Recent Publications

Dr Queralt Capsada-Munsech

In this blog post of our EDGE project (Evaluating Democratic Governance in Europe), the author shares a number of resources and tips to write academic blog posts. EDGE is a strategic research programme of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. It explores the contemporary challenges to democratic governance in Europe through three main research streams: Time & Sustainability, Gender & Diversity, and Contestation. The Programme brings together researchers from several academic fields and disciplines - such as European studies, gender studies, political science and philosophy.

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Maximilian Ernst

This article revisits the role that Ahn Jung-geun plays in Korean collective memory today and contrasts this with the Moon administration’s foreign policy. An analysis of Korean collective memory shows that Ahn’s assassination of Ito Hirobumi is heavily emphasized but Ahn’s ultimate goal of bringing peace to Northeast Asia is overlooked. This emphasis is understood through Jan Assmann’s model of collective memory. Based on Aleida Assmann and Linda Shortt’s proposition, it is argued that the historical figure of Ahn can instead play a constructive role. Shifting the focus
of collective memory toward Ahn’s ambition for peace in Northeast Asia may serve as a positive nudge for Seoul’s Japan policy, thus helping to ameliorate Korea-Japan relations in the medium term.

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Maximilian Ernst

Essay written for the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) at Johns Hopkins University.

China is increasingly resorting to economic coercion to advance political objectives. In the Asia-Pacific regional context, Beijing has repeatedly leveraged economic interdependence to subject regional states to its political and security interests. In Europe, on the other hand, China has thus far relied on subliminal measures to compel individual actors to its will. But as China’s global ambitions and stakes in Europe rise, heavy-handed coercion of the kind that South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, or the Philippines have experienced could soon become a reality in Europe. A case in point is Beijing’s threats to reduce German car sales in China should Huawei be excluded from the German 5G market. In consequence, European policymakers have come to appreciate that China’s rise implicates European security and that economics and politics cannot be separated in diplomatic relations with China. The European Commission’s designation of China as a ‘systemic rival’ and NATO’s acknowledgment that China’s rise implicates European security, both in 2019, are testimony to Europe’s strategic reorientation vis-à-vis China.

In the past, China was able to leverage its economic muscle against targets that were small and lacked a defensive mechanism against economic coercion. However, interdependence goes both ways, and China is as vulnerable to economic pressure as its trading partners. Thus far, Europe and the United States have pursued individual approaches to manage their economic and security relationship with China. But cooperation on the transatlantic level bears much potential to shield individual economies and corporations against Chinese economic statecraft. A new EU-U.S. trade deal that goes beyond the reduction of tariffs and trade barriers would enable both sides to settle the ongoing aircraft-subsidy dispute. Taking existing investment screening mechanisms as a blueprint, the transatlantic trade community could designate critical industries and technologies in which third-party domination of value chains is reduced—the larger the community, the smaller the adverse economic effects. Additionally, proposed transatlantic trade remedies in combination with a blocking statute are geared to alleviate economic damage and to deter coercion from third parties in the first place. Combined with overall strong economic engagement with China in all non-critical industries, such measures are projected to result in close and stable economic and political relations with China for both Europeans and Americans.

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Kristin Henrard

The overarching concern about the effective protection of fundamental rights has triggered the identification of an increasing number and degree of positive state obligations. When having regard to positive state obligations to (aim to) eradicate ingrained prejudice and stereotypical thinking, the ultimate question seems to be whether and if so, to what extent, states are obliged (to try) to change people’s hearts and minds. This undoubtedly controversial question was the subject of an international conference, organized at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in January 2020, by professor Kristin Henrard, with the financial support of the Erasmus Trust Fund, the EUR Initiative of Inclusive Prosperity and ESL’s  Rule of Law research program. In order to address this complex question in an appropriate manner, three avenues were identified, resulting in three strands of presentations. This special issue of Erasmus Law Review captures the presentations and subsequent discussions at the conference. The first strand set out to develop the parameters for such positive state obligations from a multi-disciplinary perspective, more particularly combining the parameters visible in the human rights paradigm, as well as in sociology and ethics. When assessing and evaluating the extent to which states could be obliged to try to change hearts and minds, the preliminary non-legal questions about sociological possibilities (can states at all change the way people think and feel?) and possible ethical constraints need to be taken into account as well. The second strand zooms in on the time-factor involved, in the sense that countering deep-seated prejudice and discrimination is a process that takes considerable time, has a ‘long durée’, and is often not linear. The third strand charts the trends that emerge in the (quasi) jurisprudence of a range of international human rights courts, when zooming in particular  vulnerable groups, often targets of prejudice and discrimination, more particularly Roma, Muslim minorities in the western world, LGBTI and persons with a disability. Each article focuses on one particular vulnerable group, while having regard to various relevant conventions and related supervisory practice, so as to be able to paint an overall picture.

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Catherine Xhardez
Maxime Counet
François Randour
Christophe Niessen

Il n'est pas possible de comprendre la Belgique d'aujourd'hui sans prendre en compte sa dimension fédérale. Entre crises politiques, réformes de l'État et multiplication des niveaux de pouvoir, la manière de gouverner en Belgique a radicalement changé au cours des 50 dernières années. Dans cet ouvrage, alors que la Belgique vient de traverser l'une de ses plus longues crises politiques, seize chercheurs venant de huit universités belges s'attachent à évaluer le fédéralisme et ses défis.

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Alexander Mattelaer
Laura Vansina

Belgo-Russian relations are mired in paradox. For several years, the relationship between the Russian Federation on the one hand and the EU and NATO on the other has been characterized by mistrust. Yet on a bilateral level, Belgium has pragmatically upheld what is left of commercial cooperation and cultural exchanges. In order to deal with this paradox, Belgium should formulate a more coherent approach towards Russia that focuses on upholding the European order and security whilst maintaining dialogue and engaging the Russian Federation. As it is unlikely that Russia will tone down its assertive foreign policy anytime soon, such a coherent approach needs to clarify Belgian policy priorities, communicate Belgian positions towards the Russian government, and educate the domestic audience about the evolving relationship with the Russian Federation. To nourish this debate, this Egmont Paper puts forward six policy recommendations, namely:

  • Assume more ownership over multilateral decision-making. 

  • Maintain and deepen bilateral relations to enrich the multilateral framework.

  • Re-develop Russia-related subject matter expertise in Belgium. 

  • Strengthen Belgian domestic resilience to cope with disinformation and a political relationship under stress.

  • Explore the question on which basis the EU-Russia economic relationship can be improved.

  • Strengthen the Belgian contribution to the collective defence effort.

The full text is available here.
Ramon Pacheco Pardo
Satu Limaye
Dr. J. James Kim
Dr. Dong-Hee Joe

Project leaders: Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo (KF-VUB Korea Chair), Dr. Satu Limaye (East-West Center in Washington), Dr. J. James Kim (Asan Institute for Policy Studies), Dr. Dong-Hee Joe (Korea Institute for International Economic Policy)

The Korea Matters for Europe/Europe Matters for Korea publication maps the relationship between the Republic of Korea and the European Union’s 27 Member States. Covering a diverse range of topics including security, trade, investment, educational exchange and cultural connections, this publication highlights the importance of the Korea-EU relationship.

As leading world economies and strong supporters of multilateralism, the European Union and South Korea are deepening their partnership. South Korea is the EU’s 9th largest export market and the EU is South Korea’s 4th largest export market. The EU’s investment stock in South Korea increased by 50%, while South Korea’s investment stock in the EU Increased by 187% since the implementation of the EU-South Korea FTA. The EU and South Korea exchange over 4.5 million tourists. Student exchanges are thriving between South Korea and the EU. 98 universities across the EU offer Korean studies and 46 universities in South Korea offer studies about EU countries. Almost 20,000 EU citizens live in South Korea, while over 138,000 South Koreans live in the EU. The EU and South Korea hold foreign minister-level discussions on North Korea as well as a regular political dialogue.

The publication provides English and Korean readers with a snap shot take on these issue-areas. Access the publication here.

Contributors: Dr. Jordan Baev, Dr. Sunkung Choi, Dr. Lucia Husenicova, Dr. Erja Kettunen-Matilainen, Dr. Alica Kizekova, Dr. Elina Sinkkonen, Peter Ward, Andreea Zaharia Editor: Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo

What is the perspective of key EU member states towards South Korea? While EU-South Korea relations have attracted growing attention in recent years, the relationship between key EU member states and the Asian country remains underexplored. 

This report addresses this omission by describing and analysing the recent evolution of the relationship between Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, Romania and Slovakia, on the one hand, and South Korea on the other. The report covers the areas of economic relations, security relations, bilateral relations and North Korea, and cultural relations. The report shows that the seven key EU member states and South Korea have been strengthening bilateral links and cooperation in recent years. Read the executive summary here and the full report here.

This report was made possible with the generous support of Korea Foundation’s Support for Policy-Oriented Research Grant. It complements an earlier report covering seven other EU member states (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and Sweden) published by the KF-VUB Korea Chair in March 2020.

Carlos Soria-Rodríguez
  • Soria-Rodríguez, C. (2020). The European environmental regulation of marine renewable energies, Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law (RECIEL), 29: 1, 95-106.
Carlos Soria-Rodríguez

Soria-Rodríguez, C. (2020). The international regulation for the protection of the environment in the development of marine renewable energies in the EU, Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law (RECIEL), (early view).