Halftime: The state of Brexit negotiations one year before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU

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Exactly one year has passed since Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union (EU). Accordingly, London and Brussels have only one more year to agree and ratify the details of the United Kingdom’s (UK) orderly withdrawal from the bloc and the principles of their future relationship. Otherwise they will divorce without any deal unless both sides agree to extend the two year period intended by Article 50.

Since the European Council (EC) opened the final and decisive phase of Brexit negotiations on 22–23 March 2018, time seems just perfect to reflect on what has been negotiated so far and what we can expect from future talks.

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Rationality in the Time of Rebellion: How Conflict Research Helps Make Sense of the Situation in Catalonia

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In her contribution, Friederike Luise Kelle builds on findings from conflict research to understand why the behavior of the conflict parties in the current dispute in Catalonia is much more rational than they are usually perceived. Friederike shows that the Spanish central government’s decision to escalate the democratic process judicially and through the use of force, the references to the legitimacy of their action in the face of widespread systemic corruption, and their rejection of EU mediation are perfectly rational strategies. The same holds for Catalan leaders: The narrative of repression in a democratic country in the heart of the EU, fractionalization, and the lack of support for the election of Jordi Turull by the Popular Unity Candidacy (Candidaturad’Unitat Popular, CUP) are representative of common patterns in (self-determination) conflicts. Underlining the risk of the conflict becoming effectively indivisible, Friederike recommends that both sides engage in argumentative, legal, and tactical de-escalation, embrace the concept of actual concessions, and navigate towards a federal solution. In summary, she asserts that the conflict literature is well-equipped to make sense of the sometimes seemingly irrational behavior in this conflict.

You find the whole blog post in German here.

Why so much fuss about one supranational official?

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Four weeks ago, Jean Claude Juncker appointed Martin Selmayr as the European Commission’s future administrative head – the so-called Secretary-General. This move came as a surprise, entered the respective Commission meeting agenda only last minute, and sidestepped the usual procedure for internal promotions. This staffing choice made it to various national news outlets (Le Monde, Zeit Online, and The Irish Times, to name a few), significantly increased online searches, created a veritable Twitter storm, and ultimately culminated into a rather confrontational debate in the European Parliament. For a public servant job in Brussels’ Berlaymont building, this is an unusual amount of public spotlight. Why so much fuss about one supranational official?

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One Belt, Many Roads? – Navigating India’s Neighbourhood Engagement

Addressing the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2018, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed in the Chinese President Xi Jingping’s footsteps from last year’s event to present a clarion call in defence of globalisation, stating that ‘India is an investment in future’.

A few days after the Davos summit, India welcomed the heads of state from ten member nations of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) for its 69th Republic Day celebrations in what marked a break from the usual diplomatic practice of inviting a singular head of state. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, highlighted the essence of ‘shared values, common destiny’ in the India–ASEAN partnership. Despite this historic occasion, a series of developments within its immediate borders have raised question marks on the coherence of India’s engagement to its neighbouring states. Before seeking to understand what these present day challenges are, one first needs to place a historical context on how India moved towards greater regional multilateralism.

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Interview: Jutta Allmendinger on her Career and Gender Inequality

On the International Women´s Day, our podcast series’ host Lynda Iroulo interviews Prof. Dr. h.c. Jutta Allmendinger, Ph.D., President of the WZB. Listen in, as we discuss her journey to the presidency, the driving factors of gender inequality, and her vision for the WZB.

Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:

Iroulo: You became a professor of Sociology at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Have you always wanted to be in academia?

Allmendinger: Most certainly not. Up until the age of fifteen, I wanted to become an architect like my father. Then I found out that the study of architecture is really boring because you only have to draw lines but not houses. So, I started to study Sociology and I was immediately into it.

Iroulo: What was your research focus then and how has it changed over time?

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Guns n’ Roses

This is a co-authored blog post, written by Thurid Bahr, Jelena Cupać, İrem Ebetürk, Lynda Iroulo, Mitja Sienknecht, Anam Soomro

International Women’s Day is a celebration of women fighting for their rights. This fight started in the late 18th century with political and legal issues being the main items on the agenda and it gained traction in the 19th and 20th. Since then, women have accomplished a lot in all spheres of life, including academia. Just like men could do for centuries, women can now make significant contributions to scientific knowledge. The more women joined academia, the more they theorized about their everyday experiences, and the more everybody became aware of the inequalities they were facing. Women have been the agents of and the force for change. It was them who insisted to take such concepts as patriarchy, gender bias, and positive discrimination seriously and address them in public discourse and policies. Many challenges, however, still remain. This is why we have come together to write this blog post on women in academia reflecting different perspectives. We claim neither to present the full picture nor to represent the correct perspective. We want to raise some issues relevant to our experiences. Let us walk you through these with some music in the background:

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Is Europe’s democracy problem spiraling out of control?

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The EU is currently marked by democracy problems at both the community and the member state levels. In the past decades, European decision-making authority has grown exponentially in breadth and depth without providing for appropriate mechanisms of democratic (input) legitimation. This is referred to as the EU’s democratic deficit. On the other hand, there has been a widespread surge of nationalist populism in the member states that has an authoritarian inclination. In some cases, such as Hungary and Poland, they have started to effectively undermine the domestic institutions of liberal democracy. I argue that these two developments are causally linked and mutually reinforcing, fueling a vicious cycle of increasingly authoritarian rule at the national as well as the supranational level.

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Interview: Jingdong Yuan on China in the Global Order and German Building Isolation

In the fourth episode of our interview series, Lynda Iroulo talks to Jingdong Yuan, Associate Professor in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. Listen in, as Yuan gives insight into his thoughts about the WZB, his research on the political economy of dual use-technology, studying China in the global order, and his appreciation for Berlin’s well-insulated apartments.

Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:

Iroulo: What brings you to the WZB and for how long will you be here?

Yuan: I heard about the WZB from one of my colleagues, Professor John Keane, who runs the Sydney Democracy Network. He has very close ties with the WZB, and we have this fellowship where one or two faculty members every year get selected to be a visiting fellow to the WZB and spend a couple of months and do research. It triggered my interest, and I took a look at what the WZB does, and I was quite surprised; this is a vast operation, a few hundred scholars from all over the world working on social sciences. In the past, I tended to go to places that focused on area studies, like Asian studies or China studies, but this is more interdisciplinary with social sciences, and maybe history and humanities as well. I wanted to be part of this fascinating and exciting organization. In particular, the Global Governance unit, which has some sub-research areas that fit my research interest. That is why I applied, and I am very lucky to be selected. Now I am here, spending eight weeks, so, roughly two months.

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Can a Populist be the Leader of the Free World?

Populism and the liberal international order don’t mix well: The more populism there is, the less liberal the international order appears to become. Moreover, judging by the year-long presidency of Donald Trump, the liberal international order seems to be in particular danger if the most powerful state in the system catches the populist bug. Why is this so? Are populism and the liberal world order fundamentally incompatible? Can a populist be a leader of the free world?

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Interview: Mervyn Frost on Practice Theory and unexpectedly teaching IR

In this episode, Lynda Iroulo talks to Mervyn Frost, Professor of International Relations at the Department of War Studies, King´s College London. If you want to find out more about the debates and authors in International Relations (IR) that influenced Mervyn´s career most, his first unexpected teaching experience and why he thinks traffic in Berlin is much more civilized than in London, we’ve got your back!

Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:

Iroulo: What brought you to the WZB and for how long will you be here?

Frost: Well, I used to be a Professor at the University of Kent, and I came here in 1999 for the first time. Professor Dieter Rucht had organized a seminar on global citizenship, and I remember being very impressed with the institution and of course with Berlin. I have always had in mind that I would like to spend a sabbatical leave here and now I am doing exactly that. So, that is kind of the background of it, but as you said in your introduction, I have been interested in ethics in IR for many years now, I think it is over 40 years. The Global Governance Unit has got an interest, not only in the technicalities of Governance, but also in the normative aspect and the ethical aspect, so I thought this would be a nice home for me to work with sympathetic scholars who are all working in the same field.

Iroulo: What will you be working on during your stay at the WZB?

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