News from the IES

The Security and Defence subcommittee (SEDE) of the European Parliament is organizing a public hearing on “Opportunities and challenges of the use of Artificial Intelligence - enabled systems in security and defence”. The aim of the hearing is to assess the possible impact of AI on security and defence. AI is viewed as a new strategic enabler that can present a number of opportunities, but also challenges. In CSDP missions and operations, AI-enabled systems can be used in multiple ways to enhance EU’s capabilities. At the same time, the use of AI-systems in defence can also have non-desirable legal and ethical implications, in particular the potential lack of human oversight on the functioning and use of AI-enabled weapons could lead to actions violating international norms, and raise accountability concerns. The hearing will therefore look into ways on how to ensure ethically and legally sustainable use of AI in security and defence, taking into account recent EP’s call for the prohibition of lethal autonomous weapons.

Marie Lamensch, Research Professor of International and European Tax Law at the Institute for European Studies and the Law Faculty of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, has co-authored the second edition of the book “Taxing Global Digital Commerce”, with Arthur Cockfield (Queen’s University) and Walter Hellerstein (Georgia Law School). This new book includes a detailed and up-to-date analysis of income tax and VAT developments regarding digital commerce under the OECD and G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) reforms.

For the next Multiannual Financial Framework, the Commission has proposed a new mega instrument in the area of external action that will make migration a key focus of the EU’s development cooperation. The nexus between migration and development will thus take centre stage in the EU’s engagement with third countries. In this context, it is interesting to look at current policies combining external migration governance with development cooperation. While the EU seems to assume that policies concerning migration and development cooperation are coherent, a closer look reveals that this is not always the case. Particularly concerning aid conditionality and the emphasis on short-term versus long-term goals, development cooperation and migration policies have different objectives, at times leading to incoherence in the EU’s external policies. 

On Thursday 14 November, IES PhD candidate Stephan Klose defended his doctoral thesis on role theory’s added value for International Relations and EU studies. In his dissertation, Stephan addresses two shortcomings in the role theory literature – role theory’s conceptual ambiguity and the lack of engagement of role theorists in relevant disciplinary debates – which together have obscured role theory’s value for the study of international affairs. 

On Thursday 14 November IES-VUB hosted the first discussion in academia of the ‘Scaling Fences. Voices of Irregular African Migrants’to Europe’ report by UNDP-Africa. The report was presented by Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP assistant secretary-general and Mohamed Yahja, research director of the Scaling fences project. Almost 2000 irregular migrants in Europe were surveyed, from 39 different countries. 

On 24 October, Ilke Adam gave a keynote speech at the landmark European Conference ‘From Tampere 20 to Tampere 2.0. Towards a new programme (2020-24) for EU migration and asylum policies 20 years after the Tampere conclusions’. This conference brought together high-level policy makers, experts, academics and civil society leaders reflecting on the 20 years of European immigration policies and the way forward.  

Marco Giuli spoke about the challenges and opportunities with the energy transition in Italy in light of the EU's climate objectives at the annual Vanvitelli Forum, organised in The Hague by the Clingendael Institute and the Istituto Affari Internazionali with the support of the Dutch and Italian Ministries of Foreign Affairs.

On 28 October and 1 November 2019, Prof. Luis Simon and Linde Desmaele presented their research on balance of power theory and regional prioritisation in US grand strategy at the Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies (Columbia University) and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (Harvard University). The presentations were hosted by Prof. Robert Jervis (Columbia) and Prof. Steven Miller (Harvard) respectively.

In the context of a thematic 'research' week, the Spanish high school Institut Vall de Llémena has invited experts from different research areas to explain to the students how to conduct scientific research. Davesa disentangled the rationale behind social sciences research based on his own experience at the Institute for European Studies (IES) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).

Three years into the Trump administration’s “America First” approach to foreign policy, the president’s repeated criticisms of alliances, muddled messaging, and policy confusion have placed the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific alliance systems under strain. On October 29, scholars from the Brookings Institution, Institute for European Studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and the Asan Institute discussed the impact of these policies on America’s allies and examine the shifting geopolitical dynamics.