Introduction: The E3/EU Iran Group

  • Riccardo Alcaro
Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics book series (PSEUP)


Between 2003 and 2015, the European Union and its member states were directly involved in the management of one of the most prominent issues of international concern: how to bring the Islamic Republic of Iran to give verifiable guarantees that its nuclear programme would not be diverted to military purposes. Over the course of this 13-year-long period, a group of member states consisting of the ‘big three’, France, Germany and the UK, supported by the EU (E3/EU), shaped the European Union’s approach. The E3/EU group is the most important instance of a peculiar foreign policy practice of EU foreign policy, the ‘lead group’, which has received scarce expert and scholarly attention. This book aims to fill the gap.


  1. Adebahr, C. (2017). Europe and Iran: The nuclear deal and beyond. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Aggestam, L. (2004). Role identity and the Europeanisation of foreign policy: A political-cultural approach. In B. Tonra & T. Christiansen (Eds.), Rethinking European Union foreign policy (pp. 81–98). Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Alcaro, R. (2010, October). Betting on perseverance. Why the double track approach is still the best way to deal with the Iranian nuclear conundrum. Documenti IAI 10/20. Rome: Istituto Affari Internazionali.
  4. Alcaro, R. (2011). Learning from a troubled experience: Transatlantic lessons from the nuclear standoff with Iran. The International Spectator, 46(4), 115–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alcaro, R., & Bassiri Tabrizi, A. (2014). Europe and Iran’s nuclear issue. The labours and sorrows of a supporting actor. The International Spectator, 49(3), 14–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bassiri Tabrizi, A. (2016, May). The E3 initiative towards Iran’s nuclear dossier. The impact of ad hoc coalition on EU foreign policy. King’s College London: Unpublished Manuscript.Google Scholar
  7. Bassiri Tabrizi, A., & Hanau Santini, R. (2012, March 15). EU sanctions against Iran: New wine in old bottles? ISPI Analysis 97, Milan: Istituto per gli Studi di Political Internazionale.
  8. Bergenäs, J. (2010). The European Union’s evolving engagement with Iran. Two steps forward, one step back. The Nonproliferation Review, 17(3), 491–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Delreux, T., & Keukeleire, S. (2017). Informal division of labour in EU foreign policy-making. Journal of European Public Policy, 24(10), 1–20. Published online on 30 September 2016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Denza, E. (2005). Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons: The European Union and Iran. European Foreign Affairs Review, 10(3), 289–311.Google Scholar
  11. Dryburgh, L. (2008). The as a global actor? EU policy towards Iran. European Security, 17(2–3), 253–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dupont, P. E. (2009). The EU-Iran dialogue in the context of the nuclear crisis. The Review of International Affairs, XL(1135), 18–34.Google Scholar
  13. Ërastö, T. (2011). Transatlantic diplomacy in the Iranian nuclear issue. Helping to build trust? European Security, 20(3), 405–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fabius, L. (2016). Inside the Iran deal: A French perspective. The Washington Quarterly, 39(3), 7–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gordon, P. H. (1997–98). Europe’s uncommon foreign policy, International Security, 22(3), 74–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Guéhenno, J.-M. (1998). A foreign policy in search of a polity. In J. Zielonka (Ed.), Paradoxes of European foreign policy (pp. 25–34). The Hague: Kluwer Law International.Google Scholar
  17. Hanau Santini, R. (2010). European Union discourses and practices on the Iranian nuclear programme. European Security, 19(3), 467–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Harnisch, S. (2007a). Minilateral cooperation and transatlantic coalition-building. European Security, 16(1), 61–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Harnisch, S. (2007b). The lessons of the EU’s Iran diplomacy. Internationale Politik Global Edition, 8, 78–85.Google Scholar
  20. Hill, C. (1993). The capability-expectations gap: Or conceptualising Europe’s international role. Journal of Common Market Studies, 31(3), 305–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hill, C. (1996). The CFSP and the national foreign policies of the member states. In C. Hill & K. E. Smith (Eds.), European Union: The challenge of a common foreign policy. Firenze: Quaderni forum anno X, n. 1–2.Google Scholar
  22. Hill, C. (1998). Convergence, divergence and dialectics: National foreign policies and the CFSP. In J. Zielonka (Ed.), Paradoxes of European foreign policy (pp. 35–52). The Hague: Kluwer Law International.Google Scholar
  23. Hyde-Price, A. (2004). Interests, institutions, and identities in the study of European foreign policy. In B. Tonra & T. Christiansen (Eds.), Rethinking European Union foreign policy (pp. 99–113). Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  24. International Crisis Group. (2004, November 24). Iran: Where next on the Nuclear Standoff? Amman/Brussels: Crisis Group Middle East Briefing 15.
  25. International Crisis Group. (2006, February 23). Iran: Is there a way out of the nuclear impasse? Brussels/Washington/Tehran: Middle East Report 51.
  26. Janning, J. (2005). Leadership coalitions and change: The role of states in the European Union. International Affairs, 81(4), 821–833.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jørgensen, K.-E. (2004). Theorising the European Union’s foreign policy. In B. Tonra & T. Christiansen (Eds.), Rethinking European Union foreign policy (pp. 10–25). Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Kaussler, B. (2008). European Union constructive engagement with Iran (2000–2004): An exercise in conditional human rights diplomacy. Iranian Studies, 41(3), 269–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Keukeleire, S., & MacNaughtan, J. (2008). The foreign policy of the European Union. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  30. Kienzle, B. (2012). Between human rights and non-proliferation: Norm competition in the EU’s Iran policy. UNISCI Discussion Papers, 30, 77–91.Google Scholar
  31. Kienzle, B. (2013). The role of ideas in EU responses to international crises: Comparing the cases of Iraq and Iran. Cooperation and Conflict, 48, 423–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kile, S. N. (2005a). The controversy over Iran’s nuclear programme. In S. N. Kile (Ed.), Europe and Iran. Perspectives on non-proliferation (pp. 1–21). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Kile, S. N. (2005b). Final thoughts on Iran, the EU and the limits of conditionality. In S. N. Kile (Ed.), Europe and Iran. Perspectives on non-proliferation (pp. 122–135). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Linden, R. (2006). Die Initiative der EU-3 im Iran. Ein Testfall für die europäische Sicherheitspolitik nach der Iraq-Krise? Trier: Trier University.Google Scholar
  35. Makinsky, M. (2009). French trade and sanctions against Iran. Middle East review of International Affairs, 13(1), 107–122.Google Scholar
  36. Manners, I., & Whitman, R. G. (2000). Conclusion. In I. Manners & R. G. Whitman (Eds.), The foreign policies of European Union member states (pp. 243–271). Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Martellini, M., & Redaelli, R. (2006). A Strategy for defeat? The Iranian nuclear program and the EU3/EU-Iran deal. In E. Greco, G. Gasparini, & R. Alcaro (Eds.), Nuclear non-proliferation: The transatlantic debate, IAI Quaderni English Series (pp. 69–78). Rome: Istituto Affari Internazionali.
  38. Meier, O. (2013, February). European efforts to solve the conflict over Iran’s nuclear programme: How has the European Union performed? Non-proliferation papers no. 27, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium.
  39. Naìm, M. (2009). Minilateralism: The magic number to get real international action. Foreign Policy, 173, 136–137.Google Scholar
  40. Øhrgaard, J. C. (2004). International relations or European integration: Is the CFSP sui generis? In B. Tonra & T. Christiansen (Eds.), Rethinking European Union foreign policy (pp. 28–44). Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Onderco, M. (2015). Money can’t buy you love: The European Union member states and Iran nuclear programme 2002–2009. European Security, 24(1), 56–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Perthes, V. (2005a). The EU needs a U.S. input on Iran. European Affairs, 6(4), 17–20.Google Scholar
  43. Perthes, V. (2005b). Pride and mistrust. Internationale Politik Transatlantic Edition, 1, 17–23.Google Scholar
  44. Pijpers, A. (1991). European political cooperation and the realist paradigm. In M. Holland (Ed.), The future of European political cooperation (pp. 8–35). London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Posch, W. (2006), The EU and Iran: A tangled web of negotiations. In W. Posch (Ed.), Iranian challenges, Chaillot Paper 89 (pp. 99–114). Paris: European Union Institute for Security Studies.
  46. Quille, G., & Keane, R. (2005). The EU and Iran: Towards a new political and security dialogue. In S. N. Kile (Ed.), Europe and Iran. Perspectives on non-proliferation (pp. 97–121). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Risse-Kappen, T. (1996). Exploring the nature of the beast: International relations theory and comparative policy analysis meet the European Union. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 34, 53–80.Google Scholar
  48. Roudsari, S. A. (2007). Talking away the crisis? The E3/EU-Iran negotiations on nuclear issues. EU Diplomacy Papers 6. Bruges: College of Europe.
  49. Rummel, R., & Wiedemann, J. (1998). Identifying institutional paradoxes of CFSP. In J. Zielonka (Ed.), Paradoxes of European foreign policy (pp. 51–66). The Hague: Kluwer Law International.Google Scholar
  50. Sauer, T. (2007). Coercive diplomacy by the EU: The case of Iran. Discussion paper in Diplomacy. The Hague: Netherlands Institute for International Relations ‘Clingendael’.
  51. Sauer, T. (2008). Struggling on the world scene: An over-committed EU versus a committed Iran. European Security, 17(2–3), 273–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schwegmann, C. (2000). The contact group and its impact on the European institutional structure. WEU-ISS occasional paper.Google Scholar
  53. Schwegmann, C. (2003). Die Jugoslawien-Kontaktgruppe in den Internationalen Beziehungen. Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  54. Schwegmann, C. (2005). Kontaktgruppen und EU-3 Verhandlungen. SWP Aktuell 62. Berlin: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik.Google Scholar
  55. Smith, K. E. (2003). European Union foreign policy in a changing world. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  56. Van de Graaf, T. (2013). The ‘oil weapon’ reversed? Sanctions against Iran and U.S.-E.U. structural power. Middle East Policy, 30(3), 145–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wessels, W. (1982). European political cooperation. A new approach to European foreign policy. In D. Allen, R. Rummel, & W. Wessels (Eds.), European political cooperation: Towards a foreign policy for Western Europe (pp. 321–334). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  58. White, B. (2004). Foreign policy analysis and European foreign policy. In B. Tonra & T. Christiansen (Eds.), Rethinking European Union foreign policy (pp. 45–61). Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Zammit Borda, A. (2005). The Iranian nuclear issue and the EU3 negotiations. Fornet working paper 8.Google Scholar
  60. Zielonka, J. (1998). Paradoxes of European foreign policy. The Hague: Kluwer Law International.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Riccardo Alcaro
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto Affari InternazionaliRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations