Recent Publications

Ilke Adam
Laura Westerveen
Catherine Xhardez
Nicolas Rüffin
  • The last decade has seen the emergence of several organisations dedicated to pursue national science diplomacy agendas. Among others, countries like the UK, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark established science and innovation diplomacy agencies.
  • We comparatively examine three cases: The UK’s Science and Innovation Network, the Swiss SWISSNEX, and the Danish Innovation Centre Denmark. We look for similarities and dissimilarities in terms of organisational setup, locations, governance and funding, topics and objectives, and tasks.
  • We put forward three analytical dimensions that shape the organisations’ activities. Tensions between headquarters and periphery determine the range of possible activities on the ground. Agencies have to deal with challenges arising from the different mind-sets of diplomats and scientists. Last, but not least, the organisations have to decide whether to primarily engage either in the promotion of (basic) science or in the commercial application of research.
  • The three cases each feature distinct characteristics. While SWISSNEX and Innovation Centre Denmark have a strong take on the promotion of domestic research, innovation, and products, UK’s network engages in a broader spectrum of activities and topics at the nexus of science, economics, and foreign policy objectives.
  • Despite differences in their objectives and organisational setup, all agencies have established offices at hotbeds of science and innovation—particularly in the BRICS—, carry out similar tasks on the ground, and focus on comparable topics. A lack of reliable performance indicators hampers the assessment of individual agencies and outposts, thus making it difficult to judge the success of the respective agencies.
  • While the agencies have developed an integrative narrative of innovation as encompassing all activities from basic research to commercial application, officers on the ground predominantly pursue their goals against the backdrop of a linear model of innovation, focusing either on fundamental research or on applying scientific insights into business opportunities.
  • It is unlikely that many new offices will be established in the near future. Most likely, additional growth will be triggered when emerging economies like Brazil, India, or China start to establish their own science diplomacy agencies.
Luis Simón

The paper examines the evolution of Europe's geopolitical architecture, and its fit within the broader transatlantic/Western system. The central argument is that all the media buzz about Europe's many crises (financial, migration, populism, Brexit) may have prevented Europeans from appreciating the most geopolitically significant crisis the old continent is undergoing: a balance of power crisis. The author argues that Europe's balance of power crisis is animated by three structural developments that are testing the fabric of the postwar European geopolitical architecture: US retrenchment from Europe, Germany's emerging leadership position within the EU, and Russia's attempts to recreate a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. 

A central theme underlying the analysis is the tension between power and weakness, which looms over the role of these three pivotal European powers (the United States, Germany & Russia). The United States is certainly the most powerful, but it has bigger fish to fry and might not care enough to underpin Europe's order in a pro-active fashion, as we have been accustomed to. Germany and Russia are filling part of the void left by U.S. retrenchment, but neither of them appear to have the strength, the legitimacy or (in the case of Germany) the willingness to underpin European order. The result: No One's Europe. 

The paper analyses what these changes mean for European geopolitics, and offers some ideas as to how to restore the balance. Dr Luis Simón argues that,  given the transatlantic origins of the postwar European order, any attempts to preserve the essence of such order must revolve around one basic principle: fixing the transatlantic ‘superstructure’  before addressing any questions related to the future of the European ‘ infrastructure’.

The article is available on this link.


Serena D’Agostino

Inspired by existing literature on the Europeanization of social movements, this study asks whether, and to what extent, the political opportunity structures (POS) for collective action created by the European Union contribute to intersectional mobilization. In particular, it investigates whether the EU integration process determines (political) advantages for domestic (intersectional) political actors, or rather facilitates their marginalization from mainstream political agendas. Do emerging forms of activism at intersections have access to a broader or a more limited range of EU-driven opportunities? To answer this question, this work uses Romani women’s activism in Romania as a case-study. Specifically, it identifies a set of EU-driven POS for Romani women advocates and uses (political) intersectionality as an innovative analytical tool to explore them. Empirical analysis employs data collected through semi-structured interviews with Romanian institutional and non-institutional political actors carried out in 2015. Findings show that although the EU contributes to produce an intersectional political advantage for Romani women activists (e.g. by facilitating their access to the resources available under different policy regimes), it nonetheless hinders the development of their intersectional political agenda by fostering single-strand policies and discouraging grassroots political action.

* Serena D’Agostino is a PhD candidate at the Institute for European Studies (IES) at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The author gratefully acknowledges support from the Research Council of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel – Strategic Research Programme “Evaluating Democratic Governance in Europe” (EDGE, 2013-2017). Her sincerest gratitude goes to Ilke Adam, Karen Celis, Petra Meier and Peter Vermeersch for their precious comments on earlier versions of this article. Deepest thanks also go to the EYMI General Editor and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable and constructive advice. Last but not least, a heartfelt thank you to Crina Marina Morteanu for making the fieldwork in Romania possible.

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games have already served one very important purpose: helping to thaw inter-Korean relations. Since engagement is a key element of President Moon Jae-in’s North Korea policy, it is highly likely that Seoul will continue to seek exchanges with Pyongyang. It is thus up to the Kim Jong-un regime to accept Seoul’s olive branch and contribute to improving inter-Korean relations. With Pyongyang continuing to support – or at least accept – domestic economic reform and marketization, economic and technical support from Seoul is crucial. Indeed, the goodwill that most South Koreans still seem to hold towards their poorer Northern neighbour and the funding that South Korea can provide cannot be matched by any other country. For Seoul, engagement can serve to ease inter-Korean tensions, make it ever-more difficult for Pyongyang to reverse reforms, and put South Korea in the driving seat of Korean Peninsula affairs. 

Domenico Valenza
Elke Boers

This paper attempts to analyse the European Union’s (EU) cultural diplomacy (CD) efforts in five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, hereinafter ‘Central Asia’). Beginning in the early 2000s, EU Member States looked at the region with increased interest. Aside from major engagements on trade, energy and security, education and inter-cultural dialogue were stressed as priority areas in the 2007 EU Strategy for Central Asia. To measure EU effectiveness as a CD actor in Central Asia, a comparative dimension is proposed by analysing the role Russia has pursued. At law and policy level, since Putin’s return to the Presidency in 2012, Russia has reaffirmed its ambitions to strengthen both hard and soft presence in Central Asia, viewing the region within its sphere of influence. This engagement was reiterated in the 2015 Strategy of National Security and in the 2016 Foreign Policy Concept. To draw a comparison, actors’ CD effectiveness is measured in terms of willingness, capacity, and acceptance, based on the theoretical framework proposed by Kingah, Amaya and Van Langenhove1.

This paper finds that European CD efforts had mixed results due to an inconsistent policy towards the region. Although EU cultural heritage and educational influence are widely acknowledged, Russia remains today the major foreign actor in Central Asia, displaying strong levels of attractiveness among citizenry and elites. Historical and cultural ties, but also institutional and economic efforts allowed Moscow to keep its leading position. However, Russia’s future regional leadership should not be taken for granted, as all Central Asian states have been looking at Moscow’s cultural engagement with increased scepticism.


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1 KINGAH, Stephen, AMAYA, Ana B. and VAN LANGENHOVE, Luk, Requirements for Effective European Union Leadership in Science and Cultural Diplomacy on (Inter)Regionalism in the South, EL-CSID Working Paper, Issue 1, Retrieved on 14 November 2017.

Marie Lamensch

Abstract: In the autumn of 2016, the CJEU adopted a decision regarding formalism in the context of the exercise of the right to deduct input VAT which does not seem to have attracted the attention of VAT scholars, albeit that in the author’s view it constitutes a major development. In the Barlis case, the CJEU decided that Article 178(a) of the VAT Directive must be interpreted as precluding the national tax authorities from refusing the right to deduct value added tax solely because the taxable person holds an invoice which does not satisfy the conditions required by Article 226(6) and (7) of that directive, where those authorities have available all the necessary information for ascertaining whether the substantive conditions for the exercise of that right are satisfied. While this decision may, at first sight, be seen as a confirmation of the now established principle of ‘substance over form’ in relation to the exercise of the right to deduct, in this article the author highlights that this is the first time that this case-law based principle is being used to waive a clear and unconditional formal requirement provided for under the VAT Directive directly in relation to the exercise of the right to deduct.

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Michael Reiterer

The surprising readiness of Kim Jong-un to re-open lines of communications and to participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics could strengthen President Moon who needs to change course from announcement of policies to their implementation to live up to his promise to provide jobs through income and innovation lead growth with the aim of establishing a just and fair society for all Koreans. Enhanced EU-Korean cooperation could contribute to economic and political stability and security providing substance to the 55 years’ jubilee.

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Tomas Wyns
Martin Porter

Following the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change all countries around the world will have to implement long-term strategies and policies to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions around 2050. Energy and resource intensive industries will hence also be faced with the same challenge.
The emissions from these sectors are known to be ‘difficult’ to mitigate and will require a combination of process, product and business model transformations. The use of technologies, techniques and business models linked to industry 4.0 will be an essential part of this low carbon transition. Furthermore, the public sector will have to play a catalysing role to enable this low carbon industrial revolution to take place.


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Simon Schunz
Sieglinde Gstöhl
Luk Van Langenhove

This introductory article to the special issue on major powers in shared neighbourhoods sets the scenery by introducing the research objectives, situating them in the relevant academic context with references to the literatures on great power dynamics, regionalism and foreign policy analysis. It presents a conceptual framework for the study of ‘major powers’, understood as regional leaders, and their different forms of interaction in shared neighbourhoods, before providing an overview of the key insights of the individual contributions. The article concludes by identifying the main factors explaining the shape of the relationship between major powers in their shared region and outlining a research agenda on comparative neighbourhood policy studies.

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