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International Relations and the European Union

International Relations and the European Union (4th edn)

Christopher Hill, Michael Smith, and Sophie Vanhoonacker-Kormoss
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date: 28 February 2024

p. 44320. Acting for Europe: Reassessing the European Union’s Role in International Relationslocked

p. 44320. Acting for Europe: Reassessing the European Union’s Role in International Relationslocked

  • Christopher Hill,
  • Michael Smith
  •  and Sophie Vanhoonacker


This chapter summarizes major common findings of the volume. It also stressing the different approaches and specialist areas covered by the chapters. It looks at the European Union’s (EU’s) substantive impact (or lack of it) on world politics, which has grown steadily in broad terms albeit with obvious gaps and setbacks. The three lenses introduced in Part 1, whereby the EU is analysed as a system of international relations, as a participant in wider international processes, and finally as a power, are then revisited to make possible the overall conclusions. The first conclusion is that while the EU has its distinctive attributes it is now largely integrated into the academic subject of International Relations, rather than being confined to European Studies. The second concluding thought is that the EU has significant powers as well as a wide-ranging presence in the international system, even if it may not yet be termed a ‘power’ The next conclusion is that the accelerating processes of change underway in the international arena continue to pose new challenges both for the EU and for analysis. The final conclusion is that the series of challenges which the EU has faced since the financial crisis of 2008 have produced some proactive responses but have also exposed its weaknesses as a collective actor on the world stage. The latest of the challenges, the war in Ukraine, has provoked the EU into an unusually rapid, forceful and united response. Only time will tell if that can be maintained.

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