Paradoxes of leadership in European foreign policy

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Paradoxes of leadership in European foreign policy

Tuesday, 2 November 2021 - 5:00pm
Seminar Room, European Studies Centre
Lisbeth Aggestam (University of Gothenberg; St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Hartmut Mayer (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
European Studies Seminar

Leadership is widely regarded as a critical factor for the European Union’s ability to act cohesively and effectively as global actor. The siren call for leadership is most often heard when Europe is facing one of its perennial crises, but which actor has the ability to shoulder this responsibility and how? Half a century after Henry Kissinger quipped, ‘who do I call, when I want to call Europe?’, there still seems to be no authoritative person or institution who can speak on behalf of Europe. In this talk, I discuss why European leadership is contested in EU foreign policy. Based on results from a large interview survey with national and European diplomats, I identify a central paradox at the heart of EU foreign policy. While formal European leadership functions and institutions were significantly strengthened with the Lisbon Treaty, the EU has become increasingly rudderless and characterized by informal leadership practices emerging in groups of like-minded EU member states. These new types of informal leadership practices will have significant repercussions on future European-British cooperation in a post-Brexit world.

Lisbeth Aggestamis is Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and Senior Research Fellow at theCentre for European Research (CERGU), University of GothenburginSweden. She holds a PhD in Political Science fromthe University of Stockholmandworked as a lecturerat the University of Bath(UK) until 2013. Prior to that she was a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cambridgeandthe Swedish Institute of International Affairs (SIIA). She wasavisiting researchstudentat St Antony’s Collegein 1995on a Chevening scholarship. Aggestam works in the field of International Relations,and she is the Editor-in-Chief of the ISA journal, Foreign Policy Analysis, published by Oxford University Press. Her main research interests areforeign policy cooperation and integration in Europeand herrecent work focuses on theconceptof political leadership inforeign policy. She is particularly interestedin institutional change and agency in European leadership governance across a range of politicalissues, including Brexit, transatlantic relations and European security. Recent publications include: ‘Leaderisation in foreign policy: performing the role ofEU High Representative’. European Security2020,29(3): 301-319. ‘Learning to lead? Germany and the leadership paradox in EU foreign policy’. German Politics 2020,29(1): 8-24. ‘New directions in EU foreign policy governance: Cross-loading, leadership and informal groupings’. Journal of Common Market Studies 57(3): 515-532. ‘The leadership paradox in EU foreign policy’. Journal of Common Market Studies 55(6): 1203-1220. Lisbeth Aggestamis onaresearch sabbaticalinthe academic year2021/22(funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond)to work onher forthcoming bookwith the provisional title, The Elusive Quest for Leadership in European Foreign Policy. She is an Academic Visitor at St Antony’s College during Michaelmas 2021.

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