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Enhancing the EU's Transboundary Crisis Management Capacities: Strategies for Multi-Level Leadership

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TransCrisis (Enhancing the EU's Transboundary Crisis Management Capacities: Strategies for Multi-Level Leadership)

Reporting period: 2016-04-01 to 2018-03-31

TransCrisis research has been devoted to ‘enhancing the EU’s Transboundary Crisis Management Capacities’ in terms of capacities and legitimacy. Transboundary crises do not respect national jurisdictional boundaries, and they also involve other types of boundaries, such as those established by organisations, by legal frameworks, professional disciplines, or member state policy cleavages. Transboundary crises are therefore a challenge for political and administrative systems, especially in the post-financial crisis context of depleted resources.

TransCrisis has been interested in identifying individual and organisational leadership strategies to address transboundary crises. The starting point was to assess the challenges for effective transboundary crisis management in the context and aftermath of the financial crisis. During the course of the project, further contextual conditions had to be considered, above all Brexit, the refugee/migration crisis and the deepening impact of ‘backsliding’ (the intentional moving away from liberal democratic constitutional norms) among some EU member states in particular.

TransCrisis focused on assessing the key tasks associated with effective transboundary crisis management and considered the execution of these tasks across levels of governance as well as types of transboundary crises. It assessed meaning-making by political leaders during the financial crisis, the presence of crisis management capacities in EU institutions, the interaction between EU and member state administrative systems in a variety of policy domains as well as the occurrence of ‘backsliding’.
TransCrisis has advanced understanding of the different types of transboundary crisis in the context of the EU and identified critical tasks that support the analysis and reform of existing transboundary crisis management functions. The focus on critical tasks has informed the research efforts across the different WPs. It has also led to the production of a practice-oriented ‘survey tool’ that can be used to assess and develop ‘crisis management capital’ within organisations and/or policy domains.

TransCrisis research has developed key themes in the intersection between EU governance, comparative politics, public administration and crisis management. In particular, TransCrisis has delivered new knowledge in terms of methodology by focusing on the analysis of political leaders’ meaning-making and their reception by select publics (WP3), by developing new databases regarding crisis capacities in EU institutions (WP4.1) accountability provisions in the European Parliament (WP 4.2) bibliographic information about agency leaders (WP4.3) and backsliding (WP6) and by developing qualitative understanding of crisis management in the EU (all WPs, especially WP5.1 and WP5.2 and WP 4.3). TransCrisis has also advanced theoretical knowledge, such as in developing the literatures on ‘backsliding’ (WP6), risk and crisis regulation/management in a multi-level governance context (WP5.1) and ‘crisisfication’ (WP4.1).

TransCrisis has contributed to debates about future EU governance by producing a White Paper, put together recommendations for future research directions, a set of animated films to inform public debates, and an e-module to support research-led learning. Impact was also advanced by active social media contributions, especially in the form of blogs hosted on the TransCrisis website ( that linked TransCrisis research with contemporary developments.

TransCrisis has focused on targeting key audiences in the EU and among member states in order to draw attention to the findings and implications of the research. Beyond such knowledge exchange and dissemination events, TransCrisis has also delivered practice-oriented outputs, such as the survey tool. In addition, TransCrisis has established itself as a central contributor to debates about crisis management, such as in ‘backsliding’ or in cross-sectoral debates about regulation.

TransCrisis has proactively supported the work of early career researchers and sought to advance equality and diversity in all its work. TransCrisis’ gender ratio overall was dominantly female.
TransCrisis has advanced the understanding of transboundary crisis and the EU by highlighting the different types of transboundary crises and the inherent pathologies and trade-offs associated with different modes of developing crisis management capacities. The end of project animated films (D8.3) not only draw on TransCrisis findings but are designed to encourage wider reflection and discussion of transboundary crises in the context of EU governance.

TransCrisis has advanced understanding of the critical factors or key tasks that are associated with effective transboundary crisis management; it has developed a better understanding of the variety of types of transboundary crisis that affect the EU and its member states, and it has put forwarded a more differentiated perspective as to how to develop effective transboundary crisis management arrangements in the context of the EU. Beyond these cross-cutting contributions, TransCrisis developed key insights into the rise of some crisis management capacities among EU institutions rather than others (WP4.1) the legitimacy of particular political leaders’ meaning-making during the financial crisis (WP3), the wide-spread occurrence of backsliding across member states, regardless of the particular severity of backsliding in Hungary and Poland (WP6), the diversity and limitation of EU-member state interactions in crisis management in different policy domains (WP5.1 and WP5.2) the limited de facto use of accountability provisions in the European Parliament (WP 4.2) and the role of EU-level agencies in coordinating crisis management responses despite ambiguous mandates (WP4.3).

This leading-edge research will inform future academic debates. TransCrisis has produced a series of future research proposals to support research development on the basis of the project findings. In addition, by recruiting and supporting high calibre early career researchers, TransCrisis has also supported the development of academic excellence and European-wide research infrastructure development.

TransCrisis has developed a ‘survey tool’ to generate a transboundary crisis management capacity dashboard that can be utilised for both specific organisations and broader policy domains considerations (WP7.1) it has put forward a White Paper and policy recommendations to inform policy debates about future EU governance more generally, and has engaged with the world of practice to inform expert deliberations on the basis of TransCrisis research. In addition, TransCrisis research has supported the creation of an online database of EU transboundary crisis mechanisms and capacities (WP4.1) that can be used by practitioners to gain an overview of available resources and mechanisms.

TransCrisis has produced a set of films and online resources as part of a dedicated ‘e-module’. In this module, key concepts developed as part of TransCrisis are being developed and discussed in order to advance research-led learning about transboundary crisis management. The e-module can be used in parts and together to support teaching activities. TransCrisis material has been used by various consortium partners in their own teaching activities.