Recent Publications

Serena D’Agostino

For those at the crossroads of racism and poverty, such as many European Roma, the COVID-19 pandemic acts as an amplifier of existing inequalities and discrimination. The coronavirus outbreak stunningly emphasizes the fragilities of our contemporary democracies. Current social and political structures are in fact proving inadequate to face the urgencies of those who live ‘on the margins’ of our cities, communities, educational, labor and health systems.  

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Yijia Huang

As Coronavirus (and the disease caused by it, COVID-19) spreads throughout the globe, reported cases of racial slurs and violent attacks have risen dramatically. Some victims have been harassed verbally or physically on the streets or in public transports; others were prohibited from going to schools or workplaces. Many victims, wearing face masks or not, shared their experiences of being stigmatized and discriminated against because the perpetrators associated this disease with race, or a certain group of people who are perceived as carriers of the virus. Since this disease started in Wuhan China, Chinese people bear the brunt of prejudice and racism, as well as other East Asians. 

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Florian Trauner

The COVID-19 pandemic is a game-changer for asylum seekers seeking to come to, or who are already in the European Union (EU) – certainly so in the short-term but most likely in the medium- to long term as well. It is becoming increasingly difficult for  asylum seekers to get access to rights and opportunities. However, this is not a claim holding equal value for all EU member states. Portugal, for instance, has provided asylum seekers (and other migrants) with temporary access to full citizenship rights. This temporary status allows them to use the country’s healthcare facilities similarly to Portuguese citizens. 

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Luc Soete

Like so many other researchers sitting at home, watching the news about COVID-19, I have been impressed at how virologists, epidemiologists and other medical experts have caught the ears of national policymakers, business leaders and the general public. Suddenly, scientific facts and evidence bask in the trust of public opinion and fake news is once again ‘fake’ in the real sense of the word: unreliable, not to be trusted by anyone. Something climate experts have been dreaming of for decades, not to mention my own, down-to-earth economic pleas to public authorities to invest more in public research.

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Raul Rios

“Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless”. The passage is from Miguel de Cervantes’ timeless masterpiece, Don Quixote de la Mancha. In this part of the novel, Don Quixote takes windmills to be towering giants and attacks them, after doing so he realizes that they were nothing more than windmills, but is unrelentingly stubborn, insisting they were turned back into windmills by his magician archnemesis Friston. Some 400 years later, some people have started tilting at giants again but this time the giants are in the form of 5G radio towers. 

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Peter Slominski
Florian Trauner

Abstract

In the wake of the 2015/2016 migration crisis, EU policy-makers have urged returning more irregular migrants. In order to achieve this, the EU has adopted a series of non-binding documents for European administrations (such as the EU Return Handbook) and agreed on informal return deals with countries of migrants’ origin including Afghanistan. This article argues that the EU’s shift towards soft law has not altered the EU’s return policy in a profound way. Yet, it has managed to ‘convert’ EU return policy by emphasizing a particular interpretation of existing hard law (towards more restrictive practices and a stronger focus on ‘efficiency’). The soft law approach has also allowed policy-makers to signal action in times of crisis at lower legislative and sovereignty costs.

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Ilke Adam
Florian Trauner
Leonie Jegen
Christof Roos

ABSTRACT

Studies on EU–Africa migration cooperation often focus on the interests of the EU and its member states. But what do African states themselves seek to achieve with respect to migration policy? This article presents an in-depth look at Ghana and Senegal, two stable West African democracies, and assesses which types of migration policies they support, and why. We suggest that a distinction ought to be made between West African policymakers’ more domestically-driven migration policy goals (to cooperate more closely with the diaspora or creating legal migration channels, for example) and internationally-induced ones (such as the reinforcement of border control capacities). Each type of policy interest is defended by an increasingly diverse set of national actors whose interests often – but not always – converge. This distinction should be considered as a continuum, as most West African migration policy preferences are driven by domestic as well as international factors, albeit to diverging degrees. Our findings demonstrate that migration policy-making in countries targeted by international cooperation can only be studied as an ‘intermestic’ policy issue, reflecting the dynamic interplay of international and domestic interests.

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At least 120 countries have asked South Korea for COVID-19 test kits and other materials to fight against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. South Korean biotech firms are shipping the kits everywhere from Europe and the United States to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The secret to South Korea’s test development and manufacturing success lies in Daejeon. This city is home to Daedeok Innopolis, South Korea’s main R&D cluster, including for biotech. Developed since the 1990s, South Korea’s biotech industry is a textbook case of the country’s industrial policy. It is based on two pillars: public-private cooperation and continuity across administrations. This is what Daedeok Innopolis and South Korea’s COVID-19 test success embody. 

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Gustav Meibauer, Linde Desmaele, Tudor Onea, Nicholas Kitchen, Michiel Foulon, Alexander Reichwein, Jennifer Sterling-Folker

Abstract

This forum presents a snapshot of the current state of neoclassical realist theorizing. Its contributors are self-identified neoclassical realists who delineate their version of neoclassical realism (NCR), its scope, object of analysis, and theoretical contribution. From the standpoint of NCR, they contribute to and reflect on the “end of IR theory” debate. NCR has come under criticism for its supposed lack of theoretical structure and alleged disregard for paradigmatic boundaries. This raises questions as to the nature of this (theoretical) beast. Is NCR a midrange, progressive research program? Can it formulate a grand theory informed by metatheoretical assumptions? Is it a reformulation of neorealism or classical realism or an eclectic mix of different paradigms? The forum contributors argue that NCR, in different variants, holds considerable promise to investigate foreign policy, grand strategy and international politics. They interrogate the interaction of international and domestic politics and consider normative implications as well as the sources and cases of NCR beyond the West. In so doing, they speak to theorizing and the utility of the theoretical enterprise in IR more generally.

 

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April 2020
annual report

In 2019, the Institute for European Studies was honoured to bring four PhDs to fruition: Sara Silvestre (PhD in Political Science), Max Jansson (PhD in Law), Carla Mascia (PhD in Political Science) and Stephan Klose (PhD in Political Science). The IES organised 59 events and produced 104 publications. 

The Institute continued to expand and now counts 108 people or 52.4 full-time equivalents. In 2019, IES scholars took part in a total of 175 media appearances. Moreover, the Institute was successful in obtaining externally funded projects. At the end of the year, no less than 35 external projects were conducted by IES scholars, whereas an additional 14 projects were funded through our own budget. 

IES research output contributed significantly to a range of prominent policy developments, like the EU and Flemish policies to achieve CO2 neutrality in the coming decades.

The Institute’s leading advanced Master programmes deliberated 40 new graduates that have now obtained life membership to our 1250+ alumni group.

In 2019, the IES as well as the VUB strengthened its links with the University of Warwick and United Nations University – UNU-CRIS. Also, intra-VUB collaboration was further increased, in particular between the IES and Vesalius College.