Authors: Andreas Grimmel, Universität Hamburg │ Julia Strasheim, Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung
Promoting peace and security in Europe, its neighbourhood, and in the world, is at the heart of how the European Union (EU) understands itself and its global political role. In recent years, however, both the tangible role of the EU in fostering peace beyond its borders and the Union’s famous image as a ‘normative power’ have met substantial challenges. The challenges, which fundamentally alter the context in which the EU supports peace and security, include EU-internal factors, such as democratic backsliding in some member states, electoral success of populist far right parties, or disagreements over migration. They also include external factors, notably the unravelling transatlantic relationship under President Trump or the rise of China in the peace and security domain. This article introduces the special issue ‘Weathering the Storm? The EU as a Global Peace and Security Actor in Turbulent Times’. It first discusses the numerous tests the EU faces in fostering peace beyond its borders, and how past research has evaluated and interpreted the effect of these challenges on EU foreign policy. It then outlines two interrelated shortcomings of past research: an ‘EU navel-gazing’ and focus on how EU policies come into being in Brussels, rather than studying how these policies are implemented ‘on the ground’ – coupled with a lack of interdisciplinary conceptual and empirical debate between peace and conflict research and European Studies. Finally, it discusses how the articles that make up this special issue help to address these shortcomings and how they contribute to the current trend in blurring the lines between domestic and international politics.
This special issue is the result of an academic cooperation between the Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung and the Europa-Kolleg Hamburg. It was realised thanks to a kind sponsorship by the Parliament and the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.