The European Union as a Global Actor by C. Bretherton

By C. Bretherton

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However actorness, and more particularly the capacity to act coherently and effectively, depends not only upon the constraints and opportunities afforded by structural factors, but upon the ability of actors to respond. We have yet to examine the resource base of EU actorness. THE BASES OF EU ACTORNESS Judgements concerning EU actorness abound, although systematic analyses of the bases of actorness are relatively uncommon. In many cases, viewed externally, the EU is simply assumed to be an important actor.

Implicit, here, is the state as comparator; clearly there is a potential to become more ‘statelike’ as an increasing range of tasks is performed over time. 21 22 The European Union as a Global Actor In a study which includes consideration of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and the EC as actors, Merle also emphasizes the importance of autonomy. He argues that, to be autonomous, international actors must be capable of playing ‘a specific role independent of their constituent members’ (Merle 1987:296).

Waltz’s focus is the international political system, the organizing principle of which (anarchy) determines the behaviour of the units (states). In consequence, the sources of behaviour are to be found not in the differing characteristics, or volition, of states but in their fundamental need, in an anarchical system, ‘to compete with and adjust 23 24 The European Union as a Global Actor to one another if they are to survive and flourish’ (Waltz 1979:72). In these circumstances relative power capability is the only significant factor differentiating between states.

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