Author(s): Daniel C. Thomas
Paper number and date: WP 08-06, July 2008
Abstract: Achieving EU unity in world affairs is particularly difficult when divergent Member State preferences are reinforced by strong US pressure. This paper explains how the EU maintained unity in its commitment to the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite a concerted American effort in 2002 to exploit intra-EU discord on the issue of agreements to shield certain states from ICC scrutiny. Some Member States were sympathetic to American efforts to shield US personnel from the ICC, while others considered them incompatible with the EU’s prior commitment to support the new Court. The lowest common denominator outcome of negotiations among EU Member States in the UN Security Council demonstrates their potential willingness to engage in competitive bargaining, as Intergovernmentalism predicts. In contrast, negotiations on a very similar issue that occurred under CFSP just a few months later demonstrate the ability of various actors (Member States as well as the Commission and NGOs) to frame intra-EU deliberations with prior norms and policy commitments and thus to induce concessions from Member States who are inclined to break ranks. This comparison of two sets of negotiations on the same issue suggests that the likelihood of EU policy outcomes conforming to the expectations of Intergovernmentalism versus Normative Institutionalist depends significantly upon the institutional context in which the Member States negotiate.