Border Conflicts in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
This project on was part of the EUBorderConf Project that was conducted with financial support from the European Union's Fifth Framework Programme. It was conducted in collaboration with Dr Katy Hayward.
The EUBorderConf project (The European Union and Border Conflicts: The Impact of Integration and Association) analysed the impact of European integration and association on the transformation of border conflicts. The project used a communicative definition of border conflicts as the articulation of incompatible, opposing views that are linked to a territorial political border, classically between two states or entities aspiring to statehood. The European Union was found to have a positive influence on border conflicts if it helped the transition from a higher to a lower conflict stage. It was able to do so through concrete policies, or through the effects of the integration process as such.
The project’s case studies (Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Greece-Turkey, Europe’s North-Russia and Israel-Palestine) demonstrated that integration has a stronger effect than association, but that this effect is not always positive. Integration can be conflict reproducing or intensifying if one conflict party is not included in the integration process, and if competing norms or interests reinforce conflictive identities or lead to a policy of hard borders. The cases also confirmed that the EU’s strongest transformative power in the short term is its compulsory impact in membership candidacy situations, which are however dependent on the credibility of the membership offer. Other conditions for positive EU impact included the priority given by conflict parties to EU membership, the ability of EU programmes to involve hardliners, the willingness of conflict parties to accept the EU and EU funding as legitimate, the accessibility of funding to broad sections of societies and the professionalism and diplomatic training of EU representatives. Most importantly, EU impact in all of the case studies was conditioned by events outside the control of the EU and was dependent on how integration or association was used by local actors.
There was therefore no direct causal effect of integration and association on border conflict transformation; such an effect was always mediated by local events and actors. Policy-making, the project concluded, should therefore be focused on working towards an organisational structure that can be used and referred back to once a window of opportunity arises, while integration provides the context in which local actors working towards peace can substantiate their claims, and which increases the likelihood that identities are increasingly constructed in less conflictive ways. Given that there was no automatic translation of EU involvement into peaceful transformation identified, the measure of success of EU policies should not be the achievement of conflict resolution as such, but whether or not it has been possible to provide a structure that supports peaceful transformation once a window of opportunity has opened.
Outcomes and Publications
- Hayward, Katy (2004). Defusing the conflict in Northern Ireland Pathways of influence for the European Union (Working Paper 02, link).
- Hayward, Katy (2005). Multilevel border conflicts on the island of Ireland. A study in practice, portrayal and persistence (Working Paper 19, link).
- Hayward, Katy (2006). National territory in European space: Reconfiguring the island of Ireland, in: European Journal of Political Research Vol. 45 (6), pp. 897-920 (link).
- Hayward, Katy (2007). Mediating the European Ideal: Cross-Border Programmes and Conflict Resolution on the Island of Ireland, in: Journal of Common Market Studies Vol. 45 (3), pp. 675-693 (link).
- Hayward, K. and Wiener, A. (2008). The Influence of the EU towards Conflict Transformation in the Island of Ireland, in Diez, T., Albert, M. and Stetter, S. (eds.). The European Union and Border Conflicts, Cambridge, CUP (link).
Please find the Final Report here.