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Photo: “European Union Flags 2“, by Thijs ter Haar, licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Smith, Karen E. “The European Union’s Post-Lisbon Foreign Policy Ten Years On.” In The European Union’s New Foreign Policy, pp. 237-251. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2020.


A decade on from the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty is a good moment to take stock of progress made on EU foreign policy and the Lisbon Treaty’s innovations. Has a decade of cooperation fostered trust among the EU Member States, as liberal institutionalism would posit it should have done? The balance sheet is mitigated. Decisions are still mostly taken by unanimity, so EU actorness depends on unity. The 2016 Global Strategy tempered idealistic aspirations with ‘principled pragmatism’ but progress has been made on the values agenda. There is clear resolve to strengthen European defence capabilities. There have been few foreign policy successes. The Lisbon Treaty reforms have embedded new institutions, prompted more strategic thinking and encouraged more joined-up policymaking, but the challenge of fostering Member State unity remains.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.