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The Messages and Practices of the European Union’s Public Diplomacy

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This article examines the messages and practices of the European Union’s public diplomacy. Public diplomacy is conceptualized as a modality of diplomacy that seeks to influence foreign political discourses. The influence sought by the EU through its messages relates to the projection of its identity as an actor and to the diffusion of its own normative foundation, which are potentially conflicting objectives. EU public diplomacy is characterized by its decentralized nature, where the European Commission’s delegations in third states are the most important actors in the network ‘doing’ EU public diplomacy. The article concludes that the network organization of EU public diplomacy, although giving rise to important problems of coherence, is well adapted to the current patterns of diplomatic interaction and the pursuit of EU strategic objectives, and indeed is more effective than a more unitary actor that was able to speak with a single voice in international relations.


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Affiliations: 1: Department of International Relations, Faculty of Social Science, University of the Basque Country Leioa Campus, PO Box 644, E-48080 Bilbao Spain, Email:


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