Gabriele Birnberg

Gabriele Birnberg


The Voting Behaviour of the EU member states inside the United Nations General Assembly: An analysis of voting patterns and of vote coordination

Despite their explicit intent to speak with a single voice in foreign affairs, EU member states manage to do so only some of the time. Which are the factors that determine whether or not the EU member states successfully coordinate their positions in the international arena? In this project I examined the voting behaviour of the EU member states inside the United Nations General Assembly; a forum in which, notwithstanding heterogeneous policy preferences, they intend to coordinate their votes and are thus subject to coordination pressures. This means that for divisive resolutions, each member state must try to reconcile its national policy preference with the objective of casting a unified vote. I hypothesised that the balance a member state strikes generally depends on how important it views the issue at hand, how powerful it is, what type of relationship it maintains with the EU and under certain conditions, what type of relationship it maintains with US. I further argue that the balance is expected to tip in favour of EU unity when increasing the collective bargaining power by working together becomes a tangible objective. By adopting a multi-method approach, the thesis shows that the EU member states make a genuine and continuous effort to coordinate their votes inside the General Assembly. Significantly, the thesis illustrates that member states, at times, are able to override their heterogeneous national policy preference in order to stand united. I conclude by connecting the findings with the constructivist/rationalist debate, which juxtaposes foreign policy cooperation according to the logic of appropriateness with the logic of consequence. The results obtained have implications not only for the study of EU voting behaviour in the United Nations, but also for the theoretical debate underlying it.




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