War-torn neighbourhoods, increased great-power rivalry, as well as major global challenges such as climate change and the pandemic, call for a stronger EU foreign policy. Yet the diverging interests of EU member states continue to hamper efficient EU action. However, various modalities of differentiation within and outside the EU framework have allowed the EU member states to make Europe’s voice heard in world politics. France and Germany have addressed the Ukraine crisis in the Normandy format with Russia and Ukraine. Together with the UK and the EU, they have played a key role in the EU/E3 format aimed at resolving the conflict over Iran’s nuclear programme. Moreover, informal collaboration among a limited number of EU members has contributed, for instance, to the Middle East peace process. Recently, the EU has launched the Permanent Structured Cooperation enabling willing and capable member states to deepen their defence policy cooperation.
When and how has differentiation advanced the EU’s role in world politics? Is more differentiation inevitable because of Brexit? What are the dangers of more differentiation in European foreign policy?