Luis Simón wins ERC grant for research on Europe’s place in Sino-American Competition

Professor Luis Simón, Director of the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy (CSDS)at the VUB’s Brussels School of Governance, has been awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant of 1.7 million euros for his project ‘Subject or Object? Europe in Sino-American Competition’. The 5-year project will kick off in January 2023 and will examine the impact of US-China competition upon Europe and its role in the world. The EU’s European Research Council (ERC) grants are generally regarded as the most prestigious for researchers in the EU. The application procedure is extremely selective and the grants are awarded to independent, outstanding scientists who are conducting ground-breaking scientific research of the highest quality.

The project

Luis Simón’s award-winning project examines which factors account for Europe’s degree of autonomy in Sino-American competition. The increasing power struggle between the United States and China is probably the most important factor in contemporary and future international politics. The main innovation in his research is an original theory to explain how external actors combine coercion and incentives to influence EU policy, especially by undermining EU unity; how EU actors draw on those same strategies to preserve their unity and autonomy; and, critically, under which circumstances external or internal forces are likely to prevail. The project challenges conventional wisdom in contemporary scholarship, which posits that Europe is poised to become either a subject or an object in Sino-American competition. A driving assumption of this project is that Europe will be subject and object simultaneously, and the focus will be on unpacking the mechanics of that tension. The project will combine quantitative and qualitative analysis, and zoom in on three areas of external policy: trade and investment; technology and infrastructure; and foreign and security policy.

Second ERC project at Brussels School of Governance

With the ERC grant for Luis Simón’s project, there are currently two researchers at the Brussels School of Governance who have received ERC funding. In 2020, professor Liliana Lizarazo-Rodriguez was awarded an ERC Starting Grant for her project CURIAE VIRIDES. In this project, Liliana and her team are exploring the progressive transformation of human rights litigation into more eco-centric litigation and the role of (activist) courts.