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Globalisation, Europe and Multilateralism - Sophistication of the Transnational Order, Networks and European Strategies

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GEM-STONES (Globalisation, Europe and Multilateralism - Sophistication of the Transnational Order, Networksand European Strategies)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2020-08-31

Overall, the programme aimed to assess whether interactions between Globalisation, Europe and Multilateralism, have improved purposeful regime complex management in response to the growing Sophistication of the Transnational Order, Networks and European Strategies (GEM-STONES). The underlying puzzle of the project was to ask whether the externalisation of European governance and the internalisation of global imperatives are facilitated or hindered by the growing complexity born from the proliferation of international institutions. This was framed in terms of assessing the EU’s capacity to provide purposeful regime complex management, where purposeful regime complex management is defined as the “conscious efforts by any relevant actor or group of actors, in whatever form or forum, to address and improve institutional interaction and its effects” (Oberthür & Schram Stokke. 2011).

As a reminder, the project’s object of study – i.e. purposeful regime complex management - can either be broached as hierarchical or polycentric. More centralized coordination can reduce redundancies and create a level playing field, yet it can simultaneously decrease the potential for adaptation. Conversely, enhanced adaptability is central to more flexible modes of management alternatively called “non-hierarchical orchestration”, or “cooperative arrangements”, yet such set-ups regularly face challenges to their transparency and enforceability. Collectively, the project explored whether, and how such hierarchical and non-hierarchical forms of institutional governance coexist through a cross-section of specific (empirical) cases that are significant to the study of the European Union, be it in theoretical or practical terms.

GEM-STONES’ different research strands were grouped along four thematic work packages (WP), each focussing on a given level of analysis: (1) EMERALD focussed on the supranational institutions of the EU, (2) CITRINE on the international networks involving EU actors, (3) RUBIES on the strategic interregional dialogues the EU has engaged in; and (4) SAPPHIRE in the normative competitions the EU has been drawn into.
WP1 favoured an institutional approach, with its four constituent projects exploring the evolving role of supranational institutions and policies in shaping the EU’s capacity to provide purposeful complex regime management beyond its borders. With this in mind, the WP produced one edited volume and four individual doctoral dissertations, the later four focussing on the institutions associated with the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Commercial Policy, and the Area of Freedom Justice and Security. The key overarching findings of this WP is that the role of the supranational dimension remains crucial to the EU’s capacity to provide purposeful international regime management; yet said supranational institutional dynamics have unfolded in different ways across time and policy fields. While some fields are characterized by the limiting effect of the EU’s supranational dimension on its external action, others stress how dynamic and resilient it is on the international stage. In response to these contradictory pressures, supranational dynamics have been the object of increasing hybridization, with its scope reaching a growing number of policy areas but its execution becoming increasingly complex.

WP2 favoured network analyses, with its four constituent projects exploring the evolving role of EU-sponsored policy networks in shaping the EU’s capacity to provide coherent complex regime management beyond its borders. With this in mind, the WP produced one edited volume and four individual doctoral dissertations, the later four focussing on legal, financial, regulatory and NGO networks involved in consolidating and externalising EU socio-economic policies. The key overarching findings of this WP is that the relative effectiveness EU and European actors/policymakers acting within networked global regimes is a product of at least three factors: (1) A strong EU-internal unity of vision regarding the nature of the problem; (2) a strong record of action and leadership on the issue; and (3) an adaptive capacity allowing policy-makers to remain flexible in the face of rapidly changing regime and global conditions.

WP3 favored the lens of international relations studies, with its three constituent projects unpacking the causal links between EU inter-regional dynamics and the EU’s capacity to shape other regional regimes in the world. With this in mind, the WP produced one edited volume and three individual doctoral dissertations, the later three focussing on the geo-strategic implications of three distinct bilateral interregional relations the EU has supported – EU-Latin America, EU-ASEAN, and EU-Africa. The key overarching findings of this WP is that (inter-)regionalism is shown to have become an increasingly complex and therefore unpredictable dynamic in global affairs. Such evident unpredictability leads directly to the issue of unintended consequences as “inescapable reality of international politics and policies”. Indeed, they are perhaps an inevitable outcome of Interregionalism dynamics which structurally involve a complex range of different actors with often diverging points of view. However, beyond the humility such uncertainty dictates when assessing interregional dynamics, such unintended consequences also invite analysts to decentre the way in the EU’s external action is studied.

WP4 favored the lens of normative studies, with its four constituent projects unpacking the intersubjective links between the EU’s external action and its stated value agenda. Their focus is on the EU’s capacity to promote the international appropriateness of its’ value agenda in light of mounting normative competition. With this in mind, the WP produced one edited volume and four individual doctoral dissertations, the later four focusing on the EU’s effort to promotion fundamental rights and democratic institutions. The key overarching findings of this WP has been to identify and classify the emerging tensions that have come to characterize, and at times hamper, the EU's efforts to contribute towards a reasoned consensus on the global stage as regard democracy and human rights as global collective values, and this beyond the more traditional logics of consequence, merely based on material power and interests.
The findings summarized above have been published and made available to a wide range of audiences. Beyond the open access information archived on the website of the project (www.gem-stones.eu) GEM-STONES and its constituent community of researchers also saw the production of:

- 15 original dissertations detailing the individual research findings of the ESRs;
- 4 edited volumes published by Routledge and offering an overview of the collective findings of each WP;
- One Methods Handbook published with Oxford University Press reflecting the methodological work and training done throughout the program's lifespan;
- 15 policy papers drawn from the 15 individual research projects crystalizing the policy-implications of the conclusions drawn from said research;
- A Manual for Highly-skilled Jobseekers, providing doctoral students and recent graduates in Social Sciences with tips and advice regarding the transition from doctoral research to the job market.
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