The EU as a strategic global policy actor: SDGs and Circular Economy

Sevasti Chatzopoulou, Christopher Ansell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This article aims to complement the existing literature on the EU as a global actor and demonstrates that the EU’s entrepreneurship on policy, ideas and knowledge production contributes to the evolution of the EU as a strategic global policy actor. While the number of significant studies on the EU as a global actor proliferated the last decades, these studies concentrate on the EU’s role in a fragmented manner, focusing either on specific normative or more economic and trade issues, and thus often competing between themselves. This article acknowledges these contributions and aims to take them further by proposing a new framework, which incorporates and synthesizes both the internal and external EU strategies and thus connecting the economic/market and normative powers.
For this purpose the article explores the loop of interaction between internal/external/internal strategies within a dynamic process that shapes and is being shaped by the EU strategic choices. This process is facilitated by the existing EU institutions and structures, the administrative and technical expertise capacity when it responds to the internal and external challenges (environment, sustainable development climate and circular economy). It thus combines structure and agency.
Despite the fact that the EU lacks traditional elements of a global military power, the EU actorness is derived from its active role in the international environment as a response to new opportunity structures. In the effort to develop policy responses, the EU bridges the gap between politics and policies, justifies its role internally, expands its actorness externally. Besides, within this process it redefines and reconstructs itself that leads to reframing its role as a policy entrepreneur by developing new policy ideas, knowledge, practices and principles.
The article illustrates the development of the EU as a strategic actor with various examples from the EU sustainable development strategy, it link to SGGs and the new EU policy platform, circular economy that combine both the economic and normative dimensions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date17 May 2018
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2018
EventThe European Union in International Affairs (EUIA) Conference 2018 : Projecting and Protecting Europe - Royal Academy, Brussels, Denmark
Duration: 16 May 201818 May 2018


ConferenceThe European Union in International Affairs (EUIA) Conference 2018
LocationRoyal Academy
Internet address


  • Actorness
  • Policy
  • Strategic
  • Circular economy

Cite this

Chatzopoulou, S., & Ansell, C. (2018). The EU as a strategic global policy actor: SDGs and Circular Economy. Paper presented at The European Union in International Affairs (EUIA) Conference 2018 , Brussels, Denmark.