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 3: Representing the EU in the area of CFSP: legal and political dynamics

Hylke Dijkstra and Peter Van Elsuwege


The European Union is represented on the international stage by different actors and in different constellations. This chapter tries to understand how EU representation in the field of CFSP is organized and applied in practice. It starts by discussing representation from a conceptual perspective by outlining various legal and political dynamics. The chapter continues by analysing three instances of EU external representation in the area of CFSP: first, multilateral representation of the EU in international organizations and fora; second, bilateral representation of the EU in other countries; third, ad hoc representation and mediation attempts by the EU in international and regional conflicts. The chapter concludes that we need to consider the interaction between law and politics to understand EU external representation. It is not simply about legal competences, power politics, or the external environment, but often a combination of these factors which affects the ability of the EU to represent itself externally.

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