Recent Publications

Riccardo Trobbiani

On the 23rd of May 2017, the Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on Culture in the European Union's external relations, by welcoming the Joint Communication Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations  presented by the European Commission in June 2016. 

This EL-CSID Policy brief argues that, if the EU wants to define a real strategy for its external cultural action, it needs to provide a clearer definition of what ‘culture’ it is promoting (and how), and of what ‘complementarity’ with Member States means. First, EU Cultural Diplomacy should build upon EU’s experience in intercultural dialogue and capacity building rather than try to showcase European culture as a Soft Power tool. Consequently, cooperation with Member States and their cultural institutes should be sought on intercultural dialogue and capacity building, by jointly using MS’ networks, resources and connection with local actors to build locally-tailored strategies in co-ownership with target countries. Finally, the EU should identify specific financial means supporting cultural capacity building and intercultural dialogue, both in its own external relations as well as in its enhanced cooperation with Member States and their cultural institutes.

This Policy Brief is part of the KF-VUB Korea Chair, which serves as an independent platform in Brussels to advance academically rigorous and informed discussions on policy questions that are of relevance to the Republic of Korea and Europe. The Chair aims to fulfil the following objectives: i) increase awareness in Europe about current security and geopolitical challenges affecting the Korean peninsula; ii) provide a platform to enhance a common understanding between Korea and Europe, and strengthen our mutual awareness of geopolitical, strategic and economic developments in East Asia and Europe; and iii) solidify the strategic partnership between Europe and the Republic of Korea (ROK). 

The Chair will publish academically rigorous and policy-relevant analyses, organise public conferences and expert workshops for in-depth discussions amongst key European and South Korean policy-makers and business leaders, and organise training programmes aimed at the next generation of European academic, policy and business leaders working on South Korea and East Asia.

May 2017
Alexander Mattelaer (Rapporteur)

This report is inspired by the discussions of the BELGIAN National Reflection Group enriched by exchanges with National Reflection Groups from FINLAND and SLOVAKIA. It reflects on the ‘state of the Union’ from a national perspective and discusses the main challenges the EU and its members are facing, taking into account both the European and national perspective. Finally, it proposes ideas and recommendations on how the EU and its members should react to these main challenges and sets out how the EU and European integration should develop in the years to come.

This paper is part of a series of ten national reports. These reports and the debates in the member states will provide a solid basis for the discussions in the NPE European Reflection Group. The latter will be asked to take the reflection a step further through in-depth and thorough discussions at the European level. The Advisory Group chaired by Herman Van Rompuy will provide input into this process. All these reflections will lead to a final NPE report that analyses the current ‘state of the Union’ and contains several proposals on how to re-energise the European project. It will be published at the end of 2017. 


Alexander Mattelaer

As NATO prepares for a meeting of Allied heads of state and government in Brussels on 25 May, the debate on burden-sharing is heating up considerably. Both before and after entering office as 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump has harshly criticised various NATO Allies for not spending enough on defence. In fact, this reinforced longstanding US complaints about the tendency of many Allies to hitch a free ride on the back of the global US defence effort. Has the day of reckoning for European security now arrived? It is clear that many Allies must do more, however, the burden-sharing debate should be grounded in rigorous analysis. We must keep in mind the object of the burden that must be shared: a European continent that is whole, free and at peace. This requires not only sufficient financial resources, but also credible common defence plans.

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Trisha Meyer

This book investigates recent policy initiatives dealing with the online enforcement of copyright in the European Union, providing unique insights into the current stalemate in the field. It is a timely contribution to the next steps of policy-making on copyright enforcement and Internet governance. The author brings to light tensions in how we encourage knowledge and cultural creation, and importantly how we regulate the Internet. In this study, online copyright enforcement is situated within the wider debate on Internet governance. Intermediary liability is a focal point. It provides an explanation of recent online copyright enforcement policy initiatives is based on an in-depth investigation of the ideas, interests, institutions and discourses involved in three EU level and two member state level initiatives. Seventy-two expert interviews complement the policy analysis conducted.

For more information, please click here.

Riccardo Trobbiani

Drawing upon the analytical tools defined in the inception paper1 for Work package 5 of the EL-CSID project, this paper assesses the willingness, capacity and acceptance sustaining EU broadly-defined Cultural Diplomacy (CD) in the MENA region. The resulting qualitative mapping focuses on policies and initiatives which foster regional cooperation, both around the Mediterranean and among southern countries. The use of cultural tools in EU relations with the Arab world and Israel has received widespread commitment, based on its potential to foster peaceful relations, create opportunities for development and possibly lead towards a convergence of civilisations. The EU and its partners have started to create the conditions for CD initiatives to take place within most regional and inter-regional fora for cooperation with the MENA. This is true within the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, although resources are still insufficient and rely on short-termed instruments. Even more needs to be done to endow the recent political commitment to EU-GCC, EU-Maghreb and EU-LAS cultural cooperation with actual tools for action. Post-Arab Springs MENA countries constitute a fertile ground for EU CD initiatives, despite the difficulties presented in some of them by non-cooperative stances of national authorities and restrictive cultural policies. In this context, the EU is adopting an approach valuing capacity building, intercultural dialogue and people-to-people contacts instead of pure display of European culture(s), but it still needs to clearly define what the use of the term Cultural Diplomacy means in its particular case. More specifically, a regional strategy for Cultural Diplomacy in the MENA is still missing.


Kingah, S., Amaya A. B. and Van Langenhove, L. (2016) ‘Requirements for Effective European Union Leadership in Science and Cultural Diplomacy on (Inter) Regionalism in the South’, UNU-CRIS Working Paper W-2016/3,

April 2017
annual report
Jan Claudius Völkel

Egypt’s parliament has been broadly excluded from the country’s political developments since the 2011 uprisings. The nadir of its influence was reached when the House of Representatives (lower house) was dissolved in summer 2012, followed by the Shura Council (former upper house) in summer 2013. Subsequently, no parliament existed until new elections, repeatedly postponed, were eventually conducted in fall 2015. This delay seemed to be part of the government’s strategy, as it used these years without a parliament to draft an electoral law that made formation of a legislature critical of the regime highly unlikely. The repeated electoral postponements also imposed specific burdens on the revolutionary parties that struggled to compete with the former elites. This article examines the contributions of Egypt’s parliament to the country’s transition trajectory, discusses the relevant changes made to the constitution and electoral law, and concludes that the parliament’s contribution to Egypt’s development has been limited, and will most probably remain so in the future. 

To access the article, please click here.

Jan Claudius Völkel

A chapter on “When Interior Ministers play diplomats. Fatal ambiguities in Europe's securitised migration policy” in the edited volume “Fortress Europe: Challenges and Failures of Migration and Asylum Policies” by Annette Jünemann, Nicolas Fromm and Nikolas Scherer (2017, pp. 83-103). To access the book, please click here.

Luis Simón

Click here to access this article on the Security Studies website.

Most neorealists argue that relative decline constitutes a systemic incentive for European security cooperation. Although this claim is broadly accepted, I argue that the relationship between relative decline and European security cooperation is complicated by a number of factors. First, European calculations about relative decline bear both a global and a regional (that is, intra-European) component. If a European country is to effectively mitigate relative decline, cooperation is not sufficient. It is just as important that cooperation develops in a way that underscores that country's comparative strengths and minimizes its weaknesses. In this regard, European countries are often in direct competition with each other. Secondly, when Europeans are thinking about their relative power position, some countries matter more than others: a given European country may accept to incur a relative loss vis-à-vis another country (European or otherwise) but not others. These calculations are further complicated by issue linkage. Some countries may accept relative losses on some issues (for example, security) in exchange for gains on others (economic). This article examines how intra-European considerations of relative gains affect the way in which Europe's main powers seek to cope with relative decline and assesses how those considerations affect security cooperation in a European Union (EU) framework. In doing so, it aims to unpack the otherwise vague notions of relative decline and European security cooperation.