Participants of the project group European Democracy Promotion in Fragile States: The Cases of Africa, Eastern Europe and the MENA Region, got valuable insights into EU policy making. From 24-27 January 2017, 20 second-year MPP-students went on an exciting study trip to Brussels and Bonn, which was organized by Prof. Dr. Solveig Richter, Juniorprofessor for International Conflict Management, and Dr. Christine Hackenesch from the German Development Institute (DIE) in Bonn. It was arranged to provide further insights into the complex reality of EU policy making. Since October 2016, the students of the Conflicts Studies and Management Program (CSMP) and the European Public Policy (EPP) tracks are working on external democracy promotion of the European Union in three key regions; Africa, Eastern Europe and the MENA Region. The major aim of this project group which is supervised by Prof. Dr. Solveig Richter, Dr. Christine Hackenesch and Dr. Julia Leininger from the German Development Institute (DIE, Bonn) is to evaluate the impact of EU democracy promotion in post-conflict and fragile states. In a two-pronged approach, the students have analyzed the EU instruments for democracy promotion and the country/ region specific contexts, before assembling small evaluation teams which focus on specific cases. During the last months, the students have been confronted with the challenges and limitations of an academic, policy-oriented research project.
In Brussels, students were able to deepen their knowledge about the structure and work of the EU. In approximately 20 meetings with different representatives of EU institutions, among them the European Commission, the EED (European Endowment for Democracy) and the European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy, the students could ask questions concerning the specific cases they are working on in small meetings with desk officers and country specialists. Besides case specific information, the students could get insights into the practical and political context in which the instruments operate.
At the German Development Institute in Bonn, the students presented the preliminary results of their work. Among the most pervasive topics of the day, was the lack of data the students are facing in the process of analyzing of the work of the EED and EIDHR in the different countries. In a discussion with the three supervisors, possible approaches to remedy the lack of data and other limitations of academic research in the evaluative analysis were addressed.