European Climate Diplomacy:
Building capacity for external action
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
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Climate change policy-making has traditionally been the
remit of environment ministries, but foreign ministries can play a valuable
role in climate diplomacy by signalling high-level political commitment,
contributing a better understanding of the interests and domestic drivers of
climate policy in partner countries, and adding a more significant strategic
dimension to climate diplomacy.
The creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS)
in 2010 provided the European Union with an opportunity to build a European
diplomacy that could place greater emphasis on climate change and other
contemporary global issues.
In its current form, however, the EEAS has limited capacity
for climate diplomacy, and the external capacity of the European Commission’s
Directorate-General for Climate Action is similarly constrained. The current
division of responsibilities between the EEAS and the Commission is a delicate
compromise that is unlikely to be reopened in the short term, and both
institutions face tight budgetary constraints.
Against this backdrop, EU climate diplomacy could be
strengthened by mainstreaming climate change within the work of the EEAS, and
strengthening cohesion between the EEAS and the Commission. This could be aided
by greater strategic guidance for climate diplomacy from the Foreign Affairs
Council and the European Council.