Jamal Shahin » Teaching » ES8139: The External Relations of the European Union: Perception and Performance (EREU)

ES8139: The External Relations of the European Union: Perception and Performance (EREU) Syllabus Spring 2012


The online version of this document (entitled: ES8139: The External Relations of the European Union: Perception and Performance (EREU)), available via the url-shortener at bit.ly/ereu2012 is considered to be the official version of this document.

Course description

A certain knowledge of the institutions of the European Union is required. Students are expected to have a clear and strong interest in the academic and policy debates on the global role of Europe, as well as a positive, hard-working attitude, intellectual imagination, and the ability to work independently. This module is heavily research-oriented, and as such, should be considered a ‘work-in-progress’.

Course objectives

The aim of the course is to deepen our understanding of the European Union’s role in International Affairs, particularly in its perception and performance in international institutions. The course will focus on determining measurements for the performance of the EU in international institutions. In order to do this, we will examine the way in which the EU presents itself as an actor in global politics and also delve into literature on conceptualising international institutions. This course is aimed at enhancing students’ knowledge of international politics, particularly from an institutional perspective.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

Teaching and examination format

Seminars (three hours per week); assignments, papers, presentations, and group work.

Final grade will be based on class participation, regular assignments (some carried out in groups), individual presentation, and two academic papers. Review and feedback of the final paper will be available within 20 days of publication of the mark, on a date to be determined.

Your final grade for the course will be calculated on the following weighting:

Discussion paper20%
Individual essay50%
QSQ papers20%
Presentation and overall participation10%

Course overview

The European Union perceives itself as a special, primarily normative power, promoting the existence of a multilateral system. It is the force of example (stability, shared sovereignty, common market) which defines its international standing and influence. In this course we will discuss the self-perception of the EU as a global actor, through a critical analysis of the interrelationship (or causality) between perception of the Union by relevant ‘others’ and the global policy effectiveness of the Union. The course combines empirical research and theoretical reflection and is heavily policy-driven. Its focus is on contemporary political developments. The ambition is to reach academic and policy relevant conclusions concerning the performance of the EU as an international actor.

The course discusses the institutional, policy and normative aspects of EU external policy. We will discuss the most important academic studies on the current international order, including cutting-edge discussions on international organisations and regime theory. We will then research in depth the relations of the EU with various international institutions. We shall determine adequate ways to measure these relations, and on the basis of these analyses, we will try to reach conclusions on the current and future role of the European Union in a rapidly changing international environment.

Topics to be covered include: What is the EU from an IR perspective? How can we analyse international regimes and international organisations? How do we measure performance of international organisations, and of the EU within those organisations? As part of the course, we shall carry out several case studies (to be determined in the first three weeks of the course) from a list including: the World Trade Organisation, the global telecommunications regime, UN (Security Council or General Assembly), climate change regime, World Health Organisation, etc.)

Text and readings

Core texts are selected from the UvA Digital Library for each week. See course schedule below.


In addition to the office hours, I am available primarily through email for queries about the course. Please put [EREU] at the beginning of your subject heading if your email relates to the course. Failure to do so may delay my response to your question. Response time can vary from three minutes to one week. Please resend your message only after one week if no response has been received.

Preparation for class and attendance

Classes are held most Friday mornings in room PCHK.08. See the course schedule for more information. Classes will have a break halfway through of 20 minutes. Time will be allocated for the seminar, group work, and student presentations (where appropriate), although group work must also be carried out outside class.

Class attendance and participation are vitally important because of the organisation of the course. I will take attendance and note your degree of preparation and participation. Absence or failing to read the material requested will be noted and may influence your grade negatively.

We shall use the limited time available in class to cover the core reading and to ensure that central concepts are understood. Contact time will also be used to encourage discussion and development of your own ideas. Students are required to come to the classroom with their own ideas for discussion.

For each seminar there are two/three pieces of core reading. You have to read all core reading and prepare ‘QSQ’ papers for each piece of core reading in weeks 2-11 (see below).

Written work

During the course, you will be expected to submit three types of written work. Please ensure you are familiar with the University regulations on plagiarism, and ask questions when you are not sure.

The discussion and individual papers should be submitted on or before the date specified below (see deadlines), in the lecturer’s in tray next to the European Studies Secretariat (PCH 648) AND via the ephorus assignment set up on Blackboard. If you will not be able to submit written work on time, I expect to be notified in advance or as soon as possible. Requests for additional time must be accompanied by documentation from a physician or university official. Deadlines are taken seriously. The penalty for late written work is 0.5 grade-points per day, beginning immediately after the deadline specified below. Computer, transport, and/or printer problems are not a valid excuse for handing in work late. Essays overdue for more than one week will not be accepted. Personal problems are only accepted with medical certificate or documentation from a university official.

Documents submitted on paper should conform to the following rules: A4, printed on both sides of the page, single line spacing. The pages in the document should be attached together in the top left hand corner with a single staple; no binding and no plastic coverings should be used. Only one copy should be provided. A title page should be provided, showing: title of paper, name of student, student number, course code (ES8139) and name (The External Relations of the European Union: Perception and Performance, EREU), semester (Spring), year (2012).

A digital copy of discussion and individual paper submissions should be provided to through Blackboard (‘Ephorus assignment’), in either RTF, PDF or DOC(X) format also before the deadline. No guarantee can be made as to which version will be graded, so they should be identical.

QSQ paper

A QSQ paper must be prepared for each seminar in weeks 2-11. It requires, for each piece of core literature:

(1) a key Quote; (2) a short Summary of the argument; (3) a Question for discussion.

The QSQ paper may not exceed one page per article (please use standard margins and a font no smaller than size 9). Prepare these assignments with a word processor and bring them to class on paper: you can be asked to hand the assignment in at any time (and will be asked at least twice); this will be part of your final mark for the module.

Discussion paper

Your discussion paper will relate to one of the cases discussed in the course (Mediterranean, Internet, EU/UN, etc.). It will be collaboratively written, and will not exceed 3500 words. A draft of this paper should be submitted to the class one week before the respective case study seminar. Everyone is required to read the draft discussion papers submitted and to provide feedback and questions - in the form of a QSQ paper, which will be used by the presenting group to improve their paper. Your draft discussion paper will form the basis for the discussion in the respective week along with additional article(s). After the seminar, you will have a chance to amend the paper before final submission. The discussion paper is supposed to provide an argument about the ‘performance’ of the EU in the area of your case. It should cover overall context of the issue, the role of the EU (and its institutions), and then a reflection on the ‘performance’ of the EU.

Individual paper

Your individual paper should be approximately 4000 words long. The topic will be self-selected, but must be relevant to the course material. Points will be deducted if course literature is not used. A draft of your paper should be submitted to the group for reading at least five days in advance of the presentation slot. This is essential in order to receive feedback from your peers. A printed copy of the presentation material is not necessary: it will not be used to grade the final piece of work.


There will be no formal examination at the end of the course.

Participation and presentation

Prior to the beginning of each seminar, an attendance register will be taken. Attendance and general participation in the seminars will be taken into consideration in the final calculation of the grade, especially in borderline cases. This will relate to your willingness to engage with reading and lecture materials, to raise questions during the seminars, and your ability to address questions to your peers during their presentations.

During the course, you will be expected to present the work in progress on your final paper to the entire class - this presentation is considered to be the first draft of your essay. You shall receive a grade for this presentation. The following aspects will be taken into consideration when grading the presentations:

Suggested readings

In addition to the core texts, here is a list of suggested reading. Not all the reading suggested below is compulsory, and many, many things are not included in this list. However, you are advised to use some of this material along with others you find during your investigations. You should familiarise yourself with the European Commission’s Prelex web-based database, which provides access to most Commission Communications. Furthermore, European Council Presidency Conclusions will be very important to your research. These can be generally found at http://ue.eu.int/. Use of the UvA’s digital library is strongly encouraged. You are strongly recommended to read The Economist amongst other news magazines and newspapers such as The Financial Times.

  1. Collard-Wexler, Simon (2006) ‘Integration Under Anarchy: Neorealism and the European Union.’ European Journal of International Relations. 12(3): 397-432.
  2. Croci, Osvaldo (2003) ‘A Closer Look at the Changing Transatlantic Relationship.’ European Foreign Affairs Review. 8: 469-491.
  3. Crowe, Brian (2003) ‘A common European foreign policy after Iraq?’ International Affairs. 79(3): 533-46.
  4. Goddard, Stacie E, and Daniel H Nexon (2005) ‘Paradigm Lost? Reassessing Theory of International Politics.’ European Journal of International Relations. 11(1): 9-61.
  5. Guzzini, Stefano (2000) ‘A Reconstruction of Constructivism in International Relations.’ European Journal of International Relations. 6(2): 147-82.
  6. Hirst, Paul, and Grahame Thompson (1996) Globalization in Question: The international economy and the possibilities of governance. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
  7. Hoffmann, Stanley (2000) ‘Towards a Common European Foreign and Security Policy?’ Journal of Common Market Studies. 38(2): 189-198.
  8. Keohane, Robert (1989) International Institutions and State Power: Essays in International Relations Theory. Boulder, CO: Westview.
  9. Keohane, Robert, and Joseph Nye (1974) ‘Transgovernmental Relations and International Organisations.’ World Politics. 27(1): 39-62.
  10. Marsh, Steve and Hans Mackenstein (2005) The International Relations of the European Union. Harlow: Pearson.
  11. Menon, Anand (2004) ‘From crisis to catharsis: ESDP after Iraq.’ International Affairs. 80(4): 631-48.
  12. Ortega, Martin, Valérie Arnould, Sven Biscop, Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, and Richard Gowan, eds. (2004). Global Europe. The Foreign Policy Centre, British Council, European Commission.
  13. Reinicke, Wolfgang (1998) Global Public Policy: Governing without government? Washington DC: The Brookings Institution.
  14. Rittberger, V. and Zangl, B. (2006). International Organization : Polity, Politics and Policies. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
  15. Ronit, Karsten (2001) ‘Institutions of Private Authority in Global Governance: Linking Territorial Forms of Self-Regulation.’ Administration and Society. 33: 555-78.
  16. Rosamond, Ben (2000) Theories of European Integration. London: Macmillan Press.
  17. Rosamond, Ben (1999). ‘Discourses of globalization and the social construction of European identities.’ Journal of European Public Policy. 6: 652-68.
  18. Ruggie, John Gerard (1993) ‘Territoriality and Beyond: Problematizing Modernity in International Relations.’ International Organization. 47(1): 139-74.
  19. Ruggie, John Gerard (1998) Constructing the World Polity. London: Routledge.
  20. Sandholtz, Wayne and Alec Stone Sweet (1998) European Integration and Supranational Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  21. Schimmelfennig, Frank (2000) ‘International Socialization in the New Europe: Rational Action in an Institutional Environment.’ European Journal of International Relations. 6(1): 109-39.
  22. Smith, Karen E. (2003) European Union Foreign Policy in a Changing World. Cambridge: Polity Press.

The following literature should also be considered (as ‘light reading’):

  1. Leonard, Mark (2005) Why Europe will run the 21st Century. London: 4th Estate.
  2. Patten, Chris (2005) Not Quite the Diplomat. London: Allen Lane.
  3. Rifkind, Jeremy (2004) The European Dream. Cambridge: Polity Press

Course schedule

Week 1: Introduction: 9 February (calendar week (cw) 6)

Week 2: Power, politics, the EU, and institutions 16 February (cw 7)

Week 3: International cooperation and regimes: 23 February (cw 8)

Week 4: International organisations: 1 March (cw 9)

Week 5: EU External Relations: 8 March (cw 10)

Week 6: EU/UN interactions: 15 March (cw 11)

Week 7: Measuring performance: 22 March (cw 12)


Week 9: The EU and the Internet: 5 April (cw 14)

Week 10: The EU and the Mediterranean: 12 April (cw 15)

A sample of:

Week 11: The EU and to be determined: 19 April (cw 16)

Week 12: Individual Essay Presentations: 26 April (cw 17)

Week 13: Brussels trip: 3 May (cw 18)

Week 14: Individual Essay Presentations: 10 May (cw 19)

Week 15: NO CLASS: 17 May (cw 20)

Week 16: Individual Essay Presentations: 24 May (cw 21)


ItemWeightDate (week)Length
QSQ papers20%min. 2x bet. 16 Feb. and 22 Mar. (2-6)1 p/article
Draft discussion papern/a7d before seminar3pp min.
Final discussion paper20%26 Apr., 13h (12)3500 words
Draft individual papern/a5d before presentation.2pp min.
Indiv. presentationc.10%26 Apr. - 24 May (12-16)n/a
Final individual paper50%30 May, 12h30 (17)4000 words