Patterns and processes of EU Structural Diplomacy: Dealing with Kosovo and the DR Congo

This research activity focuses on an exploration of the processes through which the EU’s diplomatic system responds to the challenges arising in its relations with countries in a process of state-building, in this case Kosovo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC or DR Congo). In these cases the full range of the EU diplomatic system is involved, aiming to create and shape political, legal, economic and social structures. The investigation will focus on the following research questions:

  • What challenges are posed to the EU’s diplomatic activities in Kosovo and the DRC?
  • How has the EU’s diplomatic system re-configured itself to deal with the cases of Kosovo and the DRC? In particular, how has this process affected the nature of the EU diplomatic community?
  • What are the key contexts (both internal and external) within which the EU diplomatic system interacts with Kosovo and the DRC?
  • How has the EU’s diplomatic system ‘learned’ to deal with Kosovo and the DRC? In particular, how has the system responded to the need to establish rule of law and security structures?
  • What processes of interaction have taken place in dealing with Kosovo and the DRC? In particular, how do/did the ESDP-missions to Kosovo and the DRC contribute to the establishment of the rule of law and security structures? How do they demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of the EU’s diplomatic system?
  • How has the EU’s diplomatic system responded to issues of coordination both within the EU and within the international system?

The research is conducted through documentary methods, and interviews with key participants in Brussels, Kosovo and the DRC. The approach is qualitative, focused on developing an understanding of the ways in which the EU’s diplomatic system receives and responds to new challenges. The three key concepts to be applied are those of learning, negotiation and implementation. The focus is on both empirical and normative aspects of the processes under investigation.

The research, led by Professor Stephan Keukeleire, is based at KU Leuven, with contributions made by PhD students specialised in Kosovo and the DRC. There will also be interaction with the parallel projects being conducted at Loughborough University, which focuses on the relations with the BRIC countries and Maastricht University, which focuses on the institutional aspects of the EU’s diplomatic system. The workshop to be organised by KU Leuven, will also bring together discussions relating to research activity 1 and research activity 2.

The research will produce an innovative analysis of the relations between the EU and Kosovo and the DRC, which will be of significant interest to the academic community in diplomatic studies. The research will also contribute to official understanding of the operation of the EU diplomatic system, and of the ways in which it adapts to new challenges; this understanding can be enhanced through the use of research materials in training and other contexts. Papers produced will be posted on the conference web site and the research will also feed into policy papers.
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