European Union Centres Network

New Zealand’s European Union Centres Network (EUCN) is the focal point of EU expertise in NZ, involving all eight NZ universities and partners at the Australian National University, University of Vienna, and Sussex University.EUCN offers the only EU Studies degree in the region and hosts established EU experts across disciplines.

 

The European Union Centres Network New Zealand (EUCN), aims to combine the three elements of research, teaching and outreach under a unique thematic umbrella focused on the impact, role and understanding of the European Union within New Zealand and the wider Pacific region. The EUCN was initially established in 2006 and has since developed to a multidisciplinary network open to all research projects related to EU Studies. The 1999 EU-NZ Joint Declaration – involving economics, politics, security, innovation, development, democratic values and people and cultures – defines the scope of the Network’s activities. It organises academic research and administrates scholarships for students studying the EU. Events, seminars and conferences are open to the public and often available online.

The strength of the 8-university consortium is that it combines EU multidisciplinary expertise. There are clear areas of differentiation in expertise between partners which collectively provide an unparalled depth of EU knowledge and experience. Opportunities in the network provide graduates with the knowledge and skills to make a difference locally and globally, blending traditions with innovations necessary to meet the challenges of a changing world.

 


Work Packages

The EUCN organises its activities into three work packages that run over the course of three years. Each of these work packages has a different objective:

 

Two Work Packages (WP) are research-focused:

Revitalising Regional Integration in Europe and the Asia Pacific

WP1 focuses on regional integration in the EU and the Pacific in response to transnational crimes that are pertinent to both regions, bridging the gap between scholarship and practice.

  1. Defining regional integration at the level of regional law, policy and institution-making around the suppression of criminal activity.
  2. Comparing the EU, a region where law, policy and institution-making at the regional level is established, with the South Pacific where it is poorly developed.
Transnational Security – Regional Integration in the Suppression of Transnational Crimes

WP2 examines national- and regional-level responses to multiple distinct challenges to stability and security by:

  1. Responding to the triple challenge: territorial security, economic volatility and unprecedented migrant flows
  2. Comparing regional responses to contemporary challenges: EU, ASEAN, Australasia, Latin America

 

 

A third WP promotes academic EU excellence among young researchers by improving the quality of professional training:

EUCN Academic Advancement 

WP3 supports EU Studies in the region, raises EU-visibility and builds sustainability by:

  1. equiping students with EU knowledge and practical, transversal skills relevant to their careers and to participating fully in democratic life;
  2. fostering dialogue between academics and policy makers and raising awareness of the EU; and,
  3. supporting students to carry out postgraduate EU studies, building capacity in young scholars and promoting interest.

 

 


Rationale

The EU Global Strategy notes the “direct connection between European prosperity and Asian security”. Examining the contemporary experiences of European and Asian regions is important for at least 2 reasons:

  1. The degree to which the EU can maintain prosperity and stability within its own region will have implications for its relations and stability of other regions
  2. Other regions face similar challenges. The EU relies heavily on Asia’s economic dynamism, which further adds to the urgency of understanding current issues across regions.

Understanding responses to these challenges benefits scholars and policy makers by developing forms of regional cooperation, policy-making, and by identifying regional-level obligations which can provide the normative framework for the implementation of laws and practices.


EUCN and Jean Monnet

How does the EUCN align with the overall purposes of Jean Monnet

Gathers information, exchanges practices, builds knowledge and promotes European integration

The network addresses important EU Studies areas of Regional Integration (WP1) and Transnational Security (WP2) in the EU and within specific regions.

 

The EUCN WPs commence with information gathering, evaluation and analysis to get a concise and up-to-date understanding of current research, policies and official documents as a basis to build and exchange knowledge across thematic priority areas identified in the Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy. Each WP applies the most suitable method (or a mix of methods) to conduct further high quality research to build up knowledge. Research findings are disseminated through appropriate channels of communication and formulated to reach the respective target groups.

 

EUCN WP3 draws on a pool of high-level academics and invited guest lecturers (academia, practitioners and professionals) for students to benefit from an international breadth of knowledge. Postgraduate students are encouraged and mentored to engage with experts in academia, the diplomatic corps, professionals and former graduates now working in government and policy-advisory positions to gather knowledge, learn about best practices, inform their research and excel in their field. Funded research fieldwork and the internship programmes enable students to meet, interview and discuss their research with high-level experts in their field. Students receive training in interview preparation, techniques and evaluation to gain the greatest possible benefit of the experience.

 

EUCN examines the research topics from perspectives relevant to academia, the policy sector and civil society. A core objective of WPs is to identify ways of effective and efficient communication between the respective target groups: reaching policy-makers with appropriate information at the right time; conveying relevant information in an understandable language to the community. The network proposes to produce valuable deliverables for incorporation in policy, government and academia, especially within postgraduate teaching programmes.

Supports the enhancement of existing networks and fosters the participation of young researchers

EUCN combines the multidisciplinary proficiency of the existing national New Zealand European Union Centres Network, consisting of all eight New Zealand universities, and the expertise of partners at prestigious universities in Austria, Australia and the UK. Lead researchers are established experts and bring existing academic connections and successful structures to the network.

 

Incorporated into all three WPs and a core value of EUCN is the inclusion and development of early-career researchers. All WPs include specific activities and support to postgraduate students to develop practical, transversal skills that are beneficial in academia and future careers. Postgraduates are encouraged to challenge traditional ideas, critically reflect on issues and develop a well-rounded understanding of their research area to become future leaders. Activities assist postgraduates to develop their own network of experts and peers, contributing to a worldwide network of EU topic experts across disciplines, able to utilise their expertise in future careers.

Involved in the creation and development of consortia of international players

As an international network of partners with a national consortium dimension (EUCN is led by a consortium of all eight New Zealand universities), EUCN is multidisciplinary by definition and therefore in an ideal position to challenge current research and reflect on issues from a multidisciplinary angle to develop a deeper and in-depth understanding. EUCN partners include established international EU Studies experts along early career academics and postgraduate students to build expertise and sustainability in EU Studies.

 

EUCN partners are based across regions to increase expertise in research and teaching of the EU, its policies and goals (i.e. the EU Global Strategy), but also to identify ways to improve policy, communication and learnings for regions developing an integration process (i.e. WP1 regional integration). The contemporary and multidisciplinary approach EUCN takes, serves as a knowledge platform to revisit theoretical approaches and methods, and facilitate an up-to-date understanding of current regional and global challenges facing the EU and other regions.

 

A number of activities for postgraduates are purposely organised including an international dimension to assist them in the development of their own networks: The MEP internships and funded research fieldwork projects are international activities. Where possible, students will be encouraged to work on transnational projects with EUCN partners in Australia at the Australian National University (ANU) and other high level experts at universities in Europe and the Pacific.

 

The MEP internship is supported through continued collaboration with the New Zealand Embassy in Brussels, whereas the domestic internships are normally organised with partners at the EU Delegation in Wellington, other EU Member State Embassies or the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA).

 

These activities are designed to develop well-rounded, and highly skilled graduates with knowledge in EU subjects relevant for their academic and professional lives.


Methodology

WP1 Revitalising Regional Integration in Europe and the Asia Pacific

The methodology for WP1 varies according to the activity undertaken: Collaborative scholarly work between EU and Asia Pacific scholars generates tangible research outputs and intangible outcomes, such as an expanded community of scholars able to connect issues of Asia Pacific economic, political and human security with those issues in the European context. Early career scholars will be mentored to develop new scholarly expertise in the field.

Policy engagement is facilitated through targeted roundtable seminars and policy briefs disseminated through relevant channels of communication. Experts at both, European and Asia Pacific universities collaboratively develop teaching resources following best practise to be shared for inclusion in the curricula on a Masters level. Public lectures, seminars, online presentation and other deliverables are available free of charge on the website, to raise the visibility of the EU in NZ and ensure that European perspectives are an integral part of public discussions of regional security in the policy world and civil society in general.

 

WP2 Transnational Security

The scope of the research is an analysis of the principal regional legal instruments, policy instruments and institutions in the EU and the South Pacific in regard to the specified crimes.

The methods are:

  • legal and contextual survey of the most important elements of these instruments and institutions using standard analytical approaches.
  • Interviews of key architects and administrators of these instruments and institutions in Europe and Pacific.

The work is divided up into three separate projects running in parallel over the project lifetime:

WP2A: Corruption
WP2B: IUU fishing
WP2C: Transnational Organised Crime, Drug Trafficking & Money Laundering

The WP culminates in a closing symposium, bringing together academics and policy makers from the EU and the Pacific for an intensive exchange of ideas and experiences between regions on issues of transnational integration and security. Research findings and recommendations will be submitted for publication with a prestigious academic publisher.

 

WP3 EUCN Academic Advancement

Academic advancement academics have extensive experience in mentoring and teaching students and combine a number of methodologies and best practice to produce highly skilled graduates.

Pedagogical approach tuition fees scholarships & research fieldwork awards – NZ Postgraduate students receive little government support, resulting in fewer postgraduates researching the EU. To increase student numbers students are offered support on a competitive basis, thus building capacity in young scholars and raising awareness and interest in the EU. Postgraduates often have theoretical training in research skills, data collection, analysis and interpretation, but little practical experience. The research fieldwork funding assists students to develop vital skills through mentorship and practical fieldwork.

Pedagogical approach internships – Internships are available to graduates as a practical component of their tertiary education. Workplace learning is complex, informal and subject to contextual influences of the particular placement, in contract to more formal, structured environment of an educational setting, underpinned by a fixed and ‘known’ curriculum. Previous interns found the internships had a positive effect on their research and increased their awareness of workplace competencies.


Impact

EUCN examines contemporary challenges that effect the EU as well as other regions around the globe. To describe ‘expected impacts’ of the project, the following chart reflects the overall target groups identified by EUCN, how they will be reached, benefit and expected impacts.

 

EUCN website image - impact

 

Results of research findings are disseminated regularly to the scholarly community through publications and presentations. Original and policy-relevant research is translated into publications and reports that distill research findings and policy implications for a broader audience of policy makers, government stakeholders and civil society.

EUCN partners have a strong track record of engagement with national, regional and international stakeholders in policy-making and government communities. Designated activities and outputs focus on topics of particular interest to this target group and serve to strengthen relationships between academic and policy communities.

Students and early career researchers are encouraged to develop a well-rounded understanding of crucial challenges in the contemporary world, and work alongside established academics and practitioners to inform research and build their own network of experts and peers. This methodology is proven to strengthen the sustainability of EU studies.

 

Each WP seeks to address specific target groups and to achieve topic-related objectives, outlined as follows:

WP1 Revitalising Regional Integration targets 4 key audiences – policy practitioners & decision makers; international scholarly & policy experts; early career researchers; and the general public. To stimulate policy debate, enhance knowledge of the EU and contribute to the Erasmus+ goals of developing active citizens and fostering social integration and intercultural understanding, it is crucial to have an impact on policy makers and early career researchers, many of whom will later work in local or regional government.

WP2 Transnational Security addresses advisors and policy makers working in government and international/regional organisations, lawyers, academia and early career researchers interested in the area of transnational security. Due to the technical nature of this WP, it is anticipated that civil society in general are involved to a lesser degree, however, events such as the symposium are open and advertised to the public.

WP3 EUCN Academic Advancement expects an increase in EU Studies students equipped with relevant EU knowledge and practical, transversal skills and cultural awareness, reflecting the teaching provided. Recognition of the network of EU experts in the region is enhanced. Interns work with partners in government, think tanks and diplomats, raising awareness of the EU in a globalized world and fostering an increased dialogue between the academic world and practitioners. WP3 activities promote the study of the integration process, EU policies and activities to raise awareness and knowledge among civil society. WP3 expects a valuable academic impact through joint, international collaborative research projects, and on governmental/industry level increased collaboration and consultation with EU counterparts.

 

Stimulation of knowledge on the Integration process EUCN uses the strength of each partner to continuously develop high-quality interdisciplinary teaching programmes, mentor postgraduates and organize practical activities to ensure that students gain crucial theoretical knowledge, practical skills and intercultural awareness to promote a wider understanding of the EU in multipolar world.

Enhancing visibilityEUCN partners and the PM use all communication avenues to increase visibility of academic activities within the region and further afield. All information on EUCN will be freely available online and promoted through social media and other available public outlets.


Design and Management

Design

EUCN is a 4-country international network of partners led by an experienced consortium of all 8 NZ universities. Network partners have been invited to participate to bring specific expertise: European partners contribute a “from within the EU” perspective, whereas the NZ consortium offers a multidisciplinary EU expertise “looking in from the outside”. The clear areas of differentiation in expertise between partners collectively provide an unparalled depth of EU knowledge and experience.

 

Management

Responsibility for the overall management of the EUCN lies with the Director, Prof Holland who is assisted by the EUCN Project Manager (PM). The PM takes care of all administrative and organisational matters, supporting the Director and partners.

Principle Investigators (PIs) are required to carry out WP activities successfully and achieve objectives in close collaboration with the partners. PIs are in close contact with team members and report to the EUCN Director.

 

EUCN website image - design