Introduction: Gatekeepers and Boundary-Spanners — Thinking about Foreign Ministries in the European Union

  • Brian Hocking
Part of the Studies in Diplomacy and International Relations book series (SID)


Observers of foreign ministries and the systems of diplomatic representation over which they preside have reached very different conclusions as to their role and significance in the rapidly shifting patterns of world politics. On the one hand, there are those who argue that the critical functions that these institutions perform remain in essence unaltered. The implication of this interpretation is that the traditional state-centred diplomatic machinery of representation, intelligence-gathering and communication remains as it has traditionally been portrayed: a key institution of the international system and a major resource through which governments pursue their policy objectives.1 A contrary view, however, asserts that the twin forces of globalisation and regionalisation are challenging governments and have dramatically diminished the significance of these traditional instruments of diplomacy. Consequently, the role of the foreign ministry (FM) has become increasingly marginalised in the face of both internal and external pressures.


European Union Member State Foreign Policy International Policy European Union Member State 
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© Brian Hocking 2005

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  • Brian Hocking

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