European Foreign Affairs Review

Volume 17 (2012)

Volume 17 (2012) / Issue 2

Megan Dee, 'Standing together or Doing the Splits? Evaluating European Union Performance in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Review Negotiations' (2012) 17 European Foreign Affairs Review, Issue 2, pp. 189–211


There is a widely held belief that when the European Union (EU) stands together - when it 'speaks with one voice' - then it is at its most influential as an international actor. An assumption follows that, where the Member States are divided, doing the splits, and working towards their national objectives, effectiveness is then limited and the EU is marginalized. Very little however has been said on how not 'speaking with one voice' can in fact be an advantage to the EU. Evaluating EU performance in what is arguably a hard case - the most recent Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT RevCon) in May 2010 - this article argues that the EU not only challenged the low expectations traditionally afforded it in such a high politics negotiation but did so by both standing together and doing the splits. By maintaining a unified and visible EU presence coupled with the utilization of Member States' own diplomatic relationships within other negotiation groupings, the EU was able to spread its voice, act as an information 'conveyor belt' and ultimately enhance its role, in fact performing creditably - at least as well as the other major players. This article thus challenges perceptions that it is only by 'speaking with one voice' that the EU can make a difference in multilateral negotiations: suggesting instead that the EU can perform well and make an impact not by always speaking with one voice but with many.

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ISSN: 1384-6299
ID: EERR2012021