Member States are still very influent in shaping EU foreign policy; they decide by consensus or unanimity. It is therefore crucial to understand their political positions to be influential at their level.
Some Member States are particularly involved in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), considering their historical legacy, geographical proximity, political, economic and cultural ties. Yet this can also hamper them to take firm positions on human rights.
Member States are present in Brussels through their ambassador-level Permanent representatives and their country’s Permanent Representation.
But the national scene may also be relevant to influence the Member States. For instance, national parliamentarians interested in foreign affairs may turn out to be key interlocutors to promote their country’s human rights policies towards the South Mediterranean region.
In the field
Another window of opportunity are the EU Member State embassies and consulates in non-EU countries. Through them, Member States advance their own interests abroad, following their political agendas. On the other hand, EU embassies must act in accordance with the binding common positions of the EU and are expected to implement EU’s policies.