InsSciDE’s report on European science diplomacy strategy has been published in March 2022 by project partner the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI).
The strategy report traces contemporary applications and draws on historical cases to assess science diplomacy as a widely discussed concept and a far-reaching practice. It sketches out what science diplomacy can do for European foreign policy and how the European Union can strengthen its role as a science diplomacy actor.
Read the summary below and delve into the full report here!
Leveraging Science Diplomacy in an Era of Geo-Economic Rivalry: Towards a European strategy
Science diplomacy, a field broadly understood as activities at the intersection of science and foreign policy, is receiving increased attention. The promise is obvious: scientific advice and networks can help the world to deal better with transnational challenges, and actors to strengthen their foreign policies. At the same time, however, science and innovation are at the pinnacle of great power rivalry and fuel states’ competition over markets, innovation and influence. Starting from an understanding that science diplomacy incorporates not only cooperation but also competition and conflict in the current era of geo-economic rivalry, this report offers strategic advice from a European perspective.
The report sketches out what science diplomacy can do for European foreign policy and how the European Union can strengthen its role as a science diplomacy actor. It considers five key EU foreign policy interests, and the past and present role of science diplomacy in these interests: a functioning rules-based order, addressing global challenges, a resilient neighbourhood, the security and well-being of its citizens, and the strategic autonomy of the Union.
A number of objectives with related policy recommendations are suggested to enable EU foreign policy to be better served by science diplomacy:
➢ Strengthen a free and vibrant European scientific community – the “home base” of science is a prerequisite for successful science diplomacy.
➢ Agree principles on scientific cooperation in an era of regime divergence and
competition – a path between unfettered cooperation and scientific decoupling can be established towards relations with non-democracies.
➢ Foster capabilities and a culture of scientific advice in foreign policymaking – the EU foreign policy machinery can be adapted to make better use of science and scientific advice.
➢ Increase the cohesion of EU level efforts – the European Commission, the External Action Service and other EU actors can coordinate better on common goals.
➢ Increase the cohesion of EU and member state efforts – coordination can be facilitated on the diverse efforts by the EU and member states.
➢ Leverage potential science diplomacy stakeholders – bridges to and joint platforms with the full ecosystem of science diplomacy actors can be established while still respecting their different roles.
Science diplomacy is an area with great potential, especially for the EU. It is also an area with inherent tensions: between academic freedom and the instrumentalisation of science, between the gains of international cooperation and the risks it entails, and between public goods and national gains. A European science diplomacy strategy must bridge these tensions and balance different interests. The history of science diplomacy can be of help in so doing, linking past experience with present policy ambitions to strengthen European science diplomacy for the future.
Fägersten, B. (2022). Leveraging Science Diplomacy in an Era of Geo-Economic Rivalry: Towards a European strategy. UI Report No. 1, March 2022.