Good intentions, mixed results – A conflict sensitive unpacking of the EU comprehensive approach to conflict and crisis mechanisms (EUNPACK)

2015 - 2019 (Completed) Project number: 693337
Research Project
The EUNPACK project unpacks EU crisis response mechanisms, with the aim to increase their conflict sensitivity and efficiency.

By combining bottom–up perspectives with an institutional approach, EUNPACK will increase our understanding of how EU crisis responses function and are received on the ground in crisis areas.

This entails exploring local agencies and perceptions in target countries without losing sight of the EU’s institutions and their expectations and ambitions. It also entails examining the whole cycle of crisis, from pre-crisis, through crisis, and into post-crisis phase.

EUNPACK analyses two gaps in EU crisis response. First, the intentions–implementation gap, which relates to 1) the capacity to make decisions and respond with one voice and to deploy the necessary resources, 2) how these responses are implemented on the ground by various EU institutions and member states, and 3) how other actors – local and international – enhance or undermine the EU’s activities. Second, the project addresses the gap between the implementation of EU policies and approaches, and how these policies and approaches are received and perceived in target countries, what we refer to as the implementation–local reception/perceptions gap.

Our main hypothesis is that the severity of the two gaps is a decisive factor for the EU’s impacts on crisis management and thereby its ability to contribute more effectively to problem-solving on the ground. We analyse these gaps through cases that reflect the variation of EU crisis responses in three concentric areas surrounding the EU: the enlargement area (Kosovo, Serbia), the neighbourhood area (Ukraine, Libya), and the extended neighbourhood (Mali, Iraq, Afghanistan).

The results of our research will enable us to present policy recommendations fine-tuned to make the EU’s crisis response mechanisms more conflict and context sensitive, and thereby more efficient and sustainable.

See more information on the project's home page.


Blog posts

European Café Debates and Policy Forums




Funding program




How can the EU improve its response to crises?

March 25, 2019

Researchers within and beyond Europe have been studying the EU's approach to conflict and crises. Here's what they found out.


EUNPACK Final Conference: synthesising three years of research on the EU’s crisis response

March 26, 2019

Conflict sensitivity in focus as the three-year NUPI-led research project on the EU’s crisis response (EUNPACK) organised a final conference in Brussels in March.


Five paradoxes EU must address to effectively respond to crises beyond its borders

March 4, 2019

Engaging in ongoing conflicts brings with it a set of extraordinary challenges.

Ivan Krastev at NUPI

PODCAST: Is the EU ready to handle the major challenges it is facing?

November 30, 2018

Ivan Krastev reflects on the crises that has shaped the EU for the past decades.

Bildet viser paneldeltakerne Roman Blecua (EUs ambassadør i Irak), Steven Blockmans (CEPS), Tine Gade (NUPI), Kamaran Palani Mohammed (MERI), Morten Bøås (NUPI), Dlawer Ala’Aldeen (MERI)

The EU in the Middle East - how to prevent terrorism and violent extremism?

November 13, 2018

That was the topic for the project EUNPACK's contribution to the MERI Forum 2018.


Unpacking EU crisis response

November 9, 2015

How does the EU respond to crises? This is the key question posed by a group of NUPI researchers who have succeeded in the competition for funding within the world’s largest research programme.



EUNPACK Executive Summary of the Final Report & Selected Policy Recommendations. A conflict-sensitive unpacking of the eu comprehensive approach to...

Since adopting a ‘comprehensive approach’ to crisis management in 2013, the EU has spent considerable time and energy on streamlining its approach and ...
Publication : ARTIKKEL

Plugging the capability-expectations gap: towards effective, comprehensive and conflict-sensitive EU crisis response?

Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, the European Union (EU) has spent considerable time and energy on defining and refining its comprehensive ...

Working paper on implementation of EU crisis response in Mali

This paper offers a critical review of the EUTM and EUCAP in Mali, arguing that this is another example of international interventions that may be well-intended, ...

Implementation of the EU’s crisis response in Ukraine

The objective of this paper is to reflect on the received and perceived EU crisis response in Ukraine, paying specific attention to the security and humanitarian ...
Publication : ARTIKKEL

EU-Supported Reforms in the EU Neighbourhood as Organized Anarchies: The Case of Post-Maidan Ukraine

How does the EU and its member states organize their support for reforms in the countries of the EU Neighbourhood? Building on organization theory research ...

Working Paper: Comparing the EU’s Output Effectiveness in the Cases of Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali

This part of the overall report (Deliverable 7.1) on the EU’s crisis response in Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali compares the findings of three comprehensive ...

Best practices in EU crisis response and policy implementation

This report has two aims. First, to take stock of how the Europen External Action Sercvice (EEAS) and the Commission have institutionalized lessons-learned ...

Project Manager

The EU  Conflict  Security policy  Europe  Africa  The Middle East and North Africa  Asia

Mateja Peter

Former employee

Francesco Strazzari

Former employee

Bård Drange

Former employee

Henriette Ullavik Erstad

Former employee


Manchester University (UK)

FUB (Germany)

CEPS (Belgium)

Comenius (Slovakia)

Sant’Anna (Italy)

DCSP (Serbia)

KCSS (Kosovo)

JMCK (Ukraine)

IRMC (Tunisia)

ARGA (Mali)

MERI (Iraq/Kurdistan)

Tue 20 Nov 2018
Time: 14:00 Europe/Oslo
Location: NUPI

Is the EU ready to handle the major challenges it is facing?

Ivan Krastev reflects on the future of the EU, and whether the union is ready to handle major challenges such as migration, the spread of right-wing populism, and instability in the east.

Sun 17 Mar 2019
Time: 12:30 Europe/Oslo
Location: Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Place du Congrès 1 – 1000 Brussels

Unpacking the EU’s Integrated Approach to External Conflicts and Crises

A four-year long project is ending, and on 18-19 March the final conference for EUNPACK will take place in Brussels.

Tue 19 Mar 2019
Time: 13:00 Europe/Oslo
Location: Norway House, Rue Archimède 17, 1000 Brussel

The EU, Migrants and Refugees: Building Walls, Fueling Global Crisis?

Marking the end of the EUNPACK project, experts will discuss whether the EU’s crisis response in the Middle East and Sahel has been helpful or counterproductive.

Tue 19 Mar 2019
Time: 10:00 Europe/Oslo
Location: Norway House, Rue Archimède 17, 1000 Brussels

Assessing the EU’s Toolbox in Handling Internal and External Challenges

In recent years, the EU has faced several major challenges. Experts meet in Brussels for a roundtable discussion on what tools the Union has to solve these, and what role it can play in the time to come.