A European Union ‘Water Diplomacy’? Frames of Water in EU External Action
In 2013, the European Union (EU) formulated its ambition to develop a ‘water diplomacy’. Subsequently, it attempted to put this aspiration into practice, notably through various Council Conclusions. Despite this activity, the EU’s evolution as a ‘water diplomat’ remains underexplored. To address this gap, this article examines the EU’s understanding of ‘water diplomacy’ by conducting a comprehensive discourse analysis of its framing of water as an object of diplomacy and the resulting diplomatic approaches. The analysis of key EU documents, triangulated through interviews with policy-makers, reveals that several water frames currently intersect, resulting in a multifaceted EU external water action comprising both a narrow and a broad understanding of water diplomacy. Following an explanation of this finding focusing on the policy entrepreneurship of intra-EU water diplomacy stakeholders, the article concludes by discussing its implications for the academic study and political practice of water diplomacy within and beyond the EU.