Roch Analyzes EU Twinning Projects from a Process Perspective

November 15, 2016

In his dissertation "Possibilities and Limits of Cross-Country Administrative Cooperation at Europe's Fringes: A Process Perspective on EU Twinning in Moldova and Lebanon," Stefan Roch, who successfully defended on November 11, explored how EU Twinning projects support reform processes within beneficiary organizations. "A lot of research has been done on the impact of Twinning projects," Roch noted, "but not much has been done from a process perspective. I wanted to look at administrative cooperation from this angle to find out if and how these projects succeed."

EU Twinning projects are headed by the European Commission and involve administrative cooperation between EU member states and neighborhood beneficiaries. Projects typically last around two years, Roch explained, and are initiated to achieve specific results based on the European acquis. In his research, Roch analyzed Twinning projects in Moldova, a country with EU membership aspirations, and Lebanon, which does not have EU membership aspirations.

Twinning in both Moldova and Lebanon was restricted by formal limitations based on European Commission guidelines and also by domestic constraints. Both countries are also characterized by a certain degree of political instability. In spite of these similarities, Roch found Twinning projects to be more successful in Lebanon than in Moldova. He said that the explanation "apparently lies in Lebanon having stronger administrative capacity through fewer turnovers, higher seniority among Twinning participants, an established administrative model, and a better sense of purpose to Twinning." Another advantage that Lebanon had was that because it was not seeking European integration, it was able to choose its projects and design them more appropriately.

Previous research on EU Twinning centered on an outcome perspective. Roch highlighted that the European Commission approaches Twinning with the "assumption that development can be planned based on formal outcomes." Roch argued that his research demonstrates that the main outcome of Twinning is "not the implementation of external practices but an ongoing process of organizational learning and internal problem definition with the goal of realizing domestic solutions."