Blog - Connecting Ideas

Striving to understand the interconnected world we live in.


Trade Policy and the Fight Against the Coronavirus


Beyond the terrible loss of life, the economic impact of the coronavirus will be dramatic and long-lasting. Oscar Guinea and Iacopo Monterosa look at what trade policy can do to support the fight against the coronavirus, beginning with removing the restrictions and tariffs that delay the purchase of medical equipment and make them more expensive.


When China Sneezes, Asia Catches a Cold


There is no doubt that the economic effects of China’s measures to tackle the coronavirus will ripple across the Asia-Pacific region. Mia Mikic, Jeong Ho Yoo, Richard Sean Lobo and Pedro Romao from UNESCAP examine which countries in the region may be most affected, and posit how in an environment of increasing protectionism and isolationism, COVID-19 is set to become a stress test to both China’s role in the global economy and the way in which nations cooperate to respond to external shocks.


Yes, Crises Do Happen: A Plea for Feeling More Vulnerable After COVID-19


Facing up to the surreal and unprecedented changes society is undertaking in response to the coronavirus, Elke Verhaeghe reflects on the washing away of the notion of being ‘untouchable’ felt by many in Europe prior to the crisis, and pleads that this sense of urgency remain post-coronavirus to tackle another crisis of our time – climate change.


What if Brexit is Good for the UK?


A question posed time and time again about Brexit, on both sides of the channel, is what happens if it turns out to be good for the UK? Samuel Standaert evaluates just how realistic this prospect is, given the level of economic integration and trade between the two parties, and outlines what he believes are the conditions that would allow a prosperous UK in a post-Brexit Europe.


What Can the Coronavirus Teach Us About Regional Integration in Health?


As countries around the world struggle to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, it is becoming increasingly apparent that a coordinated response at all levels is required. María Belén Herrero examines the lessons to be learnt from Latin America, and how South-South cooperation style policy, based on a horizontal relationship and peer cooperation, may hold the answers.


The Inadequate Debates on Migration and Society


While there is increasing exchange between researchers, politicians and social society actors on migration, writes UNU-CRIS Assistant Professor Ine Lietaert, the current debates fail to address the most pertinent question of all – is the path we’re on now leading to the kind of society we want?


Reconnecting in 2020


Newly appointed UNU-CRIS Director ad interim, Philippe De Lombaerde, previews 2020, what it means for the study of regionalism and governance at all levels, and how UNU-CRIS fits into what will be a year of reconnection.


Brushing the Dust Under the Return Migration Carpet?


Among the most pressing issues facing the new EU Commission, migration figures high on the agenda, however previous political unwillingness to bring about true, transformative migration policies at both the EU and national levels has resulted in the recycling of long-standing policy refrains and an overreliance on problematic remedies. Rossella Marino looks at the current return migration policy and its outlook in 2020 and beyond.


Camus, Revolt and Europe


While the trends of today appear to revolve around nationalism and a return to hard borders - in other words, towards disintegration - Filippo Blancato explores what French-Algerian philosopher Albert Camus and his work L’Homme Revolté (The Rebel) can teach us about conflict, history and the future of cooperation among men and nations, and how the EU can tame the forces that produce tension and separation.


Regions and Cities as Foreign Policy Actors: Between Reviving the Past and Implementing the Contemporary


California defies Donald Trump on the Paris Climate Agreement. Flanders opens a foreign office of its own and joins the UN World Tourism Organization as an independent member. A fresh push for a Scottish referendum in light of Brexit. These are all examples of paradiplomacy, writes Philipp Häntsche, an understudied, yet ever-present, form of international relations.


Brexit, the Irish Question and EU Disintegration


The Irish question has become one of the main sticking points of the Brexit negotiations, with 'backstop' entering the vocabulary of millions of onlookers throughout the process. With another deadline passed and a general election looming, Susannah Dibble asks how the European Union can best carry out the delicate task of disentangling its relationship with the United Kingdom while helping to maintain a Northern Irish peace built on regional integration.


The WTO’s Other Challenge


Civil society and UNCTAD call for a reform to the World Trade Organization in order to embed sustainability principles deeper in the organisation’s work. It is not going to happen immediately, posits Diana Potjomkina – but we should pay attention.


The African Union: Are Its Institutional and Financial Reforms Worth the Hype?


While the African Union's ambitious set of reforms introduced in 2016 took steps in the right direction, Nandi Makubalo asks the question - are these worth the hype or must more be done in order for it to realize the SDGs and Agenda 2063?


Of Trade, Regions and Power


With the US-China trade war showing few signs of abating, the EU-MERCOSUR deal in jeopardy and a rift between Japan and South Korea growing wider, it's clear the global trade and investment landscape is in a parlous condition. Filippo Blancato looks at what the current pushback against regional economic governance bodes for the future, and what the EU must do to reinvigorate the multilateral trade system.


What is Internationalisation?


Much has been said about this interconnected world, about common challenges faced by countries, and the relationship between the domestic and international spheres. Glaucia Bernardo and Leonardo Mèrcher look at internationalisation, a concept that has come to play a part in our daily lives, and in particular its impact on higher education. 


When the Amazon Burns


As the Amazon burns and the tensions between Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and the international community grow, Elke Verhaeghe and Marjolein Derous look at the EU's chequered past when it comes to forest protection and sustainability, and what the new EU Commission can do to save the 'lungs of our planet'. 


The Coolness of Brexit


With Brexit looming large, UNU-CRIS founding Director Luk Van Langenhove looks at the questions it raises for regional integration studies, and why the field is garnering so much attention. 


A Tale of Two (Hot) Cities


On the hottest day ever recorded in Belgium, UNU-CRIS Director Ad Interim Prof. Dr. Luc Soete outlines why UNU-CRIS is hot - both in the setting of the historic Episcopal Seminary in which it is housed, and as the place to be for addressing intellectual challenges dealing with how to govern the big challenges of our time.