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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Arista Maria Cirtautas
EURO 348
Seattle Campus

European Union as Global Actor

Surveys the European Union's evolution as a global actor and emergence as a potential superpower with increasingly unified foreign and defense policies. Covers institutions and interests that have driven this process; specific examples of European Union global engagement; and the potential implications for U.S. foreign policy. Offered: jointly with POL S 348.

Class description

Without a doubt, the European Union is an increasingly important global actor. Already ďthe worldís leading trade power and the largest provider of development assistanceĒ (Cameron, 2007), the EU is now taking on a growing number of crisis management, security, stabilization and democracy-promoting tasks around the world under its own flag. In light of the EUís growing global presence along these multiple dimensions, the EUís overall foreign policy profile has become the subject of much debate among analysts and observers: what type of foreign policy actor is the EU given that the Union is not a traditional nation-state?; what kind of power does the EU project on the global stage?; is the EU, in fact, a superpower as some analysts have claimed?; or does the EU represent a completely new type of global power?; what accounts for the EUís recent development of foreign policy capacities after decades of slow or no progress in this realm? During the first section of the course we will address these key questions and debates. Then, we will turn to a close examination of the scope of the EUís external relations both in terms of the major policy domains and issue areas of concern to the EU and through specific case studies. Finally, in the last section, we will evaluate the implications of the EUís growing global presence for more traditional great powers such as Russia and China and, most importantly, for transatlantic relations.

Student learning goals

Students will learn about the evolution of the EUís capacities as a global actor. From a primarily economic power to a regional power with political and security aims and capacities to a potential superpower, the EU has been developing a unified foreign, security and military policy. Accordingly, students will learn about the institutions, interests and policy objectives that have driven this process forward, as well as the challenges and problems that have arisen along the way. How the EU actually determines and carries out its external relations and in what major domains will also be clearly elaborated. Case studies drawn from contemporary events will serve to illuminate the Ďon-the-groundí dynamics of the EUís foreign policy engagements. With this background, students will be in a position to make their own assessments of the implications of the rise of the EU as a global actor for international relations writ large and, more particularly, for the United States.

General method of instruction

Lecture and discussion

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

A take-home midterm will comprise 25% of the grade; an in-class final (emphasizing material from the second part of the quarter) will also comprise 25% of the grade; a short paper (5-7pages) will count for 30% ; in-class quizzes (short identifications of terms taken from the readings) will account for the remaining 20%.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Eva Maria M Maggi
Date: 02/01/2011