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  • Author: Tony van der Togt
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: A global multilateral rules-based order, supported by a pro-active and interventionist United States, is gradually being replaced by a more fragmented world, in which geopolitics and geo-economics are becoming the dominant factors and universal rules, norms, and values are increasingly questioned. For the EU such developments are particularly challenging, as it has long perceived itself as a post-Westphalian soft power, mainly projecting its norms and values in its relations with both its direct neighbors and the world at large. A more isolationist US, a more assertive Russia, and the growing global influence of China have raised questions about the EU’s place and role in the world, which become even more pertinent after Brexit. Therefore, Commission President Von der Leyen intends to lead a “geopolitical Commission” and we are hearing calls for European strategic autonomy or even strategic sovereignty.
  • Topic: International Relations, European Union, Geopolitics, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Remco van de Pas
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: The global scale of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its response is unprecedented. This Clingendael Report applies Dani Rodrik’s framework of Globalization’s political trilemma to analyze the current response to the pandemic. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis he argued that any recovery measures would have to balance off state power with economic integration and democracy. Based on values of democratic governance and human dignity this report charts principles on how to move forward beyond the emergency phase into recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The report makes a plea to Dutch and European policymakers for safeguarding and upholding democratic values in the response to and recovery of the Covid-19 emergency. The political trilemma indicates that a renewed primacy of state sovereignty, combined with hyper-globalization being on the defense, requires political resistance and bold choices to uphold democratic governance principles for the urgent and difficult policy actions required during the recovery. The momentum is now to act and uphold a united European solidarity response and leadership. If the EU fails to do so, it risks disintegration and marginalization in a volatile multi-polar global order. Covid-19 is not merely a ‘crisis’ that will pass by. This is a new permanence that requires a redefinition of the European social contract while recognizing its interconnectedness with the rest of world.
  • Topic: Globalization, European Union, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Dragana Bajić, Wouter Zweers
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: In the context of the global crisis caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, free, impartial and professional media reporting has become ever more important. This represents an issue in Serbia, considering its ongoing decline in media freedom as confirmed by independent international reports. The conditions for practising professional journalism have been degraded for years and the Serbian media sector has faced numerous challenges, including political control over the mainstream media, low financial sustainability of media outlets and related high dependence on state funding, as well as a lack of transparency of that funding. Obscure media ownership and privatisation issues are yet another reason for concern. Additionally, the safety of journalists is problematic as the number of pressures, threats and attacks has grown since 2013, but the impunity phenomenon remains present. All these factors lead to a general state of censorship and self-censorship in the media in Serbia. This Clingendael report presents the most prominent problems that the media sector in Serbia faces today. It argues that the flawed media landscape is the major factor leading to poor and biased reporting on topics related to the EU, the US and Russia. It observes media bias as a phenomenon in which media coverage presents inaccurate, unbalanced and/or unfair views with an intention to affect reader opinions in a particular direction. The analysis places a special focus on what such reporting means for the EU, given its strategic and communication goals for Serbia and the Western Balkans region.
  • Topic: European Union, Media, Freedom of Press
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia
  • Author: Adriaan Schout, Ingrid Blankesteijn
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Enforcement is a major challenge in the EU’s multilevel system. Solving the tensions between sovereignty and interdependencies requires internalisation of the core values and objectives embodied in EU legislation. Internalisation depends on strong involvement in all phases of policy-making through teamwork. States in the EU’s multilevel administrative system have to regard themselves as fully responsible for EU policies. High levels of interaction among experts in enforcement contribute to the required professional cultures. In organisational terms, a multilevel (subsidiarity-based) administrative system is based on cooperation in which the centre (the Commission and/or EU agencies) assumes essential managerial roles without eroding the integrity of the member countries. Subsidiarity is generally seen as a legal principle. This paper presents the practical governance consequences of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is well grounded in the EU treaties. Yet, the implications are little understood by policymakers when it comes to creating the conditions for effective EU policies at the shop floor of national administrations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Law Enforcement, Border Control, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Wouter Zweers, Vladimir Shopov, Frans-Paul van der Putten, Mirela Petkova, Maarten Lemstra
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This Clingendael Report explores whether and how China’s approach to the six non-European Union (EU) countries of the Western Balkans (the WB6) relates to EU interests. It focuses in particular on the question of whether China’s influence affects the behaviour of the WB6 governments in ways that run counter to the EU’s objectives in the region. China engages with the Western Balkans primarily as a financier of infrastructure and a source of direct investment. This is in line with China’s main strategic objective for the Western Balkans – that is, to develop the Land–Sea Express Corridor, a component of its Belt and Road Initiative, aimed at improving China–EU connectivity. This report proposes a number of actions based on recognising the developmental needs of countries in the Western Balkans, and accepting that China’s economic involvement is inevitable and potentially beneficial for such developmental needs. In particular, the EU should maximise accession conditionality as a tool to influence the conditions under which China is involved in the region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Direct Investment, European Union
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Eastern Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Paul Hofhuis
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Greening the huge Corona recovery investments and the revised Multi Annual Framework is marketed as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The European Commission is keeping its Green Deal ideas at the heart of its Next Generation EU package, but meanwhile the recovery measures of individual Member States are aimed mostly at ensuring the jobs and businesses of the grey economy. Moreover, an east-west divide is emerging over the Commissions’ green ambitions. Successful implementation will certainly depend on the steering authority the Commission might acquire. This policy brief analyses the effectiveness of key steering instruments available to the Commission. And it analyses how this effectiveness is influenced by the political context of the European Council.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, European Union, Green Technology, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Alban Dafa, Wouter Zweers
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: In recent years the Netherlands has voiced security-related concerns about the involvement of Albanians nationals in organised crime in the Netherlands. These concerns culminated in a request to the European Commission to suspend visa-free travel for Albanians to the EU. This policy brief argues that the current Dutch approach does not provide the best means to address issues of organised crime, such as drug trafficking, related to Albanian nationals. It identifies several inadequacies in the crime data used to substantiate the Dutch position and the way Dutch authorities publicly communicate them. It posits that greater bilateral cooperation beyond the EU accession framework could improve efforts to fight transnational organised crime effectively. The opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania may offer a window of opportunity to formulate a constructive agenda of cooperation beyond the formal EU enlargement framework. This policy brief was written by Alban Dafa from the Institute for Democracy and Mediation and Wouter Zweers (the Clingendael Institute).
  • Topic: Security, Law Enforcement, Transnational Actors, Organized Crime
  • Political Geography: Europe, Albania, Netherlands
  • Author: Maaike Okano-Heijmans
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Connectivity is high on the EU’s agenda, but its digital dimension remains underdeveloped. The short paragraph on digital in the EU connectivity strategy is telling. The EU’s distinct approach to digital connectivity – with a focus on the internal market, rule-making and development – differs from similar strategies, particularly China and its Digital Silk Road. "Now is the time to act on digital connectivity's practical as well as strategic elements of hard infrastructure and business operations." Needed, now, is a comprehensive strategic vision that spurs action on all three practical elements of digital connectivity – namely, telecommunications infrastructure, business and regulation – and gives strategic guidance in the political and even securitized sense, and not only from a market perspective. Read the full Policy Brief by Senior Research Fellow Maaike Okano-Heijmans.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Infrastructure, European Union, Digital Cooperation
  • Political Geography: China, Europe
  • Author: Paul Hofhuis
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This is the second Clingendael Policy Brief on climate policy development in the Netherlands. The first 'Are the Dutch going Green' was published in January 2019 and dealt with the political context and policy proposals made between autumn 2017 and the end of 2018. This policy brief focuses on the most recent developments until mid-September 2019. During this period the Dutch Parliament adopted a Climate Bill, provincial elections were won by a climate-sceptical party, and political agreement was reached on a comprehensive package of climate policies: the national Climate Agreement. This agreement, referred to as the ‘biggest refurbishment of the Netherlands since the Second World War’, was pre-cooked in an extensive negotiating process between government and civil society. The policies target especially the industrial, energy, transportation, housing and agriculture sectors. A key element of the societal debate focused on the costs of climate policies and how they should be allocated. In order to hammer out a political deal, the Dutch government had to change key assumptions of its constituting coalition agreement of 2017, and adjust some of the proposals developed by civil society, notably those favoured by industry. A lesson learned from the Dutch case is that setting ambitions may be relatively easy, but translating them into effective climate action is a tougher job, particularly when political decisions have to be taken on who will pay for what.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Treaties and Agreements, Green Technology, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Europe, Netherlands
  • Author: Ana Uzelac
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: European Union (EU) policies towards Africa have in the past years experienced a shift away from forging relations based on trade and development, to cooperation based on and measured by the successes of joint migration management. This shift has been producing often controversial outcomes for the EU, African countries and migrants themselves. Just under four years since the pivotal Valetta Summit on migration, the evidence base of these policies’ poor human rights record is growing, as is the evidence base on their localised adverse economic and societal impact. The impact of EU policies on the regional integration processes in Africa – once a pillar of the EU’s Africa strategy – has, however, not yet been sufficiently documented. But the emerging evidence and policy analysis strongly suggest that the EU policies in West Africa have the power to create incentives and even localised policy outcomes that could in the medium term challenge ECOWAS commitments to freedom of movement, and in that way also likely slow down the processes of regional economic and political integration. Paradoxically, the EU policies aimed at curbing migration may thus also end up slowing down the development processes in West Africa that the EU perceives as one of the key approaches to tackling the root causes of migration.4 It may also lead to a weakening of the existing economic coping mechanisms within these countries, and thereby potentially also to increased migratory pressures. This policy brief, by Ana Uzelac, looks at the emerging patchwork of evidence around the impact of EU migration policies on regional integration in West Africa, with a view to offering initial advice to policy-makers on how to prevent the outcomes that could slow down the economic development of the countries of West Africa, further weaken the EU’s human rights record abroad and undermine the long-term goal of sustainable managing migratory pressures on the continent. Download publication.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration, European Union, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, West Africa