Since its foundation, the European Community’s (EC) role and impact in the international arena has been a subject of persistent debate among scholars of International Relations (IR). Classical IR theory faced a variety of issues in trying to conceptualise the EC/European Union (EU) and its external relations. Above all, the focus on statehood proved an inadequate starting point for analysis. To enable an analysis that acknowledges the EU’s distinctive nature and significant differences from other international actors, scholars working on (the external dimension of) European integration quickly began to look beyond state-centric accounts.