Measurements of ‘performance’ and performance studies have increased in prominence in the EU and beyond. Policy-makers do not miss many opportunities to emphasize the importance of good performance. The EU’s objectives of supporting good governance and effective multilateralism are closely associated with features of performance. Furthermore, several official EU reports aim at evaluating performance. For example, the European Commission (2008a) has developed a tool to assess the performance of EU member states along various economic parameters and also invented a ‘scoreboard’ to analyze the innovation performance of member states. It also examines the EU’s (economic) performance more broadly (e.g. European Commission 2008b). Beyond the EU, international organizations frequently analyze their own performance or the performance of other organizations including the EU (e.g. FAO 2007; OECD 1998; see also Kissack 2010). Overall, such performance studies have become an increasingly important tool in modern public and private administration. In many ways, the research interests of the scholarly community reflect
the policy world. During the last decades there have been frequent references to the issue of performance. Summarizing the lively debates of the 1990s concerning the EU as an international actor, John Peterson points out that some studies find the EU has been only partially successful, whereas other studies ‘insist that the EU has made significant progress towards successfully performing the role of an international actor’ (1998, 4). While some have pointed to the existence of an expectation-capability gap or have pled to make criteria for the measurement of success explicit (Hill 1993, 1998; Jørgensen 1998 ), others have analyzed the issue of output or performance legitimacy (Bickerton 2007), or examined the performance of the EU within the field of defence (Tuzunkan 2009) or during diplomatic negotiations (Sjo¨stedt 1998; Thomas 2009). Ever more new case studies demonstrate that the scholarly community increasingly pays attention to the performance of the EU in world politics. Seemingly, the aim of evaluating the EU’s performance is popular as never before and might be about to hit a new high-water mark. In particular, since the EU declared ‘effective multilateralism’ a strategic
foreign-policy objective, research on the EU and multilateral institutions has become increasingly sustained and systematic. One of the first concerted efforts focused on the EU and the United Nations (Laatikainen and Smith 2006). Subsequently, EU policies towards other international organizations have come along, highlighting significant variation over time and across issue areas (Jørgensen 2009; Kissack 2010; van Schaik 2010; Wouters, Hoffmeister, and Ruys 2007). These general studies have been complemented by evaluations of the EU’s policies within single issue areas (Gowan and Brandtner 2008) and across a very wide spectrum of organizations (Emerson et al. 2011). The collection contributes to this emerging
research agenda, not least by means of its conceptualization of performance and its comparative aim of analyzing across key case studies. Against this backdrop, the aim of this introductory contribution is two-
fold. First, we lay the conceptual foundation for exploring, in this collection, the performance of the EU in the decision-making within international institutions. To this end, we first explicate the key terms ‘EU’ and ‘international institutions’ so as to arrive at a common understanding of the very basis of our joint endeavour. We then introduce four core elements of the performance of the EU in international institutions: effectiveness, relevance, efficiency, and financial/resource viability. Systematically unpacking the concept of performance is, in our view, required because the concept has too many meanings and is internally too complex to be used fruitfully by itself as a unified tool for analysis (section 2). Second, we introduce the scope of the collection and present a number of
core findings – trying, within the existing space constraints, to locate them in and link them to existing literature on the role of the EU in international institutions. The findings relate, on the one hand, to the identified core elements of performance, with a particular emphasis on ‘effectiveness’ and ‘relevance’. On balance, the collection points to the importance of relevance (as compared with effectiveness) for the EU’s role in international institutions and to a trend towards an increasing relevance of the EU for its member states in this context. On the other hand, the findings highlight four particular factors influencing EU performance in international institutions: the legal framework conditions (including the relevant changes that the Lisbon Treaty has brought about), domestic EU politics, the status of relevant EU legislation and policies, and the international context (section 3).