The External Relations of the European Union

by Pascaline Winand (Volume editor) Andrea Benvenuti (Volume editor) Max Guderzo (Volume editor)
©2015 Edited Collection 404 Pages
Open Access


The book analyses the attitudes of non-EU countries towards European integration in historical and contemporary perspectives. The authors study a range of actors in Europe and beyond to explain the impact of the creation of the European Communities on the international system and how the EU is perceived in the world.
The book further shows the significance of the institutional interplay within the EU, and between EU institutions, member states and external actors led by their own internal dynamics to explain policy outcomes. It investigates to what extent the perceptions of the international community towards the European Communities and the EU have been influenced by the complexity of their decision-making and the difficulty of reconciling the views of member states on key external relations issues. The authors also study the interplay of non-EU countries and the EU within the broader context of international and regional institutions and forums for international cooperation.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Abbreviations
  • The EU in International Affairs: A Global Actor Sui Generis
  • Part I EU External Relations with its Neighbours
  • EU Enlargement: A Success but Never a Simple Question of Time
  • Differences in Collective Memory: Perception of Solidarność in Western Europe and in Poland
  • Part II The EU and the Asia Pacific Region
  • Australia, the “Messina Initiative” and the Establishment of the EEC, 1955-1958
  • Images and Perceptions of the EU in New Zealand in the 1950s
  • The EU in New Zealand and Singapore: A Normative Power?
  • The EU’s Place in India’s Foreign and Security Policy
  • Contemporary Indian Perspectives on the EU and its Role in South Asia and the World
  • The European Union and India: Birds of a Feather or Frenemies for Ever?
  • The EU in the Asia-Pacific Region: Strategic Approach or Self-marginalization?
  • The European Community’s Policy towards the People’s Republic of China: Establishing Diplomatic Relations (December 1973-May 1975)
  • From Trade Conflicts to “Global Partners”: Japan and the EEC 1970-1978
  • Part III The EU, the United States and Latin America
  • Containing Chaos: American Social Sciences and Perceptions of a United Europe in the 1940s and 1950s
  • The US Perception of EC Enlargement: Cold War Constraints and Empire-building, 1962-73
  • An Ever Closer Alliance?: Transforming the EU-NATO Partnership
  • A Two-Way Mirror: Latin-American Perceptions of European Integration
  • Part IV The European Communities and ACP Countries: The Post-Colonial Heritage in EU External Relations
  • A Matter of Preference: Commonwealth Africa, Britain and the EEC Association System, 1957-75
  • Linking Europe and Empire: Making Strategic Choices on the Eve of the Treaty of Rome
  • Part V The EU and International Organizations: Conflict and Crisis Management
  • Global Governance and the Reform of the International Legal Order: Some Insights from the European Union
  • The European Union, Multilateral Taxation and the Inevitability of Contest and Tension
  • Part VI Conclusions
  • The European Rescue of the Empire or the EU as Ferment of Change in International Relations?
  • Index
  • Series index


The EU in International Affairs

A Global Actor Sui Generis


University of New South Wales and University of Florence respectively

In 1964, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously quipped that a week was “a long time in politics”. The Labour leader probably had in mind the dramatic change in his government’s fortunes following his victory at the October 1964 general election: the elation generated by Labour’s return to power after twenty-three years in the political wilderness soon gave way to serious concerns over the state of the British economy, and, more specifically, over the United Kingdom’s gloomy balance of payments figures and the weakness of sterling.1 Born of Labour’s troubled early days in office, Wilson’s aphorism entered British political folklore. Its validity, however, remains universal, transcending political cultures and historical circumstances; it applies to political leaders as much as governments and other political institutions. The European Union (EU), of course, is no exception. Six years ago, when turmoil engulfed the global economy and the international financial system seemed to be on the verge of a disastrous meltdown as a result of the American subprime mortgage crisis, the European Monetary Union and its flagship, the euro, appeared to provide a safe shelter for countries badly hit by the financial storm. Central and eastern European countries were reported to be keen on adopting the euro; Iceland announced its intention to apply for EU membership with a view to eventually entering the eurozone; and the idea of the UK joining the euro was even mooted in the British press although never seriously considered by the British government. Alas, six years down the track – and in an almost Dickensian turn of events – we are witnessing a serious political and economic storm, which is threatening ← 13 | 14 → the very existence of the euro and casting a dark shadow on the future of the EU itself.

How the current turbulence in Europe is going to play out and how it will impact on the eurozone’s future as a viable fiscal and monetary union, on its member states, as well as on the cohesion of the wider Union, is as yet, unclear. Also uncertain are the implications of such turbulence for the rest of the world and the latter’s political and economic relations with the EU. As one of the contributors to this volume suggests in an essay on Indian-EU relations, the current eurozone crisis does not seem to be conducive to the development of a close political partnership between the EU and India. Nor, it seems, would it augur well for the future of the EU’s other major relationships if the economic turmoil in Europe were to spill over into the global economy and severely affect the EU’s main partners.

Still, as policymakers and academic scholars are grappling with the political and economic implications of the EU’s current travails, it is important not to indulge in facile euroscepticism and lose sight of the important accomplishments that have been achieved in Europe over the past sixty years as a result of the Old Continent’s growing integration. During this period, not only did the EU act as a major force for the political and economic transformation of Europe, but it also emerged as a powerful trade negotiator and an important player in global issues such as the environment, development aid, social policy and human rights. Unsurprisingly, given the EU’s rising profile and visibility at the international level, its role in world affairs has received increasing scholarly attention and has become the focus of intense debate among academics and practitioners. This edited volume is the outcome of a conference on the external relations of the European Union held in Melbourne in September 2009. It was organised by the European and EU Centre at Monash University (Melbourne) in collaboration with the University of New South Wales (Sydney), the Machiavelli Inter-University Centre for Cold War Studies (CIMA, Florence and Rome) and the National Centre for Research on Europe at the University of Canterbury (Christchurch) and it makes an important contribution to this ongoing debate by seeking to address a number of important questions on the nature of the EU’s international role. Chief among these is no doubt the question of how the EU has been seen by non-EU countries since its inception in the 1950s. Has, for instance, the EU’s view of itself as a growing political and strategic presence in the international system been shared by other international actors, and, if so, to what extent? In other words, exactly how is the EU perceived by the international community and how have these perceptions developed over time? Has the EU been perceived to be more of an economic actor or a political force? Is the EU seen as a regional model that could be emulated by others? In addressing these questions, ← 14 | 15 → this volume aims to throw further light on the distinctive character of European integration and its external dimension.

The first part of this book comprises two essays which examine the EU’s relations with its European neighbours. Part II focuses on the EU and the Asia-Pacific region and, in so doing, examines the EU’s links with a number of influential regional actors, such as China, Japan, India, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. The third part looks at the interactions and reciprocal perceptions between the EU, on one side, and the Americas on the other, while Part IV explores EU relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), investigating the theme of a postcolonial heritage in EU external relations. Finally, the fifth part deals with the EU legal system, its possible contribution to global governance and its performance in multilateral taxation contexts.

The two essays belonging to the first section of the book are quite different in kind and perspective. Both, however, are concerned with the same (and peculiar) dimension of the European Economic Community (EEC)/European Union (EU)’s outward projection – namely, cold war and post-cold war relations between an integrated Western European bloc, the Soviet Union and the latter’s former Eastern European satellites. Ambassador David Daly offers a lively personal view on the EU’s eastward enlargement during the two momentous decades that followed the end of the Cold War. Karolina Pietras focuses on the diverging popular perceptions and collective memories of Solidarność (the Solidarity movement) (and the role played by it in the Polish crisis of the Eighties) in both Western Europe and Poland itself and how these perceptions/memories have changed over time.

More specifically, Ambassador Daly reflects on the challenges the EU has faced and the successes it has achieved in its five-decade-long expansion from the initial core of six founding partners to the current twenty-eight member states. In taking stock of what he calls a “sometimes tumultuous” process, Ambassador Daly notes how the enlargement of the EU has not only revolutionised (for the better) the political, economic and social face of post-war Europe, but has also transformed the EU itself and its member states. On this last point – which is also the focus of his chapter – he reminds us of the tremendous effort asked of candidate countries and the significant demands made upon them in their quest for EU membership. An experienced participant himself in the enlargement process, Ambassador Daly argues that, despite a certain air of near-inevitability often surrounding enlargement negotiations, the accession of candidate countries has never been a foregone conclusion, nor, as he puts it, a “pre-ordained and sealed fate”. Given the complexity of the enlargement process, Daly also does well to remind us of two things: first, that it ← 15 | 16 → would be a mistake to consider EU membership a ready solution to every national or regional problem. Accession is a long adaptive process that continues well beyond the formal date of accession and the benefits of which are often only measurable in the longer term. Second, it would be wrong to fall into pessimism. As he points out, European integration has never been short of “nay-sayers” or “prophets of doom”. Yet, it is perhaps worth remembering, as Daly does, that “almost as satisfying as all that has happened over the years of [his] involvement with enlargement is what has not happened” in terms of doom and gloom scenarios.

In her chapter, Pietras makes a valuable contribution to a better understanding of the Solidarność legacy in contemporary European history and culture. In so doing, she effectively shows how distant Western and Eastern Europeans still are from sharing a genuine common European identity after the long Cold War interlude – and notwithstanding all the advantages brought about by enlargement, as outlined by Ambassador Daly in his previous chapter. Noting how Polish perceptions of Solidarność have moved from the wide popular support that the movement enjoyed in the Eighties to quite a different, and ultimately less positive, image subsequently, Pietras tries to explain why, and in what way, things have evolved differently in the West (essentially France and Germany). Although further research based on archival documents may one day cast a different light on the period and issues examined by Pietras, the author’s sound methodological approach to public opinion behaviour and the wide scope of her study, in parallel perspectives, on one of the most important inner crises of the Soviet empire, make this chapter a precious contribution in an area of key importance for the future of the EU. The building of a common European identity through a shared collective memory is, indeed, seen by many as the indispensable prerequisite for the emergence of a truly effective EU role in international affairs.

Coming to the section devoted to the EU’s relations with the Asia-Pacific region, both essays by Andrea Benvenuti, Natalia Chaban and Sarah Christie examine Australasian attitudes towards the early process of European integration in the 1950s. Whereas Benvenuti focuses on the Australian government’s attitude towards the establishment of the European Economic Community (EEC), which he describes as rather hesitant and uncertain, Chaban and Christie cast an interesting light on New Zealand’s governmental and media perceptions of the early integration process. In their view, while generally supportive of steps towards closer continental collaboration, the New Zealand government was nonetheless awake to the risk that New Zealand might one day have to pay a heavy price for this support. As in the case of Australia, policymakers in Wellington viewed with concern the prospect of Britain’s membership ← 16 | 17 → of the EEC since British entry would have significant economic implications for New Zealand. This attitude, Chaban and Christie show, was also broadly shared by the New Zealand media. The question of New Zealand’s attitudes towards European integration is further explored in Serena Kelly’s chapter on New Zealand and Singaporean contemporary perceptions of the EU. The focus here, of course, is on the present, rather than the past. Kelly finds that, while in both New Zealand and Singapore local political elites and public opinion tend to view the EU as a relatively strong economic power, uncertainty remains over the nature of the EU’s role beyond the economic realm. Kelly observes that if the EU is trying to “brand” itself as a normative power, then it is clearly finding it hard to be recognised as such.

The next chapters further explore the EU’s role and place in contemporary international affairs by focusing on India-EU relations. In examining the significance of the EU for Indian foreign policy and security strategy, Daniel Novotný argues that in spite of Indo-European attempts to deepen their ties through the signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement in 2004, the bilateral relationship still lacks critical depth and sufficient closeness. The Indian foreign policy elite no doubt recognises the EU’s clout in international economic affairs, yet it remains understandably sceptical of the EU’s ability to give itself a coherent foreign and security policy. In Indian eyes, the problem of the EU’s inability to speak with a single voice in foreign affairs is further compounded by a “perceived lack of common strategic interests” between India and the EU. Given these limitations, it is no surprise if the EU remains a marginal factor in New Delhi’s foreign and defence policy calculations. Similar concerns are raised by Rajendra Jain in his chapter on contemporary Indian perspectives on the EU and its international role. Here Jain notes also the inability of both India and the EU – their strategic partnership notwithstanding – to establish a structured dialogue on security issues owing to different priorities and security concerns (with India essentially confronting traditional security threats in a largely hostile neighbourhood and the EU mostly preoccupied with non-traditional security threats). That said, Jain also reminds us of the progress that has been achieved in Indian-EU relations since the establishment of formal diplomatic ties in 1962. While such progress as has been achieved might not be exceptional, it is nonetheless real enough. Not only has Indo-European political dialogue “considerably widened and deepened” over the past fifty years, but, more importantly, there is still a growing willingness on the part of both India and the EU to engage further. More pessimistic, however, about the current (and future) state of India-EU relations is Emilian Kavalski. Despite the oft-heard claim that India and the EU are natural partners, Kavalski remarks how little there is beyond mere commercial interests that brings India and the EU together. ← 17 | 18 → He also notes how often the “frenemy” pattern characterises the interactions between New Delhi and Brussels.


ISBN (Softcover)
Open Access
Publication date
2015 (January)
institutional interplay international community integration
Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 404 pp., 12 graphs, 2 tables

Biographical notes

Pascaline Winand (Volume editor) Andrea Benvenuti (Volume editor) Max Guderzo (Volume editor)

Pascaline Winand teaches at Monash University in Australia and at the Institute for European Studies of the Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. She holds a Jean Monnet Chair in International Relations and European Integration. She has published widely on EU external relations, including on US-EU and India-EU relations, and has a particular interest in comparative regionalism. Andrea Benvenuti is a Senior Lecturer in European Studies and International Relations at the University of New South Wales. His current research projects include Italy and the Eurozone crisis, Sino-American relations from 1940 to the present, and Australia and the Western alliance in Cold War Asia. Max Guderzo is Professor of the History of International Relations and Jean Monnet Chair of the History of European Unification at the School of Political Science «Cesare Alfieri», University of Florence, and Research Co-ordinator of the Machiavelli Inter-University Centre for Cold War Studies (CIMA).


Title: The External Relations of the European Union
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
406 pages