Contesting Feminist Power Europe: Is Feminist Foreign Policy Possible for the EU?

Roberta Guerrina*, Toni Haastrup, Katharine A.M. Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Since 2014, several European Union (EU) member states have adopted their own versions “Feminist Foreign Policy” (FFP). Increasingly, feminist bureaucrats, politicians, activists, and scholars are calling for the EU to do the same. This article critically scrutinises claims to the feminist actorsness of the EU by introducing the analytical concept of Feminist Power Europe (FPE). In employing FPE as a lens, it examines whether the EU can adopt a FFP and that upholds transformative potential of feminism. Undertaking a critical content analysis of key documents, we identify three overarching feminist frames that emerge in the EU’s external relations policies: 1. Liberal; 2. Intersectional; 3. Postcolonial. We demonstrate that the EU’s propensity for a transformative feminist foreign policy is limited by the setup of global politics and the main drivers of European integration, which continue to be situated in a traditionally masculine environment and are defined by prevailing hierarchies of colonialism and racism. In undertaking this work, we highlight the constraints of advocating for the EU to adopt a FFP. The paper concludes by cautioning against the uncritical deployment of ‘feminism’ in foreign policy articulation within an FPE configuration that excludes reflexivity about the EU’s external relations vision and indeed, its practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-507
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Security
Issue number3
Early online date24 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper has been in the making for the last ten years. We have many people to thank for pushing us to develop our framework and thinking on this topic. We would like to thank in particular the UACES Gendering EU Studies Collaborative Research Network for giving us the space to present early articulations of the concepts developed in this paper. These ideas ultimately culminated in the European Commission funded 2018 Summer School on “Feminist Power Europe? Capacity Building, Strategies and Methodologies for a European Feminist Foreign Policy”. Most of all, we would like to thank the editors of this special issue for their feedback and for pushing us to make our argument tighter and more precise. As ever mistakes are all ours.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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