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Lobbying and framing in foreign policy. EU and member states’ foreign policies towards Israel and Palestine

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LOBFRAM (Lobbying and framing in foreign policy. EU and member states’ foreign policies towards Israel and Palestine)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-08-31

The project aimed to advance our understanding of lobbying and framing in foreign policy in the European Union’s (EU) system of multi-level governance. The overall goal was to analyse how frames are created, get codified and become collective frames influencing foreign policy at both the EU and member state levels, as well as what mechanisms of mutual interaction exist between EU and national foreign policy positions.

More specifically, the project started from the understanding that framing is a social process whereby the actors involved construct their understanding of events and of their surrounding reality through exchanges and in an interactive way. Knowledge construction is thus not an individual effort, but a collective enterprise. Hence, the project looked at how frames are collectively constructed, codified and how they can travel across venues and levels. The initial hunch was that networks of actors are behind framing processes.
To meet the overall goal of the project, an analysis of EU documents and policies to identify the main trends and the main features that characterise EU foreign policy vis-à-vis the Mediterranean (and Israel/Palestine more specifically) was conducted. This was combined with a preliminary mapping of those actors that are potentially interested in shaping EU foreign policy and are hence potentially involved in lobbying activities. As a second step, a series of elite interviews with both representatives of interest groups and policy-makers were carried out with the aim of shedding light on the processes of framing and on which actors are involved in these processes. While most research focused on the EU’s level, the French case was also analysed. Understanding how France’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Israel has changed over time and in relation to EU foreign policy, and which frames shape it is fundamental to understand processes of Europeanization of foreign policy and European integration more broadly.

Main results:

1) Three articles in peer-review journals (two published, one under review). Given the considerable amount of material collected over the duration of the project, future research articles will be based on it. Four articles are currently in preparation and the submission of a special issue is also under consideration.
2) Co-editorship of a special issue in Mediterranean Politics on the impact of framing on EU policies towards the countries on the Southern shore of the Mediterranean.
3) Participation in five international conferences (ECPR, EISA, UACES, AFSP), invitation to two workshops on EU foreign policy vis-à-vis Israel and Palestine (London School of Economics and University of Copenhagen), invited talk on EU/Israel/Palestine (London School of Economics) and on framing in EU foreign policy (King’s College London).
4) Organisation of two workshop at Sciences Po Paris (Lobbying and Diplomacy in/of the EU: Two Faces of the Same Coin? in May 2017 and The Framing of Crises in Europe in December 2017).
5) Enlarged network of contacts within the academia and with policy-makers and representatives of interest groups in Brussels and in France.
The project contributes to advancing our understanding on the role of non-state actors in EU foreign policy, a field that has received little attention compared to other policy areas. In particular, the project developed a detailed analysis of framing processes in EU foreign policy, how frames are constructed through the interactions between policy-makers and non-state actors and how frames impact on policy enactment. By employing a constructivist understanding, the project provides new insights on lobbying and framing perspectives in the case of EU foreign policy. It shows that the instrumental view of framing that is predominant in the lobbying literature does not shed light on the more complex process of frame construction and codification based on social interactions.
In terms of wider societal implications, the project highlights how non-state actors contribute to the policy-making process of the EU and its member states. This aspect is related to the broader issue of transparency and the need to ensure more information to the public concerning the interactions that occur between policy-makers and interest group representatives.