Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


GREEN Report Summary

Project ID: 266809
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: United Kingdom

Final Report Summary - GREEN (Global Re-ordering: Evolution through European Networks)

Executive Summary:
The GR:EEN project studied the current and future role of the EU in an emerging multi-polar world through a programme of stock-taking, multi-disciplinary research and comparative case study analyses. Analysis focused on the extant actors from the 20th century, the 21st century rising powers, the increasingly influential non-state actors (from civil and non-civil society) and the new transnational regulatory networks of public and private policy makers and regional agencies. Its overarching aim was to consider how European values, positions and objectives can best be represented in this new and evolving setting, and influence the way in which the business of international politics is conducted; both in terms of the formal structures of power in international organizations and the informal norms and principles that shape the nature of international interactions. Acutely aware of how the global financial crisis had exposed failings in the existing structures of global governance, and undermined the reputation of the EU as an effective governance actor, we paid particular attention to two key questions. First, how can effective forms of governance be established that avoid or at least minimize the shortcomings of past multilateral arrangements? And second, how can the legitimacy of these new forms of governance be enhanced, to ensure both their contribution to a widely defined public interest and their de facto viability through citizen support?
At the heart of the project was a concern with the relationship between the internal and external dimensions of EU governance and regulation. It focused on how the EU’s internal governance arrangements and regulation shape the Union’s capacity to influence rule-making in third countries and multilateral institutions on the one hand, and how multilateral rule-making and cooperation with major trading partners may influence the development of EU internal regulation on the other. We also considered the role that regions can play – and not just the European region - in promoting innovation and reform.
GR:EEN developed insights into quantitative and normative aspects of regional leadership, the actions and preferences of emerging powers in an increasingly multi-polar world, the role of transnational policy networks, and the relationship between regional governance and global crises. This provided a comprehensive description and a multifaceted understanding of the EU’s transformed Foreign Policy capacity following both internal institutional changes and also the long term consequences of the global crisis. The project also developed an enhanced understanding of the importance of transnational policy networks as a tool for developing and sharing knowledge within Europe, and how these networks interact with states and other networks outside of the EU.
To do this, we tested our understandings of the nature of the global order, and the importance of transnational networks in three key policy areas. In economics we focussed first on financial regulation, labour and environmental regulation, and the changing structure of the global trade regime. In security, our agenda was built around understanding the new security challenges facing Europe, including ongoing social and political environment in the Middle East and North Africa, casting a critical eye over the efficacy of the EUs approach to becoming an effective foreign policy actor in its neighbourhood(s). In energy and the environment, our focus was on geopolitical competition for different types of resources, questioning how the EU might shape energy suppliers’ actions and policies. Recognising that the EU is not free to shape the world on its own, our research also focused on the policies and preferences of other (sometimes competing) global actors across all of these different issue areas.
Europe’s ability to act as a global leader varies from issue to issue. A key variable is the extent to which domestic forms of governance within the EU are effective and result in a coherent EU wide position. The EU is seen to be weaker when individual member states pursue their own (and often conflicting) policy initiatives and preferences. Evidence to date has been found in research on European responses to the Arab Spring, and in diverse national strategies towards securing energy supplies and promoting forms of energy governance. What this suggests is not so much a world of competing poles, but of multiple sites of authority with different constellations of interests and alliances coming together on issue specific policy areas in a complex and fluid global order.

Project Context and Objectives:
The distribution of power in world politics is changing. New powers are emerging that are altering the distribution of resources, goods and money around the globe. They are also seeking a greater say in the way that global issues are governed; indeed, some are challenging the basic principles that have underpinned global governance since at least the end of the Second World War. And it’s fair to say that financial crises in the West – including the Eurozone crisis - have only served to increase the feeling that we are moving into a new historical epoch. Add to this continuing political turmoil in Europe’s neighbourhoods and the changing nature of security challenges to states and individuals, and a picture of a very uncertain future – indeed, an uncertain present fay – comes into clear focus.

It is this context of change and uncertainty that provided the starting point for the GR:EEN project. Our objective was to study how the EU could and should operate in this changing environment. It assessed how the EU could not only defend its own interests in the face of new challenges, but also proactively ensure that European values and objectives influence the way that the global order continues to evolve. GR:EEN did this by first looking inwards to consider how European preferences for different forms of transnational governance emerge. The focus here was on how different (experimental) governance structures emerged in different policy/issue areas. We explained this by thinking about how different networks of interests first develop specific identities and objectives, then how they inform policy debates, and finally how this leads to concrete policies and regulations. To this end, we identified and mapped existing European networks in the public and private sectors, as well as European engagement with international organisations and transnational networks. We had a specific interest in how the EU developed flexible forms of experimental governance to incorporate different interests in individual policy areas rather than following a rigid “one size fits all” model. This provided an opportunity for actors to share different approaches to solving problems and to facilitate mutual learning to deal with contentious issues.

The role of networks in and across major institutions of global governance are clearly significant here, and our research included studies of the Open Method of Communication within the EU itself, and styles of lobbying among policy and regulatory networks in Europe. Given the nature of the (financial) crisis, we also focused on learning and training in the IMF, and (arguably more significant in the long run) policy training provided by the IMF for others. But we also recognised that there is more to networks and governance than just governments and institutions, and so our research also assessed the significance of networks in professional associations, transnational advocacy networks, and international businesses.

Having done this, the next step was to turn the research agenda from an inward to outward looking one – or more correctly, to combine these internal and external foci. We aimed to do this by incorporating our findings into studies of the nature of the EU as a global actor – in particular, by thinking about ways that networks inform the way the EU functions in multilateral organisations. In keeping with our emphasis on diverse outcomes in different policy areas, we identified how varied types of behaviour emerged in different policy areas (and how successful they had been). A core understanding here was that while the distribution of power was indeed changing in the global order, we should not expect an even pattern of change across all policy/issue areas. Rather, our starting assumption was first, that the nature of alliances that coalesced to promote a specific interest or agenda (or to resist and veto the preferences of others) would vary depending on the specific issue at hand. And second, that the balance of power between different countries and/or regions and/or informal alliances of interests would also vary on an issue-by-issue basis. Of course, some alliances might be more likely than others – some countries will be more likely to look to each other as partners than they will to look to others. But in general, we were looking for diverse patterns of relationships and influence, rather than a single understanding of the EU's global role per se.

A key means of achieving this goal was to undertake a comparative study across a series of specific policy areas, to ask how (and with what results) the EU seeks to extend the experimentalist rule-making processes developed within the internal market to the wider world. It focused on regulatory policy areas with direct links to the global trading regime, such as product safety (especially food safety, drug safety, and GMOs), certain areas of environmental protection (regulation of hazardous substances, including chemicals), data privacy, and competition/anti-trust policy. We did this by using a mix of different research methods.

Institutional analysis: that is, institutional theory emanating from across the sociological, political and economic sciences, not just institutional analysis as understood within specific disciplines; Comparative method to address change over time as well as comparison between various transnational policy networks and their policy implications for differing political, social and economic settings; Network analysis to understand the power, functions and impacts of networks (such as professional associations) as agents in international policy-making, on the one hand, and emergent structures of global governance, on the other; Discourse analysis of reports, memos, web-sites, conferences, fieldwork, interviews. Such research yields the sub-cultural understandings and discourses that guide organisational decision-making and help determine the processes and outcomes of debates within the actors and networks studied; Data analysis case-study comparisons based on data from existing quantitative and qualitative data sets.

Although our focus was on the EU as a global actor, we recognised, however, that the EU was not (and still is not) free to shape the world as it pleases, and the project started from a basic assumption that the world that evolves will not just be of the EU's own making. The initiatives and preferences of other powers – both existing ones and new emerging powers – will also clearly be key drivers of change. So to will be the response of “intermediate powers” and other global actors to the different (and at times competing) policy agendas emerging from different potential loci of global authority.
As such, while the core focus of the project was on how European modes of governance are constructed and externalised in different policy areas, we also focussed on the provision of what we called “muiltipolar alternatives” to European preferences. This was made possible by the creation of a consortium of partner institutions that spanned the world. This global focus and drawing in expertise from outside Europe allowed us to study how the EU interacts with other global actors from both sides of the relationship. It also allowed us to explore whether those other actors conceive of the EU as a single coherent and influential global power in its own right (as opposed, for example, to individual European states). Indeed, a key issue that emerged whilst planning the project was an apparent occasional mismatch between internal views of the EU’s role a global actor, and the views of those from outside the region.

We thus sought not only to map what the EU’s role was/is in global affairs and which body represents it on specific issue areas, but also to ask if this is recognised by others outside Europe. If externally there are perceived to be multiple sites of authority or technical competence within the EU (depending on the issue under discussion), how was it possible to re-establish credibility as external expectations of the EU's foreign and security policies were not being met. We also sought to understand how the financial crisis might have damaged views of Europe in much of he rest of the world. Here we focussed on external perceptions of the EUs power in global affairs, the EU’s efficacy to deal with its own problems and to provide effective internal governance solutions to crisis, on the normative appeal of European values and preferences, and on the appeal of Europe as a model for others to follow. This entailed not only studying the effectiveness of the European External Action Service as a new agent of European power and influence, but working with it to trace its evolving significance.

Whilst bilateral relations between the EU and other powers clearly remain significant, our research had a specific focus on the role of regions and regional leadership. This entailed a four-pronged approach. The first was to consider the role and significance of regions in international relations in general. The second was to identify how, why and when certain powers come to exercise leadership in any given region, focusing on their capacity to lead, their willingness to lead and the acceptance by others of their leadership role (legitimacy). A key challenge here was to identify robust ways of assessing and evaluating power – both power within regions and the power of regions in global politics. Having done this, the third dimension of this regional focus was to assess whether regions in other parts of the world are likely to accept and adopt European preferences, and identify which issue areas the EU has most credibility and leadership in. Finally, we sought to identify possibilities for EU regional leadership in key policy areas and also how Europe might influence the dynamics of region building in other parts of the world.

In short, the overarching task was to uncover where regions fit compared to other sources of power and influence in the EUs overall toolkit for promoting its foreign and security preferences. And when taken together with our analysis of networks and experimental governance, this created a framework through which we could then return to the core objective of understanding the changing nature of governance in a multipolar world, and the EU’s ability to shape the changing world to meet its interests.

Here research was focused on the distribution of power and influence across key policy areas that affect the lives of everybody on the planet. In economics we focussed first on financial regulation and the relationship between the experimentalist architecture of financial regulation within the EU on the one hand, and the new global finance regulatory regime being developed within the G-20, the Financial Stability Board, the Basel Committee, and other multilateral institutions on the other. Once more building on our emphasis on diversity, the analysis included comparisons across a range of domains of financial governance (credit rating agencies, hedge funds, executive remuneration and credit derivatives, banking capital requirements and international accounting standards). A second research strand focused on the relationship between EU trade policy and labour and environmental regulation, while the third assessed the changing structure of the global trade regime. And of course the ongoing financial crisis provided the background context to all three.

In security, our agenda was built around understanding the new security challenges facing Europe. The first task was to consider the extent to which conceptions of Human Security had become embedded in European discourses, or whether “traditional” security concepts still tended to dominate. We also set out to ask if European understandings had permeated Human Security discourses elsewhere (China and the USA). A second objective was to assess the challenges to European security emerging from ongoing social and political environment in the Middle East and North Africa, and to ask if the EU had become an effective foreign policy actor in this neighbourhood. This fed into a third strand that investigated what the EU’s partners around the world think about the EU’s changing role in security. Finally, we looked at the European response to new security challenges (terrorism and cybersecurity) as a means of testing the effectiveness of the EUs common foreign and security agendas.

In energy and the environment, our focus was on geopolitical competition for different types of resources, questioning how the EU might shape energy suppliers’ actions and policies, notably Russia and its neigbourhood. A key issue here was the different patterns of energy consumption and energy dependency across EU member states, and the different policy preferences of individual members and the resulting question of how energy strategies might be coordinated between individual European states. An underlying concern across this issue areas was the continuing efficacy of the maintenance of salience of European liberal models of energy governance in a largely realist energy security world that seems largely to reject the liberal model.

The overarching objective of GR:EEN, then, was to study the current and future role of the EU in an emerging multi-polar world through a programme of stock-taking, multi-disciplinary research and comparative issue based case studies. It aimed at an understanding of the prospective directions of the emerging global governance structures and Europe’s place in them. The research aimed to be theoretical innovative, but at the same time policy-oriented and relevant, built around an innovative, flexible and with an interactive dissemination strategy to assure feedback from its target-publics, and to increase the societal utility and impact of or research agenda.

The research consortium consisted of 16 institutions from across the world: They were: the University of Warwick – UK; Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA) – Netherlands; Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) – Belgium; Copenhagen Business School (CBS) – Denmark; Central European University (CEU) – Hungary; Fundacion Para Las Relaciones Inter Nacionales Y el Dialogo Exterior (FRIDE) –Spain; Instituto per gli Studi di Politica Internationale (ISPI) –Italy; Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) – Norway; United Nations University – Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) – Belgium; Boston University (BU) – USA; University of Cape Town (UCT) - South Africa; Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) – Argentina; Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – Singapore; Peking University (PKU) – China; University of Western Australia (UWA) – Australia; Waseda University (WASEDA) – Japan.

For management and financial organisational reasons, our project was organised around six different research Workpackages (WPs). These were supported by separate WPs for foresight (led by UNU-CRIS), impact and dissemination (led by ISPI), and management (led by Warwick). This does not mean that research activities were constrained by these WP boundaries – indeed, individual researchers were often active on two or more WPs. Through interlinked activities, joint workshops and other events across WPs, and through the participation of non-European partners across all WPs, we ensured that it remained a single coherent integrated research project. Nevertheless, the WP structure – and perhaps particularly the sub WP activity – provides a quick guide to the specific research agendas that came together to contribute to this single integrated whole.

Sub-Workpackage 1.1: European Union (Lead: UvA; Coordinator: Jonathan Zeitlin)
Sub-Workpackage 1.2: Transnational Business (Lead: CBS; Coordinator: Leonard Seabrooke)
Sub-Package 1.3: International Organizations (Lead: Warwick; Coordinator Leonard Seabrooke)

Sub-Workpackage 2.1: The EU as a Legitimate and Efficient Institutionalised Actor (Lead: ULB; Coordinators: Jean-Frédéric MORIN & Caterina CARTA)
Sub-Workpackage 2.2: The EU as a Civilian Power in the Making (Lead: ULB; Coordinator: Mario Telò)
Sub-Workpackage 2.3: The EU as a Laboratory for Deepening Multilateralism (Lead: ULB; Coordinators: Maria João Rodrigues & Eleni Xiarcogianopoulou)

Sub-Workpackage 3.1: An assessment of regional influence (LEAD: UNU-CRIS; Coordinator: Philippe De Lombaerde)
Sub-Workpackage 3.2: The role of regional leaders in the region and at the global level (Lead: UNU_CRIS; Coordinator: Stephen Kingah)
Sub-Workpackage 3.3: The relations between the EU and regional leaders (Lead: UNU-CRIS; Coordinator: Luk van Langenhove)

Sub-Workpackage 4.1: Human Security Discourses: Europe, the United States, and China
(Lead: Warwick; Coordinator: George Christou)
Sub-Workpackage 4.2: EU Relations with the Middle East (Lead: FRIDE; Coordinator: Giovanni Grevi)
Sub-Workpackage 4.3: Networks and Local Voices: European Roles and Opportunities (Lead: FRIDE; Coordinator: Giovanni Grevi)
Sub-Workpackage 4.4: Radicalisation, Counter Terrorism and Human Security (Lead: Warwick; Coordinator: George Christou)

Sub-Workpackage 5.1: Internal characteristics of European countries and effects on the EU
(Lead: NUPI; Coordinators: Jakub M. Godzimirski and Nina Græger)
Sub-Workpackage 5.2: Global trends and their effects on EU energy and environmental governance (Lead: NUPI: Coordinator: Nina Græger)
Sub-Workpackage 5.3: Innovation, Integration, and Competition in and Through Policy Networks (5.3) (Lead: NUPI: Coordinators: Elana Rowe and Jakub Godzimirski

Sub-Workpackage 6.1: Extending Experimentalist Regulation? The External Dimension of Internal Market Governance (Lead: UvA; Coordinator: Jonathan Zeitlin)
Sub-Workpackage 6.2: Europe’s Place in the Multi-Level Governance of Global Finance (Lead: UvA; Coordinator: Daniel Mügge)
Sub-Workpackage 6.3: Trading (Up) European Environmental and Labour Standards? (Lead: UvA; Coordinator Brian Burgoon)

Project Results:

The GREEN project aimed to study the current and future role of the European Union (EU) in an emerging multi-polar world in the face of sometimes competing visions from both extant global powers, and new emerging global actors (such as India, China and Brazil). A world in which states were increasingly sharing power with influential non-state actors (from civil and non-civil society) and the new transnational regulatory networks of public and private policy makers and regional agencies. And a work that had in part at least been shaped by the failure of the economic theories and models that had been the basis of many global and regional governance forms for decades. How, in this new setting, could the EU ensure that its preferences, norms and objectives were adequately represented in a range of global governance arenas? In doing so, how could effective forms of governance be established that avoid or at least minimize the shortcomings of past multilateral arrangements? And how might the legitimacy of these new forms of governance be enhanced, to ensure both their contribution to a widely defined public interest and their viability through citizen support? In short, looking both backwards and forwards, how do we best learn, adapt and develop?
In order to answer these questions, we built a research structure that allowed for extensive comparative issue specific case study research. These case studies were not only informed by a common theoretical and analytical platform, but also fed back into this platform resulting in modification and refinement as the project evolved. This mode of organisation allowed for the production of individual research outputs that were significant and rigorous in their own right – this is essential if books, articles and chapters are to pass peer review processes and be published – whilst ensuring the coherence and internal integrity of the project as a whole.
To this end, Work Packages (WP) 1-3 were designed to collectively provide the conceptual umbrella for the overall project – to deliver the “big picture” research on the theory and practice of European Actor Networks in the World Economy asking how Europe should face a multi-polar world in the wake of some serious failures policy gave rise to recent crises. WP1 did this through stock-taking and theory-building activities which mapped the various actor-networks operating within the EU that engage in different forms of experimentalist governance, including the Open Method of Coordination (OMC), mutual learning, benchmarking, and regulatory networks. This work was embedded in WP2 in applied work that examines Europe’s role in advancing the theory and practice of multilateralism in a multi-polar world, thus ensuring that the EU’s distinctive experience in institutional cooperation and emerging networks informs the entire project. WP3 provided an examination of Europe as an actor in a region-polar world, with a specific focus on how the interests and preferences of other regions (and regional leaders) affect the international organizations and the development of emerging transnational policy networks, and what Europe can do to work with (and influence) other regions.
Although research in the three global public policy case study WPs (Wp4 on human rights and security, WP5 on energy and the environment, and WP6 on trade and finance) built on the findings of this conceptual platform, they were not conceived of as just passive recipients of the work done on WPs1-3. Rather, the conceptual and case study WPs evolved alongside each other, feeding research findings backwards and forwards through extensive collaborative work across WPs, and through the organisation of events that cut across the different individual WP agendas (conferences, workshops, case study integrity forums and so on). Rather than conceive of a research structure built around different WPs, then, it makes more sense to think of different dimensions of a coherent integrated research project, with common themes and objectives explored through each of the work packages. This is reflected by the rest of this report, which highlights key scientific findings and contributions across the project as a whole, rather than working through each WP by turn.
It is important to note that our research project has not been static. Since first responding to the call for proposals – and indeed, even since the project began operating – a number of events have changed the context of the research that we have been undertaking. Given our commitment to producing research that has wider utility than just producing academic outputs, we have responded to these changing contexts by adjusting our research agenda to consider their implications for our core research questions. In particular we have been forced to reconsider our research in light of:

• the longevity of the Eurozone crisis, and the ongoing and evolving implications of the wider global financial crisis
• the longevity and changing nature of insecurity in the Middle East and north Africa, and it’s implications for Europe
• new levels of insecurity in the eastern neighbourhood (particularly in Ukraine), and particularly its implications for European energy policies
• the extent and pervasiveness of new security challenges to Europe in the shape of terrorism and cyber-security

And of course, we have had to play close attention to the impact of rising powers’ (most notably, but not only China’s) increasing confidence in asserting its dissatisfaction with the existing global order and the distribution of power within it.


While the importance of rising powers is a key context that shaped our research from the very start, we have also (from the start) been aware of the need to interrogate the relevance of the concept of multipolarity. The concept of polarity is a legacy of the Cold War, and implies states cohering around one or other pole of attraction. And states that are attracted to one pole stick to and with it and (by definition) are repelled by the alternative; the idea of blocs or camps of states with antithetical views and values. It is relatively easy to see how we get from bipolarity to unipolarity with the collapse of the Soviet Union removing one of the Cold War alternatives. But as the predominance of the US declines and new alternative sources of ideas, values, preferences and power emerge and develop, does this presage the transition to a multipolar world.
Our collective findings suggest that while the concept of multipolarity is useful insofar as it is symbolic of a changing world order, the notion of poles as traditionally understood is rather problematic. This is partly because when trying to identify different poles – existing or potential – then states are the main referent point. Our research recognised the residual importance of states as actors, but qualifies this focus in two ways. First, by emphasising the role of regions as originators and deliverers of values and policy preferences rather than states. To be sure, the “actorness” of various regions (and notably, in our research, the actorness of regions beyond the now more accepted question of whether the EU has actorness) varies considerably. Nevertheless, we argue that identifying when and how regions can and do act is an important part of any attempt to analyse changing configurations of global power – and this brings us to the related question of who exercises regional leadership (and when) that will be discussed in more detail below. Second, the importance of different forms of European and broader transnational networks that has been at the heart of our research project also leads us away from a focus on states (or states alone). Again this will be fleshed out and explained in more detail in the section on Networks below.
Furthermore, we find that the distribution of power is more fragmented and uneven than a conception of a polar world tends to suggest. By this we mean that there has not been a single power shift, not is their likely to be one in the future. Rather, different sets of actors appear to have different levels of authority, and different abilities to attract supporters and allies, depending on the specific issue at hand. It is not a question of whether others want to align themselves to European interests per se, but rather, on which issue areas are European positions either attractive, or does Europe have power and influence (or both)? And here, our understanding was massively enhanced by the inclusion of partners from across the world in our consortium, and the feedback we received when we held events in the Asia Pacific, Africa, North and South America, and the Middle East.
The picture of the world that emerges, then, is not one of fixed groups or blocs, but rather one of fluid issue specific alliances. Some actors do indeed seem to have more power across the board than others; the decline of the US, for example, seems to be sometimes overstated, and it would be folly to ignore the significant rise of Chinese global power (and ambitions) in recent years. And as we will discuss below, this has clear implications for how Europe/Europeans need to build partnerships, alliances and other relationships with existing and emerging powers. But, our findings suggest that the key is to identify different constellations of power and attraction on specific policy areas – something that our approach has allowed us to do – and build strategy accordingly. Rather than thinking in terms of multipolarity, we suggest that it is more useful to think of multiple sites of authority instead.
And, we, argue, the emphasis on diverse approaches to building forms of experimentalist governance in Europe has considerable utility when thinking of the need to build diverse strategies of global interaction. This also necessitates an understanding of the concomitant objectives and interests of other key players – not just the existing and rising powers (globally and/or regionally), but also the preferences of those that through their choice of partners, allies and preferences will also affect how power and authority functions at local, regional and global levels in the future. Again, the nature of our consortium and the structure of our research project has allowed us to do exactly this.
While generally pointing to the importance of adopting flexible (and experimental) issue based approaches to considering the nature of European power and influence in the emerging global order, we also recognise that this approach – or perhaps more correctly policy reality – comes at a cost. And the main cost is a lack of coherence and consistency in European positions across policy areas, with our research showing that EU discourses on different policy domains often remain too isolated from each other. As one example, energy and security considerations have if anything become ever more deeply intertwined during the years of our project. But as the fields of energy and of security are subject to different political and policy-making logics, merging them represents a veritable governance challenge for the EU – and indeed, for other actors as well. This makes it harder for the EU to establish a firm and clear identity as an international relations actor, and harder for others to identify and understand what it is that the EU ultimately wants to do. It also adds to external confusion over where the real locus of power actually lies – or put another way, which part of Europe matters to other countries, and who they should call when they want to call Europe.
So having established the broad (multipolar or not) global parameters of our scientific findings, it is important to now flesh out these results in detail. This report does so by first outlining the significance of network approaches and how this can translate into the (successful or otherwise) transmission of European preferences internationally; the salience of the regional level of action and interaction; and the nature of the EU as a global actor. Rather than separate out the conceptual pillars from the case study conclusions in separate sections, this report will instead combine the two, and use examples from the scientific findings to help explain and the elucidate the approaches we have used. Nevertheless, it also concludes by pulling these three platforms together to consider how the EU has to date best managed to externalise its preferences and forms of regulation and governance, and how we think the nature of Europe’s international interactions and alliances might best be designed to best serve European interests and objectives as the global order continues to evolve in the future.


Our research suggests that inter-state multilateralism, the principal organisational form of collective action problem solving in the second half of the 20th century, is now sorely contested and confronted by new challenges, practices and processes. The International Organisations formed in the immediate post-World War II period (such as the World Bank, IMF, GATT/WTO and the UN) no longer dominate international policy development and certainly do not reflect the current global distribution of economic power. The “unique” nature of the European Union as a global actor that is a political system but not a state is one such challenge. And as we shall see below, in considering the nature of the EU as a global actor, our research has also considered how this lack of statehood (and relations with individual member states) has influenced the roles that the EU can and does play in multilateral forums. However, our research also went further in terms of questioning some of the assumptions about the nature of actors and influence in international relations by assessing how new actors, especially transnational policy (and regulatory) networks, were emerging as important elements of trans-state policymaking.
Experimentalist governance as a mechanism for European actors continues to flourish and is developing in divergent ways, with European actor-networks engaging it unilateral, bilateral and multilateral relationships. The role of non-public European actor-networks is also noteworthy. We started form the assumption that these developments have major ramifications for state-to-state diplomacy, the regulation and performance of global markets, transnational firms, civil society and, by implication, for the scholar and practitioner of international organisation(s). To ensure that this assumption was shared by others as well, we conducted a SWOT analysis of global policy networks as part of our foresight exercise. The result of deliberation by academics, policy makers and civil society groups can be summarised as:

Strength: Global policy networks are an appropriate alternative to traditional players such as international organisations to face challenges of global and regional interdependency

Weakness: Due to the lack of formal authority, their output is not enforceable

Opportunity: Global policy networks can include actors who have not had sufficient opportunities for participation in global governance

Threat: Global policy networks are subject to the “survival of the fittest” principle. Competition between different global policy networks threatens their overall effectiveness

As a general conclusion, we can say that those surveyed perceived networks as being a “positive” addition to existing members within international society (states, international organisations, companies, non-governmental organisations, and so on).
This foresight exercise formed part of a scientific feedback loop. Original assumptions and propositions were stress tested (including through interaction with user communities as will be discussed in the section on impact in this report), with the conclusions feeding back into the scientific agenda resulting in modifications to the original research plan.

Within Europe such networks have fostered forms of mutual learning, deliberation, monitoring, and benchmarking that can be broadly understood under the concept of ‘experimentalist governance’. These European governance techniques have enhanced a kind of ‘internal multilateralism’ among states and non- state actors that has permitted a reordering of European governance, business, and (to some extents) security. Part of our agenda in the study of networks has to continue to work on studying how and why these networks come about, with a particular focus on how the private sector is encouraged (or not) to accept regulatory initiatives. Thus, for example, our research included extensive data-gathering to assess and evaluate how, why and under what conditions do firms and societal groups active in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and multi-stakeholder initiatives on labour and environmental standards take account of (support, oppose, do little about) government policy initiatives on such standards? And conversely, when is the flow of influence in the other direction - how, why and under what conditions do government and inter-governmental policymakers take account of (support, oppose, do little about) private initiatives to promote labour and environmental standards?

In order to do this, our researchers developed quantitative means of assessing private regulatory activity to supplement qualitative analyses and interviews. The measures they used and developed included weighted counts of civil society organizations focused on labour standards, firm participation in labour-related codes of conduct, government policies promoting development of labour-related private regulation, and quantitative analysis of labour standards protections and environmental CSR. This approach allowed us to empirically trace the sensitivity of civil-society organizations active in labor-standards protections to government financial support in the priority and focus of their activities in supporting labor standards -- with strong swings observable in line with the ebb and flow of government support. Analysis of original survey and industry data gauging industry participation in major multi-stakeholder labour initiatives also showed that firms that are most targeted by (and engaged with) civil-society lobbying are also the most likely to implement the most thorough-going and broadly participatory initiatives. To put it very bluntly, it appears that targeted lobbying works. But it is not just a matter of bottom up pressures whereby citizens influence regulation. We also found that government policy encouraging and regulating CSR private regulation for labour standards not only spurs the development of private regulation, but also influences the willingness of citizens to support such CSR in their consumer behaviour. Whilst identifying the flows of influence is not always easy, it seems somewhat easier to say that the regulation and governance emerges from the initiatives, interests and actions of a mix of different actors.

We argue that while the role of different actors in establishing and implementing regulatory mechanisms in Europe is now increasingly understood, more work remains to be done on analyses of specific regulatory areas. Indeed, work in this area that originated in GR:EEN is continuing after the project and will generate a number of publications over the coming years. However, our primary objective was not just to look at networks, regulation and experimentalism in Europe for its own sake, but to provide a platform for considering how these mechanisms have external influence and help contribute the expansion of preferences and structures beyond Europe.
To do so, our research in this area has focussed on
(a) multipolar learning
(b) different forms of policy learning under crisis (particularly by the IMF)
(c) styles of lobbying among policy and regulatory networks in the European Union
(d) the presence of ‘transnational veto players’ who can block reforms
(e) the externalisation of European forms of experimentalist governance.
We note, however, that the salience of network based approaches varies across issue areas, and there are some policy domains (for example, security) where states seem to have retained considerable authority.
Within these networks, our research identified the importance of what we term “multipolar learning” and “‘transnational learning architectures”. The former refers to the way that different actors interact inside and across teams, units, firms and networks to develop shared understandings of the nature of challenges that they are facing, and how and when this results in shared understandings of how best to deal with them. One example of the creation of such “knowledge” in our research is work on how transatlantic actors have understood (and then treated through policy initiatives) the idea that some institutions are “too big to fail” in promoting international financial reform. “Transnational learning architectures” refers to environments for abstract and situated learning designed to take different contexts into account. An example here is the training centres tied to the International Monetary Fund. Based in various cities around the world these centres provide common training to policy economists based on situated learning - through group work and common tasks. These learning architectures are important for policymakers to speak from the same hymn sheet, and the European Union has had an interest in influencing what values training with these networks includes.

We started from the understanding that the increasing global interdependencies of people and processes demands continuous adjustments and co-developments of organizational innovation based on more fluid and overlapping collaborations and new management practices and roles. For example, our research on learning in international business showed how collaborative work arrangements and polyarchies of organization members (from diverse levels and groupings) in multinational firms have formed to come up with joint creative responses and innovations to challenges of the global economy. It did this through ethnographic studies of firms based in Europe which operate overseas – the most prominent case studies including Danish pharmaceutical multinationals operating in China, and a Norwegian oil company engaged in contracts with China, India, Brazil, Russia, and others. Multipolar learning as a concept forces our attention on how actors are situated within businesses and policy environments, and the constraints under which learning can take place – most notably, issues of hierarchy and information asymmetries.
Learning also takes place in more formal settings in more organized ways. For example, the Joint Vienna Institute (JVI) is an international policy training center in Vienna that trains economists (now some 30,000) from former Communist countries. The JVI is sponsored by the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD, WTO, and the EBRD. The EC also has a representative at the institute to ensure that what is being taught conforms to European objectives. Our research on the JVI focused on the types of training, who is being trained, and what kind of policy impact the JVI on the spread of European economic ideas and practices, and research was undertaken by surveying the students, interviewing staff, and through participant observation in classrooms. The key findings were the effective establishment of a clear IMF-style policy language in training, and a variety of ministerial and central bank training networks that are differentiated by learning complexity (from basic to advanced systems), with the British, Czech, and German central banks recognised for their excellence. There is additionally a central banking network based on the academic prestige of modelling systems for financial and economic activity. We also point to the significance of finding the “tipping points” at which students from the JVI have sufficient weight within their home governments to influence a change in policy towards a system that is more capitalist and in favour of European social and economic values. It is also clear that from the study that multilateral organization of economics training is concentrating on basic training in smaller post-Communist states with well-established institutions (as opposed, for example, to dealing with large post-Soviet states in the 1990s). More complex financial and economics training is being provided by the Bank of England, the Bundesbank, and others. Of course, the Eurozone crisis has cast a shadow over the work (and legitimacy of) the IMF as a global governance actor. Our research has traced how the IMF has responded to the European crisis, demonstrating how they have engaged in a ‘back to basics’ strategy and discourse to improve relations with European member states.
This type of scholarship has taken our project some distance away from the mainstream when it comes to trying to understand how ideas are promoted and disseminated. For example, it draws attention to the importance of changing hiring and staff management practices in international organizations, and the relationship between international organizations and the consultant communities that surround them. This entailed undertaking fieldwork interviews at the United Nations Development Programme, the International Monetary Fund, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, and the United Nations Office for Project Services, as well as with key recruitment agencies for professionals working with these organizations. Findings highlight convergence in attempts at professionalization across international organizations, (particularly through human resource management) but also significant divergence in how the international organizations are structured that reflects different corporate and public service cultures. The general finding is that there is a shift occurring in moving professional practices away from occupational professional skills-based practices towards organizational practices that reflect organizational objectives and dominant trends in consultancy markets. The mediation of professional practices by organizational styles is significant in informing us not only about how international organizations work but also in how work content is changing due to external influences. This has important implications for the way that ideas become accepted as not only legitimate but the best way of, for example, promoting development or resolving financial crises.
Other work on networks and finance has focused on wealth management, tax avoidance and illegal financial flows, and combines work on both professional networks (for example, the Society for Trustee and Estate Planners) and activists working on tax justice issues in Europe (especially, the Tax Justice Network), and how they operate at the European level. The key finding here has been that networks on issues like tax justice are unique because they can only be controlled and commanded by professionals with a particular combination of skills and identities. As such the replication of the network relies heavily on certain individuals who find means to access and ‘activate’ policy spaces. This has led to a great deal of policy influence during moments of political opportunity, but also to organizational weaknesses when non-governmental organizations with greater resources can outspend and command public attention despite a weaker skill set in providing policy alternatives.
In addition to focussing on those who have the ability to create and spread intellectual agendas, knowledge and policy platforms, our research also points to the importance of identifying those whose primary importance is in their ability to block and resist; what we call “transnational veto players”. The idea of a veto player in in formal governance settings such as boards and legislatures is well understood. Individuals or states exercise a veto by voting, with the importance of an individual vote depending on the legal structure of the organisation. A no vote by a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, for example, is more important than in forums where a simply majority is required to mandate action. Scholars also recognise the importance of the “hidden veto”, where the mere threat of a veto can lead to resolutions being revised or even dropped to avoid losing the vote. And both understandings of veto are important here. But our research goes further by asking how and why vetoes work in informal governance settings as well, through the creation and/or maintenance of an intellectual consensus to oppose challenging reforms. Again, the emphasis here is on ideas are formed and disseminated – even if they are negative (veto) ideas.

The OMC has been developed within the European project to permit governments to discuss sensitive economic and social policy topics under a framework of benchmarking and mutual learning. Such environments permit experimental governance and enhance participation from major stakeholders and are thought to be superior to direct-command models in legitimating new policy choices. The OMC ideally provides an opportunity for actors to share different approaches to solving common problems. The OMC and the experimental governance it supports through mutual learning and benchmarking is one of the ‘soft’ governance structures within the kit of governance tools at the EU’s disposal, including legislating, and funding programmes. The OMC has been understood within the European context as a way to find a ‘Third Way’ between harmonization and regulatory competition. At the European level it presents a means to encourage cohesion on difficult socio-economic issues. A key question that informed our research was how this EU level experimental governance can be externalized into international interactions and help Europe to encourage global reordering in ways that suits its interests and values. We did this in two different ways; first by deploying a comparative approach to study the EU’s role in transnational regulation across a number of case studies (finance, data privacy, justice and security, crisis management, and disability rights), and second, by focussed studies of specific issue areas (energy and the environment and security).

As the project progressed, it became increasingly clear that new technologies were changing the landscape of regulation and network building in some issue areas, resulting in a need for new alliances between policy makers, scientists and activists. For example, technological innovation and especially the production of gas from shale deposits in the USA have led to a ‘hype’ about the energy security prospects for other world regions. This has raised hopes in the EU and member states of reduced dependence on imports of gas from abroad, and especially from Russia. Research findings show, however, that although this new technology shapes energy governance as well as regional and global energy markets, it is likely to make a limited substantial impact on the energy situation in Europe. Based on a comparison of shale gas technology to solar and nuclear, each at the time coined a game changer for energy security and key to a sustainable energy future, research concludes that shale gas is still an unproven and risky technology that fails to surpass the essential policy, industry and social barriers required for any new energy technology innovation to succeed. Shale gas nevertheless has been a driver of change in European energy governance by highlighting tensions between the security of supply and environmental concerns.
Similarly, the still relatively new conception of cybersecurity and cybercrime has resulted in the need for new knowledge and new networks leading to new forms of regulation – both internally within the EU and externally through relations with key partners. It is also an example of how our research agenda had to respond flexibly to changing contexts, with the EU’s policy towards cyberspace and cyber security not articulated until February 2013. Whilst this strategy represented an attempt to construct a coherent approach, it is still evident that there is much to be done between the responsible institutions and agencies to realise this. Indeed, across the different dimensions of policy the EU must work to omit overlap in responsibilities and ensure effective working on issues of mutual interest, and to establish working relationships between different stakeholders and agencies. Indeed, the cybersecurity case provides an example of a policy arena where networks are still in the process of evolving.


If a focus on networks, regulation and governance was one of the defining features of our research project that established its difference from normal “statist” observations of the global order, our consideration of the role and significance of regions provided a second point of departure. To be sure, the importance of regional cooperation in global politics has been well established and accepted. Following an initial period of elation followed by one dominated by pessimism the development of (inter-)regional dynamics and their assessment have entered a post-revisionist phase. So rather than follow existing research that tends to focus on why regions are important, we instead focused on the resilience of regions in light of system changes in the global order. Here a specific focus was to bridge the gap between those who study comparative regionalism on the one hand, and those who focus on EU external action and foreign policy on the other. We find that the EU has had a real and central impact on global regional dynamics but one which is contingent on the endogenous process shaping its partner regions. As such inter-regionalism is a further dimension of the EU’s characteristically multi-level and contingent multilateralism, which remains the central and only specific self-directed of its external action. This approach allows for a consideration of what role the (inter)regional dimension can play in the EUs external toolkit.
However, we also started from the understanding that the study of regions should not be restricted to the study of the EU alone. Thus, our research highlighted the conditions under which other regions can exert influence in global politics – and how individual states can exercise leadership both in and through regional groupings. To do this, we established a common research framework for the study of all regions across the world based on a tripartite understanding of the essential bases of regional leadership; willingness, capacity and acceptance. We were able to take a truly global approach to this study of regional leadership due to the global nature of the research consortium, which facilitated case study workshops in Australia, Japan, China, the USA, Argentina and South Africa as well as in Europe itself.
We defined regional leadership as the power of an actor to influence certain aspects of the international relations and/or the internal functioning of an actor in its regional neighbourhood. This can be expressed at its most simple level of leadership of one state over another. But the concept goes much further than this. Regional leadership can also refer to leadership of a state over a regional organisation, of a regional organisation over a state, or of a regional organisation over another regional organisation. Our working assumption was that a state is more likely to be positioned effectively as a regional leader the more the following determinants are affirmed:
(i) the greater the willingness to act as a leader
(ii) the greater the capacity to act as a leader (related to both the actor’s hard and soft power)
(iii) the greater the acceptance or recognition by other actors (inside and outside the region) of the leader’s actions.
We recognised, however, that these three determinants are very much related. For example, willingness is likely to be informed by capacity, and mutual perceptions define acceptance.
Regional powers or hegemons has typically tended to refer to countries which possess a certain level of economic, military and cultural preponderance within a geographical region. The degree to which they dominate varies, and is subject to contestation from within the region. And this clearly remains an important component of any consideration of regional leadership today. However, we add to this the importance of an articulation of intellectual (alongside the material) capabilities in a struggle for ideational dominance. Leadership in this sense involves the capacity to influence the policy vision of fellow states so that they adopt, to varying degrees, the preferences of the regional leader. This is not a case of the outward imposition of one actors preferences over reluctant others, but rather an attempt to persuade others to share your view and thus the formation of common goals and processes of collective institution building independently of underlying economic interests and structures.
A conceptual problem emerged, however, around the very basic question of identifying exactly what the region is in which a leader operates? Regions can be defined as territorial units created by states which, while not being themselves states, have some statehood properties. Following this definition, different overlapping regions may exist from the micro to the macro-level and the leadership exercised can have different characteristics in each of them. An example of different overlapping regions is provided by China’s participation (and potential leadership: (i) sub-regional projects in East and Southeast Asia (ASEAN-China Framework Agreement on Cooperation; Greater Mekong Subregion); (ii) a forum comprising of ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea (ASEAN Plus Three); (iii) the trilateral cooperation between China, Korea and Japan; (iv) an Asia-Pacific transregional grouping (APEC forum); and (v) an East and Central Asia grouping (the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation). Moreover, a wide range of actors, both intra-regional and extra-regional, can play a role in defining the boundaries of a region.
Testing this understanding of the fuzziness off understandings of region by looking at examples from across the world generated three important conclusions. The first, quite simply, is the need to identify leadership across a range of regions within any given geographic area rather than just focusing on one manifestation of region. The second is that defining what the region is – or perhaps more importantly, could or should be – can be a significant source of regional power in itself. If we return to the above example of China’s different regional identities and interactions, then Chinese preferences for an East Asia region (defined as ASEAN plus Three) might in part be because China can exert more influence in this region than in an Indo-Pacific region (that includes India and Australasia) favoured by others.
Finally, we need to refer back to the project’s basic assumption about divergence in power capabilities and political alliances based on different issue/policy areas. On one level, we ask if a single understanding of region should be (or indeed, is) the site for effective governance across all issue areas. Does the environmental region, which might be shaped by transnational geographic features, necessarily correspond to an understanding of region shaped by military security concerns, or by trade and investment flows? We find that in many parts of the world, functionally discrete forms of regional cooperation exist amongst groups of partners that are not an exact map with major (larger) regional groupings and institutions. If one goal of EU external relations with other regions is to support the efficacy of regional level policies in providing an effective site of transnational governance, it makes sense, then, often to look outside the major regional institutions for such functionally important policy arenas.
On the other hand, we ask if a regional leader should, could or might leading in all issue areas in a holistic manner, or whether leadership does and should vary in different policy domains. For instance, Japan can reflect higher levels of leadership on economic issues than it can on military issues in Asia. Natural endowments can mean that some countries have considerable hard tools of potential regional leadership in energy, whilst not always possessing the same levels of leadership, authority and legitimacy on other policy areas. And we often find that it is self-identified “Middle Powers” that at least attempt (though not always successfully) to establish normative leadership on issues such as Human Rights and the environment. And part of the very essence of these appeals for moral authority and leadership is precisely the fact that they do not have material dominance, power or leadership (in military and or economic realms). As a result, multiple regional leadership roles are taken up by different states that can exist next to each other depending on the issue at stake – with in our research an emphasis on example, security, human rights, energy, environment, finance and trade. Returning to the question of how the EU might utilise interregionalism as part of its toolkit of external relations, it might make sense to target relations with regional leaders alongside relations with the regional institution itself (if one exists). Our findings suggest that rather than identifying the regional leader, the prior task is to first identify who leads on which issue areas.
So one of our conclusions is that it is not possible to come up with simple and clear identifications of who leads – or even what is the region that they lead in. Nevertheless, as long as we accept the linkages between the three dimensions of leadership, and the problems with conceiving of region identified above, the tri-partite division between willingness, capacity and acceptance gives us a useful common platform to assess regional processes around the world, and to generate comparative conclusions.

The first determinant is the willingness of the state or international organisation to act as a regional leader. This willingness can be observed in political discourses and diplomatic actions. A typical example is the position of Germany and France in Europe. On the one hand, there is the classical storyline of the Franco-German engine of European integration i.e. the two major economic powers that were for years divided by war and who assumed responsibility for jointly moving towards greater peace and European unity thus leading the process of integration. Indeed, there many signs that they indeed behave as such as evidenced by pre-summit meetings of the French and German leaders. Often, it is at that level that the decisions are taken. By accepting this working method, the other member states contribute to positioning France and Germany as regional leaders.
One can also refer to the examples of South Africa and Brazil as regional leaders who show willingness to act. This is expressed through signals such as their wish to become permanent members of the UN Security Council and their active role in the establishment and promotion of regional integration processes. Regional leadership entails both a capacity to influence regional neighbours, as well as the ability to coordinate members within a given region. Brazilian efforts to help coordinate the region can be seen in the development of the creation of the Brazilian Development Bank and the MERCOSUR Social Convergence Fund, as well as a willingness to assist with other forms of technical cooperation. Brazil has demonstrated its willingness to head the creation of regional institutions in order to keep some sort of control over the region as a whole. But this is not just about the region; Brazil’s regional leadership approach is being used to gain influence at the global level. And being identified as a rising power at the global level in turn is engineered by Brazilian elites to enhance its claims for leadership at the regional level.
In analysing the willingness of regional organisations to act, our research illuminates the need to go beyond the availability of material resources. For instance, by looking at the nature of the mandate accorded to the regional bodies on the basis of regional official documents. Another important factor is the presence of a core group of regional leaders who are willing to suggest initiatives for the greater benefit of the region as a whole. Finally, it is also necessary that the proactive regional body activates its mandate.
Our research utilised discourse analysis to focus on the narratives actors use to position themselves as regional leaders and on their desire to construct and maintain the identities of other actors in the region. From this, it can be said that willingness or intent to be a regional leader is measured in the leader’s actions/speech and can be considered more genuine (higher degree of willingness) if the actions/speech acts are seen as consistent and coherent. Finally, it must be noted that willingness towards regional leadership is not a static feature, but an on-going process that operates in a relational and/or historical context. Therefore, and once more returning to our emphasis on issue based specificity, willingness towards regional leadership should also not be considered in general terms but is better understood from an issue based perspective (economic, security, environment, human rights, democracy, etc.).

A second determinant of regional leadership is the capacity of the state or organisation to lead. Within the field of International Relations this is typically translated into the power a state has to impose its leadership status or, the way that “followers” accord a status to the leader. Money, for instance, performs its function not simply because of its physical structure but because we acknowledge that it has a certain utility and status. It only can perform its function – and endow capacity and power - because its status and utility has been accepted. In practice, status functions can only be accepted by other actors if they involve the articulation of objects that have physical properties with norms and ideas in “speech acts”.
This then allows us to categorised states according to their performance in specific (accepted) status functions. This exercise has traditionally involved measuring economic capacity (through such measures as the Human Development Report; Global Competitiveness Report; World Economic Forum), military capacity (The Military Balance) and energy security risk indicators (US Chamber of Commerce). Finally, a country’s hinge position between the regional and the global system might pose further challenges to its capacity to act as a leader. Or put another way, one identity might be presented to a global audience, and another to a “local” regional one. For example, a country like South Africa might show respect for human rights and democracy at the global level to signal its position as a rising power within the existing global liberal order. But it might present a different “non-Western” or “African” identity to its neighbours, so as not to alienate them. Such a contradiction can have consequences for the leader’s credibility and the coherence of its positioning as a leader.
As an illustration, Brazil’s macroeconomic stability has allowed the country to enhance its economic position in the region as well as to achieve an international donor status. Moreover, the country actively demonstrated its will to lead through the deployment of capacities and by founding the South American Defence Council. Together with Argentina and Mexico, Brazil is the only Latin American country counted among the G-20. The importance of Brazil is illustrated by attention given by richer countries; see for instance the Economic Partnership Dialogue with the US and the Strategic Partnership with the EU. Other indicators of economic capacity include the weight of the potential leader’s financial markets in the world; the importance of the country in globalized financial transactions, and the global reach of the national currency. This is particularly important if the leader intends to link the region to the wider global order.

Regional leadership encompasses both leaders and followers, because the regional leader needs to be recognised or accepted by other actors. This can entail the proactive attempt by a putative leader to get others to accept its leadership position; to persuade others to accept its right to lead, and also its norms, values and ideological inclinations. But leadership is not always claimed by the leader – it can be exogenously given through the voluntary participation of followers. Here we distinguish between “endogenous learning/adaptation” and “emulation”. The former refers to the development of identical norms and values in different states due to coincidence or to a common reaction to structural conditions. By contrast, the “emulation” model, is focused on the adoption by the followers of the dominant state’s norms and policies in an effort to imitate its success, without attempts by the leader to influence their normative orientations or policies.
In leader-Initiated leadership, the leader’s strategy is based on its engagement in a socialisation process with the aim of creating shared norms and values and generating “true” followership. The followers link their own interests with those of a leader in whom they place trust and confidence. So the followers are likely to willingly follow that leader. Here we stress the difference between simply acting to promote their own interests and objectives alone on one hand, and where the objective is to work for the collective good on the other hand. It is the latter, we argue, that should be considered as real regional leadership (rather than, for example, simple hegemony or predominance). It is also possible that the socialisation process initiated by the leader makes followers aware of their group interests or of an existing commonality of interest with the leading state. A potential regional leader can motivate secondary powers to follow by employing discourses that focus on common interests and which consequently ascribe relevant positions to followers. So state agents play an active role in creating the discursive circumstances that can induce or create the foundations of followership. Follower-initiated leadership originates from the initiative of smaller states in need of a leader in order to achieve their common goals. This aspect relates to the adoption of a “bottom-up” perspective on leadership, which not only concentrates on the leader, but also places the followers in the centre of the analysis. A group of states can be too heterogeneous or simply too weak to reach a collective goal—and therefore in need of a leader to become capable of acting.
Regardless of the initiator of leadership, our research findings support the argument that leadership (as opposed to dominance or hegemony) always has to be considered to be legitimate. This can be explained by the commonality of goals and to the convergence of norms and values between leader and followers leading to acceptance. But whatever the cause, it is essential that followers are happy for leaders to lead and make decisions on their collective behalf. This focuses attention not on the policy and strategy of the regional leader, but instead on how weaker states react to them. Even in regions where there is a clear cut unipolar-type distribution of power (USA in North America, Brazil in South America, South Africa in Southern Africa and so on), the nature of the power asymmetry in each region varies considerably. We suggest that while this is partly explained by the desire of the dominant regional power to utilise its influence, it is also largely shaped by a predilection to follow the leader as well.
Aspects related to the acceptance of regional leadership are hard to identify or quantify. Nevertheless, our research finds that the acceptance of the leader can be identified through the following non-exhaustive characteristics. First, and perhaps most obviously, we can analyse the speeches and statements of regional actors. Second, followers might accept help from the regional leader rather than from extra-regional actors (and in “extreme” cases, from a regional leader that is less well placed than an external one to provide this help). Also, following states might ask the regional leader to display more responsibility – and our findings suggest particularly on financial and administrative issues. Furthermore, the appeal of the regional leader in terms of cultural products and educational institutions might also reflect the acceptance of regional leadership. In general, the propensity for acceptance is mediated firstly general contextual aspects such as historical issues and second by a set of relativity factors among the other states and non-state actors in the region. Here we refer to the relative perception of a need for the provision of regional public goods (rather than action at the individual state and/or global level) and relative socio-cultural factors pertinent to each region.

To sum up, our research identified the importance of thinking in terms of different regional leaders on different issue areas, and perhaps even in terms of different functionally specific regions. It also pointed to different determinants of regional leadership; both in terms of who leads (states in regions or the regions themselves) and determinants of regional leadership. This resulted in the identification of the following areas/dimensions where we could look for evidence of regional leadership that we could utilise in our comparative study of different parts of the world:-

• Delivery of regional public goods and financial assistance;
• Contribution to regional community-building schemes;
• Connection of the region to the wider international system;
• Constructive inclusion of potentially competing priorities;
• Shaping of common positive outcomes;
• Focus on socio-cultural factors or historical events/experiences as a shared background;
• Establishment of institutions and agenda-setting within those institutions;
• Mediation of conflicts.

Additionally we looked for evidence of collective action at global institutions – for example, building on previous studies of the EU as an actor in the UN, can we observe voting cohesion, decision-making coordination, collective representation, consensus orientation or membership coordination?

Regions can play an important role in promoting innovation and reform. Regional cooperation has become a global phenomenon but one that has become ever more diverse; the regional dimension is fluid and very susceptible to the preferences of key regional powers. While the BRICS are increasing their power in the global order, most often at the expense of the non-US OECD, the systemic power of the US remains higher and more stable than is often asserted. Moreover, the BRICS do not constitute a single group. Rising powers share some traits: the size and magnitude of their economies, high growth rates, and frustration with the status quo. However, the paths to prominence of the different rising powers are fundamentally different, they occupy different power positions and draw on different combinations of sources of power. Moreover, leaders need followers - and while some regional rising powers like Brazil do seem to have the capacity to develop such leadership.
Comparing the leadership ambitions (and acceptance of them) of the BRICS sheds light on the nature of putative blocs in the global order that feed into our understanding of the nature of multipolarity (or the lack of it). It also sheds light on how the EU can best build alliances with regions and/or regional leaders to strengthen its position in this global order. For example, Brazil is one of the EU’s strategic partners. Increasingly there would be greater scope for competition with the country in terms of access to markets in Latin America. In terms of economic aspects collaboration in the fields of avionics, renewable energy and pharmaceuticals is highly advised. On the security front partnering with Brazil to deal with critical problems in the Western Hemisphere in the realm of drug trafficking would be worthwhile. As a regional leader within UNASUR and MERCOSUR, the EU cannot amply engage with these bodies without the commitment of Brasilia.
Russia can re-emerge as a great power in a pluralist international system, but only if it shows a desire for political changes that will positively impact necessary economic and legal reforms. In order to make progress the state needs to embrace relevant structural economic reforms and changes in the judicial system. At the same time, the foreign policy agenda could be rendered more contingent on a comprehensive consideration of both Russian and world development trends. While Russia’s leaders have clearly made known their willingness to exercise global leadership in the realm of economic and security matters, what remains patently moot is whether Russia’s capacity for such action can be optimally matched by its acceptance in various capitals around the globe especially in the West.
Russia’s regional leadership claims are complicated by the role of Chinese interests in central Asia. This provides useful insights from the angle of intra-BRICS rivalry. Demands for regional integration in groups like the Eurasian Economic Community have not come from Russia but been led by second tier countries such as Kazakhstan. Although Russia has been keen to make regional integration a key plank of its foreign policy especially since the rise of President Putin to power, this leadership remains very shaky. For the EU it would be very important to continue to press Moscow on issues that are fundamental to the Union’s interests including rights, a stable Ukraine, Iranian denuclearisation and a peaceful resolution of the cataclysm unfolding in Syria.
What stands out in the Indian case is a lack of willingness for global leadership that is widely blamed for its lower than expected international profile. At the regional level, earlier apprehensive of India’s projection of power is slowly moderating as the Indian dream today is not seen by other regional actors as always fundamentally in opposition to their own objectives. The EU has an important role to play here through various avenues of strengthening the regional cooperation in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). China’s rise may well prove to be the defining feature of the international system during the twentieth century. Even if it proves impossible to sustain its hitherto giddy ascent, this will also have profound implications for China itself and an international economy that has become increasingly reliant on China’s unprecedented economic performance. Leaders need followers and at this stage China does not have them—or at least, not many of them Therefore, China’s capacity to lead, especially through the auspices of soft power, looks relatively limited. However, it is worthy to remember just how far China has come in a remarkably short period of time, and just how much it has changed internally and externally as a consequence of its integration into the international system. It is hard to imagine that China’s leaders will not seek to play a more consequential role in defining the way such a system works.
South Africa has the potential to be an important country within Africa and at the global stage. However the lack of a commonly defined coherent and clear grand strategy means that there are serious lapses in terms of ambition, credibility and capabilities for South Africa to fully live up to the expectations to which it is often associated. While South Africa has important traits that reveal willingness, acceptance and capacity of its role as a global actor, important challenges make it difficult for the country to amply craft and implement a grand strategy. From a regional perspective, South Africa's leadership position in Africa is constrained by domestic problems, which pose a challenge for policymakers trying to balance the country’s leadership contribution with efforts to address internal problems. For the EU, South Africa has been an important actor in Africa. Brussels has not yet come to terms with the fact that South Africa has ambitions that go beyond the confines of Africa.


The third dimension of our “conceptual umbrella” was a consideration of the changing role of the EU as a global actor, with a specific focus on how the EU’s interaction with states, institutions of global governance, and international networks helps shape its contribution to governance in a complex multilateral international order. Here there are inextricable links with our focus on regions through a focus on how the EU can act as a governance laboratory from which others can learn; not least through how others interact with the EU in multilateral governance forums.
Our research started from the understanding that Europe has considerable levers of power and influence, but has to be proactive if it is not to be marginalized as others increase their own power and influence. This entails identifying and then utilising the most effective form of power and persuasion: military, diplomatic, economic, and normative. Given the nature of the EU as actor, it is not surprising that the first of these forms of power is considerably weaker than the latter three, marking the EU down as a very different sort of global power than other potential competitors of influence.
Once more, one of our key findings was the extent of diversity; indeed, we started from a search for sources of diversity and used a range of methods (including post-structuralist, constructivist, critical and institutionalist approaches to discourse analysis) to highlight different dimensions of the EU’s external action. Another way of studying and elucidating difference was to focus on one of the overlooked factors affecting the EUs actornes; time. Here, we argue that the key is to focus on the EU’s position within international organisations (IOs). This is because the longevity of IOs provides a much longer time span over which to study and identify change – for example, when compared to the EUs response to specific (usually time limited) events like various forms of crises.
We also argue that it is important not just to focus on what the EU does to the IOs in terms of “uploading” its preferences into the specific IOs modes of governance, but also to acknowledge the effects of the IO on the EU – “downloading”. Another method is to try to find a way of measuring power. Although it is difficult to marry interdisciplinarity with qualitative approaches to comparisons, our research did just this by developing a comparative set of indicators to monitor and assess European power in an inter-regional and global context and quantitatively assessing Europe’s relative position in international institutions (multilateral organisations and transnational networks).
A key concern, and not just for GR:EEN researchers, has been the extent to which changes to the institutional structure of the EU have resulted in its becoming a more effective and coherent global actor. Here, our research has centred on the innovations introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, and tried to identify trends relating to the prospects (and limits) for the EU defined in terms of:-
(a) enhanced coherence
(b) heightened inter-institutional tensions
(c) increased complexity
(d) international expectations
Rather than just study the European External Action Service (EEAS), members of the EEAS were engaged throughout the research process as co-producers of knowledge. For example, representatives of not just the EEAS but also of the Commission, the Council, and diplomats from individual member states participated in a workshop that considered whether the EEAS has been able to pursue sensible goals since its inception, and the extent to which the EEAS has been able to streamline the EU’s complex foreign policy-making process and smooth the relations between the different actors and institutions involved in it – each with their own vested interests, modus operandi, national identity and corporate culture.
Overall, our research shows that there are considerable obstacles to coherence across a number of policy areas – and we will provide examples of these below. Nevertheless, while much remains to be done, we argue that the institutional innovations introduced by the Lisbon treaty have had real effects and have sharpened the EU’s external action in variety of ways without fully transcending past limitations. A good example here is how the Lisbon Treaty increased the coordination and participation of the EU at the UN. Clearly, the role of the individual European member states remains extremely important at the UN – and the power of some member states is greater than others. But the EU has had a greater influence on the UN as an organisation, pushing it to recognise regional players on similar – but not equal – grounds as member states.
It is important to remember that the EEAS and the creation of the position of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy are still relatively new, but have, through the formalisation and regularisation of their roles, allowed some institutional responses to structural limitations to be set up. However, there remains a lack of coherence between not just the EU and individual member states, but also within different EU institutions where important cleavages remain on some policy areas. A notable example is where national governments have taken the lead – and sometimes in the shape of conflicting and contradictory policies – on major security issues.
Our research identified a range of different “voices” of Europe which primarily reflect the different competencies of a range of European actors. The main division identified is between four sets of actors; The Councils, The Commission, The High Representative (supported by the EEAS) and the member states. To this, though, they add a range of other voices that have specific authority on specific issue areas. For instance, the President of the Central European Bank or the President of the Eurogroup may explain the EU position in multilateral forums such as the International Monetary Fund, the G8 or the G20. We also acknowledge the growing institutional importance of both the European Parliament and the intervention of the European Court of Justice in shaping the EU’s international discourse. On a very basic level, then, the EU has different levels of legal personality and engagement with different IOs ranging from member, participant, observer, attendant and absent.
However, we warn against the EU trying to mimic the nation states and copy the national diplomatic strategies of major European actors. The EU cannot deploy the same (full) set of policy tools that nation states possess (and in some respects have retained for themselves); and we suggest that it shouldn't try to. As the EEAS is not empowered to shape the environment that it functions in, it should seize upon the opportunities that not being a traditional foreign policy (nation state) actor presents, and develop innovative and distinctive sets of multilateral institutional resources.

Our emphasis on ideas led us to a study of the making of the EUs external discourse and the way in which the EU frames its global discourses and actions in order to exert influence over its external environment. However, it would be wrong to assume that there is a single discourse and a single understanding of the EU as global actor. And studying the contested discursive fields of the EU is an important part of understanding the nature of the coherence (or lack of it) of EU external policy. To do this we focused on first, the way in which both institutional and national actors frame their discourse in foreign policy matters, and second, the way in which different discourses conflict with each other. One such potential conflict is the way in which the EU institutions frame foreign policy discourses – for example, the role of the EEAS as a producer of public diplomacy – compared to the discourse and practice of member states. One conclusion is that when it comes to common security and defence policy, a shared understanding between national and member state discourses is facilitated by using rather vague and ambiguous language to frame objectives and commitments. For example, terms such as “effective multilateralism”, “global approach to security”, and “human security” (discussed in more detail below) are things that virtually every different type of European security actor is happy to use and buy into. But the very vagueness of them means that each actor can interpret the specific meaning based on local circumstances.
Our research also highlights the way that different EU and national actors framed their discussions on the EU's sovereign debt crisis. Starting from the EU's leaders tendency to “speak to the markets”, we note that the (ongoing) crisis highlights issues of democratic legitimacy. Leaders speak in one way to the markets at the global level to assure them of the efficacy of their crisis responses and to stabilise markets. They speak another way to one another behind closed doors in Brussels summits as they debate and make decisions. And they speak in yet another way to “the people” in their own member-states as they seek to legitimate those decisions while responding to their own constituencies’ concerns. In this respect, it is not so much a case of seeking coherence across EU policy, but of seeking coherence from the words and actions of individual European leaders.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it is in the security realm that we see the biggest question marks against the effectiveness of EU levels of actions. This is, of course, partly to do with the residual authority that member states have chosen to retain for themselves on defence and security issues. Rather than go back over relatively well-trodden ground on the conflict between states and the EU here, our research instead focused on the relationship between Human Rights and security. The focus was on the ways in which rights are seen as a legitimate part of the security discourse, and whether such a focus has been effective in ensuring security – the human security of citizens in other parts of the world, the human security of Europeans (for example, in combatting terrorism) and the security of European member states. In order to explore the issue of coherence, we focused on two key issues; the coherence and effectiveness of neighbourhood policy (with a related focus on combatting terrorism) and attempts to come to terms with the new challenge of cybersecurity.
The first, then, is to question the very starting point of EU policy in its neighbourhood(s). Continuing turmoil in the Middle East even after the initial round of uprisings and regime change seemed to be over, has provided a key context here. The ongoing effective civil war in Syria, and the growing presence and regional profile of Islamic State have meant that rather traditional means of thinking about and “doing” security have tended to remain dominant when it comes to European policy with and to these neighbours. We suggest that the resulting emphasis on the security of states misses the salience of instead focussing on different referent points and non-military sources of insecurity.
Following the 2011 Arab uprisings, the EU pledged to support systemic political and economic reforms across the region, thereby contributing to generating the fundament for the political and economic ‘dignity’ that was at the heart of demands of the 2011 popular uprisings. Four years on, the record of political and economic reform in the region is very disappointing, while instability and militant extremism are on the rise. The influence of the EU is limited across much of the MENA region. But the combined political and economic assets of the EU and its member states carry significant leverage to support structural change in North Africa. The EU should fully draw the lessons from the 2011 uprisings: focusing on security cooperation does not provide stability in the mid and long term. On the contrary, neglecting the socio-economic and political root causes of unrest will likely produce a vicious circle of destabilisation. Where the EU has leverage through trade, diplomacy, aid or other assets – notably in North Africa – it should make a deliberate effort to flank stabilisation measures with long-term strategies (ideally agreed with a broad multilateral coalition of states and international donor organisations) aimed at addressing the many factors of socio-economic and political fragility of the countries in the region. More generally, given the major differences across countries in the MENA region – and even within sub-regions – not only in terms of socio-economic indicators but also regarding their political priorities, their security situation and their geopolitical significance for EU interests, the EU should complement or replace its currently relatively rigid cooperation schemes by a set of more differentiated options allowing for tailor-made cooperation packages for individual countries that take into account the specific socio-economic, political and security conditions, as well as the country’s and the EU’s priorities.
Cooperation with the Levant and the Gulf states has been most challenging for the EU, due to the complex security environment, the entangled interests of numerous regional and global players, and the EU’s limited influence there. There is an ongoing debate in Brussels on developing a regional policy framework for peace and stability in Iraq and Syria to flank EU and member states’ ongoing contributions to international military and counter-terrorism efforts with a broader engagement to address the root causes of the present crises over the medium and long term. This links us back to the understanding of regions as actors and potential leaders outlined in detail above. After many years of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between the EU and the GCC without any tangible results, cooperation with the Gulf countries should embark on a more bilateral, tailor-made path. Prospects for advancing regional cooperation within the Gulf Cooperation Council are sobering, which also narrows the scope for effective MENA regional initiatives in the competitive regional environment.
Furthermore, we emphasise the importance of understanding how the EU is viewed in other states and the necessity of getting “buy in” to EU projects and preferences – not just from other governments, but also from ordinary citizens. For example, we looked in detail at how the EU approaches violations of human rights and addresses barriers to inclusion that exist in the Middle East on the basis of religious identity. Using specifically the example of Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt, we found that the language and instruments previously developed by the EU as a framework for protecting national minority rights elsewhere is not necessarily helpful when it is applied to the Middle East. This is, after all, a region where there is suspicion about the motives and objectives of a Europe that is largely seen as pro-christian and pro (western) liberal democracy. Indeed, we found that using a minority rights approach can be counter-productive if it damages the credibility and reputation of the EU as an impartial supporter of peace and equality, rather than promoting the rights of specific groups. This approach can also be perceived as the EU trying to find a way of intervening in domestic politics – not just in governments and in the broader population, but even sometimes amongst the groups that it is trying to protect. Here we see a potential clash between the way that Europe perceives of itself – its values and what it is trying to achieve – and the way that others perceive it; an issue that we will return to at the end of this report.

In light of these findings, the EU should develop policies and instruments that place broad emphasis on equality of citizenship rights for all rather than the narrower approach of calling for inclusion of specific minorities. We noted earlier that in terms of trying to deal with terrorism, it is important that the EU try to build networks with NGOs. The same is true when it comes to trying to intervene (positively in European views) in the politics of Middle Eastern states. We also argue that the EU should build further on the positive work already done with civil society and grass roots organisations in order to create a better understanding of local needs.
This is not a replacement for high level dialogue and consistently applying pressure and conditionality on the relevant governments – but something that should go alongside it. Though we note, here, that the increased importance of China as a source of finance for countries in the Middle East (and indeed elsewhere) is having an important impact on not just the EU, but the global development architecture as a whole. Although Chinese overseas financing often takes the form of investment in projects (typically carried out by Chinese firms) rather than Overseas Development Aid as such (as understood and defined by the OECD), it nevertheless has aid and development consequences. Chinese financial support comes with very few conditions attached other than not diplomatically recognising Taiwan (which is not particularly likely). This is an attractive option for state leaders that are looking for development aid, but who are not particularly keen on liberalising their political and/or economic systems in return for such aid. What this means is that the efficacy of linking conditionalities to aid relationships appears to be declining, as developing states now have more choice of who to turn to when they are looking for money. The growth of the Chinese market for exports from developing states also feeds into this equation of a shifting balance of global material power; and perhaps in the form of providing an alternative to the (neo)liberal model of economic development, a shift in the normative balance of power as well.
What this means, we argue, is that the EU has to adjust its strategies to take account of this power shift that appears to be undermining the utility of one important part of its toolkit. In its policy towards the Middle East, the EU should develop policies and instruments that place broad emphasis on equality of citizenship rights for all rather than the narrower approach of calling for inclusion of specific minorities. More broadly, and this holds true for the EUs overarching policy to combat terrorism as well, the EU should build further on the positive work already done with civil society and grass roots organisations in order to create a better understanding of local needs (and perceptions) of approaches to securing ‘rights’, and offer policy solutions that are likely to incentivise local buy-in and effective implementation. It is clear in this case that the agenda for future research should explore further what the EU’s concept of differentiation means in practice in each specific country context. In this way the concept of differentiation can be redefined within and across countries, so that its practice can lead to more nuanced and adaptable approach in each specific context.
Compared to political turmoil to the south, the Eastern neighbourhood of the Union does not seem prone to uprisings but mostly mired in political stalemate, although the Russian military intervention in Ukraine has fundamentally altered this dynamic, and raised pertinent questions with regards to the geopolitics of the region and EU (as well as NATO) capabilities and influence. In terms of the neighbourhood policy to the east, the EU needs to frame assistance for technical and administrative reform within a more political appraisal of the multiple, often countervailing, regional dynamics at play.
In other words, the Eastern Neighbourhood Policy should be part of a broader, joint foreign policy towards the neighbourhood, building on a tighter definition of the interests shared by member states. The priorities of regional powers, whether aligned to those of the EU or not, and the complex domestic politics of the countries in the region should be key factors in this approach. This would better inform the targeted application of conditionality and the supply of incentives for local elites to take ownership of reform. Countering corruption and addressing state fragility are cross-cutting priorities within a more differentiated approach to neighbouring countries. Again, we argue that the EU should also build on recent progress towards more targeted and flexible support to civil society actors while taking into account their absorption capacity, tailoring training programmes to local requirements and simplifying access to funding opportunities. Once more, our findings here point to the importance of differentiation, local knowledge, and local (networked) partnerships.
If we extend this beyond the neighbourhood(s) to policy in general, we suggest that traditional notions of intervention are too narrow and that ignoring the human aspects of conflicts contributes to the complexity of conflict prevention and resolution. This suggests that research into new policy approaches that improve the ability of European states to respond to international humanitarian crises and atrocities collectively is crucial. In this context a Europe-wide human-centred security strategy would galvanize the EU’s efforts to support local actors to resolve crises.
But here we hit an important conceptual barrier. Twenty-one years after the publication of the Human Development Report brought the concept of Human Security into broader international security debates, what it actually means remains in a state of flux. To be sure, food security, health security, environmental security and economic security have not just become firm parts of debate and discussion, but also significant policy areas that have had considerable time, effort and money devoted to resolving. In these areas, the EU has in many cases (particularly in response to crises) established itself as a coherent and much welcomed (Human) security actor. But the concepts of personal, political and community security have all struggled to develop a shared understanding that has become a firm guide to action; both within the broader international community, and indeed within Europe itself.
Taken together, we argue that there is a need for a renewed focus on how the EU can improve and reconstruct its policy frameworks towards the neighbourhood(s); but also on how EU actions and policies on key regional players – whether Russia to the east or the Gulf states to the south – impacts on the EU’s ability to influence both neighbourhoods. The role of extra-regional actors is also important – particularly relatively “new” actors in the region, such as the increasing profile of China in the Middle East.
Though not originally part of our research agenda, interaction with officials in Brussels over the nature of new security threats made it clear that concern with cybersecurity was becoming ever more important. As it is an issue area that is in many ways still in its infancy, it will take some time before we can come to any firm conclusions about the nature of EU coherence in dealing with this new challenge. However, the fact that it is a relatively new concern also allowed us to observe forms of cooperation as they were in the process of forming, and allows us to come to some preliminary conclusions.
Whilst the EU has many initiatives to tackle new challenges in the form of cybercrime and cybersecurity, what is still required is a sense of how they join together and indeed what sort of impact they are having with regard to operational, legal/regulatory, technical, training and cultural aspects. What we can safely conclude on the basis of the current evidence is that the security of resilience for cybercrime in the EU is formative but progressive – although not yet integrated to the degree that is required to combat cybercrime effectively across Europe and the EU. For this to emerge in the medium to long term barriers must continue to be broken down between relevant stakeholder communities – and sustainable working relationships and partnerships based on a common terminology constructed. Only in this way can the EU ensure that the ecosystem being constructed to address the challenges of cybercrime will allow Europe to protect its systems and networks against cyber criminals and ensure a secure platform for economic growth in the digital economy.
For cyber defence the conditions for security of resilience are formative at best, but they are certainly accelerating at pace, with the European Defence Agency (EDA) leading on important priority areas. A clearer idea of the landscape has certainly emerged with regard to cyber defence capability at EU level and within EDA participating Member States, but so too the challenges ahead in this area for the EU to achieve its main objectives and develop an policy an effective and comprehensive framework for cyber defence. Clearly, awareness, understanding, institutional and organisational capacity are in their infancy at EU level – with a mixed picture at Member State level that makes for incoherence and ineffectiveness in cyber defence. Platforms are clearly being established – and progress is slow but emerging in terms of moving towards a more effective and resilient regime. Strands such as training and education are more highly evolved than others at European level, with ad hoc projects operationalised by the European Defence Agency to enhance knowledge and capability. At Member State level, however, issues remain for many with regard to constructing the necessary facilities, organisations and doctrines for the development of cyber defence. Whilst potential exists for the evolution of more effective international partnerships to address cyber defence issues, here too, progress is constrained by complexity in the formal process – in particular in relation to NATO – even though obvious synergies exist. Moreover, not all Member States of the EU participate in the cyber defence pillar – a CSDP mandate – making it more difficult for shared understandings and approaches to emerge at EU level.
So perhaps a surprising conclusion here relates not so much to a lack of coherence at the EU level, but the uneven capacity between member states. In particular, our research showed asymmetry between individual state’s resources (whether that is financial, legal, skills etc) for combating cybercrime presents a major hindrance with regard to preparedness, harmonisation, mutual recognition and convergence. The basis for a more effective and coherent EU level action isn’t there because of the lack of uniformity within member states. So whilst there is some convergence around the awareness of what is required – in practice there are still substantive barriers – cultural, behavioural, legal and political - to effective collaboration, coordination and cooperation.

As with security, in energy, the message is also a mixed one. The Internal characteristics of European countries have a significant impact on attempts to construct and effective EU energy and governance regime. So too do global trends and their effects on EU energy and environmental governance. Here a combination of what we might call “expected” external impacts (for example, the growth and changing nature of Chinese energy demand) and “unexpected impacts” (the ongoing nature of turmoil in the Middle East and conflict between Russia and the Ukraine) have been particularly important in creating a very uncertain and fluid policy domain. And as already noted, innovation and technology changes only add to this sense of uncertainty. The production of gas from shale deposits is already shaping energy governance as well as regional and global energy markets. New technology has created hopes that the EU and member states could reduce their dependence on imports of gas from abroad, especially from Russia. But we note that in the past, both the development of nuclear and solar technologies were greeted as game changing events that would diminish the dependence of fossil fuels and external supplies, without ever fulfilling their supposed potential. As such, we remain somewhat sceptical that shale gas is about to fundamentally change the global energy order in Europe’s favour just yet.
Nevertheless, we have seen how the EU model of regulation has seen it emerge as an international energy actor in its own right. This conclusion emerges form a consideration of the European Commission's external energy policy through the lens of the regulatory state. We found that the Commission seeks to project the single market beyond its jurisdiction to deal with transit infrastructure problems, extend international regimes to cover energy trade, to deal with monopolists such as Gazprom through classical competition policy, and to fix global energy market failures with clear regulatory state tools. Arguably the clearest example of success here is the way that European regulation has limited the way that Russia can use its energy companies to achieve geopolitical strategic objectives. The EU has also been able to export its model into the near abroad, thus stabilizing energy supply and transit routes.
Regarding the power of the EU within energy, findings point toward two broad conclusions. First, as we have already noted, in external energy policy, the Commission remains primarily a liberal actor, even as the world of energy turns more ‘realist’. Second, it is so by choice. When it comes to how to build markets for energy and to extend their geographical reach, the Commission’s strategy (and indeed the strategy of the EU as a whole) is overwhelmingly liberal. Its overall aim is the establishment of rule-based, open market energy trade, rather than ad hoc-bilateral arrangements.

Yet when it comes to making markets work, the findings are more diverse and show considerable more pragmatism in practice. The liberal toolbox suffices when addressing asymmetric information and managing the consequences of external shocks to price or supply. However, when it comes to pipeline politics and coping with Gazprom’s dominant supply role, regulatory policy tools are supplemented by diplomacy, finance and ad hoc exemptions to open market rules. This represents a pragmatic solution to the dilemma the EU faces in an increasingly ‘realist’ international context: if it is not possible to extend the regulatory state, it might be necessary to compromise on some of its principles abroad in order to maintain the regulatory-market model at home.
The Russian example highlights how EU energy security and strategy also has been affected by more general security trends, with the use of violence or threats taking place in its neighbourhood. The energy-security dimension has focused on how resource access, extraction, and transportation are related to security, both locally and between states. One case in point is the Russia-Ukraine gas crises, which signal that Russia is willing to use the ‘energy weapon’, both discursively and in practice, vis-à-vis its neighbours. The 2014 Russian annexation of the Crimea deteriorated the Russia-EU relations in general as well as in the energy field. Another case is the 2013 terrorist attack on the Statoil facility in Algeria, where close to 40 people were killed, which reflects how energy extraction, supply and security are increasingly inter-linked with more traditional security issues. In ‘failed states’ or states with ‘thin’ or contested authority that are vulnerable to such attacks operating costs are expected to increase to secure the sites and facilities of companies, improved intelligence, as well as to improve coordination between relevant actors in the host country and in the home country of the company involved. At the same time, the securitization of the energy field (not least by Russia itself) as well as the widening of the security policy field that this represents, is unfortunate, and has effectively strengthened Russian power.
This has called for a renewed scholarly and political attention on, particularly, instable areas such as Libya and North Africa at large. Despite instability and security risks, EU energy majors are increasing their investments in Nigeria, and even more, in Algeria, which already ranks as the second-largest supplier of natural gas to the European Union. The EU should work to improve the implementation of political and strategic measures to stabilize the Sahel region. But the instability in this and in other regions also calls for an analytical re-definition of the relative relevance of Europe’s energy supply lines – so as to accurately access, for instance, the growing importance of the Caucasian area in the energy field.
Research findings also stress that the EU needs to adapt its global energy and climate policies to changing international circumstances, such as how other actors are operating in the international energy market. This generates a need for greater cooperation with both energy partners, and those who might be thought of as energy and environment competitors. For instance, the EU should improve its energy dialogue and ‘climate diplomacy’ vis-à-vis rising powers like Brazil, China and India. Despite several efforts (e.g. Energy 2020 and Energy Roadmap 2050), we see a return of traditional approaches to both domestic economic policy and international energy security that threatens to subvert EU global climate leadership. We suggest that climate concerns need be integrated into EU foreign policy as a whole, implying a move from climate security to a broader, more encompassing EU climate foreign policy. Hence, climate security should be included in conflict prevention and prediction strategies, migration policies and geo-economics. Additionally, the EU has sought to combine policies of energy security towards certain regions with democracy promotion. However the above mentioned pragmatism and the need to secure energy supplies seems to have trumped human rights considerations and the promotion of the rule of law when it comes to relations with the main suppliers of energy.
In China-EU relations in the field of energy, research points to the benefits of closer cooperation among policy research (researchers engaged in applied research) and ongoing diplomatic efforts. Energy markets in economies of EU member states remain attractive for Chinese investors. Though challenging, research efforts can help deal with public sensitivities and enlarge the space for pursuing cleaner energy development, both in Europe and China.

In contrast to trends in Chinese demands and consumption, which are relatively well known, renewed attention is needed regarding the effects on EU energy policy and security of instable areas such as the MENA region (North Africa, the Mediterranean, especially Libya) and Central Asia. The research findings also call for an analytical re-definition of the relative importance and relevance of Europe’s supply lines in view of the growing importance of, for example, the Caucasus and the Southern corridor. While there might be special reasons for the changing circumstances in these regions, they lead to a wider conclusion about the nature of international knowledge and understanding. While a focus on the impact of the major rising powers and their implications for Europe is understandable, we suggest that this should not occur at the neglect of studying changing consumption and demand patterns elsewhere, as these can agglomerate to have a very real impact on Europe.

Our research confirms that the EU is today one of several centres of power in an emerging multipolar trading world order. The rise of the emerging economies has however required that the EU undertake a substantive shift in its role positioning, and performance, within the WTO and its multilateral trade negotiations since the mid-1990s. This is most apparent in the EU’s avid pursuit of preferential trade and investment agreements beyond the WTO negotiation forum since 2006, and in its more reactive negotiation output in the Doha Round since 2008.
The rise of new powers and a tendency towards a form of multipolarization of the global trade order has not meant a return of systemic protectionism but rather a turn towards strategically-motivated free trade agreements (FTAs). The EU has thus undergone an externally-driven strategic reorientation whilst responding also to internal policy developments that have politicized the process, and created unprecedented legitimization problems for the EU. This in turn necessitated a delay in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations. The policy transparency initiatives adopted by the EU further promise to produce a more robust, long-term effective FTA approach of the EU. However, the legitimizing role of the WTO process cannot be underestimated.
There is a need for a revitalized WTO system, which includes new negotiation (such as plurilateral agreements) but also a reformed WTO that improves WTO oversight of FTAs, by allowing for independent, ex-post analysis of the economic effects of FTAs to be openly discussed within the WTO membership. Thus challenging arguments of a ‘Europe in Decline’, this research finds that the shift in the EU’s multilateral role, coupled with its reorientation since the mid-2000s towards bilateral and plurilateral trade negotiations, not least in the case of the TTIP negotiations, is indicative of an increasing pragmatism on the part of the EU and its transformation in better dealing with today’s changing geopolitical dynamics.
Of course a key context that has underpinned or research project from start to finish is the on-going fallout and response to the Eurozone crisis, which has had far-reaching implications for European governance both inside and outside the EU borders. However, rather than think of a single crisis, we found it more useful to identify two quite different periods: the first, during the financial and economic crisis between 2008 and 2010, when the EU was a key-player in finding solutions; the second, during the Eurozone crisis after 2010, when the EU also became a source of global problems.
The first part of the crisis exposed the limits of a growth model which was no longer sustainable in the present context of globalisation. By combining sovereign debt with bank debt, it also highlighted the imbalances in the Eurozone and the flaws of the European Monetary Union (EMU) architecture. As we moved into the second phase, doubts were raised as to the capacity of the EU to provide leadership in a fundamentally changed international order as its responses to its own Eurozone crisis were largely considered to be ineffective by the financial markets, and as unfair and illegitimate by many of the EUs own citizens in the worst affected countries.
The crisis has increased concern with sustainable development (in its economic, social and environmental dimensions) and for many, suggests that the existing (neo)liberal model has failed – or at the very least, has significant shortcomings that need to be addressed and suggests the need for new development models and growth strategies. We thus set out to investigate the design, implementation and follow-up of different strategies, which are also challenging the traditional governance frameworks at local, national, macro-regional and international level. Crucially, we did not restrict our analyses to reform and innovation in Europe itself, but also focussed on responses to the global crisis in Brazil, China, South Africa and Russia as potential alternative “models” of economic organisation. In particular, we accepted that the way that China rebounded from an initial crash in exports in 2008 to still surpass 8 per cent growth in 2009 had increased interest in state-developmentalist approaches to economic governance – particularly when compared to the performance of more neoliberal oriented economies.
Our findings pointed to the importance of locating the economic structures of individual countries in their historical and social contexts. It thus makes it difficult for other countries to, for example, copy what China has done as an effective development model. But it is clear that the logic and appeal of of liberal models of development have been undermined, and that proponents of stronger state approaches have been strengthened by first the crisis itself, and then comparative responses to the crisis. Moreover, in more pragmatic and practical terms, our research generated two key questions for the nature of both the EU as a global actor, and the nature of EU economic governance itself.
First, does the EU – or more correctly, the collective of European states - still deserve its place of power in the international system? For many (and not just from outside Europe) it seems unreasonable that countries with proportionately smaller economies keep superior shares of global governance institutions (cf. the International Monetary Fund) than emerging powers with much bigger economies. Second, is the dual constitutional structure of the Lisbon Treat fit for purpose; supranational for the single market and intergovernmental for the EMU?
At the height of the financial crisis, global leaders stressed the need to erect a solid global financial architecture under the auspices of the G20. Since then, efforts to build this integrated regulatory edifice have lost steam, leading to the emergence of what has been termed ‘cooperative decentralization’. On the European side of the ledger, the exigencies of the single currency circumscribe the kinds of supervisory and regulatory arrangements the EU, or at least the Eurozone, can countenance – think for example of the so-called banking union, seen as a necessary response to the euro’s travails. While ‘global harmonization’ is no longer seen as a plausible goal, the relevance of the existing cooperation should not be underestimated. At no point has either the EU or the USA seriously considered erecting a regulatory fortress. The ongoing, if intermittent, political and economic upheavals in the EU may dent further reform enthusiasm or capacity, but it is unlikely that they will either overturn European or global agreements or cause the EU to change its regulatory course radically.
Reform fatigue seems to have set in on both sides of the Atlantic. Once pending projects are finalized, we should not expect major new initiatives—unless, of course, extant arrangements were to fail dramatically in the event of a new crisis. This also applies to policy innovation: the major new tool box to have been developed and embraced is macroprudential policy. Fundamental weaknesses in the financial sector remain, for example on-going worries about too-big-to-fail institutions or a lack of credit flow to the real economy. But there is little indication at present that the basic approach to governing financial markets on either side of the Atlantic is undergoing further drastic reform.
One of the key policy implications of the research is the degree of international policy coordination or even harmonization is a matter of choice, not of necessity. There are good arguments in favor of aligning policy with other major players, notably the United States. Indeed, our research on financial governance reform in response to the global crisis suggests that one of the most remarkable patterns is the centrality of transatlantic relations in the EU’s dealings with “the rest of the world”. Both conflict and cooperation in international regulatory organizations such as the International Organization of Securities Commissions can mostly be understood as a function of EU-US relations. Japan, China, India, Russia, and Brazil have to date only played modest roles in the evolution of global financial governance. This pattern has continued to inform regulatory reforms since the crisis, including for example agenda-setting in the G20. While this can be seen as a sign of continued EU and US strength, a more skeptical reading may see it as a sign of weakness: the EU and the USA are so heavily involved in global financial regulation precisely because it is they who have built their growth regimes of the past decades atop an unsustainable financial sector and expanding debt.


If we move away from these issue specific considerations of EU actorness, what conclusions can we come to regarding the significance of European Networks as a means of changing policy and regulatory practices in a world where there are increasing and multiple sites of authority (if not a multipolar world as such)?
In terms of our study of networks, regulation and experimental governance, when taken together our findings provide considerable evidence that the EU’s efforts to extend its internal rules and governance processes are contributing positively to growing experimentalism in transnational governance. As a broad generalization, the evidence presented supports the view that the EU is most successful in promoting transnational experimentalism by extending its rules, standards, and governance processes to third countries through ‘horizontal’ channels: unilateral, bilateral, and occasionally plurilateral. By contrast (and with some exceptions) the EU is typically less successful in uploading its internal experimentalist governance processes to international organizations and multilateral bodies through ‘vertical’ channels – and sometimes does not even try to do so. At the same time, the EU’s unilateral efforts to extend experimentalist governance horizontally often interact in complex, mutually supportive ways with multilateral institutions, which can serve as reflexive mechanisms for destabilizing characteristic blockages in the Union’s internal decision-making processes and relations with third countries, thereby contributing to the development of promising hybrid pathways towards transnational experimentalism.
In a number of sectors, such as data privacy, food safety, chemicals regulation, and timber legality assurance, the EU has become a de facto global standard-setter and peer reviewer operating along experimentalist lines. In many sectors, too, the Union fosters the extension of experimentalist governance practices through the inclusion of third countries in its internal regulatory networks, as for example in food safety, crisis management, competition, justice and security, and transboundary water management. In many cases, too, EU unilateral and bilateral initiatives do serve as penalty default mechanisms for overcoming collective action barriers to the emergence of transnational experimentalist regimes, as in data privacy, food safety, forestry, chemicals, and also to some extent GMO regulation. In others, such as anti-corruption and money laundering policies, financial regulation, and disability rights, the EU has become a significant vector of experimentalism in multilateral institutions. At the same time, however, we have found that the EU is by no means the only driver of such trends – hence our emphasis on the importance of studying “multipolar alternatives” to European interests, and how and when other states are attracted to (or not) competing governance proposals and initiatives. Moreover, it is not just a case of the European level influencing the global level. Influence runs in both directions. For example, the OECD’s Financial Action Task Force first influenced the creation of the EU’s Schengen mutual evaluation system, and then subsequently was in itself influenced by the later development of the European system. Here we see a very clear feedback loop between the regional and global levels of governance.
Our findings also show that unilateral extension of EU regulation may undermine or attenuate key elements of its experimentalist governance architecture. Thus third countries rarely participate directly in joint goal-setting or review and revision of EU rules and standards (though they may do indirectly in some cases, like that of the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed). Moreover, third countries in the European neighborhood and the developing world often lack the initial capabilities to participate actively in EU regulatory networks, though this may improve over time as a result of socialization and learning. Capacity-building in developing countries is also important, and can be one key means of indirectly influencing types of participation in regulatory frameworks that strengthen European positions. Taken together, such asymmetries in power and capacity may cut the crucial learning feedback loop rule between implementation and rule revision which is experimentalism’s defining feature. For example, even in broadly positive cases such as data privacy and food safety regulation, there has been some can be seen to some dilution of the efficacy of the experimental approach because of weak feedback. In more negative cases, such as migration partnerships, defense and security collaboration with the African Union, and research policy in the European neighborhood, such asymmetries can lead to ‘policy transfer in disguise’, excessive dependence on the EU, or even ‘experimentalism as an empty shell’.
Given the persistent obstacles to collective action in many multilateral settings, a promising basis for extending experimentalist governance transnational may thus be where the EU has some capacity for unilateral regulation. An important example here, oft repeated by our non-European partners, is the structural power granted by the EU internal market – or more correctly, the ability to control access to the market. But crucially, we argue that the most promising configuration for externalizing experimentalism is where the ability to exercise this influence, for example, to impose conditions on market access, is constrained by the rules of the WTO (or other multilateral bodies) to avoid discrimination and consult with partner countries to minimize the impact on affected third parties. This, we found, was the case in the regulation of food safety, timber legality assurance, and to some extent GMOs. Even in the absence of such multilateral procedural disciplines, however, our findings suggest that reciprocal pressures from powerful trading partners like the US, where domestic rule-making is likewise developing in an experimentalist direction, can serve as a functional mechanism for pushing EU unilateral regulation towards joint governance. It does this through mutual benchmarking and equivalency assessment of each other’s standards, as in cases such as food safety, data privacy, competition policy, and financial regulation.
In terms of policy implications, our findings suggest that both the effectiveness and the legitimacy of EU external governance may be enhanced when third countries are engaged as full partners in European regulatory networks, empowered to contribute not only to information sharing and mutual learning activities, but also to peer review and recursive revision of rules and procedures in light of implementation experience. This in turn is likely to require only capacity-building assistance and willingness on the EU’s part to adapt its rules (e.g. regarding market access for specific products) to different local contexts. A good example here is the flexibility of the Food and Veterinary Office in its evaluations of food safety arrangements in third countries. Moreover, we argue that it requires the EU to open up its own regulatory arrangements to peer review and mutual evaluation by its external trading partners. Here developing practices of peer review within international organizations and multilateral bodies like the Financial Stability Board/G20 and FATF are of particular importance for further research, as are the proposals for mutual equivalence assessment of sectoral regulation by the EU and the US in the current negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment and Investment Partnership.
In the area of energy governance, by mapping the energy relationships between various suppliers and individual EU member states, our research concludes that both intra-EU measures and EU tools are important when the EU and member states deal with import dependence on external energy suppliers. Due to the attractiveness of the European market, the EU is able to project both regulatory and market power to influence the behaviour of external actors. Research on the European Commission's external energy policy has been conducted through the lens of the regulatory state, testing a set of hypotheses related to two key challenges perceived by the Commission: building energy markets, and making them work. Research finds that the Commission seeks to: project the single market beyond its jurisdiction to deal with transit infrastructure problems; extend international regimes to cover energy trade; deal with monopolists such as Gazprom through classical competition policy; and fix global energy market failures with clear regulatory state tools.
However, the EU’s power – which can be labelled ‘soft power with a hard edge’ – extends further than the classic post-Cold War debate about hard power vs soft power might suggest. In a context where the use of hard political military and economic power is either unfeasible or undesirable, the regulatory state has a long reach. The main caveats are that it is more pertinent to gas than oil, because it is traded on regional rather than global markets; it is more relevant to the ‘near abroad’ than more distant countries, and more applicable to transit countries than suppliers (the longer the attempted reach, in terms of distance, the more specific the tools need to be); and finally, the EU’s power is more effective with respect to companies than governments. The EU’s real hard edge comes into play when its policies target firms, operators and regulators; not the governments of producer states. In conclusion, the EU regulatory state is emerging as an international energy actor in its own right, limiting the ways states like Russia can use state firms in the geopolitical game; and it exports its model into the near abroad, thus stabilizing energy supply and transit routes projects.
We also find that in some areas, European knowledge carries legitimacy that creates a leadership role of sorts for European networks. For example, despite the fact that there is some suspicion in places like China that Europe tries to occupy a “moral high ground” when it comes to environmental issues, there is a wide acknowledgement that Europe has considerable capacity on environmentally related scientific issues. So here, any leadership (and legitimacy as a leader) that Europe has in the environmental realm is partly a result of the deliberate promotion of environmental strategies by the EU, but also partly a result of the expertise of European networks of scientific communities. We suggest that this knowledge base – as articulated through the relationship between scientific and policy communities – gives the EU normative power; it provides (and in our view should continue to provide) a bridge and source of information between major economies and the ‘rest’ of the developing world when pursuing a more sustainable future. For instance, the role of European scientific communities and especially the EU has been important as a knowledge broker in the REDD+ policy network aimed at reversing deforestation.

The example of cyber security draws attention to the way that technological changes result in the need for new ways of doing things and new sets of relationships; relationships between European stakeholders and indeed relationships between the EU level of governance and those preferred by individual member states (an issue we will return to in depth towards the end of this report). It also perhaps also draws attention to the limits of network approaches for understanding both the nature of European governance, and the best way of externalising European preferences. This is not something we see as a weakness of our approach to the research project. On the contrary, given our core belief that there is no one size fits all approach to studying both forms of governance and also evaluating the extent of European power, it is important to identify and explain negative results as well as positive ones.

For example in first preparing and then executing research on security, it became quite obvious that the underlying assumption of the GR: EEN project with regard to the importance of emerging networks were not as relevant as diplomacy and states. This became increasingly the case as conflict in Syria brought two apparently contradictory but co-existing security agendas to the fore. The first was what look something like traditional great power relations in the region with a focus on action (and inaction) by individual states at the UN. The second was a new focus on a Non-state actor of sorts in the shape of the Islamic State. We thus adopted a flexible approach with regard to meeting its research objectives that focussed less on networks and experimental governance and more on discourse analysis to more pragmatic and conceptually driven interrogations of the EU’s human security discourse and broader security policy in the Mediterranean.
Similarly, we found in the study of energy and the environment the EU is finding it difficult to operate in a world where other major actors are not sympathetic to European preferences for a more market based energy order. A notable example here is in EU energy relations with Russia. Here we see some of the pitfalls that occur when European values and approaches stand in stark contrast to those of other key actors; in this case, the problems generated by the EU being a liberal actor in an increasingly realist world. So the fundamental challenge for the EU on this issue is that the EU is increasingly caught between its liberal market model and a world less and less inclined to stick to this model.
However, it is not a case of the study of networks wholly irrelevant when it comes to researching security (including energy security). Indeed, we argue that there should be a greater role for partnership with non-governmental organisation (NGO) stakeholders if European security strategies relating to counter terrorism are to be improved. Our research found that that the policy tools of NGOs are particularly well suited to combating network-type terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and its franchises, because such groups depend on a complicit society, a convincing narrative about their aims goals and enemies, and information asymmetry vis-à-vis their supporters. NGOs can develop policy tools to weaken all three elements and have access to a set of policy tools that complement those of states and regional/international organisations. For the EU then, further R&D on the policy tools and instruments associated with the ‘containment approach’ to counter terrorism is warranted. In terms of future research there should be an emphasis on the policy tools available to NGOs, and their comparative advantage over states and international organisations in terms of their potential to credibly challenge terrorist narratives on the ground.
Moreover, the more the security agenda moves away from armed conflict towards “newer” non-traditional or human security concerns, then the more a network centred approach becomes relevant. In particular, when it comes to dealing with human security challenges in developing countries that have close relations to development agendas – infectious diseases, poverty, environmentally related challenges and so on – there is a particularly important role for non-state actors. Development agencies and NGOs, scientists/medical practitioners are all partners in delivering Human Security with (and sometimes on behalf of) the EU.

The adoption of a Human Security agenda shows the importance of networks in establishing and disseminating the concept as a core interest of the EU in the first place – but also maybe the limits of leader-led top down approaches. The EU’s adaptation of a Human Security narrative was driven by key individuals (Solana, Ferrero-Waldner) within the context of a changing external security order and internal EU security order. Advocacy groups such as the Human Security Study Group at the London School of Economics were instrumental in projecting a narrative and frame for the EU’s security policy through the Barcelona and Madrid Report. This advocacy continuing, and reports such as Helsinki Plus which was initiated by Solana when he left office. Perhaps this process represents not so much a network as the devolution of the dissemination of policy preferences to non-state research sectors. But this advocacy has only been partially successful in terms of the diffusion of the human security concept as a core strategic narrative within the EU. Because human security was introduced in a top-down way by key individuals, it was not sustained as a core narrative once those individuals left and there was no clear policy champion to take up the mantle of leadership on this issue.
As a result, it is not entirely clear how far human security was diffused as a core strategic narrative – even though it is clear that the principles that underpin the approach and the main themes that characterise it are visible in the work done by the EU. In other words, Human Security is being “done” in practice even if the concept has not been broadly accepted. The human security label is seen as too broad and lacking operational clarity, with discussions and practice instead more often framed by other narratives – by Human Right, Governance, and Resilience. At elite level, human security does not appear in the public diplomacy of key Commissioners. Ironically, even though the concept of Responsibility to Protect is in many ways a more (globally) contentious concept, it is seen by EU Member States as a much narrower and workable concept that can be operationalised more effectively, and is in much more common usage. So returning to one of our original questions – how do ideas emerge and how are they spread and articulated – it seems that top down initiatives with shallow roots have much to do if they are to gain a general acceptance and survive the end of their proponents’ tenures in power. In this respect, we suggest that Human Security is an example of a top down approach that in some ways represent the antithesis to experimentalism.


One of the first events we organised was a meeting in Brussels where an invited set of speakers from the BRICS countries gave their views on the role of the EU as a global actor – particularly in light of the ongoing financial crisis. Our final event was to repeat the event, but this time including speakers from a number of “middle power” as well as the emerging potential competitor powers. It seems rather apt, then, to finish this report with a summary of their views.
Generally speaking, these external observers tended to emphasise harder sources of European power over softer ones. For example, the size of the European market (and restricted access to it) was seen as a bigger sources of power than European values and norms. Most importantly, though, in general they were often unconvinced that the real locus of European global power lies at the EU level rather than remaining in the hands of member states. The EU is, not surprisingly, seen to be weaker when individual member states pursue their own (and often conflicting) policy initiatives and preferences. And crucially, we need to think about how “Europe” manifests itself to (or interacts with) these external actors. The day to day business of cooperation, collaboration and regulation within the EU is not something that tends to make headlines or generate much interest in large parts of the world. It is only when the EU acts – or doesn’t act effectively – on matters of global significance that it tends to come under scrutiny. For example, during times of international crises. There is also evidence that Member States still tend to prioritise their national interest in their relations with major and emerging powers acting, at times, in competition with each other. What this means is that there is often a rather partial or even one-sided perception of the EU – but perceptions (whether right or wrong) play an important role in politics.
Even when focussing specifically on the European level, there was confusion over the multiple sites of authority and/or technical competence that exists in the EU depending on the issue under discussion. Furthermore, the EU should not underestimate the impact of the financial crisis on the views of people in the rest of the world – both on their perceptions of the EUs power in global affairs, on the appeal of Europe as providing models for others to follow, and on Europe as a source of attractive norms and values. The ongoing failure, as it is widely regarded, to find an effective and final solution to crisis in Greece and elsewhere only serves to further undermine the idea of the EU as effective – even when it comes to getting its own house in order. Even if some in Europe think that these views are not right and/or unfair, it is important to take them seriously. One of our starting points for the project was that what the EU is, or might become, as a global actor is only partly down to what the EU does itself. As such, we argue that it is important to maintain as many contacts with outside views as possible to gauge how the EU is being received and perceived in the global community – even when the answers are not always what Europe might want to hear.
Potential Impact:
A project such as GR:EEN is likely to primarily be judged on the excellence of its scientific research. Indeed, ensuring quality academic outputs has been as core objective of all GR:EEN researchers during the life of the project – an objective which we individually and collectively have met. However, from the outset, we recognised and acknowledged the responsibility we had as recipients of EU funding to ensure that we were not just talking to each other, or talking to other academic audiences alone. Moreover, through earlier collaboration on EU funded projects – most notably the FP6 funded GARNET network of excellence – we had developed significant experience of what works (and more important – what doesn't work) when trying to engage a range of different stakeholder communities.

We thus planned a programme of work that included impact and dissemination activities not just as an “add-on” at the end of the programme, but as an integral part of the research agenda from day one. More important, we deliberately blurred the distinctions between research, feedback, dissemination and policy/societal relevance to ensure that our scientific work was:
(a) informed by the needs of user communities from the beginning
(b) facilitated by interactions with them
(c) responsive to comments, criticisms and suggestions
(d) disseminated in a variety of ways most appropriate to different audiences
Furthermore, as the project took shape and evolved we developed new ways of including a range of non-academic partners in our research. Both the original plans and the subsequent innovations were informed by the same basic principles. We accept that traditional means of dissemination where user communities are effectively “recipients” of research findings still has considerable utility – and indeed, we have utilised a range of these mechanisms (as outlined below). However, they need to be utilised alongside a strategy of active engagement of different individuals and groups to ensure that they have a deeper association with the research through the co-production of the knowledge of “usable” knowledge.

We start, though, by acknowledging that the “core” to a project like GR:EEN is the production of high quality academic research disseminated through academic workshops and conferences and through publications. Of course much of this entailed the submission or presentation of individual papers by individual researchers, and part of the overall impact of the project emerges from the collective impact of a large group of scholars pursuing excellence. While the logic of moving to smaller projects under the H2020 programme of work is entirely understandable, it is worth noting here that one of the clear advantages of large scale projects like GR:EEN is simply the amount, scope and breadth of publications and other research activities that it can generate.

Important as individual publication and dissemination strategies are for the project as a whole, the focus here, though, is on the structural and collective measures we adopted to ensure the dissemination of our research findings. In terms of publications we discussed the potential branding benefits of going down a single GR:EEN route – for example, by publishing solely or predominantly in a GR:EEN branded book series. While we instead decided to develop diverse strategies to maximise our potential impact, part of this diversity entailed publishing some of our findings in such a dedicated and branded book series on “Globalisation, Europe, Multilateralism” (edited at ULB). This series has allowed us to produce a number of edited collections relatively quickly – and perhaps more important, to produce accessibly priced books. At the same time (and not surprisingly), this strategy included pushing for publications with prestigious publishers with strong academic reputations. We also targeted special issues of peer reviewed academic journals to supplement the edited collections that were the main form of academic output promised in terms of formal deliverables. We note here, though, that the reviewing and editorial processes associated with some publishers means that a number of such publications will come out until some time after the end of the project. The same is true of special editions of journals and even individual article submissions – one article published towards the end of the project had been accepted in its final form just over two years prior to publication. Finally, we also established a successful Working Paper series with over 50 papers available for download from our website. The website also contains the papers produced by doctoral students on the above mentioned GR:EEN/GEM summer school.

Section 4.2B of this report details the numerous academic events that GR:EEN researchers have been involved in over the course of the project (as well as other activities and other forms of dissemination). Not surprisingly given the quality and expertise of the research team, GR:EEN researchers have been invited to talk on their projects at a wide range of academic events organised by others. More important for this report, GR:EEN researchers were able to organise and host numerous academic workshops over the years (as well as annual conferences which are discussed in detail below). Although primarily designed to encourage cooperation and progress research agendas within the consortium itself, these workshops also served to locate our scholarship within wider intellectual discourses through the targeted invitation of leading figures in the field. When we took these workshops outside Europe, as we did on numerous occasions across the world, then they also served to establish linkages with local academic and often policy communities as well. In total, and in addition to the specific events and projects outlined in detail below, we report the organisation of a total of 34 workshops, 11 research panels/roundtables, and 53 presentations at scientific events (with a further 16 at events for the wider public) organised by others. Please note that where GR:EEN researchers have given presentations at our own events, only the event is recorded and not each of the individual papers presented at these "in-house" events.

Details of all academic publications published or accepted in final form to date are provided under section 4.2A of this report. This provides details of 67 articles in peer reviewed journals, eight special issues of academic journals, 13 edited books, four authored books/monographs, 63 chapters in edited collections, and 68 working papers, policy briefs and reports. These activities formed the core of the research project, and might be considered to be the normal scientific dissemination activities of any research project. As such, these “normal” activities will not be further elaborated on here, with the focus turning instead to the specific measures we have taken to ensure that our research has a wider societal impact beyond academic communities. As with publications and academic dissemination activities, individual researchers have done much to promote their own findings through specific interactions with user communities. They have also developed their own personal partnerships with think tanks that have helped disseminate research findings. For example, collaborations with Chatham House in London and Carnegie in Brussels have also proved useful ways of finding new audiences for our research. We have also held book launches to showcase GR:EEN publications from WP2 and WP6 in the European Parliament and in partnership with Bruegel respectively. Individually, these have already had a significant societal impact. And when added together they have had (and will continue to have) even greater significance. Dissemination has also been facilitated through partnerships with external actors. But rather than trace each individual contribution here, this report instead focuses on the structures and innovations that we have collectively put in place and executed in order to maximise our societal contribution.

From the outset, then, the GR:EEN project has been committed to producing research that is both academically rigorous and significant, and also has utility beyond the realms of academic. To this end, the project has deployed a mix of activities, combining more traditional methods with new innovative ways of ensuring that user communities are engaged not just as passive recipients of research, but are actively engaged as the co-producers of knowledge. In combination, we believe that the GR:EEN project has not only made a significant contribution in establishing our own impact agenda, but also in advancing the methodology of how best to bridge research and policy in ways that subsequent projects could benefit from and build on. As part of this process, it was important to maintain a dynamic approach and to consistently update and improved the project’s underlying dissemination strategy. We monitored the changing nature of European policy processes, and relevant actors – individuals and groups – were identified and periodically surveyed in order to define the most appropriate targets and timing.

In terms of more traditional methods, the project website has become an important point of access to our research. As a result of focus group feedback, we changed the original design to make navigation easier, and the results suggest that this was a great success. By the end of the project, the website was receiving 125,000 visits per month, and provision has been made within the University of Warwick to ensure that public access to the research findings and resources will continue for the foreseeable future. This ensures the long-term ability to information on the academic publications and other primarily academic forms of dissemination, including information on seminars and workshops, and to our working paper series. It also allows direct access to background papers that informed the original application on transnational networks, the changing multilateral environment and on experimentalism in transnational governance. The website also has information on, and access to, the other non-academic forms of dissemination, such as policy papers, interviews and documentaries. Individual partners have also used their own web presence and existing activities and procedures to disseminate research and report on activities – not least (but not only) the two think tank (ISPI and FRIDE) partners in the consortium. This is another example of the benefits of scale that emerge from large projects; the multiple sources of access to research findings that are available in a project with 16 consortium members, including two think tanks, two policy research institutes (NUPI and UNU-CRIS) and two hybrid academic/policy research centres (FLACSO and RSIS) with well-established and extensive distribution networks.

Of course, it is not enough just to wait for people to come to us. We have been careful to ensure that we maintain contact with stakeholders and anybody who has participated in any of the means of engaging with user communities outlined in detail below is sent the final report (of whatever kind) that emerged thanks to their participation. We have also actively gone out to engage different communities as well. For example we designed GR:EEN branded credit card style USB sticks which we then populated with copies of all our freely available material. These have been easy to distribute at events – not just those organised by GR:EEN but ones attended by GR:EEN consortium members as individual researchers. We also staffed a stall at the 2015 International Studies Association annual convention where we took out 2000 full USB sticks and came back with none.

The GR:EEN Newsletter “Views on the EU” has been issued bimonthly over the project’s life-span by ISPI. In addition to open access through the website, the newsletter is directly mailed to over 41,000 contacts. The initial aim of the newsletter was to provide information on research activities, and to provide research informed commentaries on contemporary global issues. In order to do this effectively, we created a Functional Calendar that outlined the main steps of the European policy processes (agenda-setting, decision-making, implementation and evaluation and so) for the period covered by the Project, and the timing of major global meetings. This allowed us to plan ahead and target our dissemination activities to ensure that we were not just commenting on contemporary events, but doing so in planned ways that were informed by our broader scientific agenda. In this way, our commentaries were not just “responsive” to the news agenda and separate from our scientific research, but very much a part and parcel of the scientific agenda.

Towards the end of the project we decided to change tack slightly and use the newsletter as a way of disseminating the direct policy recommendations emerging from our research that were identified and articulated in the project’s final events (over the last six months). This example of flexibly responding to the changing context of a research project as it evolves should help ensure that the resonance of the project’s result is extended beyond those who attended the specific events themselves. Over its lifetime, GR:EEN produced over 40 policy briefs – a number of them as a result of innovative interactions with user communities (outlined in more detail below).

ISPI were also responsible for organising annual Executive Briefing (EB) events. Here, we departed from a more traditional method that divides generators of knowledge (the researchers) from the recipients (policy communities); for example, by simply having a panel of researchers explaining their findings to an audience. Instead, we engaged top institutional actors, representatives of governmental and non-governmental international organizations, and members of business communities as partners in round-table discussions where they were also invited to present their thinking on key issues. In particular, our dissemination strategy has paid particular attention to the involvement of representatives of top European and international think tanks, identified as actors particularly well placed to give resonance to GR:EEN policy recommendations and able to access major decision-making processes.

The themes of the EBs evolved as the project itself evolved, and in response to the changing context of international politics. Thus, for example, as the first EB in May 2012 took place before much of the substantive research of the project had started, it was an opportunity to test some of the basic principles that we were starting from, and focussed on the international role of the EU within a multipolarized world, as well as the limits and the capabilities of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The turmoil affecting the Middle East at the time provided a specific context to these discussions – and indeed was so important that we convened a “second leg” or follow up event the following October on the Arab Awakening.

The Second EB the following May focussed on the work already undertaken on the role of regions in international relations, with specific reference to the emerging ambitions of a diverse grouping of potential regional “middle powers” (Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, South Korea). To boost our impact here, we invited experts from research institutes from the regions under consideration, as well participants from a range of stakeholder communities – diplomats, government officials, civil society groups business communities. The focus of this EB was the extent to which power is actually shifting along regional lines, to interrogate the validity of the idea of the BRICS (and other regional groupings) as single coherent actors, to ask what kind of policies the EU will have to adopt to best integrate the bilateral, multilateral and inter-regional dimensions of its external relations, and to consider how and to what extent the EU can still be a model of international – and regional – integration.

The third EB in June 2014 focused on the role of the European External Action Service (EEAS), and included participants from the EEAS as well as the Commission and the Secretary General of the Council, and diplomats from national services. Our aim here was to encourage “cross contamination” of knowledge. On the one hand, scholars and researchers from universities and research centres were asked to address the more theoretical aspects of the matter at issue, discussing whether and to what extent the Service could effectively address “classical” problems like the expectation/capabilities gap, or the coexistence of different corporate cultures within the EU’s institutional settings. On the other hand, officials from the EEAS, the Commission and the Secretary general of the Council, together with diplomats from national services were asked to provide valuable insights about how the Union’s external relations decision-making processes actually work, mutual and often conflicting perceptions about the role of different bodies involved in these processes, as well as the less conspicuous achievements and failures of the EU foreign policy.

This model of dissemination through participation of stakeholders also informed the structure of the final dissemination conference in February 2015. We identified a set of themes that not only were at the core of our research agenda, but were also most relevant to non-academic stakeholders. This ensured that GR:EEN researchers would have the opportunity to present and discuss their findings with people with access to relevant decision making processes. The conference consisted of six closed-door panel meetings in two parallel sessions dedicated respectively to the discussion of different dimensions of the international order’s multipolar prospects and global public policies. These broadly reflect the key themes that GR:EEN researchers have been working on across the different work packages and allowed us to display the internal coherence of the research project as a whole. These themes were

The Fate of Multilateralism
Global Ambitions of Regional Leadership
From Human Rights to Security
Networks in a Multipolar World
Trade and Finance: the Quest for Growth
Energy Security and Environmental Challenges: Bridging the Gap.

These meetings, aimed at bringing together experts and practitioners from different backgrounds and coming up with a set of viable policy recommendations, were followed by a public conference targeted at a larger audience and involving high-level representatives of the EU institutions. The final conference was followed by a final public conference Carving Out a New Role for Europe, which brought together top figures from the European Parliament (Ioan Mircea Pașcu), the Commission (Klaus Rudischhauser), the General Secretariat of the Council (Zoltan Martinusz), the European Action External Service (Pierre Vimont) and the Member States (Enrico Letta).

Reporting conferences as impact activities rather than scientific academic events might seem a little strange. But it is a reflection of the way that we have often merged the distinction between the two during the project. To be fair, over the life of the project, we found that different types of conferences served different dissemination and impact purposes. At one extreme, the third annual conference was a closed affair, consisting of GR:EEN researchers from each of the work packages and a small number of invited discussants who were specialists in one of the GR:EEN research areas. This was a consequence of where we were in the lifespan of the overall project. Significant research was now being undertaken across the different work packages and it was important to come together to ensure that the different findings spoke to each other. This ensured that the project contained overall coherence and established a common platform for ongoing research in the following years.

At the other extreme, the second conference was specifically on one part of the project, Networked Learning in Transnational Governance, and was an open event with an even split of presentations from inside the consortium on one hand, and from academics from around the world on the other. This type of open conference served two purposes. First, in keeping with our promise in our original application, it allowed us to undertake a thorough stocktaking of the state of the art in the study of networked learning. Second, it allowed a global academic community to come into contact with GR:EEN research through active participation in a research event. Indeed, some of the research in the later stages of the project benefited greatly from the input and advice of scholars who first came aware about what we were doing via this second “open” conference. And it is worth noting here that one of our lessons from the project as a whole is that it is much easier (and more effective) to engage communities by actively including them as participants than by treating them instead as separate audiences that simply receive research findings.

The first and final conferences sit somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, with closed door sessions of GR:EEN scholars joined by specifically targeted and invited specialists. The rationale underlying the selection of the invitees was to ensure that our researchers would have the opportunity to present and discuss their findings with people with an access to relevant decision making processes. This included members of the European Parliament’s and the Commission’s units on specific policy matters, representative of regions at the EU, advocacy groups, public relations and communication firms, lobbying groups, and the media, as well as non-GR:EEN experts and scholars.

We found that combining a more closed GR:EEN research event with a broader public event – something we trialed in the first GR:EEN conference in Milan – was a very effective way of increasing our profile and impact. First, quite simply, the public events brought in a different audience than either the academic or policy/stakeholder communities that academics usually talk to. Although we have to accept that it is the non-GR:EEN speakers that brought in these audiences, once the audience was in we used our introductions as means of introducing and showcasing our project, and to distribute promotional material and publications. Second, they generate media interest and coverage. Third, the external speakers that we invited to the first conference subsequently provided feedback, advice and access as the project continued – they became a research and impact resource in themselves. We hope and expect that the speakers at the final conference will do the same in the future.

In order to maximise our societal and policy impact, it has been important to be pragmatic, responding to both the changing real world political context of our research – for example, to on-going disorder in the Middle East – and actively seeking guidance from potential user communities on what they would like to see emerging from our research. This does not mean that we are in a wholly “responsive” mode – far from it. Our core research agenda has to remain front and centre, and we are wary of just becoming re-enforcers of pre-existing ideas and preferences. But where possible, and where it does not compromise our overarching research objectives, we have tried to be flexible and to fine tune what we do (and how we disseminate it) to meet the requirements of users.

As an example, one of the first activities of the project was to hold a series of meetings in Brussels with officials and policy advisors to gain a clearer understanding of their needs and objectives. This resulted in a special workshop on “Multipolarity and Its Impact on The EU: Integration or Disintegration?” held in the European Commission Berlaymont Building and organised by GR:EEN in collaboration with the European Commission DG RTD and the Bureau of European Policy Advisors. Although primarily conceived as a policy impact event, the discussions also fed into our academic agenda, and specifically our work on the coherence of the EU as a global actor after the Lisbon Treaty. We provided briefing framework papers by leading GR:EEN scholars, and then gave the floor to a group of invited scholars from the BRICS countries to explain how the EU is seen as a global actor from the outside.

We repeated this experience at the very end of the project as well, but with three key differences. First, on the latter occasion, we held the event in and with the European Parliament, thus engaging a different set of stakeholders. Second, in addition to engaging with policy communities, we held a separate event where the external participants were asked to comment on specific parts of our academic agenda in a closed workshop. Third, we invited external participants from a larger range of countries – not just the BRICS, but countries that often live in the shadow of larger regional neighbours (for example, Indonesia and Senegal).

These two events are good examples of how first, we have “learnt by doing”, and second, how we have placed an emphasis on the co-production of knowledge. We do this by integrating different communities into the research process, and deliberately blurring the divisions between dissemination, participation and feedback. These experiments resulted in an innovative agenda led by ULB. First identified as a means of producing GR:EEN policy papers, the aim was to bring together three groups of participants; a third academics; a third government/EU officials and representatives; a third civil society representatives and NGOs. An umbrella policy framework paper was produced prior to the event with speakers asked to address specific areas of the paper relative to their expertise. On the basis of these inputs and open discussion at the workshop, the original paper was redrafted into a published policy brief.

In addition to the event in the Berlaymont, another workshop on “Growth Strategy and Governance” produced considerable discussion, but failed to produce the joint definitive output and structural network building that we were looking for. As a result, WP2 leaders therefore decided to further structure their approach to impact by developing the AGORA format (Advocacy, Governmental Organisations and Research networks Associated). This integrated methodology was mainstreamed to structure and promote research related impact activities. At the origin of this methodology lies the instigators’ will to organize effective interactions between the scientific community, decision makers and third parties with an eye on contributing towards efficient policy making.

Discussions are based on previously circulated specific research and/or technical background notes, respectively drafted by academics who participated in the underlying research, and/or by participating policy makers or experts. Research background notes entail a summary of the original research, a brief assessment outlining the areas for policy improvement, and a short list of possible concrete policy suggestions. Technical background notes entail a summary of the policy environment’s evolution; an assessment of key policy concerns; and a list of the perceived prevalent policy obstacles as well as their implied research questions. Where there are simultaneous roundtables, it is important to pull the discussions together in comparative Plenary Sessions based on rapporteur summaries. Finally, outcomes, are fine-tuned after the event and respectively turned into research summaries that both inform the ongoing research project itself and also result in policy papers.

Four AGORA sessions (each with multiple sessions) were held during the course of the GR:EEN project on (i) The European Union External Action in Times of Crisis and Change (ii) Modelling & Measuring Regional Leadership (iii) The Evolutions In The Transatlantic Relationship Within A Multipolar World (iv) The Eurozone Crisis And The Transformation Of EU Governance. In addition, in response to encouragement from our international advisory board to hold more events in national capitals, the AGORA experience influenced the organisation of a High Level Policy workshop in the House of Lords in London focussing on global trade, energy security, tax policy, and the relationship between devolution and regionalism.

Under this model, dissemination is understood as a mainstreamed strategy where policy makers and third parties are to be involved in the production of scientific deliverables through specifically designed platforms. At the same time, researchers gain rapid and targeted feedback from the policy actors working in their field. The number of participants at each event ranged from over 100 at the first (which we decided was on too large a scale) to around 40, meaning that a considerable number of people came into direct contact with GR:EEN research and researchers. In addition to help generate policy briefs and spread knowledge about the GR:EEN project, these events resulted the following collateral impacts and benefits:

Media reporting of GR:EEN activities and reporting of events through internal EU reporting mechanisms

Interviews, videos and documentaries. We used the meetings as opportunities to interview key stakeholders which we then hosted on our webpage. We also produced four short documentaries on themes discussed in the forums. These videos have been a major source of increased use of our website, which it turn then spills over into wider website usage. The video on the Eurozone crisis is available via Youtube at and the second video on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is available at

Other impact and dissemination events. General requests for access to research and publications. The final AGORA forum resulted in a combined book launch/dissemination event in the European Parliament where the documentaries were showcased and discussions were held with MEPs.

Further academic research and publications. The third AGORA directly led to the publication of a book on the The Politics of Transatlantic Trade Negotiations

Long term collaborations and interactions that outlive the life of the specific research project. GR:EEN researchers have been subsequently invited to participate in a range of policy related events

Further collaborative research projects including non-academic partners in applications to H2020 and the Marie Curie ITN EJD project.

A special website has been established as part of the AGORA process to provide access to briefing background materials before the event, and to report on subsequent findings and conclusions. This is available at

This method of co-production of knowledge has already been expanded beyond GR:EEN and is embedded within new EU funded research projects. We suggest that with continued refinement, it could become an important model for other research projects to follow in the future.

The counterpart to these large-scale activities were the 19 smaller Case Study Integrity Forums (CSIFs) that took place across all work packages during the life of the project. Like the larger policy workshops, CSIFs were conceived both as a means of ensuring that our research had policy utility and relevance and also to provide expert feedback and validation on research findings. But CSIFs were much small in terms of participants, and more specific in terms of the issue area and research agendas being presented and discussed. A related hope in establishing the CSIF framework was that engaging potential user communities might also open doors to undertake research in and with specific institutions – and this did indeed prove to be the case on a number of occasions.

CSIFs were conceived as fulfilling one of three roles – though there boundaries between the three are somewhat porous. The first, Impact Instigation CSIFs, take place at the beginning of the specific research project and entail establishing what new project is, asking if it has salience for potential users, identifying potential gaps and other related areas that might be of importance, and trying to get help in executing the research (through, for example, interviews or gaining access to data and information). We should note, here, that CSIFs were not just about engaging with user communities. It was also important to test the theoretical, conceptual and methodological assumptions that informed our research and thus that some of the CSIFs proved to be more effective with a primarily academic audience.

The second type of Impact Investigation CSIFs were designed to “stress test” initial research findings; to ask for reflections on the utility of work that was currently being undertaken and ask for suggestions for improvement or development. This category of CSIF allowed researchers to make changes and re-focus the direction of their work if necessary. As the project progressed, we found that it was particularly useful to hold these intermediate CSIFs with participants from the very institutions that we were researching to gain validation (or not) that what we were finding resonated with the views of practitioners on the inside.

The final type of CSIFs are Impact Integration activities designed to integrate our research findings with the work of potential users groups. Whilst these CSIFs can form some of the same functions as more traditional forms of dissemination, an additional aim is to secure help in finding how best to ensure that our research findings are more broadly translated into policy fields, and what methods we need to use to get our message to different audiences. As with the intermediate CSIFs, these final stage forums also increasingly came to be used as ways of getting external validation and confirmation of research findings from practitioners.

The nature of the CSIFs meant that they had to be individual “bespoke” events. Indeed, it was not just the type of issues being addressed that had to change on a case-by-case basis, but also the very structure of the event itself. Moreover, as an innovative and largely experimental form of dissemination, our experiences of how best to organise and utilise CSIFs evolved over time. Key issues that emerged early on were the importance of getting the right balance of academic and non-academic participants. Size was also an issue, with larger groups often proving less open to discussion than smaller ones. It was also important to ensure that we did not call on the same people time again to ensure that “engagement fatigue” didn't set in. But overall, over the lifetime of the project CSIFs emerged as one of the major ways of not only interacting with user communities and ensuring non-academic impact, but also of facilitating the research agenda itself. Indeed, in many respects, the success of the CSIF and AGORA processes have made it difficult to make a separation between research events on one hand, and dissemination and impact activities on the other. As one example, CSIFs held in and with International Organisations that we were studying in Geneva, New York and Washington DC facilitated the organisation of a further round of CSIFs in countries that were receiving IMF backed training (Albania, Romania and Hungary). Similar interaction on staffing processes at the UNDP led to GR:EEN researchers being asked to collaborate with the UNDP itself, to apply sequence and network methods to identify changes in their staffing networks.

Our work on Human Security has also resulted in collaboration with the UNDP. Having first benefitted from feedback through a CSIF, we then participated in the UNDP consultation process designed to help revise the UN Development Report. This process of revision turn then informed our own research agenda and contributed to the publication of a journal special issue on the twenty first anniversary of the concept of Human Security. The academic research created policy relevance and impact, and engaging in policy work contributed to academic research and publications. In the case of cooperation with UNDP, we were greatly helped by support from our International Advisory Board member, Nicola Harrington. Other advisory board members, Fraser Cameron and Cho Khong, have also facilitated the dissemination of our research through The Europe Asia Centre, and in Shell scenario planning exercises respectively.

These examples all point to one of the major features of our impact activity; its global reach. The primary vehicle for this global reach was the inclusion of high quality researchers from outside Europe in our consortium, from high quality institutions that were well embedded in their own national and regional networks. Quite simply, it would not have been possible to have the number and quality of participants when we held events overseas were it not for the non-European partnerships that were such an important feature of the GR:EEN programme. As we have also already noted, we held CSIFs and case study workshops (in WP3) around the world; in addition to events in countries already mentioned above, at least one event in each of China, Japan, Singapore, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, and Qatar, as well as other events in the United States (in addition to the Washington and New York ones identified above). We are particularly grateful for the support and participation of representatives of EU delegations in a number of these events. These global CSIFs have served a number of purposes. First they have ensured that we escape the European “bubble” and hear external views of Europe’s role in the world – views that are often rather different from the ones most often heard at home. Second, they have been essential in highlighting what we call the “multipolar alternatives” to European preferences and objectives; either identifying what other major powers prefer and want (for example, in China and the USA), or how others respond to competing sets of global actors. In these first two respects, the flow on impact in these extra-European CSIFs was often “inwards”. But the third purpose was to ensure an outward flow, and to talk to policy, academic and civil society audiences about our research in ways that are simply not possible if everything just takes place within the EU. Given the global context of our research and its focus on the EUs role in a (global) multipolar world, this seems totally appropriate.

In addition, we have already referred to the way that we brought external academics and policy makers to participate in executive briefings and other events in Europe. To this end, we were helped by the creation of a special GR:EEN fund to invite participants from countries that were not represented by our consortium members. This allowed us to invite specific specialists to individual events to add their expertise. It also facilitated the very last GR:EEN event in Brussels – what we called the “outside-in” evaluation of the EU as a global actor.

GR:EEN also undertook a bespoke foresight study. In keeping with our overall approach, this entailed not just producing findings FOR user communities, but producing these findings WITH them as partners. Full details including reports on the processes involved and the findings are available via the GR:EEN website. The specific findings of the project are perhaps less important in this section of the report than the processes of ongoing engagement with user communities. Here we point to three key features. The first is the establishment of a web based Foresight Knowledge System to act as a knowledge base. This was built around providing short and accessible summary reports of previous foresight projects and their results in five categories (i) general reports; (ii) demographic reports; (iii) reports on energy and environment; (iv) economic reports; and finally, (v) reports referring to technology and innovation.

The second was an online Policy Delphi process built around answers to 66 questions (on the nature of Global Policy Networks in international organisations) resulting in a SWOT analysis. The third was a more focussed two day Strategic Management Workshop that first discussed the findings of the Delphi process and then fine-tuned them towards the construction of scenario planning. The importance of the individual goals, the effectiveness and feasibility of the measures, the impact of the measures on each of the goals and on each other were evaluated during a highly structured discussion leading to the development of (i) Fastest Success, (ii) Best Result, (iii) Most Adequate, and (iv) Easiest Attainable. These scenarios provide insight into the complex interaction of measures and goals, which are essential in order to construct an effective European Commission strategy to improve the effectiveness of Global Policy Networks. The scientific findings fed into our understanding of the significance of networks as reported in our scientific findings in the previous section. In terms of final policy significance, the scenarios were translated into foresight reports and a policy brief which became a major source of downloads from the GR:EEN website. The Foresight exercise has also had spillover effects. As a direct result of the GR:EEN workshop on “Regional Leadership in the Mediterranean after the Arab Spring”, UNU-CRIS has joined forces with the Global Partnership for Prevention of Armed Conflicts to undertake practical applied research the role of regional and international organisations in preventing conflicts.


With any project, the work undertaken during a specific period will continue to influence and inform the thinking (and publications) of individual researchers for a number of years. Similarly, the policy implications of our research will continue to be digested and, we hope, influence policy beyond the end of the project. GR:EEN researchers have not only established long term links with user communities, but also continue to work together on issues that either informed the GR:EEN project in the first place, or emerged as new research questions as the project evolved. Here, we should note that the project consortium emerged from pre-existing collaborations and research relationships that existed before we came together to plan the original submission for this project. This included a number of the core partners working together on Framework 6 funded projects. And we have already seen these collaborations move forward into successful applications for research projects under the H2020 programme. We also held a number of “legacy” meetings towards the end of the project to consider how best to take the agenda forward. As a result of all of these processes, this “final” report can only in fact as an interim report on what we have done to date to ensure that our research findings are disseminated in the most effective way to have a societal impact now, and in the future.

In addition to the inevitable time lag between research and impact, and the organic links between GR:EEN researchers going forwards, we took specific steps to ensure the longevity of our research findings and interests by encouraging the inculcation of our research agendas in the next generation of scholars. We did this in five key ways. First, by involving a number of young scholars – doctoral students and recently graduated postdoctoral fellows - as core members of the formal research agendas of each of the work packages. These scholars were included as full members of the research team, and invited to participate in all research events as equal partners. Second, we held special workshops for these young scholars to come together and discuss their research findings, and to gain guidance on career development. These workshops also allowed for linkages to be established across work packages, and thus ensure coherence across the research project as a whole. Third, we invited students from the consortium institutions to participate in workshops and conferences on an ad hoc basis – not necessarily to present, but sometimes just to participate and meet senior researchers. The majority of these next generation scholars were doctoral students, but we also included a number of Masters students. Two particularly high performing undergraduate students were selected to attend our final dissemination conference. Fourth, and very much related, through our linkages with the Erasmus Mundus GEM doctoral school, including the summer school organised under the auspices of GR:EEN.

Fifth and finally, we held a dedicated “next generation” conference for young researchers defined as final year doctoral students and recent graduates (within two years of receiving their doctorate). The conference was open to all researchers working on projects closely related to the GR:EEN agenda (and not just those from within the consortium). This conference started by exposing the researchers to the main findings of our project through presentation by senior GR:EEN researchers. They were then given the opportunity to present their findings to (and get feedback from) senior GR:EEN researchers. The final morning of the conferences was devoted to career development, with sessions on how to publish academic work in different formats, research grant opportunities for early researchers, and how to influence policy debates. Short interviews of participants explaining how the conference had contributed to their academic and professional development are available via the GR:EEN website.


The details of activities submitted alongside this narrative report show that we have had some success in disseminating research findings through media outlets. However, on reflection, a more targeted media strategy possibly built around partnerships with media actors might well have been fruitful. It also took us some time to work out best how to transfer scientific findings into accessible policy papers. As viewing the policy papers we produced (available on our website) shows, we got there in the end, but embedding training on writing for policy early on in future projects might be a good idea. When we provided this training in the “next generation” conference, we included presentations from both generators of material (for example, from think tanks and media outlets) and the recipients of policy advise (from the commission and the parliament). We suggest that this model of training might be useful for others to follow.

Indeed, the whole “next generation” conference in itself was highly successful and might also be worth emulating by subsequent projects as part of a legacy strategy. And we also point to the success of developing a comprehensive programme of CSIFs, and high-level policy workshops like the AGORA forums as mechanisms of interaction with user communities that have vastly increased the social utility of our scientific academic agenda. To be sure, it will be difficult for others to do exactly as we did due to the benefits of scale enjoyed by GR:EEN. But we adapted these forums as we proceeded and further adaptions to make them work on smaller scales should be entirely feasible. The key, we suggest, is to embrace the blurring of lines, responsibilities and duties, and rather than conceive of the process of undertaking research and societal/policy impact dissemination as two separate exercises, to see them instead as core components of a single integrated academic endeavour.

List of Websites:
The University of Warwick has agreed to host the GR:EEN website after the end of the project, and it is available at

All inquiries should be addressed to the project's Senior Scientist, Professor Shaun Breslin, at the University of Warwick.

Prof Shaun Breslin
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
Tel: +44 (0)2476 572558

Related information


Peter Hedges, (Director)
Tel.: +44 02476 523716
Fax: +44 02476 524991
Record Number: 193483 / Last updated on: 2017-01-12
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