Title: Meeting the Challenges of a Multilateralized World? The "Multilaberality' of the European Union
Authors: Wouters, Jan
Basu, Sudeshna
Schunz, Simon
Issue Date: May-2008
Publisher: Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies
Abstract: In its efforts to be recognized as a ‘global player’, the European Union has
repeatedly declared its commitment to “effective multilateralism”, claiming that its
abundant internal experience of multilateralism has made it “instinctively
multilateral” on the global scene. On the backdrop of this self-assertion this paper
concentrates on the external environment and the processes therein, which we
have labelled the “multilateral playing field”, to test whether the EU possesses such
a “multilaterability”. The paper starts from the assumption that contemporary
multilateralism as a complex organizing form of cooperation demands specific
qualities of international actors. In view of this, the paper seeks to address two
main questions: 1. What does multilateralism as a core organizing principle of
global governance entail today and which qualities does it concretely demand of a
(foreign policy) actor wanting to play a part on the multilateral playing field? 2.
Does, and if yes, to what extent does the EU possess these qualities? Parting from
a brief discussion of the concept of multilateralism the paper first maps out the
political and legal aspects of contemporary multilateralism in order to establish a
set of criteria an actor has to meet to “play on the multilateral playing field”. The EU
is then tested against these criteria, which subsequently leads to tentative
conclusions about the EU’s “multilaterability”, answering whether the EU has the
potential to have or already has the qualities needed of a multilateral player.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IR
Appears in Collections:Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies
Leuven International and European Studies (LINES)

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