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A matter of fact "geopolitics"? Shifting EU development policy in Central Asia

Monday, May 15, 2023, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Since the 2008 global financial crisis and especially the 2015 migration crisis, the European Commission’s (EC) policy goals have substantively changed to include geopolitical ambitions in a number of areas. In this research, we focus on the EC’s development policy towards Central Asia to uncover the extent to which geopolitical ambitions may be detected in the Commission’s developmental practice. Prior to the empirical analysis, we conceptually investigate the term ‘geopolitical’ and conclude that it best corresponds to a realist, material-power driven agenda with little geographical references. As a first step of the empirical research, we review the Commission’s key policy documents, the Global Gateway program to identify geopolitical ambitions. Second, we review Multiannual Indicative Programs (MIPs) data before and after the geopolitical turn and match actual spending patterns with geopolitical goals. Finally, we review the practice of the European Bank for Restructuring and development (EBRD) in Central Asia, the key EU instrument to carry out is objectives. Our findings, showcase a mixed result with regards to the Commission’s geopolitical developmental policy. 

Dr. Balázs Szent-Iványi is a Reader in Politics and International Relations at Aston University in Birmingham, UK. His research focuses on the politics of international development, specifically on how donors of foreign aid make decisions. He also works on political economy in Central and Eastern Europe. His most recent papers can be read in journals like Third World QuarterlyInternational RelationsDevelopment Policy Review and Democratization, and his latest monograph, European Civil Society and International Development Aid has been published with Routledge in 2022.

Dr. Dóra Piroska is Assistant Professor at the International Relations Department of Central European University, Vienna, Austria. She holds a PhD. from the CEU in Political Science/IR track. Her research focuses on the international political economy (IPE) of banking and finance and development finance. She has a particular interest in the Eastern Central European region. She has published extensively on European financial regulations including the Banking Union, macroprudential regulation, the Regulatory Sandbox. Recently, she published on development banking in Hungary and Poland, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the EBRD. She also investigated theories of financial nationalism, financial power, and democracy. She co-edited a book on János Kornai’s scholarship with Miklós Rosta (CEU Press). She has recently published in JCMS, New Political Economy, Review of International Political Economy, Journal of European Integration, in thematic volumes with Routledge, Oxford University PressEdward Elgar, and in several Hungarian outlets.