Similar Cases, Different Frames? Understanding EU Foreign Policy towards Conflicts in the Neighbourhood

Benedetta Voltolini

This paper aims to contribute to the literature on EU foreign policy-making and how EU policies towards conflicts and crises are shaped by focusing on processes of framing and knowledge construction. While a lot has been said about the divergent interests of EU member states, the lack of instruments or of political willingness, this paper shifts the focus on ideational and cognitive factors to explain EU foreign policy-making and the outcomes of EU policies in its neighbourhood. More specifically, the paper investigates how the EU constructs its understanding of conflict situations, which (institutional and non-state) actors contribute to processes of framing and knowledge construction that inform EU policies, and which contextual factors influence these processes. The paper investigates these dynamics in a comparative way, by exploring the cases of EU policies towards three cases of ethno-political conflicts: Israel-Palestine, Morocco-Western Sahara, and Crimea-Ukraine. While all three are cases of occupation and are about the legitimate control of land, EU policies towards the three conflicts vary. This comparison will highlight how interactions between state and non-state actors have led to the emergence and codification of different frames in the three analysed cases, how contextual factors have affected the dynamics of framing and knowledge construction in relation to the three conflicts, and how institutional actors have translated different frames into concrete policies.

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