Shaping EU Foreign Policy Towards Russia
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Shaping EU Foreign Policy Towards Russia

Improving Coherence in External Relations

Philipp Thaler

Offering a comprehensive and structured analysis of the reasons why the EU lacks external coherence towards Russia, this book presents important new insights to the topic beyond conventional institutionalist arguments. Philipp Thaler utilises key cases in external energy and human rights policies to highlight the on-going difficulties in creating a coherent position, despite the EU’s formally stated objective to achieve this.
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Chapter 3: "Coherence matters": why an undefined term became a guiding principle for EU foreign policy

Philipp Thaler


Chapter 3 demonstrates the practical relevance of the concept of coherence in EU foreign policy. Based on interview data and publicly available sources, it reviews the perceptions, role and meaning of coherence in the context of EU external relations. The interview responses confirm the significance of the theoretically derived conceptual characteristics of ‘coherence’. Coherence between actors and policies is a recurrent theme in debates in Brussels and, in fact, has become a guiding principle of EU foreign policy that finds its relevance in the challenges arising from a fragmented institutional structure. Moreover, it is shown that the EU interprets problems in foreign policy as a lack of coherence, rooted in a policy setting that is unconducive to coordination and in insufficient coordination of the policy content.

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