The EUGS was launched in difficult times - in the immediate aftermath of the UK Referendum, just prior to the election of President Trump and during the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It mapped an path for the EU the context of which has been subsequently disrupted. It confirmed the EU’s commitment to global order through the norms of human rights, sustainable development and international law and stressed a readiness to “not impose” and to search for mutual understandings beyond EU borders. The EUGS promises to “enhance strategic communications, investing in and joining up public diplomacy across different fields, in order to connect EU foreign policy with citizens and better communicate it to our partners”. Expectations were set high and it is incumbent on the new 2019 EU leadership to deliver on these commitments.
EXPECT builds knowledge and facilitates best practice by contributing to policy debates on global governance and fostering academia-practitioner dialogue. EXPECT consolidates practitioners’ policy insights and academic excellence by gathering data and producing methodologically rigorous analyses of expectations towards the EU and narratives that reflect EU external relations with Asia. Renewed leadership opens new opportunities for EU re-branding and policy revision and can address the long-standing “expectations gap”.
Informed by EUGS priorities, EXPECT will help the EU to:
- improve the consistency of external expectations of EU principles and action;
- revise expectations towards EU messages and narratives tailored for diverse Asian societies;
- offer factual information about changing EU contexts;
- work via social media;
- redesign diplomacy to address the dominant EU perceptions in Asia;
- work with local opinion-makers in a culturally-sensitive way to manage expectations towards EU leadership;
- Employ public diplomacy to foster an open media environment for insights into EU-Asian relations;
- trace the evolution of EU expectations to “develop a more politically rounded approach to Asia” (EUGS: 38); and
- establish a baseline of EU expectations in the context of leadership renewal and global disruption.
EXPECT gathers systematic data on EU recognition in societies marked by growing geopolitical weight and builds and exchanges knowledge across priority areas: expectations of the EU as an economic powerhouse; sustainable development, environmental and climate change advocate; an attractive investment, business and innovation hub; an effective security actor; and as a normative power. Ultimately, EXPECT facilitates a better understanding of EU global actorness under new leadership thus enhancing the integration process by providing external feedback.
EXPECT draws on the experience of two decades of EU perceptions projects conducted in Asia by the National Centre for Research on Europe utilising existing academic collaborations, successful structures, tested methods and theoretical models. EXPECT builds capacity between academics and practitioners from media, think tanks and the EEAS by studying EU external expectations and perceptions; EU global actorness and leadership; and EU-Asian relations. The academia-stakeholders axis fosters innovative research and teaching in EU Studies.
EXPECT also brings together a team of established scholars and EU-Asia practitioners to develop a new cohort of early-career researchers from the EU and Asia to promote sustainability in the fields of EU foreign policy, international identity and public diplomacy. EXPECT will establish mentoring mechanisms to train a new generation of European Integration scholars. These early career researchers will be:
- involved in all stages of data collection and analysis
- individually assigned an academic mentor
- supported in producing academic outputs, integrated into ongoing EU Studies courses and to develop new didactic materials
EXPECT will equip young researchers with skills and knowledge for effective careers. Utilising EXPECT results and methods in designing innovative EU courses will give a distinctive profile to these early career academics. These future leaders will also acquire civic skills, e.g. networking with civil society, media, policy-makers and diplomats; and the design of policy recommendations together with members of EXPECT’s Policy Impact Team.
To guarantee quality and multidisciplinarity, EXPECT combines leading JM Centres of Excellence in the region with expert teams drawn from 9 universities in Asia and the EU. It also connects established international JM Chairs with others outside the JM network maximising expertise in relevant 3rd countries. EXPECT is gender balanced (both for experienced and young academics). The Policy Impact Team features practitioners (from media, think tanks, EEAS) and scholars of EU-Asia relations to provide policy relevance and focus and establish an on-going high-profile dialogue between academia and EU stakeholders.
EXPECT is a cohesive professional initiative to improve expertise in research and teaching of the EU as a global actor and its dialogue with external partners. It involves authors of the foundational studies in EU perceptions in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as leading scholars of EU-Asia relations, CFSP, Integration, media and image studies. Drawing on key areas of specialisation, EXPECT adds academic and civic value by promoting a contemporary research agenda on EU external expectations and high-visiblity policy-academia links in a time of new leadership, global disruption and the EUGS. EXPECT’s multidisciplinary approach serves as an innovative knowledge exchange platform to revisit theoretical approaches and methods and establish new synergies between them.
Media- and elite- focused EXPECT analysis maps:
- differing expectations towards the EU’s renewed leadership and the consequences of global disruption among opinion-making audiences and e-media discourses in Asia;
- successful EU social media strategies;
- potential local partners, including opinion-shapers, open to cooperation with the EU;
- topics where the EU could exercise the most impact; and
- regional vs. global trends and opportunities for the EU’s new leadership to reconceptualise its public diplomacy and recalibrate the EU’s credibility and better manage expectations.
EXPECT’s multidisciplinary reflections facilitate an understanding of the EU’s new leadership and changing international role as challenged by global disruption, aims to influence behaviour and expectations amongst key audiences and serves as a reference for future EU policies towards Asia. This contemporary research informs current and future EU teaching and promotes teaching innovations in EU Studies that are research and evidence-based.