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Europe's External Action and the Dual Challenges of Limited Statehood and Contested Orders

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EU-LISTCO (Europe's External Action and the Dual Challenges of Limited Statehood and Contested Orders)

Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2019-02-28

EU-LISTCO sets out to analyze when areas of limited statehood (ALS) and contested orders (CO) in the EU’s Southern and Eastern neighborhood turn into threats for EU security. The project does so by asking 1) under which conditions do ALS and CO deteriorate into governance breakdown and violent conflict?, and 2) how can the preparedness of the EU and its member states to foster resilience in the neighborhood be strengthened?

EU-LISTCO pursues scientific as well as policy relevant research objectives:

Scientific

• Identify tipping points for risks turning into threats by employing systematic risk scanning and foresight methodologies and combining them with comparative case studies.
• Research how order contestations affect areas of limited statehood in the regions surrounding the EU and, vice versa, when and how areas of limited statehood fuel order contestations.
• Understand how global and diffuse risks affect tipping points turning areas of limited statehood and contested orders into threats to the EU, its member states and citizens.
• Analyze sources of resilience that affect tipping points and that can be leveraged from the outside.

Policy

• Assess the strategies, capacities, and policy instruments of EU institutions and selected member states to anticipate, respond, and prevent threats emanating from (the interplay of) areas of limited statehood and contested orders, with a specific focus on the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty in the field of external action and the implementation and follow-up of the EUGS.
• Analyze the willingness and capacities of the EU and its member states to respond to global and diffuse risks and their effects on areas of limited statehood and contested orders.
• Elaborate on success and failure cases in the EU’s dealings with the challenges and risks of areas of limited statehood and contested orders.

Through close collaboration with practice partners (the ministries of foreign affairs of France, Germany, and Italy as well as the European External Action Service) EU-LISTCO ensures that its research has immediate policy relevance and impact.
EU-LISTCO has made important progress towards achieving its research objectives during the first reporting period.

The project has developed an innovative theoretical framework that lays out how social resilience can prevent ALS/CO from deteriorating into governance breakdown and violent conflict (see Figure 1). Social resilience is a society’s adaptive and transformative capacity to successfully cope with and recover from crises. At the same time, the framework elaborates on how global and diffuse risks make governance breakdown and violent conflict more likely. The project innovatively theorizes the concept of social resilience in an empirically applicable way and avoids state-centrism that is often prevalent in studies on ALS and CO. By considering ALS and CO as the default condition in the EU neighborhood EU-LISTCO offers a new perspective for EU foreign and security policy.

The project applies cutting edge quantitative and qualitative empirical methods for risk scanning. This includes large-scale statistical prediction of conflict as well as in-depth qualitative risk scenario development. This mix of methods has indicated that protest strength and duration as well as climate change are key risks for setting off governance breakdown and violent conflict. EU-LISTCO has identified six risk clusters: (i) geopolitical rivalry and risks of major armed conflict; (ii) unconventional security risks; (iii) biological and environmental risks; (iv) demography and uncontrolled migration; (v) global financial and other systemic economic risks, and; (vi) technology-driven disruption. These clusters ought to be taken into account for preventing violent conflict as well as governance breakdown. Through large-scale comparative case studies in the Eastern and the Southern neighborhood, EU-LISTCO generates first empirical evidence. EU-LISTCO looks at the Southern and Eastern neighborhood and additionally considers five focus countries: Libya, Mali, Tunisia, Georgia and Ukraine. First results indicate that the (dis-)engagement of external actors can be a tipping point setting off violent conflict and governance breakdown. The ambivalent effects (dis-)engagements of external actors can have caution against oversimplified and normatively biased assumptions about what external actors can achieve.

From a policy perspective, the project analyzes the capacity and willingness of the EU and its member states to deal with ALS and CO. EU-LISTCO pays special attention to France, Germany, and Italy as well as to the EEAS. First results underline that the foreign and security policy of the EU and its member states developed a new resilience paradigm signaled for example through the EU Global Strategy. However, resilience permeates the policies of the EU and its member states inconsistently and in diverging pace. EU-LISTCO also focuses on the direct policy responses of the EU and its member states to deal with ALS/CO. First results indicate, that competing approaches and policies between EU member states prevent successful resilience building and hinder the prevention of governance breakdown and violent conflict. One example are the diverging policies of France and Italy towards Libya, which have been an obstacle for fostering resilience and preventing governance breakdown in the country.

To inform policy makers, academia, and the general public about its research findings, EU-LISTCO engages in wide spread dissemination activities. This includes the EU-LISTCO homepage, its Twitter account, or the EU-LISTCO Working Paper Series.
Overall, at this early stage of the project EU-LISTCO has already produced research results further developing the state of the art on EU foreign and security policy.

Analytically, EU-LISTCO has developed an innovative conceptual framework that theorizes how social resilience can help prevent governance breakdown and violent conflict in the EU’s Eastern and Southern neighbourhood.
The empirical application of the framework allows for further developing analytical research on EU foreign and security policy as an immediate impact.

Empirically, broad data collection and analysis has started through qualitative and quantitative research offering diverse data sources to understand governance breakdown and violent conflict. This includes a research database publicly available on the EU-LISTCO homepage and quantitative datasets suitable for conflict prediction currently being evaluated.
The impacts are cutting-edge empirical results that stipulate academic debates on EU foreign and security policy and help practice partners build capacity in this regard.

Policy: EU-LISTCO has developed a wide policy network and close cooperation with practice partners. Thereby, new formats and channels of exchange between academia and policy have been developed, such as the scholars-in-residence or the joint study trips.
The study trips to Ukraine and Tunisia will strengthen the project’s policy impact and will bring scholars and policy makers together as will public events in Washington DC and Brussels.

Societal: The project actively contributes to fostering societal debates on EU foreign and security policy by making its research publicly available. A Twitter and Facebook presence as well as the project homepage are just three examples of this.
EU-LISTCO Group Photo Kick-Off Conference Berlin
Figure 1: EU-LISTCO's Conceptual Framework. Source: Börzel and Risse 2018.