Improving Communication amongst Strategic Partners? Perceptions on the EU's fledgling Delegations
This paper focuses on perceptions of the newly formed European Union Delegations (EUDs) in the three “emerging” powers of the Asia-Pacific – China, India and Russia. As strategic partners of the EU, these three countries were included in the early list of priority countries for the European External Action Service (EEAS), with China-EU and EU-Russia relations regarded as particularly important. The choice is due to their rapid economic rise as well as growing global political and security concerns. The paper identifies differences in perceptions across the three locations (e.g. different images due to different priorities in the respective bilateral dialogues; or a higher degree of awareness of the EUDs’ activities in Russia and China in contrast to India). Although the EUDs are still young on the world stage, a number of studies have emerged addressing 1) the EEAS’ role and function and 2) internal EU institutional repercussions. By contrast, research focussing on perceptions of the EEAS’ communication with the receivers of the EU’s diplomatic messages and external recognition of the EU and the EEAS as a diplomatic actor remain rare. This paper addresses these two scholarly deficits. The paper explores perceptions of the EUDs in three Strategic Partners and seeks to understand whether the EU’s post-Lisbon diplomatic outreach is a) more coherent (due to the creation of the EEAS) and b) more effective. At the forefront of this paper are perceptions of the EU, as well as an evaluation of its efforts at communication, and information exchange.