International Political Identity of the EU: proposal of a model for analysis

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This article argues that the European Union is an actor endowed with international political identity, which comprises a set of elements that both define its foreign policy and constitute the core values of the EU political community. It proposes that this identity results from the dynamics between 3 main dimensions: normative (shared principles and values); national (member States input); and institutional (EU political system). This process develops in a context of instability, caused by the dynamics among the three mentioned dimensions. This instability is tamed by mechanisms designed to reaching consensus that allows the achievement of a common denominator, which constitutes the basis of the EU international identity. This process goes through cyclical reproduction, as each common denominator becomes the starting point to negotiate the following tensions, generated by permanent adjustments in the European project (internal level) and by changes in the regional and international system (external level). To understand this process, this article proposes a model for analysis with a double goal: to identify and interpret the systemic relations among the elements that concur for identity production and reproduction; and understand how identity impacts in the general decision-making process in the EU’s foreign policy and its concrete decisions.

Ana Santos Pinto (

Portuguese Institute of International Relations (IPRI)