The EU’s reaction is slow, the EU is divided, the EU is unable to deliver: time and time again, newspapers depict the image of an incoherent and uncoordinated EU foreign policy. This time, the topic under discussion is the EU’s response to the Libyan crisis. Many have compared the EU’s internal divisions over Libya with those over the Iraq war, an often-used example to illustrate the limits of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). This paper aims to assess the coherence of the EU’s short- to medium-term response to the Libyan crisis. It distinguishes between the horizontal, inter-institutional, vertical and multilateral dimensions of EU coherence. The analysis shows that unilateral actions or inactions of the member states mainly account for the EU’s incoherent response. The post-Lisbon institutional structure has done little to compensate for these internal divisions. While the EU cannot change the course of national foreign policies, it should increase its ‘leadership for coherence’, communitarize its crisis response in the medium term and aim at preventing incoherence in the longer term.
Presented at the seminar on "The EU and the Libyan crisis: in quest of coherence?" organised within the framework of the EXACT project, Rome, 28 September 2011.
2. The EU’s Response to the Libyan Crisis
3. The coherence of EU crisis management
3.1. Horizontal coherence
3.2. Inter-institutional coherence
3.3. Vertical coherence
3.4. Multilateral coherence
3.5. Overall assessment
4. How to be more coherent?
4.1. Increase “leadership for coherence”
4.2. Communitarize responses in the medium-term
4.3. Prevent incoherence in the longer-term