In search of sensitive and sustainable crisis response The EU is confronted by numerous conflicts in neighbouring regions and further afield, from the Middle East to Mali. An EU-funded project is examining whether the bloc's response is sensitive to the political and social context in each of these complex crises, and aims to ensure future interventions are efficient and sustainable.

© victor zastol'skiy #183367787, 2018. Source:

Ongoing conflicts in the Balkans, Middle East and North Africa represent varying challenges to the EU, and there is no one uniform response. While the EU is involved in these areas through its institutions and policies, its responses to crises and how these actions are perceived by those living in conflict zones are not comprehensively understood.

The EU-funded EUNPACK project aims to provide systematic, in-depth analysis of the EU’s responses to crises in seven regions: Kosovo, Serbia, Ukraine, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Afghanistan. It is examining how these actions are viewed by those on the ground, by governments, elites and civilians, and will provide insights into how the EU can improve its crisis response.

Through a combination of desk research and fieldwork, surveys and interviews, the three-year project will provide recommendations to policymakers that focus on making the EU’s crisis-response mechanisms more sensitive to local contexts, and therefore more efficient and sustainable.

The cycle of crisis

To date, studies of the EU’s crisis response have focused on the mismatch between the EU’s expectations and ambitions and its capacity to act. EUNPACK aims to fill this gap in the literature by examining the cycle of crisis, from pre-crisis, through crisis to the post-crisis phase, and by analysing the EU’s responses.

First, it will study the gap between intention and implementation – including an analysis of EU countries’ ability to make multilateral decisions and deploy the necessary resources, how these responses are implemented, and how other actors affect the EU’s activities.

Second, it will address the implementation of EU policies and approaches and examine how they are received in target countries.

The project consortium comprises specialists on the EU and in peace and conflict studies, and includes institutions based in targeted crisis zones such as Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq.

Project details