Thornton, Gabriela Marin. (2002) The Future of European Union External Relations: From a ‘Pass-the- Buck’ Strategy to a Common Voice?, Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series, Vol. 1 No. 7, September 2002. [Working Paper]
Since 1993, when the European Union came into being, the number of writings identifying the European Union as an important actor on the world scene has grown considerably. A book edited by Robert J. Gutman in 2001, has a very challenging subtitle: Europe in the New Century: Visions of an Emerging Superpower. Presently, however, most works dealing with the European Union are epitomized by the wellknown leitmotif “the European Union is an economic giant and a political dwarf” – meaning that to a certain extent “the hour of Europe” is not yet here, and the road toward becoming a superpower is tremendously difficult. The Bush II administration’s New National Security Strategy tries to ensure that the “hour of Europe” will never come. One of the most striking elements of the new strategy document is its insistence "that the president has no intention of allowing any foreign power to catch up with the huge lead the United States has opened since the fall of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago."1 This is another way of saying that America will deter its friends as well as its enemies, if necessary. The new strategy document is a powerful display of the Bush administration’s offensive realist impulses. The question is where does all of this leave the European Union? What is its future as an international actor and what are the determinants that will further shape its role in the world and the conduct of its external relations and of its Common Foreign and Security Policy? In trying to answer these questions this paper starts from the assumption that external relations and foreign policy are a by-product of international factors as well as of internal factors. Therefore the paper is structured as follows: part one assesses the position of the European Union in the international system and determines the major international factors that will impact the future of the EU and consequently the future of its external relations. The second part identifies internal EU factors that impact the realm of its external relations. The third part will asses the role played by the Convention on the future of Europe, and will attempt to outline some “visions of the European Union’s future”.
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