Incoherence of the European Union vis-à-vis China: the Cases of AIIB and MES
As a vertically and horizontally multi-layered decision-making system, the European Union (EU) has long been marred by its inability to formulate a common approach. This is particularly true in the Common Foreign and Security Policy – a field of fragmented competence, member-state variation, and institutional incoherence. In its relationship with one of its most important partners – China, the EU is often divided and unable to present a united front, thereby undermining its leverage and credibility. This research discusses the recurrent concern with the incoherence of the Union vis-à-vis China. It looks into two recent cases in EU-China relations where the Union has failed to speak with a single voice: the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Market Economy Status (MES). To this end, it applies and further develops Gebhard’s four-dimension conceptualisation of coherence to examine the casual factors underlying the incoherence and the wider implications for the Union as a global actor and the EU-China strategic partnership. To anticipate major findings based on empirical observation, the article tentatively holds that the degree of EU incoherence varies in the two cases but the main cause for both is the considerable divergence between member states in their pursuance of purely national policies.
Hai Yang . firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Leuven
I am a Ph.D research at the University of Leuven (Belgium). My current research project is focused on the European Union foreign policy and in particular its strategic partnership with China and how it plays out in bilateral and multilateral settings.