Recent Publications

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.


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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.

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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

Johan Bjerkem
Marta Pilati
Claire Dhéret
Marco Giuli
Stefan Šipka

Executive summary

Industry in Europe is faced with an unprecedented number of new challenges and megatrends, from a slowdown in global trade to digital disruption and climate change. In a fast-changing world, industry remains the backbone of the European economy, delivering high-quality jobs, innovation and world-class companies. Thus, to stay ahead of the curve and retain its competitive edge, the EU must embrace change and renew its industrial strategy.

There is growing momentum for a revived EU industrial strategy. EU leaders have called on the European Commission to present a new “long-term vision” for the EU’s industrial future by the end of 2019. Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has pledged

to put forward a new industrial strategy as part of a “European Green Deal”. Several member states have also been vocal on the need for a gear change in the EU’s approach, including the much-debated calls from France and Germany to modernise EU competition policy and support the creation of ‘European champions’, as well
as others underlining the well-functioning of the Single Market as the basis for competitiveness.

European industry is therefore set to become a priority for the upcoming Commission, with important cross-cutting implications for major portfolios such as “The European Green Deal”, “A Europe fit for the Digital Age”, “An Economy that Works for People” and “A Stronger Europe in the World”. It is important, however, that a renewed industrial strategy recognises all of these diverse goals and can be translated into a concrete, actionable plan at the EU level, with a clear governance structure.

This Issue Paper argues that in renewing its industrial strategy, the EU should put in place an ‘Industry Action

Plan’, complete with new policy tools and concrete industrial initiatives. Beyond mainstreaming industrial competitiveness across policy areas, an Action Plan should provide a more holistic and policy-oriented approach, with a vision towards 2030 that focuses on competitiveness, sustainability and strategic autonomy.

Firstly, to ensure that the European industry remains competitive, the EU should aim to play a stronger role
in global value chains, with a higher value-added. Secondly, the EU must create the conditions for the European industry, as well as the products and services it provides, to become sustainable and thus contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and climate-neutrality in alignment with the United Nation’s Paris Agreement. European industry should become fully climate-neutral by 2050 and seize the opportunity to become a global leader in sustainable and circular business models. Finally, an Industry Action Plan should contribute to achieving greater strategic autonomy for Europe by better responding to distorted competition and levering market power, and moving towards more technological sovereignty. Europe should mobilise all the tools at its disposal to become a global leader in developing digital technologies that address the societal, environmental and health challenges of today.

This Paper includes a list of recommendations centred around five policy strands: (1) making the Single Market (including competition policy) work, (2) improving innovation policy and achieving technological sovereignty, (3) acting strategically and enforcing reciprocity, (4) ensuring a fair and inclusive industrial transition, and (5) climate-proofing industry with a 2050 climate neutrality roadmap.

Alexandra Berger

For the next Multiannual Financial Framework, the Commission has proposed a new mega instrument in the area of external action that will make migration a key focus of the EU’s development cooperation. The nexus between migration and development will thus take centre stage in the EU’s engagement with third countries. In this context, it is interesting to look at current policies combining external migration governance with development cooperation. While the EU seems to assume that policies concerning migration and development cooperation are coherent, a closer look reveals that this is not always the case. Particularly concerning aid conditionality and the emphasis on short-term versus long-term goals, development cooperation and migration policies have different objectives, at times leading to incoherence in the EU’s external policies. 

Ilke Adam
Eve Hepburn


The study of intergovernmental relations (IGR) is a classical research area in scholarship on federalism and territorial politics. However, it has largely ignored the relatively new, and recently decentralized area of immigrant integration. The aim of this Special Issue is twofold. First, it aims to analyse how governments in multi-level states coordinate on immigrant integration. Second, it wishes to explain the dynamics that shape the features of intergovernmental relations. In doing so, we focus on four multi-level states; two of which are federal (Belgium and Canada) and two that are decentralized (Italy and Spain). Whilst we engage with the established literature on intergovernmental relations to formulate hypotheses about the nature and dynamics of intergovernmental relations, we also formulate less explored hypotheses. Our overarching argument is that the scholarship on IGR benefits from in-depth comparative case studies comparing IGR not just across countries, but also across policy areas and over time.


Adam, I. and Hepburn, E. (2019) ‘Intergovernmental Relations on Immigrant Integration in Multi-Level States. A Comparative Assessment’, Regional and Federal Studies, 29 (5) : 563-589.  

Ilke Adam

This article considers the features of intergovernmental relations (IGR) on immigrant integration in Belgium and critically examines the dynamics that shape them. The characteristics of IGR on immigrant integration in Belgium are shown to vary over time and differ across regions and sub-policy areas (immigrant reception policies and anti-discrimination). The comparative case study indicates that the primary traditional theses of the international comparative IGR literature, namely classical institutionalism and party politics, do not provide insights into the nature and mechanisms of IGR on immigrant integration in Belgium. Less established variables like European integration and sub-state claims for distinctiveness constitute key explanatory variables. While European integration explains the increase of IGR over time, notwithstanding the appearance of party incongruence, sub-state claims for distinctiveness enlighten the more conflictual nature of IGR with Flanders, even in cases of more party congruence than for Francophone authorities.


Adam, I. (2019) ‘Defying the Traditional Theses. Intergovernmental Relations on Immigrant Integration in Belgium’, Regional and Federal Studies, 29 (5) : 591-612.