Autumn Lecture Series 2014 - Lectures Now Available Online

10 Oct 2014 18:00
10 Oct 2014 20:00

The Future of European Geostrategy

Europe faces critical internal and external challenges. This lecture series sought to bring alternative thinking to Europe’s role in the world. As a sound foundation to Europe’s international role, what can be said about the degree of internal cohesion? What is Europe’s longer-term response to crises in the East and the South? How is the transatlantic relationship evolving in light of these crises and the rise of China in the Far East? How should Europe view the “Arab Spring” and what is its response to the rise of ISIL? How can Europe simultaneously deal with threats on its neighbourhood and its global interests? How does Europe understand geopolitics and strategy today?

These were just some of the questions that were raised during an autumn lecture series jointly organised by the Institute for European Studies-VUB and the Egmont – Royal Institute for International Relations. The lectures sought to enhance the thinking of European policy-makers in the realm of foreign, defence and security policy and strategy by inviting speakers from across Europe and father afield to stimulate the strategic debate in Brussels.

To tweet about this lecture series use the hashtag: #EFSP14


Opening Lecture: The State of European Foreign Policy
Professor Sir Robert Cooper

Friday 10 October 2014

Europe is surrounded by an arch of instability. Russia's aggression in the East and the spread of radicalism, fundamentalism and instability in the Sahel, North Africa and the Middle East threaten Europe's security and interests. The European Union's diplomatic, economic and low-key crisis management responses to these situations has been denounced in some quarters, even if some of the member states - such as France in the Sahel - have shown resolve and purpose. How can the EU better respond to its neighbourhood and its global responsibilities?


The Ukraine Crisis, Russia Resurgent and the West: A NATO Perspective
Michael Rühle

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Russia's annexation of the Crimea has taken the United States and Europe by surprise, yet it is generating renewed focus on NATO and casting doubt over the political cohesion of European countries. What do Russia's "hybrid" tactics in Ukraine tell us about future NATO engagement with the East? Should Russia be treated as NATO's biggest threat or do Putin's actions in Ukraine and the broader Eastern space threaten to deflect attention away from the Asia-Pacific.


What is the West's Strategy for the Middle-East?
Professor Judith S. Yaphe

Monday 20 October 2014

The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses significant security risks to Europe and the United States, and the recent conflict in Gaza adds to the regional instability. What type of Middle East does the West want? Beyond the threat of terrorism by return fighters from Syria and Iraq, what are the key strategic questions at stake in the region for the West? What are the costs for the West related to building stronger relationships with Turkey, Egypt and Iran?


Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa: A Partnership Revisited
Honorary Ambassador Johan Swinnen

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Good reasons exist for rethinking the relationship between Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. These range from the substantial economic growth achieved by several African countries to the strengthening of regional and sub-regional cooperation efforts. A growing awareness of the importance of the rule of law and the integrity of governmental systems has triggered a mentality shift that enables a new dynamic of development. As such, the identification of common economic interests can facilitate more cooperation in political and security matters. This provides not only a basis for deeper african integration, but also for a mature partnership with Europe and synergies with other actors such as the United States and various emerging powers. But will the European-African agenda be dominated only by economic interests or will ethical and political concerns inspire a more encompassing approach?


Europe's Strategic Frontiers: The Arctic
Ambassador Professor Alyson Bailes

Monday 3 November 2014

The “great thaw” underway in the Arctic has the potential to permanently open up the Northern Sea Route and connect East Asia and North-Western Europe for the first time in history. By 2040 it will be the shortest trade route between Europe and Asia and potential disputes over trade routes, maritime zones and resources that were previously inaccessible may emerge. What response should relevant European states fashion towards the Arctic? How is one of the most momentous geographical changes in history likely to affect Europe?


Europe’s Political Cohesion after the Eurozone Crisis
Professor Francois Heisbourg

Monday 24 November 2014

Political cohesion between France and Germany is critical for the stability of Europe, yet the Eurozone crisis and its aftermath have raised some serious questions about the Franco-German relationship. Germany has emerged as the critical state in supporting, albeit through the European Central Bank, debt-ridden southern countries. France remains hostile to an austerity-only approach. Does there now exist a political imbalance in the Franco-German relationship? What are the consequences for Europe of German economic leadership? Is France still in a position to influence the direction of European integration, and, if so, to what end?


The Far East and Europe: A Maritime Security Perspective
Dr. Alessio Patalano

Friday 28 November 2014

Asia represents a paradox for Europe in so as it is the place where increasing amounts of its economic prosperity is generated but it is also the place of great political tension. China’s rise as a regional hegemon does not sit easy in South Korea, Japan, Vietnam or Australia. The United Kingdom and France are engaged in the region, but a number of European countries still see the region as a distant concern. Can European countries such as Germany afford not to engage with Asian countries beyond a mere economic basis? What are Europe’s security interests in the region and what realistic role can Europe play?


Does a Transatlantic Strategy Exist?
Professor Christopher Coker

Monday 1 December 2014

Have the Europeans taken the transatlantic relationship for granted? For decades Europe has benefitted from the American security guarantee through NATO, yet the United States’ pivot to the Asia-Pacific is casting doubt over the future shape of American engagement with the continent. Beyond the economic rationale for closer cooperation under the TTIP, what is the future of European-American security cooperation? Is the European way of strategy simply too different to the US approach and therefore inadequate? If not, what European states are most relevant to American strategy and why?


European Geostrategy in Central Asia
Dr. Stephen J. Blank

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Europe has key economic and security interests at stake in Central Asia, particularly in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. What does China and Russia’s increasingly important partnerships with Central Asian countries mean for Europe’s interests in the region? Are American and European energy, security and geopolitical interests in the region aligned? Is there a case for Europe to step up its strategic dialogue with States such as India on security and energy? What happens in the post-2014 scenario in Afghanistan and how will this affect Europe’s presence in the region?


Closing Lecture: Europe, Geopolitics and Strategy
Professor Sir Hew Strachan

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Europe is the continent that gave birth to geopolitics. It is the idea that geography affects the conduct of international politics. The idea is not without controversy. But does a current of thought brought to prominence in the 20th century still have any relevance today given globalisation and technological advancement? What do the burning crises in the Southern Mediterranean, the Sahel, the Levant and Eastern Europe tell us about Europe, geopolitics and strategy? How does Europe understand geopolitics and strategy today? What are the flaws in Europe’s strategic thinking?



Daniel Fiott (Academic coordinator)
FWO PhD Fellow
Institute for European Studies
+32 2 614 80 30