Recent Publications

Philipp Thaler

The gradual integration of EU energy policy has implications for the national energy policies of its neighbors. While members of the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Energy Community implement large parts of the EU’s energy acquis, other third countries are also affected. Switzerland—physically integrated in the European energy grid but lacking a formalized mechanism of regulatory adaptation with the EU—is an interesting case in this respect, not least because of its implications for a UK-EU relationship post-Brexit. Currently, an EU-Switzerland electricity agreement is being negotiated but its conclusion remains highly uncertain. This briefing paper highlights that either outcome—with or without and electricity agreement—has important implications for the Swiss energy transition, Swiss access to European bodies of energy policy-making, and Swiss renewable investors. Yet, even without an electricity agreement, interdependence between the Swiss and EU electricity systems will increase, creating pressure to find alternative forms of cooperation. 

Download the Policy brief >>>

Serena D’Agostino
Ferran Davesa
Jana Gheuens

Several protest waves hit the roads, streets and public squares in Europe and beyond in the last years. As diverse as these movements are, they all express a big sense of urgency. To what extent are the current democratic systems able to provide answers to these challenges? Can decision-making structures be transformed so as to achieve effective representation? Three possible pathways are identified in order to organize our political systems in a less elitist way. We argue that political participation should go beyond the mere presence of minority groups in formal political settings to include their voice and influence.

Read it here!

Laura Iozzelli

Benney, T., Orsini, A., Cantwell, D., & Iozzelli, L. (2020). Theories and Methods of Agency Research in Earth System Governance. In M. Betsill, T. Benney, & A. Gerlak (Eds.), Agency in Earth System Governance (pp. 38-51). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Ramon Pacheco Pardo
Tongfi Kim
Linde Desmaele
Maximilian Ernst
Paula Cantero Dieguez
Riccardo Villa

What drives President Moon Jae-in’s policy towards multilateral institutions? The Moon government has made participation in global governance a cornerstone of its foreign policy. Similarly to its predecessors, the government has been a strong supporter of multilateralism This is non-negotiable for Seoul.

This report seeks to map out and analyse the Moon government’s policy towards key multilateral institutions operating in the areas of security, economics and sustainable development. It also seeks to explain the key drivers underpinning this policy. As we show, Seoul’s support for an involvement in multilateral institutions is not uniform. The Moon government acts as a leader in some cases, an active participant in others, and a passive by-stander on occasions. There are various reasons why this is the case, as we show throughout the report and in the concluding section.

Multilateral institutions with global governance responsibilities are the focus of the report. This is an underexplored area in spite of its centrality to the Moon government’s foreign policy. Asian institutions such as the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus or the Asian Development Bank are not discussed. While relevant to South Korean foreign policy, Seoul’s role in these institutions is necessarily different due to their more limited geographical scope and South Korea’s greater relative power in them. The report also excludes bilateral relations such as Seoul’s alliance with the United States. While they inform South Korea’s foreign policy, bilateral relations are self-evidently different than multilateral relations.

Security, economics, and sustainable development are crucial to any country’s foreign policy, especially the first two. The institutions covered in this report therefore include the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), peacekeeping, and the nuclear non-proliferation regime in the area of security; the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and G20, the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision (BCBS) and Bank for International Settlements (BIS), and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the area of economics; and climate change, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) in the area of sustainable development. These institutions have been selected since, at least in theory, South Korea seeks meaningful engagement in and with them. This applies to both the Moon government and previous ones.

The focus on the drivers of engagement is a deliberate choice in order to shed light on what motivates the Moon government’s policy towards multilateralism. The impact or outcome of South Korean foreign policy decisions is not always attributable to the policies per se. Factors such as the policy choices of other countries, the capabilities of a particular institution or changes in budgetary allocations can have a positive or negative effect on whether Seoul achieves its preferred policy goals. By analysing the reasons why the Moon government has decided to take a more active or passive role in any given international institution, we hope to contribute to a better understanding of why South Korea makes certain foreign policy choices.

Our analysis only covers the Moon government, in power since May 2017. However, and as we show throughout the report, the government has more often than not pursued and built on the policy of previous presidents. This sits in contrast with policy shifts in areas such as relations with North Korea policy or Japan. Therefore, we can assume that some if not all of the drivers behind Moon’s multilateral institutions policy also applied to previous governments. Indeed, we argue that there is a consensus among liberals and conservatives in South Korea regarding Seoul’s involvement in multilateralism.

December 2019
Ilke Adam
Daniel Thym
Dennis Tänzler
Sebastian Oberthür
Emily Wright

Given the universal and cross-cutting nature of decarbonisation, what priorities should shape European foreign policy action in the decade ahead? How can the European Green Deal envisioned by the incoming Commission under Ursula von der Leyen help reshape relations with countries still dependent on fossil fuels or carbon-intensive assets and help them address related challenges? The new Commission needs to assess the challenges and opportunities that the geopolitical dimensions of decarbonisation present. As several country case studies show, foreign policy can support this process by making use of the entire diplomatic toolbox–including instruments related to trade, finance, security, and research and innovation–to promote more ambitious action on climate and energy and to diversify external relations away from fossil fuels.


Read more >>>

Nidhi Nagabhatla
Duminda Perera
Jana Gheuens
Chloe Wale
Michael Devlin

Nagabhatla N., Perera, D., Gheuens, J. , Wale, C. and Devlin, M. (2019). Managing disaster risk and water security: Strategies for Small Island Developing States. UNU-INWEH Policy Brief, Issue 6. United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Stephan Klose

This article argues that interactionist role theory holds much potential for complementing the ontological security literature in the field of International Relations. Concretely, the article argues that an interactionist role theory perspective promises to supplement the ontological security literature in at least two significant respects. First, it allows for a better understanding of how an international actor’s (capacity to provide) ontological security is tied to its ability to realize its ‘self’ in society through the making and playing of roles (and the subsequent casting of others). Second, it emphasizes how reflective intelligence enables an international actor to address destabilizing disconnects between its ‘self’-image and societal role-play, and to develop a measure of ontological resilience (a capacity to constructively engage with – and to recover from – ontological security challenges). To illustrate this argument, the article provides a case study, which explores, from an interactionist role theory perspective, how the European Union’s ontological security has been strengthened, challenged and restored in its interaction with its Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood.

Read more >>>

Luis Simón

Over the past two decades, discussions on EU-NATO relations have been closely associated with crisis-management operations and transnational threats. But that is yesterday’s world. The return of great-power competition is eliciting a shift in European security and transatlantic relations toward deterrence and defense. As such the conceptual framework that has so far underpinned debates on EU-NATO relations has been, by and large, rendered obsolete. 

 The return of great-power competition and growing uncertainty about the United States’commitment to Europe have led to renewed calls to turn the EU into an autonomous pole in global politics. Some even toy with the notion of European equidistance in a global context that is increasingly defined by Sino-American competition. At the same time, the EU’s need to give its global role a security and a transatlantic anchor underlines the potential of a more structured EU-NATO dialogue. 

Great-power competition also has important implications for capability development. A key challenge is to ensure that the EU’s new defense initiatives help reinforce NATO’s ongoing efforts in deterrence and defense. One way to do that would be to give the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy the authority to bring together the industrial and politico-strategic aspects of the union’s defense policy, and thus act as an effective bridge between the EU and NATO. 

The last three years have witnessed a steady flow of self-congratulatory remarks about unprecedented progress in the relationship between the European Union and NATO. Their joint statements in 2016 and 2018 provided a compass for greater cooperation between them. But it is important to put this in perspective and ensure that the relationship keeps apace with a rapidly changing— and worsening—geostrategic environment. Discussions on EU-NATO cooperation remain stuck on a 1990s wavelength, taking crisis management and transnational challenges as their key referents. As NATO leaders meet in London and the EU undergoes a leadership transition, they should revamp their dialogue around the increasingly important theme of great-power competition.

Arthur Cockfield
Walter Hellerstein
Marie Lamensch

Digital commerce – the use of computer networks to facilitate transactions involving the production, distribution, sale, and delivery of goods and services – has grown from merely streamlining relations between consumer and business to a much more robust phenomenon embracing efficient business processes within a firm and between firms. Inevitably, the related taxation issues have grown as well. 

This latest edition of the preeminent text on the taxation of digital transactions revises, updates and expands the book’s coverage. It 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. It explores the implications of digital commerce for US state sales and use tax regimes resulting from the 2018 US Supreme Court decision in Wayfair. It discusses cross-border tax in the United States while continuing to focus on tax developments throughout the world. 

Analysing the practical tax consequences of digital commerce from a multijurisdictional perspective, and using examples to illustrate the application of different taxes to digital commerce transactions, the book offers in-depth treatment of such topics as the following: 

  • how tax rules governing cross-border digital commerce are increasingly applied to all cross- border activities; 
  • how tax rules and institutional processes have evolved to confront challenges posed by digital commerce; 
  • how an emerging ‘tax war’ is developing whereby different countries are unilaterally imposing new tax rules on cross-border digital commerce; 
  • how technology enhances tax and cross-border tax information exchanges; 
  • how technology reduces both compliance and enforcement costs; 
  • cross-border consumption tax issues raised by cloud computing; and 
  • different approaches to the legal design of VAT place of taxation rules. 

The authors offer insightful views on the likely development of new approaches to taxing cross-border digital commerce. 

This edition, while building on the analysis of the relationship between traditional tax laws and the Internet in the first edition and its predecessors, contains a more explicit and systematic consideration of digital commerce issues and the ongoing policy responses to them. Tax professionals and academics everywhere will welcome the important contribution it makes towards the design of cross-border tax rules that are both conceptually sound and practical in application. 

‘A tour de force … much larger and richer than its predecessors … a massive contribution to the growing literature on the taxation of e-commerce.’ 

– Rita de la Feria, British Tax Review 

‘Provides important understandings for ongoing policy discussions … I would warmly recommend.’ 

– P. Rendahl, World Journal of VAT/GST Law