The Contestation of EU Foreign Policy
Endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on European Union
The European Union (EU) has reached a new momentum in its development, characterised by contestation. EU politics have moved from a permissive consensus in place until the early 1990s (Hooghe & Marks, 2009) to increased contestation dynamics in the last two decades (De Wilde, Koopmans, Merkel, & Zürn, 2019): EU policies and actions are being contested, both domestically – by the proliferation of nationalist, populist and Eurosceptic voices (Falkner & Plattner, 2019; Zeitlin et al., 2019) – as well as on the global level – by re-emerging global power competition, the open contestation of norms of multilateral cooperation by emerging and new isolationist powers and within international organisations (Aggestam & Hyde‐Price, 2019; Ikenberry, 2018). This section aims to analyse EU foreign policy in this new environment, answering the question of: how has internal and external contestation impacted the EU’s capacity to act in the international arena?
The theoretical starting point for this Section is the concept of contestation. Contestation can broadly be defined as “the act of arguing or disagreeing about something” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2020). With the above described trends of increased politicization and contestation, the concept has received more scholarly attention in European studies over the past decade (e.g. Zeitlin & Nicoli, 2020; Johansson-Nogues, Vlaskamp & Barbés, 2020). While the impact of these trends have mostly been explored in electoral studies/the party politics literature so far (e.g. Anders, Scheller & Tuntschew 2018), exploring the effect of contestation on the EU’s external policies remains understudied. This Section contributes to this evolving strand of research by analysing the varieties of contestation patterns in EU foreign policy.
EU foreign policy can be defined as “the area of European policies that is directed at the external environment with the objective of influencing that environment and the behavior of other actors within it, in order to pursue interests, values and goals” (Keukeleire & Delreux, 2014, p. 1). It can take multiple forms, can be implemented by various institutional actors and through various instruments, and can vary substantially across regions. This Section explores whether there are similar internal and external contestation patterns within individual clusters of EU foreign policy by providing policy-area specific panels on CFSP, external action, etc. and on De-Europeanization trends revealing how contestation has affected the EU’s capacity to act within the respective field.
Each panel brings together a variety of early-career and senior researchers with diverse methodological and theoretical backgrounds. Each panel will address the common research questions of the Section, being: (a) How have internal and external contestation trends shaped the EU’s capacity to act in the international arena? (b) What can we learn from analysing EU external policies through the lenses of contestation?
Panel 1: “The Common Foreign and Security Policy at 30: Moving Past Contestation?”
Chair: Dario Čepo (University of Zagreb)
Content: The EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was first formulated in the Maastricht Treaty in 1991/1993. With CFSP turning 30, the aim of this panel is to assess to what extent the formulation and implementation of the EU’s CFSP is affected by internal (such as the lack of consensus among Member States) and external (such as third countries challenging EU actions) contestation. Papers will analyze the effect of contestation on the declaratory and operational components of CFSP towards various regions and third actors.
Panel 2: “The Common Security and Defence Policies: Contested Capacities?”
Chair: Diego Badell & Oriol Costa (Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals)
Content: The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) has gained importance over the past decades with an increasing number of EU civil and military missions being launched. Yet, the current international security environment is marked by an increased assertiveness from several global and regional powers and rising pressure on multilateral cooperation. Within the EU, a lack of resources and consensus among Member States is often experienced on security issues. This panel hence focuses on the contestation of CSDP, both in its formulation and implementation.
Panel 3: “EU External Action: Contested supranational leadership?”
Chair: Magdalena Góra & Elodie Thevenin (Jagiellonian University)
Content: While pertaining to non-traditional European foreign policy, external action has already a long-standing status with supranational dynamics. Yet, in many areas of external action (e.g. neighbourhood policy, enlargement policy or trade policies) the role and position of the EU is being contested by diverse internal and international voices. This panel aims at exploring how contestation affects the EU’s external action by focusing on diverse policy dimensions, different actors and levels (local, national and European).
Panel 4: “Emerging New External Policies? Patterns of Contestation of Previously Internal EU Policies”
Chair: Katja Biedenkopf & Franziska Petri (KU Leuven)
Content: Among the non-traditional areas of EU foreign policy, internal policies with an external dimension have received overall little, yet increasing scholarly attention. With a growing internal acquis on policy areas such as climate, energy, migration, etc. over the past decades, the EU has increasingly developed policy-area specific external policies towards third actors and within international organizations, yet not without both internal and external contestation towards this new engagement. This panel assesses how the EU’s capacity to act on internal EU policies in external arenas is affected by internal and external contestation trends.
Panel 5: “De-Europeanization and the Contestation of EU Foreign Policy”
Chair: Patrick Müller (Vienna University/Vienna School of International Studies) & Ben Tonra (University College Dublin) (tbc)
Content: For the most part, research exploring the link between national and EU-level foreign policy has focused on the process of deepening institutional co-operation and community building in the CFSP-framework and the Europeanisation of national foreign policies of EU Member States. Building on a novel theoretical framework of de-Europeanization, this panel explores how past achievements of Europeanisation may be contested, undermined or even reversed. In so doing, the panel provides new insights on timely issues such as the implications of foreign policy contestation on core features of foreign policy Europeanization and the policy-making modes operating in CSDP as well as on internal and external drivers of contestation.