The Rise of an Emerging Diplomatic Actor? Assessing the Role of the EU Delegation to the African Union

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Series Details Volume 2017, Number 13
Publication Date November 2017
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Every three years the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) hold a Summit of Heads of States and Governments to take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the Africa-EU Partnership. The 5th African Union-EU Summit will take place on 29-30 November 2017 in Abidjan. On this occasion, this paper aims to analyse the interplay between the EU Delegation (EUDEL) and the permanent missions of the EU member states to the African Union in Addis Ababa.

To what extent has the EUDEL emerged as a post-Westphalian diplomatic actor that centralizes, complements or competes with the diplomatic activities of member states’ permanent missions? I argue that the EUDEL and its member states have created an ‘umbrella regional diplomacy’, where member states embed their bilateral diplomatic relations in the overall European approach towards the AU. However, since it is up to the AU to grant access to its meetings, the interplay between the EUDEL and its member states’ permanent missions is importantly shaped by the AU’s preferences for its diplomatic counterpart(s).

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