Unexpected effectiveness? The European Union and the long journey to the 2015 landmark greement on Iran’s nuclear programme

Ali, Omran Omer (2018) Unexpected effectiveness? The European Union and the long journey to the 2015 landmark greement on Iran’s nuclear programme. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3307628


This study seeks to address the question of what explains variation in the effectiveness of the EU’s actions towards Iran. To do so, it conducts a longitudinal analysis – spanning from 1992 to 2015 – focusing primarily on the nuclear dispute, in which the EU, for many unexpectedly, played a crucial role, particularly in the final period leading to the 2015 landmark agreement. In answering the central research question, this study expands on the concept of effectiveness so far used by scholars interested in the EU’s behaviour in multilateral contexts and applying it to a single country. Moreover, this study unpacks the concept of effectiveness and explores the link between internal effectiveness – that is, whether the EU manages to act cohesively and purposefully – and external effectiveness – that is, whether the EU is able to reach the goals it sets for itself in the international arena. In doing so, the aim is that of contributing to debates on whether and how EU internal effectiveness influences EU external effectiveness and the extent to which the external context helps explain variation in the EU’s ability to reach its stated goals.
By revisiting the long journey leading to the normalisation of relations between Iran and the international community, this study demonstrates that internal effectiveness is necessary, but insufficient to explain EU external effectiveness, which in fact is also contingent upon the external context in which the EU operates. In particular, the empirical findings covering three distinct periods have demonstrated that focusing only on the position of the US (and related transatlantic cooperation) cannot always provide us with a full explanation of why the EU is (un)able to reach its objectives vis-à-vis third countries. Importantly, the behaviour of the ‘target country’ and the negotiating style used by the EU must be taken into account to explain why the EU’s effectiveness towards Iran has varied across time. As for internal effectiveness, it has been argued that the EU is effective as a global actor when it is able to act autonomously, coherently and is recognised by other actors, including the target country. The level of legal competence in shaping the EU’s capacity to act coherently and effectively in world politics is less important than what has been claimed by the existing literature. Importantly, when the EU is able to articulate determinate common positions and the Member States stick to what they decide jointly, the likelihood for the EU of being externally effective is significantly enhanced, regardless of decision-making rules.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Effectiveness, internal and external effectiveness, effectiveness of the European Union's foreign policy, Iran's nuclear programme, EU-US transatlantic relations, behaviour of the target country, coercive diplomacy, cooperative diplomacy.
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Carbone, Professor Maurizio and Head, Dr. Naomi
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: MR OMRAN. O. A. ALI
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-8981
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2018 14:58
Last Modified: 04 May 2018 10:47
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8981

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