This chapter is designed to provide an empirical and analytical framework within which the specific partnerships or policy processes dealt with in later chapters can be assessed and evaluated. It begins with a review of the ways in which SPs have evolved since their inception in the 1990s, linking them to the more general development of EU foreign and security policy and locating them in relation to the multiple crises that have affected the context for SPs in the twenty-first century. It then moves on to consider ways in which SPs generally might be analysed, drawing particular attention to three logics (internal, external and identity) shaping EU external action and three images (strategic, managerial and reactive) expressing the practice of strategic partnerships in EU diplomacy. Finally, the chapter explores four key questions about the development of any given SP: functions and motivations, policy implications, institutionalisation and role implications—that give a guide as to where it fits into the broader pattern of EU external action. These logics, images and questions shape the consideration of SPs in subsequent chapters, and their reassessment in the concluding chapter to the volume.


Ferreira-Pereira L.C., Smith M. (2021) Strategic Partnerships in European Union External Action: Evolution and Analysis of a Developing Policy Instrument. In: Ferreira-Pereira L.C., Smith M. (eds) The European Union’s Strategic Partnerships. The European Union in International Affairs. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.