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The European Union and the Northern Ireland Peace Process

Books & Articles
Giada Laganà

It is very common to read articles, commentaries, and policy reports describing the role of the European Union (EU) in the Northern Ireland peace process that exclusively address events, rather than processes. The problem with taking an a-historical view - or of not paying enough attention to history - is that we do not yet fully understood the roots and evolution of the EU peacebuilding intervention in Northern Ireland. It is understandable that policymakers, practitioners, journalists, and academics must react to contemporary problems. They are faced with immediate issues - such as for example the Brexit process - that demands a solution. Still, if the immediacy of events can demand our attention, we should not forget that events are the result of processes. Hence, a timeline that merely reports events (such as the signature of a peace accord or a ceasefire) and does not record the trends in the society, polity, or institutional developments, risks missing the wider picture.

My book, The European Union and the Northern Ireland Peace Process raises many similar questions to those articles, commentaries, and policy reports. However, it approaches them from a more detailed historical and theoretical analysis than hitherto available. My aim was to provide an account of the genesis of the EU’s role in the Northern Ireland peace process; one that discusses how the EU contributed to transforming the region from a site of violent, ethno-national conflict, to a site of peacebuilding and conflict amelioration. One that describes how the EU attempted to enhance the re-emergence, restructuring, and strategic reorientation of politics from conflict to peace, from a perspective that combined theoretical elements of metagovernance with a specific peacebuilding viewpoint. This approach can also be related to a wider academic literature that highlights the complex and often unpredictable political changes produced by the implementation of EU peacebuilding efforts in areas of conflict.