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Enhancing the EU's Transboundary Crisis Management Capacities:
Strategies for Multi-Level Leadership


CARR led a three-year international research collaboration on EU transboundary crisis-management between 2015-2018. This project was funded by the European Union under its Horizon 2020 funding. This placed CARR at the heart of an emerging European wide research infrastructure in crisis and risk management.

Transboundary crises are at the core of the ʹnew normalʹ that characterises politics and policy‐making in Europe. Whether it is the financial crisis and the subsequent debates about the governance of the Eurozone, the Icelandic ash cloud, floods, oil spills, horse meat and other food scandals, let alone geopolitical tensions, this ‘new normal’ has highlighted interdependences among European states, where crises do not stop at national political boundaries. In a world where national politics has limited capacity to exercise boundary control over crises, the importance of managing transboundary crisis points to the critical role that the EU can play. However, this realisation comes at a time of growing scepticism regarding the effectiveness and legitimacy of the EU, and a re‐nationalisation of electoral politics.

TransCrisis is a three‐year international research collaboration on EU transboundary crisis‐management that aims to:

  • advance our understanding of crisis management capacities across institutions within a multi‐level governance setting
  • contribute to debates in the world of practice appropriate governance arrangements in the light of transboundary crises, especially in relation to EU institutions
  • promote public debate about transboundary crises and what citizens might expect from crisis leadership in a multi‐level system

To advance our understanding of the capacities and limits affecting crisis management and leadership in the EU and to develop high‐impact policy recommendations, this project focuses on a number of distinct components, ranging from (i) the role of European political leaders, their capacities and their responsiveness to public opinion, (ii) the crisis management capacities of EU institutions, and (iii) the interaction between the EU and national political‐administrative systems in managing crises.

Project partners: Crisisplan; Central European University; Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals; Stockholms Universitet; ThinkEuropa; Universita Degli Studi Di Catania; Universiteit Utrecht.


Research Themes

Themes: Introduction

Theme 1: Understanding Transboundary Crisis Management

Understanding Transboundary Crisis Management

Leader: Arjen Boin, Crisisplan.
This project develops a framework for crisis leadership in the context of the European Union.
This framework will inform all TransCrisis projects.

Theme 2: Studying Political Leaders in the Financial Crisis

Studying Political Leaders in the Financial Crisis

Leader: Femke van Esch, University of Utrecht.
This project utilises computer based analysis to assess European political leadersʹ speeches during the financial crisis and how these speeches respond to changing public moods.

Theme 3: Political leadership, EU institutions and Transboundary Crisis Management Capacity

Political leadership, EU institutions and Transboundary Crisis Management Capacity

This project consists of three interdependent studies that focus on the crisis management capacities of European institutions.

Theme 4: Interaction between EU national administrations in times of crisis

Interaction between EU national administrations in times of crisis

This set of studies investigates the interaction of EU and national political and administrative systems in transboundary crisis management

Theme 5: Political Leadership, National Politics and Transboundary Crisis Management

Political Leadership, National Politics and Transboundary Crisis Management

Leader: Nick Sitter, Central European University.
This project considers how the acquis (i.e. existing Treaty commitments) and Copenhagen criteria are being monitored and enforced in the light of evidence that national politics are becoming increasingly critical of EU integration, and that existing commitments are coming under growing challenge.

Theme 6: Political Leadership and the New Normal

Political Leadership and the New Normal: Developing transboundary crisis leadership capacity

Project co-ordinator: Arjen Boin, Crisisplan
Transboundary crises make up the ‘new normal’ that the EU faces today and in the future. The world of crisis is increasingly transboundary in nature. This project brings together the empirical findings from the research-based projects

 The TransCrisis project was funded under the European Commission's Horizon2020 programme call H2020-Euro-Society-2014.