Has the Hour of European Sovereignty Come?

On 12 September 2018, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, delivered his final State of the Union speech (a custom that dates back to 2010) in front of a half empty chamber of MEPs, but with old-school charm and wit. It was basically his farewell address ahead of the appointment of a new Commission after next year’s European Parliament elections, which may see a rise in status for right-wing extremism across the board. Through this unofficial barometer of the EU’s state of affairs and spirit, this year he promised that “we will keep working to render this imperfect Union that little bit more perfect with each passing day” by planting “the seeds of a more sovereign Europe”, the leitmotif of his address. Read more ...

The Structural Implications of Belt-and-Road Arbitration: China’s Legal Gamble across Eurasia

The Belt-and-Road Initiative is a grand vision about connectivity, infrastructure, trade and unimpeded FDI flows. It is a path to China’s largest export market – the European Union – which does not only propose to ‘transit’ Eurasia (and coastal East Africa), but to radically transform it along. And, thus, mere construction and outpours of capital do not suffice for such an ambitious project. The scale and depth of the Belt-and-Road Initiative require a substantial ‘investment’ in establishing a common normative nexus. For connectivity to actually exist as a functional feature of the project, it must also – on the long-term – take the shape of legal harmonization. Read more ...

Recommendation | A Pivot to Europe: China’s Belt-and-Road Balancing Act

In the international agora, China is increasingly reaching out to Europe. Driven both by economic necessities and strategic imperatives, a grand design for crossing (and transforming) Asia has been advanced: the Belt-and-Road Initiative. As they share a common (extended) neighbourhood in the Middle East and Central Asia, the two actors’ manner of interaction – cooperative or adversarial – shall define the future of the region. Read more ...

Chinese-Serbian Economic Cooperation: Sudden Wealth and a Game of Musical Chairs

Chinese investments in Serbia provide an interesting political and economic setting. From the Serbian perspective, a rising global power is offering formidable resources for development. These are coupled with sufficient geographical (and perhaps geopolitical) distance so as to appear merely and genuinely ‘business-oriented’. In a seemingly intensifying game of ‘musical chairs’ between strategic orientations of Serbia towards the EU/US and/or Russia, the Chinese offerings might indeed seem like an escapist dream. Yet, as recent events tend to show, the geopolitical distance is shrinking fast and China is likely to introduce its own chair into the game at one point. What remains to be seen is whether it will be too hot for Serbia to sit on when the time comes. Read more ...

Recommendation: Left Behind? Reassessing the Balkan Quest for EU Integration

At the fringes of the European Union, but entirely engulfed by it, the Balkan countries have set upon their quest for integration ever since the late ‘90s. In their lasting interaction, the partners have engaged in an often inconsistent negotiation framework that moved from the idea of ‘sharing everything but institutions’ to a more cautious approach, dominated by (im)patience and mutual demands that did not generate any tangible outcome. Read more ...

China’s Offering in the Western Balkans

China’s role in the contemporary international order has exponentially grown over the past decade and has culminated with president Xi’s announcement of the ‘millennium project’: One Belt One Road (or the Belt and Road Initiative).  Considering that no country is currently offering such an ambitious endeavor to the world in the near future, China has underlined its leading position in the global agora. And a key role in the revitalization of the ancient Silk Road was put forward for the Western Balkan countries. Read more ...

Not Just a Bridgehead: EU’s (Possible) Vision for Taiwan

From a geoeconomic perspective, Taiwan represents a hot spot that unites the flows of goods and capital from near mainland China, from the South-East Asian cauldron, as well as a bridgehead for Western transoceanic commerce and investment. Not truly an island (in the sense of isolation), but a focal meeting point between two seas and an (open) ocean, Taiwan strategically lies in one of the best positions in opening up the Asian markets to larger influxes of EU-based products and capital. Read more ...

Core-Peripheries Relation Preserved despite EU Integration

A quarter of century after the transformation processes began in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and over ten years after the largest enlargement of the EU, the division between core and peripheries has deepened. Compared to the 1990 period and to parallel developments in Western Europe show that while development in the East did happen, the gap between the ‘rich’ West and the ‘poor’ East and South remained. Read more ...

The European Union’s Perennial Turkish Dilemma

Given their geopolitical position and economic interdependence, in all likelihood, Turkey and the European Union (still) have much to offer each other. Going back from the establishment of the modern republic on the ruins of the former Ottoman Empire, throughout the long Cold War years, and then in the post-9/11 era, Turkey’s officially stated position in the liberal world order has been that of an aspiring Western power and European partner, with Islamic characteristics. Read more ...