Mutuality above Geopolitics : Reshuffling EU strategic communication in COVID-19 times

Research Paper by Domenico Valenza

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Speaking less – Listening more. Going beyond geopolitics, Domenico Valenza argues that what EU foreign policy needs is not the language of power, but more mutuality and reciprocity. Instead of conceiving foreign audiences as passive recipients, the EU should enhance the ‘listening’ dimension of its foreign policy, with the objective to engage with the world on an equal footing.

#geopolitics #strategiccommunication #culturalrelations #disinformation #listening #mutuality #covid-19


Abstract

In the past years the word ‘geopolitics’ has been buzzing around a lot in the halls of EU buildings. In an increasingly connected and contested world, EU strategic communication has become the lynchpin of a new geopolitical approach, as part of an effective response to disinformation campaigns that seek to deceive domestic and foreign audiences. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated this trend. While acknowledging some virtues of geopolitics, this paper warns against existing shortcomings in EU’s foreign policy approach. The EU’s temptation to use “the language of power” (Borrell) aggrandises differences, instead of similarities, and endangers international cooperation. Going beyond strategic communication and ‘messaging’, which conceive foreign audiences as passive recipients, this paper suggests that the EU should enhance the ‘listening’ dimension of its foreign policy, with the objective to engage with the world on an equal footing.


About the author

Domenico Valenza is a policy analyst in EU affairs and a researcher and lecturer in cultural policy and international cultural relations. He is currently a PhD Fellow at the United Nations University and Ghent University. His area of expertise includes the EU’s external action, Russia’s foreign policy, cultural relations and strategic communication. Previously he worked at No Peace Without Justice as a program officer, and at the College of Europe, Bruges, as a Senior Academic Assistant.