Good Intentions, Mixed Results: Ukraine, Iraq and a conflict-sensitive unpacking of the EU comprehensive approach to crisis response mechanisms

On the 20th April 2016 in Brussels, the Centre for European Political Studies (CEPS) launched a new CEPS Horizon 2020 project, which aims at analysing EU’s crisis-response mechanisms in Ukraine, Kosovo, Serbia, Livia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Mali. In particular, Ukraine and Iraq were used as case studies to better understand crisis response functions at the EU level, their perception on the ground, and how they can be improved.

Senior Research Fellow at Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) Pernille Rieker said that this project would be the first study that allows an analysis of the full conflict cycle, starting from EU intentions, motivations and subsequent implementation, to local actors’ perceptions and reactions.

Research Professor at NUPI Francesco Strazzari presented the case of Ukraine and highlighted its particularities: “We have a crisis, which in terms of perception started in Kyiv with the Euromaidan. However, today’s main definition of the crisis is territorial one: it’s about the question of Ukraine’s territories annexed by Russia.” The case of Ukraine is very important, as it tests how the EU deals with the conflicts and crises, where there is a major power involved – in Ukraine’s case, it is Russia. Another particularity of the Ukrainian crisis is that it was triggered by the association negotiations with the EU, which was the case of contested Europeanization in the country and it currently remains contested even within the EU, as the referendum in the Netherlands shows.

Head of EU Foreign Policy at CEPS Steven Blockmans raised the issue of the expectations of the study and possible policy recommendations for the EU. Pernille Rieker answered that even though the project remains in its early stage, one thing was obvious – until now the EU had “one size fits all”-policies to different regions. Therefore, the focus of the study on conflict sensitivity and local perceptions will help develop suitable policy recommendations for different regions. “EU has to have more diversified policies towards different regions”, said Pernille Rieker.