The Very British Worldview of Chris Patten, External Relations Commissioner 1999-2004
Title: The Very British Worldview of Chris Patten, External Relations Commissioner 1999-2004
Author: MCCOURT, David
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2008/29; Transatlantic Programme
This paper examines the worldview of Chris Patten, EU Commissioner for External Relations between September 1999 and 2004. It forms part of a collective project designed to offer insights into the ‘operational codes’ EU foreign policy-makers bring to bear on their engagement with their external environment (Vennesson: 2006). Following a brief biographical note on Patten himself, the paper seeks to develop the ‘philosophical’ and ‘instrumental’ elements of his worldview, broadly following the outline provided by George (1969). It finds that Patten holds a coherent worldview that is richly practical and political, and is informed by an historical understanding of the international sphere. It is a worldview, moreover, that is strikingly ‘British’ in important respects. Although his worldview has points of correlation to mainstream theories of international relations, a more useful comparison is deemed to be with the less well-known ‘English School’ or ‘international society’ approach. Despite an appreciation of a number of changes evident in the international system due to globalization and increased interdependence, Patten’s faith in the ability of overcoming political problems rests with nation-states, and the liberal institutions of global governance created in the aftermath of the Second World War. The final part of the paper discusses Patten’s views on the EU in world politics in light of his worldview. It finds that he holds an important, although limited, place for the EU in his worldview, as a crucial facilitator of co-operation among nation-states in an increasingly interdependent world.
Subject: Chris Patten; European worldviews; EU; external relations; politics; history; English school; liberalism
Type of Access: openAccess