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European Leadership in Cultural, Science and Innovation Diplomacy

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EL-CSID (European Leadership in Cultural, Science and Innovation Diplomacy)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2019-02-28

For decades now, the European Union (EU) has been trying to build up its own capacity to act as a global and regional power. This has proved to be a difficult endeavour. To date, the hard power of the EU remains limited, both with regards to its Member States' military capacity and to the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy infrastructure. Not least for that reason, the EU has therefore devoted considerable effort to developing and deploying its soft power, but the embracement of such a soft power approach has not yet resulted in a clear and comprehensive soft power strategy. Hence the need to formulate a soft power vision and strategy, including the setting out of pathways to achieve the defined strategic goals. The EL-CSID project studies how the EU could use Cultural, Science and Innovation Diplomacy as major soft power tools.
Cultural and science diplomacy have indeed played an increasing role in the European diplomatic story in recent years, and the EU has made a major start articulating the relevance of cultural and science for its external relations. As yet however, an evolving strategy for the development of science and cultural diplomacy remains to be fully articulated, as do the longer-term implications of the continued development of cultural and science diplomacy in today’s fast changing multipolar and digitised world. Moreover, as innovation policy has come to be an increasingly decisive ingredient in the wider policy decisions made by countries and the world’s regions, it should be recognised as part of any conversation about science and cultural diplomacy. In this context, it becomes essential to make explicit the assumptions underpinning much of the EU’s cultural, science and innovation diplomacy activities and practices.
The EL-CSID project has the ambition to codify and articulate the relevance of cultural, science and innovation diplomacy for EU external relations as part of a systematic and strategic approach. The project aims to identify how the Union and its member states might collectively and individually develop a good institutional and strategic policy environment for extra-regional cultural and science diplomacy.
The overarching objectives of this project are threefold:
1) To detail and analyse the manner in which the EU operates in the domains of cultural and science diplomacy in the current era,
2) To examine the degree to which cultural, science and innovation diplomacy can enhance the interests of the EU in the contemporary world order,
3) To identify a series of mechanisms and platforms to raise awareness among relevant stakeholders of the importance of culture, science and innovation as vehicles for enhancing the EU's external relations.
Together, these objectives should not only contribute to a strengthening of EU policy towards the use of science, culture and innovation in its wider diplomacy, but also to a deepening of scholarly understanding of diplomacy as an abiding, if changing, institution. The research will generate both scholarly work and policy-oriented output which will be disseminated through an extensive and targeted dissemination programme.
The project started on 1 March 2016. Over the first year, the different teams have embarked upon their tasks under the guidance of the project coordinator and the work package leaders. Special attention was given to the internal coordination and to the external communication and presence at relevant academic and policy-oriented events.
After one year work, the results are first of all a number of academic articles that deepen the understanding of what Cultural, Science and Innovation Diplomacy (CSID) are and how they are present as practices and policy topics in Europe (at the level of Member States and the EU) and beyond. Some of the first results are:
1) An analytical framework for the study of cultural, science and innovation practices and actions has been developed that consists out of the following elements: willingness, capacity and acceptance of CSID activities (see D5.1 Inception Paper);
2) A proposal has been launched to develop an EU strategy around the topic of global science diplomacy related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals;
3) A theoretical approach to the study of CSID has been developed that links the academic debates on CSID to state of the art thinking on International Relations (e.g. the practice turn in IRT and the global policy approach);
4) Limitations to the utility of the notion “science diplomacy” have been explored (e.g. replacing the notion of cooperation in science).
"The available research on CSID remains rather descriptive and currently lacks solid theoretical underpinning. During the first year of EL-CSID, the project has already proposed new approaches to the field, and further output is in the pipeline that is expected to lift the study of CSID practices and policies to a new level. Crucial in this respect is also the active presence of EL-CSID researchers at some major academic conferences in order to increase the academic interest in the study of CSID.
Next to that, EL-CSID researchers have been active in several policy debates, including:
a) the Research, Innovation and Science Policy Experts (RISE) High Level Group, set up to provide direct strategic support to the European Commissioner for research, innovation, and science, Carlos Moedas, and to the European Commission. In particular, the Advisory Group ""Open to the World"" works on science diplomacy and international cooperation for global challenges and contributes to deepening of the international dimension across R&I policies;
b) the debate on the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy;
c) the development of the Joint Communication on ""Towards a EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations (through the publication of Policy Paper ""Towards an EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations: An Initial, Critical but Constructive Analysis"");
d) high-level debates on “The Role of Science Diplomacy in the 21st Century” at the Robert Bosch Foundation.
The consortium has developed a broad communication strategy via social media that allows dialogue with students, researchers, diplomats and policy-makers with an interest in culture, science and innovation all over the world.