Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


POSTPONED: 'Book Talk with MEP Urmas Paet on the Future of the EU’s Foreign Policy'

08 December 2021, 5:00 pm–6:30 pm


Due to travel restrictions this event has been postponed. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

This event is free.

Event Information

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Department of European & International Social & Political Studies (EISPS)


IAS Common Ground
Ground Floor, South Wing
UCL, Gower Street
United Kingdom

Due to travel restrictions this event has been postponed. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

This event is organised by UCL's Department of European & International Social & Political Studies (EISPS).

From Spectator to Actor. Changing Gear in EU Foreign Policy

Urmas Paet

The EU has long aspired to play a role in world affairs commensurate with its status as an economic power, an ambition embodied in the common foreign and security policy (CFSP), the European External Action Service and a host of programmes, policies and mechanisms.

In this call to action, Renew Europe MEP Urmas Paet, who was Estonian foreign minister from 2005-2014, forensically examines the EU’s too-often ineffective performance in the face of a wide range of foreign policy challenges. Lack of consensus among the member states, slow decision-making, strategic confusion, poor engagement with potential partners and an absence of real conviction are constant themes.

The inescapable conclusion is that in foreign policy the EU, while a source of ceaseless pronouncements and declarations, remains a minor player in a world where Great Power politics have reasserted themselves – and a world in which systemic challenges to the western democratic model, from Russia, China and others have become more powerful than when the CFSP was initiated. Mr Paet’s theme is to learn from the past, not dwell on it, and to grasp the nettle to achieve a unified and effective strategy before it is too late. Bold, but realistic and pragmatic ambition must replace vague and ill-defined aspirations which produce nothing.

As he writes “It is simply no longer enough to stride around the world offering hope, values and a cheque book. The EU and its member states need … to prioritise and strategise, speak with one voice and with common goals, and do so with clarity and consistency.”

About the speakers:

Urmas Paet

Member of the European Parliament (Renew Europe Group)
Urmas Paet has been a Member of the European Parliament as of November 2014. He specializes in foreign and security policy issues. He is the Vice-Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a member of the Security and Defence Committee as well as a substitute member in the International Trade Committee. Mr Paet is also the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Working Group on Eastern Partnership. In November 2019 Urmas Paet founded the European Parliament-Arctic Friendship Group and serves as the Chair of the group. He is the rapporteur of the European Defence Union Report, the EU Arctic Policy Report, the Cyber Defence Report and the Report on the State of EU Cyber Defence Capabilities.
Before joining the European Parliament, Urmas Paet was the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia for almost ten years. Urmas Paet has also served as a Minister of Culture and as the Head of the Nõmme City district in Tallinn.

He majored in Political Science and started out as a journalist in Estonian Radio and daily newspaper “Postimees”.

Allan Sikk

I joined UCL SSEES in 2007, after receiving my PhD from Tartu University and working as the head of Estonian parliament’s research service. At UCL, much of my research has focussed on Central and Eastern Europe, but I am interested in using a common analytical lens for the study of democracies old and new. I believe that the study of politics can and should be equally informed by classic models of comparative politics, largely based on Western Europe, and often more idiosyncratic insights from new democracies.
My research interests are currently expanding to political careers, political corruption and EU politics. I have recently finished compiling a dataset on electoral candidates in Central and Eastern Europe (over 170,000 records) with Philipp Köker that we are planning to extend to other democracies. For managing and analysing the dataset, I have developed extensive code in R that includes innovative elements of machine learning.
At UCL SSEES, I have been actively involved in academic programme management, particularly in 2010-14, when I was the programme coordinator of a unique International Masters programme in Economy, States and Society (IMESS) based on a consortium of eight European universities. I have participated in collaborative research projects including ANTICORRP (EU’s FP7 programme) and inter-disciplinary ESRC seminar series “The Nordic and Baltic States in the European Political Imagination”. I am regularly involved in knowledge exchange including briefings for outgoing UK diplomats, regular briefings to the media (including the Economist, BBC, Reuters, France24 etc) and organizing the biannual Baltic Symposia at UCL.