International Handbook on Informal Governance
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International Handbook on Informal Governance

Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Christine Neuhold

Acknowledging that governance relies not only on formal rules and institutions but to a significant degree also on informal practices and arrangements, this unique Handbook examines and analyses a wide variety of theoretical, conceptual and normative perspectives on informal governance.
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Chapter 22: Informal Governance and Networks in EU Foreign Policy

Arnout Justaert and Stephan Keukeleire


Arnout Justaert and Stephan Keukeleire INTRODUCTION In this chapter, we turn to a rather unexplored field in the informal governance approach: the domain of European Union foreign policy. This predominantly intergovernmental and ‘high politics’ domain has hardly been addressed as a case in the existing informal governance literature. This chapter aims to fill this blind spot in the EU informal governance literature by applying its basic features to the domain of EU foreign policy. Although foreign policy is a relatively young domain in European integration, its institutional and operational development has known a rapid progress in the past two decades, and with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty is the major domain subject to institutional change. However, underneath the increasing institutionalization and operationalization of EU foreign policy, informal practices that can be characterized as informal governance have always been part of the day-to-day operation and steering of EU foreign policy. Therefore, while studying EU foreign policy it is not sufficient any longer to look at the EU, which is a growing international actor with loci of authority, as a player propelled solely by formal decision-making mechanisms. We need instead to switch the focus in the research towards analysing the informal patterns of EU foreign policy governance as this prototype fits more with the modus operandi of the EU. In this chapter we first provide a clear understanding and framework of informal governance in the European Union, making use of the existing literature on this topic and the other...

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