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The European Union’s Foreign Policy since the Treaty of Lisbon: The Difficult Quest for More Consistency and Coherence

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SummaryIn the past, the effectiveness of the European Union’s (EU’s) foreign policy suffered from a lack of consistency as well as horizontal and institutional coherence. In order to enhance the consistency and coherence of the EU’s foreign policy, the Heads of States and Governments reformed the position of High Representative and created a European External Action Service (EEAS) under the Treaty of Lisbon. This article deals with negotiations on the decision regarding the organization and functioning of the EEAS by examining the preferences of the actors involved, the negotiation process and the eventual outcome. Will the institutional set-up of the EEAS and the new position of the High Representative enable the EU to play a more consistent and coherent role in the world? The article concludes that the EU’s foreign policy is now characterized by an even more complex institutional framework, resulting in the expectation that the EU will have even more difficulties in conducting an effective foreign policy.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for EU Studies, Department of Political and Social Sciences, Ghent University Universiteitstraat 8, 9000 Gent Belgium, Email:, URL:


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