Challenging expectations: a study of European Union performance in multilateral negotiations

Dee, Megan Jane (2013) Challenging expectations: a study of European Union performance in multilateral negotiations. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Expectations of how well the European Union (EU) performs in multilateral negotiations have often been premised upon the EU’s capabilities as a global actor and its ambition to ‘lead’. Considerable attention has subsequently been paid to the EU as an actor, and leader, within multilateral negotiations; with focus particularly given to multilateral trade and environmental negotiations where expectations of EU performance are highest. Within this discourse, highly disparate understandings of how well the EU performs have however emerged, with the EU lauded on the one hand for its improving actorness and leadership, yet lamented for its ineffectiveness and lack of influence on the other. Few efforts have however sought to move beyond questions of what the EU is, and what it wants as a negotiator, to engage instead with what the EU says, what it does, and what it achieves in a negotiation environment. Addressing these issues, the aim of this study is to evaluate EU performance in multilateral negotiations as a measure of both its negotiation behaviour and effectiveness. Conducting analysis over-time (from 1995 to 2011) and across policy-fields, including case studies covering the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); this study tests expectations of EU performance and offers explanation for why it varies.

Challenging expectations in several ways, the study finds that EU performance in multilateral negotiations does not follow a pattern of being good in those fora where it is most ‘state-like’ and poor in those forum where it is least integrated, but is instead highly variable, not only between negotiation environments, but also within them. It thus finds that the EU performs neither as well as the leadership discourse suggests, nor as poorly as the effectiveness literature implies. Explanation for variation in the EU’s performance is moreover found not only in the EU’s institutional complexities and changes in structural conditions, but in how these conditions intersect to shape the EU’s level of ambition. Where the EU has high ambition, pursuing progressive goals with the EU as a distinctive preference outlier compared to its negotiation partners, the EU’s ability to persuade others to raise their ambition in support of EU preferences is limited. Instead, it is where the EU moderates its ambition; pursuing progressive objectives but maintaining some zone of agreement with negotiation partners that it performs well. The case is thus made that EU negotiation performance may be aided less by the normative distinctiveness of EU preferences and its endeavour to ‘lead’ the way, and much more by the EU’s pragmatism in finding commonality with the preference structures of its negotiation partners.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: European Union, performance, multilateral negotiation, climate change, trade, nuclear non-proliferation, leadership, external relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Carbone, Prof. Maurizio and Young, Prof. Alasdair R.
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Megan Dee
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4142
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2013 13:14
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2017 07:48

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