European Union Foreign Policy in a Changing World provides a clear introduction to the complexities of the contemporary European Union foreign policy, and offers a comprehensive and a distinctive perspective on the nature of the European Union's international identity. Karen E.Smith is a Senior lecturer in International Relations at the London School of Economics and her research interests focus on EU foreign policy, and principally the role of normative issues in EU external strategy. Her book offers a fresh approach to the complicated framework of the EU foreign policies. Now a days, it is a common view to consider the EU as an ineffective and an incomplete actor whose foreign policy is inconsequential and weak, notably compared to the US. Its absence in hot spots in Rwanda, Kosovo or Bosnia as well as its member states division over the conflict in Iraq only emphasized this picture.
[...] Where the EU stands out distinctively, is in foreign policy instruments, it has at its disposition only few of which could be wielded by other actors. These instruments are the result of the nature and internal structure of the EU. The EU's offer of membership or the supports of NGOs constitute a unique way to approach the third world countries. Moreover, the EU tends to rely on persuasion rather than on coercion. This might be regarded as the result of the lack of military capacities that certainly is a problem of the EU. [...]
[...] The promotion of these objectives implies also the using of similar instruments of foreign policy in their achieving. Unlike USA, the EU insists on its image of civil power and tends therefore to use a set of non- coercive tools such as diplomatic instruments or financial aid. It clearly prefers positive to negative measures,as such measures seem to give lesser challenges to the sovereignty of third countries and do not antagonize these states and hurt population. Three main types of instruments are used to achieve the objectives: aid for human rights and aid for democratization and good governance, political conditionality and diplomatic instruments. [...]
[...] Second, given the extent to which democracy and good governance, require a fundamental transformation of the government and the societiies' principles, it results as a much more ambitious goal to impose these values in the third world countries. That is also why the promotion of democracy is rather a late-comer in the foreign policy topics becoming a clearly defined objective only in 1998 whereas the promotion of human rights is explicitly mentioned already in 1986 and figures even before this date on the agenda of the European political cooperation (EPC). [...]
[...] The neglect of Asian countries illustrates the abandon by the EU foreign policy of this region where the influence of the USA is prominent. Another problem is the way the EU distributes the aid in third countries. The involvement of different authorities of the EU is sometimes a source of competence confusion as their activities might interfere and worsen the situation. Furthermore, some scholars criticize the extensive funding of the NGOs. The EU provides democracy and promotes human rights largely through NGOs that implement projects. [...]
[...] More precisely, there have been serious doubts about a double-standard approach since the EU has treated third countries differently though their democracy and human-rights records have been similar. Poor and marginal states, mainly in Africa, tend to be subjected to negative measures regularly while strategically important countries such as Russia or China earn only a slip on the wrest. Inconsistency raises doubts about the extent to which human rights and democracy are a genuine concern in the EU foreign policy. [...]
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