The Concert of Europe and International Relations

The Concert of Europe and International Relations

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The Concert of Europe and International Relations

International Relations is a study area that looks into how countries relate, and the roles played by the sovereign states, the International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), the Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs), the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the Multinational Corporations (MNCs) (Hendrik, 2009). It is both a public policy and academic field (Hendrik, 2009).

The Concert of Europe may also be referred to as the Vienna International Relation System or the Congress System. The name derives from the fact that is because it was the outcome of the Congress of Vienna. It is used to refer to the power balance in Europe from the years of the Napoleonic wars (1815 notably) to the start of the First World War in 1914 (Jarrett, 2013). It was a system of the international order that revolved around four leading powers in Europe at the time, i.e. Britain, Austria, Russia and Prussia. It was meant to stabilize Europe in the aftermath of the French Revolution and to prevent similar revolutions from taking place in the future. Thus, it was meant to check France’s influence in the region.

It took place in the age of Metternich, named after the then Austrian chancellor, Prince Metternich, who was famed for his conservatism. It was also because Austria was a very dominant power within the German Confederation. The age might also be referred to as the European Restoration, especially because the congress of Vienna sought to restore Europe to its state before the French revolution (Jarrett, 2013).

Goals of the concert of Europe

The major goal of the concert of Europe was to phase out all the outstanding territorial and political issues after the defeat of Napoleon and his ensuing exile. It was to ensure that Napoleon never rose again. The Concert of Europe also sought to avert future international problems and ensure that such problems, whenever they arose, would be solved through diplomacy and negotiation rather than war. It was meant to satisfy the interests of Austria, Prussia, Britain and Russia (Jarrett, 2013).

Features of the concert of Europe

The Vienna System was more of an informal arrangement, with no formally laid down rules or permanent institutions. Instead, whenever a member had a crisis, it would propose a conference of the member countries. The meetings of the Concert of Europe took place in 1818 (Aix-la-Chapelle), 1819 (Carlsbad), 1820 (Troppau), 1821 (Laibach), 1822 (Verona), 1832 (London) and 1878 (Berlin) (Jarrett, 72). The congress of 1818 (Aix-la-Chapelle) was designed to resolve French Allied Occupation, which helped to restore France to a status equal to that of Britain, Austria, Russia and Prussia. The congress of 1822 (Verona) was convened to decide if France could be allowed to intervene in restoration of Ferdinand VII of Spain (Jarrett, 2013).

Strengths of the Congress of Vienna

It led to a sustainable peace in Europe that lasted about a century from 1815 when the Napoleonic wars ended and 1914 when the First World War broke out. A century of peace was a remarkable achievement given after its collapse, World War I broke out. Barely 25 years later, there was an even deadlier World War II and, thereafter, there were decades of Cold War between the US and the USSR (Jarrett, 2013).

Weaknesses of the Congress of Vienna

The congress of Vienna had a number of weaknesses that led to its imminent collapse after nearly a century of existence. Its effectiveness faded due to a number of issues such as the Unification of Germany, the rise of Nationalism in Europe, the Eastern Question and the Risorgimento in Italy. When the European nationalistic ideals began to mount up, Ferdinand VII of Spain realized that the power balance among the European nations was spiked up (Jarrett, 2013).


IR lessons drawn from the Concert of Europe

International Relations thinkers learn certain crucial lessons from the concert of Europe. The most vital lesson learned from the concert of Europe if the fact that international peace is an outcome of collaborative efforts among all the countries involved. Efforts at international peace can only succeed when every other country of the world came out to oppose and condemn acts of aggression by any one country (Hendrik, 2009).


Hendrik, S. (2009). Global Horizons: An Introduction to International Relations. New York: University of Toronto press, 5-93.

Jarrett, M. (2013). The Congress of Vienna and its Legacy: War and Great Power Diplomacy after Napoleon. London: I. B. Tauris & Company, 1-522.