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EU local capacity building: ownership, complexity, and agency

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-239
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Affairs
Issue number2
Early online date8 Oct 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 19 Sep 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 8 Oct 2018
DatePublished (current) - 2018


This article argues that, despite considerable efforts, EU capacity building activities have struggled to deliver on their objectives. While such programmes have sometimes been able to strengthen pockets of capacity in specific organisations, they have had less success in building capacity in the round and in a sustainable manner. Drawing on empirical evidence from EU capacity building programmes in the Horn of Africa and the Western Balkans, the article shows that, to a great extent, this failure has been a consequence of the difficulties EU capacity builders have had in engaging with complex local actors and political contexts. This in turn has led to a ‘legitimacy deficit’ for EU programmes, which have often had little involvement from local stakeholders and knowledge, and whose goals have often been at odds with local preferences and priorities.

    Research areas

  • Capacity building, effectiveness, European Union, legitimacy, ownership, Sustainability research

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