Tiffany Williams discusses the EU's Eastern Partnership at UACES

Tiffany G. Williams is presenting two papers at the UACES 49th Annual Conference, which takes place in Lisbon 1-4 September 2019.

Photo: UACES via Twitter

The academic association for contemporary European Studies (UACES) organises its 49th annual 3-day interdisciplinary conference in Lisbon, Portugal. More than 400 research papers are discussed, and Tiffany G. Williams, PLATO PhD researcher (ESR15) at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna is presenting two papers from her PhD research on the EU's Eastern Partnership.

Pushing institutional boundaries: Assessing the European Union’s region-building approach to partnership in the South Caucasus

This paper presents the European Union (EU)’s evolving partnerships with each of the three countries in the South Caucasus as comparative case studies that probe and elucidate the EU’s region-building foreign policy approach. Contributing a novel view to the discussion on institutionalism theories, the paper problematizes depictions of Normative Power Europe that simply paint the EU as a norm promoter aimed at achieving institutional isomorphism. In fact, despite its internal crises and burgeoning euroscepticism, the EU continues to prioritize its region-building measures in its Eastern European Neighborhood with the aim to establish itself as the region’s dominant power. Its behavior towards its partner nations in the South Caucasus in particular demonstrates an intentional shift towards bolstering hegemony in the region. Even where a strong self-interest seems to be lacking for the EU, its development action in the region has recently increased the provision of public goods and financial and programmatic assistance, in addition to its ongoing border security monitoring role where requested. These calculated actions position the EU as a dominant influence against the region’s longstanding power, Russia, countering both Russia’s military aggression and its economic, soft power posturing. Furthermore, the EU reaffirmed its resolute objective to maintain this position by tapering its own partnership conditions to secure partnership progress when certain partner nations were ambivalent about advancing their EU partnership agreement. This paper takes the EU’s hegemonic behavior into account in order to better understand its determined region-building abroad that operates beyond a discursive promotion of its core norms.

Panel details

Panel 316: The European Parliament, Rising Axis and Impacts of Europeanization on the Neighbourhood (Monday, 2 September 2019)

'Choose a Side or Choose our Country?': The influence of identity politics on democratization and International Relations decision-making in the South Caucasus

This paper analyzes recent evolutions in the separate agreements between each of the three countries in the South Caucasus and the European Union (EU), and addresses how the differences in these developments connect with each country’s unique national identity. Beyond these countries’ self-interests, competing hegemonies also influence and complicate the EU’s foreign relations in the region. In addition to the historical connections to other competing powers, the related cultural discourse claims strong connections to the South Caucasus as well. This paper addresses these issues, and assesses how the EU’s response has been to grapple with adapting its behavior without sacrificing its core normative positions in order to maintain its influence in the region. The objective of this research is to better understand how identity politics impact the EU’s capacity to manage democratization and influence state-(re)building in post-Soviet countries. The analysis employs process tracing applications that link relevant discourse to observed actions and outcomes in order to build a connected system demonstrating sequenced patterns of activity that inform how the interacting identity politics in the region drive both domestic sociopolitical transitions and EU decision-making. The findings demonstrate that even where a strong self-interest for the EU seems to be lacking, it has been resolute in developing its own hegemony in the South Caucasus, while each country in the region continues to put its own interests first, albeit taking strikingly different paths.

Panel details

Panel 704: Eastern Partnership: A 10 Year Performance Assessment Exercise (Tuesday, 3 September 2019)

Contributions by PLATO supervisors

Some PLATO supervisors will also present papers at the UACES conference (see the detailed programme for details):

  • Peter Bursens, University of Antwerp
    • The politicisation of the European Union within and across Belgian regional and national parliaments (paper)
  • Zdzislaw Mach, Jagiellonian University
    • Panel 314: Populist rebellion against modernity in the 21st century (discussant)


University of Lisbon

When: 1-4 September 2019
Organiser: The academic association for contemporary European Studies (UACES)
More info:

UACES 49th Annual Conference

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Published Sep. 2, 2019 12:17 PM - Last modified Sep. 5, 2019 2:35 PM