top of page

Policy Briefs

China and Science Diplomacy: An Emerging or a Marginal Policy?

Duncan Freeman

The term “science diplomacy” has become widely used in recent years, especially in the developed economies of the “West”. The term has also been adopted in China, where it has been incorporated into academic discussion and policy making in the area of international science and technology cooperation. However, science and technology have been an element in China’s relations with the external world for many centuries, and moved centre stage in the relationship with the West since the 19th century. The success of China in creating scientific capacities in recent decades is the basis of the possibility for it to conduct its own science diplomacy. Yet, despite the adoption of the idea in recent government policy documents, it is unclear that a coherent new science diplomacy has emerged in China that is integrated into wider foreign policy. A question arises as to whether science diplomacy is still an emerging policy, or whether merely a marginal one. Many aspects of what is now called science diplomacy are continuations of China’s existing international science policies, which focus on global competition as well as cooperation. While science diplomacy is frequently considered to be a tool of soft power, scientific and technological capacities underlie hard power. In an environment where global military and economic competition dominates, science diplomacy may be overtaken by harder power considerations.

Culture in EU External Relations: Strategic Reflections and Future Scenarios

Riccardo Trobbiani and Andrea Pavón-Guinea

The future of EU International Cultural Relations (ICR) will depend upon factors which this policy paper presents as internal and external to the EU. In reality, they influence each other and transcend political borders. The rise ofpopulist and nationalist forces takes place both within and outside Europe. The global nature of the challenges humanity faces in terms of trust, tolerance and education affect in different ways all countries and transversally impact our capacity to achieve sustainable development. Hard power seems to be gaining prominence over soft power and persuasion. Uses of soft power (and propaganda) persist in the framework of identity politics, where culture is increasingly regarded as a set of national features defined in oppositions to others, rather than a tool for dialogue and cooperation. In whatever direction these factors evolve, the foresight analysis presented in this paper points at a key finding: investing in stronger EU cooperation in International Cultural Relations, rather than Cultural Diplomacy, remains the best solution for EU leadership. An EU strategic approach to ICR rooted in development policy and inter-cultural dialogue bears the promise to facilitate cooperation among EU institutions, member states (MS) and their cultural institutes, as well as broader cultural networks based on innovative models. An approach based on subsidiarity and arm’s length relations with cultural actors can serve EU’s interests better than a top-down Cultural Diplomacy. However, a series of criticalities could potentially affect this emerging policy, which calls for some recommendations on the process and content of the approach under development. 

Science, technology and innovation diplomacy: a way forward for Europe

Jos Leijten

This policy brief explores how innovation becomes an increasingly important topic in international relations, with a deep impact on collaboration as well as on competition between countries. It analyses how the patterns of techno-economic change lead to changes in the global distribution of innovative activities around the world. It outlines three near future scenarios of the international politics of innovation. The first, called “populism and protectionism” describes an international environment which is becoming dominated by populist and nationalist tendencies. The second outlines the consequences of an approach of “innovation as a global public good”, in which ultimately everybody benefits, and global collaboration is the dominant model. The third scenario is called “bottom-up innovation” and describes what happens to the international dimensions when large international firms and the regions in which they are based become the dominant forces. Together these scenarios describe the range of potential developments over the next 10 years. The final paragraph discusses what Europe can and should do in its external relations to provide adequate answers to the forces outlined in the three scenarios. It results in a vision, which is laid down in four policy directions: a) the European “open” model of research and innovation should remain the starting point; b) Europe should actively seek to build level playing fields for commercial, technological and innovation powers; c) Europe should identify and foster its technological strengths and the critical technologies that need special attention, both in offensive and defensive ways; and d) Europe must identify and spread the key social values and goals (e.g. in relation to quality of life, quality of labour, culture including privacy, and sustainability) that it wants to pursue in its internal and external innovation policies and collaborations. This vision must guide the development of an international innovation policy and the work of innovation diplomats.  


The Future of EU Science Diplomacy: Conceptual and Strategic Reflections

Riccardo Trobbiani and Constant Hatenboer 

This study seeks to explore the possible developments facing the EU and its role of leadership in a global science diplomacy. Engaging in a foresight analysis, its aim is to provide a reflection on future scenarios and how EU action could influence and operate within them.  The emergence of a clear EU science diplomacy is faced with challenges which are both of a conceptual and material nature. On the one hand, the term remains subject to different interpretations and uses, and its value as a label for science cooperation initiatives is still unclear. On the other hand, unprecedented challenges like climate change require concerted science-based solutions. These seem increasingly harder to achieve in contexts where populist movements discredit scientific evidence as a basis for policy making or where scientific and technological progress is read in a purely competitive way. Within the EU, lack of support for further integration in domains that are not yet communitarised and distance between policy makers and the scientific community risk to nip EU science diplomacy in the bud.

Health (In)Securities and their Consequences for the EU and Africa: Towards a New Definition of Health Security

Annamarie Bindenagel Šehović

Health insecurities know no borders. The reigning World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health security is inadequate on three counts. First, it prioritises interventions to minimize vulnerability to adverse public health events for “national populations”. Second, while it includes reference to the “collective health” of populations across borders, it remains unclear whether these should also enjoy minimised vulnerabilities. Third, the definition leaves unresolved who or what is responsible for health security and for whom. This Policy Brief offers a renewed definition of health security that aims to address these gaps.

The Role of Foreign Correspondents in Cultural and Science Diplomacy

Georgios Terzis and Linsey Armstrong

With both the EU and EU Member States maintaining a strong focus on culture and scientific diplomacy initiatives, it is imperative to explore how foreign correspondents covering these issues affect the perception of the European Union and its member states to audiences abroad. This policy brief attempts to examine the role foreign correspondents play in covering culture and science diplomacy, as well as in highlighting trends, challenges and opportunities for foreign correspondents currently stationed abroad.

New Prospects in Turkey-EU Relations: How to Fix a Weakened Relationship through Cultural Diplomacy

Naciye Selin Senocak

The ‘Europeanness’ of Turkey’s cultural identity has always been a divisive subject. Due to its geopolitical position and cultural identity as a Muslim secular state, Turkey is a cultural bridge between the West and Muslim countries, in theory making it particularly important in cultural diplomacy for EU foreign policy. Nevertheless, the diplomatic tension between Turkey and the EU over the accession and cultural issues have been barriers to the integration of certain states into the EU as is in part the case in Turkey’s 55-year wait for entry. This policy brief analyses the key shortcomings of EU cultural diplomacy and cooperation with Turkey, identifies the key opportunities and constraints and proposes recommendations for an effective strategic cooperation.

Optimising the impact of European cultural, science and innovation diplomacy in Egypt and Tunisia

Antoine Hatzenberger

This Policy Brief aims to understand how the EU’s endeavours in the fields of culture and scientific research have been received in Egypt and Tunisia, with the aim of developing a sustainable policy direction. After having identified examples of culture and science relations between the EU and MENA countries, the primary question was: What do the EU’s partners from the neighbouring countries in the South of the Mediterranean think of its approach to science, innovation and its enhancement of external cultural relations? The results of this study and the first conclusions of its analysis made it possible to make some recommendations to guide future EU policies. 

Diaspora and its Role in the European Cultural Diplomacy with Kazakhstan

Neil Collins and Kristina Bekenova​

The bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and the nine European Union countries examined in this policy brief are characterised by the existence of large ethnic communities or “beached diasporas”.  In this policy brief, the European diasporas living in Kazakhstan are discussed in the context of European cultural diplomacy. The brief analyses their role and that of various specialised ethnic-cultural agencies in EU cultural diplomacy. It asks how the promotion of culture via diasporas can assist the EU in its cultural diplomacy.

Culture in the ENP South: Broad Ambitions, Little Strategy, Insufficient Means

​Riccardo Trobbiani

This policy brief analyses the key shortcomings of EU cultural cooperation in the ENP South and proposes recommendations for reform. It looks at both the strategies and instruments in place. Euro-Mediterranean cultural relations lack strategic thinking. On the one hand, EU policies on cultural cooperation fail to design a region-specific plan. On the other hand, EU external policies including the ENP do not clarify the role of culture and its relative importance vis-à-vis other foreign policy tools. Partially because of this lack of strategy, EU action remains short-termed, based on a donor-recipient relationship and under-resourced compared to its objectives.

1 / 2

Please reload

bottom of page