Virtue or vice? The coherence of the EU's external policies

Anne-Claire Marangoni, Kolja Raube

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A buzzword in the EU since four decades already, coherence is at the centre of the Lisbon Treaty. The risk of incoherence is deeply embedded in the institutional framework of EU external policies. Coherence is seen as a permanent quest, while incoherence carries a negative baggage. Goal-oriented coherence is expected to lead to the EU's effectiveness, legitimacy and credibility as an international actor, but this positive causality has not been questioned all too often in the literature. This paper aims to fill this void: why, to what extent and for which problems is coherence a 'miracle solution'? To what extent does coherence actually impact on the EU's international status? The paper will discuss different theoretical perspectives to the coherence debate. It aims to contribute to the theoretical understanding of coherence in EU external policies and to better explain EU efforts towards enhancing coherence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-489
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of European Integration
Issue number5
Early online date17 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2014


  • coherence
  • European Union
  • external action
  • international actorness


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