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European Responses to US Diplomacy: ‘Special Relationships’, Transatlantic Governance and World Order

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This article explores the contrasting diplomacies of the United States and the European Union, drawing attention to the characteristics of the United States as a ‘warrior state’ and the European Union as a form of ‘trading state’ in which a complex and hybrid form of diplomacy is produced through the interplay of European and national foreign policies. It then pursues the argument that the interplay of US and EU diplomacies has generated an evolving EU-US diplomatic system, which in itself is hybrid and multi-dimensional. The article explores the context within which the EU-US diplomatic system has evolved and is evolving, and proposes three key patterns of diplomatic relations as the core of the system: ‘special relationships’ reflecting specific ties between the United States and key EU member states; ‘transatlantic governance’ reflecting the growth of transatlantic transactions and demands for their management; and ‘world order diplomacy’, which is centred on global governance institutions, patterns of intervention and crisis management. The article explores these patterns as they have manifested themselves during the George W. Bush and Obama presidencies, and concludes by asking whether the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty in the European Union is likely to bring about significant change in the patterns of EU-US diplomacy.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Politics, History and International Relations, Loughborough University Loughborough LE11 3TU UK, Email:


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