Research Handbook on the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy
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Research Handbook on the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy

Edited by Steven Blockmans and Panos Koutrakos

In times of rapid change and unpredictability the European Union’s role in the world is sorely tested. How successfully the EU meets challenges such as war, terrorism and climate change, and how effectively the Union taps into opportunities like mobility and technological progress depends to a great extent on the ability of the EU’s institutions and member states to adopt and implement a comprehensive and integrated approach to external action. This Research Handbook examines the law, policy and practice of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, including the Common Security and Defence, and gauges its interactions with the other external policies of the Union (including trade, development, energy), as well as the evolving political and economic challenges that face the European Union.
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Chapter 1: The position of CFSP/CSDP in the EU’s constitutional architecture

Marise Cremona


This chapter is concerned with the CFSP/CSDP as a distinct Union competence and policy field within the overall constitutional architecture of the European Union. The assimilation of the CFSP into EU Treaty structures by the Lisbon Treaty has raised questions as to the nature of the competence granted to the Union, the specific rules and procedures applicable to the CFSP, its relationship with other policy fields, and its objectives and proper scope. The specific rules and procedures, which relate to decision-making procedures and the role of the institutions, are significant but do not take the CFSP/CSDP out of the single legal order of the European Union; and as exceptions they are to be interpreted strictly. But the CFSP as a policy field is neither residual (to be used only when other competences do not apply) nor exceptional. It has two different functions. It is on the one hand a policy field in its own right with its own specific actions, such as arms control, counter-terrorism and civilian and military missions – actions which need to be coherent with other elements of EU external action. But the CFSP also represents the means by which the EU defines its overall foreign policy strategies, bringing different sectoral policies such as trade, development, environment and energy under a coherent umbrella. The expectation that the CFSP would offer leadership and policy direction despite relatively weaker institutional structures was one of the imbalances in the Lisbon Treaty architecture, and its ability to do so, while improving, is still in question.

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