Networks in a Contested Region: Euro-Mediterranean Non-State Politics and Intergovernmental Interaction Dynamics
The paper to be presented in the IBEI Research Seminar will provide a broad overview of my ongoing dissertation research as well as of the results of the research conducted in the context of a collaborative research project of Central European University (Hungary) and Sabanci University (Turkey) on the topic of "Reconceptualising Euro-Mediterranean integration dynamics". In this context, it will particularly focus on patterns and networks of non-state organizations across the Euro-Mediterranean region, including as regards their political activity. Furthermore, it will highlight the dynamics of intergovernmental interaction at the level of Euro-Mediterranean politics.
In its first part, the paper shall address the role of non-state organizations in regional-level politics of the Euro-Mediterranean geographic area, which encompasses the EU member states and the Mediterranean riparian states of the MENA region (West Asia / North Africa). Its underlying research questions build on literature regarding the regional characteristics of the Euro-Mediterranean space, which is most often approached from perspectives on foreign or regional policy. The seminar paper shall outline the benefits of, and the conditions for, considering the Euro-Mediterranean as an arena of regional integration dynamics, despite the many obstacles faced. Among the key hypotheses is that non-state organizations of various types – for instance, NGOs, business associations, or networks of local authorities – have incentives to (re-)orient towards newly emerging regional ‘centers’, potentially influencing politics and policies at the regional intergovernmental level. In empirical research, relevant non-state organizations were systematically surveyed and included in a database structured along theory-derived categories. From this database, a number of non-state cases were selected for in-depth research. Additionally, their potential regional-level political ‘addressees’ were systematically surveyed. Second, documents such as declarations and policy papers issued by the sampled organizations were studied along theory-derived criteria. Third, six series of semi-structured, theory-informed interviews were conducted with representatives of non-state organizations as well as their (inter)governmental counterpart organizations. This step was complemented by ‘participatory observation’ at conferences or at organization seats. The suggested paper will highlight the networked structures of regionally oriented non-state organizations by providing examples across various types of organizations which were studied.
In its second part, the paper shall focus on the specificities of intergovernmental cooperation regarding Euro-Mediterranean politics. It reviews the practice of intergovernmental policy dialog in negotiation contexts of relevance to the Euro-Med. This paper section will briefly situate the analytical focus on intergovernmental policy coordination within the literature on Euro-Mediterranean government-driven regionalism. Empirical results shall be presented for a selected number of intergovernmental interaction contexts of a Euro-Mediterranean orientation, based on targeted document analysis and stakeholder interviews.