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Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of European Union (EU) as a foreign policy actor - Essay Example

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Scholars concur that the EU has an international presence (it is visible in regional and global foray) and that it exhibits some elements of ‘actorness’ (it is an international actor in some…
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Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of European Union (EU) as a foreign policy actor
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Download file to see previous pages f measuring the EU’s external behavior and its policymaking in order to conclude if there is or not an European Foreign Policy, the theoretical interest has been mainly centered in the theoretical capability-expectations gap and in categorizing and defining not the EFP but the EU’s international role.
It is only lately that some studies have pointed out the relevance and the need of a Foreign Policy Approach (FPA) to help explain the complex arena of the European Union’s Foreign Policy. To adapt FPA to the European Union, an original and unique political organization, poses no insuperable problems. The difficulty is to apply an FPA approach to “European Foreign Policy”. In my view the concept of “European Foreign Policy” is the problem. For some analysts EFP is synonymous with EU’s Common Foreign and Security policy (CFSP) which should be differentiated from the European Community external competences (the traditional trade policy and the new development policy complementary to those of the Member States). Recently Hill (2002: 2-3) employs the term “European Foreign Policy” to the ensemble of the international activities of the European Union alone, not only CFSP activities but also including outputs from the other two EU’s pillars, considered as a “mass of activity” which cannot be pretended to be in itself coherent. Others find the former definition to restrictive and consider that EFP takes three forms: member states Foreign Policy, Community external relations and Union’s CFSP. In this context EFP is understood as a system of external relations or a Foreign Policy system where these three strands can be differentiated for analytical purpose. Although these perspectives stress that a key research task for the analyst is to establish the extent to which these forms have become interwoven over time, the fact is that this notion of EFP emphasizes the distinct sets of activity more than their interaction.
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