Recent Publications

Annamarie Bindenagel Šehović

The end of the Cold War gave the (western) world an apparent reprieve from weapons of mass destruction. Then came HIV and AIDS. Since then, a host of human insecurities and pandemic threats have converged to upend that semblance of order.

The ‘grand decade of global health’ (2000-2010) posited a litany of responses. These were meant to (re)establish order. They were overwhelmingly characterized by vertical (top-down) solutions to individual health threats: HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria being the three diseases which received the most attention. Being infectious diseases, this focus left non-communicable diseases (NCDs), maternal health, mental health, and even (re)emerging (infectious) diseases largely in the lurch. It also neglected horizontal responses based on local networks and knowledge: the successful response of some communities to the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa showcases alternative solutions.[1] Yet with the grand decade over, the a priori importance once attached to health has disappeared from the international agenda.

Indeed, health has only regained a fraction of its policy prioritization through the ascendance onto the international agenda of potential epidemic/pandemic threats such as Ebola and Zika. Here, however, the risk of non-intervention almost pales in comparison with the risk of intervention: “Epidemics appear not only as a threat, but as a challenge, a chance for the interventionist state that wants to prove its ability to act against infectious disease.”[2] Compounding the direct challenges posed by epidemics and pandemics themselves are the indirect complications such as “panic, social unrest and economic consequences”[3] which up the ante for response – with unknown consequences:[4] A number of regions of Brazil “proactively declared a public health emergency with regard to Zika in November 2015.”[5] If and when the expanded political, and military, powers granted under the emergency are not revoked, these could lead to serious infringement of biological and civil liberties.

The current context is one defined by varying degrees of disorder. This is the state of affairs in the realms of geopolitics to market (dis)regulation, of climate (dis)agreement to (il)legal migration status. Each of these has a bearing on global as well as local health. In fact, health is of particular importance as its causes and consequences, alongside its associated vulnerabilities and threats, crosses borders.

As such, mounting a coordinated effort to respond to global health issues is an imperative. The question is, how to do it?

[1] Villagers in a number of the affected countries identified transmission chains and implemented isolation of the sick to interrupt the spread of disease.

[2] Author’s translation. Original: “Epidemien erschienen nun nicht nur als Bedrohung, sondern ebenso als Herausforderung, ja als Chance für den Interventionsstaat, der seine Handlungsfähigkeit in der Seuchenbekämpfung unter Beweis stellte,” in Thießen, Malte (2015). ‘Infizierte Gesellschaften: Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte von Seuchen,’ in Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (ApuZ), 65. Jahrgang, 20-21/2015, S. 16.

[3] Author’s translation. Original: “Panik, soziale Unruhen und wirtschaftiche Folgen”  in Ehlkes, Lutz und Jürgen May (2015). ‘Seuchen – gestern, heute, morgen.’ in Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (ApuZ), 65. Jahrgang, 20-21/2015, p. 9.

[4] ibid.

[5] Gostin, Lawrence O. and Daniel Lucey (2016). “The Emerging Zika Pandemic: Enhancing Preparedness,” JAMA (Online), (27 January). 

Luis Simón

The global proliferation of precision-strike systems and the concomitant emergence of anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) capabilities challenges the foundations of Western global military-technological supremacy. What does this mean for current EU debates on military ambition? This Policy Brief argues that the assumption of the freedom of (military) access and movement, which has guided European strategic thinking since the end of the Cold War, is no longer valid. Europeans should get to grips with the new military-strategic paradigm and translate this into an updated ambition level and related capabilities.

Alexander Lanoszka

Western European countries rely on intelligence to collect information on the capabilities and intentions of friends and foes alike. They also perform counter-intelligence missions in order to hinder the intelligence operations of others. This policy brief highlights how the Russian disinformation campaign strives to enhance Russian deterrence of unfavourable policy responses to its foreign policy actions. It also illustrates how it affects intelligence and counter-intelligence missions undertaken by Western European countries in at least two ways. The first involves increasing the so-called noise-to-signal ratio via the dissemination of preferred narratives through media outlets, Internet trolling on social media, the cultivation of friendly populists in Western Europe, and the manipulation of complex ethnic grievances in Eastern Europe. The second involves creating potential, and exploiting existing, barriers to cooperation between national intelligence agencies via the use of Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks, and its potential violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Western European countries must deepen their cooperation in order to prevent Russia from being successful in its divisiveness. 

Catalina Capatina
Katarzyna Jakimowicz

The Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO), an initiative of the European Commission, is an online tool to help monitor developments on Internet policy around the world and provide better understanding and access to the largest number of potential stakeholders. Governments, NGOs and others interested in Internet Governance, including Internet users, are often daunted by the complexity of this fast-paced policy area.

Thanks to the use of advanced IT technologies, GIPO provides a practical tool to navigate this eld, increasing expertise and understanding among many more interested actors. Tool which helps governments, NGOs and those interested in Internet Governance to navigate the labyrinth of global Internet Policy. This policy brief outlines the results of a meeting held on the fringes of EuroDIG in Brussels in 2016, and presents some of the challenges and opportunities for such an experiment in ‘machine-driven information monitoring’ on a given topic of global importance. It provides recommendations for the future development of the tool, and continues the debate launched by the GIPO project’s Federation Roadmap, to help the tool maximize its impact in this complex policy environment.

Joachim Koops
Rafael Biermann

This unique handbook brings together a team of leading scholars and practitioners in order to map, synthesize and assess key perspectives on cooperation and rivalry between regional and global organizations in world politics. For the first time, a variety of inter-disciplinary theoretical and conceptual perspectives are combined in order to assess the nature, processes and outcomes of inter-organizational partnerships and rivalries across major policy areas, such as peace and security, human rights and democratisation as well as finance, development and climate change. This text provides scholars, students and policy-makers of International Relations with an exhaustive reference book for understanding the theoretical and empirical dimensions of an increasingly important topic in International Relations (IR), Global Governance and related disciplines. IES Senior Associate Researcher Katja Biedenkopf contributed an excellent chapter on ‘Relations between International Organisations in Combating Climate Change’.

November 2016
annual report

2015 was a year of change for the Institute, especially at management level. After nearly 15 years in office, founding President Prof. Dr. Bart De Schutter passed the baton to former European Commissioner Karel De Gucht to further lead the Institute’s highest governing authority. Prof. De Gucht took office at the end of September 2015 and along with his arrival on the Board, two other new members joined the Board, while three former members left (see the chapter Management further in this report). 

At the same time, academic management of the Institute also changed. After having served nearly 10 years as Academic Director, Prof. Dr. Sebastian Oberthür asked to be relieved of his management functions so that he could concentrate fully on his research and on the many externally-funded projects he is heading. The Board subsequently launched a vacancy for a new Academic Director and selected a new candidate at the end of 2015 who will start his mandate in September 2016. Meanwhile, IES Assistant Director Alexander Mattelaer replaced the Academic Director and ensured that the Institute’s precious academic work continued. 

Notwithstanding these changes, the Institute continued to bear the fruits of past investments in quality researchers and scholars. With more than 170 new publications, amongst which 7 new books and 23 peer reviewed articles, the Institute’s output record continues to grow. The IES was also able to celebrate its 20th successful PhD defence. IES researcher Justyna Pozarowska graduated at the beginning of 2015 after four years of study on an FWO-endorsed project on the management of genetic resources (see more details under Teaching Portfolio). While 62 students graduated in 2015, the IES encountered a fallback in student numbers for the academic year 2015-2016. It now counts 75 Advanced Master students (as opposed to 100 the year before). Meanwhile, the Institute has taken measurements to increase its student numbers again for next academic year (see Teaching Portfolio). In line with the Government Agreement, the IES attracted two new PhD researchers that started in the fall of 2015. With a total of 29 externally funded projects running and services provided, the Institute was also able to secure more than 1 million Euros worth of external funding. Together with the income from tuition fees and university, the IES nearly matches the funding it receives as a subsidy from Government, and was able to end the year at break-even level (see more under Financial Report). 

In 2015, the Institute employed 76 people (in total 36.2 full-time equivalents) and attracted another 30 associates and/or non-paid staff. The number of people directly involved in the IES work thus amounts to more than 100. 

2015 also marked the expiry of the Agreement between the IES and the Flemish Government. According to its provisions, the prolongation for another five years depends on a review process initiated in 2015. A team of independent academics audited the Institute, based on a self-evaluation report compiled at the beginning of 2015. The visit of the audit committee took place in March 2015 and led to a very positive report (see further under Quality Assurance). At the end of 2015, the Flemish Minister for Education could subsequently announce the renewal of the contract, further proof of the quality of the hard work that the Institute’s staff have been carrying out over the past years. 

Despite an apparently ever-growing number of crises in Europe over the past decade, the fundamental rationale of the European Union (EU) and its member states actively and jointly exerting leadership in international climate and energy policy has not changed. The members of the Union remain bound together by common policies closely linked to the single market. They also have a common interest in fighting climate change and enhancing energy security and reaping the many economic opportunities of the ‘new climate economy’. And, with individual member states being vulnerable and lacking clout, they share a strategic interest in jointly shaping evolving international climate and energy governance. The crises therefore do not call for scaling down EU climate leadership ambitions, but for adjusting the leadership strategy.

Aviation has transformed society over the past five decades, effectively shrinking the planet and bringing great economic and social benefits to an ever increasing number of people. Its unremitting growth does, however, come at a price. Direct emissions from civil aviation account for approximately 3 % of the EU’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and for around 2 % of global GHG emissions. The emissions amount to only a third of those in the road transport sector, but display a high per-passenger intensity and are increasing rapidly along with the relentless rise in demand for both passenger and cargo flights. An average annual growth rate of approximately 3 % until 2050 is expected in aviation traffic within the EU. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) estimates average yearly growth rates of up to 5% in global passenger traffic until 2030. These expansions could lead to a more than six-fold increase in emissions from global aviation by 2050 when compared to 1990 levels, which would amount to a consumption of roughly 9 billion barrels of Jet A-1 fuel a year. That makes aviation the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases in the world. Both governments and the industry actors are becoming aware of their need to play an earnest part in mitigating its effects on climate change, if one is to end up anywhere near the strict 2°C limit agreed at the COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, let alone the ambitious 1,5°C objective set out in at COP21. There is a clear case for adopting measures to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.

Svitlana Kobzar

This Policy Brief is the second in a two-part feature that examines Russia’s ability to influence French and German narratives on the Minsk II agreement and Ukraine’s evolving position in the international system. While the first Policy Brief analysed the gap between Ukrainian-Russian interpretations of the Minsk II agreement, this Brief traces how these narratives are contextualised in French and German media landscapes. The research concludes that while there is a consistent presence of Russian narratives in public discourse in these countries, they had limited impact on their public opinion. The German/French news coverage of the Minsk II agreement as well as the role of Russia and Ukraine in its implementation differs from Russian-sponsored news. The Brief analyzes the wider diplomatic relations between Germany, France and Russia, particularly focusing on the deteriorating relations before the Ukraine crisis.

A consensus is emerging in the transatlantic community that the Kremlin’s manipulation of information constitutes a real threat to EU security. Across Europe, far-right, populist and Euro-skeptic political parties are embracing Russia’s information campaigns. In the European Parliament, Marine Le Pen’s Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) is the main proponent of pro-Kremlin narratives. The foreign policy platform of the Front National in France contains explicit references to a strategic alliance with the Kremlin and a pan-European Union that includes Russia. Following Brexit, Marine Le Pen is describing the UK vote as a peoples’ rebellion that has signaled the beginning of the end for the EU, much like the fall of the Berlin Wall signaled the collapse of the Soviet Union. Conceivably, in the aftermath of Brexit the absence of British Eurosceptic MEPs from the European Parliament may lead to the consolidation of the radical far-right under the banner of the Front National. In turn, this means that the EU may have a rather difficult time gathering the necessary support to confront Russian assertiveness in the Eastern Neighbourhood.