International Politics

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 418–433

Applying constructivism to understanding EU–Russian relations

  • Joan DeBardeleben
Original Article

DOI: 10.1057/ip.2012.8

Cite this article as:
DeBardeleben, J. Int Polit (2012) 49: 418. doi:10.1057/ip.2012.8


The improved relations between Russia and the European Union (EU) in the 1990s were followed by a rise in tension since 1999. This article argues that constructivism can provide important insights into the basis of continuing difficulties. Drawing on the nature of the two actors, the author argues that the foreign policy identities of both actors are in a formative process, and thus the construction of inter-subjective meanings has the potential to be a particularly transformative element in the relationship. Both the Russian Federation and the EU are relatively new as regional and global actors, and both are in the process of forming their foreign policy identities, although in quite different contexts. Neither the EU nor Russia has developed a strategic conception for the relationship, and political discourse often obstructs communication rather than furthering the generation of inter-subjective meanings. The article argues that a constructivist analysis can help to expose the deep interconnections between normative disagreements, conflicting constructions of interests and differing concepts of governance.


constructivism governance Russia European Union identity norms 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan DeBardeleben
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Carleton UniversityOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations