International Politics

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 389–404 | Cite as

Rethinking Europe’s external relations in an age of global turmoil: an introduction

  • Robert FalknerEmail author


The outlook for Europe’s external relations has never looked so uncertain in the post-cold war era. A series of internal and external shocks—from the Eurozone crisis to the UK’s Brexit referendum and civil wars and external interventions on Europe’s borders—have shaken the EU to its foundations. Against a backdrop of external insecurity and global power shifts abroad, and institutional crisis and strategic drift at home, this article introduces the main themes and questions that guide the contributions to this special issue: first, how have recent transformations of the international system—declining Western dominance, a shift from unipolarity to multipolarity, and the return of geopolitical competition—affected Europe’s search for stability, security and influence in global affairs? Second, how have external perceptions of the EU’s position, power and influence in global affairs changed in recent years, particularly in response to ongoing crises in the EU’s internal governance? And third, how can the EU respond to the dramatically altered external environment and newly arising threats, and to what extent does the new EU Global Strategy of 2016 meet the challenges that the continent faces?


European foreign policy EU Global Strategy Brexit Geopolitics Multipolarity European integration EU external relations 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International RelationsLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK

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