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Session Overview
Panel 601: Understanding EU Crisis Diplomacy in the European Neighbourhood - Strategic Narratives and Perceptions of the EU in Ukraine, Israel and Palestine
Tuesday, 03/Sep/2019:
2:55pm - 4:25pm

Session Chair: Ana Isabel Xavier, UAL-OBSERVARE & CEI/ISCTE-IUL
Location: Anfiteatro 8

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Understanding EU Crisis Diplomacy in the European Neighbourhood - Strategic Narratives and Perceptions of the EU in Ukraine, Israel and Palestine

Chair(s): Ana Isabel Xavier (Universidade Autónoma)

This panel seeks to better understand the role of communication and perception in EU crisis diplomacy.Catarina Kinnvall, Ian Manners and Jennifer Mitzen argue that, ‘...the greatest security challenge facing people across Europe is not physical, despite the threats of Putin and ISIS, but is a sense of fear and anxiety over their daily lives’ (2018: 249). We take an interdisciplinary approach to widen the scope of studies on European security and offer new avenues for further research into how citizens in the EU’s neighbourhood understand the security challenges they face and the role the EU plays in addressing these. Through so doing, we aim to bring theoretical and methodological innovation to understanding the role of the EU as an external actor.


Presentations of the Symposium


Narratives of the EU in Israel/Palestine – and in the EU: Narrative 'Stickiness' and the Formation of Expectations

Alister Miskimmon1, Ben O'Loughlin2
1Queen's University Belfast, 2Royal Holloway

This paper triangulates a mix of elite interviews, media content analysis and an original Q-sort public opinion methodology to map the presence of narratives about EU relations in different sections of Israeli and Palestinian society and how narratives about the EU’s neighbourhood crises are understood inside the EU, taking Germany and Lithuania as cases. Our aim is to identify the narrative “terrain” or conditions that the EU communicates to and with. We find broad recognition that the EU’s capacity to act in international relations is necessary but limited in the face of greater challenges in the international system, and indeed, within the EU itself. This suggests a shift from Hill’s (1993) conception of the ‘capabilities-expectations gap’. Participants’ narratives reflect the growing pragmatism in the EU’s foreign policy outlined in the European Global Strategy. We find little evidence that young people radically reshape the narratives they encounter in their public spheres, but nevertheless some important divisions emerge that pose problems for how EU policymakers can communicate consistently without dismaying some citizens. For EU communication to have credibility, it must work with the grain of national publics’ longstanding and “sticky” narratives of the international system and the character of states within it.


Narrators’ Perspectives: Communicating the EU in Ukraine, Israel and Palestine in Times of Conflict

Natalia Chaban1, Michele Knodt2, Sarunas Liekis3
1University of Canterbury (New Zealand), National Centre for Research on Europe, 2TU Darmstadt, Institut für Politikwissenschaft, 3Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy, Vytautas Magnus University

Scholarly insights into what drives opinions of and narratives on the EU in external societies to support or oppose their country’s alignment with the EU have been scarce. This paper adds to the literature on EU dialogue with its conflicted neighbours in the East (Ukraine) and South (Israel and Palestine). Conceptualising news media as a process, we look into perceptions of newsmakers that underlie their reception of the EU’s strategic narratives and feed into their communication of the EU to local stakeholders and the general public. This paper will demonstrate that all journalists perceive EU coverage in their respective locations to be led by local priorities, with Ukrainian journalists being the most parochial. These outlooks – in combination with predominantly negative views of the EU as a weakening, biased, ineffective, elitist and arrogant actor – creates conditions for the birth and dissemination Euro-distant and even Euro-sceptic media narratives. The paper will explain why this is the case.


Perceptions of EU Mediation and Mediation Effectiveness: Comparing Perspectives from Ukraine and the EU

Michele Knodt1, Natalia Chaban2, Ole Elgström3
1TU Darmstadt, Institut für Politikwissenschaft, 2University of Canterbury (New Zealand), National Centre for Research on Europe, 3Department of Political Science, Lund University

A small but growing literature has started to analyse the EU ‘as an effective peacemaker’. We make a contribution to this field by investigating EU mediation effectiveness in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The focus is on perceptions of effectiveness. Based on information from semi-structured interviews, we compare EU self-images with Ukrainian evaluations of EU mediation efforts. How effective is the EU, including its Member States, deemed to be? What factors are believed to lie behind perceived (in)effectiveness? We concentrate on four such factors, derived from the mediator literature: perceived (im)partiality, coherence and credibility and, finally, evaluations of the EU’s mediation strategies. Both internal and external views singled out EU member states as the most effective actors in current mediation. The role of EU was seen in ambivalent terms by both sides. All the four determinants of mediation effectiveness are discussed in our material, but differ considerably in the degree of attention given to each of them. While (im)partiality is not a factor that is linked to effectiveness in any straightforward way, EU incoherence is associated with inconsistent and weak policies, notably in the Ukraine material.


Normative Power Europe and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The EU’s Peacebuilding Narrative Meets Local Narratives

Patrick Müller
University of Vienna, Institute for European Integration Research (EIF), and Vienna School for International Studies

Building on strategic narrative theory this article conceives the EU’s normative power in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a discourse that projects views of the international system, the EU’s identity as a peacebuilder, and its positions on specific conflict issues. The EU’s normative power narrative interacts with - and is perceived through - local narratives of the parties to the conflict, which show diverging degrees of narrative alignment with the EU. Highlighting the importance of local narratives as ‘cultural filters’, this article argues that a high degree of alignment of local narratives with key elements of the EU’s normative power narrative facilitates positive images of the EU as a normative power, whilst diverging local narratives tend to give rise to more critical views. Yet, the case of Palestine also shows that strong narrative alignment with the EU may encourage high expectations and a perceived gap between the EU´s normative aspirations and its actual foreign policy conduct.

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