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Geopolitics and Expertise: Knowledge and Authority in European Diplomacy by Merje Kuus

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Chapter Seven

Political Geographies of Expertise

Knowledge From and On the East

The front-stage narrative of EU policy-making readily acknowledges that expert knowledge is a matter of disagreement. All players have something to contribute and there is no single criterion for expertise. In intergovernmental and inter-institutional negotiations all actors sometimes get their interests on the agenda and other times they do not. Each state forges its policy and builds its alliances based on specific issues. EU-level expertise is a process of continuous engagement and compromise in which all players assume national agendas, biases, and partial knowledge. In all EU institutions, there is “a lot of tolerance” for professionals advancing national interests. “It is frustrating but it is accepted.” With respect to the eastern enlargement, a commission official says: “It is a fundamental myth [sic] of the EU: it is a part of the culture of the house that there are special concerns by the member states. These concerns are taken into account. This happens with all enlargements.”

That storyline accentuates the well-lit facet of EU knowledge production: the almost stoic acceptance of multiple sources of valid knowledge. The other side of the process – the framing of some knowledge claims as ill-informed or irrelevant – is less visible. It too is an essential part of the story, even when it goes unnoticed or unacknowledged by the participants. The careful dance around the terms “balanced”, “prudent”, ...

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