Universiteit Leiden

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H2020grant awarded to Leiden team as part of a European network to research the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood strategy

What should the EU do to support Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova? How can the European Union adapt its policies towards these countries in a very difficult and challenging geopolitical context? Ten years after its inception, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has fallen short of accomplishing its mission and is currently undergoing major changes. The conflict in Ukraine and rising tensions with Russia have made a re-assessment of the EU’s tools and approaches to its Eastern neighbourhood both more urgent and more challenging than ever.

A Leiden University team led by Dr. Antoaneta Dimitrova (Institute of Public Administration) will conduct research on developments in the European union’s Eastern neighbourhood and the EU approach towards its Eastern neighbours in the EU-STRAT project: ‘ The EU and Eastern Partnership Countries: An Inside-Out Analysis and Strategic Assessment’. EU-STRAT will address two main questions: First, why has the EU fallen short of creating peace, prosperity and stability in its Eastern neighbourhood? And secondly, what can be done to strengthen the EU’s transformative power in supporting political and economic change in the six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries?

The Leiden team is part of a consortium of 11 partners - universities, think tanks and consultancies – that will benefit from a total budget of around 2,2, million Euro awarded under Horizon’s INT8 call. The Leiden team includes, next to Antoaneta Dimitrova and Dimiter Toshkov of the Institute of Public Administration, Matthew Frear of the Institute for History. Dr. Antoaneta Dimitrova, together with Professor Tanja Boerzel of the Freie Universität Berlin will be the co-coordinators of the consortium, building on successful collaboration under the ongoing MAXCAP project. The Europe-wide consortium assembles an extremely strong team including many of the leading universities and institutions in the field, including experts on EU enlargement, on the EaP and the EaP countries themselves and on the Eurasian Economic Union. A rich variety of disciplines is incorporated, including political science, international relations, law, economics and history;

Adopting an inside-out perspective on the challenges of transformation the EaP countries and the EU face, EU-STRAT will:

  • Develop a conceptual framework for the varieties of social orders in EaP countries to explain the propensity of domestic actors to engage in change;
  • Investigate how bilateral, regional and global interdependencies shape the scope of action and the preferences of domestic actors in the EaP countries;
  • De-centre the EU by studying the role of selected member states and other external actors active in the region;
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the Association Agreements and alternative EU instruments, including scientific cooperation, in supporting change in the EaP countries;
  • Analyse normative discourses used by the EU and Russia to enhance their influence over the shared neighbourhood;
  • Formulate policy recommendations to strengthen the EU’s capacity to support change in the EaP countries by advancing different scenarios for developmental pathways.

Research under EU-STRAT is expected to start in May 2016.