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All Talk and no Trousers? When the EU Speaks with One Voice in the UN General Assembly but Votes Differently

European Union
Foreign Policy
International Relations
UN
Voting
Member States
Maria Gianniou
Athens University of Economics and Business
Spyros Blavoukos
Athens University of Economics and Business
Dimitris Bourantonis
Athens University of Economics and Business
Ioannis Galariotis
European University Institute
Maria Gianniou
Athens University of Economics and Business

Abstract

The EU has been long in a constant pursuit of a more active international role. One means to achieve that has been allegedly the capacity to 'speak with one voice' in international fora including among others the most important international organizations. This materialized in the UN setting with the Resolution 65/276 that enabled the EU to make oral interventions in the UN General Assembly. At the same time, the EU member-states have reached high levels of voting coherence throughout the years, which is by and large an indication of coordinated action. Nonetheless, there still exist cases whereby although the EU delivers a common oral statement, member-states vote differently, thus annulling the EU intervention potential. In this paper, we identify significant cases of inconsistency accounting for them and discussing their potential implications. We argue that in an attempt to convey an image of unity and cohesion, the EU often issues broad and rounded statements to ensure inclusiveness (of all member-states) at the cost of meaningfulness (generic and superficial content). As a result the EU may well be seen as a unitary actor but only as long as things do not bode down to voting in which case member-states are forced to take sides revealing the artificial nature of EU unity.