International Politics

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 288–303 | Cite as

The geopolitics of the EU’s partnership diplomacy: strategic, managerial or reactive?

  • Michael SmithEmail author
Original Article


This article examines the EU’s partnership diplomacy and evaluates the extent to which it embodies a strategic response to geopolitical change and challenges. The article begins by reviewing the changing context for partnership diplomacy, identifying key geopolitical challenges and relating these to key elements in EU diplomatic practices. The second part of the article examines the scope and variety of the EU’s partnership diplomacy and relates these to the key challenges identified earlier. The article then outlines three images of partnership diplomacy: a ‘strategic’ image linked to an EU ‘grand strategy’; a ‘managerial’ view emphasising a differentiated and adaptive version of partnership diplomacy; and a ‘reactive’ view in which there is a reaction to events rather than a principled or pragmatic approach. The article concludes with an evaluation of the three images and of potential futures for the EU’s partnership diplomacy and relates them to existing and emerging geopolitical challenges.


European Union Diplomacy Strategy Partnerships Geopolitical challenges 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and International StudiesUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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