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 5: EU foreign policy and relations with Russia: the challenge to shape an unresponsive milieu

Philipp Thaler


Chapter 5 investigates the policy content of the EU with Russia from a macro-level perspective. The main argument is that Brussels acts as a milieu shaper towards Moscow. The chapter first assesses the EU’s external role in rebuilding and consolidating relations since the end of the Cold War. Using examples from the areas of human rights and energy policy, it describes the EU’s role in shaping the relationship with Russia. The institutionalization of the partnership at political and expert levels, combined with frequent references to norms and values, has become an instrument of Brussels’ external governance. While these elements depict the EU as a coherent external actor, this picture is repeatedly undermined by a number of external and internal challenges. Russia increasingly undermines common norms and values—most recently illustrated by the Ukraine crisis. Thereby, Brussels’ responses are often constrained by its lack of identity as an international actor.

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