Much as there is little agreement on how best to understand the EU as an organization, so there is little agreement on its place in the global system. In many respects the EU member states continue to function independently, but in others they are better regarded as a single bloc. On foreign and security policy, for example, the EU has developed many common positions, but member states still have their own more particular interests, and the EU is still not regarded as a global actor in the same league as the United States, China or Russia. But when trade issues are on the agenda, or third parties seek access to the European marketplace, the EU can be thought of as a unit. Meanwhile, there are sub-groups of member states working on their own projects, as in the case of the 18 members of the eurozone.
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