The EU and Contested Statehood in its Near Abroad: Europeanisation, Actorness and State-Building I
The re-launch of European integration in the post-Maastricht era has triggered a significant volume of scholarship focusing beyond the borders of the EU. As with studies on internal matters of European integration, the centrality of the Westphalian state within EU affairs has resulted in an increasing focus on states. Yet, the engagement of the EU in conflict or post-conflict regions in the wider European periphery has confronted policy makers in Brussels with a significant number of cases of ‘contested statehood’: self-declared states that lack diplomatic recognition, cannot maintain effective control over their respective territory and cannot exercise their authority due to weak state institutions.
Throughout the years, the EU has deployed different tools, policies and mechanisms in order to enhance its state-building role as a way of addressing contested statehood situations that arose both in its own territory and in its near abroad. Despite of this, the way in which the EU deals with contested statehood is still rather under-researched, not least from a comparative perspective. This applies also to the EU’s evolving and fluid ‘actorness’ and the repercussions it has on the EU’s presence in or around contested states. As part of an exciting and emerging research agenda, the panel seeks to engage with the debate on the EU’s role as a state-builder in cases of contested statehood as well as shed light on how the specificities of contested statehood ‘shape’ the EU impact on the ground.
Presentations of the Symposium
The EU and Contested Statehood in its Near Abroad: Europeanisation, Actorness and State-Building
The main purpose of this paper is to interrogate the role of the European Union (EU) as a state-builder in its near abroad. It aims to make a three-fold contribution to the existing literature. Firstly, it provides working definitions on contested statehood and state-building, paying particular attention to how their properties map onto the EU’s own policy tools and the (diverse) nature of the conflicts with which it seeks to engage. Secondly, it engages with three sets of distinct conceptual literatures that are not often cross-fertilised: (i) the international relations scholarship on contested statehood and state-building; (ii) conceptualisations of EU ‘actorness’ in international affairs; and (iii) the literature on the external dimension of Europeanisation and the use of conditionality as a tool of projecting EU power to partner countries. Thirdly, it borrows from the literature on political geography in order to build an interdisciplinary perspective on EU geopolitical imaginations and the geographical dimensions of the EU’s border expansion and crisis management. In this context, we aim to open a dialogue (which has been muted by both sides) with political geographers whose valuable insights in this field are often overlooked by political scientists. Thus, the central aim of this collection is to explore how the hybrid setup and the unique set of institutional, ideational and policy attributes of the EU affect processes of state-building in its near abroad.
Representing Peace? The EU’s Temporal Selves and its Statebuilding
This article provides a poststructuralist analysis of the interplay among the EU’s three temporal selves, elucidating how the ideal representations of the EU’s past and future selves legitimize its statebuilding activities, particularly in cases of contested statehood in its neighbourhood, and reproduce the ideal European self today. The major argument of the article is that the discourse of “successful peaceful European integration” (employed to construct the EU’s past self) and the discourse on “the EU’s normative aspirations about state-/peace building” (employed to construct its future self) help constitute its present identity “as representing peace” – and, thus, as ideal – and legitimize its statebuilding practices. The article takes the ideal constructions of the EU’s past, present and future selves as spatio-temporal practices because they serve the continuous production and reproduction of the boundaries between a peaceful Europe and its conflictual others, which primarily refers to a geographical/geopolitical othering exercise.
Between Normative Visions and Pragmatic Possibilities: The EUropean Politics of State Recognition
During the last decades the map of Europe has changed considerably. New claims for independent statehood were brought forward and demanded for recognition. These claims had to be answered by the European Union and its member states. This article evolves around the idea that state recognition is as much a matter of politics as it is of law. It starts from the assumption that ‘who we are defines what we see’, claiming, that EUropean identity, the images the EU and the member states hold about themselves, shape the mental maps they hold of territories and space. Building on this identity a geopolitical imaginary is formed, which can be defined as ideas, allowing actors to ascribe meaning to territories, establish order in a seemingly chaotic world by means of classification and categorisation and allow to develop strategies for action. The geopolitical imaginary of EUrope contains the vision, that if all states were more like EUrope itself, the world would be a better place: a world determined not by power and coercion, but by rules, norms and values; with conflict mechanisms, not based on the rule of the strongest, but the rule of law; stability, created through common rules, negotiation and economic prosperity; and a determination not to let ‘blunt power-politics’ prevail. This imaginary shapes the way in which Europe makes meaning of claims for statehood and decides which claims to recognise as legitimate. The different elements of the imaginary sometimes contradict each other: law may have to take the back seat in the quest for stability or justice. Law is open to creative interpretations to allow the ‘right’ claims for recognition to prevail and the ‘wrong’ ones to be rejected The tool of recognition is caught between legal arguments and political considerations, between normative visions and pragmatic possibilities.
The Actorness of the EU’s State-Building in Ukraine - Before and after Crimea
In the aftermath of the EU’s diplomatic mission to resolve the Orange Revolution in 2004, several Russian policy makers perceived the EU as an aggressive actor which sought to undermine Russia’s influence in the post-Soviet space. About a decade later, Russian policy makers are mocking the EU’s limited abilities in the ongoing Ukraine crisis. The purpose of this article is to explain the reasons for this change of the EU’s abilities by focusing on its state-building in Ukraine. The article examines the EU’s state-building initiatives in Ukraine between November 2013 and July 2015. The article assesses the factors which shape the EU’s state-building in Ukraine. It argues that the EU’s state-building was hampered by two interrelated factors. First, the EU did not possess the policy tools to counter-balance Russia’s affirmative foreign policy towards Ukraine which was reflected in Crimea’s annexation to Russia. Second, as a consequence, this annexation turned Ukraine into a case of contested statehood.