FASoS Colloquium ‘Transforming European Diplomacy Abroad: Insights from Washington’

This presentation is based on an inductive research project about the implications of the Lisbon Treaty for European diplomatic representation that I conducted as Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Fellow at the Center of Transatlantic Relations of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C.

The Lisbon Treaty changed EU representation abroad by upgrading Commission delegations to comprehensive EU delegations and replacing the rotating presidency in coordinating EU member states. This paper investigates the way in which those changes transform European diplomatic representation towards the US. Based on a field study and 40 semi-structured interviews, it examines changing coordination patterns between EU member states’ embassies and their interaction with the EU delegation in Washington.

Considering Washington´s political salience and its competitive diplomatic environment, the results are surprising: both the increasingly institutionalized coordination system and the intensified role of the EU delegation are perceived positively, although small and medium-sized embassies tend to profit far more from the new service-orientated approach. This trend must not be mistaken, however, for a decline in bilateral diplomatic activity. Rather, European diplomatic representation post-Lisbon is transforming into a multi-dimensional system, based on regular and intense coordination mechanisms between various European and EU actors.

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