Overall Findings

Towards a whole-of-Europe approach to external conflict management

How to increase coherence in crisis response
In recent years, efforts to implement a whole-of-government approach (WGA) to better coordinate responses to conflicts and crisis situations outside the EU’s borders have increasingly taken centre stage in Europe. This “Overall Findings” has casts light on how the EU’s institutions and member states have sought to conceptualise and operationalise such approaches to crisis response at the headquarters level. While labels to designate WGAs vary from one administration to another – ranging from a ‘comprehensive’ or an ‘integrated’ approach to a ‘global’ or a ‘networked’ approach – the goal is the same: to bring together the relevant policies, actors and tools into one holistic approach in order to increase the coherence of crisis responses abroad.
Four WGA
Based on the answers collected by the 28 country experts, “Overall Findings” seek to make a comparative analysis of the various WGAs of the EU’s institutions and member states. The four WGA enablers that have been identified in organisational literature and were outlined in this volume’s introduction provide a framework for comparative analysis. These enablers include:

  1. Adaptations in institutional setups and structures (e.g. the creation of specific units or interdepartmental structures of coordination)

  2. The presence of WGA-specific human resources (e.g. specialised staff or resources and WGA-related trainings)

  3. The presence of political and administrative leadership that actively pushes for WGAs

  4. The Establishment of WGA instruments and tools (e.g. joint financial instruments, early warning, country/regional/sectoral strategies, joint analysis, and guidelines or rules of procedure informing the WGA conduct)

Our Findings draw on the EU and Country Reports as well as the accompanying semi-structured surveys that inquired into conceptual, institutional and procedural changes at the headquarters level. Some survey questions included a simple scaling system (see Indicators), on which the graphs and tables in this chapter are based.
Have practises lived up to commitments?
To shed light on the core research question of whether institutional practices (deeds) have lived up to WGA commitments (words), the Findings first look into how different countries conceptualise WGAs by studying the scope and quality of country-specific WGA policies. Then, it compares how the relevant actors at all levels coordinate and cooperate in an effort to forge and execute a coherent conflict response. The next section provides an overview of some key success factors and obstacles that the country experts identified as being relevant when implementing a WGA in the realm of external crisis management. Finally, this concluding chapter ends with a WGA typology of EU member states, which sheds light on potential gaps between political rhetoric and institutional practice. Importantly, rather than attempting to rank EU member states, the typology simply classifies member states according to certain commonalities and differences.
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