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The European Union’s external representation after Lisbon: from ‘hydra-headed’ to ‘octopus’?


  • Elisabeth Johansson-Nogués


A longstanding critique of the European Union has been its ‘hydra-headed’ external representation whereby multiple EU actors intervene to speak on the Union’s behalf in international organizations. Expectations were therefore raised as the 2009 Lisbon Treaty created a simplified regime of external representation whereby in essence the representation is left in the hands of the President of the European Council, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission and, finally, the President of the Commission. The question explored in this Working Paper is whether the 2009 Lisbon Treaty reform has since given rise to that cohesion and clarity of expression ("single voice") for which the EU and its member states allegedly strives. We survey this topic by ways of the EU´s external representation in the United Nations system and related conferences. Our main findings are that while it can be said that the ‘new’ troika has gained in formal representative ‘authority’, it has not been accompanied by greater independence of action or ‘autonomy’ from member states or by significant gains in terms of overall simplification of the Union’s external representation so far.

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  • Elisabeth Johansson-Nogués, 2014. "The European Union’s external representation after Lisbon: from ‘hydra-headed’ to ‘octopus’?," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers p0366, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:euirsc:p0366

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