Rethinking European Union Foreign Policy

By Ben Tonra; Thomas Christiansen | Go to book overview

SIBYLLE BAUER AND ERIC REMACLE


8
Theory and practice of multi-level foreign
policy: the European Union's policy in the field
of arms export controls

Theories of integration usually provide monocausal explanations of integrative processes. They cannot therefore be considered as general theories but rather as ideological models which reflect the state of the European construction, state the preferences and values of the actors in EU policy-making, and contribute to the inevitable compromises between them (Caporaso and Keeler 1995). From a constructivist perspective (Adler 1997b), one could say that integration theories are social and ideological constructs that contribute to shaping the reality of integration rather than to explaining it.

European foreign policy is a case in point. Each area of foreign policy decisionmaking in the EU seems to be inspired by different ideological approaches to integration favoured by the different foreign policy actors. Accordingly, European foreign policy functions as a 'system' (Monar 1997) of multi-level policies structured in four levels, each of which refers indirectly to one of the main integration theories (Remacle 1997). This approach will be applied in this chapter to the field of arms export policies.

Conflicting intergovernmentalism results from a perception of national policies as being the core of, and key to, explaining European policy-making. It is mainly inspired by the realist paradigm. Fundamental to this approach are the traditional application of the concept of sovereignty and the inter-state balance of power (Hill 1983; Pijpers 1991). The management of the Yugoslav crisis by EU countries best illustrates this aspect of EU foreign policy, as do national arms exports policies.

Cooperative intergovernmentalism corresponds to theories of functionalism (Mitrany 1966), of adaptation (Rosenau 1970; Petersen 1998) and of maximisation of the national interest and/or convergence of preferences (Milward 1992; Moravcsik 1993; Pfetsch 1994). Illustrations of this type of European foreign policy are reflected in various forms of ad hoc bi- and multilateral cooperation between EU member states in the field of foreign policy. These include: reference

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