The GR:EEN project was tasked with investigating Europe’s role in what appears to be an emerging multipolar global order. But our research to date has shown both that the idea of clear, firm and fixed “poles” is misleading, and also that there is no single European role across all issue areas. Global power does appear to be more diffused as rising powers become more forceful in promoting their interests and objectives. But rather than creating firm blocs of states that come together and stay together to fight common causes on all policy arenas, alliances seem to be fluid with different configurations of states emerging depending on the issue at hand. To be sure, some partnerships might seem more natural and endurable than others – between Europe and the US for example. But even democratic countries that are often thought of as natural allies of the EU may be pulled in other directions due to growing relations and with emerging powers.
And the “Europe” that engages in these policy debates changes too; changes in terms of whether the EU or member states or networks of transnational actors dominate, in terms of whether the EU is seen as a legitimate global actor, in terms of the different forms of governance being proposed, and in terms of the EU’s power in any given policy area.
So rather than search for a once and for all answer, our aim is instead to search for, and explain, diversity. On one level, we seek to explain how diverse preferences for governance forms emerge within Europe itself through studies of experimentalist governance in a range of case studies. We will also show how European actor-networks operate (within the European Union, transnational business, international organizations and non-governmental organizations), and what this means for the diffusion of ideas and the question of whose interests matter (most) in the formulation of new policies and governance structures. We will show how the EU’s internal governance arrangements and regulation shape its capacity to influence rule-making in third countries and multilateral institutions on the one hand, and how multilateral rule-making and cooperation with major partners may influence the development of EU internal regulation on the other.
On another level, we will explore diversity in the EU’s international interactions. This will provide a comprehensive description and a multifaceted understanding of the EU’s transformed Foreign Policy capacity, and also the long term consequences of the global crisis with a specific focus on the limits and perspectives created by the Lisbon Treaty in terms of enhanced external action. We will clarify when and why Member States seek to act collectively in their relations with external partners (for example, in finance), and when instead they tend to pursue national objectives (for example, in competitive energy strategies). A particular focus is on identifying those policy areas where the EU is seen as a legitimate and effective global actor and where it is less effective (and why), in order to identify arenas, strategies and governance models where the EU has a comparative advantage to expand and institutionalise its role as a global actor. This means we also need to outline the alternative visions and preferences of other major powers and the extent to which they are compatible with European policies in each of our three major case studies. For example, how different understandings of Human Security in China and the US undermine the international projection of European understandings and preferences.
In order to map these non-European agendas, we will develop insights into quantitative and normative aspects of regional leadership and the relationship between regional governance and global crises. This will entail exploring the capacity of different forms of regional organisations and the various paths which might lead to greater cooperation – both within individual regions themselves, and between those regions and Europe. This will allow for the development of individually tailored cooperation arrangements with different regional entities that take into account their different principals, goals and power relationships.
The project will also look forward beyond the life of GR:EEN through a foresight project designed to provide policy makers with different scenarios for global change and concrete policy recommendations. It will also provide a toolkit to guide policy makers and practitioners in developing a strategy to enhance the EU’s relevance on the world scene. More details can be found on our website, which also provides information on all of our events, and free access to working papers, our newsletter, and other publications (www.greenfp7.eu).