Joint Policy Brief 1

The Constraints on the EU Foreign and Security Policy

Fecha de publicación:
Riccardo Alcaro, JOINT Coordinator and Research Coordinator and Head of Global Actors at the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI)

JOINT Brief nº. 1 (2021)

The development of a cohesive foreign and security policy has always been a tall order for the European Union. The difficulty in sharpening the EU’s profile as a credible international security actor is usually traced to institutional matters. 

A main problem is the rigidity voting procedures, whereby member states retain veto power in foreign policy decisions. Another one is the low degree of defence integration, reflected in a modest capacity for force generation and projection. A third is the fragmentation of policy-making, as responsibility for the various components of the EU’s external action, spanning crisis management, development, humanitarian aid, trade, as well as the external components of migration, energy and climate policies, is scattered across different institutions and bodies, each endowed with a different degree of authority and resources.

The shortcomings of EU foreign and security policy governance structures do not capture the full picture, though. Equally or arguably more important are the domestic and international contexts that shape EU leaders’ views of their countries’ interests and consequently orientate their policy preferences within the EU. Unfortunately for the Union, recently disturbing trends have emerged both at the domestic and international level.