The main objective of this project is to unpack EU crisis response practices and thereby be able to provide knowledge about the current EU crisis response that both will increase our knowledge about how crisis response functions and how it can be improved. By introducing a bottom up perspective combined with an institutional approach, this project breaks with the dominant scholarship on EU crisis response that only tend to see one side of the equation. Such an approach will enable us to explore local agencies and perceptions in target countries without loosing sight of the EU’s institutions and their expectations and ambitions and allows us to analyze the full cycle of dynamic events; from EU's intentions, motivations and subsequent implementation, to local actors' perceptions and reactions, and back again to EU intentions and understanding. Thus, as our project will be attentive to the local level in target countries as well as to the EU level and the connections between these levels our approach is neither completely bottom up, nor top-down, but designed to use a bottom-up approach in combination with an institutional approach.

The main research questions of EUNPACK are therefore the following:

  1. To what extent is there a mismatch between the intentions of the EU’s comprehensive crisis approach and its implementation in the different target countries covered by this study?
  2. How does the EU crisis response policy resonate with local ownership? Is it marked by a mismatch, and if so to what extent and regarding which dimensions of policy-making?
  3. If there is a mismatch, what are the main explanations for this mismatch? We will examine whether it is (among others) due to:
    • a lack of local ownership, in terms of problem definitions, local preferences (and internal conflicts), appropriateness of policy responses?
    • a lack of a positive EU reputation/image and legitimacy possibly impinging on local ownership?
    • a lack of resources?
    • insufficient internal or external coordination?
    • a lack of conflict sensitivity and a deficient analysis of the problems at hand by the EU?
    • How and to what extent is conflict sensitivity taken into account in the different phases of the Union’s crisis response and at the different levels (both in Brussels and in the field)?
  4. Based on this, to what extent is the comprehensive approach possible to succeed in its current form? And what kind of changes might be required?

The project will examine these research questions both at the EU-level and in the field with the ambition to identify some degree of impact and lessons learnt. We will examine both how the EU is IMPLEMENTING its approach to crises/conflicts in PRACTICE and what are the constraining factors for implementation of a comprehensive approach