In This Review

Multilateralism in the 21st Century: Europe's Quest for Effectiveness
Multilateralism in the 21st Century: Europe's Quest for Effectiveness
Edited by Caroline Bouchard, John Peterson, and Nathalie Toc
Routledge, 2013, 328 pp

How well does the EU promote multilateral action to solve global problems? Most analyses of this question focus on issues of “high security” -- in particular, military intervention. Yet the comparative advantage the countries of the EU enjoy is civilian power. That is the subject of this pathbreaking volume, which analyzes topics such as trade, conflict resolution, climate change, development, energy, health, immigration, the Middle East, the UN Security Council, and the G-20. Although the book concludes with a familiar call for a more centralized EU foreign policy, its findings also offer some welcome correctives to the widespread view that the EU is an overly idealistic and ineffective organization. Although European institutions remain a complement, rather than a substitute, for national policymaking, the EU is becoming more effective over time. Moreover, EU decision-makers, far from being sentimentally attached to global multilateral institutions, successfully exploit bilateralism when it suits their own interests.