GARNET: The EU role in global governance

Efforts to link Europe’s diverse research capabilities are gaining momentum with the help of an EU-supported project called GARNET. A network of excellence comprised of 42 research centres and universities across Europe, GARNET focuses on the role of the EU in global governance, regionalisation and regulation. Since the start of its activities in 2005, the five-year project has spawned a broad set of integrating programmes and initiatives that serve the EU priority of establishing a European Research Area (ERA).

Coordinated by the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation at the University of Warwick, GARNET has taken a ‘multidisciplinary, multi-dimensional’ approach to the task of network creation. This approach can be seen in the diverse spectrum of activities embraced by the network. Aside from developing databases and organising an annual international conference, GARNET has launched a programme of scholarly mobility at all levels of seniority and developed a PhD School (which has secured funding for the post-GARNET period).

The project’s activities are organised around four main themes:

  • Theory and practice of regionalism and regionalisation.
  • Identification of key elements in the regulatory framework of governance.
  • Policy issues in global governance (particularly those involving trade, finance, security, environment, technology, development, social production, gender inequality and disease).
  • The role of the EU in the advancement of research and policy pertaining to the above.

Jointly executed research activities in these thematic areas have produced a large number of scholarly works and policy-relevant publications over the years. The project has generated two book series with Routledge (‘Europe in the World’ and ‘Emerging Global Challenges’) and a Working Paper series (free of copyright restrictions) and sponsored research resulting in the publication of scholarly articles in refereed journals. Alongside the books and working papers, GARNET participants have published a valuable series of policy briefing papers relating to contemporary governance and regulation issues. Recent contributions include:

  • Policy Brief 11: ‘Europe as a Risk Averse Power - A hypothesis’ provides an overview of risk types, with thematic, demographic and geographical taxonomies, showing that Europe is generally risk-averse. The brief concludes in a cautionary vein, describing the tension between the need to harmonise positions on risk aversion and the trend toward ‘more heterogeneous’ preferences within the EU.
  • Policy Brief 10: ‘The Global Financial Meltdown and the Impact of Financial Governance on Gender’ explores how the financial crisis in Europe influences gender relations and risks reinforcing existing gender inequalities. The paper concludes by recommending ‘mandatory gender quotas of 40% in all management positions of financial and regulatory institutions’.
  • Policy Brief 9: ‘The Regional Dimension of Human Security. Lessons from the European Union and other Regional Organisations’ offers a brief summary of ‘human security’ issues in the EU, the African Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This brief suggests non-European organisations can benefit from the EU’s experience of promoting human security through regional integration processes as, for example, in the case of food safety standards.

The volume of publications generated by the GARNET project is evidence of the project’s relevance across a broad spectrum of policy sectors. But, the project’s larger significance lies in the degree to which it has got the ‘points of light’ in the EU research community to shine in the same direction and to illuminate common challenges. Having set out to combat ‘fragmentation and weak coordination’ in EU research on regulation and multi-level governance, GARNET has endeavoured to act as a corrective force, promoting a culture of cross-border cooperation and forging closer ties among the diverse stakeholders in the European Research Area.

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, opened the latest conference on 'The EU in International Affairs' organised by members of the GARNET network (represented by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in cooperation with the Université Libre de Bruxelles and UNU-CRIS, Brugge). President Barroso engaged with researchers on the policy relevance of their work concerning the relationship between multilateralism and multipolarism; the relationship between European values and interests in areas such as democracy and fundamental rights, and new perspectives for the EU’s international role with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009.

GARNET - Global Governance, Regionalisation and Regulation: The Role of the EU (duration: 1/6/2005 – 31/5/2010) was a Specific Targeted Research Project funded under the 6th Framework Programme for Research of the European Union, Thematic Priority 7 - Citizens and governance in a knowledge-based society.


Contact: Prof. Richard Higgott,;