The EU’s Crisis of Governance and European Foreign Policy

The three major crises the EU has faced since 2009 – concerning the euro, migration and Brexit – reflect a broader crisis of its intergovernmental governance. There are a number of negative spillover effects of this crisis of governance: a disproportionate focus in the European Council and among political elites on internal EU matters to the detriment of political attention to external foreign policy issues; a more challenging political and public opinion environment that opposes greater involvement abroad; constrained resources for international engagement; and commercialization of national foreign policies. 

As a response to these developments, the EU must adapt its foreign policymaking processes. It must find ways to integrate long-term strategic debates into European Council deliberations and build on the expertise that its expanded and variegated membership has to offer. It should also clarify the division of labour between the European External Action Service and the European Council, with the former acting as its main diplomatic operator and the latter as the prime locus of political authority.

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