Recent Publications

Stephan Klose

The regional roles external actors play, such as ‘China’s role in Africa’ or ‘the US role in East Asia’, have long been popular subjects of analysis in the international relations literature. Yet, the emergence and evolution of these roles remains remarkably under-theorized. While some ‘new regionalist’ scholars have discussed the dynamics of an external actor’s regional involvement by referring to the concepts of ‘penetration’ and ‘socialization’, neither concept, this article argues, is sufficiently equipped to capture how external actors come to aspire and realize their regional roles. To address this shortcoming, the article employs an interactionist role theory perspective, which draws on the work of social psychologist George Herbert Mead. In following this perspective, the article argues that external actors develop regional role aspirations as they draw on their creativity and reflexivity to overcome experienced uncertainties. To realize these aspirations, the article suggests, external actors seek to cast significant others into corresponding roles. Alter-casting, the article argues in this context, is critical for understanding the (re)constitution of an external actor’s regional role, and thus a region’s social structure.


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Youri Devuyst

The Community method is intended to ensure that in the process of making, implementing, and enforcing European Union law and policy (a) the general European interest is safeguarded by the independent European Commission that is responsible for proposing new EU legislation; (b) democratic representation of the people and the Member States takes place at the level of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, which together form the EU’s legislature; and (c) judicial control is secured by the European Court of Justice. The article traces the historical origins and evolution of the Community method and assesses its continuing relevance against the background of alternative ways of decision making and coordination such as “intense transgovernmentalism” or “deliberative intergovernmentalism” in which the European Council plays the leading role.

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Riccardo Trobbiani

This policy brief analyses the key shortcomings of EU cultural cooperation in the ENP South and proposes recommendations for reform. It looks at both the strategies and instruments in place. Euro-Mediterranean cultural relations lack strategic thinking. On the one hand, EU policies on cultural cooperation fail to design a region-specific plan. On the other hand, EU external policies including the ENP do not clarify the role of culture and its relative importance vis-à-vis other foreign policy tools. Partially because of this lack of strategy, EU action remains short-termed, based on a donor-recipient relationship and under-resourced compared to its objectives.

​Annamarie Bindenagel Šehović

Africa is (back) in sight. The belatedly formed coalition government in Germany, alongside the governments of France and the United Kingdom, has made ‘Africa’ a central focus of its political rhetoric. Numerous initiatives, from knowledge exchange to security exercises, stretch from the Sahel to South Africa. Translating these disparate endeavours into strategic policy can shape future perspectives and partnerships between the Europe, the European Union and Africa. This Policy Brief introduces key elements of the contemporary strategic context to offer a number of recommendations for a mutually useful re-engagement between the EU and the African Continent.

Richard Higgott

The European Union’s (EU) universities and their provision of higher education (HE) to international students remains one of its most powerful global development and cultural assets.   It operates a wide-ranging set of strategies to assist Africa in enhancing the quality and quantity of its HE. But an 8% average enrolment rate across all sub-Saharan African nations is still much lower than the average of 20-40% for all other developing regions, Currently, only one percent of total African GDP is spent on higher education.  Africa will not grow its graduate labour force relying solely on its public universities and/or public support from international bodies like the EU.  International private provision must play a greater role. Yet EU’s strategy towards HE in Africa fails to understand or to engage the private sector to help grow the number of Africans undertaking tertiary study.  There has been no effort to learn from the success of international private provision in Asia. This study identifies the benefits and opportunities of international private provision and proposes a set of next steps as part of a targeted ‘strategy of engagement’ for greater international private involvement in higher education in Africa. The EU currently does not, but needs, to play a role in these next steps.

One year from his election, Moon Jae-in is a very popular president with approval ratings hovering around 80 per cent. The reason for his popularity is, to an extent, fairly simple: he has followed the promises that he made during last year’s election campaign. This refers both to domestic affairs and inter-Korean relations. With regards to the former, President Moon has been implementing a series of job boosting measures. He wants to address a perceived lack of good-quality jobs. Furthermore, his government is seeking to improve social equality. President Moon is thus addressing one of the major grievances among many South Koreans – namely the perception that those in power play by a different set of rules. On inter-Korean relations, President Moon is implementing an engagement policy that has helped to ease tensions in the Korean Peninsula and put South Korea in the driving seat.

Eliza Northrop
Sebastian Oberthür

The Project for Advancing Climate Transparency (PACT) consortium supports the design and development of robust and effective transparency and accountability rules and processes for the Paris Agreement on climate change. This working paper examines the mechanism to facilitate implementation and promote compliance under Article 15 of the Paris Agreement and presents options for developing the key elements of the relevant modalities and procedures.


Domenico Valenza

In June 2017, on the tenth anniversary of the first Central Asia Strategy, the Council of the European Union invited High Representative Federica Mogherini and the European Commission to draw a proposal for a new Strategy by late 2019. This decision provides an opportunity to review the shortcomings of the previous Strategy and to assess the evolving regional environment, in which Russia and China have consolidated their influence. 

By presenting current challenges in Central Asia, this policy brief argues that the new Strategy should enhance EU cultural diplomacy in the region. In line with the increased role of culture in European external action, EU cultural diplomacy should meet local citizenry’s aspirations and demands, and give Brussels a comparative advantage over other regional powers.

Sebastian Oberthür
Eliza Northrop

Sebastian Oberthür and Eliza Northrop (2018), Towards an Effective Mechanism to Facilitate Implementation and Promote Compliance under the Paris Agreement, Climate Law, 8, 39-69.

Abstract: The article explores key aspects of the modalities and procedures of the Committee to facilitate implementation and promote compliance under Article 15 of the Paris Agreement. It focuses on five main issues under discussion in the international negotiations: overarching guidance to the Committee; the Committee’s functions; the scope of its mandate; the way in which matters may be referred to the Committee and proceedings initiated; and the outputs and measures available to the Committee. While recognizing the particular context and unique features of the Paris Agreement, our analysis draws on the experience available from several existing committees under other multilateral environmental agreements. In identifying design options for ensuring the Committee’s effective operation, we emphasize the importance of a balance of three main elements: the inclusion of an administrative non-party referral option based on information generated through the transparency framework under Article 13 of the Agreement or collected by the Secretariat; a full-range portfolio of facilitative measures; and several elements of overarching operational guidance to provide boundaries to the Committee’s discretion.

Jerneja Penca

Across the policy discourses and academic literature, the popularity of the concept of “science diplomacy” has used the concept in an uncritical manner. This paper aims to understand the concept’s value-added and the implications of its use. It considers the evolution of scientific cooperation and its interaction with foreign policy in the Euro-Mediterranean region. It finds out that many of the goals currently enshrined in “science diplomacy” have already constituted the history of the Euro-Mediterranean relationships since the launch of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The difference with the past is that the EU now has higher political and economic expectations of genuine scientific cooperation. However, in contrast to widening the objectives, the EU has not substantively broadened the tools it avails of. This leads us to expect that the EU’s actual policy in regional scientific cooperation might nevertheless stay the same. While the rhetoric of science diplomacy is of little use, the paper suggests some meaningful questions in the science-foreign policy nexus to replace it.