chapter  13
13 Pages

Future prospects

It should be evident from the above that the EU has developed steadily as an international actor during the past decade. More and more the EU operates as a political entity in dealing with terrorism, the Balkans, the proliferation of weapons, the Middle East peace process, African development and many other issues. Much has been achieved, but critics argue that much more could have been achieved with strengthened institutions. This is not obvious because without the political will to endow institutions with authority there would be little real difference in policy output. Foreign policy remains a sensitive area, and member states retain their amour propre. Foreign ministries are also reluctant to negotiate themselves into oblivion, not least because there remain unanswered questions about legitimacy. There also remain significant differences of foreign policy culture, experiences and expectations within the member states, let alone the Council and the Commission. At the end of the day the CFSP depends on the political will of its member states, and there are inevitable limitations in the conduct of foreign policy where national independence and identity rides high. In some important areas the EU finds itself hamstrung, but these areas are growing fewer as the member states come to accept the advantages of working together. Most member states recognise the limits of operating alone and were prepared to strengthen the CFSP and the ESDP through some innovative provisions in the constitutional treaty. As the proposals in the treaty are likely to resurface at some stage, it is worth taking a closer look at them as well as at other reform ideas.