Journal article: Bureaucratic Authority and Mimesis: The Eurasian Economic Union’s Multiple Integration Logics

Peer-reviewed article in International Spectator, written with Cristian Bobocea:

Regional economic integration in the post-Soviet space stands in a complex relation with the European Union’s integration process. Multiple competing internal logics of integration, as well as the EU model are drivers of Eurasian regionalism. The Eurasian Economic Union illustrates how bureaucracies mobilise their technocratic authority in a process of mimesis that reconciles multiple internal and external integration logics: selective learning from the EU and successful incorporation of internal integration logics produce an organisational design and output that member states support to varying extents.

Full article: (PDF available upon request)

Panels on the African Union at BISA Brighton and ECAS Basel

In June 2017, I had the pleasure of convening two panels on the African Union with Micha Wiebusch (SOAS/Antwerp). At the British International Studies Association annual conference in Brighton, and at the European Conference on African Studies in Basel panelists proposed a great variety of papers on the theme “Speaking Africa, integrating Africa? Norms and power of the African Union”.

Book chapter: Interregionalism between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union

This is a book chapter in a volume edited by Sieglinde Gstöhl and Simon Schunz, entitled “Theorizing the European Neighbourhood Policy“. The contributions add to the critical theorization of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) through a number of innovative approaches.

My chapter on the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) charts the evolution of this organisation and of its potential relations with the EU, and proposes a theoretical framework for potential EU-EAEU relations. I insist particularly on the identity dynamics of a technically economistic interregionalism. The ENP, even after the 2015 Review, remains a monist foreign policy in which other actors, partners or rivals are not factored in. For the case of the EAEU, this is a dangerous omission.

Full author’s proof available upon request; below is the introduction to the chapter:

In a 2005 article on the intellectual history of regionalism studies, Hettne (2005: 543) suggested that ‘regionalism might actually shape world order’. European reactions to the launch of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in 2015 certainly vindicated Hettne’s proposal, but in unexpected ways. This chapter thus grapples with the institutions, identities and power within the geographical space of the European Union (EU), the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), Russia and its ‘near abroad’. It is guided by the following empirical question: to what extent is (potential) EU–EAEU interregionalism compatible with the ENP? Theoretically, the chapter shows that the EU and Russian regionalism are largely constructed as mutually exclusive, particularly when it comes to the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and the EAEU.

Understanding identity constructions within regionalism through an ontologically pragmatic constructivism, it is argued that EU critiques of the EAEU are the pinnacle of the ENP’s disregard for the ‘Other’ that Putin’s Russia has become since the 2000s. Instead of treating the EAEU as a regionalism problem, this chapter’s multidimensional approach to the EAEU highlights some leeway for alternative strategies. By emphasizing the economic governance dimension of the EAEU while limiting Russian ideological Eurasianism, a possible EU–EAEU dialogue might seek to harness the non-geopolitical evolution of the EAEU.

This chapter’s contribution to theorizing the ENP is then threefold. First, it insists on the impact of identity dynamics between the ENP and Eurasian integration. This constructivist lens requires some methodological distance from the EU’s own legalistic approach. Second, however, the eclectic theoretical approach proposed here incorporates not only discourse and identity but also organizational ‘hard’ structures. It therefore allows a bridging of the constructivist and legalistic and institutionalist schools in EU studies. Third, by choosing an inter- regional perspective on the ENP and Eurasianism, a more universal, less EU- centric theorization of the ENP/‘near abroad’ space becomes possible.

The argument is developed in four steps. First, theoretical considerations on three complementary approaches to regionalism as well as scholarship on inter- regionalism are introduced and interlinked. Second, an assessment of EU– Russian ‘Self/Other’ constructions is established by analysing the ENP, the EaP and variants of Eurasianism. Third, the EAEU is analysed through the prism of the three approaches to regionalism: geopolitics, economic governance and global multilateralism. Fourth, the theoretical potential for EU–EAEU interregionalism and the relevance of the ENP/‘near abroad’ countries for such interregionalism is spelled out. The conclusion discusses the implications of potential EU–EAEU interregionalism for the ENP and EU–Russia relations as well as theoretical and policy implications of the findings.

foraus-Blog: TTIP-Kritik und Brexit: Zur konstruktiven Demokratisierung Europas

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In this foraus blog post in German, I plead for a pinch of pragmatism from the critics of TTIP. Much like Brexiteers, categorical anti-TTIP voices risk isolating themselves from having a real impact in the debate.

Read the blog post here:!/blog/c!/content-5816-ttip-kritik-und-brexit-zur-konstruktiven-demokratisierung-europas

Policy Brief: Scenarios for EU-Eurasian Economic Union relations

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In this policy brief for the College of Europe’s CEPOB series entitled “Conditionality in context – scenarios for EU relations with the Eurasian Economic Union”, I show how the EU’s conditionality on Russia after its annexation of Crimea and support to Donbass belligerents is fizzling out. The paper then develops and evaluates different scenarios for EU-EAEU relations. In a nutshell, rapprochement between the two regions will likely occur through a trade dialogue. Baby steps will be needed for mutual confidence building towards re-established constructive ties.

Read the paper here: Conditionality in context – scenarios for EU relations with the Eurasian Economic Union

Paper: How Brexit would put EU development aid in turmoil

gbeu-flagAlthough very few facts have gone unchallenged in a rather untypical campaign, it is very likely that a United Kingdom vote on 23 June to leave the EU would negatively affect its place and influence in the world. The Brexit camp has been strategically quiet on concrete post-Brexit scenarios, while the Remain camp has warned against equally unspecific scenarios. As one of such perhaps less prominent post-Brexit scenarios, this paper looks into the implications for development budgets, strategic programming and policy-making of the EU and of the UK.

Brexiteers have not provided a clear position on the UK’s development policy after an exit from the EU. The UK’s contribution to EU development policy will likely be reallocated in two ways: First, the UK will increase its contributions to the World Bank and United Nations (UN) organisations. Second, the UK will increase its bilateral aid programmes, which risks rejuvenating postcolonial ties in the UK’s spending pattern: Brexit is also a step back in Europe’s collective emancipation from its colonial past.

The general rhetoric on national sovereignty of the pro-Brexit camp suggests that bilateralism with a focus on former colonies – not multilateral aid disbursement – will be the dominant paradigm in a post-Brexit UK. Above all, Brexit will induce a great deal of uncertainty into a policy field already facing the challenge of transforming itself to align to a new role under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Download the paper here: Brexit_EU_Development_Policy_Ueli_Staeger

Discussion paper: TTIP and Switzerland

Bildschirmfoto 2016-05-10 um 22.40.19In this discussion paper for the Swiss foreign policy think-tank foraus, I analyse the TTIP negotiations from a Swiss point of view. In a nutshell, my paper argues that TTIP is rightly facing a contentious debate, as it’s an agreement with deep-seated political implications. For Switzerland, the dilemma is between marginal economic gains, traded off against a considerable political price – and all of that with little bargaining power to realise Swiss economic diplomacy.

The agreement’s planned dynamic nature, such as through the often criticised ‘regulatory cooperation’, is starkly at odds with the Swiss trade paradigm. I discuss three key scenarios for Switzerland, notably an EFTA-US parallel agreement. The Swiss political establishment likely will fail to find a majority in favour of joining TTIP, as the Left opposes TTIP’s neoliberal and arguably undemocratic nature, and as the Right insists on national sovereignty and high agricultural protectionism.

Finally, TTIP will aggravate Switzerland’s tense relations with the EU: Without the negotiation of an institutional framework agreement, the EU will not let Switzerland join the TTIP club. But before such an endeavour, however, TTIP merits an open and thorough debate. The traditional “more or less Europe” mantra will not suffice anymore.