Charting the EU–national strategic constellation: understanding EU strategy through member states’ strategic partnerships—an analysis of the Czech case

Abstract

That the national foreign policies of EU member states impact on the EU’s strategy and strategic performance as a (global) foreign policy actor is not in doubt. But how this happens is a different matter. In analysing EU strategy, national foreign policies are often reduced to their (non-)alignment with that of the EU. This not only de-strategises them but also obscures the range of ways in which member states reinforce or undercut the EU’s strategic actor-ness, particularly those involving relations between member states. We address this gap by zooming in on one such way: member states’ bilateral strategic partnerships. We provide a newly comprehensive conceptualisation of strategic partnerships and employ this to analyse their role in the ‘EU–national strategic constellation’, focusing on Czech strategic partnerships—with both EU and non-EU states. This analysis shows the latent political as well as analytical potential of this underexplored aspect of EU strategy.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    However, as the EU global strategy (EUGS) fails to even mention the format, its future is uncertain, at least at the EU level.

  2. 2.

    The Czech–French partnership remained largely moribund until a late 2017 effort to revive it, which at the time of writing remains inconclusive.

  3. 3.

    Interviews (2016) with officials from the Czech MFA and German embassy in Prague and with German MFA officials in Berlin.

  4. 4.

    Ibid.

  5. 5.

    Interviews (2016) with representatives of Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prague.

  6. 6.

    Ibid.

  7. 7.

    Interviews (2016) with academic experts in Prague, with officials from the Czech MFA and German embassy in Prague and with German MFA officials in Berlin.

  8. 8.

    Interviews (2016) with MFA officials and embassy diplomatic staff from the MFAs of several ‘Western’/‘Older’ EUMS in Prague.

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Tallis, B., Šimečka, M. Charting the EU–national strategic constellation: understanding EU strategy through member states’ strategic partnerships—an analysis of the Czech case. Int Polit 56, 395–410 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41311-017-0124-y

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Keywords

  • European Union
  • EU member states
  • Strategy
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Intra-EU relations
  • Czech Republic