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New CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy: Communicating Europe Abroad

In the latest issue of CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy, Julien Abratis explores the interplay between EU Delegations and public diplomacy.


Following the Lisbon Treaty’s entry into force, the former European Commission Delegations were replaced by so-called EU Delegations, representing the Union vis-à-vis third countries and international organizations. In addition to fostering political and economic links with the host countries, a major task of the Delegations is to conduct public diplomacy (PD), a crucial exercise when it comes to favorably shaping perceptions abroad. This paper scrutinizes the latter task in greater detail and identifies challenges EU Delegations are facing in their outreach activities, aiming at developing an action plan to upgrade the Delegations’ PD efforts and their role in foreign policy. The study is based on 17 semi-structured interviews with officials in EU Delegations, a former member of the European External Action Service (EEAS) HQ and diplomats from EU Member States’ embassies. The interviews revealed that EU Delegations have been fairly effective in adapting to the “new” PD practices, focusing on dialogue rather than on one-way communication and using a broad range of communication channels. Nevertheless, several challenges remain, including a lack of resources and restricted evaluation mechanisms. To tackle these challenges, a series of recommendations were deducted, including inter alia better training for PD and communication officers before taking up their positions abroad, greater levels of trust from the EEAS HQ toward the Delegation staff and enhanced financial and personnel resources.

Download "Communicating Europe Abroad: EU Delegations and Public Diplomacy," here.


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