National preferences in the European Union's policy-making for relations with third countries: case study of China's One Belt, One Road initiative
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This thesis analyses the role of national preferences in the European Union’s (hereinafter “EU”) policy-making for relations with third countries. Although policymaking in the EU itself is a topic which has been thoroughly assessed by academic research through more than half a century, only a limited amount of attention has been turned to the specific question of policy-making for EU’s policy relations with third countries. The said topic is of importance, as in light of the additional competences granted to the Maastricht Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty, and in light of the ongoing process of globalisation, the EU has obtained a very important role in representing its Member States in relations with third countries. The thesis analyses the topic at hand through the example of one of the most prominent ongoing economic initiatives, China’s “One Belt, One Road” (hereinafter “OBOR”) initiative. More specifically, the thesis analyses the national preferences of three EU Member States, France, Germany and Poland, in relation to OBOR and the EU’s policy in relation to OBOR, to ascertain how the national preferences of those three countries are represented by EU’s policy, how the EU tackles conflicting national preferences and how does the role of national preferences in policy-making for relations with third countries differs from the role of national preferences in policy-making for different matters. Results show that national preferences do play an important role in the development of EU’s policy for relations with third countries. The analysis further shows that in case of conflicting national preferences, certain national preferences may be cast aside upon the formulation of EU’s policy, which may result in the relevant Member State disregarding the EU’s policy and trying to represent its national preferences either bilaterally or through another framework. Lastly, the analysis shows that there are differences in the role of national preferences in EU’s policy-making for relations with third countries, in comparison of the role of national preferences in policy-making concerning other matters. In case of relations with other countries, Member States engage in less interstate bargaining and in case of conflicting national preferences, seek other ways to represent their preferences.
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