Public event “EU Foreign Policy in Times of Populism” accessible here now

You missed our public event “EU Foreign Policy in Times of Populism” on 27 February 2020 in Vienna? But you want to learn more about proceedings there? Don’t worry! It’s accessible here now.

COST Action ENTER invites new applications for Short Term Scientific Missions

COST Action ENTER invites both junior and senior researchers to apply for Short Term Scientific Missions. In the light of the very individual situation in times of COVID-19 pandemie applications can be submitted at any time. STSMs can be carried out between May 2020 and April 2021.

All information including an extended list of potential hosts can be found here.

For up-to-date information from the COST association on the current situation in the light of COVID-19 please check here.

COST Action ENTER Short Term Scientific Mission completed: Stephan Keukeleire at IAI in Rome in times of Corona (and facing academic dilemmas)

The purpose of the Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM) in Rome was preparing a new publication on “Decentring European Foreign Policy Analysis in a non-European world”, following my 2018 article on the same theme in Cooperation and Conflict with Sharon Lecocq. The affiliation with our COST partners in Rome, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), would allow me to take advantage of their expertise about not only EU foreign policy but also the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The STSM became shorter than expected as a result of the Corona outbreak: events were cancelled, the physical premises of IAI and all Italian universities were closed, and eventually all of Italy came under strict lockdown. At that time, most European countries (and scholars) did not yet realize this trajectory would soon hit them as well.

The lockdown in Italy and early return to Leuven implied that several of the planned activities and meetings were put on hold. However, I would like to use this short blog post to reflect on two dilemmas related to academic research that were highlighted during an enlightening closed-door IAI seminar on the crisis in Libya and during subsequent informal talks – dilemmas which reflected some of my earlier research experiences.

Dilemma 1. Regarding sensitive foreign policy and security issues, the most crucial data and insight are often obtained from informal chats and closed-door meetings (under Chatham House rules), implying that they cannot formally be referred to. Although the resulting knowledge can be much more valuable and even give a completely different picture about the situation, standard methodological rules and GDPR increasingly require scholars set aside these insights in favour of information obtained through publically available sources, formal interviews and surveys. One can wonder about the value of academic research that disregards such kinds of insights that are obtained informally and confidentially.

Dilemma 2. Seminars and talks with practitioners and analysts from third countries towards which European foreign policy is directed (and that are thus also the subject of research by EU foreign policy scholars), often bring to the fore concepts, actors, values, phenomena, etc. that they consider of crucial importance to understand dynamics in their country, but that may not fit – or are even excluded – in the research interests, academic vocabulary and analytical frameworks of EU foreign policy scholars. Two examples mentioned by interlocutors from the MENA region are religious values and ‘tribes’. The latter example even points to a larger dilemma and paradox: how to deal with phenomena and concepts such as ‘tribes’, which Western scholars increasingly point to as definitely to be avoided in academic research (in view of its (neo-)colonial connotations), but which some MENA practitioners and analysts refer to as definitely not to be disregarded. These issues point to wider and fundamental debates about ‘decolonising’ academic research and on the appropriation, selective use or silencing of ‘non-European’ data, concepts and world views by European scholar – a theme that does not appear very high on the agenda of EU foreign policy scholars.

These two dilemma’s may be recognizable or touch a nerve among other EU foreign policy scholars – and may be worth  a broader debate in one of the following ENTER activities. To conclude, I also wish to express my gratitude to Hila Zahavi and Sigita Urdze for taking good care of the STSMs, to the colleagues at IAI and to Riccardo Alcaro, Daniela Huber and Lorenzo Kamel in particular. I am looking forward to continuing our academic exchanges in post-Corona times!

Third COST Action ENTER Policy Brief published

Our third Policy Brief is published. “Contestation of EU Foreign Policy: When in Doubt, Do Politics” by Oriol Costa

This policy brief assesses the sources of contestation of EU foreign policy and recommends to the EU to avoid the erosion of expert culture of Council working groups, but to embrace contestation when contestation is significant by giving a response that is built on deep-seated conceptions of what the EU is and what its role in world politics should be.


Due to the current corona pandemie situation there will be deviations in the implementation of the program of COST Action ENTER with immediate effect.

Nevertheless, we are available for all of you, please use email contact possibilites first, as TU Darmstadt is more or less shut down.

Please use this link for comprehensive information on regulations implemented by COST in connection with the corona virus.

We wish you all the best and stay healthy

Michèle Knodt, Patrick Müller and Sigita Urdze

Some impressions from an STSM to Brussels

Marianna Lovato of the University College Dublin sent us these impressions from her STSM:

I arrived in Brussels in the evening of Sunday March 8th to start my two-week Short Term Scientific Mission. The following day, I was warmly welcomed by Dr Tom Casier at the Brussels School of International Studies (University of Kent). I was provided with a desk in the graduate research office and the administrative staff, faculty and the other PhD researchers were all extremely friendly and welcoming. I was also encouraged to take part in the weekly PhD seminar, the public lecture series as well as invited to drop in some of the module being taught this semester.
Given such a favorable work environment, I could immediately start working on the main aim of my STSM, that is, carrying out preliminary elite interviews with EU officials and national diplomats posted at the EU for my PhD project, which focuses on the negotiation dynamics of EU Foreign Policy. I have already conducted an interview this week and was able to secure more since coming here. 
My accommodation is based in the Ixelles neighborhood, which offers a very convenient location, close to both BSIS and the EU institutions, where the interviews are taking place.
In short, my first impressions from my stay at BSIS and in Brussels could not be more favorable and I am sure this will be a most productive and fruitful research experience!

ITC Conference Grant – Petros Petrikkos attended ICISS 2020 in London

I attended the International Conference on International Security Studies in February 2020 with my supervisor, Dr Constantinos Adamides. In presenting our research and preliminary findings, we were able to interact with other scholars and researchers in an interdisciplinary fashion. As the overarching theme focused on international security, we were equally receptive of other views within security studies, such as the role of culture and identity, software use and technological innovation, as well as questions on the relationship between small states and other bigger states in blocs such as the European Union. Our presentation mainly focused on how the lack of a comprehensive security framework in small states might present itself as a considerable threat for the overarching bloc – in this case, a weak security and defence infrastructure in Cyprus would leave the entire EU bloc exposed. We engaged with both the theoretical and empirical concepts behind this reasoning. Our preliminary data also presented case studies in which Cyprus indeed left the EU exposed (e.g. the hacking of diplomatic credentials discovered in December 2018 gave Chinese hackers access to confidential information on migration, security and energy policy, and others – thus effectively jeopardizing the bloc).

Although our initial work focused on mainly the abstract, keywords, theoretical challenges, as well as some practical and technical understanding of empirical cases, we have emphasized that this is part of a larger project on security studies in Europe and in international politics. In fact, this segment we had analyzed is a portion of my on PhD, thus I am proud that my own research has led to an exciting new path, which is supported by own supervisor’s work.

As a Research Associate at the Diplomatic Academy – University of Nicosia and PhD candidate at the Department of Politics and Governance, I received useful feedback from my supervisor during the in improving further on my presentation skills. In fact, the support provided to me by both my supervisor, as well as from other fellow researchers at the conference was of paramount importance. I have been able to utilize this and attend classes as a guest lecturer on International Relations Theory and Digital Diplomacy at my University.

Finally, this preliminary work has opened up new opportunities for further research within small states in Europe, particularly Cyprus, Malta, and Estonia. I have pursued partnerships with other researchers from King’s College London, the LSE, and the University of Auckland (New Zealand). Such partnerships are expressed in the form of future articles – a future publication examines grand strategy of small states within the EU, whereas another looks at the importance of critical infrastructure systems in small states.

STSM at ARENA Centre in Oslo completed

Elodie Thevenin was hosted for her Short-Term Scientific Mission by the ARENA Centre for European Studies at the University of Oslo. Her main objective was to develop her research project focusing on the politicisation and contestation of EU external migration policy in national parliaments, therefore looking for contributing to Working Group 3. Her research stay has been very valuable in terms of theoretical input and empirical analysis. She indeed analysed the politicisation of EU-Turkey and EU-Libya cooperation on migration in parliamentary debates in three national parliaments: France, Germany and Poland. She also had the opportunity to attend several academic events during her STSM and to consult her work with other researchers.

High interest in Public Panel: “EU Foreign Policy in Times of Populism”

Yesterday our Public Panel on “EU Foreign Policy in Times of Populism” was held in the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna. We are proud that we had renown speakers:

  • Gerda Falkner (Professor at University of Vienna): Right Wing Populist Parties in the EU and their positions on Foreign Policy
  • Ivan Krastev (Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna): After Europe
  • Kristi Raik (Director Estonian Foreign Policy Institut)

We had a large audience participating in this stimulating event.

Have a glance into proceedings of workshop on “De-Europeanization and the EU’s International Relations”

Today is the final day of COST Action ENTER Vienna events. Work in the workshop “De-Europeanization and the EU’s International Relations” continues.

The workshop is organized by our Working group 3 – Contestation. The workshop engages with the emerging debate on de-Europeanization of EU foreign policy, both at the conceptual and empirical level.