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European Foreign Policy Unit

About Us

The European Foreign Policy Unit (EFPU) acts as a focus for research and teaching on issues relating to the attempts to create a collective European foreign policy.

The European Foreign Policy Unit (EFPU) acts as a focus for research and teaching on issues relating to the attempts to create a collective European foreign policy. The International Relations Department is one of the world's leading centres for research into European foreign policy, and EFPU aims to build on and contribute to that reputation.



Call for Applications: 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowships

Ever thought of spending some time at a leading British institution working an ambitious project related to Europe’s foreign affairs?

The EFPU is inviting applications for post-doctoral fellowships in the 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowships.

Internal LSE/EFPU Deadline: Friday 24 July 2020

EU Deadline: 9 September 2020

Full details and how to apply [PDF]


EFPU members are currently researching and writing on topics such as the European Union's policies towards the Mediterranean and Middle East region; the EU's relations with south-eastern Europe; EU-UN relations; European diplomacy; and EU trade policy. For more information on EFPU members, click on the links below:

Dr. Federica Bicchi
Dr. Alexandra-Maria Bocse
Dr. Spyros Economides
Dr. Mathias Koenig-Archibugi
Dr. Ulrich Sedelmeier
Professor Karen E. Smith (Director of the European Foreign Policy unit)
Dr. Stephen Woolcock

EFPU news and recent faculty publications

New Dahrendorf Forum publication: Spyros Economides, ‘From Fatigue to Resistance: EU Enlargement and the Western Balkans’, 20 March 2020.

New blog post: Karen E. Smith, ‘The Trump Administration is downgrading the EU’s diplomatic status in Washington’, The Monkey Cage blog, 8 January 2019.

Karen E. Smith, ‘The EU and the Responsibility to Protect in an Illiberal Era’, Dahrendorf Forum Working Paper no. 3, August 2018.

Steve Woolcock, 'European Union Commercial Policy: Continuity or Change', Handbuch Europaische Union 2018.

Spyros Economides and James Sperling, eds, EU Security Strategies (Routledge, 2017). 

EFPU members' evidence is cited extensively in the House of Lords report on 'Europe in the world: towards a more effective EU foreign and security strategy', which was published on 16 February 2016.

In 2015 EFPU members contibuted to two UK parliament enquiries: 1) the House of Lords Subcommittee on EU external affairs, inquiry on the review of the EU's security strategy; 2) the House of Commons  Foreign Affairs Committee, inquiry on the implications of Brexit for UK foreign policy. 

Dr. Economides was Visiting Fellow at the EU Centre in Singapore from mid-August to mid-September 2015. He completed a project on ‘EU Foreign Policy and the Rise of Revisionist Powers’, and gave a number of lectures and seminars on EU foreign policy, and on the implications of the current eurozone crisis for Europe’s external relations.

EFPU members contributed evidence to the UK Government's Review of the Balance of Competences between the UK and the EU: Enlargement. The evidence, submitted by Dr. Economides, Dr. Sedelmeier and Professor Smith, was cited extensively in the December 2014 report

Professor Smith's Impact Case Study on influencing EU policies on human rights and mass atrocity prevention.

Dr. Bicchi presented research to SAIS Europe (Bologna, Italy) on 4 December 2014 on Europe's strategy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Watch video

Ongoing and past research projects

From October 2015 to September 2019, EFPU members Prof Smith and Dr Economides are participating in the Jean Monnet network on EU-UN relations (EUN-NET). There will be teaching and research activities, and public events. Information on the EU-UN network can be found at EUNNET.

From October 2014 to September 2017, EFPU is participating in the ANTERO Jean Monnet Network, which addresses the needs of teaching, education and research on EU foreign policy. ANTERO is led by Professor Ben Tonra of University College Dublin, and involves institutions across the EU. More information on ANTERO is available on the ANTERO website.

Between 2002 and 2005, EFPU was the British member of FORNET - a European Foreign Policy Research Network - the first attempt to co-ordinate a network of researchers across Europe focusing on foreign policy governance.  Between 2005 and 2009, Karen E Smith led a team of researchers in the EU-funded research programme entitled Challenge (the Changing Landscape of European Liberty and Security). In addition, some EFPU members were active in the EU-funded research network, EU-CONSENT , which linked researchers working on EU reform and enlargement.


The EFPU Working Paper series showcases research conducted by EFPU members as well as by other academics working in the field of European foreign policy. If you wish to submit a paper to be considered for publication in the series, please contact Professor Karen E. Smith.

EFPU Working Paper Series and other publications

The LSE team's principal contribution to the Challenge research programme was a series of research papers.

The first project undertaken by EFPU was the edited publication by Christopher Hill and Karen E. Smith, European Foreign Policy: Key Documents (Routledge, 2000). It provides students and scholars with access to key documents relating to the practices of European foreign policy from 1948 to 2000, along with commentary and bibliographic guidance.


The EU and UN Multilateralism, lecture by Prof Katie Verlin Laatikainen, 2 February 2018, 14-15.30, room CLM 1.02. Another activity of the EU-UN network.

'How Brexit Contributes to the Collapse of Multilaterism', lecture by Prof Jan Wouters (Leuven University), 15 January 2018, 18.00-19.30, room CLM 7.02, LSE. A public event in the EU-UN network series.

Dr Nathalie Tocci, Director of the International Affairs Institute in Rome Italy, and LSE alumna, presented her recent book on the EU Global Strategy to a brown-bag lunch seminar on 15 November 2017. 

EFPU hosted a symposium on Professor Christopher Hill's work on European foreign policy, on 12 May 2017.

Roundtable on 'Brexit and EU Foreign Policy:  the view from other EU member states’ with Ben Tonra, Stephen Keukeleire, Annegret Bendiek, Christian Lequesne and Petr Kratochvil; 9 March 2016. A blog post on the roundtable is available.

Workshop on European Diplomatic Practices: Contemporary Challenges and Innovative Approaches, 15 December 2015.

EFPU chaired a session during a workshop on Myanmar and the International Community, 27 November 2015. A report on the session and workshop is available.

Workshop on Are EU Sanctions Effective?, 14 May 2015.

Workshop on the EU as a Diplomatic Actor, 28 January 2015. See report on the workshop, including links to videos of some of the talks.

During the 2011-12 academic year, EFPU has organised a series of 10 roundtables on 'EU Foreign Policy after Lisbon'.

On 4-5 November 2010, the LSE and IEMed (Barcelona) hosted a workshop entitled, 'The Lisbon Treaty one year on: what progress for European Union foreign policy? The implications for the EU and for the Mediterranean' [PDF]

The LSE held a conference on 'Europe and the World: The Changing Landscape of Liberty and Security in the EU's External Relations', on 2-3 April 2009.

Challenge conference at LSE 2009 final programme [PDF]

Challenge and Consent 20-22 September 2007 [Word]

The EU and the UN: Strengthening Multilateralism 23 June 2006 [Word]

Research student conference on European foreign policy LSE 2-3 July 2004

EFPU workshop on 'Europeanisation of national foreign policies' - 5 June 2002 


EFPU members actively contribute to teaching on the subject at LSE. At the masters level, EFPU members teach several courses in the subject area: The EU in the World; European Security and Defence; and Europe, the US and the Middle East. These courses are available primarily to students on the MSc International Relations and MSc in International Relations (Research). 

European Foreign Policy information centre

Over the past sixty years, the evolution of the European Union as an 'international actor' has been striking. The European Community of the 1950s and 1960s had some relations with third countries, namely former European colonies, and was beginning to assert a common stance in international trade negotiations. The European Union of the early 21st century conducts economic and political relations with virtually every country on earth, is a major player in international trade negotiations, is one of the world's most generous aid donors, and proclaims its pursuit of a common foreign, security and defence policy. Yet there are also serious obstacles to the formation of efficient and effective policies towards the rest of the world: notably, the views of the 27 EU member states have to be molded into a coherent EU position.

The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty raised expectations that the EU will be better equipped to formulate and implement common foreign policies commensurate with the EU's economic strengths. This is because the Lisbon Treaty altered the institutional set-up for foreign policy-making within the EU.

The EU forms part of a complex 'foreign policy system', composed of the European Union as well as the member states' foreign policies (which both affect, and are affected by, the EU). The EU itself is made up of two 'pillars', each with different decision-making rules and institutions: the European Community (the 'first pillar', which now includes Justice and Home Affairs) and the Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy (the 'second pillar').  These separate policy-making frameworks lead to  problems of consistency and coordination. The Lisbon Treaty attempted to solve some of these problems, by creating a European External Action Service and a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. These new institutions are meant to 'straddle' the separate policy-making frameworks, and thus presumably lead to more consistent, efficient and effective foreign policies.

The relationship between institutions and policies, however, is not clear-cut. To what extent does the development of institutions lead to a stronger EU role in the world? Or do other factors matter more?  For the last forty years, the member states have continuously developed mechanisms and institutions for conducting external relations. But at the same time, they have sought to retain control over the process, and jealously guard their own autonomy in the sphere of foreign policy. This tension, between the drive to act collectively on the world stage and the desire to retain national autonomy, has shaped the institutions developed in the external relations field, as well as the outcomes produced by those institutions. There is thus a complex interplay between institutions, member state preferences and interests, and outcomes.

EFPU has compiled a few study aids to help foster an understanding of European foreign policy

Chronology of the development of EU foreign policy institutions [PDF] (as of 04/2019)

Chronology of the development of EU foreign policies [PDF]  (as of 04/2019)

List of EU civilian and military missions [PDF] (as of 04/2019)

Additional information on European foreign policy can be found through these links

Official EU websites:
Council of the European Union
Website of the EU External Action Service

Other useful websites:
CLEER News Service (weekly updates about EU external actions)
European Council of Foreign Relations
The European Union Institute for Security Studies
Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels
Centre for European Reform, London
European Centre for Development Policy Management (Maastricht, Netherlands)

Contact us

Professor Karen E. Smith
+44 (0)20 7955 6332

International Relations Department
London School of Economics &
Political Science
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom