The EU and the invasion of Ukraine: a collective responsibility to act?

Heidi Maurer, Richard G Whitman, Nicholas Wright

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Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has upended Europe's security order, with many observers calling it a turning point for the European Union. This article contends, however, that the EU's response has been less a turning point and more of an epiphany, providing a reality check for the EU and its member states about how far European foreign policy cooperation has evolved in recent decades. It suggests that an understanding of the EU's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine requires consideration of the member states' foreign policy co-operation, which has intensified over the past half-century, and its underpinning norm which we term a ‘collective European responsibility to act’. In emphasizing this norm, we identify core ideas about the functioning of collective European foreign policy. We re-examine three key preoccupations of the EU foreign policy-making practice and assessment through the lens of the collective European responsibility to act and show how it enables a different and novel re-reading of the added value of EU foreign policy cooperation. The EU's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine thus serves as a timely focusing event that demands a rethink of the premises that have underpinned our analysis and understanding of collective European foreign policy-making over decades.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

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