RECON Online Working Paper 2009/18

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Making a Common Foreign Policy

EU Coordination in the ILO


Marianne Riddervold (ARENA, University of Oslo)



This article contributes to the debate on how we can understand the increasingly high level of common EU foreign policies despite this being the policy area where one would expect the EU members to be least willing to agree to policies that depart from their national self-interests. This is done through a core study of EU coordination towards the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). The question posed is how we can explain that the EU reached agreement on common positions in all areas of the MLC despite their initially diverging preferences. To account for this, Marianne Riddervold draw on Habermas’ theory of communicative action. The analysis suggests that common EU policies were the results not of exchanging threats and promises, but of different types of learning on the basis of reason-giving. Despite what we conventionally assume, the EU members not only adjust their preferences as part of the bargaining game, but also change them on the basis of arguments perceived as legitimate.


Constitution Building – Diversity/Homogeneity – Identity – Legitimacy – Normative Political Theory  

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