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Chapter

Cover International Relations and the European Union

20. Acting for Europe  

Reassessing the European Union’s Role in International Relations

This chapter summarizes the volume's major findings and revisits the three perspectives on the European Union: as a system of international relations, as a participant in wider international processes, and as a power in the world. It also considers the usefulness of the three main theoretical approaches in international relations as applied to the EU's external relations: realism, liberalism, and constructivism. Furthermore, it emphasizes three things which it is clear the EU is not, in terms of its international role: it is not a straightforward ‘pole’ in a multipolar system; it is not merely a subordinate subsystem of Western capitalism, and/or a province of an American world empire, as claimed by both the anti-globalization movement and the jihadists; it is not a channel by which political agency is surrendering to the forces of functionalism and globalization. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the EU's positive contributions to international politics.

Chapter

Cover International Relations and the European Union

4. The European Union as a Power  

Filippo Andreatta and Lorenzo Zambernardi

This chapter focuses on the European Union as a ‘power’ on the world stage. The persistent inability to develop a truly common foreign and security policy may raise serious doubts about the idea of the EU as a major ‘power’. However, the concept and reality of power should not be confused with the threat or the use of coercive force alone. The chapter first considers the elusive concept of power before discussing the distinction between ‘destructive’, ‘productive’, and ‘integrative’ power and connecting them to realism, liberalism, and constructivism, respectively. It then considers the role of Europe in the world and concludes with an overview of factors affecting the prospects for a European foreign policy.

Chapter

Cover European Integration Theory

10. Critical Political Economy  

Bastiaan van Apeldoorn and Laura Horn

This chapter examines European integration from the perspective of critical political economy. It first outlines a historical materialist framework for understanding European integration against a broader context of capitalist restructuring; focusing in particular on neo-Gramscian perspectives but also highlighting other strands of critical analysis. The chapter then proceeds with an integrated analysis of economic and monetary union (EMU) as a political project. With a focus on continuity and changes within the political economy of neo-liberalism, the euro crisis serves as a reference point to illustrate the strengths and contributions of critical political economy. Finally, contemporary perspectives on contestation and resistance in European integration are discussed.

Chapter

Cover International Relations and the European Union

3. The European Union and Theories of International Relations  

Filippo Andreatta and Lorenzo Zambernardi

This chapter looks at theoretical answers to two major questions arising from the emergence of the European Union (EU) on the world stage. Firstly, what have the causes of European integration been in general, and in the foreign policy field in particular? Taking note of the fact that prevailing schools of international politics assume that states do not easily give up their sovereignty, classical and recent theoretical approaches to International Relations (realism, liberalism, and constructivism) have struggled to find the motives for integration and incorporate them in their overall frameworks. Secondly, the chapter investigates theoretical interpretations of the consequences of European integration for international relations in Europe and in the wider world. The chapter concludes by focusing on the idea and reality of the EU as a major power in international politics.

Chapter

Cover European Union Politics

20. The Single Market  

Michelle Egan

This chapter charts the evolution of the Single Market, from its original conception in the 1950s, beginning with the Treaty of Rome through to efforts to expand and enforce Single Market commitments in a climate of unfair trade practices and rising economic nationalism. The chapter highlights the tensions and trade-offs between legal and regulatory strategies to integrate markets; the challenges of creating a social market due to internal asymmetries between market integration at supranational level and social protection at national level; and the efforts to facilitate the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour. The chapter highlights the importance of the Single Market in seeking to promote competitiveness and growth as well as the diffusion of its regulations beyond its borders. It concludes by demonstrating how both traditional international relations theories of integration and newer approaches in comparative politics and international relations, can be used to shed light on the governance of the Single Market.

Chapter

Cover International Relations and the European Union

8. The European Union as a Trade Power  

Sophie Meunier and Kalypso Nicolaïdis

Internal and external trade liberalization have together constituted the essence of European integration since the Treaty of Rome. Successive enlargements, along with the constant deepening of the single market, have turned the European Union (EU) into one of the world’s largest trade powers. The EU forms trade policy through a complex decision-making process, often contested politically, which allows it to speak on behalf of its members in international trade, and now investment, negotiations. This chapter argues that not only does the EU derive some inherent power from trade, but it has also long used trade as the backbone of its normative power, using its market access in order to obtain political concessions from its commercial partners. However, this role has been increasingly challenged by recent changes in the relative power and behaviour of the EU’s main trade partners and competitors, which have forced Europe to refocus its trade policy towards more traditional commercial objectives and to create new unilateral trade defence instruments. Through its goal of what is terms open strategic autonomy, the EU is trying to strike a delicate balance between remaining a force for liberalism and openness in the world while not being naive and taken advantage of. This chapter explores the determinants of the EU’s trade power and examines the contribution of trade policy to the power of Europe in the international system, both in the context of international trade agreements and in the broader framework of international relations.