The problem with the EU foreign policy is twofold: There are differing definitions and perceptions of national interests (and, by extension, of European interest) and differing analyses and views on appropriate policy strategies for different challenges. But there is another important issue, even when interests and strategies converge, there is a reluctance to give up the prerogative of national action and national initiatives.

Of course, the countries with most to lose are those who see themselves as having the strongest voices internationally in their own national foreign policy i.e. France and the United Kingdom. Until France and the United Kingdom are ready to build a strong EU foreign policy- inevitably limiting their own individual freedom of maneuver in the process, little progress will be made. Both countries, of course, are permanent members of the UN Security Council and it is difficult to foresee any deal in this decade whereby they would give up their seats to be replaced by an EU seat. This said, it should be pointed out that where previously the EU was only able to speak at the UN through an ambassador from the member state holding the rotating presidency, it has recently been granted a "super-observer status" which means the EU delegation has now the right to speak on behalf of member states, make interventions, present amendments and proposals as well as exercising the right of reply but is still not able to vote on resolutions.

Surely national interests have to be linked with European foreign policy, but today what we are seeing is a renewed emphasis on bilateral relations, and key Member States such as France, the UK and others are emphasizing bilateral relations over co-operation with the 27-member European bloc. Some like UK Foreign Secretary William Hague openly states that he has ‘never believed that the EU could or should act as if it were a nation state with a national foreign policy’ and that any attempt by the EU institutions to do so  will end in embarrassing failure”.

Admittedly  the very concept of national interest has changed in our globalised world. In a nutshell: interests have gone global. But it should be equally clear that in a globalised world, national interests can best be achieved through collective action.

Don't ask what the EU can do for you but ask what  you can do for the EU!

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