From 5 to 7 September Insa Ewert and I participated in the 46th annual UACES (University Association for Contemporary European Studies) conference at the Queen Mary University in London. The conference sessions’ main focus naturally were on topics related to the EU, however through the work of the UACES Collaborative Research Network on EU-China Relations, led by the ESSCA-Asia Institute, the Free University of Berlin and the College of Europe, seven of the nine sessions included special EU-China panels. Since both Insa and I work on EU-China relations these were the panels that we participated in during the conference.
The EU-China panels brought together a great group of scholars working on EU-China relations, coordinated by Professor Wei Shen, Jean Monnet Chair in EU-China relations and Professor of International Business at Lancaster University. The panels included a wide variety of topics, such as: security and risks; normative power; climate change and environmental policy; institutions, actors and changing discourses; agenda setting; shaping the global order; and identities and perceptions. In the ninth and final session of the conference there was a panel on cooperation and convergence: EU, China, US, in which the main focus was on China.
I presented my paper ‘From norm-taker to norm-shaper and institution creator: China’ in the 3rd panel on climate change and environmental policy as my paper included the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit as one of the case studies. In the paper I explain how China has been evolving from being a norm-taker into an international norm-shaper as well as an institution-creator and the effect this development has been having on existing great powers, in particular the EU, and their relationship with China. Thereby showing not only the importance of bringing socialisation in IR theory, but also that the way socialisation has so far been applied in IR theory as well as in practice is outdated and needs a different approach that corresponds with the changes taking place in the world order.
In panel four, ‘Institutions, actors and changing discourses’, Insa presented her paper ‘EU Policy-Making in a Changing World Order: The case of the EU-China Bilateral Investment Agreement‘, which discusses how the EU deals with internal and external challenges in its policy-making that arise through evolving policy-making processes within the Institutions themselves internally, and the (re-)emergence of China externally. It in particular looks at how policy-making practices function both internally in this policy-making process, as well as externally in the EU’s policy towards China in the field of trade and investment.
Due to the focus of many panels on EU-China relations, the UACES conference was a very meaningful conference to participate in for both of us. The panel presentations discussed a broad variety of relevant topics and led to interesting discussions. It also offered Insa and me a good platform to present and discuss our recent work. The conference was also a great network opportunity for us, bringing together a selected group of scholars working on EU-China relations, as well as other PhD students to share our work and experiences with during the breaks and dinners. All in all, the conference was a great success for us so we hope to be able to participate in next year’s conference in Krakow as well.