Informal division of labour in EU foreign policy-making

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Series Details Vol.24, No.10, 2017, p1471-1490
Publication Date October 2017
ISSN 1350-1763
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On many issues in European Union (EU) foreign policy-making, political steering and operational action are provided by an informal, self-selected group of actors. Although this informal division of labour is an important phenomenon, it has largely escaped the radar of EU foreign policy scholars. This article aims to fill that gap. Applying an inductive approach, it presents empirical observations from the fields of crisis management and external climate policy, illustrating the occurrence of informal division of labour.

The article subsequently provides an analytical framework to map the key dimensions of its different manifestations: the enabling factors, starting point, subject, institutional embeddedness, exclusiveness and durability of informal division of labour. Four possible effects on EU foreign policy-making are then discussed: an increased internal and external effectiveness; and a strengthened internal and external legitimacy. The article concludes by presenting suggestions for further empirical research on this phenomenon, as well as for theorizing it.

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