A central component of the 4-year long GEM-STONES research project funded by the European MSCA-EJD program (GA n°722826) was the publication of four peer-reviewed volumes reflecting the project’s focus on the EU’s capacity to address the rapidly increasing complexity of the international environment. The joint European Doctorate is coordinated by the IEE-ULB.

Overall, the four resulting edited volumes, published as part of the Routledge Globalisation, Europe and Multilateralism (GEM) book series, mobilized all 15 GEM-STONES PhD fellows, 8 senior scholars involved as supervisors in the program, as well as 10 alumni of the preceding Erasmus Mundus GEM program and a dozen or so invited external contributors. Over 50 scholarly contribution collected reflect a wide range of insights, involving different generations, disciplines and continents.

The series of books

This series of four books explores in detail and from an interdisciplinary perspective – involving legal, political, international relations, sociological and economic scholarship – how the European Union has fared in the face of the growing complexities of an ever more multipolar and uncertain World Order.

In this respect, the books discuss the institutional prospects of the EU’s distinctive supranational component; the opportunities and limits of networked governance the EU has historically claimed as favorable to its external action; the competing forms of regional cooperation and the relative impact the EU’s experience has globally; and finally, the EU’s ability to crystalize and promote its favored norms in the face of mounting competition. On all four of these dimensions, the books sketched a nuanced picture of both a global EU challenged by an institutional and normative environment increasingly no longer aligned with its internal preferences and choices; as well as an increasingly hybrid EU able and willing to combine, adapt and adjust its institutional and ideational references with an eye on preserving its international actorness.

Supranational Governance at Stake

The first of the four books, published in July 2020, is “Supranational Governance at Stake. The EU’S External Competences Caught between Complexity and Fragmentation” and was edited by Mario Telò and Anne Weyembergh. It examines the varied competences of the European Union (EU) in relation to its capacity to externalize its policy preferences. Specifically, it explores the continued resilience within the EU’s policy toolbox of supranational modes of governance beyond the State. The book first situates European experiences of supranationalism in relation to the wide variety of regional and global modes of governance it encounters when seeking to deal with an increasingly complex and fragmented international environment.

Global Networks and European Actors

The second book, scheduled for publication in December 2020, is “Global Networks and European Actors. Navigating and Managing Complexity” and was edited by George Christou and Jacob Hasselbalch.  The central aim of the edited volume is to assess the EU’s and European actors’ networked capacity to contribute towards greater policy coherence on the international stage. The common and overarching question that it will seek to address is: How has increased regime complexity in the global order impacted on the ability of the EU and European actor networks to navigate, manage and influence debates and policy?

The edited volume will explore if and how – in the face of increasing regime complexity across a range of regulatory, policy and foreign and security issue areas – EU and European actor networks have facilitated effective action. To tackle this shared research focus, the edited volume’s various contributions will mobilize network theories articulated at the global, intermediary, and actor-specific levels.

The Unintended Consequences of Interregionalism

The third book, scheduled for publication in January 2021, is “Unraveling Ties? The Unintended Consequences of Interregionalism” and was edited by Elisa Lopez Lucia and Frank Mattheis. The book provides a new analytical angle that will complement the usual topics of interests in comparative regionalism and interregionalism.

While some chapters of the book analyze interregional relations with the EU, others focus on interactions between a variety of other regional organizations and initiatives. A broad range of empirical cases is represented as contributions include empirical research on the African continent, Latin America, Russia, the Caucasus, and Asia.

EU External Action on Democracy and Human Rights

The fourth and final book, scheduled for publication in February 2021, is “Framing Power Europe? EU External Action on Democracy and Human Rights in a Competitive World” and was edited by Nicolas Levrat, Raffaele Marchetti and Frederik Ponjaert. It assesses if, how, and to what extent, despite its limited military means and numerous political constraints, the EU has exercised a normative impact beyond its borders. It aims at assessing EU foreign policy from an IR and output perspective, both through empirical data and by measuring perceptions by competing actors of the effectiveness of EU external action on democracy. This means gauging EU foreign policy not only according to competing IR theories, or with regard to EU specific nature and constraints as an original foreign policy actor, but mostly in a comparative perspective. Researchers contributing to this volume mobilize process-tracing and interpretative evidence analysis to apply a set of constructivist assessments to the EU’s capacity to argue in favour of the appropriateness of specific policy options on the global stage.