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Consensus, Rhetoric, Majority: 3 Logics of Decision-Making in the Multi-Lateral System

Thursday October 23, 2008, at 14:00
Aula 4 - IBEI
Research seminar
The 2003 European Security Strategy places leadership in the multilateral system at the heart of the EU’s foreign policy, and although academic research into how the EU is, and should be, going about achieving this is emerging it remains a sub-field in its infancy. This paper sets out a route map for a larger research project that contributes to the study of the EU in the multilateral system in two important ways. The first is by proposing a framework for integrating individual case studies into a cohesive, holistic survey of the EU’s foreign policy actions, and the second is by providing a comprehensive critical appraisal of the EU’s ambitions as a foreign policy actor in the multilateral system. The argument is developed in two phases. The first sets out a series of research questions concerning the EU’s capabilities to lead, specifically considering its reliance on cohesive voting and how to measure leadership, including the viability of a comparison with the United States. It also explores potential contradictions between ‘normative power Europe’ and multilateral leadership. The second phase of the paper elaborates on three ideal-types of decision-making in the multilateral system: majoritarianism, consensus/intergovernmentalism and persuasion/rhetoric. It argues that the EU is too reliant on the majoritarian logic which is the least effective method of demonstrating leadership, and instead the EU should concentrate on the other two logics, in which its ability to influence outcomes is greatly improved. It concludes that giving more flexibility to diplomats in field and relaxing some normative constraints on action will strengthen EU leadership in multilateral system.