Rethinking European Union Foreign Policy

By Ben Tonra; Thomas Christiansen | Go to book overview

KNUD ERIK JøRGENSEN


2
Theorising the European Union's
foreign policy

Launched in 1970, Europe's common foreign policy has, to some degree, come of age. Because previous attempts to introduce cooperation in the field of foreign policy had failed, the cooperative enterprise was deliberately launched with very modest ambitions. Its development over the years came to include still more policy areas, and still more modules were added to its institutional infrastructure. When defence policy was included in the provisions of the Treaty on European Union (1993) it became, at least in principle, a tous azimut foreign policy institution. Thus, while observers of developments during the 1970s and 1980s noted a somewhat slow beginning (Wallace 1983a; Nuttall 1992; Nørgaard Pedersen and Petersen 1993), observers of the 1990s have noted that European decision-makers during the 1990s significantly accelerated their involvement in common foreign policy-making (Hill 1996a; Piening 1997; Regelsberger, de Schoutheete de Tervarent and Wessels 1997; Flockhart 1998; Peterson and Sjursen 1998; Bretherton and Vogler 1999; Cameron 1999).

What are the most significant areas to have been addressed by Europe's common foreign policy? First of all, to European states' traditional bilateral relations with the US has been added a European-US component, meaning that relations with the US increasingly have been cultivated by means of common European stances. Moreover, the US has largely recognised this change on the European side. Furthermore, US-European joint policies have increasingly been thoroughly coordinated and there have been numerous cases of mutual 'backing' (Featherstone and Ginsberg 1996).

Second, the European Union's relations with what was formerly known as Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union have been thoroughly reconsidered and redesigned. In terms of resources spent on a European Ostpolitik, it clearly ranks among the first priorities of the Union. Policies towards the Soviet Union, and particularly towards Central and Eastern Europe, were initiated in the mid1980s. These policies were somewhat contradictory during their formative years

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