Third EU-STRAT newsletter is available!

Newsletter / September 2017

We have just released  EU-STRAT’s third newsletter!

Highlights include:

  • “Working togheter on ‘medium caliber’ goals”: Interview with Michał Boni (Member of the European Parliament)
  • EU-STRAT at work | A look at science policies and international cooperation in the Eastern Neighbourhood
  • Russian Soft Power: Official Discourses and Less Official Actors
  • Policy comment | Making Association Agreements with the EU a Modernizing Tool: towards a more focused, developmental and innovative approach
  • Stories from the field

…and more! 

Click here to download the third issue of EU-STRAT’s newsletter!

EU-STRAT’s Midterm Conference forthcoming in October 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania


EU-STRAT’s midterm conference will take place from October 5-6, 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The conference sets out to present the intermediary findings of our research project EU-STRAT that set out to provide a re-assessment of the European Neighbourhood Policy, focusing on the Eastern Partnership countries.

The midterm conference features a keynote speech by Leszek Balcerowicz (Professor at the Warsaw School of Economics, Former Advisor to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko) and Vassilis Maragos (European Commission, Head of Unit, DG Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR)) followed by roundtable discussion on the future of the Eastern Partnership. Throughout the conference, all project partners, invited guests, and the interested public will have the opportunity to discuss EU-STRAT’s intermediary findings and debate its future research agenda.

Please find the draft programme of the event here (last update 13 September 2017).

Please follow this link to register for the conference.

For further information on the conference, please contact Eglė Kontvainė (


New Working Paper on the effects of scientific cooperation between the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries

Working paper / August 2017

We have just published EU-STRAT’s fifth working paper! The working paper studies the effects of the EU’s scientific cooperation programmes on the Eastern Partnership countries. It comprises a bibliometric analysis of the impact on the scientific output and a qualitative study of the broader societal impact of scientific cooperation. The working paper is co-authored by Honorata Mazepus and Dimiter Toshkov from Leiden University and Tatsiana Chulitskaya and Ina Ramasheuskaya from SYMPA.

Here is the abstract (click on the link above or thumbnail image on the right for free access to the full text):

The Effects of the EU’s Scientific Cooperation Programmes on the Eastern Partnership Countries: Scientific Output and Broader Societal Impact

by Honorata Mazepus (LU), Dimiter Toshkov (LU), Tatsiana Chulitskaya (LU), and Ina Ramasheuskaya (SYMPA)

“Scientific cooperation between the European Union (EU) and its Eastern neighbours has grown rapidly since the early 2000s. This cooperation holds great promise to influence not only the science and innovation sectors, but also to affect the practices and values of research communities in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, their public policies, and societies at large. In this paper we aim to assess the impact of scientific cooperation with the EU with a focus on three countries of the EaP: Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. Our analysis is divided into two parts: first, we focus on the scientific impact and conduct a bibliometric analysis that tracks several important indicators of the scientific output of Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine for the period of 2000-2016; second, we address the broader impact on the scientific community, institutions, and society by analysing new data from expert interviews. In terms of scientific output we find that while the EU has not radically transformed science in the EaP countries it might have provided it with an essential lifeline of support. We also uncover clear evidence for positive impact of cooperation with the EU on the participating institutions from the EaP countries, but very little evidence (so far) about effects on public policies or significant impact on society at large.”


New policy comment is out!

Policy comment / August 2017

Making Association with the EU a Modernizing Tool: towards a more focused, developmental and innovative approach

by Klaudijus Maniokas (ESTEP), Kataryna Wolczuk (UoB), Laure Delcour (FMSH), Rilka Dragneva (UoB), Darius Žeruolis (ESTEP)

“The Association Agreement (AA) was meant to become a major tool not only to enhance relations with the EU, but also to help to modernize or even transform Eastern EU members in a similar manner to what was achieved during the latest EU enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe. Was this a feasible expectation? Does the AA have the potential to become a major modernization tool?

While the AAs offer a template for reforms in order to address weaknesses of the partner countries, such as weak state institutions, lack of competitiveness and socio-economic mis-development, importing the acquis by the partner countries is not only not the solution to these problems, but may actually exacerbate them. This is primarily because it is questionable whether these countries have the capacity to ensure the effectiveness of the vast and sophisticated corpus of rules they are importing, and, whether the acquis actually helps address the immediate developmental objectives of these countries. The suitability of the  acquis for fast and cost-effective modernization of the state and economy is not clear. (…)”


Did you like it? Please take a look at our previous policy comments!

New working paper on the elements of Russia’s soft power

EU-STRAT’s fourth working paper is just out: you can find it here! The paper analyzes the elements of Russia’s soft power, and is produced by a team of EU-STRAT scholars from four partner institutions: Antoaneta Dimitrova, Matthew Frear, Honorata Mazepus, Dimiter Toshkov, Maxim Boroda, Tatsiana Chulitskaya, Oleg Grytsenko, Igor Munteanu, Tatiana Parvan, and Ina Ramasheuskaya. Here is the abstract:

Soft power can be exerted by a variety of actors using different channels and tools. This paper focuses on actors and channels transmitting Russian messages and discourses in the Eastern Partnership countries. It contributes to enhancing our understanding of Russian influences in the region in two ways. First, it maps the network of influential actors who have the potential to transmit Russian messages and target various audiences. Second, it offers a detailed analysis of the coverage of Russia (and the European Union (EU)) in one important channel for dissemination of information about Russia and the EU: popular TV stations in Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. The analysis shows the presence of a wide variety of actors focusing on ‘compatriots’, religious bonds, and Russian-language speakers in the region, which reflects the key ideas of the ‘Russian World’ narrative. These actors promote Russia’s role as a centre of gravity and aim to appeal to Russians, Slavs and Orthodox Christians. This image of Russia, however, does not dominate the news programmes in any of the three countries. In Moldova and Ukraine, Russia is most often mentioned (negatively) in the context of security, while in Belarus it is covered more often than the EU in economy-related news items. Moreover, a large portion of the news about Russia and the EU has no positive or negative tone or is presented in a balanced way. In general, apart from what was conveyed by Russian TV channels, Russia does not have a more positive image than the EU in the news programmes in the countries we monitored.

New Working Paper on Russian foreign policy discourses published

EU-STRAT has just published its third working paper: ‘A New Turn or More of the Same? A Structured Analysis of Recent Developments in Russian Foreign Policy Discourse’. The authors are Matthew Frear and Honorata Mazepus.

The full text is available here and in the Publications/Working papers section of this website. Here is the abstract:

Russia and the European Union (EU) pursue active policies in their shared neighbourhood. The official Russian foreign policy discourses that we analyse here provide insights into the most important foreign policy ideas that Russia seeks to promote. They show how Russia perceives its role in the region and the world, as well as how it wants to develop its relations with neighbours. Building on previous studies identifying the main discourses in Russian foreign policy, this paper offers a new, comprehensive analysis of recent Foreign Policy Concepts and the annual Presidential Addresses to the Federal Assembly during President Vladimir Putin’s third term. The paper contributes to our understanding of Russian foreign policy discourses and Russia’s stance vis-a-vis the EU in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) region. Rather than focusing on a single aspect of foreign policy (a common practice adopted by many existing studies), it provides an analysis of all of them, thereby showing any shift in emphasis on different aspects of foreign policy and regions over time. Moreover, it takes a closer look at the content of the economic pitch within the official Russian discourses to attract the countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In this way, rather than focusing on what Russia does not offer (the values and political system of Western countries), it investigates whether the discourses presented contain a potential positive offer for the countries in the region.

EU-STRAT at the EUSA Fifteenth Biennial Conference!

EU-STRAT partners presented ongoing research at the European Union Studies Association Conference in Miami on May 4, 2017. The panel entitled “The European Union’s Approach to its Eastern Neighbors: Introducing an Inside-out Perspective for Analysis”, featured researchers from Freie Universität Berlin and the University of St. Gallen. A paper co-authored by Esther Ademmer, Tanja A. Börzel, and Julia Langbein presented a conceptual framework and a preliminary empirical application on how to grasp varieties of social orders in Eastern Partnership countries. The second paper by Katharina Hoffmann and Dirk Lehmkuhl elaborated on a heuristic for assessing the strategies of external actors and their influence social orders, focusing especially on the case of Turkey. The paper presentations were followed by a vivid and insightful debate with the audience and Wade Jacoby – the discussant to the panel – that provided constructive and inspiring ideas on how to further shape EU-STRAT’s research.


Federica Mogherini on the future of the Eastern Partnership

From May 3-5, 2017, EU-STRAT team member Minna Ålander from Freie Universität Berlin took part in ‘The EU and Global Challenges: 28 Ideas from the Erasmus Generation’, a conference at the University of Florence, Italy. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, visited the conference for a Q&A session. Among other topics, she commented on the future of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative.

Mogherini stated that the EaP initiative will have to be developed to acknowledge the individual needs and contexts of the partner countries more accurately, a so-called ‘tailor-made’ approach to each country. The recent events in Ukraine especially have shown that the partners’ relations with Russia must be taken into consideration when tailoring these individual approaches, as some partners are in outright conflict with Russia, while others maintain close ties. Mogherini emphasised, however, that the main goal of the EaP is to make clear that having good relations with the EU does not exclude partners having good relations with Russia. Furthermore, Mogherini stressed the role of trade agreements as an important tool to enhance the partnerships with EaP countries. She named visa liberalisation with Ukraine as a priority and expressed her satisfaction with the recent successful negotiations of a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with Armenia in March 2017. Her statement highlighted the need for rethinking the EaP in the light of current developments, confirming the relevance of EU-STRAT’s research aims.

First policy brief published

EU-STRAT’s first policy brief has been published! You can find it here. The policy brief deals with the EU’s communication with Eastern Partnership countries. These are the main conclusions:

(1) The EU’s communications clearly reflect the different modes of cooperation with the EaP countries. The EU communicates as a transformative power where cooperation with EaP countries is based on AAs and DCFTAs and has therefore a transformational purpose. The EU communicates as a normative power where democracy and human rights are critically at stake, as in the case of Belarus.

(2) The most positive coverage of the EU is on Moldovan TV channels. Russia is, predictably, covered in a more positive light than the EU in Belarusian TV and main news programmes. Coverage in Ukraine, however, is not only (understandably) negative about Russia, but also rather mixed regarding the EU.

(3) EU member states receive substantial attention in EaP countries; demonstrated in that the amount of coverage exceeds even that of Russia. However, this does not mean that the EU’s assistance and policies are well covered or explained.

For background on these conclusions, read the full text of the policy brief.


5 April 2017

The research project EU-STRAT would like to express support for the European University at St. Petersburg (EUSP) from the researchers at ten of its partner institutions: Freie Universitaet Berlin (Germany), Leiden University (Netherlands), Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme (France), Vilnius University (Lithuania), Ukrainian Institute for Public Policy (Ukraine), University of St. Gallen (Switzerland), European Social, Legal and Economics Projects (Lithuania), The School of Young Managers in Public Administration (Belarus), Institute for Development and Social Initiatives ‘Viitorul’ (Moldova), and the University of Birmingham (U.K.).

The revoking of EUSP’s teaching license has deeply troubled the EU-STRAT community, especially considering the university’s role as a pioneer in academic exchange and research over the years. With partners spanning from Western to Eastern Europe, EU-STRAT urges the continuation of EUSP’s work and valuable contribution to the field of social sciences. EUSP plays an integral role as exchange between the peoples and academic communities of Europe and Russia is needed now more than ever, as is the perpetuation of independent research. We therefore urge the Russian Ministry of Education and Science to aid EUSP in resolving the case against them, so as to allow teaching and learning to continue undisturbed.

Sincerely, on behalf of all EU-STRAT partners listed,

Tanja A. Börzel
EU-STRAT Project Coordinator
Freie Universität Berlin

Antoaneta Dimitrova
EU-STRAT Project Co-coordinator
Leiden University

Original Letter (pdf)