Recent Publications

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.

Richard Higgott
Luk Van Langenhove

The EU has recently produced a strategy paper for cultural diplomacy (Towards an EU Strategy of international cultural relations). This was delivered in the form of a joint communication to the EP and the Council, issued by the Federica Mogherini the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on June 8, 2016. This was two weeks before the UK voted to leave the EU and just shy of three weeks before the High Representative also delivered Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe being the Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy. Timing of the cultural relations strategy paper was thus, to say the least, less than propitious. The other two events do and will cast massive shadows over it.

In this short note we offer an early assessment of the international cultural relations strategy. We do so initially by taking it on its own terms. Obviously it is still too early to assess the impact of that strategy so its initial aspirations and intentions are scrutinized. But we cannot leave it at that; thus the second half of this note locates it in the wider context of the tough temper of the times we live in, the appearance of the bigger Global Strategy paper and the Brexit referendum vote. The note is critical, but we hope constructively and sympathetically so. The search for such a strategy in its own right is to be commended. The key question is the degree to which the prospects for its implementation are realisable within the context of the constraints we outline. 

Andreu Casas
Ferran Davesa
Mariluz Congosto

This article uses Twitter messages sent in May 2011 to study the ability of the so-called 15-M movement, a “connective” movement, to place their demands on the media agenda and maintain control over their own discourse. The results show that the activists’ discourse included many issues, although greatest attention was given to three: electoral and party systems, democracy and governance, and civil liberties. Moreover, the study reveals that the media covered all the movement’s issues and that activists maintained their plural discourse throughout the protest. This article contributes to the literature on ‘connective’ social movements, showing that in certain circumstances these movements have the capacity to determine media coverage.

Read the article here.

 

Natascha Zaun
Christof Roos
Fabian Gülzau

This article addresses the question of how the financial and economic crisis that hit the USA in the late 2000s impacted immigration policies. We find that the crisis has not significantly changed dynamics. Instead, it has highlighted and aggravated persisting trends. Drawing on Kingdon’s multiple streams model and combining it with the notion of two-level games, we find that while the policy stream and the problem stream would call for both restrictive and liberalising changes, the political stream impedes change: the fact that Congress has been divided for a long time over comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) impedes any restrictive or liberalising changes. With problems resulting from current policies being intensified through the global economic crisis, however, actors favouring either restrictive or liberal policy change look for alternative venues to pursue their policy aims. Through legislative changes on the state level or via executive orders by the president, policies can be changed on a lower level without CIR.

Christof Roos
Natascha Zaun
Sebastian Oberthür

The environment has not played a prominent role in the UK’s EU referendum campaign. And yet the EU has been highly active in global efforts to tackle climate change and, asSebastian Oberthür writes, environmental issues are a key area that could be affected by a Brexit. He argues that the EU’s attempts to improve the environment are far from perfect, but the ability of European states to work together in securing international agreements has had a notably positive impact not just on Europe, but on the wider world.

Read the blog here.