Frauke Ohler analyses the negotiation tactics of the EU at the UN

Frauke Ohler is a PhD Candidate at the University of Louvain, Belgium.


The EU Member States have joined together on the international stage to create a strong and influential bloc. This has allowed them to take a leadership position in many areas at the United Nations, including discussions on climate change. By voting and negotiating as one, the Union has allowed its Member States to hold much more weight than they could individually, but a group of such size working in unison creates a complex and fascinating test subject for negotiation techniques and behaviours. Frauke's research explores the EU's  negotiating behaviours and how the adapts to different political climates. 


What attracted you to the field of European Studies/ fascinated you about the EU?

Initially, when I started studying politics at University, the courses focused strongly on the politics of Germany. My interest in EU politics grew especially when I realised that many developments inside an EU Member State are difficult to understand without considering the EU itself. Particularly when studying environmental politics, the EU is the essential driver and decision-maker. At the international level, the EU is always speaking with one voice in environmental negotiations, presenting a united front with its Member States. This is extremely intriguing to observe, because no other organisation, even the African Group, which is getting more and more organised, comes even close to this level of coordination and cooperation. In addition, I have always been fascinated by the EU as such and how easy it is to move from one country to the next – no matter if for travelling, studying or working. When I decided to move to Belgium to study EU politics, it was as easy as if I had moved to another German city. I believe that even as the EU gets more and more integrated, the Member States nevertheless keep their individuality, with diverse cultures and numerous languages. I think everyone experienced the severe impacts of COVID-19, and was shocked to learn that suddenly it was not possible anymore to cross EU borders as easily as it used to be. For me, it has always been evident to travel inside the EU without restrictions. Fortunately, the controls are only a temporary solution to address the pandemic and have no impact on future relations between the Member States.


What is the most important issue to be addressed in your research?

My research aims at understanding the role of the EU in international environmental negotiations. Thereby, I primarily focus on the ambition of the EU’s position, the diplomatic activities the EU conducts during those negotiations, and the EU’s influence on the outcome adopted at the end of the negotiations. As environmental issues are global in nature, it is essential to not only understand what the EU achieves, but equally how the EU behaves and negotiates at the global level. The EU regularly claims a leadership role on environmental matters, currently especially in the context of climate change. In my research, I am interested in studying less politicized negotiation forums, such as the biodiversity and chemicals conventions, as well as the Environment Assembly of the United Nations. The goal of my research is to understand if the EU’s leadership is also recognised by participants of global negotiations. Thereby, I compare both the perceptions of the EU and the perceptions of non-EU participants with each other. In addition, I am interested in understanding if and why the EU acts differently depending on the negotiation setting. In my PhD project, I wish to explain variations in the EU’s role in various environmental negotiations, but also on diverse subjects under negotiation.

Frauke Ohler is a PhD candidate and a FNRS research fellow at the University of Louvain. Her current research focuses on contemporary global environmental governance in the EU. In 2018, she graduated with an MA in European Studies from the University of Louvain. She also holds a BA in Social Sciences with a concentration in media, politics, and sociology from the University of Düsseldorf.


In 2019, she was a research intern at the University of Montreal for the Convention of Biological Diversity. Between 2014-2018, she was also a student assistant for two different institutions - Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Brussels, Belgium and the Heinrich-Heine-University at Düsseldorf, Germany.

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