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Luigi Nicolò Segarizzi

GEM-DIAMOND doctoral fellow

ESR 13 – Impact of dissensus driven by external competition on EU peace support & stability instruments and mechanisms

Luigi Nicolò is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Université libre de Bruxelles and Babeș-Bolyai University in Romania. His research interests concern the role of multilateral institutions in European security as well as the impact of hybrid threats on the EU's action in post-soviet countries.

Host Institutions

Externally-driven dissensus against EU's peace and security initiatives. Lessons from an Eastern neighborhood in turmoil.


  • Aude Merlin
  • Valentin Naumescu

Research abstract

Geopolitical competition is back at the heart of Europe. The outbreak of a new wave of hostilities in Ukraine paved the way for a period of widespread instability, demonstrating the necessity to reassess the European Union's efforts to foster peace in the Eastern neighborhood. Despite the EU peace-building capacity has been the focus of several seminal works, a research gap persists concerning the destabilizing role of mounting political dissensus. Therefore, in the context of GEM-DIAMOND's 4th Work Package (WP4), the present work assesses to what extent the exogenous competition shapes the EU’s capacity to act by investigating externally-dirven contestations against EU peace and security mechanisms in the post-soviet space.

Key concepts: European security, Externally-driven dissensus, Hybrid threats, EU's CSDP instruments, War in Ukraine, post-soviet space.

Research Question(s)

The present research project illustrates how the exogenous competition shapes the EU’s capacity to act in the former Soviet space by focusing on the focused on the following research question: "In the context of the geopolitical competition in the Eastern neighborhood, to what extent exogenous-driven dissensus affects EU peace and security mechanisms? "
In order to answer to this ‘primary research question’, a focus on the following ancillary questions is required:
1. How to define, frame and operationalize political dissensus?
2. To what extent dissensus in conflict-affected areas is linked to peace processes?
3. To what extent dissensus can be driven by exogenous influences? How illiberal actors influence dissensus? Especially, in which ways, modalities and instruments external influences shape political dissensus (e.g. disinformation, metanarratives ...?)
4. Are multilateral peace and security initiatives a target of exogenous-driven dissensus? Are EU initiatives a target?
5. How EU peace and security instruments are adapting to the geopolitical competition and the related mounting dissensus?

Research Hypothesis(es)

The research questions can be framed in a linear consequential correlation: Presence of dissensus in conflict-affected areas > dissensus linked to exogenous influences (from illiberal actors) > dissensus directed against the promotion of democratic values > exogenous-driven dissensus directed specifically against the EU peace and stabilization initiatives.
The consequential correlation can be narrowed to two main interlinked correlations of variables:
a) A causality between illiberal actors and mounting dissensus in conflict-prone areas
b) A causality between exogenous-driven dissensus and the EU initiatives

Personal Research Bibliography (So Far)

Arbatova, N. "The CIS factor in Russia-west relations: Origins of conflict". World Economy and International Relations. 62. 2018.
Delcour Laura, Esther Ademmer and Kataryna Wolczuk “Beyond geopolitics: exploring the impact of the EU and. Russia in the ‘contested neighborhood’” , Eurasian Geography and Economics 57, 2016
Ginty, Roger & Darby, John. Third Parties: External Influences on the Peace Process. 2002
Kuzio, Taras, “Ukraine between a Constrained EU and Assertive Russia”, Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 55, 2017
Romanova Tatiana, Maxine David “From a ‘Common’ to a ‘Contested’ Neighbourhood: Connecting Levels of Analysis in EU–Russia Interaction”, in The Routledge Handbook of Eu-Russia Relations, edited by. London: Routledge, 2021.
Smith, Hanna, “ In the era of hybrid threats", Hybrid CoE Strategic Analysis 1,October 2017
Smith, Michael, “Beyond the comfort zone: internal crisis and external challenge in the European Union's response to rising powers”, International Affairs, vol. 89, 2013
Tocci, Nathalie, The EU and Conflict Resolution: Promoting Peace in the Backyard, London, Routledge, 2007.

Selected Case Studies

The Union, via its External Action Service (EEAS), is actively involved in various stabilization activities. Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) platforms have been widely employed to face crises in the post-soviet space. These initiatives often take place via the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) or funds dedicated to EU civilian and military missions. Therefore, the WFP4 project should be focused on a set of countries targeted by EU initiatives. Particularly, the study focuses on Ukraine, Moldova and three Caucasus countries (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan).
Luigi Nicolò is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Doctoral Fellow at the ULB and UBB within the GEM-DIAMOND project (Globalisation, Europe, and Multilateralism - Democratic Institutions, the rise of Alternative Models and mounting Normative Dissensus), sponsored by the European Commission. His research project, supervised by Aude Merlin (ULB) and Valentin Naumescu (UBB), examines the impact of dissensus driven by external actors on EU peace and security initiatives in the Eastern neighborhood.
His research interests concern European security and the EU’s action in post-soviet countries. Prior to joining the GEM-DIAMOND project, Luigi Nicolò worked at the EU Delegation to Armenia, at the European Parliament, at the IMEMO RAN Institute in Moscow and at the Italian Chamber of Commerce in India. He also volunteered for a UNIDO project in Russia.
Luigi Nicolò holds an MA in International Relations (Double-Degree) from the University of Kent in Canterbury and the HSE University in Moscow, an Advanced MA in European studies from the College of Europe in Bruges and a BA in International Affairs from the University of Milan with an Erasmus + experience in Lithuania. In 2022 completed a specialization course at The Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) in Milan.
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• “The European Defence between Moscow and Washington”, 4th Tartu Annual Conference on Russia and East European studies, Tartu (Estonia),11 June 2019
• “Mare Nostrum/Terra Nullius: influenze russo-turche nel mediterraneo”. [Mare Nostrum/Terra Nullius: Russian and Turkish influence in the Mediterranean], TUTTI Europa 2030, October 2021