Rethinking and Reshapingthe EU’s Democracy Supportin Its Eastern and Southern Neighbourhoods
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Istituto Affari Internazionali

The Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) is a private, independent non-profit think tank, founded in 1965 on the initiative of Altiero Spinelli. IAI seeks to promote awareness of international politics and to contribute to the advancement of European integration and multilateral cooperation. Its focus embraces topics of strategic relevance such as European integration, security and defence, international economics and global governance, energy, climate and Italian foreign policy; as well as the dynamics of cooperation and conflict in key geographical regions such as the Mediterranean and Middle East, Asia, Eurasia, Africa and the Americas.

IAI is a member of several national and international networks of excellence. It is constantly involved, as leader or partner, in a number of multinational projects and is currently the coordinating institution of two EU-funded Horizon 2020 projects, EU-IDEA and JOINT. IAI publishes an English-language quarterly (The International Spectator, published by Routledge), an online webzine (, a book series (IAI Research Studies), two papers paper series (IAI Papers and DocIAI) as well as one briefs series (IAI Commentaries)

Main contacts

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Nona Mikhelidze

Senior fellow, Global actors and EU, politics & institutions programmes, IAI

Photo of Maria Luisa Fantappiè
Maria Luisa Fantappiè

Head of Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa

Role within SHAPEDEM-EU

Within the SHAPEDEM-EU project, IAI will be leading Work Package 4 on EU democracy support and democratic practices in six countries of the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhoods – namely Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Lebanon, Palestine and Tunisia. Research activities include the analysis of how democracy as a norm and practice of EU foreign policy is discursively contested within the EU and how discursive practices translate into behavioural practices.

IAI’s contribution to the SHAPEDEM-EU project will also consist in the assessment of academic debates on democracy support and contestation; in developing a Democracy Learning Loop conceptual framework & methodology (Work Package 1); in mapping local contestation towards practices of democracy and democracy support in the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhoods (Work Package 2 & Work Package 3) and in analysing democracy promotion and other interactions between EU Member States and third actors in these Neighbourhoods.

Our vision for SHAPEDEM-EU

SHAPEDEM-EU’s broad and diverse consortium is excellently placed to tackle the many difficult questions affecting the EU’s foreign engagements to the east and south; and there is no better time than now to engage in novel research on the EU’s power of attraction, approaching this question from both within and without.