From irreversible openness to protectionism: geopolitics and international research cooperation in the European Union

Annette Bamberger, Tien Yin Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper analyses the EU’s approach to international research cooperation between 2012–2022 drawing on critical geopolitical perspectives and the spatial politics of (re)bordering. It identifies two periods which represent the EU’s shifting approaches to international research cooperation from the pursuit of a liberal agenda promoting openness towards selective closure and a focus on ideological differences, regional interests and protectionism. This shift, we argue, was prompted by the changing geopolitical environment, marked by escalating tensions and perceived threats to the EU’s economic stability, global position, security, and normative values. These factors spurred a re-evaluation of the EU’s approach to international research cooperation, and a (re)bordering of its research space. We suggest that the EU began with utopian visions about the possibilities of neoliberal globalisation, open societies and economic collaboration and ended up withdrawing to a more closed and protectionist position in response to increasing external and internal threats, such as the aggressive actions of Russia in Ukraine, cyber-attacks by China, and the undermining of academic freedom in member states such as Hungary. This analysis contributes to understanding the relationship between geopolitics, higher education, and international research cooperation, highlighting the impact of a changing geopolitical environment on scientific cooperation in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Education Policy
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • European Union
  • geopolitics
  • higher education
  • international research collaboration
  • Internationalisation of research
  • research policy


Dive into the research topics of 'From irreversible openness to protectionism: geopolitics and international research cooperation in the European Union'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this