[Expert roundtable] The EU’s geopolitical awakening

07 May 2024
  • Starts at: 15:45h
  • Fee: Free
  • Venue: The Asser Institute
  • Organiser: T.M.C. Asser Institute, Leiden University
  • Address: R.J. Schimmelpennincklaan 20-22
    2517 JN The Hague
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Join us on the 7th of May for a round-table discussion on the EU's role as a geopolitical actor by three eminent speakers: Joris Larik (Leiden University), Thomas Verellen (Utrecht University), and Saskia Hollander (Clingendael Institute).

The war against Ukraine has forced a radical rethinking of the EU’s role as a geopolitical actor. As High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell put it, we are witnessing the “belated birth of a geopolitical EU”. This brings to the fore already existing security concerns with a renewed sense of urgency. These are not merely framed in military terms and are not limited to Ukraine. Hybrid warfare including cyberattacks and disinformation, energy dependency, the instrumentalisation of migrants, the retreat of democratic freedoms, foreign intervention campaigns, and geo-economic competition are but a few examples of the various threats facing the EU and its Member States in the current global landscape. As a result, legal and policy debates on the EU’s role as a global actor focus on the need to achieve ‘strategic autonomy’ - a term connoting the ability of the Union to act independently on the international stage to safeguard its fundamental values, interests, independence and security – while also remaining committed to a rules-based global order.

Moreover, the purported “geopolitical turn” has already resulted in a host of new legal instruments at EU level, such as the Anti-coercion instrument, the European Chips Act, and regulations on joint military procurement. The awakening of a geopolitical EU thus raises a host of new politico-legal questions that remain underexplored despite their increasing significance. These developments create a demand for innovative legal scholarship regarding, for instance, decision-making procedures, institutional balance, effectiveness, transparency, access to justice, and compatibility with international law.

Some of the questions these developments raise and which will be addressed during the discussion, are:

  • How is the quest for multilateral solutions to be squared with calls for more autonomy? Does the Union show solidarity, and to whom?
  • What factors will determine how the EU forges new partnerships? What implications could this turn to geopolitics have on the EU’s existing supply/value-chains in strategic goods, raw materials and energy?
  • What implications could have on the European Green Deal? What future for the Common Foreign and Security Policy?
  • Can the EU remain true to its founding values in its new ambition to become a geopolitical actor? 

This roundtable discussion is a part of T.M.C. Asser Institute, CLEER, and University of Leiden’s PhD workshop on the legal implications of the EU’s geopolitical awakening, organised by  Narin Idriz and Eva Kassoti (T.M.C. Asser Institute) and Joris Larik (Leiden University). While the PhD workshop is a closed event, this expert roundtable is open to the public. 

You can download the full programme here.