Jeroen Candel will defend his PhD dissertation entitled “Putting food on the table: the European Union governance of the wicked problem of food security” in the Aula of Wageningen University on Thursday 7 April at 11 AM.
The dissertation conceptualizes food security as a wicked policy problem, which by definition cannot be permanently solved, and investigates whether and how the European Union manages to deal with this wickedness. Overall, the dissertation shows that the EU institutions, and particularly the Commission, are relatively well capable of dealing with the frame conflicts surrounding food security debates and possess sufficient latent abilities to govern the wicked problem dimensions of food security. At the same time, actual governance changes in the aftermath of the food price crises were found to be rather limited. Whereas EU decision-makers pleaded for more comprehensive and holistic food security approaches, policy integration remained largely restricted to discursive levels. The thesis concludes that in most EU policy domains food security frames were primarily used to find support or legitimization for existing policy processes or preferences. Although substantial policy efforts were initiated, these remained largely restricted to the traditional domains of development cooperation and humanitarian aid. Consequently, the re-emergence of food security concerns in EU policymaking has not (yet) resulted in a more comprehensive and integrated EU governance of food security. The dissertation ends with putting forward notions of good-enough governance and clumsy solutions as suggestions for strengthened EU food security governance.