Conflicting Role Conceptions? The European Union in Global Politics


  • This article is a revised version of a paper that we presented at the ISA workshop “Integrating Foreign Policy Analysis and International Relations through Role Theory,” New Orleans, February 2010. We thank the participants of the workshop and three anonymous reviewers for FPA for constructive comments and criticism. Parts of the research for this article have also been published in Bengtsson and Elgström 2011.


Bengtsson, Rikard and Ole Elgström. (2011) Conflicting Role Conceptions? The European Union in Global Politics. Foreign Policy Analysis, doi: 10.1111/j.1743-8594.2011.00157.x

This article utilizes role theory for analysing the role(s) of the European Union (EU) in global politics. Specifically addressing the interplay of the EU’s own role perception and the role expectations held by other actors, the article contributes two case studies of the role(s) of the EU in relation to two important but different actor groupings—Eastern Europe including Russia and the ACP countries in the developing world, respectively. The analysis points to the tensions that exist between self-perceptions and the perceptions of the EU’s counterparts in Eastern Europe and the developing world, and how these tensions influences the interaction between the actors.