SECURITY AND ENERGY ISSUES  IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN SPACE

 

Professor Yannis Valinakis

Associate Professor Ioannis Stribis

 

 

In the framework of its European Governance Programme, the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence (Centre) of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) expands its activities on the study of European Union’s (EU) policies towards its Eastern Mediterranean maritime space, as part of the external aspects of the EU’s energy and security policies, two fields identified to be particularly underrepresented at present in the academic community in Greece.

In this connection, the Centre submitted a project proposal titled ‘EU Policies Towards its East Med Maritime Space: Energy & Security’ (Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Activities 2019 Call for proposals), which was selected by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the European Commission (EU-EMES project, reference number 611501-EPP-1-2019-1-ELEPPJMO-PROJECT), and the respective grant agreement was signed in October 2019.

The overall aim of EU-EMES is to promote reflection and enhance knowledge on the subject matter of the project, by forming and supporting a scientific team, comprised of excelling academics, researchers from the NKUA and other universities and research institutes in Greece and abroad, as well as persons with professional expertise and interest (e.g., policy makers, business and civil society representatives) in the study fields of the project.

In this respect, the Centre has built the key staff of the project by mobilising its own resources (academic staff and researchers) and involving academics and researchers from other departments of the NKUA, other Greek universities, universities in Egypt, France and Turkey, as well as the Geneva Centre for Security Studies (Athens Hub). Key staff members have been selected based on their academic and research excellence in the fields of study relevant to the EU-EMES topics of interest, and also based on their record in promoting European ideas and values in their respective countries.

Furthermore, in order to expand the team of experts involved in the implementation of the project, the Centre reached out to additional universities, institutes and think tanks in Greece and abroad. From these contacts, the Centre secured the participation from academics of higher education institutions and think tanks from the Republic of Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Germany, Israel, Libya, Spain, Turkey, the UAE and the US. The academics, as well as other researchers who joined the project team at the stage of its implementation, draw their expertise from various disciplines, such as international relations, political science, European studies / Europeanisation, law, environmental studies, political economy, security studies, energy, energy security and business, regional studies etc.

Moreover, throughout the implementation of the project, the Centre held consultations with policy makers and prominent journalists in Greece, other EU Member States and the USA to collect their views on the issues with interest for the project and take them into account in the organisation of the two project events. For the same purpose, project key staff members consulted with incumbent and former officials of EU Institutions, EU Member States and non-EU countries of the East Mediterranean region. The input of the policy makers and the analytical community has been extremely valuable, in particular, for the preparation of the ‘Policy Conference on Energy and Security in the East Med Maritime Space: The role of the EU’; an important number of persons belonging to the above groups accepted the invitation to participate as speakers, moderators and discussants in the Conference.

Thus, for the meaningful preparation of the events envisaged in the project and its other outputs, the Centre organized in January and February 2020, in Athens, two brainstorming sessions, one on the energy and security policies of the EU with focus on the East Mediterranean region and the other on law and policy on maritime issues in this sea basin, in particular maritime delimitation issues, offshore activities (exploration, drilling, exploitation, pipelines) and regulation under international and EU law. In these brainstorming sessions, closed to the public, participated, along key staff members, selected policy makers, analysts and business representatives. During these brainstorming meetings, the participants identified the major issues and challenges for the EU and its Member States in the Eastern Mediterranean space as well as the implications and impact of the EU on the developments in this space through its various policies, in particular in the fields of energy and security. A second objective of these sessions was to help the Centre organise the two events of the project, as the detailed topics, draft programme, potential speakers and participants in the conference and the cross-fertilization workshop were agreed upon at the brainstorming sessions. Furthermore, the outcomes of the brainstorming provided valuable food-for-thought for further elaboration for the policy conference and the present electronic book on EU’s Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Space – Energy & Security Policies and the Policy Report on Perspectives for Academic Cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Space.

The two events of the project were the Cross-fertilisation workshop on EU Policies on Energy and Security in the East Med for young researchers, and the Policy Conference on Energy and Security in the East Med Maritime Space.

Ahead of these events (and of the brainstorming sessions) the Centre prepared and disseminated in November 2019 a concept paper entitled ‘An Outline for the preparation of the Events to be organised for the Implementation of the EU-EMES project’ (uploaded to the project webpage on the Centre website).

The Cross-fertilisation workshop took place virtually (between 15/11 and 6/12/2021) and was addressed to young researchers and doctoral students from universities in Greece and abroad. The workshop provided a selection of lectures by the key staff and invited experts on EU Governance & Integration, EU Foreign Policy and CSDP, European Neighbourhood Policy, EU policies addressing Maritime Security and Hyber/Cyber Threats and EU Energy and Environmental policies.

The Policy Conference was a two-day policy-oriented conference which took place in Athens (3-4/11/2022) in a hybrid form. It brought together key staff and other members of the scientific team of the project along with policy makers from Europe, US and other East-Med countries, who discussed energy security, hard and soft security issues affecting EU and its Member States, and the role of East Mediterranean countries in this context, including maritime delimitations as well as the options for EU and the other actors in the Eastern Mediterranean space, and the policy tools for the successful implementation of EU policies in the region.

This cross-fertilisation project aimed at boosting existing knowledge on the subject, and at analysing recent geopolitical developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this context, the implementation activities were focused on EU’s actorness in the region (EU as a force of stability), implementing multi-disciplinary approaches in relation to political, economic, security, migration and institutional cooperation aspects in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this way, the project activities contributed to enhancing EU orientation of the teaching and research activities of the academic and research institutions involved in the project implementation.

In addition to the academics and other experts, the project has attracted over one hundred young researchers from EU Member States and countries of the East Mediterranean region, thus reinforcing the European dimension in their research. It has also increased interest in understanding the functioning of the European Union. In parallel, it has significantly promoted Greek researchers’ understanding and knowledge and increased their interest in EU policies with relevance to/impact on the Eastern Mediterranean region and countries. Moreover, it has supported involved staff, professors, researchers and PhD students in their research and teaching of the subject, increasing opportunities for academic staff in terms of professional and career development. Furthermore, the project, by providing an EU micro-institutional environment, significantly contributed to the (EU) socialization of East Mediterranean academics, researchers and experts, which resulted in a long-lasting Europeanisation impact.

The project activities addressed Europeanisation mechanisms, in terms of (a) establishing a common terminology/ontology amongst participants, (b) role-setting (common) comprehension amongst participants, (c) developing of EU institutional skill set and understanding to (d) create fertile ground for EU governance policies to be materilazed.

In these aspects, the project promoted active European citizenship and dealt with the role of the EU in its Eastern Mediterranean neighbourhood and the challenges ahead, enhancing awareness of the Union and facilitating future engagement and people-to-people dialogue across European regions.

To recap, as a cross-fertilization project, the EU-EMES:

– Contributed to the understanding, advanced existing knowledge and enhanced the dynamic of a multi-disciplinary and international scientific team at the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence of the NKUA, following a specific need to improve Greece’s research in the subject (EU Policies towards its Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Space in Energy and Security).

– Facilitated participating institutions in examining the issue of the organization of further common academic activities and the preparation of relevant supporting tools (including through Erasmus Mundus Joint PhD Degrees, and/or joint consortia for other schemes of European funding).

– Promoted synergies in the Eastern Mediterranean region, by removing artificial and conceptual boundaries through better understanding of existing and new aspects of the Eastern Mediterranean dynamics in terms of energy security and EU Energy Strategy.

– Aimed at jointly-developed content and co-teaching for selected doctoral students and researchers from the involved universities, in subjects related to several aspects of EU Governance, including political, economic, social, business, environmental, maritime and energy security.

The ideas, conclusions and recommendations presented below are the output of the cross-fertilizartion Workshop (seven online sessions held from 15 November to 6 December 2021) and the policy-oriented International Hybrid Conference, held in Athens on 3 and 4 November 2022. Both activities were organized and animated by the Centre in the framework of the EU-EMES project. Centered around the general theme of EU Policies towards East Mediterranean: Energy and Security, the Workshop and the Conference brought together dozens of academics, top experts, researchers, policymakers, students and civil society from Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Libya, Spain, Turkey, the UAE, and the US, and engaged them in constructive dialogue and exchange of views.

More particularly, on the first day of the Conference two study groups, comprising academics and top experts (with no audience participation), delved into the issues of Energy and Security in the East Mediterranean Sea. On the second day, the broad audience participation (both in-person and virtual) made evident the relevance of the issues discussed. The topics were first presented by the speakers, and then thoroughly examined in context from various perspectives. After expressing their own views and opinions, the speakers concretized them by making specific recommendations and policy proposals, suggesting indicated course of action in order for their ideas to materialize in tangible solutions. What is more, after discussing and debating on certain controversial issues, they converged on some of them, while questions from the audience enabled productive interaction and nuanced approaches.

The following presentation of conclusions and recommendations originate from (and encapsulate) the presentations and debates during the above two formal events and preparatory meetings. They cannot be assigned in their totality to one or more of the participating academics and researchers, nor to the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence of the NKUA.

The present electronic publication contains specific papers on concrete issues affecting EU policies and action towards the East Mediterranean region. These papers were elaborated in the framework of the research activities of the EU-EMES project and were orally presented and discussed in the events organized by the European Centre of Excellence of the NKUA for the implementation of the project (cross-fertilization workshop, policy conference and in the meetings held for the preparation of the Workshop and Conference). These papers focus on particular issues and shed light on challenges EU Institutions and Member States are faced with in the crucial neighbouring space of the East Mediterranean Sea.