Renewal versus Global Disruption – Asia’s Expectations of the EU (EXPECT)

2019 presents a turning point in how the EU will be perceived globally, balancing renewal against disruption.

Global disruption has become a contemporary EU phenomenon. The trigger of Article 50 created shockwaves that questioned EU solidarity, the direction of integration and the EU’s effectiveness as a global player. The Trump Presidency has similarly undermined the TransAtlantic consensus on norms and values. Russia has re-emerged as a disruptor for Europe. Together these phenomena fundamentally affect 3rd country expectations of the EU. The EU Global Strategy (EUGS) has become central to balancing these expectations as it seeks to redefine strategic priorities, threats and principles.

Additionally, 2019 provides an opportunity for EU leadership renewal through European Parliament elections and the selection of new Council and Commission Presidents and the High Representative for FASP. How will this “new EU” be viewed internationally?

The Network – Renewal versus Global Disruption – Asia’s Expectations of the EU (EXPECT) – traces the impact of this new context from the perspective of key EU Asian partners – China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea.

EXPECT at a Glance

EXPECT examines how China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea’s expectations towards the EU’s global role are affected by a changing international environment and leadership renewal. How is the implementation of the EUGS perceived externally? Is it effective? How does Brexit, Trump and Russia alter expectations? Can the EU successfully profile its new leadership team in 3rd countries?

Methodologically, EXPECT analyzes Asian press and e-media opinion-making discourses, communications by official and think tanks and views of opinion-shaping elites. It also examines how EU Delegations in Asia communicate EUGS priorities via social media.

EXPECT draws on two decades of EU external perceptions research by the National Centre for Reseach on Europe (NCRE). EXPECT’s innovation is the conceptual evolution from “perceptions” to “expectations”. This intentionally traces how the EU’s international role is being redefined through internal (the EUGS and leadership renewal) and external (the global disruption of Trump, Brexit and Russia) drivers:

  • How will expectations towards the EU be constructed in the shadow of Brexit, Trump and Russian disruptions in the 2019-22 period?
  • Will the EU’s new leadership be recognised as a significant change?
  • Does the EUGS resonate with Asia’s key players?

The Asian focus reflects the EUGS ambition to “deepen economic diplomacy and scale up our security role in Asia” in light of “the economic weight that Asia represents for the EU” – “peace and stability in Asia are a prerequisite for our prosperity” (EUGS 2016). EXPECT traces Asian expectations towards the EU in the context of the EUGS’ emphasis on principled pragmatism, governance and resilience. These principles guide the analytical frames used to trace the EU’s communication, recognition and reception in Asia.

Change will be studied in each country and comparatively – across locations and across time drawing on the NCRE’s internationally recognised “EU Global Perceptions” research undertaken since the Lisbon Treaty.

EXPECT prioritises the dialogue between academia and practitioners and the mentoring of early career researchers by leading scholars and practitioners of EU-Asia relations.   It unites leading academic experts with EXPECT’s EU Policy Impact Team comprised of media and think tank commentators and EU pracitioners. EXPECT offers multidisciplinary expertise in EU external perceptions, CFSP, public diplomacy, media and communication studies.  Its research strategy examines:

  1. Asian official policy and analytical discourses towards the EU;
  2. EU communications via social media to Asian partners;
  3. Framing of EU expectations by opinion-making e-media and opinion-shapers;
  4. EU expectations among EU policy-makers, particularly early career diplomats;
  5. Policy recommendations to address expectations in the EUGS context.

A systematic account of EU expectations, reception and recognition by Asian actors will equip the EU with operational and programming level tools. EXPECT focuses on:

  1. the recognised strengths of the EU and EU messages to build on these expectations;
  2. key audiences which are the most receptive to EU messages;
  3. protocols to assess effectiveness of EU diplomacy in Asia informed by EUGS; and
  4. cost-effective initiatives to improve managing EU expectations, communication, recognition and reception.

EXPECT goals and objectives

1. Gathers information, exchanges practices

The EUGS was launched in difficult times – in the immediate aftermath of the UK Referendum, just prior to the election of President Trump and during the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It mapped an path for the EU the context of which has been subsequently disrupted. It confirmed the EU’s commitment to global order through the norms of human rights, sustainable development and international law and stressed a readiness to “not impose” and to search for mutual understandings beyond EU borders. The EUGS promises to “enhance strategic communications, investing in and joining up public diplomacy across different fields, in order to connect EU foreign policy with citizens and better communicate it to our partners”. Expectations were set high and it is incumbent on the new 2019 EU leadership to deliver on these commitments.

EXPECT builds knowledge and facilitates best practice by contributing to policy debates on global governance and fostering academia-practitioner dialogue. EXPECT consolidates practitioners’ policy insights and academic excellence by gathering data and producing methodologically rigorous analyses of expectations towards the EU and narratives that reflect EU external relations with Asia. Renewed leadership opens new opportunities for EU re-branding and policy revision and can address the long-standing “expectations gap”.

Informed by EUGS priorities, EXPECT will help the EU to:

  • improve the consistency of external expectations of EU principles and action;
  • revise expectations towards EU messages and narratives tailored for diverse Asian societies;
  • offer factual information about changing EU contexts;
  • work via social media;
  • redesign diplomacy to address the dominant EU perceptions in Asia;
  • work with local opinion-makers in a culturally-sensitive way to manage expectations towards EU leadership;
  • Employ public diplomacy to foster an open media environment for insights into EU-Asian relations;
  • trace the evolution of EU expectations to “develop a more politically rounded approach to Asia” (EUGS: 38); and
  • establish a baseline of EU expectations in the context of leadership renewal and global disruption.


EXPECT gathers systematic data on EU recognition in societies marked by growing geopolitical weight and builds and exchanges knowledge across priority areas: expectations of the EU as an economic powerhouse; sustainable development, environmental and climate change advocate; an attractive investment, business and innovation hub; an effective security actor; and as a normative power. Ultimately, EXPECT facilitates a better understanding of EU global actorness under new leadership thus enhancing the integration process by providing external feedback.

2. Support the enhancement of existing networks

EXPECT draws on the experience of two decades of EU perceptions projects conducted in Asia by the National Centre for Research on Europe utilising existing academic collaborations, successful structures, tested methods and theoretical models. EXPECT builds capacity between academics and practitioners from media, think tanks and the EEAS by studying EU external expectations and perceptions; EU global actorness and leadership; and EU-Asian relations. The academia-stakeholders axis fosters innovative research and teaching in EU Studies.


EXPECT also brings together a team of established scholars and EU-Asia practitioners to develop a new cohort of early-career researchers from the EU and Asia to promote sustainability in the fields of EU foreign policy, international identity and public diplomacy. EXPECT will establish mentoring mechanisms to train a new generation of European Integration scholars. These early career researchers will be:

  • involved in all stages of data collection and analysis
  • individually assigned an academic mentor
  • supported in producing academic outputs, integrated into ongoing EU Studies courses and to develop new didactic materials


EXPECT will equip young researchers with skills and knowledge for effective careers. Utilising EXPECT results and methods in designing innovatiove EU courses will give a distinctive profile to these early career academics. These future leaders will also acquire civic skills, e.g. networking with civil society, media, policy-makers and diplomats; and the design of policy recommendations together with members of EXPECT’s Policy Impact Team.

3. Creation and development of consortia

To guarantee quality and multidisciplinarity, EXPECT combines leading JM Centres of Excellence in the region with expert teams drawn from 9 universities in Asia and the EU. It also connects established international JM Chairs with others outside the JM network maximising expertise in relevant 3rd countries. EXPECT is gender balanced (both for experienced and young academics). The Policy Impact Team features practitioners (from media, think tanks, EEAS) and scholars of EU-Asia relations to provide policy relevance and focus and establish an on-going high-profile dialogue between academia and EU stakeholders.


EXPECT is a cohesive professional initiative to improve expertise in research and teaching of the EU as a global actor and its dialogue with external partners. It involves authors of the foundational studies in EU perceptions in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as leading scholars of EU-Asia relations, CFSP, Integration, media and image studies. Drawing on key areas of specialisation, EXPECT adds academic and civic value by promoting a contemporary research agenda on EU external expectations  and high-visiblity policy-academia links in a time of new leadership, global disruption and the EUGS. EXPECT’s multidisciplinary approach serves as an innovative knowledge exchange platform to revisit theoretical approaches and methods and establish new synergies between them.


Media- and elite- focused EXPECT analysis maps:

  • differing expectations towards the EU’s renewed leadership and the consequences of global disrupation among opinion-making audiences and e-media discourses in Asia;
  • successful EU social media strategies;
  • potential local partners, including opinion-shapers, open to cooperation with the EU;
  • topics where the EU could exercise the most impact; and
  • regional vs. global trends and opportunities for the EU’s new leadership to reconceptualise its public diplomacy and recalibrate the EU’s credibility and better manage expectations.


EXPECT’s multidisciplinary reflections facilitate an understanding of the EU’s new leadership and changing international role as challenged by global disruption, aims to influence behaviour and expectations amongst key audiences and serves as a reference for future EU policies towards Asia. This contemporary research informs current and future EU teaching and promotes teaching innovations in EU Studies that are research and evidence-based.


  • National Centre for Research on Europe, University of Canterbury
  • Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangdong University

    Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (GDUFS) is a major internationalised university in Southern China. It is one of the top three language training universities in the whole China. Dating back to 1965 when the Guangzhou Institute of Foreign Languages was established and 1980 when the Guangzhou Institute of Foreign Trade was founded, the University had its present form by merging the two in 1995. The Guangdong College of Finance and Economics incorporated into the University in 2008. The University has three campuses with currently some 20,000 full-time undergraduate students, some 3,000 graduate students, and over 11,000 international and continuing education students.

    GDUFS has 25 faculties offering 72 programmes covering literature, economics, management, law, engineering, science, education and art for bachelor, master and doctoral degrees and post-doctoral research. With 26 foreign languages available, the University is the only one in Southern China that offers the greatest variety of foreign language programmes. Its foreign language and literature as academic discipline is among the best across the nation.

    GDUFS is home to one national key research centre for humanities and social sciences, 4 provincial-level key research centres and Guangdong Institute on International Strategies, a think-tank of the government of Guangdong Province. It founded the Centre for European Studies in 1997, under the EU-China Higher Education Cooperation Programme. At present, the Centre has four full-time faculties, twenty-eight part-time faculties and one manager.

    The Centre for European Studies is primarily engaged in the teaching of EU culture, trade and law. In 2005 the Centre successfully applied for a grant project “Formulation and Implementation of the EU Economic Policies and Laws: Conflicts and Coordination” supported by the EU-China European Studies Centres Programme. In 2009, the Centre became a pioneer in China in running a Master degree in European Studies. In 2013, a doctoral degree was added. The Centre has also established close relation with the enterprises and other European Studies institutions to carry out consulting services for economic and social development.

  • Fudan University Centre for European Studies, Fudan University

    Fudan University, founded in 1905, is one of the top national universities in China, with international reputation, excelling in teaching and research in both natural sciences and humanities. It consists of 28 schools and departments, with 70 undergraduate disciplines. Fudan is home to 14,100 undergraduates and associate degree candidates, 14,800 graduates including 3000 foreign degree candidates, 2,700 staff and 3,100 full-time teaching faculty members. Fudan University has had a long tradition for European Studies. It is among the first Chinese universities to start the contemporary European studies as early as in the mid-1960’s, and to begin European integration studies in early 1970’s, producing the first Chinese book on EC, Western European Common Market, in 1973. In 1980, the Commission established at Fudan its first European Documentation Centre (EDC) in China. The Chinese Society for EU Studies (CSEUS), the national association specialized in EU studies in China and a member of the ECSA-World since 1992, also resides with the University since its founding in 1984.

    Centre for European Studies (CES) of Fudan University was established in 1993 on the basis of European Community and European Nation Study session under Institute of World Economy. The mission of the Centre is to organize and carry out research activities and teaching modules on  European economy, politics, law, society, culture, inside- outside relationship, etc, and to expend international academic exchanges proactively and strengthen the communication and cooperation with the institutions of European Studies and China-EU relationship Studies both at home and abroad, with the aim to provide a comprehensive platform for Chinese and European scholars and students, facilitating mutual visitation communication and providing consulting services in European studies.

    In 2004, CES was awarded the honorary title of “Jean Monnet Center of Excellence” by European Commission. In 2015, CES won the support from the Jean Monnet Project (No.2015-2629) again. Adpersonam Jean Monnet Chair and European modules, and in 2008, Prof. DAI won the Jean Monnet Prize. In the past years, CES has had developed full-fledged teaching and research programmes in the main disciplines of economics, political sciences, social studies and law. It publishes journal “European Integration Studies”, and since 2005, report on EU economy annually, which is the only annual publication focusing on the development of European economy in China. The official website of CES, regularly updated, has also become an important window for activities of EU in China.

    Successfully participating in the ESCP, CES of Fudan University acts closely with Chinese and European organizations, like EUSA Asia Pacific, to promote the development of EU studies and activities in Shanghai and China. It has also set up the long-term partner relationship with European institutions such as Leuven, ULB, University of Bonn, FU Berlin, University of Frankfurt, SciencePo Lille, Durham University, University of Zurich, University of Groningen, Warsaw School of Economics, etc. In the past years, CES has held and organized many quality conferences on EU Studies as well as lectures and speeches of scholars and officials from Europe, such as German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Helmut Schmidt, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, etc. It also cooperated with Delegation of the EU to China by organizing and participating activities under the EU Commission such as “Model EU 2010” in Shanghai EXPO and EU-China Youth Year 2011.

    CES will play a very important role in implementing this project. With its abundant experience of cooperation with European and Chinese institutions, Sino-EU bilateral activities, organizing academic conferences and forums, and teachers exchanging, etc, CES is an excellent platform to disseminate and exploit the results of Jean Monnet program and strengthen the teaching and research synergy in European integration studies in Shanghai area. CES greatly contributes to the EU studies in China, especially on the research of European welfare models, development of renewable energy, sovereign debt crisis recently, besides traditional topics, which gave CES a leading position in academic study and unique impact as think tank on national officials and policy makers. This project will make use of these advantages to utilize the results and impacts.

  • School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University

    Tsinghua University is one of the two China’s best universities. In 2018, it ranks as No. 25 in the World QS and No.30 in The Times Higher Education. At present, the University has 14 schools and 56 departments with faculties in science, engineering, humanities, law, medicine, history, philosophy, economics, management, education and art. The University has now over 25,900 students – 13,100 undergraduates and 12,800 graduate students. As one of China’s most renowned universities, Tsinghua has become an important institution for fostering talent and research.

    Tsinghua University’s School of Journalism and Communication (TSJC) was established in 2002. It has grown very fast since then in the number of staff members, students as well as its impact both domestically and internationally. The School enjoys a reputation as one of the leading schools in journalism and communication studies in China.

    The School runs BA in Journalism Studies, MA in Journalism Studies, Communication Studies, International Journalism and Communication, and PhD programme in Media and Communication Studies. In 2006, TSJC launched an English-language MA programme in Global Business Journalism in collaboration with the International Centre for Journalists and Bloomberg. TSJC trains students for the mainstream Chinese media organisations and the publicity branches for Government as well as State Owned Enterprises. Every year, majority of graduates go to work at these affiliations.

    Dr. Li ZHANG, who is Associate Professor and Deputy Director of Institution of Public Relations and Strategic Communication at TSJC, will be a key member for this project. She is an experienced researcher on perception studies and international communication and has previously conducted and managed EU and UK funded research.

  • Waseda University

    Waseda University is a leading Japanese private university, with 13 undergraduate schools and 21 graduate & professional schools in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. It has around 51,000 students, 5,500 faculty and 1,300 staff. The university has a huge worldwide network. As of November 2016, it has 458 university-wide agreements on researcher and student exchange with overseas institutions from 84 countries, including nearly all EU member states. Over 5,000 international students are studying at our university, and every year we send around 4,000 students abroad. In April 2016, we established a Brussels Office within the campus of Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), our strategic partner in Europe, in order to strengthen our research and educational network with European institutions even further.

    Thanks to various European Union and Japanese government grants, Waseda University has been extensively conducting education and research on the EU. For example, we hosted the EU Institute in Japan at Waseda University (April 2009-July 2016) as the first institute of this kind operated by a single Japanese university, and implemented a huge number of EU-related academic and outreach activities, while promoting academic and student exchange between Japanese and European universities. We were a member of an Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate program and are currently an active member of a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, and a Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Joint Doctorate program, with particular focus on EU Studies and International Relations (see below). In addition, the European Research Unit of the Organization for Regional and Inter-regional Studies at Waseda University (Waseda ORIS) and numerous project research institutes affiliated with it conduct interdisciplinary research on the EU, its member states, EU-Japan relations, and European integration.

  • Universitas Gadjah Mada

    Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), established in 1949, is one of the oldest universities in Indonesia, and a product of educational awakening in Indonesia. It is now a leading university in Indonesia with 18 faculties, a vocational school, and a graduate school, offering more than 251 courses for more than 55.000 registered students. Located at the heart of Javanese culture, the university offers a unique blending of tradition and modernity, locally rooted but globally oriented.

    UGM is a referent for many universities in Indonesia. The curriculum of the Department of International Relations, for example, is among the most referred curriculum by other universities offering International Relations. The curriculum of the Department of International Relations is among the most advanced when it comes to European Studies. It’s the only curriculum of International Relations in Indonesia which enables the students to pursue their studies in International Relations with special focus on Europe and European Affairs. The interest of the students in European Studies is reflected in the growing number of undergraduate thesis written on European issues and affairs.

    Following the role of UGM as a referent for other universities in Indonesia, European Studies developed within the framework of the curriculum of the Department of International Relations has also become a referent for the teachings on European Studies at other universities in Indonesia. This role as referent, however, is not given. We actively promoted European Studies across Indonesia. We initiated the development and play the role as coordinator of a network of scholars interested in European Studies in Indonesia (Indonesian Community for European Studies – ICES) which was established in 2012. This network has been very active in organising various academic activities such as conferences, seminars, curriculum development workshops as well as joint research and publication. We are now expanding our network regionally in Southeast Asia.

  • Korea University

    Korea University is one of few Korean universities that had embraced EU studies relatively early. It was in the beginning of 1980s when the university itself established the EU Research Centre (EURC). Since January 2014, Korea University is a strong collaborator of the European Commission as the host of KU-KIEP-SBS EU Centre. Having been awarded three Jean Monnet Chairs among the six awarded to entire Korea, Korea University is the most prestigious place for learning and researching on the EU.

  • Center for European Integration Studies (ZEI), Policy Impact Team

    ZEI’s (Center for European Integration Studies) research and teaching emphasis on “Governance and Regulation in the EU” brings together two aspects whose critical interplay shapes the EU, its impact on citizens’ lives and its role globally. Interdisciplinary perspectives on the important relationship between governance and regulation offer greater insight and clarity into the increasingly complex process of European integration. This dynamic interplay between governance and regulation in the EU serves as the touch stone for research, teaching and consulting work conducted at ZEI.

    ZEI (Center for European Integration Studies) is an interdisciplinary research and post-graduate education institute of the Rheinischen-Friedrich-Wilhelms University Bonn. ZEI’s academic focus on “Governance and Regulation in the EU” bridges academia and practice, linking research with innovative knowledge transfer. ZEI researchers regularly publish monographs, articles in peer reviewed journals, newspaper articles, and contribute to their own publication series. ZEI coordinates and participates in research projects, hosts visiting researchers, holds discussions and dialogues and offers mid-career training programs. Since 1998, ZEI has offered postgraduate students the opportunity to study the one year “Master in European Studies – Governance and Regulation”. Lecturers from all over Europe present students with diverse methods and perspectives on politics, law and economics of the European Union. Practical experts and excursions to the decision-making centres of European politics add to the international atmosphere at ZEI in Bonn.

  • Design and Implementation

    The EXPECT Work Programme is informed by Action Jean Monnet and Erasmus+ priorities: to

    • create a cohesive strategy to engage key target groups and academics in policy debate
    • mentor, train and involve early-career researchers in EU teaching
    • promote excellence in EU Studies teaching and research in the EU and globally

    Teaching activities:

    • 4 Young Researcher Trainings
    • 1 Diplomatic Training for early career diplomats
    • 5 young researcher webinars
    • Drafting on EXPECT informed course curricula


    • 4 Network Meetings all with EU Policy Team
    • 3 Stakeholder Round Tables
    • “Diplomatic Road Show”: 5 High-profile Partner-led Dissemination Events in 5 Asian locations featuring Asian EU Delegation briefings


    Network Meeting #1 - Bangkok

    EXPECT Network Meeting #1 brought together the leading experts from New Zealand, China, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia, alongside their early career researchers. The team linked relevant theoretical models from multiple theoretical fields, critically reviewed the proposed methodology, and discussed the best practices for moving forward. The Network Meeting #1 developed guidelines and formed the basis of the next three years of work to ensure an appropriate level of comparability and thematic coverage is accomplished. 

    This training focused on media analysis of EU expectations – data collection techniques and analysis protocol. Early Career researcher were taught the original methodological approaches in EU external perceptions studies that were developed by the EXPECT leaders. The young researchers developed advanced academic, teaching, networking, and cross-cultural skills throughout the duration of the training session.

    Network Meeting #1

    Objectives of Launch EXPECT Network Meeting #1:

    • Introduce key experts and early career researchers from different countries to each other
    • Critically review the proposed methodology and define the concepts around “expectations”
    • Train early career researchers in media analysis methods
    • Elaborate on key concepts defining “expectations towards the EU” found in Asia
    • Link relevant theoretical models and critically review the proposed methodology to incorporate best relevant practices of the partners
    • Review existing relevant literature on EU external relations
    • Fine-tune the research programme, develop guidelines and form a consensus for the common basis for the work
    • Ensure an appropriate level of comparability
    • Distribute research exchanges over locations and time
    • Discuss deliverables and fine-tune the work plan
    • discuss e-visibility strategies (e-newsletter design, social media profile, podcasts, e-outreach to wider virtual Jean Monnet community, website of the Virtual Centre “EU Global Perceptions’)

    Network Meeting #2 - Virtual

    In response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the NCRE, acting on advice from the New Zealand Ministry of Health and the University of Canterbury, decided not to proceed with the original plan to host the Network meeting in Indonesia. For the safety of each participant, the meeting was held via Zoom over a three day period.

    The EXPECT Network Meeting #2 was designed to trace the progress of the research programme. The team assessed successes and setbacks, including the implications of Covid-19. The Academic Partners discussed findings from the media analysis (press, Wave 1) and elaborated on the research design of the social media analysis (focused on the EU communication strategies towards selected Asian countries in the Network) (formation and projection elements in strategic narrative theory). The meeting was also used to set the main conceptual framework for the analysis of official policy and analytical (think tank) discourses.

    Additionally, the Network meeting included a training session for the Early Career Researchers. This training was dedicated to the assessment and quality control of the ongoing media analysis (e-press) and introduced the researchers to the methods and protocols of social media analysis to examine EU Delegation communications. In addition, each researcher gave a 45-minute presentation on the data collected during wave 1.

    The EXPECT team meeting on Zoom – 27-29 July 2020

    Questions? We'd love to hear from you!