Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
The European Union has been going through a long group therapy process since the end of 2001. This culminated in a treaty which died a long and slow death following two referenda (the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe), another treaty (the Lisbon Treaty), and two further referenda in Ireland before the new constitutional arrangements entered into force in December 2009.
Throughout these eight years of self-reflection, the foreign affairs of the Union were at the centre of interest and debates. This was made clear in the Laeken Declaration, which kick-started the process in 2001, and raised this question: ‘Does Europe not, now that it is finally unified, have a leading role to play in a new world order, that of a stabilising role worldwide and to point the way ahead for many countries and peoples?’ Once the Constitutional Treaty was signed, the then President of the Commission, Romano Prodi, stated that ‘today, Europe is reaffirming the unique nature of its political organization in order to respond to the challenges of globalisation, and to promote its values and play its rightful role on the international scene’.