EU Foreign Policy Identity: A Case Study on the EU’s Engagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran

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Series Details Volume 19, Number 6
Publication Date November 2019
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The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is often referred to as the biggest foreign policy success of the European Union (EU). It ended twelve years of tough negotiations, stabilising one of the most volatile regions of the world. The EU’s engagement with Iran was distinct from that of the United States or even that of its member states as it focused on promoting multilateralism and diplomatic dialogue, making the EU-Iran relationship of utmost importance for both parties involved.

This paper seeks to answer the research question to what extent the EU possesses a foreign policy identity that is more than the sum of that of its member states and how it expressed this identity in its engagement with Iran. Exploring EU foreign policy identity is important because it explains what type of actor the EU is in the international system and sheds light on the decision-making process of its external action.

The study argues that the EU has indeed an own distinct foreign policy identity which reflects its values such as a unique commitment to diplomatic dialogue and multilateralism as the solution to international problems as well as a guarantee to upholding the rule of law in the international system.

Through a qualitative content analysis of the American, British and French press as well as expert interviews with EU officials and member states’ diplomats the existence and importance of a distinct brand of EU foreign policy identity will be demonstrated

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