Consortium Leader: Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’
Consortium Member: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
Subcontractor: Royal Institution of International Affairs (Chatham House)

Overcoming EU dividing lines in the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 04/05/2022 - 14:29

Last year saw the 10th anniversary of the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. While leading to results on technical matters, political normalisation of the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo has not been achieved. As part of a broader study on EU foreign policy effectiveness, this policy brief discusses the ways in which EU internal factors have hampered the EU’s effectiveness in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. Specifically, the paper assesses the positions and influence of EU member states vis-à-vis one another and the European institutions, asking how contradictions could be overcome in the future. This assessment is placed in the wider context in which the dialogue takes place, taking into account the state of EU enlargement and foreign power influence.

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Authors

Wouter Zweers, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute
Myrthe de Boon, intern at the Clingendael Institute

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All eyes on Ankara

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 03/29/2022 - 14:42

A scenario exercise focused on the 2023 elections

Over the years, foreign policy has become a source of tension in the European Union’s relationship with Turkey. Although the EU has repeatedly disapproved of Ankara’s (military) interventions in Syria, Libya and Iraq as well as in the Eastern Mediterranean region and the South Caucasus, it has so far not been able to counterbalance Ankara’s actions. In that light, Turkey’s 2023 elections serve as a crucial moment. Seen through the lens of two theoretical scenarios – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the People’s Alliance win the elections, versus Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and the Nation Alliance win the elections – this policy brief provides an insight into the instruments the EU has at its disposal to influence and/or respond to Ankara’s potential future foreign policy. It shows that while neither scenario will be hassle-free, the EU has most room to manoeuvre and can make best use of its instruments, ranging from diplomatic engagement to military cooperation, in a situation where Kılıçdaroğlu and the Nation Alliance win the elections in 2023.

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Authors 

Nienke van Heukelingen, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute

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The EU as a promoter of ‘stabilitocracy’ in the Western Balkans?

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 02/08/2022 - 17:58

Through its enlargement policy, the EU seeks to foster democratisation in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, also called Western Balkans six (WB6). Despite years of efforts, the EU’s policies have not brought about the expected change. The enlargement process has lost both efficacy and political momentum. Instead of experiencing decisive democratic reform, the WB6 have slowly developed into ‘stabilitocracies’: countries with obvious democratic shortcomings that at the same time claim to work towards democratic reform and offer stability.

The report identifies eight flaws in the EU’s strategies, policies and their implementation that are believed to contribute to stabilitocracy formation:

  1. The EU’s overly technical approach to enlargement fails to foster deep political and societal transformation.
  2. A lack of clarity in rule of law definitions hinders the adequate transposal of EU values.
  3. Inadequate reporting on reform progress dilutes actual political realities in the WB6.
  4. The EU often fails to speak out against and act upon standstill or backlash, implicitly offering tacit support to autocratic tendencies instead.
  5. The EU regularly proves unable to reward progress because it is unable to find common understanding among its member states, thereby harming its credibility.
  6. An overly leader-oriented approach towards the WB6 reinforces and legitimises the position of Western Balkan political elites who use the EU’s public endorsement to reinforce their grip on society.
  7. Party political relations between political families in the EU and their WB6 counterparts lead to undue support for WB6 parties even when they display non-democratic behaviour.
  8. A lack of interim timelines leaves the EU unable to monitor reform progress and hold governments of the region accountable for not carrying out necessary democratic reforms.

In each of the WB6 countries, concrete cases exemplify how EU influence has unintentionally contributed to stabilitocracy formation and what factors have determined whether the EU approach has been constructive or not. The technical approach is the most prevalent flaw in the case studies. Examples range from the EU’s inability to harmonise the interests of different ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina, structural weaknesses in the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), the failure of technical safeguards to counter blurred boundaries between branches of power in Montenegro, an overly technical focus in progress reports on democracy and rule of law reforms in North-Macedonia, and an overly technical fixation in the application of the revised methodology in Serbia.

To avoid the traps of further stabilitocracy entrenchment, we put forward recommendations and critical reflections on how to improve the EU’s role in the region. Recommendations include focusing more on genuine feedback to WB6 governments, better reporting on the state of progress, enhancing communication with citizens, and specifying benchmarks while accompanying them with more tangible timelines.

However, fixing the technical process is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the EU accession process and its democratisation agenda for the Western Balkans. Therefore, the EU and its member states need to seriously consider proposals for a further overhaul of the enlargement process in order to allow for a staged accession trajectory for the WB6. At the same time, the EU could speed up engagement with the WB6 beyond the enlargement framework in order to not lose grip in a region subject to increasing great-power competition. Lastly, it is recommended that the Netherlands takes further action to substantiate its ambitions as a critical but engaged member state.


Authors

Wouter Zweers, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute
Giulia Cretti, Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute


Read online report.

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Beyond Turkey’s ‘zero problems’ policy

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 01/19/2022 - 15:18

Motives, means and impact of the interventions in Syria, Libya and the South Caucasus


Since the Arab uprisings in 2011, but especially after the failed coup d’état in 2016, Turkey’s foreign policy has shifted from ‘zero problems’ to the pursuit of strategic depth and autonomy in its neighbourhood. In 2020, Syria, Libya and the South Caucasus became three theatres for Ankara’s new hard-power tactics, a policy that may well be here to stay (at least until the elections in 2023).

This policy brief explores the strategic motives, the means of intervention and the impact of Turkish operations in these three conflict areas. While Turkey’s strategic considerations, modalities and consequences vary greatly from case to case, certain parallels can be drawn. They reveal an overall pattern of a much more assertive Turkey that is increasingly willing to deploy a combination of political and military means to secure its strategic objectives in its immediate neighbourhood.


Authors

Nienke van Heukelingen, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute
Bob Deen, Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute

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An ever closing union?

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 12/01/2021 - 14:25

Ramifications of further integration between Belarus and Russia


The Union State of Russia and Belarus was forged in the 1990s through a series of bilateral treaties but has largely remained a paper tiger – at least until now. For well over two decades Belarusian President Lukashenko has had a complicated love-hate relationship with the Kremlin, milking the Russian Federation for energy subsidies and other economic benefits while simultaneously zealously guarding his country’s sovereignty and shielding its state-owned enterprises from Russian takeovers. Although co-operation in the military domain has advanced considerably, the more far-reaching provisions of the Union State, such as a joint constitution, monetary union and a single energy market, have never materialized.

While Belarus has generally aligned its foreign policy outlook with the Russian Federation and acceded to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, at various moments Lukashenko tried to keep his geopolitical options open as his relations with the Kremlin deteriorated. Among other things, he sought closer relations with the European Union following the 2008 Georgia conflict and the 2014 Ukraine crisis. The EU, in turn, has alternated between defending its democratic values by imposing sanctions on Lukashenko and his regime for human rights abuses, and then lifting those again a few years later, hoping to lure Belarus away from Russia’s sphere of influence.

These hopes proved to be in vain. The Presidential elections of August 2020 and their repressive aftermath have again led to a turning point in Belarus’ relations with the West and with the Russian Federation. Relying on Russian support to remain in power and facing a series of European sanctions, Lukashenko is now again under pressure by the Kremlin to make far-reaching concessions and to advance the integration of Belarus and Russia within the Union State framework. As both the stability of the Lukashenko regime and the outcome of the integration process remain uncertain, this report identifies six scenarios for the future of Belarus and further elaborates the consequences of four of them.

Authors

Bob Deen, coordinator of the Clingendael Russia and Eastern Europe Centre (CREEC) and Senior Research Fellow at the Security Unit of the Clingendael Institute
Barbara Roggeveen, Research Associate at the Clingendael Institute
Wouters Zweers, Research Fellow at the EU and Global Affairs unit of the Clingendael Institute

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko talk during a meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia July 13, 2021. © Reuters

Gedeeld belang bij circulaire migratie

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 06/24/2021 - 14:29

Naar duurzame partnerschappen

Migratie is de belangrijkste bron van bevolkingsgroei in Nederland. De Nederlandse bevolking groeide door immigratie met ruim 67.000 mensen in 2020. De meesten van hen kwamen uit andere Europese landen. Door de pandemie is het aantal immigranten overigens fors minder dan in 2019. Maar ondanks corona zal bevolkingsgroei door immigratie weer toenemen, verwacht het CBS.

Uitdaging voor het nieuwe kabinet

Immigratie staat hoog op de agenda in de politiek, maar ook in de samenleving speelt het onderwerp. Migratiedruk op Europese buitengrenzen vanuit het Midden-Oosten en Afrika vinden Nederlanders de grootste bron van zorg voor de veiligheid van Europa, stelde Clingendael vast in een representatief opinieonderzoek afgelopen januari. Tegelijkertijd wordt er, als gevolg van de coronapandemie, rekening gehouden met een economische crisis in Afrika, met nieuwe grote aantallen illegale migranten als gevolg.

Om meer controle te krijgen over migratie heeft Nederland belang bij goede migratiesamenwerking met landen van herkomst en transit. Zij spelen een cruciale rol in het tegengaan van illegale migratie en bij terugkeer van uitgeprocedeerde asielzoekers.

Circulaire migratie kan aan zo’n migratiepartnerschap bijdragen. Het concept: mensen verlaten voor een tijdelijke periode het land van herkomst, om in een ander land te gaan werken (of studeren) in sectoren waar arbeidstekorten zijn. Migranten verwerven inkomen en nieuwe kennis, die ze na een bepaalde periode weer mee terug naar het thuisland nemen. Zo blijft de herkomstlanden brain drain bespaard.

De komst van circulaire migranten kan werkgevers met vacatures in het ontvangende land uit de brand helpen. In sectoren met arbeidsmarkttekorten kunnen meerjarige relaties ontstaan tussen werkgever en migrant. De migrant komt dan elk jaar een periode bij die werkgever werken. Dat is ook in het belang van de migrant: een meerjarig perspectief op werk. Soms kan dit in de tussentijd worden gecombineerd met werkzaamheden voor de Nederlandse werkgever vanuit het herkomstland. Bijvoorbeeld met werken op afstand in de ICT-sector.

Clingendael-directeur Monika Sie:

Nederland vraagt aan een land als Tunesië om illegale migratie tegen te houden. Dan helpt het wel als de Tunesische regering tegen haar bevolking kan zeggen dat het weliswaar meewerkt aan de Europese agenda van Fort Europa, maar in ruil daarvoor een poort voor legale migratie heeft gerealiseerd”.

Doordat het land van herkomst de uitvalsbasis blijft bij circulaire migratie biedt het voor Nederland ook een antwoord op zorgen over bevolkingsgroei en de gevolgen hiervan voor het Nederlandse woningentekort en het draagvermogen van de verzorgingsstaat.

Kansen voor de glastuinbouw en de ICT-sector

Tegen deze achtergrond deed Clingendael onderzoek naar de mogelijkheden voor circulaire migratie tussen Nederland en Ethiopië, Nigeria en Tunesië, in de glastuinbouw en ICT-sector. Sectoren waarin in Nederland, ondanks de gevolgen van de coronacrisis, arbeidstekorten zijn en die opkomend zijn in deze Afrikaanse landen. Dit rapport gaat over nut, mogelijkheden en moeilijkheden, en voorwaarden voor effectieve legale circulaire migratieprogramma’s vanuit derde landen in Afrika naar Nederland.

Lees rapport.

Bekijk de video explainer met Monika Sie Dhian Ho.

Auteurs

Monika Sie Dhian Ho (algemeen directeur, Instituut Clingendael)

Nienke van Heukelingen (onderzoeker, Instituut Clingendael)

Nadia van de Weem (stagiair, Instituut Clingendael)

Anne van Mulligen (oud-onderzoeker bij Instituut Clingendael en onderzoeker bij Centre for the Politics of Transnational Law (CePTL) VU University & Amsterdam Centre for International Law (ACIL), University of Amsterdam)

Romain Lepla (oud-stagiair, Instituut Clingendael)

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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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Author 

Nienke van Heukelingen (Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute)

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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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Authors 

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)

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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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Authors 

Wouter Zweers (Research Fellow, the Clingendael Institute) 

Iris van Loon (Intern, the Clingendael Institute) 

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EU enlargement Rutte

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.

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Authors

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)

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