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International development and the European Union’s external policies: changing contexts, problematic nexuses, contested partnerships

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Taylor & Francis
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Abstract

This study explores and explains how the European Union's (EU's) overall approach to international development has evolved since the beginning of the twenty-first century. At the international level, the rise of a group of emerging economies has not only provided developing countries with greater choices, but has also further enhanced their agency, thus questioning the EU's leadership and even relevance in international development. At the European level, the various (paradigmatic) shifts in each of the three key external policies—trade, security and foreign policy—and the EU's aspiration to project a coherent external action have collided with the EU's commitment to international development. Numerous tensions characterize the various nexuses in EU external relations, which ultimately challenge the EU's international legitimacy and (self-proclaimed) identity as a champion of the interests of the developing world. Nevertheless, the EU has made more progress than is generally acknowledged in making its external policies more coherent with its development policy. Moreover, the EU's relationship with developing countries has gradually become less asymmetrical, though not because of the EU's emphasis on partnership and ownership but more because of the increased agency of developing countries.

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