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Taking Stock: 50 Years of European Diplomacy

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The assumption that the European Union is creating a new diplomacy begs many questions. However, it is clear that the role of national diplomats in the integrative processes has changed dramatically during the last 50 years, producing a blueprint for a new form of European diplomacy. It is apparent that European diplomacy has been characterized by the existence of two broad but distinct diplomatic career paths, each with a separate and specific mindset, and that there are, arguably, two identifiable epistemic communities of European diplomats — national and supranational — sometimes cooperating willingly, sometimes reluctantly, in an interplay between national and EU diplomacy. Against this background, in the short term a 'variable geometry' of representation is likely to continue, as member states refashion their networks of representation, influenced by a combination of international involvement, perceptions of national need and, at times, the unwelcome dictates of diminishing national resources. But a new European diplomacy already exists alongside the old, and its distinctive feature is the withering away of explicit national interests.


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