Lost in Transformation: Explaining the EU's Non-adaptive Approach to Regional Conflicts
This article accounts for the EU’s failure to implement a strategy of Conflict Transformation (CT) through Regional Integration (RI) in four selected regions: Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). As a normative power, the EU has traditionally acted as a promoter of regional integration, with an underlying view of reducing regional conflicts. The academic literature, however, has failed to assess the exact role of the ‘RI-CT nexus’1 in the EU’s foreign policy toolbox, as well as its outcomes. To fill this gap, our study investigates the degree to which the RI-CT strategy is perceived by EU practitioners as a key deliverable and what concrete measures or influence paths have been implemented by the EU. We show that the EU has made use of four main types of influence paths in order to transform regional conflict dynamics. Nevertheless, our findings also demonstrate that RI developments within the different regions and, in particular, negative regional responses, progressively led EU practitioners to adapt and develop a behaviour of self-restraint.
Article produced in the framework of the RegioConf project. An earlier version has been presented at the final RegioConf conference "The EU, Regional Integration and Conflict Resolution", Brussels, 14 November 2014.