EU Foreign Policy Expert to Give Guest Lecture on the European External Action Service

As part of Canterbury Politics and IR’s Jean Monnet funding programme we are delighted to announce a guest lecture by Professor Christian Lequesne, Professor European Politics at the prestigious Science Po Paris, on October 10th 6pm (Venue TBC). Professor Lequesne is world renowned expert on EU Foreign Policy and his paper will focus on how best to understand the workings of the EU’s European External Action Service. Please see below for details of Professor Lequesne’s paper as well as details of his career.


EU Foreign Policy Through the Lens of the ‘Practice Turn’: Approaching the European External Action Service Differently

There is a proliferation of works on the new European External Action Service (EEAS) created in 2010. Most of these approach the EEAS through an institutionalist framework. They assess how the new institution can solve questions asked since the 1970s about EU foreign policy-making: how to ensure consistency, coherence, and reduce transaction costs between actors (both supranational and national) in a multilevel governance structure. This paper takes a different direction. Based on 30 interviews done between 2010 and 2013 with officials from the EEAS, the European Commission, and national diplomatic bureaucracies, its main objective is to show how a practice turn is necessary to understanding the nature of the EEAS.

By practice turn, I mean a set of research tools capable of grasping what Neumann calls ‘the physical and the habitual’. As an empirical object, the EEAS lends itself particularly well to the study of lived practices: it is an institution in the making, characterized by both recycling existing practices and inventing new ones at the same time. The first part of the paper will show the advantages that practice theory provides compared to a bureaucratic politics approach in analyzing the body. The second part will show how practice theory helps to explain the challenges of merging different professional practices among an EEAS staff coming from different national and institutional backgrounds. The third part will insist on the necessity of studying concrete working practices within the EEAS to understand its bureaucratic contribution the EU foreign policy-making. Going over the EEAS as a case study, the conclusion focuses on the importance of analyzing actors’ practices to understand diplomacy in general.


Christian Lequesne
Senior Research Fellow, Sciences Po
Phone: +33 (0) 1 58 71 70 56 –

Christian Lequesne, holds BA and MA degrees from  Sciences Po Strasbourg and the College of Europe, Bruges. He then got his Ph.D. in political science  and his Habilitation in Sciences Po Paris (Supervisor: Professor Alfred Grosser). Assistant, Department of Political and Administrative Studies of theCollege of Europe (1986-1988). Research fellow at CERI since 1988, he was deputy director of the center from 2000 to 2003, and director from 2009 to 2013. Director of the Centre français de recherche en sciences sociales(CEFRES) in Prague from 2004 to 2006, LSE-Sciences Po Alliance Professor at the European Institute of the London School of Economics from 2006 to 2008, member and vice-president of the Board of Directors of Sciences Po from 2007 to 2013. Co-Chief Editor of European Review of International Studies(Barbara Budrich Publishers), member of the editorial board of Journal of European Integration; member of the scientific committees of Politique européenne and Etudes européennes. Regular columnist (European affairs) inOuest France. President of the study group France-Germany at the Institut Montaigne, member of the Scientific Board of the Institut für Europäische Politik (Berlin), the Fondation Robert Schuman and the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Was awarded the F. Palacky social sciences medal by the Czech Academy of Sciences and Chevalier in the Ordre des Palmes académiques.



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