Jamal Shahin » Teaching » External Relations of the EU: Performance of the EU in international institutions (EXRE)

External Relations of the EU: Performance of the EU in international institutions (EXRE) Syllabus Semester 1, Block 2, 2012-2013


The online version of this document (entitled: External Relations of the EU: Performance of the EU in international institutions (EXRE)), available from this link is considered to be the official version of this document.

Course description

The aim of the course is to deepen our understanding of the European Union’s role in International Affairs, particularly in its 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 delve into literature on conceptualising international institutions before examining the way in which the EU presents itself as an actor in global politics and how it fulfils that role. This course is aimed at enhancing students’ knowledge of international politics, particularly from an institutional perspective.

In this course we will discuss the self-perception of the EU as a normative 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 academically and policy relevant conclusions concerning the performance of the EU as an international actor.

The course discusses the institutional, political 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 performance. 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:

As part of the course, we shall carry out three specific case studies (to be determined in the first two 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.)

Seminars will last three hours and take place once per week. Readings will be compulsory for participation in the seminar. The seminar will be evaluated by means of two deliverables: a ‘draft European Commission Communication’, and a ‘final paper’ on a timely topic (Libya, Arab Spring, Palestinian membership of UN agencies, Eurozone crisis, G20, etc.).

The Communication must be CLEARLY presented as documents for policymakers (be aware of layout, formatting, language use, etc.).

Throughout the course, you will carry out work in groups, and the ‘Communication’ piece will be written in a group. The final paper will be written individually.

Course objectives

The aims of the seminar group are:

Text and readings

Core texts are:

Time and place of class

Classes are held every Friday between 2pm and 5pm. See the schedule (below) for more information. Classes will have a break halfway through of 15 minutes. Time will be allocated for the lecture, group work, and presentations (where appropriate).


In addition to the office hours and other means of communication, I am available primarily through email for queries about the course. Please put [EXRE] at the beginning of your subject heading if your email relates to the course. Failure to do so will most likely delay my response to your question. Please resend any unanswered mail after four (working) days.

Please use email sensibly: questions that can be more efficiently dealt with in class should be raised there.

Preparation for class and attendance

Class attendance and participation are vitally important because of the organisation of the course. I shall 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.

Students are required to participate in one group presentation during the course.

In class, we shall make no attempt to cover all the material in the reading lists. We shall use the limited time available in a flexible way to try to ensure that central concepts are understood. Contact time will also be used to encourage discussion and development of your own ideas. Students are strongly encouraged to come to the classroom with their own ideas for discussion - you should be ready to discuss topical issues from the newspapers described above, and link that to the theoretical debates we carry out in the seminar room.


Your overall grade for the course must be above a 6.0: this means that individual elements of the course may not reach this threshold.

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

Jointly-written 'Communication'30%
Individual essay50%
QSQ papers10%
Presentation and overall participation10%

Written work

During the course, you will be expected to submit two pieces of work. The first - collaboratively written - piece (“Communication”) will be approximately 4000 words long (10% margin allowed). This will look like a European Commission ‘Communication’. The individual essay (“scoping paper”) will be a minimum of 3000 words. The Scoping Paper must set out the context of a given timely policy area, and show potential scope of activity that an EU Member State can carry out both individually and in concert with other EU members (and the EU itself, and perhaps even other institutions).

Your topics for both papers can be self-selected, but you must have discussed the topic in the seminar, and with the seminar leader. The topic of your individual essay cannot be the exactly the same as that of your group work. You must also submit QSQ papers each week (see below).

Document submission

Documents submitted on paper should conform to the following rules: A4, printed on both sides of the page, with 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. As a minimum, the following information should be clearly marked on the front page of the submission:

Written work should be submitted on or before the date specified in the syllabus, in the course coordinator’s in tray next to the European Studies Secretariat (PCH6.48) or given to the instructor immediately prior to class. If you will not be able to submit written work on time, you should notify the course coordinator in advance or as soon as possible. Requests for additional time must be accompanied by documentation from a physician or university official.

A digital copy of all submissions should be provided via Blackboard (‘Ephorus assignment’ for the individual essay), in either RTF or PDF format. This electronic document should be identical to the printed copy.

QSQ paper

A QSQ paper must be prepared for each seminar in weeks 2-6. It requires, for all of the pieces of core literature:

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

You are still required to read each article, and questions will be asked about them all. QSQs will be submitted (and graded) twice during the course of the semester.

The QSQ paper must not exceed three pages, and should cover all articles from that week (three key quotes can be used). 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 (at least twice in the period week 2-6); this will be part of your final mark for the module.

Cooperation (cheating or plagiarism) between students on the writing of the individual essays is not allowed i.e. you cannot use material submitted for the discussion paper as part of your individual essay, or that of someone else’s of course.

The pieces of written work should be submitted on or before the date specified in the syllabus, in the lecturer’s (Shahin) in tray next to the European Studies Secretariat (PCH 648). 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.

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.

Presentation and overall participation

Prior to the beginning of each lecture, an attendance register will be taken.

During the course, you will be expected to present your group’s “Communication” to the entire class. You shall receive a grade for this presentation. This will take into consideration the following aspects of your presentation:

The grade for the presentation will be awarded to the group (one grade will be given to all members), and will take into consideration the deliberations by group members on the course material throughout the course.

Written feedback will be provided to each group, if requested. Your presentation should take only 20 minutes. You will have 10 minutes to present and 10 minutes to respond to questions. If you choose to use powerpoint, please arrive early to class so that we can load them up prior to starting the session.

You will also receive an individual grade for overall participation in the course. This will relate to your willingness to engage with reading and lecture materials, and your ability to address questions to your peers during their 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. Dinan, Desmond (1999) Ever Closer Union: An Introduction to European Integration. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  5. Goddard, Stacie E, and Daniel H Nexon (2005) ‘Paradigm Lost? Reassessing Theory of International Politics.’ European Journal of International Relations. 11(1): 9-61.
  6. Guzzini, Stefano (2000) ‘A Reconstruction of Constructivism in International Relations.’ European Journal of International Relations. 6(2): 147-82.
  7. Hirst, Paul, and Grahame Thompson (1996) Globalization in Question: The international economy and the possibilities of governance. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
  8. Hoffmann, Stanley (2000) ‘Towards a Common European Foreign and Security Policy?’ Journal of Common Market Studies. 38(2): 189-198.
  9. Kaldor, Mary (2003) ‘The idea of global civil society.’ International Affairs. 79(3): 583-593.
  10. Keohane, Robert (1989) International Institutions and State Power: Essays in International Relations Theory. Boulder, CO: Westview.
  11. Keohane, Robert, and Joseph Nye (1974) ‘Transgovernmental Relations and International Organisations.’ World Politics. 27(1): 39-62.
  12. Marsh, Steve and Hans Mackenstein (2005) The International Relations of the European Union. Harlow: Pearson.
  13. Mearsheimer, John (1990) ‘Back to the Future: Instabillity in Europe After the Cold War.’ International Security. 15(1): 5-56.
  14. Menon, Anand (2004) ‘From crisis to catharsis: ESDP after Iraq.’ International Affairs. 80(4): 631-48.
  15. Oberthür, Sebastian, and Thomas Gehring (2004) ‘Reforming International Environmental Governance: An Institutionalist Critique of the Proposal for a World Environment Organisation.’ International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics. 4359-81.
  16. Ortega, Martin, Valérie Arnould, Sven Biscop, Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, and Richard Gowan (2004) Barth Eide, Espen, eds. Global Europe. The Foreign Policy Centre, British Council, European Commission.
  17. Peterson, John and Margaret Sharp (1998) Technology Policy in the European Union. London: Macmillan Press.
  18. Pollack, Mark (2001) ‘International Relations Theory and European Integration.’ Journal of Common Market Studies. 39: 221-44.
  19. Reinicke, Wolfgang (1998) Global Public Policy: Governing without government? Washington DC: The Brookings Institution.
  20. Ronit, Karsten (2001) ‘Institutions of Private Authority in Global Governance: Linking Territorial Forms of Self-Regulation.’ Administration and Society. 33: 555-78.
  21. Rosamond, Ben (2000) Theories of European Integration. London: Macmillan Press.
  22. Rosamond, Ben (1999). ‘Discourses of globalization and the social construction of European identities.’ Journal of European Public Policy. 6: 652-68.
  23. Ruggie, John (1993) ‘Territoriality and Beyond: Problematizing Modernity in International Relations.’ International Organization. 47(1): 139-74.
  24. Ruggie, John Gerard (1998) Constructing the World Polity. London: Routledge.
  25. Sandholtz, Wayne and Alec Stone Sweet (1998) European Integration and Supranational Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  26. Schimmelfennig, Frank (2000) ‘International Socialization in the New Europe:: Rational Action in an Institutional Environment.’ European Journal of International Relations. 6(1): 109-39.
  27. Jan Aart Scholte (2004) ‘Civil Society and Democratically Accountable Global Governance,’ Government and Opposition 39:2: 211-233.
  28. Smith, Karen E. (2003) European Union Foreign Policy in a Changing World. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  29. Stone Sweet, Alec, Wayne Sandholtz and Neil Fligstein (eds.) (2001) The Institutionalization of Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  30. Wallace, Helen, William Wallace, and Mark Pollack (eds) (2005) Policy-Making in the European Union. Fifth edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  31. Warleigh, Alex (2006) ‘Learning from Europe? EU Studies and the Re-thinking of ‘International Relations’.’ European Journal of International Relations. 12(1): 31-51.

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

  1. Ferguson, Niall (2005) Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. London: Penguin Books. (Particularly the chapters on EU)
  2. Leonard, Mark (2005) Why Europe will run the 21st Century. London: 4th Estate.
  3. Patten, Chris (2005) Not Quite the Diplomat. London: Allen Lane.
  4. Rifkind, Jeremy (2004) The European Dream. Cambridge: Polity Press

Course schedule

Week 1 (2/11) - EU external governance

Instructions for filling in the spider diagram:

  1. Pick ten policy areas of EU activity.
  2. List them down the right hand side of the page
  3. Give each policy area a score from 0 - 10, relating to the influence that the EU plays on national-level policymaking in each policy area. (0 = no influence, 10 = complete influence).
  4. Two policy areas can have the same score.
  5. Plot these scores on the spider diagram (10 being the outermost, 0 being the centre).
  6. Join the points together with straight lines, and shade the internal area of the diagram.
  7. Bring it to class in week 2 (or hand it in after the class).

Week 2 (9/11) - IOs and performance of the EU

Week 3 (16/11) - Neighbourhood / Arab Spring

Week 4 (23/11) - Multilateralism / Strategic partnerships

Week 5 (30/11) - Coordination / communication

For info (not necessarily to be included in QSQ):

Week 6 (7/12) - Global challenges and preparation for presentation (home work).

Week 7 (14/12) - presentations

You will give presentations of your “Communications” here.


QSQs (max 3pp), news reviews (reading): each week (2-6).

1-2 page overview of “Communication”: 10 December.

“Communication” + Executive Summary (c. 4000 words): 20 December @ 1pm.

Final Paper (c. 3000 words): 20 December @ 1pm.