Recent Publications

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.

Alexander Mattelaer

The debate over NATO burden-sharing needs to be reappraised continuously on both sides of the Atlantic. This re-look requires methodological rigor as well as an appreciation of the principles on which the Alliance was founded. While European allies have not been pulling their weight, additional funding will not constitute a panacea. The burden-sharing debate is ultimately not about defense accounting, but about military planning and agreeing who should do what for defending the European continent.

Luis Simón

This article examines how regional and global priorities challenge America’s evolving European strategy. The need to “reassure” Eastern and Central European allies in the face of Russian assertiveness calls for greater US strategic engagement in Europe. Conversely, defense-budgetary pressures, the Asia “rebalance,” and the willingness to avoid excessive escalation with Russia constitute ongoing limitations to a significant US military engagement in and around Europe. That is the essence of America’s European dilemma—how to invest sufficient resources in Europe as toensure credible deterrence while keeping enough military and diplomatic bandwidth to pursue other global geopolitical objectives.

Tomas Wyns
Matilda Axelson

The goal of this report is to identify options for deep greenhouse gas emission reductions by EU energy intensive industries. This type of greenhouse gas mitigation should bring emissions in these sectors down by at least 80% in 2050 compared to 1990 levels. That would be consistent with the EU’s long-term climate objective.

The main focus lies on innovative process technologies that significantly improve the emission performance compared to current (state-of-the-art) technologies. But moving towards decarbonisation in these industries forces us to look beyond process changes. The findings presented in this report therefore include other relevant options such as product and business innovations.

Researching the decarbonisation challenge for energy intensive industries cannot ignore the economic function these sectors have in the economy. This includes studying their current strengths and weaknesses. Most of the industries considered in this report have faced or are facing important economic challenges. Not all energy intensive industries can be covered within the scope of this study, and therefore, this report focuses on the most important parts of the chemical industry, the steel industry and the cement industry. Hence, the overwhelming majority of industrial greenhouse gas emissions from EU industrial sectors will be covered.

The analysis in this report starts with the assumption that mitigation options using only current technologies will not be able to address the decarbonisation challenge in time. Furthermore, the aforementioned economic challenges for sectors such as steel and cement might eclipse the needs and means for investments in breakthrough low-carbon technologies. The combination of both elements can truly give the impression of an unassailable frontier.

This report looks into the opportunities to break through this final frontier.

Chapter 1 analyses the major mitigation options in the chemicals industry, focusing particularly on petrochemicals and ammonia production for fertilisers. Chapter 2 addresses mitigation in the steel industry. Chapter 3 covers the cement industry. For each of the sectors, the results are discussed in an ‘outlook and challenges’-section where a comprehensive approach towards deep emission reductions is presented. This takes into account the economic context under which each industry operates.

The report is concluded with an overarching assessment of all industries considered, and adds on a linkage with the public sector. This specifically includes an introduction to the forthcoming EU ETS innovation fund and suggestions for its design. 

Sebastian Oberthür

The EU’s strategic re-orientation to coalition and bridge building after the failed Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009 paved the way for its success in securing the Paris Agreement on climate change in December 2015. This orientation will largely remain relevant in climate geopolitics characterized by multipolarity and a diversification of interests away from a North–South divide, both headed towards growing support for decarbonization. Various fora beyond the multilateral UN negotiations deserve systematic attention as climate governance has become “polycentric”, requiring careful prioritization as well as further enhanced coordination of climate diplomacy across the EU. The EU’s position in climate geopolitics will not least depend on the development of its internal climate and energy policy framework for 2030 and beyond. Advancing decarbonization and fostering low-carbon innovation towards the new climate economy in the EU will help enhance the EU’s power base and role in future climate geopolitics.

Alexander Mattelaer

The setting up of a Special Operations Command (SOCOM) constitutes a key element of the ongoing Belgian defence reforms. This Policy Brief aims to put the present demand for special operations forces in its historical context and engage in the discussion on how to structure and employ this special instrument of policy. Building on the legacy of the paracommando regiment, the future Belgian SOCOM constitutes a critical capability within an adaptive force structure. This new entity must be able to deliver results in a variety of unconventional missions that require high readiness, intellectual flexibility and maximum discretion or surprise. At the same time, special operations forces do not constitute a substitute for having a comprehensive security policy. They function best when used as force multipliers alongside other instruments of power towards joint effect. As the proverbial tip of the spear, they must lead the way for Belgian defence regeneration in general.