Whither European diplomacy? Long-term trends and the impact of the Lisbon Treaty

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Abstract

The article analyses the evolution of European diplomacy over two decades, to assess the impact of the European External Action Service (EEAS) creation alongside consecutive waves of enlargement. Data is drawn from two original datasets about European Union (EU) member states’ diplomatic representations within the EU and across the globe. It shows that member states have maintained and strengthened their substantial diplomatic footprint across the EU’s territory, expanding it to include new members and making Brussels a diplomatic hub also for non-member countries. In parallel, and despite the establishment of the EEAS, member states have maintained and even increased their networks of diplomatic representations across the globe, alongside more numerous and more politically active EU Delegations (EUDs). At the same time, member states have been reducing their diplomats’ numbers, as the cases of Austria, France, Germany and Italy show. This delicate balancing act has been made possible not only by contemporary technological developments, but also by European cooperation, as in the case of EUDs hosting member states’ representations in non-member countries, a development referred to as co-location. Therefore, whereas the continued presence of national embassies on the ground could be interpreted as detracting from the EEAS, the existence of EUDs contributes also to other, more indirect but certainly novel, forms of diplomatic cooperation under a single European roof.

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Bicchi, F., & Schade, D. (2022). Whither European diplomacy? Long-term trends and the impact of the Lisbon Treaty. Cooperation and Conflict, 57(1), 3–24. https://doi.org/10.1177/00108367211000791

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