Constructing the external image of the European Union in the post-Lisbon environment: The official discourse of the high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy / vice president of the commission
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This thesis aims to demonstrate how the institutional actor of High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission (HR/VP) contributed to the construction of EU’s external image during the period of January 2010 to July 2013. In order to deliver the research aim, the theory of Discursive Institutionalism (DI) is introduced along with the methodology of Dialectical-Relational Approach (DRA) of Critical Discourse Analysis. DRA foresees a three-level analysis guided by HR/VP-set three priorities for her time in office. After analysing semantic aspects of the six themes/concepts, inductively identified from the texts, the discourse analysis shows that the creation and the functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS), as both a priority and a theme, became a common denominator with which all the remaining five themes and two priorities could be linked. It was depicted as a prerequisite to considerably enhance EU’s external performance, in fact it was depicted as an institution which delivers EU foreign policy altogether. Consequently, the relationship between the HR/VP discourse and the institutional practice of external representation is explained through DI theory. Firstly, it is argued that in the HR/VP communicative discourse the identified themes/concepts could be taken as the upgraded versions of role conceptions (established images of EU’s role and performance in international system). They were utilised as discursive tools to refrain from bringing attention to role prescriptions, i.e. the still prevalent institutional fragmentation in EU’s external policies the HR/VP is aware of while speaking on behalf of the Union. This makes understandable with which means it was possible to construct the EEAS as a source enabling advancements in the post-Lisbon EU’s external conductions. Secondly, the HR/VP symbolic act of setting three vague priorities in the communicative discourse enabled to depict this institutional actor as one of having true discretionary power to set goals for whole EU’s external action, which in reality is impossible according to institutional rules. Lastly, in the HR/VP communicative discourse links were made between the initially set guiding priorities, the EEAS and the EU’s foreign policy. The latter remains a clear discursive attempt to depict an institutionally inexistent phenomenon as something real and tangible. In sum, all the aforesaid allows to better understand how the EU’s external image was constructed during the period of interest.