Maastricht researchers will lead €3,000,000 EU project on global governance

The European Union (EU) has awarded a three million euros Horizon project to Maastricht researchers Prof. Dr. Hylke Dijkstra and Dr. Clara Weinhardt to study global governance reform. Leading a consortium of 14 universities, think tanks and a civil society partner, they will investigate how to make global governance more robust, effective and democratic.

Global governance and key multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, are increasingly in trouble. They are challenged by emerging powers, such as China and other BRICS countries, which have different views on global order. The Russian war against Ukraine has further undermined international cooperation and caused gridlock across global governance. Nationalist populism, and particularly the Trump administration in the United States, have put the fragility of multilateralism on display.

This contestation of global governance is particularly concerning for Europe. The European Union (EU), which is an international organization itself, and its member states have long been key supporters of multilateralism and a system of global governance that is rules-based, effective, legitimate and democratic. What is more, many of the global challenges we are currently facing – climate change, pandemics, migration, inequalities and digitalisation – can only be tackled through cooperation.

Starting on 1 November, the new research project ENSURED will examine how the EU and its members can transform and defend global governance to make it more robust, effective and democratic. This ENSURED project is coordinated by Maastricht University and includes 14 universities, think tanks and a civil society partner from Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands as well as Brazil, China, India, South Africa and the United States. ENSURED is funded for three years through the EU Horizon research programme.

Researchers from this consortium will study a range of best practices of global governance transformation in the fields of trade, climate, global health, migration and human rights, and digitalization. They will also provide quantitative analysis and develop a survey on the prospects of global governance reform. Based on all these research results, they will develop decision support and communication products at officials working for the EU and its members can use in their daily work. 

Prof. Dr. Hylke Dijkstra, the project coordinator, notes that this new research project is particularly important: “It is clear that global governance is heavily contested and often fails to address pressing global challenges. In this ground-breaking research project, we study how we can actually improve global governance. Our research will result in important policy recommendations for politicians, diplomats and civil servants across Europe and indeed the world.”

Dr. Clara Weinhardt, deputy project coordinator, adds that “the recent BRICS expansion shows that competition over competing visions of global order is intensifying. Against this background, we study how the EU can make attractive offers on global governance reform.”

About the ENSURED research project

The ENSURED project, which is entitled “Transforming and Defending Multilateralism: European Union Support for more Robust, Effective and Democratic Global Governance”, has been awarded 3 million euros by the EU Horizon research programme after a competitive open call for proposals. The project runs from 1 November 2023 until 31 October 2026 and is coordinated by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of Maastricht University. The project also uniquely includes researchers from the Maastricht’s Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences. 

The Consortium partners include Maastricht University (NL), KU Leuven (BE), Centre for European Policy Studies (BE), Charles University Prague (CZ), University of Tartu (EE), University of Potsdam (GE), Global Public Policy Institute (GE), European University Institute (IT), Istituto Affari Internazionali (IT), Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (BR), University of International Business and Economics (CN), Jawaharlal Nehru University (IN), Global Alliance of Civil Society Organizations (SA), and Tufts University (US).

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