Recent Publications

Jonas Lefevere
Richard Higgott
Luk Van Langenhove


This paper makes the case that the EU must not send out mixed messages. It cannot go down the road of adopting a forward leaning geopolitical strategy, while at the same time wishing to maintain its wider commitment to collective action problem-solving. In today’s unravelling of the post-World War Two world order, the EU’s longstanding instinct to resist geopolitical imperatives in favour of a commitment to collective action in multilateral institutional contexts should remain.

Therefore, the priority for the EU is  to remove ambiguity from its external policy by focusing specifically and precisely on topics and regions that matter to citizens directly: security, migration, climate, but also on other things that might seem one step removed from everyday life yet actually have a considerable impact on citizens, such as the defence of multilateralism and the situation in the near neighbourhood.

This paper sets out nine key points of substance for consideration. They are presented as a series of propositions in need of recognition by those driving EU international relations in the life of the next Commission.

If the EU really believes in its internationalist values, it should stick to them and make it clear that it is driven by the pursuit of geo-sustainability through multilateral cooperation, not by geopolitics and its related nationalist assumptions of closure to the wider world.

This, the paper argues, becomes even more important in a time of global pandemic.

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Irina van der Vet

The role of educators in the prevention of violent extremism and radicalisation has been widely discussed in Belgium since the 2016 Brussels attacks and due to the current rise of right-wing extremists in Europe and in the country. This paper describes the results of the pilot project developed within the European Union Horizon 2020 project, Mindb4ACT. The pilot was an experiment on designing innovative solutions for teachers of secondary schools in Belgium. Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Institute for European Studies, as the project partner, produced an animated video. The video was meant to raise awareness of the role of teachers in the prevention process, outline the basic policy mechanisms as the foundation for teachers’ actions, and offer selected methodological tools for teachers to apply in the classroom. 

In this policy brief, we argue that both epidemic zoonoses – diseases transmitted from animals to humans that can turn into pandemics such as COVID-19 – and climate change require a long-term preventive approach that tackles their root causes. This should reduce the number of future pandemics and extreme weather events and other related crises and prevent us from crossing dangerous tipping points. All levels of society (local, national, international) should be engaged in the approach and collaborate in an equitable fashion. As the negative effects of climate change are manifesting themselves more and more strongly and zoonotic epidemics can most likely not fully be eradicated, considerably more resources must also be spent on resilience building to seriously prepare societies, and vulnerable groups in particular, for future crises ahead of time. Changes in decision-making procedures and economic mechanisms can help overcome the bias towards the short-term present in modern political systems (“myopia”). 

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Omar N. Cham

In the midst of this crisis, irregular migrants and asylum seekers still remain among the most vulnerable to the virus. The disruption to their informal sources of livelihoods due to the virus, means that many are at risk of experiencing severe food shortages and nutrition related challenges. In addition, they are confronted with limited access to health care and access to government support. Whilst undocumented migrants and asylum seekers contend with these challenges, a bigger fear remains, the fear of deportation. The fear of deportation makes undocumented migrants and asylum seekers reluctant to share vital information about their health, and even ask for basic medical assistance given the emergence of the immigration debate in the coronavirus conversation. Whilst deportations have been paused in Europe due to the wide shutdown of global aviation, the USA amidst the virus, continues to carry out deportations. Notwithstanding, one question at the center of this debate is whether a moratorium, as a result of COVID-19 on deportations from Europe will be announced, once a sense of normalcy returns (most likely in summer). If so how long will that moratorium be in place for? And what does COVID-19 mean for the protection of the rights of asylum seekers?

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Luis Simón
Alexander Lanoszka

The demise of the INF Treaty in 2019 raises questions about the future of deterrence in Europe. For more than a decade, Russia has sought to leverage the potential of precision-strike technologies to strengthen its missile arsenal, having developed systems that either violated INF range regulations or were just below the threshold. As the termination of the treaty removes any outstanding legal barriers to the deployment of ground-based,“theater-range” systems, questions related to the missile balance become central to European security. Of particular importance is the Baltic region, where Russia appears to have acquired a position of “local escalation dominance” that could drive a strategic wedge within NATO. In this essay, we assess what a post-INF Treaty context may mean in light of recent NATO efforts to deter Russia. We argue that the introduction of ground-based, theater-range missiles could help NATO restore the local strategic balance in the Baltic region, thereby strengthening deterrence and helping to create the necessary leverage to get Russia back into meaningful arms control talks in the future. 

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Irina van der Vet
Daisy Bisoffi

The role of educators in the prevention of violent extremism and radicalisation has been widely discussed in Europe since the late 2000s. The precursors for these debates have been the series of terrorist attacks throughout Europe and more recently, the rise of right-wing extremists movements. This Policy Brief examines the potential of educators in preventing and countering violent extremism. It draws upon an experiment on designing innovative solutions for teachers of secondary schools in Belgium, conducted within the framework of the European Union Horizon 2020 project, Mindb4ACT. Based on the findings of this pilot project, the brief outlines recommendations for educators and policymakers and offers trajectories for exploiting the potential of school staffs in combating violent radicalisation and extremism. 

Luis Simón
Tomohiko Satake

Taking the 2019 EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) as its point of departure, this paper puts forward a number of specific proposals to further EU-Japan maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. It begins by discussing recent developments in EU and Japanese security policy, and briefly outlines the political and geo-strategic drivers of EU-Japan security cooperation, as well as its limitations. Next, it identifies maritime security and the Indian Ocean region as two areas that have a great potential for greater EU-Japan security cooperation. It then discusses a specific proposal to further EU-Japan security cooperation: the setting up of an Indian Ocean Maritime Capacity Building Initiative.

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While countries in the West have suffered from domestic struggles, the global crisis caused by COVID-19 has become an opportunity for public diplomacy for several countries in the East. Once having the second largest outbreak in the world behind China, South Korea succeeded in flattening the curve quickly thanks to swift government intervention and joined the soft power race immediately. However, the initiative was purposefully connected to public diplomacy at home with the aim of winning the 21st legislative election. Promoted as “South Korea’s corona-diplomacy” by government campaigns, the victory against the novel coronavirus narrative was deliberately employed to get domestic consensus behind approving the Moon administration, whose strategy achieved its objective.

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Giulia Tercovich
Maria Giulia Amadio Vicerè

Ten years ago the Lisbon Treaty reformed the role of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) and established the European External Action Service (EEAS). How are these institutional actors addressing today’s Covid-19 crisis? By examining the HR/VP and EEAS’ activities in response to the Covid-19 crisis this contribution provides insights on both the supranational dimension of EU external action and the intergovernmental Common Foreign and Security Policy. 

Even if it is too early to provide answers, this contribution looks at the role of the HR/VP as Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the coordination among the Commissioners with external portfolios, as chair of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), as representative of the EU in international meetings and as leader of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and of the EEAS and it provides some preliminary reflections on the current developments in EU foreign policy through the lenses of academic research and suggests future avenues of research.

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