Europeanising health policy in times of coronationialism

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 11/10/2020 - 12:01

The future of EU health policy after the COVID-19 pandemic changed conventional thinking

The COVID-19 crisis has prompted the European Union (EU) to rethink its health policy, or rather those of its policies that influence the health policies of member states, as those largely comprise a national competence, and sometimes a subnational one. During the pandemic, EU institutions and EU member states identified issues where more EU coordination was desirable, for instance with regard to stockpiling and joint purchasing of medical products. Much is still unclear, however, about how a broadly supported revised EU health policy should look, particularly as this has traditionally been a field where EU citizens and EU member states saw little added value in the EU becoming involved. A newly proposed EU4Health programme saw a setback right at its inception, with its proposed funding being cut drastically by the European Council, even though EU health expenditure will continue to rise. This policy brief explores the future of EU health policy after the COVID-19 pandemic changed conventional thinking.

Download the policy brief



Louise van Schaik (Head of Unit EU & Global Affairs, the Clingendael Institute)

Remco van der Pas (Senior Research Associate, the Clingendael Institute)

Watch online debate ‘The Covid Crisis: what EU Role in Health?


Europe’s Digital Decade?

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 10/21/2020 - 13:47

Navigating the global battle for digital supremacy 

On 16 September 2020, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen set a clear goal for the European Union (EU) and its member states: We must make this ‘Europe’s Digital Decade’

Aiming to contribute to improved European policy-making, this report discusses (best) practices of Asian countries and the United States in the field of digital connectivity. It covers a wide range of topics related to digital regulation, the e-economy, and telecommunications infrastructure.

Findings show that the EU and its member states are slowly but steadily moving from being mainly a regulatory power to also claiming their space as a player in the digitalized economy. Cloud computing initiative GAIA-X is a key example, constituting a proactive alternative to American and Chinese Cloud providers. Such initiatives, including also the more recent Next Generation Internet (NGI), are a necessity to push European digital norms and standards, but also assist the global competitiveness of European companies and business models.

Download report.


Brigitte Dekker (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)

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

This report complements the July 2020 report Unpacking the Digital Silk Road, which analysed Chinese efforts in the digital domain, and the May 2020 policy brief Digital connectivity going global: The case for digital Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Watch their recent webinar



From Blurred Lines to Red Lines

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 10/05/2020 - 14:48

How Countermeasures and Norms Shape Hybrid Conflict

Conflicts between states have taken on new forms and hybrid operations play an increasingly important role in this volatile environment. Belligerent powers introduce a new model of conflict fought by proxy, across domains, and below the conventional war threshold to advance their foreign policy goals while limiting decisive responsiveness of their victim.   

Given these hybrid threats, how should Western states respond? Are there any tools available Western states have that can draw red lines into blurred lines of hybrid conflict? 

Download report.

This paper series argues that the West does have one powerful tool that can help shape hybrid threat actors. That tool is international norms. Norms set international expectations of acceptable state behavior – yardsticks which the international community can leverage when calling out unscrupulous states.  

But norms do not develop out of nothing. This report applies the norm lifecycle theory, which analyzes norm development from emergence to cascade and internalization, to five case studies to to better understand the real-life strategies, tools of influence, dilemmas, and trade-offs that empower state-led norm processes. The report not only considers how norms develop, but also what role they play within the counter-hybrid posture of a state, and how they, in conjunction with countermeasures, shape adversarial hybrid behavior. 

As many norm entrepreneurs often seem to underestimate, the pursuit of countermeasures may lead to unintended second-order normative effects that undermine their long-term strategic interests. For instance, overt cyber pre-deployment in adversary systems can introduce a norm of mutually assured debilitated, while overt offensive cyberspace operations in response to disinformation can weaponize information in the same ways as Russia. This scenario is explored in-depth in the second case study of this report dealing with Russian disinformation campaigns. 

This report also explores four other case studies on Russian, Chinese, and ISIS hybrid conflict actions. The case studies are published individually as a paper series and compiled in a full report with complete overview of the theoretical underpinnings of norm development and the key insights that emerge from the analysis, as well as the concluding remarks and policy recommendations. The policy recommendations explore ways for the Netherlands and its partners to help promote and enforce norms of restraint beyond classic like-minded groups of states while being cognizant of unintended consequences.  

Please find an overview of the separate case studies below: 

Case Study 1: Protecting Electoral Infrastructure from Russian cyber operations

Download Case Study | Download Factsheet

Case Study 2: Responding to Russian Disinformation in Peacetime

Download Case Study | Download Factsheet

Case Study 3: Countering ISIS Propaganda in Conflict Theatres

Download Case Study | Download Factsheet

Case Study 4: Responding to Chinese Economic Espionage

Download Case Study | Download Factsheet

Case Study 5: Upholding Freedom of Navigation in the South China Sea

Download Case Study | Download Factsheet


Louk Faesen, Tim Sweijs, Alexander Klimburg, Conor MacNamara and Michael Mazarr (HCSS)


Adjusting the Multilateral System to Safeguard Dutch Interests

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 09/30/2020 - 10:21

This study attempts to shed light on the demise of multilateralism and the consequences for the Netherlands. It explains the changing nature of multilateralism and its value for the Netherlands and considers its future. Preserving the multilateral system requires understanding the value of multilateralism. It also entails developing a new approach to international cooperation. Therefore, the study proposes a new narrative to justify efforts to maintain, strengthen, and adapt the multilateral system. In a series of Annexes, the study explores in detail the challenges facing multilateral organizations that are especially important to the Netherlands: the World Trade Organization (WTO), the UN Security Council (UNSC), and the UN’s human rights bodies.

Download report

Click here for the Dutch summary.


Rob de Wijk, Jack Thompson, and Esther Chavannes (HCSS)


Contributors: Tim Sweijs, Jelle van der Weerd, Irina Patrahau, and Conor MacNamara (HCSS)


From legal to administrative subsidiarity

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 09/14/2020 - 10:29

Diagnosing enforcement of EU border control

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.

Download report. 


Prof. Dr. Adriaan Schout (Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute, Professor of European Public Administration at the Faculty of Management Sciences of Radboud University in Nijmegen)

Ingrid Blankensteijn (intern at the Clingendael Institute)


De Impact van Covid-19 op Europese Veiligheid

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 08/24/2020 - 16:28

Wat zijn de gevolgen van Covid-19 voor de Europese veiligheid? Hoe zal de coronacrisis de internationale machtsverhoudingen veranderen? Welk spoor trekt de virusuitbraak door bestaande bondgenootschappen? Welke lering kunnen we trekken uit de gevolgen van pandemieën uit het verleden? En wat zijn de belangrijkste te verwachten veiligheidsdynamieken voor de komende vijf jaar?

Covid-19 is in de eerste plaats een versneller van al langer zichtbare veiligheidstrends in en aan de randen van Europa op het gebied van democratie, goed bestuur en mensenrechten, sociale veiligheid, politieke stabiliteit, interstatelijke competitie en geopolitieke rivaliteit.

Het beteugelen van het virus vereist maatregelen zonder precedent en zal uiteindelijk grote sociale en politieke gevolgen hebben, ook voor Nederland. De coronacrisis kan in de toekomst leiden tot erosie van democratische normen en principes, het vergroten van de maatschappelijke polarisatie en het destabiliseren van kwetsbare landen aan de randen van het Europese continent. Bovendien gooit de pandemie olie op het vuur van interstatelijke competitie.

Hoe kan Nederland deze aanzienlijke gevolgen het hoofd bieden? Onze notitie benadrukt de volgende aandachtspunten voor het Nederlands buitenland- en veiligheidsbeleid:

  • Nederland moet zich internationaal blijven inzetten voor democratische normen, goed bestuur en de bescherming van mensenrechten, speerpunten van het Nederlands beleid;
  • Het voorkomen van verdere escalatie van maatschappelijke onrust en politieke instabiliteit in en aan de randen van Europa vergen Nederlandse inspanningen en inzet op het gebied van conflictpreventie, conflictstabilisatie en conflictindamming;
  • De mondiale weerbaarheid tegen een volgende pandemie zal versterkt moeten worden. Deze weerbaarheid stoelt op voldoende reactiecapaciteit van de zorg; op R&D-capaciteit om vaccins te ontwikkelen én te produceren; en op het verbeteren van internationale early warning capaciteiten.

Download notitie


Tim Sweijs (Director of Research, HCSS)

Femke Remmits (HCSS)

Hugo van Manen (HCSS)

Frank Bekkers (Director of the Security Program, HCSS)


China and the EU in the Western Balkans

Submitted by Inge on Fri, 07/31/2020 - 12:37

A zero-sum game?

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.

Download report


Wouter Zweers (Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute)

Vladimir Shopov (Associate Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) Sofia and an Adjunct Professor in Politics at Sofia University and the Diplomatic Institute of Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Frans-Paul van der Putten (Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute and coordinator of the Clingendael China Centre)

Mirela Petkova (former Junior Researcher at the Clingendael China Centre)

Maarten Lemstra (intern at the Clingendael Institute)

Construction of bridge of a new highway through the Moraca canyon in Montenegro

Unpacking China’s Digital Silk Road

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 07/27/2020 - 13:41

Aiming to contribute to a better understanding of China’s Digital Silk Road (DSR) and its implications for Europe, this Clingendael Report analyses the concept, objectives and activities of the digital subset of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China Standards 2035 (a blueprint to set global standards for the next generation of technologies), as well as Beijing’s cybersecurity law and push for digital sovereignty, call attention to the DSR’s normative dimensions. China’s moves in the digital domain warrant closer scrutiny.

The European Union and its member states need to act on the DSR’s economic and normative challenges to European industrial competitiveness and European ideas about digital sovereignty, individual privacy, a data-driven society and free flows of data.

Download the report.



Brigitte Dekker (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)

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


The European Commission on the brink of a green recovery

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 07/20/2020 - 11:09

Will it be able to deliver?

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.

Read policy brief

The author

Paul Hofhuis (Senior Research Associate at the Clingendael Institute)


Sentinel of the Caribbean: US Foreign Policy towards Venezuela

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 07/16/2020 - 16:03

Even though US foreign policy primarily affects Venezuela itself, the impact is also felt in neighbouring countries. Amidst the continuation of the Venezuelan crisis, the US government has further tightened its harsh stance towards the country, aggravating existing implications of the crisis and thereby also the spillover effects in the region. This includes the Dutch Caribbean islands, in particular Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire, which find themselves in close (geographical) proximity to Venezuela. Consequently, the question arises how US foreign policy towards Venezuela can threaten and potentially undermine the security interests of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and, subsequently, how the Netherlands should deal with that.

To provide an answer to this question, this strategic alert will address the following issues. Firstly, we will provide historical background information on the Venezuelan crisis and US-Venezuela relations. Next, we will elaborate on the current US foreign policy towards Venezuela. The subsequent section will then delve deeper into the topic, by outlining the political, economic and humanitarian impact of American foreign policy and by explaining which security interests of the Kingdom of the Netherlands are most affected. The alert will conclude with a summary and several recommendations.

Read the strategic alert.

The authors

Adája Stoetman (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)

Anna Zeverijn (Research Intern at the Clingendael Institute)

President Trump delivers remarks to the Venezuelan American Community / Wikimedia Common