EU-STRAT’s Midterm Conference took place in Vilnius!

EU-STRAT’s Midterm Conference took place last week from 5-6 October at our partner institute, Vilnius University, in Lithuania. Keynote speeches from Leszek Balcerowicz (Warsaw School of Economics & former advisor to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko) and Vassilis Maragos (European Commission, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations) started off two days of discussions on how interdependencies shape social orders, usage of EU and Russian soft power, and the strategies of external actors in the Eastern Partnership countries, amongst other research topics of EU-STRAT.

Leszek Balcerowicz (Professor at the Warsaw School of Economics, Former Advisor to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko)

Vassilis Maragos (European Commission, Head of Unit, DG Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR))

Andrius Kubilius (former Prime Minister of Lithuania)

Khatuna Salukvadze (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Lithuania)

Coordinator Tanja A. Börzel  (FU Berlin)

Co-Coordinator Antoaneta Dimitrova (Leiden University)

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 welcoming word by Linas Linkevičius (Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania), 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 programme of the event here (last update 26 September 2017).

Please follow this link to register for the conference.

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


Sixth EU-STRAT Working Paper is out!

Working paper / September 2017

EU-STRAT’s sixth working paper is out. Click on the paper title below to download PDF.

Working Paper No.6 (2017): The Association Agreements as a Dynamic Framework: Between Modernization and Integration

Kataryna Wolczuk, Laure Delcour, Rilka Dragneva, Klaudijus Maniokas, Darius Žeruolis




The EU has concluded the Association Agreements (AAs) with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. These are very ambitious, complex and comprehensive legal treaties. The AAs have a dual purpose: to enable political cooperation and economic integration with the EU and promote modernization of the partner countries. The key instrument in achieving these goals is the ‘export of the acquis’: the partner countries have taken on extensive, binding commitments to adopt the vast sways of the acquis.

In this paper, however, we argue that the transformative role of the acquis on its own have not been tested and hence should not be overstated ex ante. In our view, for the AAs to achieve their objectives, it is imperative to recognise this underlying challenge and develop strategies to address the fundamental ‘commitment-capacity gap’ in the partner countries.

Against this backdrop, we investigate to what extent EU’s strategy focuses on the narrowly defined legal approximation versus broader support for strengthening state capacity. In the empirical part of the paper we examine specific measures adopted to close the ‘commitment-capacity’ gap of the partner country. Our analyses indicate that only in the case of Ukraine have some deliberate, pro-active adaptations taken place. The dramatic events of 2014 and Russia’s punitive measures against Ukraine prompted the EU to provide more tailored and flexible assistance to ensure support for institutional reforms, as a precondition for legal approximation. In Moldova, the EU has confronted the fundamental weakness of the state only as a result of the 2014 banking scandal. In Georgia, it seems that the EU is conducting ‘business as usual’, although there is some early evidence that it has started to take into account the developmental needs of the partner country. The limited appreciation of the challenges and resulting adaptions so far has implications in terms of the implementation of the AA and, more importantly, the actual transformative power of the EU in the Eastern neighbourhood.

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!

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.