Marco Siddi’s (FIIA, Finland) and Riccardo Alcaro’s (IAI, Italy) policy paper ”Differentiation in EU Foreign and Security Policy: EU Lead Groups in the Iranian Nuclear Dispute and the Ukraine Crisis” was published within the Horizon 2020 project EU Idea Work Package 5 led by FIIA.
Lead groups handling issues of international security on behalf of the EU has existed as a practice since the creation of the Union. As they involve a limited number of member states, lead groups have raised concerns about EU foreign policy integration and legitimacy. On the other hand, lead groups have shown results in operationalising positions agreed at the EU level and created a policy where there had been none. Both the Normandy format and the E3/EU group are illustrative of this. In the Normandy format negotiations on the Ukraine crisis, the Franco-German duo mediated a ‘weak but working’ ceasefire. The E3/EU instead enabled US-Iranian nuclear diplomacy and, following the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, they managed to avoid the complete collapse of the agreement.