Is the EU perceived in terms of a European superpower in the making? How does the construction of a European foreign and security policy influence transatlantic relations, particularly the relationship with NATO and the United States? Those are some of the questions that are dealt with in Aggestams doctoral thesis at Stockholm University in Sweden.
The central problem that the question about a European foreign policy raises is wheather the whole idea of a national foreign policy now is superseded. With a focus on two analytical concepts – identity and role – Aggestam argues that the formation of Europe as a foreign policy actor is deeply influenced by the way in which two fundamental dilemmas are managed, namely that between nation/integration and America/Europe. These underlying tensions of Europe as a foreign policy actor surfaced visibly in the negotiations of a European Constitution and in the divisions that the war in Iraq caused between EU member states.
The comparative analysis of national and European identity and role conceptions concludes that policy-makers in Britain, France and Germany increasingly have adopted a ‘post-modern’ view of the state as an actor in foreign policy. In other words, that traditional concerns about national independence have given way to multilateral integration that safeguards effective international influence in foreign policy. Lisbeth Aggestam demonstrates in her thesis how a common European role conception of Europe as an ethical power gradually developed during the 1990s – a European power that will use both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ power to defend European norms and interests in world politics.