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Natalia Shapovalova

PhD thesis: Advocacy & Interest Group Influence in EU Foreign Policy

I have submitted my PhD thesis at the Department of Politics & International Studies. Prior to Warwick, I studied at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine (BA in Political Science); the Maria Curie Sklodowska University, Poland (Master in International Relations) and Maastricht University, the Netherlands (MA in European Public Affairs). I also worked as a researcher at the International Centre for Policy Studies, Ukraine, and FRIDE, a European think-tank, based in Madrid.

My thesis is about interest groups and advocacy in EU foreign policy. My interest in this issue has been inspired by my academic and professional activity. My Master course at Maastricht University (2008/2009) focused on such issues as EU governance and interest representation. After graduation, I worked for a European think-tank (2009/2012) which largely focused on Europe's role at the international arena. While following EU policies towards Eastern neighbours which was my main research focus, I noticed that along with EU member states, EU institutions and international organisations, there were many non-state players be they transnational NGOs or business actors that were trying to shape EU foreign policy agenda, decisions and actions in third countries and at the international fora. However, systematic knowledge on the roles of non-states actors in EU foreign policy making was lacking. Neither the literature on interest groups in the EU, nor the literature on EU foreign policy could shed the light on non-state actors' advocacy in EU foreign policy (for a recent exception see Voltolini's study (2013, 2015) of non-state actor lobbying in EU's policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict).

Most studies of EU on foreign policy making look at such actors as EU member states, the European Commission, the European Parliament and national parliaments, and more recently the role of the EU bureaucracy and diplomacy. Studies examining the role of non-states actors in EU foreign policy remain rare. Similarly, EU foreign policy has long been neglected by the students of lobbying and interest groups in the EU. A possible explanation is that, unlike Community policy areas, EU foreign policy is dominated by intergovernmental bodies – the Council of the EU and the European Council –“the least accessible” EU institutions. The most lobbied EU institutions – the Commission and the Parliament – have limited or no powers in this policy area.

According to the logic of intergovernmentalism, one may expect that interest groups would rather act according to the logic of 'two-level games', lobbying their national governments and leaving them to represent their positions at the intergovernmental level. Nevertheless, there is a growing number of interest groups in EU foreign policy arena, as the EU Transparency Register shows. In March 2013, 884 interest representatives with interest in EU Foreign and Security Policy and Defence have registered at the joint Transparency Register of the European Commission and the European Parliament. In addition, 1355 organisations and self-employed individuals have registered under a broadly defined rubric of External relations and 902 have registered under Enlargement. To compare, 2430 interest representatives are registered in the internal market field, 1680 – in the trade area, 1473 in the field of development. This goes in line with a shift in theoretical approaches to EU foreign policy from those which emphasise the central decision-making role of the members states (liberal intergovernmentalism, two-levels games) to EU integration theories (multi-level governance, Europeanisation).

The underlying research question of my thesis is how and to what extent interest groups influence EU foreign policy. In particular, the study inquires into the relationship between institutional factors, on the one hand, and advocacy strategies and influence, on the other. Conceptualising EU foreign policy as multi-level and multi-pillar, I examine the relationship between policy regime (ranging from the Community method to the intergovernmental method, as these predominate in different areas of EU external relations) and the degree and type of interest group influence. To do this, I compare three examples of EU foreign policy: visa liberalisation towards the Eastern neighbours; sanctions towards Belarus; and CSDP missions in Georgia and Palestine. Data for my research have been largely collected through interviews with advocacy groups and policy-makers and supported by analysis of policy documents, documents produced by groups and press articles.

My thesis is written under supervision of Prof. Richard Youngs and Dr. George Christou. My PhD studies are supported by the University of Warwick Chancellor's Scholarship.

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Natalia Shapovalova

N dot Shapovalova at warwick dot ac dot uk