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CEPS Project


Good intentions, mixed results – A conflict sensitive unpacking of the EU comprehensive approach to conflict and crisis mechanisms

Unit Involved

Foreign Policy

01 April 2016 / 31 March 2019

The project unpacked EU crisis response mechanisms, with the aim to increase their conflict sensitivity and efficiency. By combining bottom–up perspectives with an institutional approach, EUNPACK enhanced our understanding of how EU external crisis responses function and are received on the ground. This entailed exploring local agencies and perceptions in target countries without losing sight of the EU’s institutions and their expectations and ambitions. It also required us to examine the whole conflict cycle, from prevention through to crisis management and into post-conflict rehabilitation.

The EUNPACK project analysed two gaps in EU crisis response. First, the intentions–implementation gap, which relates to

1) the capacity to make decisions and respond with one voice and to deploy the necessary resources,
2) how these responses are implemented on the ground by various EU institutions and member states, and
3) how other actors – local and international – enhance or undermine the EU’s activities.

Second, the project addressed the gap between the implementation of EU policies and approaches, and how these policies and approaches are received and perceived in target countries, i.e. the implementation–local reception/perceptions gap. Our main finding was that the severity of the two gaps is a decisive factor for the EU’s impacts on crisis management and thus its ability to contribute more effectively to problem-solving on the ground. We analysed these gaps through cases that reflect the variation of EU crisis responses in three concentric areas surrounding the EU: the enlargement area (Kosovo, Serbia), the neighbourhood area (Ukraine, Libya), and the extended neighbourhood (Mali, Iraq, Afghanistan). The results of our research enabled us to present policy recommendations to make the EU’s crisis response mechanisms more conflict and context sensitive, and thereby more efficient and sustainable.

CEPS Project

Project Details

Foreign Policy


Good intentions, mixed results – A conflict sensitive unpacking of the EU comprehensive approach to conflict and crisis mechanisms

More About...

Contract Number:

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 693337.
Steven Blockmans Steven Blockmans
Steven Blockmans
+32 (0)2 229 39 25
Project Partners

Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU)
Alliance for Rebuilding Governance in Africa (ARGA)
Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP)
Comenius University
Freie Universitaet Berlin (FU)
Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain (IRMC)
Kosovar Center for Security Studies (KCSS)
Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)
Sant’ Anna School of Advanced Studies
University of Manchester (UoM)

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