EU Global Strategy and Europe’s Foreign Policy. An Interview with David Cadier

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David Cadier

David Cadier is a researcher in EU foreign policy at CERI-Sciences Po since March 2018. He’s also an Adjunct Lecturer at Sciences Po’ Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) and an Associate at LSE IDEAS (London School of Economics). His research focuses mainly on Foreign Policy Analysis, Central and Eastern Europe, and EU-Russia relations. At CERI-Sciences Po, he coordinates the Horizon 2020 project EU-LISTCO along with Professor Christian Lequesne. David has agreed to answer some of our questions on his background, his current research focus, the EU-LISTCO project, but also on the forthcoming European elections.


Can you tell us a bit about your academic background: what was the subject of your PhD and which were your thematic and geographic areas of focus?

I graduated from Sciences Po Toulouse, where I obtained the School’s diploma in Political Science and a MPhil in International Relations. Before starting my PhD, I chose to learn Czech at INALCO (University of Languages and Civilization) and sought to gain policy experience at the French Embassy to Estonia, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Headquarters in Vienna and the OSCE Mission to Serbia. All this consolidated my interest in foreign policy as a field of research, in Central Europe as a regional focus, and in East-West relations as a topic in international relations.

I explored these themes in depth in the context of my Doctoral studies, which I pursued at CERI-Sciences Po under the supervision of Professor Jacques Rupnik. My PhD Dissertation analysed comparatively the foreign policies of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia since their accession to the EU. The aim was not only to shed light on the factors shaping their foreign policy choices, but also on the kind of preferences they were bringing to the EU foreign policy table, notably on issues such as Russia and the Eastern Neighbourhood. During my PhD, I completed a one-year fieldwork in Prague thanks to a grant from the Centre Français de Recherche en Sciences Sociales (CEFRES), I did a year of academic exchange at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, and I was a visiting scholar at the Prague Institute for International Relations and the Centre for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS Johns Hopkins University, both for periods of six months.

After receiving my PhD, I obtained a Teaching Fellow position at the London School of Economics. There, I taught for three years in the International Relations Department and on LSE IDEAS’ Executive Masters in International Strategy and Diplomacy. Subsequently, I received a TAPIR Fellowship, which allowed me to design and conduct over two years a research project on EU member states’ policies towards Russia while being based in different institutions, including the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and the Polish Institute of International Affairs. During my stay in Warsaw, I developed a research interest in the foreign policy of populist governments, thus linking my conceptual grounding in Foreign Policy Analysis and my regional specialization on Central Europe. I then joined CERI again in March 2018.


What do you currently focus on in your research?

Overall, I have been interested in understanding why states make certain choices at certain junctures. In this context, focusing on certain regions or formats (namely Central Europe and Europe-Russia relations), I have sought to investigate the influence of some factors in particular, such as the sociology of foreign policy elites, historical memory and, more recently, populism. Building on my recent research stay in Warsaw, I am currently concentrating on the latter and, more specifically, on the foreign policy of governments ruled by populist parties. Through the case study of Poland, I seek to understand how populist actors relate to foreign policy and to analyze how (or whether) the political practice of populism affects foreign policy processes and outputs. My other current research endeavor pertains to EU-Russia relations, which I approach as a multi-actor foreign policy dynamic more than as an institutional setting. This means that I am looking at the determinants of EU member states’ positions towards Russia, but also at the drivers of Russia’s foreign policy towards Europe and at EU and Russia policies towards—and interactions in – their ‘common’ neighborhood (i.e. the post-soviet space). I notably work on the latter aspect in the context of the EU-LISTCO project.


You are currently working at CERI as the coordinator of a European H2020 project called EU-LISTCO. One of the subjects that you examine within the consortium is European Foreign Policy. Can you briefly tell us what the main objectives of this H2020 project are?

The project’s overall objectives are to bring about a better understanding of the types of security risks and conflict dynamics prevailing in Europe’s neighbourhoods and formulate policy recommendations on how to strengthen the capacity of the EU and its member states to address them.

EU-LISTCO starts from the assumption that two risk factors characterize Europe’s regional environment: areas of limited statehood and contested orders. On the one hand, the project purports to investigate how and when these situations deteriorate into governance breakdown and violent conflict and become, as such, threats to European security. The aim is to identify the ‘tipping points’ at which risks turn into threats and to analyse how the resilience of states and societies (or lack thereof) affect these tipping points. For instance, how has the geo-economic competition between the EU and Russia escalated in Ukraine into a geopolitical conflict? In Libya or Mali, how does the inability of central authorities to set and enforce rules in some areas affect the provision of public goods and with what consequences in terms of political stability? On the other hand, EU-LISTCO analyses the policies, strategies and instruments that the EU and its member states have deployed towards areas of limited statehood and contested orders, notably with a view to assess their potential and record in fostering the resilience of states and societies. How have EU policies affected governance provision and conflict dynamics in neighbouring states? What have determined EU member states’ policy choices in that context? How are domestic political contestations internal to the EU and its member states affecting their external action capacity?

The consortium working towards these research objectives is led by the Freie Universität Berlin(FUB) and reunites 14 research centres, including CERI, as well as four institutional partners (the foreign ministries of France, Germany and Italy and the EU’s External Action Service). Headed by Christian Lequesne, the CERI research team focuses in particular on EU and EU member states’ policies towards the Eastern neighbourhood and on how populist parties and governments in the EU relate to foreign policy.


Would you mind elaborating on what you call “areas of limited statehood” and “contested orders"?

The project’s conceptual framework has been designed by Professors Tanja Börzel and Thomas Risse (FUB). They define Areas of Limited Statehood as contexts in which central governments are too weak to set and enforce rules and/or do not control the monopoly over the means of violence. The capacity of central governments can be limited along various dimensions, whether territorial (i.e. certain parts of a country), sectoral (i.e. specific policy areas), social (i.e. specific parts of the population) or temporal (i.e. at certain times). By contrast, Contested Orders refer to situations where incompatibilities between competing views about how political, economic, social and territorial order should be established lead state or non-state actors to challenge the existing norms, rules and principles underpinning societies and political systems.

Neither areas of limited statehood nor contested orders necessarily constitute, in themselves, threats to European security: some areas of limited statehood are rather well governed by actors other than the central authorities, while order contestation is, to a large degree, constitutive of politics (whether domestic and regional). The project seeks to investigate when and how they do turn into security liabilities by escalating into governance breakdown and violent conflict – and what can be done about it.


European elections will be organized between May 23 and 26 this year. The so-called populist parties have been particularly active during the campaign and are expected to obtain high scores. What sort of consequences can a further rise in populist parties have on EU foreign policy?

I would like to stress first of all that European populist parties do not necessarily adopt similar or even convergent positions in international politics. In other words, there is no such a thing as a ‘populist foreign policy’. But populist parties share a common approach to domestic politics, one that is likely to have repercussions on foreign policy practice when these parties make it to power, as is currently the case in several EU member states, such as Austria, Hungary, Italy and Poland. Populist actors tend to reject political pluralism and to conceive governing as permanent campaigning. How this spills over foreign policy making at the national and EU levels is something we aim to investigate empirically at CERI.

In my research on Poland, I find that the government of the (populist) Law and Justice party has sacrificed diplomatic considerations to domestic political goals more often than its predecessors. In itself, particularly if generalised across several countries, this pattern could impact the process of EU foreign policy to the extent that EU member states’ ability to act collectively rests on compromise-building and consensus-seeking. More profoundly, when leading to decisions undermining the Rule of Law (as in Hungary or Poland), the domestic political strategies of populist actors can also affect the substance of EU foreign policy. The latter has, indeed, largely been based on the promotion of norms and standards of democratic governance: the fact that these norms are put into question by some member states risks eroding the EU’s legitimacy in exporting them.

Interview by Miriam Perier