While today we associate Ukraine with conflict and occupation, the period preceding the Maidan protests saw the European Union use a peaceful but peculiar diplomatic instrument to pressure the country’s leaders: shuttle diplomacy by an informal group called the Cox-Kwasniewski mission. This mission was launched not by the European External Action Service, or the European Commission, but rather the European Parliament (EP). Composed of a former EP President and a former Polish President, it visited Ukraine 27 times, eased the conditions and even obtained the release of political prisoners, and pushed the Ukrainian government to adopt a series of legal reforms.
This article argues that this instance of the European Parliament (EP) participating in EU foreign policy nevertheless cannot be called parliamentary diplomacy. In fact, its limited successes stemmed from the deliberately unparliamentary characteristics of the mission. It was not a complement to a higher-level, executive-to-executive diplomatic initiative. It lacked transparency and accountability. And it did not rely on parliamentary procedures – or even parliamentarians at all. Rather, it is an example of the EP engaging in non-parliamentary diplomacy – an aspect of its influence and participation in EU foreign policy that is likely to increase in the near future.European Foreign Affairs Review