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International Relations and the European Union

International Relations and the European Union (3rd edn)

Christopher Hill, Michael Smith, and Sophie Vanhoonacker
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date: 22 September 2021

p. 1236. The Problem of Coherence in the European Union’s International Relationslocked

p. 1236. The Problem of Coherence in the European Union’s International Relationslocked

  • Carmen Gebhard

Abstract

This chapter examines the problem of coherence in the European Union's international relations. The EU consists of an extremely complex system of institutional structures. One of the implications of this complexity is coherence, or the ambition and necessity to bring the various parts of the EU's external relations together to increase strategic convergence and ensure procedural efficiency. The chapter first provides a historical overview of the concept of coherence and the debates around it before discussing different conceptual dimensions of coherence. It then describes the neutral, benign, and malign ‘faces’ that coherence assumes in political and academic debates. Based on this conceptual framework, the chapter explores the current legal basis of the Treaty of Lisbon as well as the EU's comprehensive approach to external action in crises and conflicts as one of the key political initiatives aimed at fostering the objectives laid down in primary law.

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