Niklas Helwig

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I am currently based at the University of Edinburgh


Niklas studied at the University of Cologne and at the Victoria University in Melbourne. He received his degree in economics in summer 2010. Alongside his studies, he worked as a research assistant and tutor at the Jean Monnet Chair of Prof. Wessels at the University of Cologne and completed an internship at the broadcasting studio of the Second German Public Television (ZDF) in Brussels. As part of the EXACT - Marie Curie ITN on EU External Action, he worked for the Centre for European Policy Studies and the Finish Institute for International Affairs. His research focuses on the institutional evolution of  the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the post of the High Representative. 

EXACT stages
October 2010 – February 2011 University of Cologne
March 2011 – October 2011 The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Brussels
November 2011 – March 2012 The Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA), Helsinki
April 2012 – September 2013 University of Edinburgh
PhD research project

Title of research project: "Leader or laggard? The High Representative and the institutionalisation of leadership in CFSP"

Supervisor: Professor John Peterson (University of Edinburgh)

Co-Supervisor: Professor Wolfgang Wessels (University of Cologne)


“What a nation-state cannot provide alone – in economics, or defence – it can still provide through means far less drastic than hara-kiri” (Hoffman 1966).  The quote is based on the observation that in some policy areas member states may not be able to provide public goods to their citizens as independent units in the interconnected globalised world. On the other hand, the hara-kiri by the nation state, in form of an absorption into a European super-state is unlikely, especially in times of regional peace and prosperity. A third way out of this dilemma, the creation of supranational agents that take over a number of tasks from the member states, was practised to various degrees in the last decades. This PhD project analyses the post of the High Representative of the Union in a principal-agent framework as a crucial and recent case for the creation of supranational agents. What conditions the discretion of supranational agents? Especially the particular nature of EU Foreign Policy requires a close observation of the interplay of the member states as the collective principal and the High Representative as an agent. Thereby, the study also aims to provide a detailed account of the institutional developments in this policy field after the Lisbon treaty. 


Publications & Conference Contributions




  • "The EEAS in the new EU foreign policy architecture: reviewing two years of practice", presentation at the CEPS event "The EEAS two years on: Legal foundations and inter-institutional relations", Centre for European Policy Studies, 11 February 2013, Brussels.
  • "The High Representative’s capability-expectations gap – Promoting change through co-leadership", paper presented  at the 2012 UACES Conference, September 2012, Passau. 
  • "CFSP after Lisbon - reform faces reality", presentation at the 2012 UACES Conference, September 2012, Passau.
  • "Institutions and leadership: How to conceptualise and analyse the role of the High Representative of the Union?", paper presented at the 2012 BISA-ISA Conference, June 2012, Edinburgh.
  • "The High Representative as the new Presidency in the Common Foreign and Security Policy: 'The king is dead, long lives the king!'" paper presented at the European Union in International Affairs III conference, 13-15 May 2012, Brussels.
  • "EU foreign policy restarted? Post-Lisbon institutional change and its effects", paper presented at the Seventh Anual Graduate Conference of the Hebrew University, 14-16 December 2011, Jerusalem.
  • “Taking the lead? The High Representative facing the ‘Arab Spring’”, presentation at the EXACT workshop "The EU and its neighbourhood - current challenges and conflicts" at the Finish Institute for International Affairs, 7 September 2011, Helsinki.
  • "Leadership in CFSP - Potential and performance of the High Representative in the immediate reaction to the crises in Egypt and Libya", paper presented at the UACES Student Forum 12th Annual Conference, 30 June - 1 July 2011, University of Surrey, Guildford.


 Research Assistance

©  EXACT - Marie Curie ITN on EU External Action
Technische(r) Ansprechpartner(in):
Aline Bartenstein
Wulf Reiners
geändert: 24. April 2013
erstellt:  5. November 2010