Europe in the world

April 2010

Security and liberty or security versus liberty?

A major research project on European security policies has identified an urgent need to continue safeguarding fundamental rights and civil liberties. Focusing on the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) but also addressing external security (e.g. in relation to the war on Iraq), the research project provides a critique of what it calls the ‘illiberal practices of liberal regimes’ in the European Union and puts forth a sweeping set of proposals to address them. Among the study’s proposals is a call to establish a Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and to restructure the European Commission’s Directorate General for Justice, Freedom and Security, thereby creating a new directorate general for fundamental rights. While the restructuring of the DG for Justice, Freedom and Security is not currently foreseen, the first recommendation proposed by the study contributed to the establishment of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights.....more

May 2010

GARNET: The EU role in global governance

Efforts to link Europe’s diverse research capabilities are gaining momentum with the help of an EU-supported project called GARNET. A network of excellence comprised of 42 research centres and universities across Europe, GARNET focuses on the role of the EU in global governance, regionalisation and regulation. Since the start of its activities in 2005, the five-year project has spawned a broad set of integrating programmes and initiatives that serve the EU priority of establishing a European Research Area (ERA)....more

July 2010

European Union needs dialogue with civil society in conflict zones

Respect for democracy and human rights are necessary cornerstones of EU's foreign policy aimed at promoting peace, security and prosperity in international affairs. However the most appropriate way to promote democracy and human rights in situations of conflict close to Europe has been contested. The work of a research network called Human Rights in Conflicts: The Role of Civil Society (SHUR) suggests that Europe should not draw back from involvement with civil society organisations (CSOs) in conflict zones. Rather, the EU should keep emphasising the rule of law – namely international law - while continuing contact with CSOs in three ways – dialogue, training and (in some cases) funding......more

September 2010

Organised crime and corruption threaten human security in the Western Balkans

Organised crime in the Western Balkans has stronger links to corruption than to terrorism, according to research conducted by the HUMSEC project. It suggests that these connections have a large impact on human security. In its continuing role in this field, the EU must look more to the causes of problems than the punishment, and encourage greater local involvement.......more

September 2010

Incorporating human and minority rights into EU’s conflict management

Accommodating the principle of equal treatment (human rights) and the recognition of cultural diversity (minority rights) is a major challenge for conflict management. The MIRICO project has analysed minority and human rights during ethnic conflict in the Western Balkans. It concludes that, if the EU intends to strengthen its role in conflict management, it needs better co-ordination, more communication with other organisations and a streamlining of policy instruments.......more

October 2010

The European Court of Human Rights: Improving implementation of judgements

A team of European researchers has published a catalogue of policy recommendations aimed at improving the way countries implement judgements by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). After examining implementation issues in eight EU Member States and one candidate country (Turkey), the JURISTRAS consortium concludes that while serious shortcomings exist, these failings can be addressed through various administrative, legislative and judicial reforms at the national level. The consortium argues that the ability of the ECtHR judgements to enhance human rights protection in Europe ultimately depends on the democratic commitment of national governments. Implementing the proposed reforms, the researchers suggest, could enhance protection of human rights and help reverse the dramatic rise in case loads at the Strasbourg Court.......more

December 2010

Corruption in Europe – What do people really think?

The Crime and Culture research project explored the perceptions of corruption held by six societal groups: politicians, the judiciary, police, media, the business world and civil society groups, such as anti-corruption NGOs. Its findings indicate that policies to address corruption must be adapted to fit socio-cultural conditions and perceptions of corruption.......more

December 2010

Better data needed to inform crime prevention in Europe

New research suggests that there has been a move away from approaches to crime prevention policies that seek to achieve social inclusion towards exclusive approaches focused on punishment. To foster more inclusive approaches to crime prevention, strategies are needed that strengthen existing social controls.......more

January 2011

Multi-stakeholder partnerships need greater local involvement to fulfil their peace-building potential

There are a growing number of multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) in post-conflict settings ('post' being a phase that may involve re-emergence of conflicts in some cases or more settled peace agreements in others) that seek to enhance human security and peace building efforts. Such partnerships bring together different stakeholders in the peace building process to promote a holistic approach to (post)-conflict reconstruction and better governance. Although many MSPs involve multiple organisations, as well as representatives from the public sector, they often fail to encourage local participation and ownership. The MultiPart research project analysed MSPs in three post-conflict countries and recommends that the EU develops guidelines on engaging with MSPs to ensure less domination by international actors.......more

February 2011

Toward a just and durable peace: EU policy considerations

EU efforts to promote peace are being informed by insights gained during a recently concluded research project coordinated by Lund University. The three-year project explored practical and theoretical aspects of peace-building and yielded numerous recommendations for policy makers. Along with concrete suggestions for strengthening peace-building strategies, the researchers offer support for the development of a “new doctrine” for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy. They also urge the EU to further develop its crisis management capacities, and review its appointment and deployment of peace envoys.......more

March 2011

EU policies needed to address climate change and conflict

The European Union started to address the possible impact of climate change on international security in 2008, namely in the joint document of the EU High Representative and the European Commission on ‘Climate Change and International Security’1. The United Nations, including its Security Council, also devoted attention to such issues. Further empirical evidence and conceptual analysis is needed to address this policy concern, and assess whether and how climate change impacts represent 'threat multipliers' which cause or exacerbate conflict, and whether paths towards cooperation have been and can be implemented to tackle common problems arising from scarcity of resources.......more

April 2011

Understanding violent conflicts from the point of view of individuals, families and communities

Understanding the interactions associated with violent conflict is a major analytical challenge with profound implications for policy making. Research in this area to date has focused largely on macro, institutional factors, such as the conduct of the state at national and international levels, paying little attention to important dynamics at the micro level, such as how ordinary people make a living under conditions of violent conflict, or decide to engage in violence. The five-year research project, MICROCON, is working to address this deficit.......more

May 2011

Diaspora communities should be involved in conflict resolution

European societies host a variety of diasporas that can be instrumental in preventing and resolving conflicts in their country of origin. These transnational communities offer unique opportunities for constructive dialogue, opportunities that could be exploited more effectively. But how exactly should the European Union and its Member States go about doing that? This question was at the heart of the INFOCON research project.......more

May 2011

Diasporas: How to make the most of their peace-building potential

Working with diaspora communities to improve conditions in their home countries constitutes a considerable challenge for policy makers and practitioners alike. While the constructive potential of such cooperation may be widely recognised, there is little practical advice available for those who seek to develop it. Moreover, the process of engaging diaspora communities is not without risks. Fortunately, those seeking advice on how best to involve these communities in peace-building and development efforts now have a valuable point of reference.......more

June 2011

The future of European democracy

Democracy has historically developed at a national level but, with the increasing internationalisation of politics, does the concept need re-working? This is the question posed by the RECON research project. Having established three ideal type models of European democracy, the project is evaluating their viability as possible options for the EU - with the aim of identifying strategies to strengthen democracy and rectify deficits.......more

June 2011

As war is ‘privatised’ should private contractors be regulated at EU level?

The role of the EU in relation to licensing, and regulating, private military and security services needs to be clarified to ensure better compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL), according to the PRIV-WAR research project. Although in most EU Member States some form of regulation of these services exists, there are important differences among them. Regulatory initiatives have also been launched at the international level. The key issue is whether and how this patchwork of norms can be effectively applied and whether there is a need for additional regulatory measures at the EU level.......more

July 2011

In pursuit of peace: How can the EU defend human rights and humanitarian law in armed conflict?

New research has proposed a set of practical measures for how the EU can take action to protect and promote human rights and humanitarian law during armed conflict in non-member states. Also included in the recommendations are tools for raising awareness of human rights and humanitarian law violations, and ways to encourage non-member states to adhere to international human rights and humanitarian law instruments.......more

October 2011

Better co-ordination between international and domestic courts could improve response to mass atrocities

The EU and the international community have made a large financial investment towards the establishment and operation of major international criminal tribunals which aim to prevent perpetrators of mass atrocities from escaping prosecution, and improve the enforcement of international law. But the contribution of these tribunals has been disappointing, and has covered only a limited number of mass atrocity situations. The number of international prosecutions has been small, dealing with only a fraction of the number of individuals suspected of perpetrating international crimes, with a large number of those accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) still at large.....more

January 2012

Special issue on the EU and multilateralism

This SCOOP special issue takes a thematic approach to the EU and multilateralism and presents a 'cluster' of three projects that have developed distinct but complementary insights on this theme......more

January 2012

What is multilateralism?

Multilateralism is the lifeblood of the European Union and the means to achieving global peace, stability and prosperity, the cornerstones of EU policy. The concept of multilateralism is, in its 'minimalist' definition, a minimum of three or more states working together to tackle common issues, such as trade, financial and economic instability, terrorism, or climate change. But multilateralism throughout history has not been easy to attain and even its relevance for modern global politics is complex. It is currently under intense debate in the academic and political communities......more

January 2012

Multilateralism and the EU

The EU has been championing multilateralism in areas ranging from climate change to security and trade, and such commitment is also enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. It is therefore necessary that the EU evaluates its successes and failures, past and present, in order to be an effective global multilateral player now and in the future. With this in mind, the MERCURY, EU-GRASP and EU4Seas projects each assessed a different aspect of the EU’s contribution to multilateralism, each drawing on a multidisciplinary spectrum of law, economics, international relations and political science.....more

January 2012

Main Findings: Obstacles and opportunities

MERCURY - In general terms, the EU does not follow a uniform approach to multilateralism. Many different strategies have been employed, depending on the actors involved and the specific policy issue......more

January 2012

New direction needed for multilateralism

MERCURY, EU-GRASP and EU4Seas projects highlight a number of ways for the EU to be more effective in its approach to multilateralism. Drawing on extensive empirical and theoretical work, the researchers have identified issues that EU policy makers should consider. These are briefly summarised below and the full text can be accessed at:

January 2012

Where does the EU go from here?

To bridge the gap and preserve its place on the world stage, the EU needs to ensure that it not only keeps abreast of the changing playing field, but that it is also a driver of those changes. Because the concept of multilateralism itself is changing, the findings of the MERCURY, EU-GRASP and EU4Seas projects indicate that the practice of multilateralism within modern global politics is extremely challenging......more

March 2012

Responding to the crisis: Paths to stability

Policy makers seeking guidance in the current financial crisis may wish to consult the findings of the PEGGED research project. Analysis and advice on vital aspects of the crisis, such as sovereign debt and the banking system, has been produced by the team of researchers from seven European institutions, led by David Vines from The University of Oxford......more

May 2012

Energy and minerals: Does the EU’s strategy to resource security need to change?

Competition, collaboration and conflict have characterised the oil, gas and mineral industries since the 19th century. The early conclusions of the POLINARES research project are that the availability of resources in Europe up to 2040 will depend on a new regime of economic, political and technological factors that are hard to predict, requiring a broader and more flexible policy approach from the EU......more

June 2012

World views of the EU vital to enlargement and boundaries debates

Understanding how Europe is viewed, both by European Union Member States and by external countries, is vital for issues such as the enlargement process, setting EU boundaries, trade and external economic influence. The EuroBroadMap research project believes the EU could better succeed on the world stage in terms of diplomacy, finance and trade, if it had a coherent and shared vision of its place in the world, both inside and outside Europe. Unlike other world powers, the EU faces major difficulties in attempting to combine the visions of Member States, each of which has a different historical, political and cultural heritage......more

September 2012

Rethinking EU foreign policy for the ‘Asian Century’?

With a rapidly growing economy, Asia is emerging as a major player on the world stage and the EU needs to reassess how it views the region, as both a partner and a competitor. But poor communication in the past has meant that research on Asia has not always reached EU policy makers. The IDEAS project has made some critical first steps towards bringing European policy makers and the Asian studies research community in Europe closer together. Looking to the future, the researchers have also proposed new, proactive ways for diplomats to stay in tune with rapidly evolving Asian politics, including specialising in one region and using social media......more

September 2012

Clarifying the EU’s external role in a multi-polar world

One of the key challenges faced by the European Union in its external relations is the extent to which it can act in a coordinated way towards third countries and global networks. The GR:EEN research project seeks to clarify, at a time of rapid change in the global order, whether and why Member States wish to act separately, or in concert, in their relations with external partners. The project’s analysis focuses on the extent of EU power, and its recognition and legitimacy to act in three key areas: human rights and security, energy and the environment, and trade and finance.....more