EUSANCT: Does Supranational Coercion Work? Onset, Impact and Effectiveness of EU Sanctions, 2016 –2019

Research project co-funded by German Research Foundation (DFG) and National Science Center (NCN) in Poland (UMO-2014/15/G/HS5/04845, DFG code: 749/15). The principal investigator of he German team was Gerlad Schneider (University of Konstanz) and of the Polish team: Paulina Pospieszna (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan). Here is a short description and visit Publications to see the most current articles resulting from this research grant.

Economic sanctions are one of the most frequently used coercive measures in international politics. Although the European Union increasingly relies on this instrument since the end of the Cold War, the sanctioning policy of the supranational organization faces severe criticism. These objections include the accusations that the EU levies sanctions against the wrong targets and that the effects are either negligible or even counterproductive. The EUSANCT project intended to address these concerns and examine the onset, effectiveness, and side-effects of EU sanctions. The analysis of these interconnected steps promised important implications for the debate on the nature of the EU both as a supranational organization and as an international actor. The selection of sanction targets by the EU warranted detailed analysis. One major concern in the study of international economic sanctions is the potential problem of selection. Very few studies on EU sanctions have focused on investigating the factors that lead to the decision to use sanctions. Therefore, our aim was to investigate factors influencing target selection by the EU. The EUSANCT project therefore planned to carefully address the conditions under which the EU selects and sanctions potential targets. Through these lenses, we aimed to provide empirical information on different selection criteria.  In addition to reasons for the imposition of EU sanctions, a particular attention should be devoted to their efficacy. Obviously, the multilateral decision-making on which EU sanctions rely, and which we wanted to thoroughly investigate, is a primary candidate for the prejudice that supranational foreign policy making is highly ineffective. In addition, sanctions can also fail because economic actors in sender countries adapt to the restrictions and engage into illegal activities. Comparative studies on sanction effectiveness might not be able to fully capture such sidestepping because of their focus on aggregate economic indicators. This restriction made it mandatory, in our view, to explore how individual economic agents react to economic coercion. Therefore, we intended to conduct surveys among companies affected by sanctions.

Our goal was to ensure that the subprojects complement each other such that we can provide a comprehensive evaluation of the supranational sanctioning policy of the European Union between 1990 and 2014. To this end, the EUSANCT team planned to extend existing datasets on the threats and impositions of economic sanctions and use a broad mix of quantitative and qualitative techniques to answers the questions raised within the different subprojects. The project should enlighten academic and policy audiences about the chances and limitations of EU sanctions and discuss how the design of sanctions influences their impact and effectiveness. We aimed at the publication of international visible research articles and book chapters – and to strengthen the already existing research collaboration between the two PIs and their host universities, which should culminate in the publication of a doctoral dissertation. In sum, the EUSANCT project attempted to overcome the limitations of the state of the literature on sanctions and, more specifically, on economic statecraft by the European Union. In our study, we wanted to conduct interdisciplinary analyses, bringing together political scientists and economists representing different schools of thoughts, approaches, and research experiences to understand the issues of sanctions onset, effectiveness, and side-effects.

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