Brussels may expand its role in foreign policy

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The volatile international environment will provide an incentive for EU member states to act together


  • The EU is likely to renew its sanctions against Russia in July, despite some member states’ scepticism.
  • Both the EU and the United Kingdom are likely to lose diplomatic influence after Brexit.
  • The French and German elections are unlikely to result in substantial changes in the EU’s foreign policy.
  • The EU is involved in counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa.


The EU has 139 bilateral, multilateral and regional delegations and representation offices around the world. Foreign policy decisions are made unanimously by the European Council, though certain aspects can be modified by qualified majority voting. This presents a dilemma for the EU’s foreign policy chief, High Representative Federica Mogherini: she can only speak on behalf of the EU if the foreign ministers of all 28 member states agree.

Nonetheless, and despite Brussels’ lack of any hard power, the EU has enjoyed several successes, including the Iran nuclear deal and improved EU defence cooperation.


See PROSPECTS 2017: EU - November 3, 2016

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