Cremona, Marise. (1999) “Flexible Models: External Policy and the European Economic Constitution”. In: UNSPECIFIED, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Unpublished)
In this paper I ask to what extent can the flexibility and differentiated integration that we are seeing emerge as a characteristic of the constitution of the European Union be applied to the EC’s external relationships? I provide a starting point, an outline of a framework to analyse the operation of ‘flexibility’ and ‘differentiation’ in the context of external policy. The fundamental question is just what these concepts might mean in this particular context, and from two rather different perspectives. From one perspective, the factors that condition the type of relationship offered by the EU to third states indicate a highly developed form of differentiation between states and groups of states which is regional, developmental and conditional. Then, if we move to what might be termed ‘substantive flexibility’ (or inflexibility) in the terms of specific external agreements, we can ask to what extent is the Community as negotiator flexible in defining the scope and content of a specific agreement so that it reflects the priorities and needs of the negotiating partner(s)? Or does the Community offer a package deal which is not so much the result of a complex multilateral multi-staged negotiation (in the style of the Uruguay Round ‘package’), but more like the travel agent’s package, a standard-form contract requiring adherence to an essentially non-negotiable core of commitments? The idea of a ‘non-negotiable core’ also raises the possibility of a parallel between the core commitments required of third states, and the (putative) common core to which the Member States are committed and which form a unifying set of values and norms holding together a Union with flexibility built into its post-Amsterdam constitution. After briefly exploring ‘differentiation’ and ‘flexibility’ as these terms are used in external policy-making, I look at external policy from both these perspectives and at the evolving rationale, generated both internally and externally, for what is becoming a key component of the Community’s external policy.
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