European Union foreign policy and the Middle East peace process, 1991-2002
This thesis analyses European Union foreign policy towards the Middle East peace process in the years between 1991-2002: it examines in which measure disagreement has characterised relations among Member States in the context of the formulation of a European Middle East policy, and if it's possible to detect a trend towards the attainment of a broadly speaking "European perception" of the Arab-Israeli problem and of the policy Europe should adopt. The question at the heart of the thesis is: why has the EU spent so much time on Middle East policy, to so little effect. A set of possible answers has been tested: o due to the failure in reaching a sufficiently convergent approach among EU members o the EU lacks the relevant levers and instruments to affect the Middle East peace process o strategic US interests in the Middle East and the dynamics of EU-US relations have relegated the EU to a secondary role in the Middle East peace process The thesis argues that Member States' policy differences are being watered down through the practice of discussions aimed at the elaboration of a common European foreign policy, but that at the same time the Member States have only occasionally been able to identify common interests in a number sufficient to encourage the implementation of a collective European policy, which could supposedly be more effective than 15 separate and distinct policies, and that their policy could be described as a policy of "converging parallels", i.e. a policy that can at times converge and be harmonised with that of the other Member States but remains essentially a national foreign policy, clearly distinct from, and only occasionally similar to, that of the other Member States. Furthermore, the thesis argues that the transatlantic dimension is crucial to understand European Middle East policy. It has become evident to all EU Member States that effective and autonomous policy towards the Middle East unavoidably carries with it disagreement with the USA - quite possibly involving active disapproval from the Americans. For all except France, this has been a strong disincentive to attempt to develop more than declaratory policy.