Vanhoonacker, SMRL


Sophie Vanhoonacker has a chair in Administrative Governance and is Jean Monnet professor at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS), Maastricht University. From 2016 to Sept.2020, she served as dean of the faculty.

In her research she examines the role and influence of bureaucratic actors in multi-layered, polycentric systems of decision-making with a special focus on European foreign policy. She is series editor of the 'New European Union Series' of Oxford University Press (together with Dermot Hodson) and the European Administrative Governance series at Palgrave Macmillan (together with Thomas Christiansen) .

She primarily teaches  courses on EU foreign policy and external relations.

Career History

Sophie Vanhoonacker holds a PhD from Leiden University (1999). She studied history (Catholic Universtiy of Leuven, 1984), European Studies (College of Europe, Bruges, 1985) and International Relations (Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1989).

She joined Maastricht University in 2001 and played an active role in the creation of the Bachelor and the Research Master European Studies. From 2016 to Sept. 2020, she has served as dean of the faculty. 

Vanhoonacker has taught as a visiting professor as the College of Europe. She is also senior member of the Netherlands Institute of Government.

Prior to her position at Maastricht University, Vanhoonacker was a faculty member of the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA), Maastricht (NL) where she was part of the unit 'European Governance and Policy Processes' (1987 - 2001) . At EIPA she was involved in training of civil servants on policymaking in the EU and on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). In the period 1996-2001 she was involved in preparing EU Member States for the Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Research Profile

As one of the members of the Faculty’s research programme on European Governance, the main focus of Vanhoonacker’s research is the role and influence of the administrative level in EU decision making. Leading the section on ‘The Administrative Governance of Multilateral Foreign Policy’, she is particularly focused on the emerging system of an EU level system of diplomacy and its processes of institutionalisation. Currently the main focus of her research is on the role and influence of non-elected administrative actors on the European foreign policy process. She is especially interested in the processes of 'Brusselisation' or 'the steady enhancement of the Brussels-based decision-making bodies' in the area of CFSP. Recent publications have dealt with the emerging EU diplomatic system and the development of the European External Action Service (EEAS); the impact of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) on national administrations; Brussels-based bureaucracies in the field of security and defence.

Recent publications include:

M. Smith, S. Keukeleire, S. Vanhoonacker (eds.) (2016), The Diplomatic System of the European Union: Evolution, Change and Challenges (London and New York: Routledge).

K.Pomorska and S. Vanhoonacker (2015), ‘Europe as a Global Actor: the (Un)Holy Trinity od Economy, Diplomacy and Security’, Journal of Common Market Studies. Annual Review, Vol.53, 216-229.

C. Neuhold, and S. Vanhoonacker (eds.) (2015), ‘Dynamics of Institutional Cooperation in the European Union: Dimensions and Effects', European Integration Online Papers, Vol. 19, Special Issue 1.

T. Blom, and S. Vanhoonacker (2014) (eds.), The Politics of Information. The Case of the European Union (Basingstoke: Palgrave).



Current PhD Supervision

Marie Desomer, The Impact of Judicialization Processes on the Europeanization of Migration Policies (2011-) (co-supervisor with Dr. Maarten Vink)

Valentina Carraro, The design and authority of the United Nations Periodic Review vis- à-vis the UN treaty bodies (co-supervisor with Prof. Thomas Conzelmann)

Ewa Mahr, Contestation of EU civilian missions by local actors: The case of Western Balkans (co-supervisor with Dr. Petar Petrov)

Cornelia Racké, Behind the Curtains of the Bologna Process. Emergence of an international regime on higher education (co-supervisor with Prof. Tannelie Blom)

Completed PhD Supervision

Hylke Dijkstra ‘The role of supranational bureaucracy in the development of European foreign policy’ (2007-2011) (co-supervisor with T. Blom).

Anne-Claire Marangoni, Formal and informal mechanisms of cooperation in EU external relations. A Case Study on the European Commission (2010-2014) (co-supervisor with Dr. Thomas Conzelmann)

Ruud Geven, Transnational networks and the common market: Business views on European Integration, 1950-1980 (2014) (co-supervisor with Prof.Ernst Homburg)

Natasja Reslow, Partnering for mobility? Three -level games in the EU external migration policy (2013) (co-supervisor with Maarten Vink)



Sophie Vanhoonacker teaches various courses in the framework of both the Bachelor and the Master programmes of European Studies.

Research Master European Studies

Europe and the World
This 8-week module focuses on the role and position of the European Union in the World. It puts the major questions currently dominating the debate about the EU as an international actor in a broader academic and historical context.

Master European Studies

Module on EU Foreign and Security Policy
This 4-week module of the International Relations track of the Master European Studies focuses on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) with special attention to the psot-Lisbon developments.

Bachelor European Studies

Honours programme on the role of expertise in European foreign policy
This optional course is specifically developed for the top 5% of students of European Studies in their second or third year. The first part of the course consists of a series of tutorials discussing academic literature on the role of experts in (foreign) policymaking; during the second part the students engage in a research project on expertise in the European External Action Service (EEAS).

Teaching-related publications

S. Baroncelli, R. Farneti, I. Horga, S. Vanhoonacker , 'Teaching EU Studies: Patterns in traditional and innovative teaching methods' (Springer Verlag).

S. Vanhoonacker and M. Vink (2010), ‘Onderwijs in bamastructuur: ervaringen vanuit European Studies in Maastricht’, Res Publica, 52(2): 255-261.
[“Education in the bachelor-master format: experiences from European Studies in Maastricht”]



Work for third parties

  • Series editor book European administrative Governance (verlenging) at Palgrave macmillan
  • Member Advisory Board Political Science at Radboud University

Additional roles & tasks

Chair in Administrative Governance and Jean Monnet Professor