the EU as a growing and increasingly structured 'presence' in the international arena, with its own forms of international behaviour and influence, and most significantly an important place in the foreign policies of other international actors, whether they be states or non-state groupings (Allen and Smith 1990). Thus, the EU cannot be avoided by national foreign policy makers, nor can it be bypassed by international organisations such as the United Nations. This approach has its undoubted advantages, not least that of finessing the issue of statehood, but it also begs major questions. Perhaps most importantly, it raises the issue of relations between the EU's 'presence' and the persistence of the essentially national powers of the EU's member states themselves (Hill 1995).

Whatever the position taken on the EU's claims to 'actorness' or 'presence' in the international arena, the analyst must take into account two crucial aspects of the EU's international existence. First, the EU is not simply an 'actor' or a 'presence' but also a process; a set of complex institutions, roles and rules which structure the activities of the EU itself and those of other internationally significant groupings with which it comes into contact. Second,

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European Union: Power and Policy-Making
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part I - Theoretical and Historical Perspectives 1
  • 1 - Policy-Making in the Eu 3
  • 2 - The Development of the European Idea 24
  • Notes 38
  • 3 - Integration Theory and the Study of the European Policy Process 40
  • Notes 55
  • References 56
  • Part 2 - Agenda-Setting and Institutional Processing 59
  • 4 - Agenda-Setting in the European Union 61
  • Notes 74
  • 5 - A Maturing Bureaucracy? 77
  • References 92
  • 6 - From Co-Operation to Co-Decision 96
  • 7 - National Sovereignty Vs Integration? 127
  • Notes 145
  • 8 - The National Co-Ordination of European Policy-Making 148
  • References 165
  • 9 - The Court of Justice and the European Policy Process 170
  • References 183
  • Part 3 - Channels of Representation 185
  • 10 - European Elections and the European Voter 187
  • 11 - The Logic of Organisation Interest Groups 200
  • Note 214
  • 12 - By-Passing the Nation State? Regions and the Eu Policy Process 216
  • Part 4 - A Supranational State? 231
  • 13 - Enlarging the European Union 233
  • Notes 244
  • 14 - The Eu as an International Actor 247
  • 15 - A European Regulatory State? 263
  • References 276
  • 16 - Eroding Eu Policies 278
  • References 293
  • Index 295
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