Recent Publications

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.

Florian Trauner

What has been the impact of the European Union (EU)’s multifaceted crisis on asylum law and policy development? The article argues that the EU has sought to safeguard the core of its asylum policy by adding new layers of policy instruments in response to both the financial and economic crisis post-2008 and the refugee crisis starting in 2015. These instruments have had the overarching aim of providing EU member states facing high migratory pressures and/or financial constraints with additional support. Their efficiency, however, has remained questionable, reflected by a widening gap between the EU’s asylum laws and actual asylum practices of member states. By avoiding a paradigm shift in asylum policy, the EU has come to face a difficult situation: the implementation of the existing EU asylum rules may overburden southern member states while the perpetuated ignorance of these rules risks overburdening northern member states.

Florian Trauner
Ariadna Ripoll Servent

This article proposes an explanation as to why institutional change – understood as more competences for the European Union's supranational institutions – has rarely led to policy change in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). It draws attention to the constraints that newly empowered actors have faced in the wake of introducing the co-decision procedure. If the key principles of a given AFSJ sub-policy – its ‘policy core’ – were defined before institutional change occurred, the Council (as the dominant actor of the early intergovernmental co-operation) has found it easier to prevail in the altered structural environment and to co-opt or sideline actors with competing rationales. The article compares the importance of the new decision-making procedure with two alternative pathways potentially leading to policy change, namely, the power of litigation and the impact of unexpected external events.

The EU agreed in 2009 to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. This ‘decarbonisation’ objective means a massive shift away from fossil fuel consumption. Currently, EU-Russian energy relations are based on interdependence of fossil fuel import and export. As the EU promotes its climate and decarbonisation objectives, Russia has countered with tactics supporting a narrative in favour of the status quo. So far, the EU’s response to Russian narratives has been uncoordinated, but there is considerable potential for the conflicting narratives of decarbonisation and status quo fossil fuel consumption to move to an emphasis on ‘opportunities’. In such a narrative, both the EU and Russia would benefit from the innovative and modernising effects of a serious engagement with decarbonisation, including continued relations based on renewable energy trade.

The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 has recently turned five. As for any anniversary worthy of the name, a general assessment of both the first results and the necessary steps forward needs to be made.

This Policy Brief investigates the progress attained by the EU Framework in relation to a specific component of so-called Roma integration policies, i.e. the gender dimension. Recognized as one of the 10 Common Basic Principles on Roma Inclusion in 2009, the Awareness of the gender dimension does not yet play a significant role in the design, implementation and evaluation of Roma-related policies. Rather, it seems to have gradually faded in recent years’ EU policy-making on Roma inclusion, being relegated to the more featureless category of horizontal policy measure and/or crosscutting issue.


Alexander Mattelaer

It is often stated that cohesion constitutes the center of gravity of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Yet divergent domestic pressures and external threat perceptions are threatening to pull Allies apart and leave the Euro-Atlantic security architecture in shatters. When NATO Heads of State and Government meet in Warsaw on July 8–9, 2016, the stakes will be high. Not since the end of the Cold War has the security outlook been as bleak or the collective resources for meeting multiple threats as meager. This paper takes stock of the existing debates on the Warsaw Summit agenda and offers a set of recommendations on how U.S. officials might attempt to foster unity within the Alliance. A cursory review of the various commentaries on the Warsaw Summit agenda suggests that this exercise will have much in common with the proverbial practice of herding cats.1 Different Allies all want to see more of what they individually desire, while the Alliance as a whole will struggle to satisfy competing demands. Much has been written already about the delicate balancing act required for shoring up eastern and southern defenses, as well as for reconciling the needs of deterrence with political dialogue. However, coming to grips with the diplomatic difficulties of finding consensus entails acknowledging that the difficulties are as much internal as they are external to the Alliance. This analysis proceeds as follows. The first section discusses the various issues featuring on the Warsaw Summit agenda. While individual discussion items have logical answers, these often entail significant financial implications. The principal challenge for summit diplomacy will therefore reside in maintaining unity over the inevitable package deal that reconciles competing demands for resources. Success cannot be taken for granted. The three following sections detail a set of recommendations for dealing with the challenge of fragmentation. At the level of threat perceptions, a coherent narrative can be constructed only by taking the discussion beyond the Alliance’s immediate neighborhood. This requires that all Allies articulate their security concerns and integrate these into a 360-degree approach. Concerning defense resourcing, the free-rider problem can be addressed most effectively by fostering intra-European peer pressure, including through the European Union (EU). A commitment to sufficient defense spending should be integrated into the European Semester system of macro-economic coordination. Last but not least, capability and strategy development must be reframed as a regionally inspired division of labor built on complementary force structures. This would cast those nations closest to various threats into a role of first responder and others into that of provider of reserve forces, defensive depth, and support. The concluding section sketches a practical way forward for transforming crisis into opportunity. The United States can use the Warsaw Summit as a catalyst for revitalizing the Western-led global order.