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Does the Flag Still Follow Trade? Agency, Politicization and External Opportunity Structures in the Post-Lisbon System of EU Diplomacy

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This article focuses on the past and present of the European Union’s system of diplomacy, and asks whether the changes initiated by the Lisbon Treaty have really transformed that system. The Lisbon Treaty promised to transform the situation in which ‘the flag followed trade’ and give a primary role to the diplomacy of politics and security. Using arguments based on the location of agency, the politicization of economic diplomacy and the logic of external opportunity structures, the article argues that the transformation has not taken place, and that EU external action remains essentially a hybrid construct in which economic diplomacy plays a central role. Such a situation has important implications for EU diplomacy in third countries and for the character of the EU’s diplomatic representation, especially when it comes to the demand expressed in the EU’s 2016 Global Strategy for ‘joined up’ or closely coordinated external action.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick Coventry cv4 7alUnited Kingdom


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