This research questions whether the European Union, since first establishing formal strategic partnerships, has been able to develop the capacity for strategic behaviour through learning from experience of managing external relations. To do so, it will pursue a longitudinal comparative analysis of the EU’s strategic partnerships with two leading international powers: the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China. The research aims to shed light on the development of the EU’s strategic capacity and to better understand foreign policymaking and great power relations. Consequently, the research is directed at determining whether the EU has become more, or less, ‘strategic’ over time and in variegated relationships – issues not addressed by previous studies. Employing organisational learning theory is an innovative approach will offer insights into the extent to which the management of two of the EU’s most important relationships is directed by a concerted effort of the relevant institutional actors to learn from past experience and develop new practices and processes.