Research Meets Policy Seminar 1 – “Identifying research gaps in the EU’s Comprehensive Approach”

Correspondent: Giovanni Faleg
Host: Centre for European Policy Studies
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Date: 25 October 2016


Executive Summary

On 25 October 2016, a seminar hosted by the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) brought together EU policy-makers, practitioners and researchers to discuss synergies between policy needs and research outputs. This first “Research Meets Policy” seminar focused on new policy and operational developments affecting the EU’s comprehensive approach (CA) and the new EU-wide strategic framework for security sector reform (SSR). Participants exchanged views on the current state (and needs) of CA and SSR, hence identifying key research questions that could feed back into the consortium’s agenda and future research priorities for H2020 security research, to better support policy formulation.

The first panel on the EU’s Comprehensive Approach was moderated by Giovanni Faleg (CEPS) and the speakers were Joachim Koops (Vesalius College), Susanne Wendt (EEAS) and Clément Boutillier (European Commission, DG DEVCO). The second panel on Security Sector Reform was moderated by Anna Penfrat (EPLO) and the speakers were Filip Ejdus (University of Bristol and Belgrade Centre for Security Policy), Olivier Louis (European Commission, DG DEVCO) and Gabriella Vogelaar (Whole of Society Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding).


Full Report

The first EU-CIVCAP “Research Meets Policy” Seminar took place at the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) in Brussels on 25 October 2016. It focused on new policy and operational developments affecting the EU’s comprehensive approach (CA) and the new EU-wide strategic framework for security sector reform (SSR). Practitioners and experts invited to the two interactive panels exchanged views on the current state (and needs) of CA and SSR. They discussed and identified a set of research questions that could feed back into the consortium’s agenda and future research priorities for H2020 security research to better support policy formulation.

Key questions addressed by panelists included the following: what kind of evidence is lacking in monitoring the impact of the CA/SSR? What type of research/studies/evidence would be useful for EU policy-makers to implement and/or monitor the implementation of these frameworks? What are areas of research already well-covered for each of these frameworks? Are there (positive) examples on which it would be useful to get further academic research? What type of research output could be useful?

The first panel on the EU’s Comprehensive Approach was moderated by Giovanni Faleg (CEPS) and the speakers were Joachim Koops (Vesalius College), Susanne Wendt (EEAS) and Clément Boutillier (European Commission, DG DEVCO).

Joachim Koops highlighted the existing gap between the successful institutional and bureaucratic evolution of the comprehensive approach, and impact on the ground, where CA implementation is hampered by several constraints. Susanne Wendt stressed the need to better pin down what CA means in practice, beyond the general principles, and emphasised the importance of finding appropriate indicators and benchmarks to measure CA performance and achievements. Finally, Clément Boutillier presented the main lessons learned from field experience, identifying research areas that could be useful to strengthen CA: how to tailor monitoring and evaluation for CA, how to reinforce communication channels to increase coherence, how to establish a link between CA and the implementation of regional strategies, how to act comprehensively across state borders, and how to better coordinate short term and long term actions.

The second panel on Security Sector Reform was moderated by Anna Penfrat (EPLO) and the speakers were Filip Ejdus (University of Bristol and Belgrade Centre for Security Policy), Olivier Louis (European Commission, DG DEVCO) and Gabriella Vogelaar (Whole of Society Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding).

Filip Ejdus discussed the new strategic framework for SSR, the way it affects SSR interventions and the underlying tension, or de-linkage with the EU Global Strategy, which creates confusions about the overall EU approach to SSR. Olivier Louis focused on SSR practices and the challenges in identifying lessons learned and developing appropriate methodologies to conduct monitoring and evaluation of SSR activities. He also stressed that academic research would be useful to fill the existing gap between the broader SSR goals and specific, contextbased targets. Gabriella Vogelaar presented the main conclusions of the hole of Society Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (WOSCAP) project, highlighting challenges of coherence and trust-building affecting SSR missions, and the importance of setting clearer political aims and devising better tools, which could contribute to better measure effectiveness on the ground.


People Involved

Anna Penfrat

Anna Penfrat is Project Officer at EPLO. She coordinates the work of EPLO on EU institutions and policies, including the Common Security and Defence Policy, as well as on EU-Africa relations.

Filip Ejdus

Filip Ejdus is a Marie Curie Fellow at the Global Insecurities Centre, University of Bristol where he is currently working on a project Local Ownership in SSR Activities Within CSDP Operations of the EU.

Giovanni Faleg

Giovanni Faleg is an Associate Researcher at CEPS in the Europe in the World Unit (2011-present), focusing on security and defence cooperation in Europe.

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