Recent Publications

Kati Kulovesi
Sebastian Oberthür

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the changes to European Union (EU) climate and energy law brought about by the 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework. It explains the Framework’s background and objectives, and analyses its main legal instruments. It argues that the 2030 Framework incrementally develops and enhances EU climate law without revolutionizing it, advancing in particular its proceduralization. The article also explores the prospects for future change of the 2030 Framework towards more radical transformation in light of the European Green Deal and the ongoing COVID‐19 pandemic.

Kati Kulovesi and Sebastian Oberthür (2020), Assessing the EU’s 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework: Incremental change toward radical transformation? Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law (RECIEL) 29: 2, 151-166. DOI: 10.1111/reel.12358 (open access).

Dennis Tänzler
Emily Wright
Sebastian Oberthür
Gauri Khandekar
Angela Van Dijk

With the European Green Deal, the European Commission has committed to accelerating decarbonisation in Europe as a major priority. This also needs to be adequately reflected in European external relations, as this comprehensive study shows. With the incoming German EU Presidency, there is a real opportunity to pave the way for a new era of EU foreign policy – and to begin systematically reshaping EU external relations so that they reflect the priorities of the Green Deal.


Dennis Tänzler, Emily Wright, Sebastian Oberthür, Gauri Khandekar and Angela Van Dijk. (2020), The Geopolitics of Decarbonisation. Reshaping European Foreign Relations, Berlin: adelphi research. Available at:

Ralph Bodle
Heidi Stockhaus
Franziska Wolff
Cara-Sophie Scherf
Sebastian Oberthür


This study develops options for the German government to improve international soil governance in the short, medium and long term. The study first takes stock of existing international instruments and institutions that are relevant for soil protection and its governance at the international level. It as- sesses the actual and potential steering effect of, inter alia, the Desertification Convention, the Biodi- versity Convention, the Paris Agreement and climate regime, regional treaties, FAO, UNEP, IPBES and IPCC. At present, the Sustainable Development Goals and in particular the “land degradation neutral- ity” target have established a global political reference point. But there are almost no binding obliga- tions for all states specifically regarding soil. Current governance of soil at the international level is piecemeal and spread over parts of different mandates. There is significant overlap of mandates and activities of relevant institutions, each of which has limitations. While a certain degree of a rudimen- tary division of labour is emerging, there is scope and a need for improvement. The study develops op- tions for improving international soil governance with regard to overarching issues, new treaty or in- stitutions, improving existing governance, means of implementation and enhancing co-ordination and coherence.


Ralph Bodle, Heidi Stockhaus, Franziska Wolff, Cara-Sophie Scherf, and Sebastian Oberthür (2020), Improving international soil governance – Analysis and recommendations, UBA Texte 75/2020, available at:


Ellen Van Droogenbroeck
Leo Van Hove


This paper explores how households organize the process of e-grocery buying in a click-and-collect context, down to the level of the two main subtasks: the online ordering and the picking-up. Self-collected survey data on 112 users of Belgian click-and-collect services first provide a quantitative perspective. But we primarily exploit in-depth interviews with 15 households. Both our quantitative and qualitative findings indicate that women today are still the main responsible for grocery shopping, even in an online context. Especially the ordering is a woman's task; the collecting is more equally divided across genders. But the key result is that couples exploit the opportunities for further task division provided by e-grocery shopping. In our survey we find that in 72.5% of the couples both partners are involved in the process, but that in roughly three quarters of these cases at least one of the tasks is performed independently. In other words, many couples do it ‘together alone’. Our qualitative analysis further shows that the roles of the partners have become more fixed, in that subtasks are assigned exclusively to one partner. As for the reasons behind the task allocation, we find indications of the relevance of time availability, relative resource, and gender arguments (respectively, the presence of young children, imbalances in educational status and income, and traditional roles), but also of purely pragmatic reasons.

Van Droogenbroeck, E. and L. Van Hove, Intra-household task allocation in online grocery shopping: together alone, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Vol. 56, September 2020, article 102153


Vladimir Cvijanović
Elina Griniece
Orsolya Gulyás
Alasdair Reid
Henry Varga


The article compares the process of designing and implementing EU research and innovation (R&I) strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3) in eight less developed European Union (EU) member states: Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania. The study additionally explores regional-national differences in governance structures and practices of the RIS3 by focusing on two regions: South Moravia and West Romania. It is argued that RIS3 processes can improve governance of the R&I systems in spite of the baseline quality of governance in the given country or region. An entrepreneurial discovery process (EDP) that is continuous and includes a broad range of actors and is closer to a multi-stakeholder approach can enable a learning trajectory and foster R&I governance. The case studies address i) whether the EDP resulted in engagement with a broad range of stakeholders, ii) whether it encouraged a process of creative co-design and iii) whether it continued into the policy implementation phase. The article offers insight into how learning can be fostered and how broader stakeholder engagement can be beneficial for improving the RIS3 policy framework.


Cvijanović, V., Griniece, E., Gulyás, O., Reid, A., & Varga, H. (2020). Stakeholder engagement through entrepreneurial discovery? Lessons from countries and regions in Central and Eastern Europe. Cogent Social Sciences, 6(1), 1794273.

Petra Ahrens
Alison Woodward

The European Parliament (EP) offers channels for policy input through committees, intragroups, and the commissioning of reports and studies. Civil society equality organizations (CSOs) promoting diversity, gender equality and sexual rights are among the actors using such channels. Today they experience severe cut-backs and direct attacks by populist and radical-right parties who increasingly gained electoral support in several member states. The trajectory on the supranational level is less clear. This article examines the question of whether the increase in populist and right-wing parties in the EP changed how supranational CSOs promoting (gender) equality used venues for making their voice heard in EP policy-making in the 2014–2019 legislature.

Petra Ahrens & Alison Woodward (2020) Adjusting venues and voices: populist and right-wing parties, the European Parliament and civil society equality organizations 2014–2019, European Politics and Society, DOI: 10.1080/23745118.2020.1801181

Angela Tacea


Since the end of the 1980s, the traditional role of national legislatures regarding internal security and the protection of fundamental rights has been questioned by the progressive enforcement of the European Union’s legislative power. This book explains how national parliaments contribute to the decision-making process and to the scrutiny of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). It adopts an approach based on the legal framework (constitutional and parliamentary), its concretization and its interpretation by the parliamentary actors. The involvement of national parliaments in the AFSJ is examined using a two-step comparison. First, the determinants that contribute to the variation of parliamentary activity in the AFSJ are specified through a quantitative analysis of all 27 European national parliaments for the period 2010-2012. Second, the scope of each determinant is assessed though a study of the parliamentary scrutiny of three AFSJ issues – the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement, the negotiations of the Passenger Name Record Agreement with the United States and the Schengen governance reform- in three different majoritarian parliamentary systems - France, Italy and Great Britain. The most different systems design has confirmed that, despite institutional and functional national specificities, the parliamentary scrutiny of AFSJ measures takes on similar forms in majoritarian parliamentary systems of government. A mix of formal scrutiny prerogatives and MPs incentives explain the involvement of national parliaments in the AFSJ. Finally, this study shows the impact of parliamentary scrutiny on the French, British and the Italian governments AFSJ policies and on the related public debates.

Key words: national parliaments, the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, parliamentary scrutiny, France, Italy and Great Britain.

Des gouvernements sous le regard de leur parlement

Jimmy Hendry Nzally

Africa is a continent which has longed suffered from exploitation, slavery, immersed poverty, and prejudice. European exploration and colonization contributed to the pedalling of a negative image, persisting even after the emergence of new independent African states. Moreover, in recent memory Africa has also been known as the host of several deadly diseases such as HIV & AIDS, Malaria and Ebola. This revisionism of the continent has made it look weak, dissolute and punitively staggering, despite the continent possessing some of the earliest and advance civilization such that of Timbuktu in Mali, beautiful landscape and wildlife and some of the earliest universities, notably University of Al Quarauiyine (859 AD), Al-Azhar University which was established around 970 AD. Now the COVID-19 pandemic has once again put a spotlight on the continent. Since the early days of the outbreak the world led by the World Health Organization (WHO) projected Africa could be hit the hardest. As reported by BBC in its usual grand style of pandemonium headline: “Coronavirus: Africa could be the next epicenter, WHO warns”, while France 24’s headline read: “Vulnerable continent: Africa and the coronavirus”. Instead of bringing to light some of the incredible stories of the African continent’s effort in containing the virus, the WHO and global media instead took interests in causing psychological fear, instead of promoting cooperation and solidarity with the embattled continent.


Read the full commentary >>>

Wolfgang Obergassel
Lukas Hermwille
Sebastian Oberthür

While the COVID-19 pandemic has cast normal policy making including global climate policy into disarray, it also demonstrates that governments are able to take far-reaching action on short notice. How the global response to the Corona crisis is shaped will be a key determinant for the future of climate policy. This paper discusses how the UNFCCC process may help align economic recovery packages with the climate agenda. For this purpose, the paper draws on the concept of governance functions which international institutions may perform: International institutions may send guidance and signals, they may establish rules and standards, they may provide transparency and accountability, they may organise the provision of means of implementation, and they may promote collective learning. Reflecting on these functions, the paper finds that the UNFCCC process could promote green recovery in several ways. The paper proposes the following specific lines of action.

Key policy insights: 

Timing is a challenge as recovery packages are being developed now. To overcome this challenge, the UK presidency and other Parties should put green recovery onto the agenda of the Glasgow conference early and urge Parties to bring not only better NDCs, but also transformative green stimulus packages. This could incentivise governments to design recovery packages that are Paris-consistent as they would be on notice to deliver something respectable in Glasgow. It would also enable utilization of the preparatory process for the Glasgow conference for the promotion of green recovery. Interested Parties could also bring up the topic in other interconnected fora such as the G20.
The UNFCCC as a whole or a coalition of individual Parties could also lay out specific principles and criteria for green recovery. 
COP26 or another international institutions should also establish a process to review recovery packages and their implementation to support robustness and promote policy learning. 
Developed countries should confirm and renew their collective and individual climate finance commitments and commit to working toward an increased long-term finance objective in the context of greening recovery packages. The Glasgow conference could also give guidance to the GEF and GCF and other international institutions.

Vasileios Theodosopoulos

The importance of critical raw materials for Europe’s future key value chains is increasingly being recognised. This policy brief argues that, in order to achieve greater strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty, the EU needs to enhance its security of supply and mitigate its extensive dependences in this domain. Its current approach, devised more than a decade ago, faces considerable challenges and is out of step with today’s geopolitical environment and the Union’s evolved ambition. To address these issues, the EU needs to formulate a new strategy. In this endeavour, examining the recently revised US approach to critical minerals can yield valuable insights, which can be fruitfully adapted to European realities. An updated, geopolitically sensitive strategy on critical raw materials can also provide the EU with a blueprint for approaching security of supply issues more broadly, as well as for overcoming recent transatlantic tensions and cooperating with trusted partners on managing common challenges of strategic dependence.