The Cambridge Dictionary defines contestation as “the act of arguing or disagreeing about something” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2020). The concept has gained considerable momentum in International Relations (and in particular Constructivist International Relations) research over the past decades. Starting from a paradigm of norm diffusion and norm cycles (Finnemore & Sikkink, 1998), with empirical realities changing, research moved to theorizing the causes, mechanisms and effects of norms, in terms of their meaning, their implementation and their evolution (Acharya, 2018; Niemann & Schillinger, 2016; Wiener, 2014, 2018). In this research strand, Antje Wiener’s (2018, p. 2) definition of norm contestation as “a social practice of objecting to or critically engaging with norms” is among the definitions most commonly cited. Research on EU foreign policy and its contestation can therefore lean on this strand of International Relations research and its various theoretical propositions on types and modes of contestation (Deitelhoff & Zimmermann, 2018; Wiener, 2014, 2018; Zimmermann, Deitelhoff, & Lesch, 2018). Accordingly, contestation has started to receive more scholarly attention in European studies over the past decade: This includes theoretical considerations on the links between contestation and politicization trends in Europe (Costa, 2019) as well as more empirical studies on contestation from the inside and outside in various EU policy areas (Johansson-Nogués et al., 2020), such as neighbourhood policy (Góra, Styczyńska, & Zubek, 2019). This Special Issue aims to contribute to this evolving strand of research by analysing the varieties of contestation causes, modes and effects on EU foreign policy. For the purpose of this Special Issue, we define contestation of EU foreign policy as an implicit and explicit expression in discourse and/or action of political opposition towards European integration and/or concrete EU policies in the realm of foreign policy. By uncovering various root causes for contestation in foreign policy and distinguishing modes of discursive and action-based contestation, we reach a more nuanced understanding of what effects various contestatory practices have on the polity (i.e. institutions, decision-making structures) and policies of EU foreign policy (De Wilde & Trenz, 2012).

The three key research questions this Special Issue aims to address are the following:

  • How is EU foreign policy contested (modes), from the outside and/or the inside, and why do we see (increased) contestation in this policy area (causes)?

  • What are the effects of EU foreign policy for the distinct policy areas and their internal and external integration dynamics?

  • What can we learn from these patterns of causes, modes and effects of contestation about EU foreign policy-making?

Franziska Petri, Elodie Thevenin & Lina Liedlbauer (2020) Contestation of European Union foreign policy: causes, modes and effects, Global Affairs, 6:4-5, DOI: 10.1080/23340460.2020.1863159