News from the IES

Three new publications were issued in the context of the H2020 European Leadership in Cultural, Science and Innovation Diplomacy (EL-CSID) project. EL-CSID scientific coordinator Luk Van Langenhove published an essay entitled “Multilateral EU action through science diplomacy”, UNU-CRIS researchers Ana B. Amaya and Stephen Kingah wrote a blog note on “What is necessary for effective EU leadership that can promote (inter) regionalism in science and cultural diplomacy in the South?” and WZB researcher Uli Schreiterer published a piece on the blog that addresses “Leveraging science for European foreign policy: Bare necessities, global challenges and soft power”.

On 24 June, doctoral research Daniel Fiott was invited to speak at an expert meeting in Paris that focused on European responses to the United States’ “Third Offset Strategy” (the US’ latest defence innovation drive). The meeting, organised by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, brought together leading European defence experts with their American counterparts. Daniel’s speaking presentation focused on the United Kingdom’s defence innovation policies. In his presentation Daniel explained that European states face a challenge to spend sufficient amounts on defence research and development, and he argued that there is greater scope for European states to commonly identify technology trends and strategic priorities. Closer European cooperation on setting technology priorities is needed more than ever with the EU’s plan to invest in defence R&D, he concluded.

On 22 June 2016, IES doctoral researcher Daniel Fiott delivered a presentation entitled ‘TTIP and its Potential Impact on European Defence Cooperation’. The presentation was delivered at the high-level, four-week, annual European Session for Armament Officials (SERA), which is organised by the French Institute for Higher National Defence Studies (IHEDN) and hosted at the French military academy in Paris. This year’s SERA (the 28th such gathering) brought together 66 participants from across Europe with the aim of strengthening a European outlook in matters concerning defence equipment and procurement. 

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.

On 10 June, doctoral researcher Daniel Fiott spoke at a high-level conference on EU defence policy in Amsterdam. The event was organised by the Dutch Presidency of the EU, the Netherlands’ Ministry of Defence and the Netherlands Institute for International Relations (Clingendael). Daniel was on a panel that consisted of Pierre Vimont, former Executive Secretary of the European External Action Service, Jamie Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges at NATO and Col. Róbert Tibenský, Defence Policy Director, Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic. Nik Gowing, from the Royal United Services Institute (and the BBC), moderated the panel. Daniel’s presentation focused on the need for the EU to maintain a global strategic perspective and he called for greater clarity over capability development and technological innovation.

EL-CSID Scientific Coordinator Luk Van Langenhove delivers a presentation on “Cultural Diplomacy” at the UNESCO Conference on "Cultural Diversity under Attack: Protecting Heritage for Peace".

This high-level event is organised in the context of the ongoing attacks on cultural heritage with a view to contemplating ways in which culture can contribute to peacebuilding and recovery. The conference will be opened by Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Mr Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of the Flemish Government. It will seek to strengthen policy advocacy for better recognition of cultural diversity in strategies for reconstruction and peacebuilding.

The workshop Ethnic Relations, Minorities and Belonging in Europe and China was organised by the KU Leuven - Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies (GCIS) on 2 June 2016, in Leuven – Belgium, with the purpose  to asses how the increasing of diversity and mobility of people does affect the matrix of belonging and citizenship. IES phD Researcher, Serena D'Agostino, attended a workshop as IES representative with a paper on the Europeanisation of Romani Women Activism in Bulgaria and Romania. The workshop analysed the interaction and the interpenetration of nationality, ethnicity and identity through the problematic of transnationalism, globalization, and refugee crisis and nation-state perspectives. Participants were invited to consider the theoretical debates and issues in Europe and China with a variety of social practitioners and representatives to gain further insights of demographic, economic, philosophic, legal and socio-anthropological approaches.

Richard Lewis attended the Fourth International Conference on Immigration and Social Integration held at the Ruppin Academic Center in Israel May 23-24. Ruppin was founded in 1949 primarily as an agricultural college and has grown to around 4000 students studying a range of social sciences including migration. Faculty teach an MA course in migration and social integration which includes close cooperation with Tel Aviv University. Conference participants included 21 nationalities. Each country's flag flew on the campus including the Belgian tricolour!

From 11 to 13 May, the 5th biennial European Union in International Affairs conference (#EUIA16) took place in the Palace des Académies in Brussels. The conference was co-organised by the Institute for European Studies of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the institut d’études européennes of the Université libre de Bruxelles, the United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies and Egmont, the Royal Institute for International Relations. The conference brought together not less than 400 participants from 40 countries to discuss the role of the EU as an international actor. It included the presentation of more than 200 scientific papers and a series of high-level debates ranging from counter-terrorism to the upcoming Brexit vote.