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Milena Komarova and Katy Hayward

The emergence, development, and transformation of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland reveals much about the changing nature of nation-statehood over the century that followed its creation. In its own way, it is also a subject of innovation. The three interrelated strands of relationships safeguarded by the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement of 1998 in many ways define the border. These relationships run within and between the two islands of Ireland and Britain, and also between the two political traditions in Northern Ireland. Nationalists and Unionists have come to define much of their ethos in relation to the symbolic meaning of the Irish border: The former want the border removed and the latter see the border as necessary to keep Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. This helps to understand the prominence given to the Irish border in the context of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU), as well as the controversy around the terms of the U.K.–EU Withdrawal Agreement, which changed the nature of the relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom as well as between Northern Ireland and Ireland. As a consequence of Brexit, the future of borders in and around Ireland—their openness and their governance—will be inevitably shaped by the vicissitudes of the EU–U.K. relationship.


Michael E. Smith

As a research field, European foreign policy (EFP) is defined as the study of how certain European states manage their foreign policy responsibilities, whether individually, through coordinated national foreign policies, or through EU policies and institutions. EFP effectively comprises at least three major research fields: traditional foreign policy analysis (FPA) or comparative foreign policy (CFP); theories of international relations (IR) or international cooperation; and the study of European integration. The critical link between these fields involves the growing role of the EU as a major reference point for “Europe,” so much so that it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish EU foreign policy from European foreign policy. There are two major phases in the emergence of EFP as a research field: the first recognition of European foreign policy cooperation and some very limited conceptual innovation; and the period surrounding the advent of the Single European Act, which placed European foreign policy cooperation on a new institutional path that resulted in the reforms under the Treaty on European Union. The study of EFP expanded considerably following the negotiation of the Maastricht Treaty on European Union (TEU) of 1991. Several major empirical themes within these periods, which has persisted to the present-day EFP research agenda, include the status of EFP political influence relative to other global actors, particularly the US; a seeming disconnect between EFP procedures and substance; tensions between the economic/trade and political/security dimensions of EFP; and the relative inputs of European states versus EU institutional actors, particularly the European Commission.