Institut d'etudes Européennes
De l'Université libre de Bruxelles


This course is designed to provide students with a broad introduction to the EU's Foreign Policy, which has developed gradually over many years and which enables it to act as one in world affairs.

The EU's Foreign Policy requires a comprehensive answer to the multiples challenges that range from climate change, state failure, cyber security and migration flows.

The EU's Foreign Policy integrates various foreign policy instruments in order to provide a well-coordinated external action. The EU's Foreign Policy in a broad sense of the term includes mainly three components: the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), member states' individual foreign policies, and the external action led by the European Commission.

In this course, we will examine in particular the emergence of the EU as an international actor, the changes brought about by the Lisbon treaty including the new High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the new EU External Action Service, the relationship between the foreign policies of Member States and that of the EU.

The course would approach the following topics :

  • Fundamentals of the EU's Foreign Policy - issues are examined from a historical perspective including a analysis of the rationales, objectives and instruments of the EU's Foreign Policy.
  • Institutions and Decision-making process - an analysis of the institutions and decision making process that the EU has at its disposal to steer and implement its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.
  • The EU's role in Conflict Prevention and Crisis Management - it would explore the institutionalisation of EU crisis management, the EU's position in connection with the US, the UN and other regional security organizations.
  •  The challenges of the EU Foreign Policy in Asia, an assessment of the institutional and political aspects of EU-Asia relations from the perspective of the relationships between the EU and China, India and Japan, including ASEAN and of the new FTA.
  • The EU Cyber Diplomacy - the conceptual policy frameworks and the priorities of EU for the international cyberspace policy will be examined.
  •  Human Rights and the EU's Foreign Policy - we will examine the EU's approach of Human Rights including an assessment of the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy.

 Learning Objectives:

The learning goal of the course is to ensure that students receive the skills necessary for the analysis of the EU Foreign and Security Policy.

The learning objectives are as follows :

  • To become familiar with the analytical frameworks for understanding the EU's foreign policy
  • To acquire a detailed understanding of the institutions and processes of the EU's CFSP
  • To integrate empirical information to explain the influence of the EU's Foreign Policy in the world
  • To understand the EU's Foreign Policy and the possible clash that could occur between the EU and its Member States
  • To assess the challenges that confront the EU's CFSP in the future
  • To asses critically the position of the EU in the context of Conflict Prevention and Crisis management

Learning Outcomes:

  • To acquire a good understanding of the EU's Foreign Policy from the perspective of its continuity and change after the Lisbon Treaty;
  •  To acquire an in-depth knowledge of the major institutions and policy processes involved in making the CFSP;
  •  To explain how alternative positions of the EU would have to lead to a better positioning of EU at global level;
  •  To be able to synthesize in writing the concepts and information provided through lectures, discussion and reading ;
  • To support students to prepare for EU Foreign Policy comprehensive exams as well as for their professional life.

Methods and skills:

The class includes lectures, guest lectures, discussions. It also includes a review essay or a case study research paper.

Course requirements and grading

  • Debate (which serves as an oral final examination) 30 %
  • Term paper (which serves as a final written exam) 40 %
  • Class participation 30 %