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Adalgisa Martinelli

GEM-DIAMOND doctoral fellow

ESR 17 – Political Narratives and EU Legitimization: Between Unity and Dissensus

Adalgisa is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow at the Université libre de Bruxelles. Her research interests are European agri-food policies, relevant funding schemes and local knowledge management.

The political narrative of Food Sovereignty: an instrument for European legitimation


  • François Foret

Research abstract

The European Union (EU) is currently facing a complex landscape of shifting identities and values. This evolving political paradigm has also been affected by numerous internal and external challenges, to the point that the last few decades have been defiantly labelled as the age of permacrisis (Zuleeg et al., 2021).
Nowadays, much of the attention lies in understanding how these changes have impacted the political discourse within the EU and how it is inflaming the political debate at the national level. However, there is a significant gap on how this shifting paradigm is impacting the European agri-food sector, its policies and how the EU is responding to these evolving dynamics. This research proposal aims to demonstrate the transformative power of values in the agri-food sector. This power acts by shaping the decision making process as well as widespread political narratives and ideas. In years, the broadening of the European agricultural agenda called for regional, national and global actors to interact to solve new policy issues, despite being based upon different and, often conflicting, values.

The permacrisis decade has exposed the vulnerabilities of the European agri-food arena, thus gradually enlarging the EU agenda’s scope from the agricultural sector to a broader food system (IPES Food, 2019). At the current stage, many narratives may explain the changes in the modus operandi of the EU, something that already shows the pervasive shifting paradigm - from neoliberalism to neo-isolationism - taking now place in terms of food sovereignty. Food sovereignty and sovereignty may reconcile, without putting at risk European cohesion and legitimacy (Csirszki, 2022). By detecting these shifting narratives, it is argued that the new European food sovereignty proposal is a tool to silence narratives of dissensus over the EU's role and legitimacy. Aiming at answering the societal dissensus, the Commission’s response seems to switch from a performance rather than to compliance-based approach to the governance of the CAP, thus ensuring more flexibility to Member States (Blandford, 2019).

For this reason, the interplay in the agri-food sector is highly political and its pivotal role will determine the European raison d’etre in the next decade. As such, it deserves being duly investigated also for its consequences on the European Union project. Indeed, the food sovereignty agenda should be considered an example of striking success to reconcile Member States commitment to the European Union while gathering widespread support from civil society.

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Adalgisa is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Doctoral Fellow at the Université libre de Bruxelles within the Horizon Europe GEM-DIAMOND project. Her doctoral project, supervised by François Foret (ULB), focuses on the food sovereignty narratives as tool for European legitimisation.

She holds a MA in International Affairs and a BA in International and Diplomatic Sciences from University of Bologna. During her academic career, she studied in France at ESSCA Business School, at KU-Leuven and finalised her research thesis abroad in Pennsylvania at Dickinson College. Thanks to her research interest on EU agri-food policies, European funding schemes and local knowledge management in the agricultural sector, she worked as Research Assistant at Farm Europe - Brussels based Think Tank. Previously, she was a Junior European Project Manager at NGO Alphabet Formation and a MAECI CRUI trainee for the Italian Embassy in Kenya.

Adalgisa holds the America Giovani Award issued by the Italian Government (2022) to reward the best students for their academic talent and curriculum.
Addressing the environmental impact of agricultural plastics: a multi-actor perspective with (Valentina E Tartiu, Rachel Hurley, Cecilie Baann, Demetres Briassoulis, Evelia Schettini, Fabiana Convertino, Bernard Le Moine, Luc Vernet, Sissel Brti, Violette Geissen, Esperanza Huerta Lwanga, Nicolas Beriot, Defu He, Richard Thomspon, Giulia Carcasci, Luca Nizzetto), Cambridge Prisms, Forthcoming. Funded under Horizon 2020 project ‘PAPILLONS’ - Grant Agreement No. 101000210

‘Sustainability’: key-word of the economic partnership agreement EU-Kenya, Institute for International Relations Analysis, July 2023.

Il caldo registrato in luglio 2023 desta scalpore, eppure non dovrebbe, Institute for International Relations Analysis, August 2023.

Il cambiamento climatico: l’urgenza delle azioni arriva da vari fronti, Institute for International Relations Analysis, June 2023.

Il nuovo accordo sulla protezione degli oceani, Institute for International Relations Analysis, April 2023.

The Amazon forest, is it a common good?, Institute for International Relations Analysis, March 2023.

Destination Earth: la soluzione digitale europea al cambiamento climatico, Institute for International Relations Analysis, February 2023.

Carbon tax: comparison between the British Columbia and France, Institute for International Relations Analysis, January 2023.

The role of agriculture in EU-Africa relations: Kenya case-study, (2022), Master Thesis, University of Bologna, Curriculum International Affairs [LM-52] - Bologna.

Book: I can see you, edited by Paolo Lombardi, Edizione Era Nuova Publishing, November 2018