Reports 2016

Europe’s troublemakers: The populist challenge to foreign policy

7 April 2016


In a world that is becoming increasingly complex and volatile, the traditional recipes used by mainstream politicians no longer seem to work. Citizens in Europe are losing faith in their political elites, and the widening gulf between parts of the electorate and mainstream politics is being filled by populist parties, who provide easy answers and quick-fix solutions. Because of the growing intertwining of domestic and international politics, the risk that populist parties might have an impact on foreign policy is real. As the transformative impact of populism on foreign relations has been little explored, a reflection group – with the support of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Open Society Foundations – was formed to explore whether and how the populists are shaping the debate, and what the consequences might be for European foreign policy-making. The results of this research were laid out in the report Europe’s Troublemakers. The populist challenge to foreign policy, which was presented and discussed at this EPC Policy Dialogue. Three of its authors – Rosa Balfour, rapporteur, Janis A. Emmanouilidis and Christopher Hill – were present to talk about the report in detail, while György Schöpflin, MEP from Fidesz/EPP, provided comments.