Publication of the Institute for European Studies Issue 14, October 2005

New IES Scientific Director:
Dr. Sebastian Oberthür

Sebastian Oberthuer
After a long and intense selection procedure, including international screening and interviews, the IES Board selected Dr. Sebastian Oberthür as its Scientific Director. Dr. Oberthür is German and will henceforth lead the Institute assisted by the current management protagonists Bart De Schutter (President) and Anthony Antoine (Executive Director), and will further shape IES’ research strategy, together with the Senior Research Fellows Marc Pallemaerts, Giovanna Bono and Richard Lewis. Sebastian Oberthür was born in Kassel but has been living with his partner in Brussels for a while. They have two children (aged 5 months and 2 years).

Until recently, Dr. Oberthür worked at the Otto Friedrich Universität in Bamberg and as an expert in the government-linked research bureau “Ecologic”. His main research field consisted of environmental politics and international legal affairs yet he also lectured about the European Constitution and the European Decision-Making Process. Dr. Oberthür holds a Political Science degree and delivered his PhD in 1995 at the Free University of Berlin with the thesis “The Contribution of International Regimes to Environmental Protection”. Despite his political science background, he is sometimes taken to be a legal expert.

With this combination of qualities, he is the perfect mix to lead our Institute, as most of our research projects thus far have been either legal or political in nature.

Oberthür: “I was looking for a job that would allow me to build on my experience and qualifications in both academic and policy-relevant research and that would offer both a challenging and promising scientific environment. IES offered that prospect - and did so in Brussels where my family lives. I am looking forward to working with all the staff and friends of IES to further develop the strengths of the Institute.”

The new Scientific Director will have a busy agenda in the coming weeks and months. Besides getting acquainted with the Institute and its researchers in particular, and with the University in general, he is starting an intensive Dutch course in October. Although the Institute’s lingua franca is English, correspondence with and regulations from the Ministry of Education are in Dutch. Given his role in Management, it is not unlikely that the Scientific Director will come across Flemish administration in the near future. The IES Board thus requested applicants to be at least bilingual (English / Dutch)

Oberthür: “I will have to acquire a good working knowledge of Dutch, get to know the Institute from inside, and help define first concrete steps to implement and breathe further life in the IES’ new research strategy - and all that at the same time!”

Next to these “integration” activities, the new Scientific Director will indeed have some substantial work with fine-tuning the IES research strategy, and with setting up initiatives within the EU-supported Network of Excellence GARNET in which the IES hopes to make a significant contribution.

Oberthür will also be part of the new IES management structure. He will be advisor to the IES Board and full member of the IES Executive Board as soon as these two bodies have been formed.

Oberthür: “The main challenge will be to further establish IES as an institute with particular expertise in and focus on “the EU as a global actor”. This will involve identifying and implementing steps to give form and shape to the new “leitmotiv” of the Institute so as to strengthen its contribution to advancing understanding of the EU’s role in international affairs.”

Sebastian Oberthür will be the Institute’s Scientific Director for the coming three years


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We’ve Moved!

On 28 April, the IES lecture series on multiculturalism in the EU came to an end. The IES looks back on nine successful lectures of very high standard.

Pleinlaan 5
On 27 September, the Institute for European Studies moved from its previous locations (Waversesteenweg 1055 and Triomflaan 34) to new office space on the third floor of Pleinlaan 5 - right across from the main administration building of the university campus.

Pleinlaan 5
The new premises are a real improvement for our Institute. For the first time in four years, all IES-collaborators can work under one roof, while working conditions (especially office space, which grew from 250 m2 to 740 m2) are much better!

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New IES Book:
Understanding the European Constitution

Karel De Gucht
On Thursday 29 September, Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel De Gucht and his co-editors Servaas Van Thiel and Richard Lewis presented the book “Understanding the European Constitution” in the Egmont Palace in Brussels. The editors, briefly introduced by IES president Bart De Schutter, addressed the key questions that are raised in this third IES book, while the Minister elaborated on why the ideas behind this constitutional treaty are still important for Europe and for its citizens.

The rejection by the French and Dutch of the draft Constitutional Treaty earlier this year was a shock not only to the European Institutions but also to European leaders in general. The negative vote by the electorate in these two key member states has effectively led the European Union to pause in the process of European integration and to engage in “a period of reflection.” The voters have clearly indicated that, even if they are not opposed to the building of an integrated Europe, they neither understand the draft treaty nor appreciate the apparently endless pursuit of centralisation and “more Brussels”.

This pause may not in the longer term be a negative turn of events if it leads to a more coherent approach to European integration that depends not just on the perceptions of elites but also addresses the wishes and fears of the European public.

A first sign of a new approach is the recent announcement by Commission president José Manuel Barroso of a complete review of new and existing EU legislation.

It is regrettable, however, that this particular treaty has been rejected in its entirety. This is because, not only does it consolidate the existing and complex treaties and makes them more accessible to the public, it also contains a rationale that will make the Union more transparent, more accountable and more effective in its decision making.

EU Constitution Book
Understanding the Constitution is therefore a timely addition to this debate. It analyses and explains the main features of the Constitution and throws light on why the public in two member states took the decision that they did. Several chapters by prominent politicians – Prime Minister Verhofstadt and Minister of Foreign Affairs De Gucht amongst them – emphasise the importance of the democratic deficit that the Constitution would have addressed.

Other chapters speak to issues relating to the European institutions themselves. Finally, there are essays on the world role of the Union as expressed in its external relations.

As the editors comments suggest, the public probably rejected this draft for the wrong reasons, out of fear for the future of the European economy or fear of too many migrants or other understandable but perhaps misguided reasons, such as punishing their domestic politicians. However, this volume addresses the positive rather than the pessimistic view of the Constitution and will therefore be helpful in enabling the Union to move forward in a sound way for the benefit of all its citizens.

Understanding the European Constitution costs € 24,95 and can be ordered from VUBPress. Special student reductions apply. See the website of VUBPress for more detailed information (


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New IES Lecture Series:
European Security Policy after September 2001

EU Constitution Book
The Institute for European Studies is organising a lecture series during the first semester of the academic year 2005 -2006 (October - December) to explore the impact of 9/11 and the Western wars against 'international terrorism' and 'rogue states'on the conduct of European foreign and security policy and its underlying norms. The series will start on Thursday 6 October at 18:00 in aula D.2.01 of the VUB and is organised under the auspices of Senior Research Fellow Giovanna Bono.

The full programme of the lectures can be found here.

Taking into account the international trends that were present prior to September 2001 and the internal dynamics of the European integration process, to what extent was European foreign and security policy substantially transformed by events and decisions taken over the past years? Are we witnessing the creation of a new form of European consensus around the need to fight ‘international terrorism’, and deal with ‘failed states’ while simultaneously addressing the deep-rooted causes of external conflicts? Is the EU seeking to reconstruct the international system on the basis of cosmopolitan principles enshrined in international law or is the EU contributing to undermining these principles?

To explore these questions the lecture series will be organized around three overall themes that cover doctrinal and normative issues, relations with other international security institutions, regions and powers.

Doctrinal and normative issues

The lecture series will examine the extent to which EU foreign policy makers are adopting the doctrines of 'pre-emptive and preventive actions' that were originally formulated in Washington and London between 2001 and 2002. It will ask the following questions: Is the EU supporting a reform of the UN system to legitimise the doctrines of 'preventive' and 'pre-emptive military action' or is the EU resisting such changes with a new vision of world order? Through the development of the doctrine of 'Right to Protect' are Brussels-based EU institutions involved in developing an EU 'ethical foreign policy'? What are the positions of Brussels-based institutions and EU capitals toward the conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and in the Middle East?

The EU, NATO, the UN and ‘the fight against terrorism’

The lecture series will explore the manner in which the events of September 11 and the subsequent wars against 'terrorism' and 'failed states' have changed the relationship between the EU, NATO and the UN in crisis management. We will address the following questions: Is the division of labour established between the EU and NATO in Afghanistan a model for future Western engagements in the Middle East? Is the EU supporting a central role for the UN in the fight against international terrorism as suggested by the High Level Panel's report presented in December 2004? Is the fight against international terrorism becoming a key focus for the national security strategies of EU member states and of EU institutions?

EU policies towards conflict areas and other powers: reformulation or status quo?

Since the events of September 2001, are we witnessing significant modifications in European foreign and security policy toward the Middle East and other regions? If there is a process of substantial rethinking, is the reformulation of policies linked to the doctrinal debates? Or is it driven by other factors, such as pragmatism, or the specific geographical and economic interests of some European member states? Or is it mainly driven by the agenda of other non-EU countries?

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Senior Researcher Job Ad

The Institute for European Studies (IES) invites applications for one full-time senior research fellow for a duration of two years (renewable).

Within the overall research strategy of the IES, the successful candidate will coordinate and conduct research related to the EU’s “first pillar”, including in particular the EU's economic policies (Internal Market, trade, competition). She/he will have the responsibility of developing this area of the IES research programme in co-operation with the IES management and to undertake various tasks, including:

  1. Designing, undertaking, directing and co-ordinating substantive research in his/her area of expertise and responsibility within the overall IES research programme. This work includes the identification, co-ordination and supervision of contributors to the projects; the preparation of substantive papers and project discussion notes; the direction of research meetings; and the editing and authoring of (book) publications.
  2. Developing research projects relevant to the IES research strategy and raise funds required for their realisation. The successful candidate will be expected to sustain part of his/her salary before the end of the first contractual period.
  3. Participating in and contribute to a number of other activities central to IES’ operation. This task comprises the organisation of lecture series; assist with the processing of manuscripts produced by researchers and collaborators for publication; participate in joint research/academic activities with other institutions.
  4. Contributing to the development and implementation of the IES, which may include supervision of the work of Ph.D. students, counselling with the project promoters of junior researcher, and participation in other training and capacity building activities.
  5. Performing other tasks as assigned by the IES Board and management.

Positions can be held on a full-time, or at least substantial full-time equivalent, basis. Secondment from other Belgian or foreign universities can be envisaged.

The successful candidate will have an advanced university degree in Law or equivalent (Ph.D.).

Applications including a note on a potential project which the candidate would like to develop (max. 3 pages) and a detailed CV including a list of publications and two references should be sent to the President of the IES, Pleinlaan 5, 1050 Brussels (or by email: before 10 December 2005. More detailed info here.

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International Steering Committee of the Metropolis Project in Rome

EU Constitution Book
Senior Research Fellow Richard Lewis attended the International Steering Committee (ISC) of the Metropolis network of officials, academics, non-governmental organisations and others interested in the field of migration, especially the effects on cities. The meeting took place in Rome, on 14 and 15 March.

The ISC devoted considerable time to discussing its forthcoming international conferences, first in Toronto in October 2005 and subsequently in Lisbon in October 2006. The Toronto conference will be on diversity in cities and the opportunities as well as the problems that this creates. This dovetails neatly with the ongoing series of lectures under IES auspices on multiculturalism in Europe.

However, the main feature of the meeting was to hear a series of presentations by Italian officials both from national government and the city of Rome on how they deal with migration. They described how, in the space of one to two decades, Italy has been transformed from an exporter of migrants to a destination country. A report will be published shortly by the ISMU (institute for migration research) in Milan that will show that the migrant population has grown from 650.000 in 1990 to 2,2 million now.

This is not surprising given that Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the European Union and needs migrants. Most newcomers used to settle in the big cities; now, however, they are spread around the country. In the early nineties most came from North Africa; now the main source countries are in eastern Europe.

Italy now has a scheme in place for attracting labour migration and an annual quota for legal migrants of 79.000 people many of whom arrive as part of family reunification. Italy is testing pilot training schemes for would-be migrants in Moldova and Sri Lanka with the help of the International Organisation for Migration. The idea is to teach migrants before they arrive in the country, the elements of language and citizenship and the information they will need to survive in their new home.. Italy’s foreign born population stands at 7,6 % which is near the overall European figure of 8%. Strenuous efforts are made to integrate them once they are in Italy. For example, four additional city counsellors, one for each of the four continents, have been appointed in Rome to represent migrant interests.

The meeting also heard from Adriano Benedetti, Director General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about how the Italian government is attempting to harness the energy and influence of some 60 million people of Italian descent abroad. From 2006, they will be able to elect twelve deputies and 6 senators to represent to view of all Italians abroad whether citizens or not. The Italian government spends €29 million per annum to organise courses on Italian language and culture throughout the world mainly, but not exclusively, aimed at those of Italian descent. This far-sighted development on keeping in touch with those associated with national culture might prove to be a model for other European countries that have an extensive diaspora.

Finally, in accordance with EU directives and to help implement them, Italy has established a national office against racial discrimination with a telephone toll free hot line so that citizens and migrants can seek immediate assistance or advice. Most discrimination is in the fields of housing and employment. This reflects experience in other countries. The first move is to try conciliation techniques and only then use the force of the law.

The Italian government well understands that all is far from perfect. A commentator at the meeting criticised the lack of a systematic law devoted entirely to asylum. However, as the Italian officials pointed out, asylum is covered in other legislation and the requirements of the 1951 Geneva Convention are met.


Parliamentary Control over EU external military operations

IES Senior Research Fellow Giovanna Bono is working on research projects regarding parliamentary control over military operations. In her article "National parliaments and EU external military operations: is there any parliamentary control?", she scrutinizes a number of European states in their attitudes towards EU-led military operations.

More specifically, British, French, German and Italian parliaments’ roles in overseeing the European Union’s external military operations, Concordia and Artemis, are examined. The findings show a democratic deficit in European security in that, with the exception of the German Parliament, all Parliaments were either constitutionally and procedurally unable or politically unwilling to exercise supervision over EU-led military engagements in the ex-ante accountability phase. The British European Scrutiny Committee approved both operations a posteriori. The Italian Parliament had no say on Artemis. The French Parliament was involved through the use of the emergency examination procedure that required the President for the Delegation of the EU to approve operations as an individual. Factors shaping differential performance are discussed along with policy options.

EU Constitution Book
A helping hand in this research was VUB-student Marjan Vermeiren, who helped Giovanna with a lot of the administrative follow-up. In addition, she proved to be - yet again - a tremendous and vital support for the Institute in the preparation and execution of the move to new premises. We hope to see Marjan again soon, and wish her success with the finalization of her thesis!

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IES President elected as new Chairman of the Erasmus Hogeschool

Bart De Schutter
On 6 October, the Board of Governors of the Erasmushogeschool Brussel (EhB) elected IES President Prof. Dr. Em. Bart De Schutter as its new Chairman. De Schutter (°1937) has a perfect resumé for the job as previous Rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (1978-1982), former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Flemish Radio and Television (VRT), former Dean of the VUB Law Faculty (1974-1978) and member of the Data Protection Authority (since 1992). Since 2002 he has been president of the Institute for European Studies, and had been Director of the IES-PILC Programme on International Legal Cooperation for over 30 years. Prof. De Schutter wants to strengthen collaboration between the Hogeschool and the University, and aims at further expanding the school in the near future. The Erasmus Hogeschool is VUB’s partner in the recently created Brussels University Association.
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Summer School on “the European Decision-Making Process” 2005

Summer School
For the second year in a row, the Institute for European Studies organised a Summer School on the European Decision-Making Process, in collaboration with the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna and the University of Vienna. The Summer School 2005 attracted 17 students from 12 different countries, and took place, just like last year, one week in Brussels and one week in Vienna.

In the Brussels week, students became familiarized with the European institutions. They visited the European Commission, the European Council, the Committee of the Regions and the Social and Economic Committee. IES, PILC and VUB lecturers Theo Jans, Youri Devuyst and Richard Lewis gave the students further insights in the European Decision Making Process. They were assisted by IES researchers Ruben Lombaert and Frédérique Lambrecht and by external experts Vasco Cal (Commission) and Sven Biscop (Royal Institute for International Relations).

In addition, the 2005 Summer School aimed at confronting students with a “real life” exercise through a simulation exercise. The latter gave them insights into negotiation, consensus building and decision taking.

Students were assigned various roles and had to achieve certain objectives. They split up in a number of teams, representing EU countries, EU institutional bodies or international organisations. They were monitored on the results achieved, but also on the methods they applied, their attitude during the game, and the degree in which they managed to fulfil their objectives.

EU Constitution Book
EU Constitution Book
EU Constitution Book
In the simulation, students found themselves confronted with a humanitarian crisis in the central-African country of Wattilia, an imaginary former French Colony. The exercise was based on past international crises which the EU faced since the 1960’s. The simulation exercise was devised to include intense lobbying, refugees knocking on Europe’s door, elements of genocide, projected economic ruin and domestic political fall-out. Foremost, the projected crisis was percieved by students as imminent and measures needed to be taken.

According to a number of current and former EU officials, the exercise was quite realistic, although it may not have been how most students imagined EU decision-making. The team of students proved to be good EU decision-makers, as in the end, a compromise was reached.

Students traveled from Brussels to Vienna by train, to meet Gerhard Hafner (University of Vienna), Werner Neudeck (Diplomatic Academy), Alexander Egger (Court of Justice, Luxembourg) and Hubert Isak (University of Graz) at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. Students had lectures on EU monetary issues, CFSP, the role of the Court of Justice and the proposed changes in the decision-making process in the draft Constitutional Treaty. IES Senior Research Fellow Richard Lewis traveled along to further lecture on Migration and Asylum issues. Students received a certificate at the end of the Summer School.

Overall, students were pleased with both content, form and organisation of the Summer School. Particular praise goes to the organisational team, which means in full to IES secretary Nele Fasseel, without whom this endeavour would not have been accomplished. Although critical on the time constraints some of the exercises entangled, an overwhealming majority expressed themselves very positive about the quality of the lectures and the study visits. Ninety procent of students said that they would recommend the Summer School to their friends!

The feedback proves once again that the tandem IES - UW/DAK is a particularly strong one providing an original and qualitatively high formula for the study of the European Decision-Making Process. The IES is thus looking forward to organising a third edition of its joint Summerschool with the same outstanding partners next year.

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IES host for CIEE

ICEE Meetings
Between 6 and 11 June, the Institute for European Studies functioned as an academic partner to the Council for International Education Exchange (CIEE). This NGO held its first Brussels faculty seminar, although since 1990, it has run over 170 seminars worldwide, helping over 2,600 faculty and administrators from the U.S. increase their international awareness and transform their campus and curricula. The faculty seminars range from exploring contemporary Arab culture in Jordan, studying the legacy of war in Cambodia and Vietnam or analyzing Regional Identities in the European Context through the case of Catalonia. The Brussels seminar had "Globalisation" and the role of Europe as its theme. They will undoubtedly have a second edition in the Summer of 2006!

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WIPO/AEPPI International Symposium on Intellectual Property: a Strategic Tool for Economic Growth

Marketing Conference
In March of this year, IES researcher Kristien Hendrickx left for the golden sunshine of Ca�ro, not as your average tourist, but to follow the WIPO/AEPPI International Symposium on Intellectual Property. This symposium was organized by The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in cooperation with The Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and The Egyptian Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AEPPI)

In five sessions, speakers underlined the importance of the protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and IPR�s role in economic development, development of education and the spread of innovation. IPRs work at their best if both public and private sector invest in research and development and are supported by an inductive legal environment. Sessions included:

  • the economic value of IPRs
  • national strategies and policies for intellectual property leading to growth and development
  • IPRs and preferential trade agreements.
  • IPRs and the public policy domain.
  • IPRs in the digital age.

One of the speakers, Dr. Michael P. Ryan, addressed the importance of IPR in promoting technology transfer. Based on studies done by UNCTAD and the World Bank, he argued that countries where IPRs are best protected benefit from a higher level of trade, investment and licensed technologies. He concluded that effective IPRs are vital tools of knowledge-based economic development.

Dr. Ganguli focused on the importance of managing intellectual property rights and the importance of encouraging developing countries to move from defensive practice (which focus on filing) to offensive practices (litigation and management).

In summary, the conference covered the economic aspects of intellectual property rights rather than the legal aspects, which have been mainly discussed during the past years. Today, WIPO is trying to assist developing countries on how to benefit economically from intellectual property rights. It asserts that the intellectual property system not only protects the bearer, but it is also a tool for development and investment.

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Intellectual Property & Human Rights

Johan Kaes
On the 23rd and 24th of September, Geneva based 3D (Trade - Human Rights - Equitable Economy) organized an excellent Study Session on Intellectual Property and Human Rights. Since both subjects are seldom brought together in one discussion, for a lot of people this was a first encounter. IES researcher Johan Kaes, currently rearching the role of global intellectual property rights in access to information went.

The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), an annex to the WTO Agreement in which Intellectual Property (IP) is addressed, has lifted the IP regimes of developed Member States to �global standards�. This �one size fits all� approach has been intensified throughout the implementation of TRIPS. Multilateral and bilateral efforts have reduced the freedom left to Members in developing an IP regime that anticipates different policy demands. Recently, a clear emphasis has been put on the role IP can fulfill in trade matters, ignoring the broader social role it has to fulfill. It renders Intellectual Property and its users ignorant to Human Right obligations.

The first day of the Session addressed the theoretical aspects and tried to merge separate tracks on which IP and HR move. Points where cross talks can be held exist but, to really lead somewhere a change of attitude is required. The second day addressed some specific topics, such as Food, Health and Knowledge and Education, where neither the role of IP or the importance of a proper Human Rights oriented policy could be ignored. The session made clear that the interference of IP with Human Rights is not restricted to the AIDS medicine crisis. The effects of a strongly trade-based approach of IPR can be felt in every aspect of society and interferes with the protection of Human Rights in general. More initiatives to promote awareness hereof is more than needed.

3D deserves to be rewarded for bringing IP and HR together where previous efforts have too often failed. A marriage between Intellectual Property and Human Rights is not yet to be expected, but there is a reciprocal attraction between both of them. A full report of the Study Session will be published in the near future.

Meanwhile, more info can be found on the website of 3D:

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News in Brief

  • IES Senior Research Fellow Giovanna Bono was interviewed by BBC World on 14 September to comment on the NATO Summit in Berlin. The interview was aired on 15 September on "BBC World Today".
  • IES Executive Director Anthony Antoine moderated a debate on "Europe Quo Vadis" on 14 October 2005. Discussants were Senator Jean Marie De Decker and College of Europe collaborator Delphine Demey.
  • Marc Pallemaerts
    IES Senior Research Fellow Marc Pallemaerts announced his departure from the Institute by the end of the year. Prof. Pallemaerts, who is at the end of his 2-year contract, found new challenges as Senior Fellow and Head of the Environmental Governance Team at the Institute for European Environmental Policy, an independent, non-profit organization with offices in London and Brussels doing research and consultancy work on the development, implementation and evaluation of environmental and environment-related policies in Europe. Marc was and is an excellent scholar with whom we look forward to collaborate in his new capacity. The IES team wishes him the best of luck, and success in his further career !!
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International Relations and Complexity theory from Liverpool to Istanbul

Since its emergence in Cold War decades, European foreign policy (EFP) has evolved into an unpredicted complexity, which is today conceptualized as "more than intergovernmentalism, less than supranationalism". Consequently, "transformed" Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) has much contemplated the very nature of European (and EU) Foreign Policy.

Having acknowledged EFP in general and EU-FP in particular as "complex", "adaptive", and �systemic� here and there; FPA has not yet developed a conceptual framework that recognizes and studies EFP in general and EU-FP in particular as complex adaptive systems. Such a framework necessitates the meeting of FPA with the complexity theory (CT).

Mehmet Y. Tezcan
That said, IES researcher Mehmet Y. Tezcan prepared a paper entitled "European Foreign Policy Cooperation: Modeling the complex nature of EPC/CFSP framework" that introduces and applies the insights from complexity theory to/in the study of European Foreign Policy in general, and of EU-Foreign Policy in particular.

He presented his paper in the Politics & International Affairs panel organized by Profs. Samir Rihani and Robert Geyer, and chaired by Dr. Lee Miles at the Complexity, Science & Society Conference on 11-14 September 2005 at University of Liverpool, UK (see for details

In his paper, Mehmet points out the complexity problematique for foreign policy analysis in the study of European Foreign Policy. He raises questions on the methodology of analysis and explains why European Foreign Policy should be regarded as a complex adaptive system, that is a system that is (1) self-organised and self-sustained, (2) with an irreversible history, (3) without a single equilibrium point, (4) open ended and (5) holding elements that are irreducible to the components and emerged from feedback and interaction between large number of components.

He further follows social theory when arguing that states - inherent social structures - should not be personified as it is only through individuals occupying posts of responsability within state structures that states (and non-state actors for that matter) interact. He further refines this assertion by adding Realist Social Theory and what is called "Multi-Agent Systems simulation".

International Relations (IR) is the scientific study of macro-social phenomena. Various forms of economic, financial and political integration in different regions, evolution of security, human rights, environmental, trade regimes in global/sub-global scale, democratization, Europeanization of domestic institutions, Concert of Europe or Cold War systems of world order are all examples of those 'big, slow-moving, and invisible processes'. Hence, IR scholars, as social scientists, strive to capture and map causal mechanisms in these highly complex cases. But how could an IR scholar detect an underlying mechanism? This was the starting question for Prof. Dr. Gustaaf Geeraerts and Mehmet Y. Tezcan who presented their joint paper "Understanding and explaining international relations: Critical Realist modeling" in the panel Fresh Thinking in Theory III at the First Global International Studies Conference.

The World International Studies Committee (WISC) organized this event in Istanbul, Turkey at the Bilgi University, on 24-27 August 2005 (see for details

The joint paper which IES researcher Mehmet Y. Tezcan presented in the presence of Profs. Cerny, Hutchings, Jorgensen, Schemeil and Wight aims at introducing Critical Realist modelling (CRM) to IR. It also aims at discussing its methodological merits for the scientific study of macro-social phenomena.

The paper identifies two schools (the empiricist school and the rational choice school) that possess a distinctive modeling method and a radical movement that rejects both ontological reality of mechanisms and methodological ways to their detection. Whereas the empiricist school is inductive in nature, the rational choice school employs a deductive logic to explain international phenomena: mechanisms of rationality are always at work. The former employs instrumentally causal mechanisms to "save the appearances", whereas the latter sees states -and other actors- in international relations as interest-maximizing bargain-hunters. To them, any social outcome is the result of (collective or conflictual) interaction between these rational ‘men’.

The paper further explains Critical Realist Modeling through comparisons with the empiricist and rational choice models. CRM differs from the latter with its definition of causality. For the ‘human factor’ necessitates social causality to be time- and context-specific. In other words, the (social) world is complex, contingent, and non-linear as the complexity theory (CT) argues.

Both the empiricist school and the rational choice school are aware of capricious implications of these characteristics of social reality upon their explanation: while the former is forced to use always ceteris paribus clauses, the latter concedes that empirical evidence decides only about the applicability, not the correctness, of a rational choice model.

Attuned to the complex and non-linear nature of social reality, causality in CRM terms is of unobservable yet (possibly) real underlying generative effect that, when active, cause(s) observed/unobserved events. Hence, there is an ontological distinction between a cause factor and its empirical result. That is to say, CRM argues, although a causal factor has a transfactual nature, its impact depends upon time and context.

Because of this premise, CRM is built on a non-empiricist but empirical scientific method. This method is also called retroduction. It aims to build models of those underlying mechanism(s) through a dialectic mediation between empirical evidence and theoretical abstraction. In other words, CRM is developed through some natural necessity questions such as ‘how is this phenomenon possible?’ or ‘what must be the underlying mechanism like for a certain phenomenon to occur in a given time and context?’

CRM is different from the formal ones in the rational choice school for two reasons. Firstly, the components of the former have (possibly) changing agential powers in course of time. In this way, the model takes into account what-questions of constitutive theorizing in addition to why-questions of causal theorizing. The problem with formal models is that they take what-questions for granted, solely focusing on why-questions.

Second, CRM is, as mentioned, always 'context- and time-specific'. That is to say, same transfactual structures can generate different outcomes or different transfactual structures may lead to similar outcomes. In this way, the model answers how/why questions. However, formal models are universal (transfactual) in character, and their instrumentality, not correspondence to reality, is the way to 'test' them.

In the third part, the paper shows how to operationalize CRM in IR with an example.
Having evaluated how the empiricist and rational choice schools in IR constructed their respective balance of power models, the paper comes up with CRM of balance of power mechanism to explain international outcomes.

Mehmet concludes in their paper that CRM will lead IR scholars to better forms of explanation that is ‘attentive to the significance of big, long-term processes both in theory development and empirical work’.

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IES Team-Building Day

Team Building Day
On Friday 3 June, IES held its first Team Building Day. All researchers together with a majority of staff members teamed up in the Ardennes, at "Durbuy Adventures", for a day-long of cycling, archery and canooing. The activities commenced in the small hours of the day, as we "embarked" for Durbuy from the IES at 7 am. The physical exercise was a real change from the "intellectual" work for some of us, and many were tired but satisfied after a full day of exercise. It was a fruitful event, where all of us - whether located at the Faculty, the IES secretariat or the Senior Researchers building - learned to know each-other far better. We count on IES secretary and organizer Laïla Macharis to organize an as succesful and original "IES-Day" again next year!

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Fourteenth Issue

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New Scientific Director


Contributed to this Newsletter:
Anthony Antoine, Giovanna Bono, Kristien Hendrickx, Johan Kaes, Richard Lewis, Ruben Lombaert, Sebastian Oberthür, Mehmet Tezcan

Aaron McLoughlin, Stephen Kingah & Rhiannon Williams

Pictures courtesy of IES (picture on Summer School Vienna by PILC-student Malika Norova, picture of Karel De Gucht by VUB External Relations Department Tomas Mels)

Published by
Anthony ANTOINE, IES, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels