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The EU in an Unsettled International System: Crisis, Polarity and Multilateralism (EU-IANUS)

From January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2015

As a number of strategic documents illustrate, the promotion of the European vision of global governance, particularly in regard to multilateralism, has become a centrepiece of the European Union’s (EU) external policy. Also in Spain the strengthening of global governance through multilateral institutions forms an important part of the foreign policy consensus. However, both the structures of the international system and the European integration project are currently experiencing rapid and unpredictable changes which have made evident the Union’s difficulties to carry out its policies on the international stage. Due to its alleged characteristics of being “multipolar without multilateralism” this stage is considered to be problematic for the Europeans. The ongoing economic and financial crisis only has enhanced the problems the EU is facing.

The project EU-IANUS aims to develop a conceptual framework for the systematic analysis of the changes in the international system and the European integration process in four main areas in which the EU has become an international actor: Trade and Finance, Energy and Environment, Security and Defence Policy, and Human and Social Rights. Based on this framework, the project will explain the variations between the roles played by the EU in these four areas. More specifically, the analysis will distinguish between three possible types of European roles in global governance: (I) the EU as a "model" for global governance, (II) the EU as one of the "negotiators" of rules and norms of global governance, and (III) the EU as an "instrument" of international institutions that set the rules and norms of global governance. In addition to the identification of European roles, the project seeks to examine the methods, mechanisms and practices that enable the EU to exercise these roles under particular circumstances.

Finally, the rigorous, systematic and comprehensive study of the role of the EU in global governance will enable a cutting-edge analysis of its role as an effective and legitimate actor in different settings in the international arena. In particular, comparisons will be drawn with other key players such as theUnited States and various emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India and China). In practical terms, the research will, grounded in scientific methods, contribute to the development of concrete proposals for the reinforcement of the principle of multilateralism in a changing and increasingly uncertain global governance system.

Team Members

External Contributors