That the national foreign policies of EU member states impact on the EU’s strategy and strategic performance as a (global) foreign policy actor is not in doubt. But how this happens is a different matter. In analysing of EU strategy, national foreign policies are often reduced to their (non-)alignment with that of the EU. This not only de-strategises them but also obscures the range of ways in which member states reinforce or undercut the EU’s strategic actor-ness, particularly those involving relations between member states. We address this gap by zooming in on one such way: member states’ bilateral strategic partnerships. We provide a newly comprehensive conceptualisation of strategic partnerships and employ this to analyse their role in the ‘EU–national strategic constellation’, focusing on Czech strategic partnerships—with both EU and non-EU states. This analysis shows the latent political as well as analytical potential of this underexplored aspect of EU strategy.
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