Research Stay at IBEI – A RENPET Bursary Report

Marianna Lovato |

Between January and March 2023, I had the opportunity to join the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internationals (IBEI) as a visiting researcher on a RENPET bursary. As I embarked on the last semester of my PhD, I counted on my research stay at IBEI to receive additional feedback on my PhD thesis, as well as other research projects, and strengthen my professional relations with the academic community at IBEI. I am delighted to say, my stay at IBEI delivered on all counts.

My PhD project revolves around the role of informality in EU foreign policy negotiations. Specifically, I develop scope conditions for the rise of informality in CFSP/CSDP negotiations and examine the informal venues, practices, and roles that member states navigate to make formal institutions work (for them). This original framework is applied to the study of three EU foreign policy negotiations of the last decade: the 2014 Russian sanctions negotiations, the PESCO negotiations, and the negotiations over the establishment of Operation EUNAVFORMED Irini. I can hardly think of someone better placed to provide feedback on my thesis than Charlie Roger, assistant professor at IBEI and author of the book The Origins of Informality: Why the Legal Foundations of Global Governance are Shifting, and Why It Matters (Oxford University Press, 2020). While at IBEI, I also completed the write-up of the final few chapters of my manuscript, getting all that much closer to the final submission in June.

During my stay, I also had the opportunity to present a draft version of a co-authored paper I am working on with Ana Juncos (Bristol University) and Karolina Pomorska (Leiden University), titled ‘Coordinative Europeanisation and Russia’s war of aggression: how crises shape Europeanisation dynamics in EU foreign policy’. The paper explores the distinctive Europeanisation dynamics triggered by Russia’s war of aggression. The members of the IBEI research cluster Norms and Rules in International Politics provided us with insightful comments, taking time to engage in a substantive discussion on the paper. The article will appear in a Special Issue of Contemporary European Politics.

Lastly, my research stay provided a fantastic opportunity to get to know in greater detail the outstanding work of various members of the IBEI community, from the predoctoral fellows to several members of the faculty (including Esther Barbé, Oriol Costa, and Eva Michaels). The stay thus provided a great networking opportunity – and, more importantly, just some lovely exchanges among colleagues.

I am very grateful to RENPET and UACES for making my residency possible. I am especially indebted to Robert Kissack, for welcoming me at IBEI, Charlie Roger, who took time to provide feedback on my PhD thesis, and the members of the Norms and Rules in International Politics research cluster for their feedback. A special thank you to Carlos Sanchez, Helena Arregui, and the rest of the administrative staff at IBEI, for always being kind, professional, and ready to help. Most of all, I wish to thank the wonderful predoctoral candidates and research assistants at IBEI, who made the days at the office fun and enjoyable.



RENPET is an Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Network of ten major universities across Europe and a leading pan-European professional academic association. RENPET builds on the strong cooperation established through the 2014-2017 ANTERO Network and the 2017-2020 NORTIA Network.
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