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The EU and the Libyan Crisis - In Quest of Coherence?


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 was 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 article 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', Europeanise its crisis response in the medium term and aim at preventing incoherence in the longer term.