European Foreign Affairs Review

Volume 24 (2019)

Volume 24 (2019) / Issue 3

Tatiana Romanova, 'The Concept of ‘Resilience’ in EU External Relations: A Critical Assessment' (2019) 24 European Foreign Affairs Review, Issue 3, pp. 349–366


The 2016 Global Strategy (GS) made resilience central to the European Union’s (EU’s) external activities. However, many aspects of resilience were ambiguous. Three of these aspects are identified in this article: whether resilience is about risks or resources, whether resilience means stability or change, and what is the role of values. These ambiguities created a space for the policy work of EU bureaucracy. This work is examined in development and neighbourhood fields, and in relations with Russia. Documents’ analysis and semi-structured interviews reveal a difference in how three ambiguities were interpreted. Differences were identified among policy fields but not between EU institutions. These differences reflect the efforts of EU officials to preserve consistency in ‘their’ fields. This policy work undermines one important goal for introducing resilience in the GS, the enhanced coherence of EU external activities. Finally, the study revealed that some interpretations moved closer to the theoretical writings on resilience compared with the GS.

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ISSN: 1384-6299
ID: EERR2019029