Resilience as an Emergent European Project?

Jonathan Joseph

This paper looks at the development of the resilience approach in EU foreign policy. Building state and societalresilience in the EU's neighbourhood has been identified as one of the key priorities in the EU Global Strategy(2016). Here we critically analyse these developments and seek to provide an account of the complex dynamicswithin which the resilience discussion is located. In particular, we draw upon critical integration theory to suggestthat the EU's resilience approach is emergent out of competing underlying discourses and projects. Emergencepoints to the complex combination of sometimes contradictory aims and interests. While we recognise thedominance of neoliberal governmentality in the resilience approach, we see the emergent outcome asembodying other dynamics as well. This draws attention to other hegemonic projects at the domestic andMember State levels, and complex institutional pressures and path dependencies. We develop this criticalunderstanding of resilience alongside a focus on isomorphism, diffusion and decoupling in order to examine themechanisms producing the current neoliberal resilience discourse and its widespread adoption, but also how thisdiscourse is shaped by the EU's own institutional features. The argument will be illustrated through a study of theimplementation of the EU Global Strategy and an EU Joint Communication on resilience in the neighbourhood.

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