Will the European hero please stand up?

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 03/25/2021 - 14:49

An essay on European global narrative strategy

A more strategic European narrative is called for. That is, European leaders should more actively engage with the stories they tell and are being told about Europe’s place in the world. This essay problematises the EU global narrative in order to define ways it can be made more competitive in today’s geopolitical discursive arena. It juxtaposes aspects of the European narrative with the discursive moves of China, in order to synthesise elements of a new global narrative for Europe that provides a common sense of purpose with third countries, and that is both competitive and timely. It answers three distinct questions:

  • How does the European global narrative currently function?
  • Which aspects of the European global narrative are put under pressure by its discursive competition with China?
  • And how can EU institutions and European member states contribute to a stronger global narrative strategy?

This essay argues that European leaders should embrace the language of particularism, letting go of universalist value narratives. The European Way of Life is a potentially powerful but underused narrative, through which European leaders can more forcefully explain the existential worth of human rights, democracy and rule of law to Europe. It must dare to speak the language of history, using the ancient civilisational roots of European society as a treasured resource for projecting powerful stories. This means casting as our hero ‘Europe’ the ancient civilisation, rather than the EU as a young political project. The costs of strategic autonomy ought to be explained as the collective sacrifices needed to protect European values. It would be wise to recognise that European society itself is a hero forged out of hegemonic struggle in order to overcome it. It has little need of enemies, but must emphasise time and again the costs of giving in to our own vices.

Read the full essay (longread). 


Ties Dams (Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

Monika Sie Dhian Ho (General Director, the Clingendael Institute)


A new momentum for EU-Turkey cooperation on migration

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 03/16/2021 - 14:23

This policy brief considers how to move forward with the (financial element of the) EU-Turkey statement agreed in 2016, under which the first tranche of 3 billion euros will end mid-2021. In order not to reverse the progress achieved and to continue the work on improving the resilience of the 4.1 million refugees in Turkey, there is an urgent need for the European Union and Turkey to agree on a new financial framework. One that builds on the current, generally successful framework – the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRiT) – but which would divide the burden between Turkey and the EU more equally. Both blocs would, moreover, do well to look into the possibilities of extending the area of cooperation to Idlib. In that area, which is currently under Turkey’s military control, almost three million internally displaced persons (IDPs) currently lack adequate shelter and essentials, which could potentially lead to various displacement scenarios. Neither of those decisions will be easy and will require serious support from all EU member states, but the fact is Turkey remains essential in pursuing the EU’s core interest: preventing another refugee flow into Europe.

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Nienke van Heukelingen (Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)


Strategic Monitor 2020-2021

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 03/03/2021 - 14:53

Geopolitical Genesis 

Dutch Foreign and Security Policy in a Post-COVID World

Onderzoekers Danny Pronk en Jack Thompson van Instituut Clingendael en het Den Haag Centrum voor Strategische Studies (HCSS) overhandigden vandaag de Strategische Monitor “Geopolitical Genesis: Dutch Foreign and Security Policy in a Post-COVID World” aan de minister van Defensie, Ank Bijleveld.

Met hun jaarlijkse rapport geven de beide denktanks inzicht in de trends en ontwikkelingen in de wereldpolitiek. Het belangrijkste thema van dit rapport is dat dit hét moment is voor de Europese Unie om zijn status als ontluikende wereldmacht te verstevigen en dat Nederland hierbij een actieve rol moet vervullen.

Er komt geen “return to normal” van de trans-Atlantische betrekkingen, ook niet onder President Biden, zo stellen de onderzoekers. Europa zal meer verantwoordelijkheid moeten nemen voor haar eigen defensie en een onafhankelijk buitenlands beleid moeten voeren. Nederland kan hier een overbruggende rol spelen, maar dat vraagt om meer Europese samenwerking. Dit is nodig om de invloed van een relatief klein land als Nederland te kunnen vergroten, maar ook om één vuist te kunnen vormen tegen de verdeel- en heerstactieken van China. Terwijl China een belangrijke economische partner blijft, is het nodig om met een verenigd Europees antwoord te komen op de steeds agressievere houding van zowel China als Rusland.

De Strategische Monitor geeft aanbevelingen voor het Nederlandse buitenland- en veiligheidsbeleid om deze gevarieerde uitdagingen het hoofd te bieden.

  1. Een meer assertieve geopolitieke opstelling om de Nederlandse én Europese belangen en waarden te beschermen.
  2. Een meer assertieve en vooral uniforme houding ten opzichte van China.
  3. Een meer uitgekiende en ook in dit geval een uniforme benadering voor de omgang met Rusland.
  4. Nederland moet vanwege de historisch nauwe banden met de VS ernaar streven een trans-Atlantische brugfunctie te vervullen op specifieke beleidsterreinen. Ook moet het binnen de NAVO streven naar een gelijkwaardiger lastenverdeling met de VS en meer doen om de vrede en veiligheid in de eigen regio te bevorderen.
  5. Nederland moet strategisch samenwerken met andere belangrijke middenmachten, zowel op het gebied van handel als veiligheid.
  6. De ontwikkeling van een aanpak is nodig voor de omgang met niet-statelijke actoren. Daarin wordt een effectief engagement gekoppeld aan ontmoediging van de onvermijdelijke keerzijden van samenwerking met niet-statelijke actoren die uit eigenbelang handelen. Als laatste, en misschien wel belangrijkste, moet Nederland voortvarend de samenwerking aangaan met andere actoren om de gevolgen van de wereldwijde klimaatverandering aan te pakken.

Deze aanbevelingen zijn niet uitputtend maar bieden een globale blauwdruk voor het toekomstige Nederlandse buitenland- en veiligheidsbeleid, zowel om de status van de EU als ontluikende wereldmacht te helpen verstevigen als om de complexe uitdagingen van nu en de komende tien jaar doeltreffend te kunnen aanpakken. Vanuit het gezichtspunt van dit rapport is dat onontbeerlijk in de geopolitieke genesis van Nederland, aldus de onderzoekers.

Download de Monitor 2020-2021.



Danny Pronk (Research Fellow, Instituut Clingendael)

Jack Thompson  (Den Haag Centrum voor Strategische Studies (HCSS))


The Eastern Partnership: Three dilemmas in times of troubles

Submitted by Inge on Fri, 01/15/2021 - 14:33

This report assesses three policy dilemmas that need to be considered by the Netherlands and the European Union in order to make the EaP more effective. First, the EU needs to reconcile its geopolitical interests with its normative aspirations. Second, the added value of the EaP’s multilateral track should be deliberated with consideration of the differentiation in bilateral relations with EaP countries. Third, the EU will need to consider how to deal with protracted conflicts, hybrid threats, and other security challenges in the EaP region.

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Wouter Zweers (Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

Bob Deen (Senior Research Fellow, Coordinator Russia & Eastern Europe Centre, the Clingendael Institute)

Iris van Loon (Intern, the Clingendael Institute)


Economic governance from rules to management

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 01/04/2021 - 15:41

The required complementary governance agenda draws on experience in success EU policies areas and is aimed at converging national institutions in the framework of EU networks. When it comes to the SGP, rules are important but they are meaningless without ownership for the intentions behind the rules. This will demand a switch in roles from the European Commission and in particular from DG ECFIN and the European Fiscal Board (EFB). In essence, the proposed new approach is based on the subsidiarity-based distinction between first and second-order control. The member states have to supervise themselves and the Commission has to monitor whether they have the required independent institutions.

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Adriaan Schout (Senior Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

Jens Kuitert (Intern, the Clingendael Institute)


Dealing with China on High-Tech Issues

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 12/22/2020 - 15:25

Views from the US, EU and like-minded countries in a changing geopolitical landscape. 

As President-Elect Joe Biden enters the White House, what are the opportunities for EU–US cooperation in the trade, high-tech and digital domains? Together with like-minded partners, the transatlantic partners aim for deepened and renewed engagement in the bilateral and multilateral context. They need to deliver on broadening multilateralism to new areas and, in certain cases, new approaches.

This Clingendael Report aims to contribute to a reorientation of the EU in the broad field of economic security, in the transatlantic context and with Japan, India and Australia.

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Maaike Okano-Heijmans (Senior Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

Brigitte Dekker (Junior Researcher, the Clingendael Institute)



Flow security in the information age

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 12/08/2020 - 13:04

In a hyper-connected world, the ability to influence or control flows is key to new coercive strategies. This HCSS report aims to contribute to a better and more detailed understanding of the notion of flow security and of the policy options for both the Netherlands and Europe to effectively contribute to flow security to protect vital interests and values. 

This report considers three cases – each from a different perspective:

  1. 5G Networks and Standards from an economic angle.
  2. The continuous development of the F35 fighter plane from a military perspective.
  3. Entanglements in the financial system through an institutional lens.

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Frank Bekkers (Security Program Director, The Hague Center for Strategic Studies) 

Paul Verhagen (Data Scientist, The Hague Center for Strategic Studies)

Flow Security Report

The Netherlands as a champion of EU enlargement?

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 12/08/2020 - 12:45

This policy brief examines how the Netherlands can credibly propagate its priorities regarding EU enlargement in the context of the EU’s revised accession methodology. While this methodology warrants increased engagement from EU Member States in the accession process, that does not mean Dutch priorities on Rule of Law and democratisation will automatically be addressed, nor that support for the accession process or its effectiveness is guaranteed.

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Wouter Zweers (Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute) 

Iris van Loon (Intern, the Clingendael Institute) 

EU enlargement Rutte

European Strategic Autonomy in Security and Defence

Submitted by Inge on Fri, 12/04/2020 - 13:56

Now the going gets tough, it's time to get going. 

Based on the current situation some argue against European strategic autonomy, out of a fear that it could lead to an American withdrawal of its military support to the European continent. On the opposite side one can find proponents of a European Union with full strategic autonomy to play its part in the global competition with the great powers (China, Russia and the US), implying once again that the concept is wider than only being autonomous in security and defence.

The ‘against school’ seems to deny the increasing doubt about the US security guarantee to Europe and neglects the need for the EU to pursue its own strategic interests, backed up with military forces when required. The ‘pro school’ assumes too easily that the EU can overcome its disunity and that serious military shortfalls will be rectified within a couple of years.

Aiming for “a certain degree of autonomy” might be a way out, but this raises several questions such as: what degree of strategic autonomy, for what purposes and which related military capabilities are needed? Furthermore, are Europe and the EU synonyms?

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Dick Zandee (Head Security Unit/Senior Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

Bob Deen (Senior Research Fellow/Coordinator Russia and Eastern Europe Centre, the Clingendael Institute)

Kimberley Kruijver (Junior Researcher, the Clingendael Institute)

Adája Stoetman (Junior Researcher, the Clingendael Institute)


Sino-Russian relations in Central Asia: Multi-dimensional chess

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 12/01/2020 - 14:07

Are Sino-Russian relations as robust as they are claimed to be? Is it really a stable ‘strategic partnership’ or might there also be critical underlying tensions at play that could potentially spell “trouble in paradise”?

Globally, there are currently three prominent regions – East Asia, the Arctic and Central Asia, – where Chinese and Russian geopolitical interests intersect, leading to cooperation and the establishment of ‘strategic partnerships’ but also creating the potential for competition and conflict. Of those prominent regions, both actors consider Central Asia to be their strategic backyard. It is relevant to assess the different dimensions of their relationship in the region. Looking at Central Asia could potentially tell us something about the trajectory of the Sino-Russian relationship at a global level. This strategic alert includes key takeaways with suggestions for optimizing future EU involvement.

Read Strategic Alert


Goos Hofstee (Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

Noor Broeders (Intern, the Clingendael Institute)