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The European Foreign Policy Scorecard is an annual evaluation of Europe’s performance in pursuing its interests and promoting its values in the world. At a time when new powers are emerging and the international system is undergoing profound changes, the scorecard is intended to raise awareness of the existence of a European foreign policy - even if it sometimes exists by default - and to encourage a debate about the best policies to be pursued in defence of our values and interests. Although it is the work of experts, it is intended to be accessible to any citizen who is interested in Europe’s role in the world.

The scorecard considers “Europe” in the same way that great powers from Brazil to China do: with no distinction between EU institutions, including the ones which were created by the Lisbon Treaty and came into existence in 2010, and the 27 member states. The assessment is of the collective performance of all EU actors rather than the action of any particular institution or country – whether the High Representative, the European Council, the European Commission, a group of states like the EU3 (France, Germany and the UK), or an individual member state. Where one of those actors has played a particular role in a positive or negative sense, we attempt to highlight it. However, we do not advocate a single or centralised foreign policy but rather a common and at the very least a coordinated one.

In 2010, we have evaluated this collective performance on six major issues: relations with China, Russia, the United States and “Wider Europe” (i.e. the countries of the Eastern Partnership, Turkey and the Western Balkans); as well as European performance in crisis management and in multilateral institutions. While we consider these six issues to be particularly important for any assessment of European foreign policy, they are not meant to be exhaustive. Although limited resources forced us to restrict our assessment to these six issues in the first year of the project, the scorecard has been designed so that it will be possible to add other issues in the future without compromising comparability with the 2010 findings. In particular, we hope to expand the scorecard to include the Middle East and the Southern neighbourhood - for which, given recent events, there will obviously be a particularly strong case in 2011.

We ask three straightforward questions for each aspect of European foreign policy: Were Europeans united? Did they try hard? Did they get what they wanted? These three questions translated into three criteria that we use to assess European performance: “unity”, “resources” and “outcome”. The first two (graded out of 5) evaluate the intrinsic qualities of European policies and the third (graded out of 10) evaluates whether these policies succeeded or failed. This means that the overall grade out of 20 reflects an equal balance of judgment between input and outcome.

However, although the scorecard is based on a rigorous and transparent methodology (see methodology section for a more detailed explanation), it is intended to be an exercise in political judgement rather than a quasi-scientific index. We have chosen the scorecard form precisely because everyone can relate to both the seriousness and the versatility of grading and report cards. In most school or university environments, grades are codified but nevertheless reflect the subjective assessment of the teacher doing the grading. This is also the case here: our methodology set explicit and precise parameters, but the research team made the ultimate decision on scores and grades. Because we may have missed some developments or have overlooked countervailing tendencies to the ones we described, we don’t consider the scorecard to be a definitive judgment on European foreign policy for 2010.

Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Antonio Vitorino
March 2011



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