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Strategic Partnerships: The rise and fall of an idea

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Strategic partnerships have flourished since the 1990s. In the late 2000s, when the EU consolidated its ten strategic partnerships, there were more than 200 similar agreements between countries worldwide. However, these partnerships have now mostly disappeared from foreign policy doctrines and discourses. This concluding chapter of a volume edited by Dr Laura C. Ferreira-Pereira and Dr Michael Smith puts the EU’s strategic partnerships into a broader perspective, describing the rise and fall of a foreign policy notion once regarded as promising, but now mostly neglected. This chapter first goes back to the history of strategic partnerships, exploring how and why they emerged in the post-Cold War era, before looking more deeply into the concept, as a form of ‘alignment’ (different from alliances or coalitions) and ‘engagement’ (such as hedging, containment or balancing). Then, this chapter looks at the rise and fall of EU strategic partnerships, before providing a short assessment of these partnerships based on the various contributions to this volume.

This chapter was published as part of “The European Union’s Strategic Partnerships: Global Diplomacy in a Contested World“, edited by Dr Laura C. Ferreira-Pereira and Dr Michael Smith (Palgrave MacMillan, 2021).