Recent Publications

Richard Higgott

The European Union’s (EU) universities and their provision of higher education (HE) to international students remains one of its most powerful global development and cultural assets.   It operates a wide-ranging set of strategies to assist Africa in enhancing the quality and quantity of its HE. But an 8% average enrolment rate across all sub-Saharan African nations is still much lower than the average of 20-40% for all other developing regions, Currently, only one percent of total African GDP is spent on higher education.  Africa will not grow its graduate labour force relying solely on its public universities and/or public support from international bodies like the EU.  International private provision must play a greater role. Yet EU’s strategy towards HE in Africa fails to understand or to engage the private sector to help grow the number of Africans undertaking tertiary study.  There has been no effort to learn from the success of international private provision in Asia. This study identifies the benefits and opportunities of international private provision and proposes a set of next steps as part of a targeted ‘strategy of engagement’ for greater international private involvement in higher education in Africa. The EU currently does not, but needs, to play a role in these next steps.

One year from his election, Moon Jae-in is a very popular president with approval ratings hovering around 80 per cent. The reason for his popularity is, to an extent, fairly simple: he has followed the promises that he made during last year’s election campaign. This refers both to domestic affairs and inter-Korean relations. With regards to the former, President Moon has been implementing a series of job boosting measures. He wants to address a perceived lack of good-quality jobs. Furthermore, his government is seeking to improve social equality. President Moon is thus addressing one of the major grievances among many South Koreans – namely the perception that those in power play by a different set of rules. On inter-Korean relations, President Moon is implementing an engagement policy that has helped to ease tensions in the Korean Peninsula and put South Korea in the driving seat.

Eliza Northrop
Sebastian Oberthür

The Project for Advancing Climate Transparency (PACT) consortium supports the design and development of robust and effective transparency and accountability rules and processes for the Paris Agreement on climate change. This working paper examines the mechanism to facilitate implementation and promote compliance under Article 15 of the Paris Agreement and presents options for developing the key elements of the relevant modalities and procedures.


Domenico Valenza

In June 2017, on the tenth anniversary of the first Central Asia Strategy, the Council of the European Union invited High Representative Federica Mogherini and the European Commission to draw a proposal for a new Strategy by late 2019. This decision provides an opportunity to review the shortcomings of the previous Strategy and to assess the evolving regional environment, in which Russia and China have consolidated their influence. 

By presenting current challenges in Central Asia, this policy brief argues that the new Strategy should enhance EU cultural diplomacy in the region. In line with the increased role of culture in European external action, EU cultural diplomacy should meet local citizenry’s aspirations and demands, and give Brussels a comparative advantage over other regional powers.

Sebastian Oberthür
Eliza Northrop

Sebastian Oberthür and Eliza Northrop (2018), Towards an Effective Mechanism to Facilitate Implementation and Promote Compliance under the Paris Agreement, Climate Law, 8, 39-69.

Abstract: The article explores key aspects of the modalities and procedures of the Committee to facilitate implementation and promote compliance under Article 15 of the Paris Agreement. It focuses on five main issues under discussion in the international negotiations: overarching guidance to the Committee; the Committee’s functions; the scope of its mandate; the way in which matters may be referred to the Committee and proceedings initiated; and the outputs and measures available to the Committee. While recognizing the particular context and unique features of the Paris Agreement, our analysis draws on the experience available from several existing committees under other multilateral environmental agreements. In identifying design options for ensuring the Committee’s effective operation, we emphasize the importance of a balance of three main elements: the inclusion of an administrative non-party referral option based on information generated through the transparency framework under Article 13 of the Agreement or collected by the Secretariat; a full-range portfolio of facilitative measures; and several elements of overarching operational guidance to provide boundaries to the Committee’s discretion.

Jerneja Penca

Across the policy discourses and academic literature, the popularity of the concept of “science diplomacy” has used the concept in an uncritical manner. This paper aims to understand the concept’s value-added and the implications of its use. It considers the evolution of scientific cooperation and its interaction with foreign policy in the Euro-Mediterranean region. It finds out that many of the goals currently enshrined in “science diplomacy” have already constituted the history of the Euro-Mediterranean relationships since the launch of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The difference with the past is that the EU now has higher political and economic expectations of genuine scientific cooperation. However, in contrast to widening the objectives, the EU has not substantively broadened the tools it avails of. This leads us to expect that the EU’s actual policy in regional scientific cooperation might nevertheless stay the same. While the rhetoric of science diplomacy is of little use, the paper suggests some meaningful questions in the science-foreign policy nexus to replace it.

US President Donald Trump surprised the world by accepting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s invitation to talk, thereby setting the scene for potentially the first ever meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president. A Trump-Kim summit, which American officials say will take place this coming May or June at a location yet to be determined, would mark a turning point in US-North Korea relations. After a year of escalating tensions and insults between the two leaders, the prospect of talks seems like a welcome development. Americans have looked at North Korea as the land of lousy options for several decades now, so why not try the unprecedented? Yet, Trump’s diplomatic gamble is not without risk. Previous rounds of negotiations have not led to a major breakthrough and have left both sides disappointed. Meanwhile, the increased sophistication of North Korea’s nuclear program is forcing the US to come up with answers. Therefore, if Trump does not play his cards right and the summit is perceived as a failure, he may well provide further excuse for the US to turn to military options to achieve what diplomacy could seemingly not. 

Daniel Gehrt

In recent years, the European Commission has promoted the idea of science diplomacy in various strategic documents. This positive view on international S&T cooperation is linked to the assumption that collaboration is generally beneficial and resulting in a win-win situation for both sides. The question is whether this assumption is maintained when applied to a relatively mature technological domain, with clear commercial interests at stake. In the case study that is underlying the present working paper, we have tested this question by taking the example of EU-China S&T cooperation in the field of solar PV. The result was much clearer than expected: Based on an analysis of strategic documents, a thorough study of concrete Horizon 2020 topics and a number of in-depth interviews with key people in various relevant directorates and units of the European Commission, we can only conclude that there is no intention to foster collaboration with the EU’s main competitor in this technology field.

Neil Collins
Kristina Bekenova
Ainur Kagarmanova

In the soft power context, health is increasingly seen as an area that generates particular diplomatic benefits because it is ostensibly non-political and can bring both immediate and long-term advantages equally to the donor and the recipient country. Since the European Union’s role in the international affairs is increasing, the EU is expected to play a central role in global health guided by the principles of solidarity, i.e. to provide an equitable and universal access to quality health services. 

Some commentators point to a lack of coherence and coordination between EU health and other policies[1]. Also, ambiguities do exist about the scope of national and European competencies in the area of health policy[2]. The role of the smaller member states may be unusually significant as they "use the health arena to demonstrate their commitment to the multilateral systems that provide them with a voice and allow them a leading role on the global stage”[3]. Thus, health diplomacy offers an intriguing insight into the dynamics in the EU’s approaches to Central Asia, the region that is incrementally becoming of interest to Europe.


[1]Rollet, V. & Chang, P. (2013). “Is the European Union a global health actor? An analysis of its capacities, involvement and challenges”, European Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 18, no. 3: pp. 309-328.

[2]Guy, M. & Sauter, W. (2016). The history and scope of EU health law and policy(Working Paper no. 16-2). University of East Anglia: Centre for Competition Policy.

[3]Kickbusch, I. (2013). “21st century health diplomacy: A new relationship between foreign policy and health”. In T. E. Novotny, I. Kickbusch & M. Told (eds.), 21st century global health diplomacy(Singapore: World Scientific): p. 14.

Antoine Hatzenberger

This case study on Egypt is part of a trilogy of case study reports that assess the view of the EU cultural and science diplomacy from the outside. The reports are the outcome of impact studies analysing how the EU’s cultural and science diplomacy initiatives are perceived in three Mediterranean countries, namely Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia. The objective is to evaluate the degree to which populations notice and appreciate European culture and science diplomacy actions, and to understand the Southern partners’ image of the EU. Through survey (quantitative study) and interviews (qualitative study), these studies aim at measuring the reception of the EU’s messages in the considered countries. The reports point to the need for information campaigns and feedbacks about the different programmes in order to fill in the existing gap between experts and general public.