The expansion of European Union (EU) foreign policy cooperation since 1970 presents a number of puzzles for theorists of regional integration and International Relations. It is not directed by supranational organizations, does not involve bargaining over policy alternatives, and is not dominated by the largest EU states. Nor do the EU’s common foreign policy decisions reflect ‘lowest common denominator’ preferences. Instead, cooperation has been achieved through decentralized institutional mechanisms, involving processes associated with both intergovernmental and social constructivist theories. This article first explains how changes in institutional context — in terms of intergovernmental, transgovernmental and supranational procedures — affect the propensity for cooperation. It then links processes of institutionalization to an expansion of foreign policy cooperation among EU member states. Finally, it explores three policy areas (the Middle East, South Africa and nuclear non-proliferation) where EU states have adjusted their national foreign policies in line with EU foreign policy norms.
- common foreign and security policy
- European Union foreign policy
- European political cooperation
- international cooperation
- international relations theory
- security policy