The show must go on: The EU's quest to sustain multilateral institutions since 2016

Leonard Schütte, Hylke Dijkstra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Multilateralism is in crisis. States increasingly contest, undermine and even withdraw from international organisations and other multilateral institutions. Challenges emanate not only from emerging powers but also from established Western states and civil society. No other actor but the EU is more intimately entangled with multilateralism. This article therefore reviews to what extent and how the EU has actively sustained multilateral institutions since 2016. It identifies three types of mechanisms: the defence, reform and extension of multilateral institutions. Based on interviews with senior officials in the EU institutions and the member states, the article finds that the EU has proven to be rather successful in temporarily defending existing institutions. However, it largely failed to reform multilateral institutions and extend multilateral institutions to new areas. In doing so, the article contributes to our understanding of the EU as a foreign policy actor and the processes of the crisis of multilateralism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1318-1336
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Issue number5
Early online date1 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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