To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively in international efforts to foster global public goods?

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
For a small country, Denmark has a strong role in the provision of the global public good. Climate change and development aid are high on the domestic agenda and the government tries to play an active international role in these areas. Denmark also has a long tradition of working to strengthen the United Nations, often cooperating with other Nordic countries to do so. This policy is relatively uncontroversial, unlike European integration.

As an EU member state, Denmark’s possibilities increasingly depend on the European Union. Since the European Union in recent years has adopted a relatively “progressive” environmental policy and has tried to exercise international leadership, there is no conflict in this area. When it comes to development aid Denmark, is among the countries that contribute the highest percentage of GDP to development aid, see discussion above.

Denmark is also a global actor in other economic areas, including trade. Danish politicians are proud of projecting Danish values internationally.

There is a long tradition for Nordic cooperation within various policy areas. The Nordic Council of Ministers is the official inter-governmental body for cooperation in the Nordic region. The council takes various initiatives on Nordic cooperation and there are regular council meetings were representatives of the Nordic governments meet to draft Nordic conventions and other agreements.
Carsten Due-Nielsen and Nikolaj Petersen, eds., Adaptation and Activism: The Foreign Policy of Denmark 1967-1993. Copenhagen, DJØF Publishing, 1995.

Martin Marcussen, Den danske model og globaliseringen. Frederiksberg: Samfundslitteratur, 2010.

Kristian Fischer and Hans Mouritzen (eds.) Danish Foreign Policy Yearbook 2017. Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies, 2017.
The German government actively collaborates in various reform efforts promoted by the European Union, and other transnational and international organizations. In the context of the still ongoing euro zone debt crisis, the German government has played a leading role in organizing and creating stabilization mechanisms. The government strongly cooperated with European partners, particularly France, other countries, such as the United States, and international organizations in addressing the Crimea crisis and civil war in eastern Ukraine.

According to some observers, the great exception is the migration crisis, which Germany handled unilaterally. Only after Germany had opened its borders to the refugees coming from Hungary and other European states did the government start negotiating with other EU countries and the European Union to develop refugee quotas. Proponents argue that Germany’s policy was well justified given its legal and humanitarian obligations. According to this view, Germany was ready to pay a high fiscal and political price for shouldering this humanitarian crisis. Based on this interpretation, the refugee crisis is an example where Germany is heavily involved in providing global public goods and acts in a non-selfish manner in-line with its international obligations.

Generally, Germany is a constructive partner in international reform initiatives, and is ready to accept substantial costs and risks in order to realize global and European public goods. It will be up to the next government to reaffirm this reputation with respect to far-reaching requests for European Union and euro zone reform from the European partners, in particular from France’s newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron.
Sweden has maintained a rather high international profile on a number of issues requiring international collective action. These issues have traditionally included disarmament, human rights, international solidarity and more recently, climate change and a feminist approach to international relations and peacekeeping.

Sweden tends to look at itself as an international broker and coordinator, though it may exaggerate its capacity in this regard. Certainly, Sweden, together with several other smaller nations, exerts some degree of international influence through “soft power.”
Ingebritsen, C. (2006). Scandinavia in World Politics (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield).

Pierre, J. (ed) (2015) Oxford Handbook of Swedish Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
Typically, global public goods are best addressed collectively, on a multilateral basis, with cooperation in the form of international laws, agreements and protocols. Finland is a partner to several such modes of cooperation and contributes actively to the implementation of several global frameworks. Finland is committed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol and EU legislation in its climate policy. The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for coordinating climate negotiations, and specifically, within the framework of the EU, Finland is committed to bringing down its national annual average carbon emissions. In 2017, Finland assumed the two-year chair of the Arctic Council, announcing her commitment to promote prosperity, development and environmental sustainability in the Arctic region. In 2016, Finland was the President of the Nordic Council of Ministers and in 2017 has taken the lead in the Nordic Council. These and other commitments notwithstanding, Finland cannot be regarded a dominant actor protecting global public goals. Given its relatively high level of knowledge, research capacities, and the existence of frameworks for policy coordination and monitoring, Finland does have the institutional capacities to participate in global governance. However, the capacities are not utilized to their fullest extent.
France plays an active role in the international coordination of joint reform initiatives. The country contributes to the provision of global public goods. It has a long tradition of acting on an international level to take part in security/military missions, combat climate change (for instance hosting the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP 21)), provide humanitarian and development aid, and promote health, education programs and fiscal cooperation. This being said, the French government, as other governments, often takes positions that advance French (economic) interests.

Striking examples are the French government’s attitude toward free trade discussions, in particular, concerning agricultural products and environmental issues, such as air and water pollution, where France has failed to implement supranational recommendations at the national level. On development assistance, there is still a big gap between official commitments and actual spending (0.37% instead of 0.70% of gross national product).

Concerning the European Monetary Union, French proposals contribute to defining EU policies and often serve as a basis for compromise. However, the credibility of these initiatives was damaged by the French government’s inability to respect common rules France had signed, such as the stability rules of the EMU. This has considerably limited the government’s success in steering or influencing decision-making at the European level, with France lacking credibility and political support.

President Macron has adopted a fundamentally different method. Having led an openly pro-European presidential campaign, Macron has declared his full commitment to EU rules, as well as his willingness to reduce the government’s budget deficits and realize structural reforms. In doing so, he seeks not only to enhance the country’s competitiveness but also to regain lost confidence and credibility in Europe, which is seen as a prerequisite for France’s EU partners to seriously consider his ambitious ideas on European renewal and further integration. Under Macron, France has shown a new willingness and capacity to contribute to the European Union, as well as a new coherence between European ambitions and domestic policies.
Luxembourg is mainly involved in international reform initiatives in cooperation with the European Union. The legal framework for the launch of the European Citizens’ Initiative was passed by the parliament in 2012.

Luxembourg ranks highly within the EU for the inclusiveness of its welfare benefits, as its programs are both generous and wide-ranging. However, with a normalized Gini index value of 31 in 2016 (2015: 28.5), Luxembourg is only a middling performer within the EU-28 (which has an average Gini index value of 30.8). The generous social transfers (47% of public expenditure in 2017) and the high share of social transfers in relation to total income, not only reduce poverty risks, but also sustainably strengthen social cohesion.

However, Luxembourg also retains a number of labor-market protection measures and unsustainable pension policies; both provide incentives to leave the labor market early and opt instead for replacement revenues. Attitudes of the insured – mainly residents and nationals – are partly still those of consumers of welfare provisions. The system’s main weakness is the “early exit” attitude which is expressed by many residents.
Fusco, Alessio, et al. Gini Country Report Luxembourg. Gini Growing Inequalities’ Impacts, 2013. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Gini coefficient of equivalised disposable income.” Eurostat, Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

“Mémorial A n° 61 de 2012.” Journal officiel du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, 29 Mar. 2012, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

National plan for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth – Luxembourg 2020. Le gouvernement du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, 2017. Accessed 14 Dec 2017.

“Observatoire de la compétitivité.” Le portal de l’actualité gouvermentale, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.
New Zealand
Given New Zealand’s small population and geopolitical isolation, it has been surprisingly successful at participating proactively in many international organizations and in the international coordination of joint reform initiatives. Major areas include issues regarding the Antarctic region, disarmament and proliferation, environmental protection and human rights. New Zealand is a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the Commonwealth, the OECD, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. Free trade is a central preoccupation within foreign relations, especially in the Asian region. Having signed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia-New Zealand agreement and a bilateral agreement with Malaysia and Korea in recent years, current efforts are directed at deepening its “comprehensive strategic partnership” with China and continuing negotiations with India and Russia. In June 2017, New Zealand launched free trade agreement negotiations with the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru). New Zealand has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. The government reinforced its willingness to conclude the negotiations until 2020 even after the election of Donald Trump to the office of U.S. president and the U.S. rejection of further negotiations. After strongly opposing aspects of the TPP Agreement, the new Labour/NZ First successfully negotiated several amendments to the Agreement before giving its endorsement. Negotiations on a Partnership Agreement on Relations and Cooperation (PARC) between New Zealand and the European Union (EU) were concluded in July 2014. The agreement is a platform for pursuing New Zealand’s ambitions for a free-trade agreement with the EU. This, however, might be more complicated after the United Kingdom’s Brexit decision. New Zealand is a member of the United Nations Security Council during the 2015 to 2016 term. It has been very active in campaigning for a humanitarian response to the situation in Syria.
Annual Report 2014/2015 (Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade 2015).
Strategic Intentions 2015-2019 (Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade 2015).
Trevett, Claire, 2016. Claire Trevett: New Zealand brought new perspective to U.N. Security Council but no major breakthrough. New Zealand Herald. 25 August 2016 (
Editorial: Brexit begins and NZ has work to do. New Zealand Herald. 30 March 2017 ( (accessed January 16, 2018).
Norway is a small state dependent on a stable and predictable international order. Over time, Norway has invested significantly in the development of a fair international framework. Norway is active in several international cooperation arrangements, including the United Nations and OECD, and cooperates closely with the European Union. Norway is very diligent in adopting EU legislation. The country is not an EU member state, but still participates in most forms of EU policy coordination as a member of the European Economic Area, with certain exceptions in the areas of agriculture and fisheries. In addition, Norway has numerous agreements with the European Union in the field of internal and external security. However, while the agreements with the European Union are seen as important, they do not give Norway a role in EU decision-making or policy formulation.

Norway has been an active participant in and promoter of various international conventions, forums and activities. Areas of particular interest have been human rights, development and peace. Relative to its size, Norway is a founding member of NATO, and an active member of several international organizations, such as the IMF, the United Nations and the World Bank. The country participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Kimberley Initiative on so-called blood diamonds. Norway actively encourages developing countries to join the EITI and is one of four contributors to the World Bank Special Trust Fund tasked with assisting with the fund’s implementation. Norway also supports the initiative on climate risk financial disclosure.

However, in 2017, Norway suffered a setback in its international standing and authority. In order to “normalize” government-level relations with China, the Norwegian government was forced to accept, in a joint statement with the Chinese government, a commitment to not undertake any action that might damage the now good relations between the two countries. This has prevented the Norwegian government from criticizing the Chinese government’s record on human rights and related issues.
Although Portugal is small, relatively poor and not very influential as a nation, it is a member of the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, the World Trade Organization and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa, CPLP), among other groups. It works actively with other nations through these organizations to develop policies. Given the country’s size and importance, it collaborates quite effectively in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods.

Portugal “punches well above its weight” in military diplomacy through participation in peacekeeping and humanitarian relief programs under the auspices of the European Union, the UN and NATO. It must also be noted that the previous president of the European Commission and the current secretary-general of the United Nations are Portuguese, both having been prime ministers of the country. Previously, Portuguese politician Diego Pinto de Freitas do Amaral served as president of the General Assembly of the UN in 1995 – 1996.

During the review period, the Costa government sought to increase the country’s influence in terms of shaping the European Union’s future, and hosted the second summit of Southern EU countries in January 2017.
DW (2017), “Southern EU states to forge strategies in Lisbon,” 28/1/2017, available online at:
Australia’s comparatively small population and economy, isolated geographic location and status as a South Pacific regional power has tended to work against the country’s ability to influence global reform efforts. Nonetheless, there is a governmental culture of seeking to participate in international forums or organizations, including those focused on reform. Primary emphasis tends to be on the Asia-Pacific region, although Australia is also a strong advocate of reducing trade barriers for agricultural products worldwide.

Australia’s international reputation has suffered considerably in the last two decades. Previously, Australia had been a very active player in international forums, for instance in the Uruguay Round of the GATT. Both the Howard and the Abbott governments failed to provide constructive inputs within the context of international forums. For example, the Abbott government permitted the G-20 summit in November 2014 to become an anti-Putin event. By contrast, Labor governments, Kevin Rudd’s in particular, have been overly ambitious. Rudd’s plans for an Asia-Pacific Community were hastily developed and criticized by his own government’s adviser. Prime Minister Turnbull has steered a much more cooperative course over his term in office. However, Australia has not been providing significant input to policy development to promote global public goods.
Belgium hosts various supranational institutions, including the majority of the offices of the European Union. The country has always displayed enthusiasm toward joint-reform initiatives. This can be illustrated by the large number of Belgian politicians involved in the highest levels of such organizations (e.g., Herman Van Rompuy, a former president of the European Council; Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament). Moreover, the country’s small size makes it heavily dependent on international coordination. It therefore supports international reform efforts in areas such as tax systems, carbon-dioxide regulation, and as of 2015, on the European equivalent of the American Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. However, with regard to implementation, Belgium does not always fulfill its commitments.
The government is endowed with the institutional capacity to contribute actively to international efforts to foster the provision of global public goods. The government actively participates in the international coordination of joint reform initiatives. This is underlined by the fact that Chile represents one of the most active countries in Latin America with regard to international policymaking initiatives. However, the impacts of national policies on these global challenges are not always systematically assessed and then incorporated into the formulation, coordination and monitoring of policies across government.
The country contributes to international efforts to foster the provision of global public goods primarily through its active participation in European policymaking institutions. Irish government structures have been progressively altered to support this capacity.

Ireland has continued to maintain a relatively high level of overseas development assistance since the onset of the economic crisis. It also continues to play an active part in the development of the European response to climate change. The Irish and Kenyan ambassadors co-facilitated the final intergovernmental negotiations that led to the adoption of the UN’s Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) in 2015.
For an account of Ireland’s role in negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals see’s-special-role/
The ability of Italian governments to take a leading role in international efforts is generally limited. This is in part due to the country’s relatively small size, but also because Italian politics tends to focus on internal matters. Moreover, frequent changes in political leadership have made it difficult to provide a strong and clear position in international efforts. There have been occasional exceptions when the government has been more active on a specific issue (such as the abolition of death penalty, or in the promotion of peace talks in the Middle East). The Gentiloni government has mainly focused on the EU level, with the executive actively engaged in EU policy discussions promoting the need for economic growth over simple fiscal balance. With regard to the immigration crisis, the Italian government has promoted the shared responsibility of EU member states. Overall, the government has shied away from confrontation in the European arena, and opted for cooperation with the European Commission and the main EU member states.

In general, the government has increased domestic awareness of Italy’s international responsibilities and consistently worked toward increasing Italy’s influence in EU decision-making processes.
Japan is actively involved in G-7 and G-20 mechanisms. However, the country has a lower profile in international and global settings than might be expected in view of its global economic standing. Since Abe’s election in 2012, there has been greater continuity and international visibility, though not in terms of spearheading multilateral initiatives.

The Japanese constitution makes it difficult for Japan to engage in international missions that include the use of force, although it can legally contribute funds. As a result of Japan’s five-year participation in a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (which ended in 2017), the government has flexibly expanded various procedures stopping just short of active military engagement, such as providing ammunition to endangered military units from partner countries.

In 2015, despite considerable public opposition, new security laws were passed that allow military intervention overseas in defense of (somewhat vaguely defined) allies. The same year, Japan and the United States overhauled their Mutual Defense Guidelines to allow for deeper cooperation, emphasizing the global nature of the bilateral alliance.

Japan has actively supported and contributed to regional initiatives. In recent years, China has emerged as an increasingly influential actor shaping regional initiatives such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). While Japan has not yet joined this organization, signs emerged in 2017 that this decision could be reversed in the near future. In 2015 – 2016, responding to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Japan started a Partnership for Quality Infrastructure, which is slated to spend $200 billion globally by the end of 2020.

Japan has not played a leading role in global environmental-policy efforts, particularly in the post-Kyoto Protocol negotiations.
Mitsuru Obe, Japan Parliament Approves Overseas Military Expansion, The Wall Street Journal, 18 September 2015,

Tridivesh Singh Maini, Japan’s Effort to Counter China’s Silk Road, The Globalist, 6 April 2016,

Michael Bosack, What did Japan Learn in South Sudan?, The Diplomat, 10 June 2017,
Lithuania actively engages in international policy cooperation on behalf of democracy and market-economic systems, in particular by providing encouragement to its eastern neighbors (the Eastern Partnership countries) to reform, by providing technical and financial assistance, and by serving as an advocate for their interests within the EU institutional framework. Lithuania has been part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan since 2005. The country’s policymakers have managed to coordinate their involvement in these international fields quite effectively. In 2012, Lithuania joined the OECD forum for transparency and the exchange of information for tax purposes, and completed a first compliance assessment. In 2015, Lithuania was invited to start its accession process to the OECD. In the second half of 2013, Lithuania took over the rotating presidency of the European Council, and was afterward assessed by other EU institutions and member states as performing effective work. Furthermore, Lithuania became a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council for the 2014 to 2015 term. The interparty agreement, which includes a commitment to progressively increase defense spending to 2% of GDP by 2018, is further evidence of a willingness to support NATO. However, the government has been less willing or able to contribute to such global challenges as climate change or trade liberalization (except in the context of its presidency of the European Council presidency). In 2017, the European Commission fined Lithuanian Railways (Lietuvos geležinkeliai) €27.9 million for breaching EU antitrust rules by removing a rail track connecting Lithuania and Latvia, which hindered competition in the rail freight market. Lithuanian authorities have also experienced problems in trying to convince regional partners to agree on the preferred option for synchronizing electricity systems with the Central European grid and a common position on the safety risks posed by the new nuclear power plant being constructed in Astravets, Belarus.
Vilpisauskas, R. “Lithuania’s EU Council Presidency: Negotiating Finances, Dealing with Geopolitics,” Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 52, Annual Review, August 2014, pp. 99-108.
South Korea
As a member of the UN, the WTO and the G-20, South Korea helps to shape global rules and foster global public goods. However, it rarely plays a leading role in this regard. As of the time of writing, South Korea had contributed 652 members to UN peacekeeping missions. Development cooperation is one area where Korea could be in a good position to develop a leadership position. South Korea joined the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in 2009. As a successful case of transformation from an ODA-recipient country to an ODA-donor country, Korea has played a proactive role although absolute levels of ODA remain relatively low at 0.14% of GNI. Moreover, interministerial coordination in the area of development cooperation is slowly improving. Korea’s commitment to sustainable development constitutes an important baseline for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Environment have played an important role in preparing for the implementation of the SDGs at both the domestic and international levels. The adoption of the Third Basic Plan for Sustainable Development 2016 – 2035 in January 2016 was a crucial component of Korea’s efforts to translate the SDGs into national frameworks. The Third Plan is updated every five years and progress toward the policy targets of the Third Plan is biennially evaluated by the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Fourteen strategic targets have been set, including improved environmental policies, the promotion of social unity and gender equality, the promotion of inclusive growth, the creation of decent jobs, and the improvement of partnerships in implementing the SDGs.

The Moon administration has also indicated that it will engage in energy-policy reforms more ambitious than those of the previous government. Moon has pledged to increase the share of renewable electricity generation to 20% by 2030. Consequently, the administration is also expected to set more ambitious goals for the reduction of climate-gas emissions beyond the current goal of a 37% reduction relative to the business-as-usual (BAU) projection.
Kalinowski, Thomas and Hyekyung Cho. 2012. Korea’s search for a global role between hard economic interests and soft power. European Journal of Development Research 24 (2):242-260.
The government of Korea. 2016 National Voluntary Review Year One of Implementing the SDGs in the Republic of Korea: From a Model of Development Success to a Vision for Sustainable Development.
Climate Action Tracker. South Korea Profile. November 6, 2017.
In 2017, Spain completed its two-year mandate as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In addition to a general UNSC role, Spain chaired the Iran and North Korea sanctions committees, as well as the Committee on the Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Apart from its UNSC membership, Spain continues to participate in other international efforts to provide global public goods (e.g., financial stability, economic development, security, environment, education, and governance) as one of the leading EU member states, and as a permanent guest at the G-20 summits. It has also contributed to international forums and actions responding to challenges such as climate change (Paris summit), energy supply, illegal migration (in part through bilateral agreements in Northern Africa), global terrorism, and peacekeeping (with Spanish troops deployed as a part of U.N., NATO and EU missions in Lebanon, Sahel, the Horn of Africa waters and the Baltic region). In 2017, Spain assumed the UN Human Rights Council for the 2018 to 2020 term. However, Spanish governments have done little to ensure that the impact of national policies on global issues has been systematically assessed and incorporated into the formulation, coordination, and monitoring of internal policies across governments. Spain’s government has also played only a very small role in addressing the refugee crisis. In March 2017, the four large euro zone countries – Germany, France, Italy and Spain – met in Versailles to discuss their next moves toward greater integration. The presence of the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, after a long period of absence in the “directory” of the European Union, was seen as a turning point – meaning that Spain was overcoming the crisis image. Nevertheless, so far, the Spanish government has not delivered specific proposals regarding the future of the integration process.
October 2017, Agencia EFE: “Spain gets seat on UN Human Rights Council” orld/spain-gets-seat-on-un-human-ri ghts-council/50000262-3409912
The Netherlands has been a protagonist in all forms of international cooperation since the Second World War. However, research has shown that since the late 1970s, 60% of EU directives have been delayed (sometimes by years) before being transposed into Dutch law. The present-day popular attitude to international affairs is marked by reluctance, indifference or rejection. This has had an impact on internal and foreign policy, as indicated by the Dutch shift toward assimilationism in integration and immigration policies; the decline in popular support and subsequent lowering of the 1%-of-government-spending-norm for development aid; the shift in the government’s attitude toward being a net contributor to EU finances; and the rejection of the EU referendum and the recent rejection of the EU treaty with Ukraine in a non-binding referendum.

The change in attitudes has also negatively affected government participation and influence in international coordination of policy and other reforms. Since 2003, the Dutch States General have been more involved in preparing EU-related policy, but largely through the lens of subsidiarity and proportionality – that is, in the role of guarding Dutch sovereignty. However, Dutch ministers do play important roles in the coordination of financial policies at the EU level. Indeed, it is only since the beginning of the banking and financial crisis that the need for better coordination of international policymaking by the Dutch government has led to reforms in the architecture of policy formulation. The sheer number of EU top-level meetings between national leaders forces the Dutch prime minister to act as minister of general and European affairs, with heavy support from the minister of finance. In the first months of 2016, Prime Minister Rutte has acted as chair of the European Union’s Council of Ministers, where he played a leading role in the negotiations with Turkey over stopping the influx of refugees from the Middle East. Immediately after the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, Prime Minister Rutte explicitly stressed the need for the Netherlands to be part of a well-functioning European Union. The Vice-Chair of the European Commission is a former Dutch minister. The Dutch minister for Development Aid and Trade plays an important role in fostering better cooperation between governments, international companies and international aid organizations through transnational treaties on production and supply chains. The Netherlands will be part of the U.N. Security Council for the next year.
R.B. Andeweg & G.A. Irwin, Governance and Politics of The Netherlands (2014). Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 220-228 regarding coordination viz-a-viz the EU and 251-272 for Foreign Policy in general.

“Dijsselbloem herkozen als Eurogroepvoorzitter,” in NRC-Handelsblad, 13 July 2015

“De eerste 100 dagen van eurocommisaris Frans Timmermans,” in Europa Nu, 31 March 2015 (, consulted 26 October 2015), Rutte staat opeens pal voor EU, daagt PVV uit over Nexit, 6 July 2016 (, consulted 9 November 2016)
Within the European Union, the government is obliged to collaborate with EU institutions. This collaboration is rarely controversial. In other matters (e.g., within the framework of the WTO, the Bretton Woods institutions, and the United Nations), the Austrian government tends to play a rather low-key role, usually trying to follow a general EU policy if such a policy exists. In some fields (e.g., environmental protection), the government tends to promise more on the international level than it is willing or able to implement at home. During the debate about CETA, some members of the Austrian government (from the Social Democratic Party) attempted to improve some details even after the European Commission and the Canadian government had reached an agreement. In the end, the Austrian government, represented by the social democratic chancellor, signed CETA. Under the conditions of the new ÖVP-FPÖ government, the reluctance to collaborate with international partners may increase – considering the FPÖ’s emphasis of Austrian positions vis-a-vis transnational agendas.
Canada’s government definitely has the institutional capacity to contribute actively to international efforts to foster the provision of global public goods. Indeed, it has made many contributions in this area throughout its history. The Liberal government has stated that it seeks to return Canada to active participation in international bodies like the United Nations. In September 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau spoke to the U.N. General Assembly and outlined Canada’s commitment to global affairs in an effort to win Canada a seat on the U.N. Security Council, a seat not held since 2000. Climate change is among Prime Minister Trudeau’s declared priorities, as demonstrated in the formation of recent climate policies needed to meet the Paris target. In addition, to help ease the Syrian refugee crisis, Canada has welcomed over 40,000 refugees as of January 2017.
Latvia largely contributes to international actions through engaging in the development of EU policy positions.

Institutional arrangements for the formulation of Latvia’s positions on issues before the European Union are formalized. The system is managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with particular sectoral ministries developing the substance of Latvia’s various positions. The process requires that NGOs be consulted during the early policy-development phase. In practice, ministries implement this requirement to varying degrees. NGOs themselves often lack the capacity (human resources, financial resources, time) to engage substantively with the ministries on an accelerated calendar.

Draft positions are coordinated across ministries and approved in some cases by the sectoral minister, and in other cases by the Council of Ministers. Issues deemed to have a significant impact on Latvia’s national interests are presented to the parliament’s European Affairs Committee, whose decision is binding. The committee considers approximately 500 national positions per year.

During the first six months of 2015, Latvia held the presidency of the Council of the European Union. Latvia’s first experience with the presidency was considered a success, with the country providing appropriate leadership both on expected challenges, such as returning Europe to economic growth, and unexpected challenges, such as the rapidly escalating refugee crisis and terrorist activity in Europe.
Because of its size, Slovakia’s capacity to shape strategic global frameworks is limited. For a long time, the country was eager to be seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner within NATO and European Union. In recent years, however, this reputation and Slovakia’s standing in the European Union has suffered from the Fico governments’ positions on the Greek debt crisis, relations to Russia and the refugee issue, where Slovakia has joined ranks with the other Visegrad countries. This stance made it difficult for Fico to be accepted as an “honest broker” during Slovakia’s first EU presidency in the second half of 2016. As Fico was very much willing to make the presidency a success, he faced a balancing act reconciling mainstream EU positions with his own views. In light of the democratic regression in Hungary and Poland, and increasing euroscepticism in these countries, Fico distanced himself during 2017 from the Visegrad consensus that had developed over the last two years. He clearly positioned Slovakia in the core of the European Union as a supporter of EU reform together with France and Germany. Moreover, Fico prioritized EU relations as the vital interest of the country, before the Visegrad-4.
Jancarikova, T. (2017): Slovakia’s future is with core EU, not eurosceptic eastern nations: PM, in: Reuters, August 15, 2017 (
The United Kingdom has long played a leading role in coordinating international initiatives and the country’s imperial legacy has contributed to its active stance on international commitments. It has led global responses in recent years, for example, in efforts to eradicate poverty in Africa, coordinate the EU response to the Ebola outbreak, promote reform in the financial sector, and combat climate change and corruption.

As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, the United Kingdom is very active in the United Nations in security matters and also plays a prominent role in NATO. Government structures, such as the National Security Council, ensure consistency. It led the way in supporting the Rohingya in October 2017.

However, following the decision to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom will have to rethink its role in the world, especially among its European neighbors. There is a risk that the demands on governance capacity of dealing with the various levels of negotiation will distract attention from wider global concerns. To this extent, domestic politics may be inhibiting international coordination.
The United States sometimes leads international efforts to pursue collective goods – sometimes, indeed, effectively controlling those efforts – while sometimes preferring unilateral approaches that withhold support from international forums. Its institutional structures and political traditions – especially the role of presidential leadership – accommodate all of these approaches. But the United States often cannot act effectively unless a national consensus or single-party control of the government enables the president and Congress to agree on a strategy.

President Obama’s strategy in the Middle East, for example, was hampered by conflict with Congress over support for Israel. Most often, the United States not only collaborates in reform initiatives promoted by international forums, but actively works to shape their agenda. The United States is also an effective participant in the G-7/8 process. The most notable change under the Obama administration was the move toward participation in broader international forums such as the G-20 that include emerging-market countries such as China, Brazil and India.

The Trump administration, with its avowed “America First” orientation, has reduced its engagement in international forums and agreements. This has included lecturing NATO members on their allegedly insufficient contributions, withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement and declining to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
Croatia has supported major global reform initiatives, especially in environmental affairs. However, the Milanović government did not pay particular attention to improving the country’s capacity to engage in global affairs or to assessing the global repercussions of national policies. Unlike her predecessor, President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović has not been very active in improving cooperation with the other successor states of the former Yugoslavia.
Engagement in international development is mainly the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is an interministerial coordination group tasked with coordinating foreign-policy issues, which includes cabinet ministers. As in other areas, Estonia is good at adhering to international commitments but rarely takes the lead. Likewise, Estonia is not very good at assessing the impact of national policies on the global challenge of human development. Assessment takes place in some policy areas (e.g., environment, energy and IT), but integrated coordination and monitoring across policy fields remains in its infancy. Yet in some specific areas, such as development aid and combatting HIV/AIDS, various interest groups do serve as active government partners.
Iceland is an active participant in international forums, but seldom initiates measures. Iceland was a founding member of the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank, and NATO. In 2008, Iceland sought a U.N. Security Council seat, but eventually lost out to Austria and Turkey. Largely, Iceland has worked cooperatively within international frameworks, but has not led any significant process of international coordination. Iceland did participate in peacekeeping efforts in Iraq and modestly participates in the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In 2009, Iceland applied for EU membership. Those negotiations were postponed at the beginning of 2013 due to dissent between the coalition partners. The 2013-2016 cabinet did not renew negotiations and finally withdrew Iceland’s application for membership in 2015. As a result, the European Union no longer includes Iceland on its official list of applicant countries. Even so, the European Union may continue to view Iceland as an applicant country on the grounds that that the minister of foreign affairs was not authorized to withdraw an application approved by parliament without parliament’s approval.

This question remains unsettled. It remains to be seen if a national referendum will be held on whether Iceland should resume its membership negotiations with the European Union. The cabinet of 2013-2016 rejected that option, producing a split within the Independence Party and leading to the establishment of a splinter party, Regeneration. Yet, when the Independence Party formed a cabinet coalition with the breakout party, Regeneration, and Bright Future in January 2017, the coalition agreement included only a vaguely worded intention to have a national referendum on the issue. Following the breakup of that coalition in September 2017, which led to a new election in late October 2017, the question remains unresolved. A national referendum on this issue or any issue would raise criticisms in view of the parliament’s failure to respect the outcome of the 2012 constitutional referendum.
In conjunction with its OECD accession in 2010, Israel created government agencies designed to coordinate, enforce and monitor administrative changes. Reforms aiming to improve interministerial cooperation and reinforce policy monitoring are still in the early stages of implementation. A 2015 report examined Israel’s global cooperation in the field of research and development (R&D), looking at the country’s administrative and economic capabilities. It found that while Israel is considered to be a leading R&D actor worldwide, more coordination and improvements with regard to accessible information and standardization capabilities are warranted. The Israel Innovation Authority decided to stop providing grants to high-tech companies in 2016 due to budget cuts.
Avital, Yanicm, “Which country spend the most on research and development among OECD countires?, GeekTime, 15.7.2015. (Hebrew).

“Israel in the OECD,” Minister of Treasury formal report (2010) (Hebrew).

Kaufman, Dan and Marom, Yael, “Evaluation of international cooperation programs in R&D in Israel,” The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies (May 2011) (Hebrew).

Orbah, Mair. “The Ministry of Economy has stopped giving grants to High-Tech companies,” Calcalist, 11.8.2016.,7340,L-3695401,00.html

“Progress report on the implementation of the OECD recommendations: Labor market and social policies,” Ministry of Industry, trade and labor official report (June 2012).
The Mexican government is increasingly confident of its role in the broader world. Mexico has traditionally been supportive of international initiatives, in the hope of reducing the bilateralism imposed by Mexico’s close and asymmetrical relationship with the United States. Mexico continues to play an active role in the United Nations, OECD and other intergovernmental organizations. It also remains an enthusiastic participant in multilateral organizations, including international financial organizations such as the World Bank, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank. Mexico has been playing an important role in the U.N. Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) process and participated in the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in 2015. In 2016, the government was also active in global demining initiatives and in the global compact for safe and orderly migration. Numerous policy and organizational recommendations made by international bodies have been adopted in the Mexican policymaking process. Thus, it has a supportive role in many international attempts oriented toward the provision of global public goods. Whether this engagement in international affairs is sufficient to shape international efforts is questionable given the country’s reduced level of international leverage in economic and security affairs. However, within its capacities, Mexico has contributed to strengthening multilateralism. In this regard, governments in recent years have also attempted to take a mediating role in international forums between the interests of developed and developing countries, which is a change compared to the traditional aspirations of Mexico to become a speaker for the developing world. Against the backdrop of the unilateralism of the Trump administration, multilateralism offers important opportunities for Mexico.
With the new government, Poland’s international orientation has changed. Although Prime Minister Szydło and her cabinet members do not reject cooperation within the European Union per se, they detest all steps toward a deeper integration and are more critical of the German role in the European Union. In 2017, Poland not only closed the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Introducing the Euro and the Office of Polish Integration with the Eurozone in the National Bank of Poland. The government also wants to leave the Eurokorps, a common EU defense unit, since the government sees NATO as the main actor in the field of defense and contests European actions in this area. Because of the PiS government’s intransigence, Poland’s reputation and standing within the European Union have suffered. This became clearly visible when, in May 2017, Poland was the only country to vote against Donald Tusk’s re-election as president of the European Council. At the same time, however, Poland wants to play an active role within NATO, and has tried to establish a closer relationship with the United States and within the Visegrad group (Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia). While the four Visegrad countries agree on the refugee issue and climate policy, and Poland and Hungary are the main opponents of Macron’s recent initiative to amend the worker’s directive, they hold different attitudes toward Russia. Unlike the other Visegrad countries, Poland has strongly supported the sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union.
Fuksiewicz, A., A. Łada (2017): When two Plus Two Doesn’t Equal four. The Visegrad Group on the Future of Europe, Instytut Spraw Publicznych, Analyses & Opinions No. 23 /150, Warsaw (

Łada, A. (2017): Poland in Europe – Regional Leader or outlier? Poland’s European policy in view of the changes on the continent. Warsaw: Instytut Spraw Publicznych (
Romania’s NATO and EU accessions were celebrated as significant milestones and part of a reunification process with Western Europe following the collapse of communism. Romanian governments have supported international efforts to provide global public goods. As of June 2017, Romanian military forces were deployed in 10 among 15 U.N. peacekeeping missions and one special political mission. The country’s international ambitions are evident in its intention to seek a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council from 2020-2021.
Like its predecessors, Prime Minister Cerar’s government was preoccupied with domestic political and economic issues and paid little attention to improving institutional capacity for shaping and implementing global initiatives. The country’s main international focus has been on shaping the European Union’s policy toward the western Balkans, where Slovenia sees its strategic interests. In the period under review, the arbitration case decision on the 25-year long territorial dispute continued between Croatia and Slovenia over the Gulf of Piran and some part of the land border, was finally publicly announced by the Court in June 2017, and awaiting implementation on both sides. It might be significant in the future, not only for Slovenia and Croatia, but also for the broader Western Balkan region, if the decision is respected by both parties.
Nielsen, N. (2017): Croatia ignores ruling on Slovenia border dispute, in: EU Observer, June 30, 2017 (
Switzerland is a fairly active member of the United Nations, the IMF, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe and most of the other important international organizations. Swiss foreign economic policy works actively to defend the interests of its export-oriented economy, as for instance in the context of the WTO.

The policy of neutrality and the objective of safeguarding national autonomy set clear limits to the country’s international engagement in the past, however, and direct democracy further reduced the scope of action in international affairs. During the growing polarization witnessed in Swiss politics over the past 20 years, together with the associated decline in consociational patterns of behavior, right-wing politicians have emphasized the notion of a small, neutral and independent nation-state surviving on the basis of smart strategies in a potentially hostile environment. Large portions of the population support these ideas. Popular skepticism toward European integration has mounted over the course of the last years. Nonetheless, it would be wrong to repeat the cliché of Switzerland as a solitary lone wolf, as there have been various attempts to contribute to international cooperative ventures. However, the country concentrates its efforts in areas where it can realistically have some influence, such as economic matters or technical organizations dealing with issues such as transport, ecology or development. This said, there is a clear gap between the government’s stated goals in terms of international cooperation and the resources – institutional or otherwise – that it has at its disposal for these tasks
As a result of the ongoing civil war in Syria, Turkey has hosted and assisted more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, with only a limited proportion of refugees living in state-run refugee camps. The EU-Turkey Statement has become an important element of the European Union’s comprehensive approach on migration. While Turkey accuses the European Union of falling behind on its promises, the European Union claims that €3 billion were allocated through the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey in 2016 and 2017.

The U.S.-led coalition campaign to destroy the Islamic State group enters its fourth year, with authorities declaring concrete improvements. However, Turkey, a key player in the coalition, has also intensified its own separate efforts in Syria. The Turkish military established its own mission in Northern Syria in 2016 and 2017. This mission has since developed into a full military confrontation with the U.S.-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey claimed the mission is part of Turkey’s efforts to fight all terrorist organizations, including ISIL. In December 2016, a total of 3,359 people were taken into custody for associating with ISIL militants and 1,313 were arrested. Since November 2017, police officers have conducted almost daily raids on ISIL cells across Turkey, with increasing intensity in the past few weeks.

In addition to the consultative, coordinative and cooperative structures within NATO and the European Union, Turkey also participated in the Vienna and Geneva talks as well as – after overcoming disputes with Russia – bilateral talks with Russia, Iran and other regional players in search of a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict.
“Number of Syrian refugees in Turkey reaches 3.2 million,” 4 October 2017, (accessed 1 November 2017)
“EU-Turkey Statement one Year on,” (accessed 1 November 2017)
“Anti-ISIL operations enter fourth year “, Hürriyet Daily News, 8 August 2017,——116502 (accessed 1 November 2017)
“Turkey’s Interior Ministry releases report on its operations against ISIL,” 28 December 2016, (accessed 1 November 2017)
Turkey to contribute more to UN peacekeeping, says PM, 29.09.2015, (accessed 27 October 2015).
Murat Yetkin, BM’den Türkiye’ye mülteci uyarısı: Yıl sonuna dek 2,5 milyonu bulur, 27.4.2015, (accessed 27 October 2015).
Turkey rejects EU offer on refugee crisis, Aljazeera, 15 October 2015, (accessed 27 October 2015).
Turkey’s air force hits IS and PKK in Syria and Iraq, 26 July 2015, (accessed 27 October 2015).
While the capacity of Bulgarian government bodies to correspond with, coordinate and participate in international processes and initiatives has improved markedly over recent years, the fact remains that Bulgaria is still primarily reactive in terms of international efforts to foster the provision of global public goods. This is due both to a lack of capacity and a risk-minimizing strategy of avoiding the commitments involved in taking proactive positions. More often than not, Bulgaria tends to take part in international efforts but wait for the international community to formulate policies, set goals and benchmarks. It then does its best to implement those domestically. Inasmuch as there is coordination and assessment going on, it is for these reactive purposes. A recent example of this type of behavior has been Bulgaria’s dithering regarding the international sanctions against Russia. The country has taken on a more active role in shaping the European Union’s response to the refugee issue.
Cyprus’s preoccupation with its own challenges has prevented it from sufficiently seizing opportunities offered through its membership in the EU, UN and other intergovernmental organizations. Its contribution to global public welfare is limited and mechanisms or plans to ensure such contribution are largely absent. Instead, the Cyprian government’s focus remains on bilateral relations and isolated contributions on specific matters in international fora. Since 2012, government resources and attention have mostly been absorbed by efforts to overcome the economic crisis. However, the discovery of hydrocarbons has yielded some initiatives aimed at coordinating with neighboring countries, given that existing conflicts are fueled by these explorations. Nevertheless, Cyprus’s strategic location offers a great potential to contribute to the common good in the region and globally.
Czech Rep.
For a long time, the Czech government acted not as a leader, but as a trustworthy and reliable partner of the international community. Vis-à-vis the European Union, this changed in the summer of 2015 in the context of the refugee crisis. Together with other Visegrad countries, the Czech Republic opposed EU quotas for the relocation of refugees, a position with strong public support and encouraged by growing anti-Islamic rhetoric, notably from President Zeman. In May 2017, the Czech government did not join the Hungarian and Slovak governments in questioning the EU refugee quotas in front of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In July 2017, the ECJ upheld the mandatory refugee relocation quotas and the European Commission sent a formal request to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland – the three countries currently in breach of their legal obligations – to begin complying with the quotas. The Czech Republic and Slovakia (unlike Poland and Hungary) have taken some refugees, but continue to cite security concerns. The lack of a credible plan to implement the euro, inconsistent attitudes toward the European integration process and numerous scandals associated with the use of EU funds, as well as the unwillingness of government ministers to attend high-level EU meetings, have resulted in the country’s marginalization in European structures.
Greece, through its membership in the euro zone and through EU summits and meetings of ministers, has participated in international efforts to foster the provision of public goods. For instance, Greece has been vocal at international forums in pressuring for a global response to migration issues, emphasizing that migration from the developing world into Europe is not solely a Greek problem arising from its geographical position between Europe and Asia. However, given its own severe economic crisis, Greece has been unable to develop institutional capacities beyond its role as an EU member state in fostering the provision of public goods nor has it been able to devote resources to ensure that its own policies are in line with international policies.
Malta does not have the institutional capacity to actively shape a wide range of international efforts. However, Malta has sought to do this within its immediate Mediterranean region and increasingly within the EU. Since 1975, Malta has been a rapporteur of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. It continues to support good-governance efforts in Libya and Tunisia and co-operates closely on refugee and migration issues with neighboring countries. Malta accepts more asylum-seekers per capital than almost all other countries and was one of the few EU countries to honor in full the EU relocation program by taking in its full quota (accepting 131 refugees and asylum-seekers). As such, it has invested heavily in support services since 2013. In 2015, Malta hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and contributed toward the setting up of a fund to assist small commonwealth island countries with adapting to climate change and the fight to eradicate polio. Preliminary discussions also took place in preparation for the climate change summit in Paris. In October 2015, Malta hosted a EU-Africa migration conference (i.e., Valletta Summit on Migration). It has been pressing for the implementation of agreements reached at the summit and is planning a follow-up meeting for 2017. In December 2015, it facilitated talks between Libya’s rival factions in support of a UN peace plan. Malta’s progress in this sphere has also been demonstrated by its success during the EU presidency.
Galustain, R., Libya Mediation via Malta, Times of Malta 01/11/16
Malta representative in Palestine visits PLO dignitaries in Ramallah
Since the beginning of the EU refugee crisis, Prime Minister Orbán has looked for an international role for himself and has increasingly been elevated to one of Europe’s “strong men” in the Fidesz press. He has intensified cooperation within the Visegrád group, especially on migration policy and has boasted about his good relationship with Putin. However, all these activities have further undermined his standing with other European leaders. The conflict of the Orbán government with the EU has further deepened in the refugee crisis and by the “Stop Brussels campaign.” As a result, the strongest reaction has come from the European Peoples Party, from the Fidesz party family that led to the historical event when the European Parliament resolution called to invoke Art. 7, passed by a a large majority on 17 May 2017, with many MEPs from the EPP voting in favor. On top of that, the European Court of Justice on 6 September 2017 refused the Hungarian – jointly with Slovakia and supported by Poland – claim against the allocation of refugees among the member states. But Orbán has not stopped attacking Brussels, he has declared that the Commission has been working according to the “Soros Plan.”
The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
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