My research

My PhD project: EU foreign policy negotiations

For my PhD thesis, I am exploring bargaining dynamics in the context of EU foreign policy negotiations (Common Foreign and Security Policy/Common Security and Defence Policy). Specifically, I am interested in how member states go about formulating, defending and adjusting their positions in EU foreign policy negotiations. Relying on an original dataset collected by means of elite interviews and a survey completed by EU officials and national diplomats, the paper focuses on three sets of CFSP/CSDP negotiations: the agreement on the three-staged sanctions regime against Russia, the launch and implementation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the adoption of Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI.

I recently contributed to the H2020 project JOINT with a literature review on the internal contestation of EU foreign policy. The review was included in the Think Tank Review of the Council of the EU (November 2021).

From 2018 to 2021, I was also a team member on the Oxford-based project Europe’s Stories, led by Professor Timothy Garton Ash. As part of my contribution to the project, I co-authored a chapter in the final report, titled ‘Europe in the world’. The report, Young Europeans Speak to EU, tried to understand what young Europeans what the EU to be and to do across a variety of different policy areas (including foreign policy). You can also listen to the podcast series where the authors of the various chapters discuss the main findings and recommendations to policymakers.

Social relational theory

Together with Dr Heidi Maurer, I am currently working on a paper titled “Process and Position Power: a social relational research agenda about member states in the EU”, which is currently under review. The paper advocates for the application of social relational theories (in particular practice and network theory) to the study of EU negotiations and member states’ power.

Digitalisation of diplomacy

Together with Dr Federica Bicchi, I am currently working on a paper exploring the digitalisation of diplomatic practices in EU foreign policy, titled “The digitalisation of European diplomacy: from the COREU network to WhatsApp”. In particular, the paper analyses the evolving use of virtual peer-to-peer communication tools within the EU foreign policy system, with the aim to understand how available digital instruments shape the ways in which diplomats interact. We explore a wide array of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) employed by European diplomats, from the COREU network to WhatsApp and Signal, and assess their effect on the modes and contents of EU foreign policy diplomatic practices.

Peer-reviewed publications

Marianna Lovato (2021) “Getting your House in Order for EU Negotiations: When Domestic Constraints Condition Italy’s Performance at the EU Level”, Journal of Common Market Studies, Early View,

Other publications

Marianna Lovato (2021) “The Internal Contestation of EU Foreign and Security Policy”, JOINT Research Papers No. 1, pp. 1 – 46. Available here.

Olivier de France and Marianna Lovato (2021) “Europe in the World”. In: Garton Ash, T. (ed) Young Europeans Speak to EU. Dahrendorf Programme at the European Studies Centre, (ISBN 978-1-5272-9957-3). Available here.

Marianna Lovato (2021) “The COREU Network: How Member States Negotiate EU Foreign Policy in a Digital Environment”, NORTIA teaching case study.