chapter  12
The EU, structural diplomacy and the challenge of learning
Pages 16

Diplomacy has been defined as ‘the process of dialogue and negotiation by which states in a system conduct their relations and pursue their purposes by means short of war’ (Watson 1982: 10). Structural diplomacy, then, is a specific dimension of diplomacy. It refers to the process of dialogue and negotiation by which actors in the international system seek to influence or shape sustainable political, legal, economic, social and security structures at different levels in a given geographical space. Structural diplomacy is thus different from more traditional diplomatic activities, which revolve mainly around influencing the behaviour of other actors on the international scene and often have a shorter time perspective. The term structural refers to two key aspects of this type of diplomacy: the objective to have an effect on structures and the objective to have effects that are sustainable. First, the qualification ‘structural’ refers to the objective of influencing or shaping structures. These structures consist of the organising principles that order the political, legal, economic, social and security fields in a given geographical space. Structures entail both general principles (such as ‘free market economy’, ‘democracy’ or ‘rule of law’) and the operationalisation of these principles through a constellation of institutions, rules and practices. This implies that structural diplomacy not only aims at promoting general principles, but also at supporting the translation of these general principles into effective institutions, rules and practices. Structures exist within a variety of sectors (political, legal, social, economic and security) and at a multitude of levels (ranging from the individual to the societal, state, regional and global level). Figure 12.1 provides an overview of the various interrelated structures and processes of internalisation that can be the target of a structural diplomacy.