EU delegations as intermediaries of perceptions of the EU: A view from the MENA region

Katri Gadd, Viljam Engström

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Abstract

The European Commission in its 2015 study on the perceptions of the EU acknowledged that mutual perceptions held by actors in the international arena affect their expectations about the other’s behaviour and hereby guide the interpretation of the other’s actions. Knowledge of how and what image of the MENA countries and of the EU is conveyed by country delegations is important for understanding whether the information that influences EU foreign policy-making is representative, and of whom. EU delegations are an acknowledged source of knowledge that feed into EU policymaking, and proposals have even been made for strengthening their role. Based on interviews with heads of delegations/Ambassadors in 2021, four interlinked categories of concerns affecting the perceptions of the EU are identified: historical legacy; knowledge about and expectations towards the Union; competing values and aims; and the EU’s internal policy inconsistencies. The findings in the interviews are contextualized through an analysis of previous research on the perceptions of the EU. Further, the article discusses the role of delegations in EU policy-making and invites to take a critical view of Ambassadors´ ‘perceptions of the perceptions of the EU’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMediterranean Politics
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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