During the last two decades the study of European foreign policy has experienced remarkable growth, presumably reflecting a more significant international role of the European Union. The Union has significantly expanded its policy portfolio and though empty symbolic politics still exists, the Union’s international relations have become more substantial and its foreign policy more focused. European foreign policy has become a dynamic policy area, being adapted to changing challenges and environments, such as the Arab Spring, new emerging economies/powers; the crisis of multilateralism and much more. The SAGE Handbook of European Foreign Policy, Two-Volume set, is a major reference work for Foreign Policy Programmes around the world. The Handbook is designed to be accessible to graduate and postgraduate students in a wide variety of disciplines across the humanities and social sciences. Both volumes are structured to address areas of critical concern to scholars at the cutting edge of all major dimensions of foreign policy. The volumes are composed of original chapters written specifically to the following themes: • Research traditions and historical experience • Theoretical perspectives• EU actors• State actors• Societal actors• The politics of European foreign policy• Bilateral relations• Relations with multilateral institutions• Individual policies• Transnational challenges The Handbook will be an essential reference for both advanced students and scholars.

European Council

European Council
Peter Debaere Tim Haesebrouck

Introduction

Traditionally, heads of state or government (HOSG) play a dominant role in foreign policy. As a result of their constitutional responsibilities or their political positions, most EU HOSG are ultimately responsible for the foreign affairs of their governments (Johnston, 1994: 15). Moreover, the role of HOSG appears to be gaining prominence. Both international relations at large and EU policymaking are becoming increasingly presidential: the key decisions are taken by HOSG (Missiroli, 2010a: 24). So far, the literature on HOSG in foreign policy has almost exclusively focused on foreign-policymaking in the US (Hermann and Hermann, 1989; Hodge and Nolan, 2007; Nelson, 2012). In addition, the role of HOSG in international ...

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