Postdoctoral researchers “Sino American Competition and European Strategic Autonomy”

The Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy (CSDS) of the Brussels School of Governance (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) is seeking to recruit two postdoctoral researchers as part of a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant project entitled ‘Sino American Competition and European Strategic Autonomy’ (SINATRA).

SINATRA examines to what extent the European Union (EU) autonomously makes decisions regarding its relations with the United States and China. To do that, it builds on the concepts of wedging (Crawford, 2008, 2011, 2021; Izumikawa, 2013) and binding (Nexon, 2009, Izumikawa, 2018) and presents a comprehensive theory to explain to what extent and under what circumstances external or internal actors have the upper hand in informing European policy choices in Sino-American competition. Specifically, the project seeks to examine how the United States and China conjugate inducements and coercion to influence EU policies – paying particular attention to their efforts to leverage intra-European divisions – and how powerful European actors try to repel external wedging efforts and preserve European cohesion.

The empirical analysis examines the degree of European cohesion and autonomy in three areas of external policy: one in which the EU enjoys exclusive competences (trade and FDI); a second where it shares competences with the member states (technology and infrastructure); and a third where member states are in charge (foreign and security policy). This distinction allows us to evaluate variation in the degree of European autonomy across policy areas.

The project draws on mixed methods research, combining quantitative analysis of European, American and Chinese voting patterns and public discourse (i.e. through the use of automated content analysis and manual coding) in a variety of international organizations and debates with qualitative analysis.

Within the above framework, Postdoctoral candidates are expected to draft a short research proposal around one or more of the following themes:

  • Economic statecraft and great power competition.
  • Sino-American economic competition, with a particular emphasis on trade, investment and infrastructure.
  • Geoeconomics and European strategic autonomy.
  • China’s strategy in Europe, and attempts to influence the policies of the European Union and/or its member states in areas like trade, investment, infrastructure.
  • US strategy in Europe

This position may include some teaching.


  • You must hold a PhD in international relations, political science or economics.
  • You must be fully fluent in English
  • You must have a thorough knowledge of international affairs, public policy or European studies
  • You must experience in quantitative analysis (ability to work with a combination of python, stata and R is a plus but not mandatory).


We offer a 1 FTE contract for 12 months (extendable, on condition of the positive evaluation of the research activities), with planned starting date 01/10/2023.

You will receive a salary linked to one of the scales set by the government. At the VUB, you’re guaranteed an open, involved and diverse workplace where you are offered opportunities to (further) build on your career.

You will enjoy various benefits:

  • Full reimbursement for your home-work commute with public transport according to VUB-policy, or compensation if you come by bike;
  • Cost-free hospitalisation insurance;
  • The space to form your job content and continuously learn via VUB LRN;
  • Excellent facilities for sport and exercise;
  • Ecocheques;
  • Delicious meals at attractive prices in our campus restaurants;
  • An open, family-friendly work environment where attention is paid to work-life balance, and exceptional holiday arrangements with 35 days of leave (based on a fulltime contract).


Go to the dedicated VUB Page, HERE:

Fill out the online form and send us your CV, letter of motivation (including a short research proposal of maximum 5 pages) and the highest degree you’ve attained (not applicable for VUB alumni). Deadline: 31/01/2023.

Do you have questions about the job content? Contact Natalia Martin at