Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, the European Union (EU) has spent considerable time and energy on defining and refining its comprehensive approach to external conflicts. The knock-on effects of new and protracted crises, from the war in Ukraine to the multi-faceted armed conflicts in the Sahel and the wider Middle East, have made the improvement of external crisis-response capacities a top priority. But has the EU managed to plug the capability–expectations gap, and develop an effective, comprehensive and conflict sensitive crisis-response capability?
Drawing on institutional theory and an approach developed by March and Olsen, this article analyses whether the EU has the administrative capacities needed in order to be an effective actor in this area and implement a policy in line with the established goals and objectives identified in its comprehensive approach.
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