Project Overview:

EUNPACK has been designed and developed to critically examine whether EU external crisis response is sensitive to the political and social context on the ground. In order to achieve this the project takes a holistic approach that covers the whole crisis cycle, the full EU toolbox, and the EU’s ability to respond to crises in different types of regions (e.g. Enlargement Area, ENP Area and Extended neighbourhood). This allows us to provide analyses of the EU’s comprehensive approach – the method of choice in external action – and how it is implemented in the field; to undertake a comparative analysis of the Union’s approach to crisis in different regional contexts; and thereby identify lessons learnt to suggest how EU crisis management institutions and policies can be improved.

The EU is one of the world’s most frequently studied international institutions. However, what is lacking is systematic, in-depth analysis of the EU crisis response mechanisms in specific target countries and how these mechanisms are received and perceived on the ground, not just by governments and elites, but also by different groups of people. This is important as the EU’s activities resonate differently with different groups of the population. The main objective of EUNPACK is therefore to unpack EU crisis reponse mechanisms in order to provide new insights that can increase our understanding of how crisis reponse functions and is received on the ground in target countries, and how it can be improved. By introducing a bottom-up perspective combined with an institutional approach, we will be able to explore local agencies and perceptions in target countries without losing sight of the EU’s institutions and their expectations and ambitions. This allows EUNPACK to analyse the full cycle of dynamic events, from EU intentions, motivations and subsequent implementation, to local actors’ perceptions and reactions, and back again to EU intentions and understanding. This will be achieved through the employment of a mixed-methods approach that combines desk research and fieldwork, including surveys, perception studies and in-depth interviews. In line with is grounded approach to research, EUNPACK will collect primary empirical data with a focus on practices rather than mandates, focusing on how the EU is seen as an operating actor in crisis response by target states and audiences. The cases studies in EUNPACK are selected on the basis of a range of challenges that the EU addresses (different types of crisis and different levels of crises) and the variation in policy frameworks and instruments employed to respond to these challenges. Our project will therefore study the EU’s crisis response mechanisms in the policy realms of enlargement (Kosovo and Serbia), neighbourhood (Ukraine and Libya) and the extended neighbourhood (Mali, Afghanistan and Iraq).

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