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Projekty realizowane

EU Foreign Policy Facing New Realities: Perceptions, Contestation, Communication and Relations (ENTER)

  • Instytucja finansująca: EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020
  • Okres realizacji: 2018 - 2022



Management Committee Member: dr Joanna Dobosz-Dobrowolska



EU foreign policy experiences unprecedented turbulences that put key achievements of the European integration project at risk. Externally, the EU’s global environment is characterized by the reconfiguration of power, growing divisions, and the contestation of established liberal order. Simultaneously, the EU’s neighbourhood is increasingly conflict prone and instable, triggering migration flows and the proliferation of illiberal values. ‘Domestically’, the EU faces severe internal conflicts, marked by austerity, Brexit, growing nationalism, populism and new protectionism.
The Action ENTER aims to improve our understanding of central properties of EU foreign policy in light of these new realities, focusing on perceptions, communication, contestation. In today’s world, the success of EU foreign policy depends on the EU’s ability to instantaneously respond to stimuli and pressures originating from both the international and the intra-EU levels. Linking internal and external policy dynamics, the Action has a strong potential for breakthrough scientific developments. A central objective of the action is to derive theoretically informed, policy relevant advice for the EU's strategic approach to its international relations, its communication, and for dealing with the interaction between internal and external challenges. It will generate a step change in how the new realities of EU foreign policy are theorized and addressed. This will be achieved by establishing multi-national, multidisciplinary collaborations at the nexus of policy fields and research communities that have not sufficiently communicated in the past. Substantive efforts to bridge between the “academic-practitioner divide” are made, to synthesize knowledge, facilitate shared understandings, and inform EU foreign policy.

Working Groups:

WG 1 New Realities: The purpose of WG1 is to characterize the main features of the external environment in which the EU is cultivating its foreign relations and to explore the link with intra-EU challenges. In the theoretical literature this external environment is conceptualized in different ways, including world order, global public domain and international environment. The WG will outline how different theoretical approaches balance factors of EU external projection and contestation in a changing international environment. Against this backdrop, the WG is keen to reverse the traditional inside-out out research agenda that portrays EU foreign policy as a projection of European values and interests. Specifically, WG1 seeks to conceptualize a reality where key norms and principles that underpin EU foreign policy are simultaneously challenged at the global and intra-EU level. In this fashion, the WG sets the scene and leaves it to the other WGs to determine if the EU is up to the task of facing these challenges.

WG 2 Perception: Both external and internal images of the EU are in the focus of this WG. Knowledge of EU external images – in the EU’s Neighbourhood and far away from its borders – is the key to analyse gaps between expectations of the EU and the new realities. Systematic comparative analysis of self and external perceptions in their interaction and co-construction is an effective means to chart the extent to which the EU is recognised by external partners and internal stakeholders to be a credible and leading actor able to shape global debate and policies at a time of major global challenges. By involving leading experts in the field of EU perceptions, a new dynamic field within EU foreign policy scholarship, the WG will ensure a range of theoretical and empirical approaches and facilitate an interdisciplinary innovative synergy between analytical models that rarely talk to each other – from IR (image theory, role theory, strategic narrative theory), EU studies (Normative Power Europe approach, capabilities-expectations gap), communication and cognitive studies (cascading activation framing theory, conceptual metaphor theory, blending theory and critical discourse approach), as well as social identity theories and a broader field of political psychology. The WG’s focus on images, frames, perceptions and narratives projected by the EU - and understood by audiences inside the EU, in the European neighbourhood and around the world - will also involve the testing of new methods (and novel fusions of traditional and new methods). This will add to the explanation of external recognition of the EU in a changing world that poses new challenges.

WG 3 Contestation: WG 3 explores the extent and the ways in which core norms that traditionally underpin EU foreign policy are being contested within the EU itself. The existing literature tends to portray basic tenets that guide the role of the EU in the world essentially as consensual, considering the EU’s foreign policy identity to be deeply rooted in shared internal values and arrangements. With the bulk of research focusing on the external promotion of EU norms, it has been difficult to conceive the EU as the venue for political conflict over fundamental normative questions of foreign policy. Yet, changing external realities – including the contestation of the international liberal order by emerging

powers, but increasingly also by the US – erode internal support for a liberal world order and multilateral global governance. Simultaneously, the normative “consensus” underpinning EU foreign policy – based on liberal constitutive values - is also being challenged from within. Several EU member states are experiencing a rise of right wing populism, Euroscepticism and a return to national solutions, with prominent observers noting a crisis of the EU’s liberal identity. WG3 hence looks at both the intra-EU and the international drivers of political conflict over the normative base of EU foreign policy, which is a matter of great policy relevance.

WG 4 Communication: WG 4 focuses on political dialogues as an instrument of European diplomacy, whose powers and performance are so far scarcely reflected. It will explore the EU’s ability to counter new challenges while mastering information flows and communication practices – projecting and communicating its identity to internal and external audiences while tracking and factoring its reception and recognition to fine-tune EU foreign policy. While the EU speaks with many voices, it does not yet make proper use of this polyphony, resulting in communicative turmoil both internally and externally. To assess and explain this loss of voice and to outline strategies for reclaiming it, this WG concentrates on analysing and comparing political dialogues across various EU policy fields (security, migration, climate & energy, trade, development). LHM Ling's (2013) concept of a dialogical world order is apt for assessing dialogues based on three qualities: relationality, resonance and intersubjectivity. Thus, WG 3 will (1) investigate dialogue platforms and analyse their dialogic quality (2) compare EU dialogues, (3) identify promising dialogues and develop strategies for improving their quality and outreach, and for using the EU's polyphony in a strategically sound way.

WG 5 Relations: WG 5 is concerned with the EU’s adjustment to a changing external and internal foreign policy environment at the policy level. It coordinates research on the EU’s relations with multilateral organizations (multi-lateral relations), such as the UN, the IMF, or the IAEA; with major global powers, such as the US, China, or Russia (bi-lateral relations); as well as with its neighbourhood (regional relations). Adjustments in the EU’s external relations may involve the way the EU defines and articulates its strategic priorities and guiding principles, but it also relates to its concrete foreign policy conduct. At the level of its strategic rhetoric, the EU has long embraced concepts like ‘effective multilateralism’, “a comprehensive approach” in its strategic discourse, whilst more recently new terms like “pragmatism”, “differentiation” and “flexibility” have gained in prominence. Here, the Working Group will facilitate research that takes stock of the guiding principles of EU foreign policy and the way these principles motivate and orient the Union’s external relations.


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