Antoine Rayroux on EU-Canada cooperation and policy dialogues

Antoine Rayroux, a visitor scholar at CÉRIUM – the Centre for International Studies at the Université de Montréal, and works as consultant in international affairs with an expertise in Canada-Europe relations. Like many others, Antoine is inspired by the process through which centuries-old enemies were able to not only establish long-lasting peace, but also share sovereignty in highly political policy areas. This process was the foundation of the EU and this accomplishment remains at the core of its purpose. Antoine has focused his studies on peace, cooperation, and the political anomaly that is the EU.

What attracted you to the field of European Studies/ fascinated you about the EU? I came to European Studies via the fields of International Relations and Security Studies. What fascinated me I think was the idea that century-old European nation states that had gone at war with each other until quite recently would be ready to pool some of their sovereignty in highly contentious and symbolic policies - diplomacy, security, and defence - and the process of doing so. This is why I chose to dedicate my academic research to EU peacekeeping operations. There I focused mainly on France and Ireland’s military cooperation in Chad, as it looked to me like a fascinating unlikely pairing to look at. That was indeed a great academic experience.

Despite all its limitations and the criticisms rightly made against it, I also still hold a favourable bias towards the EU and what it stands for. I remain convinced that there is no escape from multilateral cooperation if we are to tackle our world’s most pressing challenges - first of which climate change. I hope that well-informed academic work on the EU will ultimately help to understand it better and to find the ways to improve its policies and governance.

How has your academic background been helpful in your current professional career? Even though I still do a bit of research occasionally, I now work outside of academia. I am a consultant working in various projects that involve EU-Canada cooperation and policy dialogues. Of course, I consider myself very lucky that I could find a professional path that has allowed me to build on the many things that I have learned about the EU during my education in France, Belgium, and Canada. Also, since my work involves some close cooperation with the EU diplomatic community in Canada, I somehow remain embedded in some of the topics I was interested in as a researcher, which is a great source of intellectual curiosity.

More generally I think that my academic training has been useful in several ways. As researchers, we acquire many good professional habits and skills that we often fail to recognize as essential in most work settings outside academia: ability to search, compile and synthesize information quickly, to build arguments, to communicate orally and under written form, to think about the costs and benefits, the implications of policy choices, etc. Of course, knowing about the inner working of the EU’s multilevel governance system also makes it much easier for me to be efficient in my work today. And interestingly, I have come to realize that a lot of the political dynamics that I had studied in the EU’s case help to understand Canadian political dynamics too!

Antoine Rayroux works as consultant in international affairs, with expertise in Canada-Europe relations, and he is a visiting scholar at CÉRIUM – the Centre for International Studies at the Université de Montréal. He is currently involved in various EU-funded projects that foster the policy dialogue with Canada - covering both trade agreement (CETA) and strategic partnership agreement (SPA). Prior to that, he was a lecturer at the Department of Political Science at Concordia University and has been a Fulbright-Schuman visiting scholar at Georgetown University (2013). Antoine holds a PhD in Political Science from the Université de Montréal and the Université libre de Bruxelles. His academic research has mainly focused on the European Union’s diplomacy and peacekeeping policies.

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