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.