ASTK15611U CANCELLED - SUMMER15: External Relations of the European Union

Volume 2015/2016

Master level: 7.5 ECTS 
Bachelor level: 10 ECTS 


The European Union (EU) is an international actor with a complex set of institutional, material and normative features that govern its external relations. This is the case regardless of whether we consider it to be comparable to states, regional or international organizations, or a sui generis entity that is beyond comparison. The aim of this course is to present the conceptual, theoretical and empirical debates surrounding the EU's external relations, which is central to our knowledge of EU's role in world politics and of the nature and extent of its impact in major policy fields.  

The course proceeds in three sections. The first section introduces some of the main conceptual and theoretical perspectives for situating the EU as a foreign policy actor and for analyzing the nature and impact of its external relations. Central to this section are the normative power theory, EU's external governance, theories of new institutionalism and the analytical field of Europeanization. The second section comprises of policy fields that are essential to understanding EU's external relations as a whole. Important subject areas that are considered here include EU's common foreign and security policy, enlargement and neighborhood policy and policies regarding sustainable development. The last section of the course exemplifies EU's external relations in a number of contemporary cases ranging from its relations with Russia to candidate and neighborhood policy countries such as Turkey, Ukraine and North African states.   


At the completion of the course, students will be able to relate to the debates concerning the EU's role in global politics and the nature and extent of its relations with other regions, actors and organizations. Students will also be able to familiarize themselves with the major theoretical positions in engaging with this empirical field. By using analytical tools from political science, the course is relevant for employment in public policy and administration, international organizations, the EU, NGOs and journalism.

Learning Outcome

At the completion of the seminar, students should be able to:

  • Describe what the EU's external relations entail
  • Present the essential conceptual and theoretical positions regarding EU's external relations
  • Compare and critically analyze the central policy fields within which EU's external relations operate
  • Apply relevant theoretical perspectives to a number of contemporary cases across regions, countries and policy domains
  • Reflect on how debates surrounding EU's external relations relate to the wider fields of international relations and comparative politics


Andreatta, Filippo (2011). 'Theory and the European Union's International Relations', in Christopher Hill and Michael Smity (eds.) International Relations and the European Union, 2nd edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 21-43 [22 pgs.]

Balfour, R. (2012) ‘Changes and continuities in EU-Mediterranean relations after the Arab Spring’, in S. Biscop, R. Balfour & M. Emerson (Eds.) An Arab Springboard for EU Foreign Policy (pp. 27-35). Egmont Paper 54, January (Academia Press for Egmont – the Royal Institute for International Relations, Brussels).

Bindi, Federica, and Irina Angelescu (eds.) (2012) The Foreign Policy of the European Union, 2nd edn. (Washington: Brookings).

Björkdahl, Annika, Natalia Chaban, John Leslie and Annick Masselot (eds.) (2014) Importing European Union Norms: Conceptual Framework and Empirical Findings (New York: Springer).

Boening, Astrid, Jan-Frederik Kremer and Aukje van Loon (eds.) (2013) Global Power Europe - Vol. 1: Theoretical and Institutional Approaches to the EU's External Relations (Berlin: Springer).

Boening, Astrid, Jan-Frederik Kremer and Aukje van Loon (eds.) (2013) Global Power Europe - Vol. 2: Policies, Actions and Influence of the EU's External Relations (Berlin: Springer).

Bulmer, S. and Lequesne, C. (eds) (2013) The Member States of the European Union (2nd edition) (Hampshire: Oxford University Press)

Cameron, Fraser (2012) An Introduction to European Foreign Policy, 2nd edn. (London: Routledge).

Featherstone and C. Radaelli (eds.) (2003) The Politics of Europeanization, (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Kropatcheva, Elena (2011) Playing Both Ends Against the Middle: Russia’s Geopolitical Games with the EU and Ukraine”, Geopolitics 16 (3): 553-573.

Lavenex, Sandra & Frank Schimmelfennig (2009) ‘EU Rules beyond EU Borders: Theorising External Governance in European Politics’, Journal of European Public Policy 16 (6): 791-812.

Mahoney, J. and K. A. Thelen (2010) (eds.) Explaining Institutional Change: Ambiguity, Agency, Power, (New York: Cambridge University Press): Chapter 1

Piccardo, Lara (2010) ‘The European Union and Russia: Past, Present, and Future of a Difficult Relationship’, in Federiga Bindi (ed.): The Foreign Policy of the European Union, (Washington DC.: Brookings Institution Press): 119-133.

Gwendolyn Sasse (2008) ‘The politics of EU conditionality: the norm of minority protection during and beyond EU accession’, Journal of European Public Policy, 15 (6), 842-860.

Schimmelfennig, Frank and Ulrich Sedelmeier (eds.) (2005) The Europeanization of Central and Eastern Europe, (Cornell University Press), Chapter 1: Introduction; and Chapter 10: Europeanization Research East and West: A Comparative Assessment.

Pierson, P (2000) The Limits of Design: Explaining Institutional Origins and Change. Governance 13(4): 475-501

Schmidt, V. A. (2008), Discu rsive Institutionalism: The Explanatory Power of Ideas and Discourse, Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 11, pp. 303-326

Streeck, W and Thelen, K (2005), Beyond Continuity (Oxford: OUP): ‘Introduction’

Whitman, Richard, and Stefan Wolff (eds.) (2012) The European Neighbourhood Policy in Perspective: Context, Implementation and Impact (Basingstoke: Palgrave).

Whitman, Richard, and Stefan Wolff (eds.) (2012) The European Union as a Global Conflict Manager (London: Routledge).

Whitman, Richard (ed.) (2012) Normative Power Europe: Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives (Basingstoke: Palgrave).

Whitman, Richard, and Kalypso Nicolaïdis (eds.) (2013) ‘European Union and normative power: Assessing the decade, setting the future research agenda’, Special Issue of Cooperation and Conflict, 48 (2).

Woolcock, Stephan (2012) European Union Economic Diplomacy: The Role of the EU in External Economic Relations (Aldershot: Ashgate).


Basic knowledge of EU politics and an interest in reflections on EU's external relations.
Grading will be done according to the 7-point grading scale. As this is a seminar, students' participation is key to the overall success. Participation requires motivation, guidance and assessment. Active participation includes student learning activities which involve continuous assessment. Among these activities making an oral presentation on a topic related to the contents of the seminar (which can also form the basis for the seminar paper) as well as giving feedback on other students' presentations can be mentioned. Seminar assignments are compulsory and are continuously assessed. Furthermore, the students will constructively participate in a number of group learning activities, which form the core of the seminar.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individual seminar assignment
Exam registration requirements

75% parcipitation

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner