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Session Overview
Panel 814: Sovereignty in EU Foreign Policy
Wednesday, 04/Sep/2019:
9:30am - 11:00am

Session Chair: Karolina Pomorska, University of Leiden
Location: Anfiteatro 8

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Sovereignty in EU Foreign Policy

Chair(s): Karolina Pomorska (Leiden University)

Discussant(s): Geoffrey Edwards (Cambridge University)

Sovereignty is currently at the heart of many debates about the European Union’s integration process. A core demand of Brexit supporters has been to ‘take back control’. The Polish government has claimed for itself that it represents the true European values as opposed to the EU’s liberal consensus. These traditional notions of sovereignty have been challenged by integration in EU foreign policy. It has also been an area of integration where this struggle for balance between national sovereignty and joint action and ability to influence world politics has played out. Steering clear of deeper supranationalisation, member states maintained foreign policy as their prerogative. Yet, EU member states also felt that the EU needed to better perform politically in the global arena. The first aim was to improve coherence, consistency and continuity in CFSP and external action. The Treaty of Lisbon represented a step further in this area of integration by bringing together the foreign policy and the external action of the EU under a single institutional framework. The questions that arise from these observations are manifold: can we still talk about classic state sovereignty in CFSP? How do EU institutions impact sovereignty? Are member states still the drivers of its foreign policy and what is the role of domestic politics in CFSP? Are the new CFSP institutions fit for purpose? This panel seeks to address these questions from multidisciplinary perspectives on EU foreign policy, combining foreign policy analysis, integration theories and other perspectives on sovereignty and foreign policy.


Presentations of the Symposium


Growing Pains, Fusing Bonds: Is EU Foreign Policy a Case of a Coming Together Federation?

Jost Morgenstern-Pomorski
University of Birmingham

A famous quip about the says that the EU exists of only two types of countries: small countries and countries who have yet to realise that they are small countries. This truism implies there is a fundamental difficulty for small states to exercise ‘sovereignty’ in foreign policy and international relations. A typical assessment also finds EU foreign policy one of the areas most guarded by member states against sovereignty transfers to European institutions. Nevertheless, over the last decades a significant institutional structure has built up in and around this mostly intergovernmental policy-making process. These incursions into an area normally preserved to states raises a number of questions on sovereignty and EU foreign policy making. This paper argues that federal theory is more relevant to understanding the development of EU foreign policy than has so far been acknowledged in the literature. Federalist studies have a long tradition of studying formations of (con)federations throughout history and can provide theoretical guidance for the processes of federalisation in matters most closely linked to state sovereignty concerns. After laying out these contributions, the paper presents a tentative comparative study of foreign policy making processes in ‘coming together’ federations and implications for EU foreign policy and the sovereignty of member states.

Keywords: EU foreign policy, CFSP, federalism, sovereignty


Still Governing in the Shadows? The Role of the Political and Security Committee in the Post-Lisbon EU Foreign Policy Architecture

Heidi Maurer1, Nicholas Wright2
1University of Oxford, 2University College London

The Political and Security Committee (PSC) is considered one of the main EU bodies contributing to the formulation and implementation of European foreign policy through CFSP. Its role and set-up changed considerably during the early 2000s (see Duke 2005, Reynolds & Juncos 2007), but particularly in the period since the reforms introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. This paper investigates how the PSC has evolved since Lisbon and the range of pressures, internal, external and institutional it has faced in doing so. It asks how the PSC has been impacted by the creation of the EEAS and the upgraded role of the HR/VP; to what extent the introduction of a permanent EEAS chair has influenced its work and standing; and how and under what conditions the PSC influences European foreign policy. By taking an institutionalist perspective and drawing on rich new empirical material, the paper aims to fill the gap of current research by carefully scrutinising the role of the PSC and determining its significance in the EU foreign policy system since Lisbon.

Keywords: EU foreign policy, CFSP, member states, EEAS


Is Sovereignty Still Decisive in EU Integration? Spain and the EEAS

Paula Lamoso
Autonomous University Madrid

Sovereignty has always been the cornerstone of the debates when talking about the EU process of integration, and foreign policy is the most sensitive area in this matter. The creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) signifies a new attempt to reform the institutional framework of the European Union's foreign policy at the same time that it challenges the very concept of national sovereignty. It represents the first time that the member states agreed to the creation of an autonomous body at supranational level in the field of Foreign Affairs.

Spain has always considered itself one of the major supporters of the EU process of integration. However, Spain was not very committed to the idea of the reinforcement of the EU foreign policy institutional structure. Sovereignty has never been that relevant in the relationship between Spain and the EU than during the Aznar government 1996 - 2004. Liberal intergovernmentalism (LI) claims that member states are the ones that drive the European Union (EU) process of integration while pursuing its domestic interests. If so, taking into account the resistances of a pro-integrationist country like Spain, why they have finally agreed to the creation of the EEAS?

This paper aims to contribute to LI by stressing that both the institutional setting in which supra-state bargaining takes place plus the EU institutions crucially shaped Member States’ choices. The contribution to the debates of the Commission and the EU Parliament were central in creating and designing this new diplomatic institution as co-negotiators with the member states.

Keywords: Sovereignty, EU Integration, EEAS, Spain

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