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Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union


Admission requirements

Participation in the seminar is only permitted if the propaedeutic phase has been passed (60 EC).


What is the role of the European Union in the world? How do national foreign policies relate to the EU’s foreign policy? Are member states still able to conduct their own ‘sovereign’ foreign policy? The European Union has by now been broadly acknowledged as an international actor, even though an unusual one. There is no ‘government’, which could define the ‘national interest’ and make executive decisions about the policy goals. Instead, we have a complex institutional set-up, based on a compromise and agreement from all 27 member states. As far as the EU’s strong position in the area of trade or development is rarely questioned, it is still believed to be “punching below its weight” in foreign and security policies.

In this elective course, we will study the foreign policy and, more broadly understood external relations, of the European Union and its member states. We will investigate the process in which the European position is established and the circumstances under which EU member states are able to speak with one voice and when is it difficult to agree on a common goal. The course also includes a simulation game on the EU coordination process in the case of human rights.

The course helps to prepare students who consider a career in diplomacy, international institutions, development and NGOs, but also international business, where understanding of the EU is often essential.

Method of Instruction

Interactive seminars.

Study Material

Christopher Hill, Michael Smith and Sophie Vanhoonacker (eds.) (2017). International Relations and the European Union, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press.

  • other assigned material per session

Assessment Method



See 'Practical Information'