(from 2021 onwards)
European Digital Diplomacy
I am currently working on developing my research agenda on Digital Diplomacy. With over 2.7 billion Facebook users and 330 million on Twitter worldwide, digital connectivity has become increasingly important for diplomatic actors as they discover that they need to engage foreign publics by explaining policy, listening to feedback, and facilitating the export of information and services, via social media. The objectives of this agenda are:
I am specifically interested to examine in the way the European Union makes use of digital diplomacy tools; and how the latter help the EU achieve its foreign policy objectives in Eastern Europe. The aim of my research agenda is to evaluate the digital diplomatic practices of the European Union (EU)’s diplomatic actors, namely:
This research agenda builds on the three research projects that I have been working so far: EU Diplomacy, Evaluation of EU Performance and Democratization in the ENP. Through these projects, my research addresses questions related to foreign policy and diplomacy and to organisational management and performance specifically in European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries.
The Practice of EU Diplomacy in Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus, 2010-2015
The result of this research project culminated with my PhD. My work was the first to examine the topic of EU diplomatic practice and performance in Eastern Europe through the lens of the ‘practice turn’ in international relations and based on interviews with diplomats from the field. It breaks empirical new ground on the relationship between the EU and national diplomatic services in Eastern Europe, and therefore uncovers the dimensions of everyday diplomatic practices in these countries.
The aim of my doctoral thesis (2012-2018) was to critically assess the practice and diplomatic performance of the EU in its neighborhood, namely in Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus after the inauguration of the European External Action Service (EEAS). Drawing on conducted fieldwork between 2013-2016 this research showed how different European embassies and EU delegations present in the three countries identify a common approach for diplomatic cooperation on the ground.
Findings showed that the EU delegations became central actors in representing the EU, became communication hubs on the ground and took the lead on the cooperation with the EU member states’ embassies. Empirical evidence on the latter revealed that, in practice, the Delegations continue to conduct aid-driven diplomacy, as a legacy from former Commission representations. While being prescribed to cooperate on the ground under the Lisbon Treaty, diplomatic practice indicated that the current coexistence of national and EU diplomacy opts out of the common approach in favour of parallel actions by the individual member states. The Delegations in these countries have grown in size and, most importantly, have diplomats as staff members; however, the development of the Delegations also came with the so-called Brussels ‘turf-war’: an institutional issue on the ground that echoed Brussels inter-institutional dynamics. As result, EU leadership on the ground remains under question, coupled with the lack of direction in relation to a strategic approach between the EU and its member states.
This research embraced an interdisciplinary character as it derived performance criteria from three sets of literature: diplomacy, the ‘practice turn’ in IR and EU studies and organisational performance. With a focus on the ‘practice turn’ in IR and EU studies, the thesis underlines the activity-centred dimension of EU diplomacy and details the everyday practices of the EU Delegations and the member-state (MS) embassies that form and shape EU’s performance. The focus of the analysis is not so much on the diplomatic relationship with these countries per se, but rather on uncovering to what extent the cooperation between EU and MS diplomatic representations adds to the EU’s aim of achieving a stronger, more efficient and coherent European Union in external relations.
Excellence 100 Doctoral Prize Award
Based on the results of this research project I was entered the Excellence 100 two-year scheme at the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance (IDIG) at Loughborough University, London campus. From 2019 till end of 2021 the strategy focuses on consolidating the ‘practice turn’ in IR and EU studies as a research agenda in EU diplomacy and, hence creating synergies between organisational management, diplomatic studies, and the practice approach.
Practice and performance: EU Diplomacy in Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus after the inauguration of the European External Action Service, 2010-2015
I am transforming my PhD into a manuscript on the practice of EU diplomacy that will examine EU diplomacy in Eastern Europe with focus on the relationship between the EU and national diplomatic services in Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus.