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A framework of EU foreign policy change
Author: Nikki Ikani

This book provides readers with an analytical framework that serves to investigate and explain how the EU adapts its foreign policy in the wake of crisis. While a range of studies dedicated to foreign policy stability and change exist for the US context, such analyses are rare for the assessment and measurement of foreign policy change at the European Union level. This book explores a range of theories of (foreign) policy change and assesses their value for explaining EU foreign policy change. Changes to EU foreign policy, this study proposes based upon an in-depth investigation of recent episodes in which foreign policy has changed, are not captured well using existing typologies of policy change from other fields of study.

Offering a new perspective on the question of change, this book proposes an analytical framework focused on how institutions, institutional ‘plasticity’ and temporal context impact on the decision-making process leading to change. It thus provides readers with the tools to analyse, explain and conceptualise the various change outcomes in EU foreign policy. In so doing, it sets the theoretical approach of historical institutionalism to work in an EU foreign policy setting. Based on a rich empirical analysis of five case studies it provides a revised typology of EU foreign policy change. It proposes two novel forms of foreign policy change, symbolic change and constructive ambiguity, as frequent and important outcomes of the EU decision-making process.

Abstract only
Nikki Ikani

This book provides a single, dedicated, analytical framework for investigating and explaining how the EU adapts its foreign policy after crises, which can be applied to the formal, institutional realm of EU foreign policiesand the ‘softer’ areas of EU external action. We need to assess first the institutional ‘plasticity’ of the policy area: how rules and institutions constrain the key decision-makers during the process of change, but also how the institutions are moulded by decision-makers. Institutions can give form and can take form. The concept of plasticity holds special value in European studies. A second important building block of this analytical framework is temporal contingency, meaning that the policy reform was not logically necessary but has come about owing to events, not all of them foreseen or expected. The conclusion summarises a revised typology of EU foreign policy change, outlining its potential and suggesting avenues for future research.

in Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy
Abstract only
Nikki Ikani

This chapter outlines how to analyse and explain changes to EU foreign policy. After reviewing various theories of foreign policy change, it argues that how the EU changes its foreign policy after crisis remains under-studied and explains how and why this book intends to complement traditional, cumulative typologies in which each order of policy change is progressively significant. The central premise of this book is that to understand EU foreign policy after crisis, one must understand the decision-making process following those crises in order to grasp what kinds of policy changes – however minor or unsubstantiated – were seen, at what level, their substance, and why this output emerged from the decision-making process. To understand how EU foreign policy changes after crisis, we should consider how institutions and temporal context affected this process. This argument is founded on a theoretical dialogue between historical institutionalism, foreign policy analysis and public policy studies.

in Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy
Nikki Ikani

After discussing its foundations in historical institutionalism, this chapter sets out each building block of the framework. It explains ‘critical junctures’ and how they open up political space for foreign policy change. It explains how institutions shape the process, through providing the setting for the decision-making process, and by determining the ‘key actors’ and their power to pursue change. Key actors may reframe the debate, generate new ideas, shed new perspectives on policy issues and attempt to rally support for their perception and policy change. Institutions and the ‘temporal context’ impact on the process of deciding to change policy following a critical juncture. The chapter explains how to measure the change that follows this process. It proposes to assess EU foreign policy change through mapping the level, substance and the ‘directionality’ of change and ends by discussing research design, historical process tracing and evidence.

in Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy
The Neighbourhood Policy revised
Nikki Ikani

This chapter focuses on how the EU reformed the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) after the Arab uprisings from late 2010, a critical juncture for the ENP, culminating in revision in May 2011. It describes the structural and institutional context, and argues that the EU policies in the Mediterraneanshow the ‘plastic’ nature of the institutions involved. It identifies France, Germany, Spain and Italy as key member state actors in the reform, with the EEAS and the Commissions as key European actors. It describes how the immediate temporal context influenced the policy change process and demonstrates that the outcome was at least partly produced by the temporal context. Between January and February 2011 several developments drove policy change: the spread of the uprisings, their evolution in Egypt and the number of refugees fleeing them greatly increased the salience of the ENP and of the region, and the urgency of ENP reform.

in Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy
Changing the Neighbourhood Policy once more
Nikki Ikani

This chapter details the 2015 ENP reform after the Ukraine crisis. It explains how the institutional arrangements of the ENP allocated political authority during this critical juncture. Their main institutional ‘effects’ were the ENP’s long focus on trade and socio-economic development; its technocratic approach, particularly towards the east; and how its government made the institutions quite plastic – able to both shape and be shaped by the decision-making process. Germany, France and Poland took the lead in ENP reform because of this plasticity, aided by the political nature of the Ukraine crisis. The chapter discusses how the key actors perceived this critical juncture, their policy preferences and how these affected the reform. It focuses on how the temporal context impacted on the reform process, reconstructing the events that changed key actors’ perceptions: the Vilnius Summit and the ‘Euromaidan’, Yanukovych’s ousting, the annexation of the Crimea and the downing of flight MH17.

in Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy
Nikki Ikani

This chapter develops a typology by first addressing shortcomings in existing conceptualisations of policy change when applied to EU foreign policy change. The starting point is the different kinds of policy change observed in Chapters 2 and 3. This chapter identifies changes which are difficult to identify using cumulative typologies that divide policy change into progressive ‘orders’, either because first-order and second-order policy changes – which ought to precede or accompany third-order ‘paradigm changes’ – are absent, or because they constitute a different kind of paradigm change, where the policy rationale is questioned and modified without policy undergoing substantive change. It argues that two categories – symbolic change and constructive ambiguity – complement the policy change outputs for the EU, and both institutional plasticity and temporal contingency affect which outcome is more likely. This chapter suggests dividing the temporal context into three registers: structural (decades, centuries), conjunctural (years) and liminal (days, weeks).

in Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy
Nikki Ikani

This chapter takes this book’s analytical framework on three ‘test-drives’, to assessing design and handling. Tested are the 2014/15 changes in response to Russian disinformation, the migration/asylum crisis of 2015 and the European security crisis between 2014 and 2018. In all three cases, the critical juncture included features making reform highly salient. The test-drives illustrate the various possible change outcomes and several reasons for this variety, and provide insight into the conditions under which policy changes are a likely outcome. The East StratCom Task Force illustrates how constructive ambiguity may emerge after crisis, while the asylum crisis mainly sparked symbolic and some first-order changes. The crisis in European security and defence produced first- and second-order policy changes, along with changes essentially symbolic. Not all policy change is substantive, progressive or tangible. Policy changes may cut across threefold categories, and contain elements of all three or elements that fit none.

in Crisis and change in European Union foreign policy