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The European Union in Multilateral Diplomacy

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This article examines the role of the European Union in multilateral diplomacy. By means of synthesizing and summarizing research on seven selected policy fields, the article aims to make more general claims than single policy or single case studies allow. The analysis focuses on five analytical dimensions: governance (that is, how the EU handles multilateral diplomacy in different international institutions); the role of EU domestic politics; negotiation style(s); outreach; and impact. As the seven policy fields comprise some very diverse issue-areas, it would not be wise to expect any uniform approach or general findings. However, the analysis does show that the EU is increasingly engaged in multilateral diplomacy, actually playing a leadership role in some policy fields. Findings do not correspond to traditional expectations concerning the EU's engagement in politico-economic and security issues, as the EU plays a limited role in financial and macro-economic diplomacy and a fairly significant role in non-proliferation and crisis management. The article suggests that an extension to more policy fields and more analytical dimensions would provide the comprehensive understanding of the European Union's role in multilateral diplomacy that the engagement deserves.

Affiliations: 1: Department for Political Science, Aarhus University, Building 1331, Bartholins Allé 7, 8000 Århus C, Denmark;, Email:


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