Beyond the EU enlargement paradox

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 03/14/2024 - 10:48

Optimising opportunities  and minimising risks

This Clingendael report analyses the so-called ‘EU enlargement paradox’, which refers to the notion that EU enlargement is both inevitable and impossible at the same time. It is inevitable for geostrategic reasons, given Putin’s Russian imperial revisionism. But at the same time, EU enlargement is impossible for political institutional reasons. At the moment, neither the eligible candidate countries, nor the EU at large, nor the electorates in key EU Member States are ‘enlargement fit’. How could the Dutch government deal with this paradox? 

This paper aims to set the scene for the forthcoming debate in the Netherlands on the future of EU enlargement. To serve as a basis for risk analysis, it provides a systematic overview of various trade-offs on five policy domains: 1) geopolitics, security and defence; 2) rule of law and democracy; 3) economy and budget; 4) migration and free movement of persons; and 5) EU institutional structure.

The report draws on findings from the latest Clingendael Barometer survey, which analysed Dutch public opinion towards enlargement along these dimensions.


René Cuperus - Senior Research Fellow, Clingendael Institute

Saskia Hollander - Senior Research Fellow, Clingendael Institute 

The walls in Tbilisi speak out / Reuters


Submitted by Inge on Tue, 02/20/2024 - 11:42

Confrontatie en samenwerking in een wereld van wisselende coalities

De wereld van morgen is er één van barsten en blokken. In deze wereld van groeiende belangentegenstellingen zullen grootmachten vaker botsen in het politieke, economische en mogelijk militaire domein. Competitie en confrontatie wordt dominanter ten opzichte van coöperatie. Te midden van deze rijk geschakeerde grootmachtcompetitie is er een verhoogd risico op de uitbraak van regionale conflicten uitgevochten door kleine en middelgrote mogendheden.


Koen Aartsma - Senior Research Fellow

Monika Sie Dhian Ho - General Director

Adája Stoetman - Research Fellow

Roman de Baedts - Junior Research Fellow 


Getting Them On Board

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 02/20/2024 - 11:21

Series: Guarding the Maritime Commons

Partners and Avenues for European Engagement in Indo-Pacific Maritime Security

How should Europe strengthen its engagement with the Indo-Pacific? While the continent is highly dependent on trade from the region, it has limited capabilities to protect its interests in the face of growing Sino-American competition. This new HCSS report examines how European states can engage in the Indo-Pacific by deepening cooperation with regional powers.

The Indo-Pacific comprises many actors, which are positioned along key chokepoints and share geopolitical and geoeconomic interests in protecting crucial sea lines of communication with Europe. This report does two things to establish pathways for deeper European engagement with Indo-Pacific states:

  • Based on relevance for maritime security and political affinity with European countries, it assesses the suitability of regional states as partners. Besides the usual suspects Australia, Japan and South Korea, it identifies an “inbetweener” group of countries, with whom cooperation can be fruitful but is not guaranteed, and states with whom engagement is unlikely to yield beneficial results.
  • It then zooms in on the “inbetweeners” to determine pathways for deepening ties. By comparing bilateral relations between different European and Indo-Pacific states along security, trade and investment, and capacity-building and infrastructure, the authors identify relative strengths and weaknesses of European states. Finally, they also contrast Europe’s involvement with that of China and the United States.

Based on the analysis, the report recommends to strengthen European collaboration with more ambivalent Indo-Pacific states, with a focus on trade and investment and capacity-building in the short- to medium-term.


Paul van Hooft, Benedetta Girardi and Alisa Hoenig - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies: Europe and the Indo-Pacific Hub (EIPH)

Other contributors: 

Giovanni Cisco 


Campagnes tegen hybride dreigingen: een handleiding

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 02/20/2024 - 10:57

Campagnes tegen hybride dreigingen: een handleiding

Europese samenlevingen zijn doelwit van hybride aanvallen van buitenlandse actoren, met als doel om democratische processen te beïnvloeden en kwetsbaarheden uit te buiten. Als reactie hierop zoeken overheden, waaronder de Nederlandse, naar een proactieve benadering tegen hybride dreigingen om niet langer een figuurlijke schietschijf te zijn voor de acties van autoritaire regimes. Hoewel zij uiteenlopende strategieën hebben opgesteld, blijft counter hybride samenwerking vaak nog rudimentair en bij gelegenheid georganiseerd. Deze HCSS notitie door Gerben Bakker en Tim Sweijs biedt daarom een handleiding voor het opstellen en uitvoeren van counter hybride campagnes.


Gerben Bakker en Tim Sweijs - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies 

Met dank aan:

Tara de Klerk en Tom Draaijer


EU Geopolitical Approach in the Western Balkans

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 02/05/2024 - 14:48

Towards an EU Geopolitical Approach on Transformative Terms in the Western Balkans

This policy brief assesses the EU response after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, asking how the EU can pursue a geopolitical EU enlargement approach while maintaining its transformative objectives. The brief first provides a concise assessment of the instruments that the EU employs to strengthen democratic resilience and to counter Russian influence in the three countries. We argue that the EU has a comprehensive and effective range of instruments available, even if Russia has maintained its ability to project especially ‘soft’ power. However, when looking at the overall EU political approach towards these countries, we observe negative effects of the manner in which geopolitical imperatives for enhanced engagement are currently converted into strategy and discourse. More specifically, an insufficiently overarching firm and confident EU political approach towards the Western Balkans undermines the transformative potential of the EU’s impressive toolbox for the region. The brief concludes that by becoming more confident and upfront, sticking to its values and making use of negative conditionality besides offering positive incentives, the EU can pursue a more effective geopolitical approach on transformative terms towards the Western Balkans.

The Author

Wouter Zweers - Clingendael Institute 

Milena Rossokhatska - PhD Candidate at the University of Amsterdam 


Cohesion policy: A management audit

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 01/31/2024 - 14:48

This Policy Paper addresses a paradox in cohesion policy. Despite being one of the most evaluated EU policies, a culture of transparent, independent, and effective auditing has not emerged. The question needs to be asked why evaluations do not lead to change in outputs and the required improvements. Evidently there are (national) interests that block reforms. Yet, this does not provide a sufficient explanation as in other EU policy areas comparable difficulties existed before new structures were implemented and the issues were solved.

Competition for EU funds is increasing as new strategic priorities have emerged with enlargement on our doorstep, the war in Ukraine, and the needs to move towards sustainable growth and new energy infrastructures. To remain viable and credible, effectiveness, and legality of EU spending must be properly accounted for. Despite the many adaptations in governance, the EU added value (effectiveness) of cohesion funds (35% of the EU budget) is still hard to establish. These developments trigger further scrutiny of the effectiveness and legality of EU spending. 

Member states need to deliver reliable assurances. Independent national authorities can audit each other in teams comparable to practice in other EU policy areas. The EU Commission can use these transparent assurance reports for its annual statements. ECA produces the Annual Report on the EU’s finances to the Council and EP, and ECA writes Special Reports. In its activities it can involve national auditors to strengthen a European culture of independent auditing. For inspiration, attention should be paid to subsidiarity-based governance of monitoring and enforcement in other EU policy areas.

For the time being there seems to be little sense of urgency nor an appetite for structural reforms of cohesion funds. Few have an incentive to reform nor an appetite for strengthening independent auditing. Yet, when it comes to the assessment of national and EU added value, it is doubtful whether the current system of input and output indicators, and reports from the national authorities and from the EU Commission, offer sufficient and reliable insights.


The Author

Adriaan Schout - Clingendael Institute


Germany’s Zeitenwende

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 01/31/2024 - 14:44

 The consequences for German-Dutch defence cooperation

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has led to a paradigm shift in the realm of European security and defence. It triggered an unprecedented wave of defence investments throughout Europe. Ironically, Putin thereby set in motion something that consecutive American presidents could not accomplish: raising defence budgets so that European countries would bear a greater share of the financial burden of Europe’s defence. 

One of the most remarkable announcements was the Zeitenwende speech by the German Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz on 27 February 2022. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine represented a watershed moment in post-Second World War European history and, in response, Scholz announced that Germany would invest an additional € 100 billion in defence. The question, however, remains whether this announcement would lead to an actual turnaround in German security and defence policy and whether the investments will have a structural or temporal nature. Moreover, one may ask which output will be realised with the extra money available. 

In a similar vein, the question arises what the implications of Germany’s Zeitenwende are for defence cooperation between Germany and its partners. This applies in particular to the Netherlands, considering the far-reaching integration between the German and Dutch land forces. Germany and the Netherlands have a decades-long history of defence cooperation, bilaterally as well as in NATO and EU operations.

This report addresses the potential consequences of the German Zeitenwende for Germany’s role in European security, and more specifically for the German-Dutch defence cooperation. 


The Author

Dick Zandee - Clingendael Institute 


European defence industry: urgent action is needed!

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 01/18/2024 - 11:37

By invading Ukraine in February 2022 Russia has thrown the European security order into the waste bin. In essence, the Western reaction has been ‘we will not fight, but we will support Ukraine in its war effort’. Western countries have delivered a wide variety of weapon systems. Although this support has been vital for Ukraine’s defence, it has resulted in minimum levels of American and European arms and ammunition stocks. As a consequence, the burning question is how to ramp up the defence industrial production, in particular as the armed confrontation in Ukraine has developed into a war of attrition. 

The EU has launched several initiatives to support member states in procuring replacement equipment and ammunition to be delivered to Ukraine. At the same time, European countries have to strengthen their own defence capabilities in order to increase their share of the burden of NATO’s collective defence, while also realising more European autonomy. In the EU, there is broad political support for the strengthening of the European Defence Industrial and Technological Base, not only for economic reasons but as a necessary precondition for Europe’s security. However, despite this urgent call, industrial production is lagging behind, endangering both Ukraine’s war effort and the strengthening of European security and defence. 

This policy brief assesses how the EU is responding to the urgent challenge of adapting its defence industry to the requirements resulting from the new security environment. The central question is what should be done in order to change gear for increasing the production of ammunition and weapon systems. After assessing the consequences of the changed security situation for European capability needs, the author addresses the steps so far taken by the EU and the challenges lying ahead as the war will continue in 2024 and perhaps even beyond. The final section presents ten concrete action lines to overcome the obstacles for ramping and speeding up European defence industrial production.



Dick Zandee - Clingendael Institute


What the Indo-Pacific means to Europe: trade value, chokepoints,

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 12/21/2023 - 12:49

How secure is European maritime trade with the Indo-Pacific? Sea lines of communication between the two regions pass through several chokepoints. This new HCSS report by Benedetta Girardi, Paul van Hooft and Giovanni Cisco traces their role in global supply chains, and offers practical recommendations to enhance maritime security.

The report is published by the HCSS Europe and the Indo-Pacific Hub (EIPH), and part of the series Guarding the Maritime Commons.



Benedetta Girardi, Paul van HooftGiovanni Cisco. With contributions by Alisa Hoenig.


Campaigning in the Grey Zone: Towards a Systems Approach to count

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 12/21/2023 - 12:46

While the theory and practice of military campaigning has been refined for centuries, there is no dedicated guidance on how to design and implement campaigns to counter hybrid threats for modern security practitioners across government. Meanwhile, existing military planning guidance is not suited for planning complex, non-military counter-hybrid campaigns.


The authors

Sean Monaghan - Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

Tim McDonald - Pardee RAND Graduate School