Representing the European interest abroad – Research Seminar at Webster University Vienna (4 May 2018).

Representing the European interest abroad: the role of the EU Delegations and EU member states embassies. Research Seminar at Webster University Vienna.

European foreign policy has been evolving into a densely coordinated and institutionalised system in the past fifty years. Most of this transformation has focused on creating institutions and procedures to intensify foreign policy coordination of member states in Brussels. The Lisbon Treaty (2009), as the latest attempt, established the European External Action Service (EEAS) and upgraded the role of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. It, however, also provided an upgrade to European diplomatic cooperation in third countries: it formally transformed European Commission delegations to comprehensive EU delegations and made them part of the EEAS, and therefore renewed the modes and patterns of diplomatic representation towards third countries and international organizations. EU delegations now officially represent the Union, and are responsible for coordinating member states embassies in third countries.

In this seminar we investigate how those institutional changes impacted the representation of European interests abroad in different countries (in particular Washington, Beijing, Moscow). We discuss why the EU is not a traditional foreign policy actor and therefore also no traditional diplomatic actor, but how the “hybrid structure” impacts European diplomacy. We look at how the work of diplomats in the EU delegation but also in the embassies of member states changed. And the research seminar concludes with a more comprehensive assessment of how – if at all – this attempted upgrade of the EU diplomatic toolkit impacts on European foreign policy actorness.

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