Univ. of Agder: Department of Political Science and Management (ISL Working Papers 3/2015)
The 2009 Lisbon Treaty sought to enhance the coherence of EU foreign policies by improving the conditions for collective action in the EU-level foreign relations system, including its interaction with member states. Several innovations aimed to facilitate collective action: the establishment of the European External Action Service, bringing EU institutions and member state officials together, is the most important. Policy-level innovations, in turn, have included a string of ‘comprehensive’, ‘joined-up’, and ‘whole-of-government’ approaches that have explicitly focussed on linking the various instruments in the EU’s tool box. Have these reforms led to improved policy coherence? We focus on a key domain that illustrates Europe’s engagement with the changing global context: the nexus of security and development policy. Drawing on post-Lisbon Treaty policy documents and interviews with officials from the EU foreign relations bureaucracy, we argue that collective action at the EU-level has improved somewhat since 2010. This has been accompanied by some improvements in the coherence of security and development policy. Nevertheless, decisionmaking is still affected by bureaucratic actors catering to specific constituencies and, accordingly, the coherence of security and development policies remains challenged. The EU institutions lack the strategic direction that would be provided by clear prioritisation of global policy objectives, but this is not possible in a system that lacks clear hierarchy. Without combining strategic direction with effective changes in the foreign relations apparatus, reforms aimed at improving collective action can only make a marginal impact on policy coherence.