The workshop “Theorizing New Realities: EU foreign policy facing new challenges” in Aarhus (11-12 November 2019) aimed to produce a collection of new theoretical perspectives or conceptual frameworks that can help us to better analyse and understand the global environment in which the EU cultivates its foreign relations. We started from the hardly controversial premise that the EU faces considerable internal and external challenges. The workshop focussed on the external challenges, including a less friendly US, a more assertive Russia, an emerging superpower China and an increasingly instable neighbourhood. Workshop participants examined the interplays between ontology (realities, social and/or material) and epistemology (how can we know?).
Scholarship tends to refrain from engaging in creative theorizing and instead relies on applying or reproducing conventional perspectives. The global environment in which the EU operates has been conceptualized very differently, including a global public domain, an (anarchical) international society, an international system with changing configurations of power, or a global polity.
The new realities offer a unique opportunity to break intellectual inertia.
Contributions focussed on analytical challenges such as:
- Conceptual issues including consequences – analytical and normative – of employing old and new concepts
- Engaging in ‘deep theorizing’, e.g. along the lines suggested by Felix Berenskoetter (2018)
- Occidentalist representations of Europe/the European Union
- EEAS conceptual understandings of the new realities/international order. Ways of seeing the world, with a special view to EU diplomats
- Comparing existing theories to a theory built by a participant of the workshop
- Do the ‘new realities’ sufficiently dominate over the ‘old realities’ to require new theories? In other words, contributions addressing classic issues such as old/new and change/continuity
The workshop was organized by the COST Action ENTER and the project EURDIPLO.
Workshop organisers were Knud Erik Jørgensen (Aarhus University), F. Asli Ergül Jorgensen (Ege University)