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The EU as an international actor

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The study of the European Union (EU) as an international actor has expanded rapidly in the last 15 years. The early years of informal European Political Cooperation (EPC) amongst the Member States and the external relations of the then European Community (EC) in the 1970s through late the 1980s inspired little academic interest as the EU’s role in the world was limited and often undervalued. With the institutionalization of European foreign policymaking through the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and later the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) in the 1990s more scholars of European integration and International Relations especially, began to focus their efforts on understanding this newly visible international role of the EU. Yet the EU’s role as an international actor goes beyond merely the CFSP and the ESDP, it also includes policy areas such as development, environment, and trade. Furthermore, through these policies the EU has built up an extensive network of relations across the globe ranging from its immediate neighborhood and extending to Africa, Asia, Latin and North America. This bibliography provides an overview of the scholarly literature and academic debates that accompanied the evolution of the EU as an international actor. It seeks to examine the topic from historical, theoretical, and conceptual perspectives; provides a broad overview of the various EU policy areas with an external dimension; looks at the numerous geographical areas of the EU's external relations; and explores some newer avenues for research for better understanding the EU as an international actor.

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