Hybrid Threats after the Strategic Compass: Disinformation and natural resources

Inés Satué Crespo

June 2022

This commentary results from CEPS’ Young Thinkers roundtable on ‘Global responses to hybrid threats and warnings from Ukraine’, which took place on 24 March 2022, and thus the recommendations proposed here are inspired by the contributions made by Maxime Lebrun of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE).

The analysis and recommendations herein have been supervised by CEPS Researcher Dylan Macchiarini Crosson, who provided invaluable insight and guidance. Moreover, of the review and comments made by CEPS Research Fellow Lina Vosyliute were also extremely important, whose expertise in the field has been vital to the content of this commentary. 


Borders and migration flows are a sensitive topic for EU Member States. Consequently, some third countries have tried to take advantage of it and ‘threaten’ the EU with the uncontrolled opening of their borders. This political strategy is a recurring phenomenon that continues to catch policymakers flatfooted.

In response, the European Commission presented a proposal for a regulation addressing situations of the ‘instrumentalisation’ of migration in December 2021. The proposal has been criticised by academia [1] and international organisations such as ECRE and PICUM for undermining human rights protections. Such was the discontent that more than 50 associations, NGOs, and entities in the field of immigration and asylum signed a Joint Statement in September 2022 flatly rejecting the proposal.

Nevertheless, the flaws in this regulatory proposal can be remedied. Most importantly, another way of framing the situation is also possible by strengthening the EU’s migration and asylum system to ensure that human rights are respected.

The instrumentalisation of migrants and asylum-seekers: Background, concepts, and figures

Since the so-called ‘migration crisis’ of 2015, there has been a rising trend of outsourcing migration control, whereby Member States strive to shift the responsibility for border control, asylum applications and readmission of asylum seekers to neighbouring countries.

To this end, they have concluded informal deals on migration issues, i.e. the EU-Turkey Statement or the Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya. Another recent example of this trend, albeit outside the EU, is the UK-Rwanda deal, where Rwanda is offered cash in exchange for accepting refugees and migrants.

Through these agreements, in exchange for certain benefits such as visa facilitation, development cooperation programmes or stronger trade and investment flows, those third countries also acquire leverage over EU border management that places them in an advantageous strategic position. In short, they can use this position as a bargaining chip against the EU to obtain concrete political results.

This phenomenon is especially dangerous in the cases of illiberal governments or weak democracies.

For example, former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi promised to ‘turn Europe black’ if the EU failed to meet his demands in 2010, a strategy to which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also repeatedly resorted to in 2015 and 2020.

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko also decided in 2021 to retaliate against the economic sanctions imposed on his regime by the EU by neglecting border controls and facilitating crossings into the Schengen area. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), during the summer of 2021, the Belarusian authorities offered tourist visas and promises of legal entry to the EU. This strategy has also been framed as state sponsored migrant smuggling. Under these pledges, between 3 000 and 4 000 persons entered Poland, while approximately 16 000 attempts to cross were stopped by Poland’s border patrol.

According to the Polish Border Guard and OCHA, there were more than 30 000 attempts of irregular crossing between 1 August and the 4November (11 300 only in October [2] ), while only 8188 were recorded in the whole of 2020. 600 people also entered Lithuania in the first six months of 2021, twice as many as the previous four years put together.

In light of these figures, we could indeed speak of ‘massive’ migratory flows, provoked (or at least facilitated) by these governments.

But it is important that the notion of instrumentalisation is not ambiguous or trivialised, so that it cannot be exploited to justify inappropriate responses.

The notion of instrumentalisation covers cases in which third country leaders threaten to crowd Europe’s borders in order to obtain a reaction from the EU or a specific Member State. To that effect, they would indiscriminately ‘instrumentalise’ all kinds of people: from migrants seeking a better future to those fleeing war and conflict. Their goal is to obtain a political result, regardless of the situation and needs of the people caught up in the middle.

The Commission’s proposed Instrumentalisation Regulation

There is no universal method to effectively prevent or react to the instrumentalisation of migrants. Nevertheless, the solution could lie in a change of perspective. Since treating the arrival of migrants and asylum-seekers at the EU’s borders as a ‘burden’ leads to the avoidance of international obligations, the EU should strengthen its reception system to ensure that their rights are respected.

It is the EU and the Member States’ duty to align with the human rights obligations derived from the CEAS, as well as from other international instruments such as the Global Compact for Migration and the Global Compact for Refugees.

In contrast, the Commission’s proposed response to instrumentalisation of migration that sets out just the opposite.

The proposal for an Instrumentalisation Regulation introduces derogations from the current EU migration and asylum legislative framework in the case of massive, state-sponsored flows of immigrants and asylum-seekers. This move, as stressed by ECRE and scholars, could undermine the fundamental rights safeguards for migrants and asylum-seekers, who would thus suffer the consequences of a political conflict they are not a part of.

Specifically, this proposal offers the Member State receiving such migration flows various possibilities to derogate from the current asylum system. That is, they may reduce the number of border crossing points where asylum applications can be registered, extend the deadline for registering applications to up to four weeks and they can adopt the emergency border procedure in almost all possible cases.

In general, these derogations are based on notions that are not clearly defined. Firstly, the notion of state-sponsored migration flows is flawed and disregards migrants as victims. Also, the element of intentionality by the third country concerned ‘to destabilise the Member State concerned or the Union as a whole’ is open to varying interpretations. This could be problematic knowing that for the receiving Member State to be able to trigger the derogations, a Council implementing decision would be needed. If the notions to be discussed and voted on by the Council are vague or ambiguous there is a risk of the procedure being politicised.

Moreover, the very framing of the solutions proposed is questionable. The measures proposed by Commission regulation will only affect and undermine the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers, instead of the political leaders that provoke such situations. If this regulation is triggered in the case of ‘state-sponsored migration flows’, the response should then be addressed to the neighbouring countries that aim to push the ‘open-borders’ button. Otherwise this regulation would only provide a ‘close theborders’ button for the EU to deny access to people seeking international protection.

Another concerning point is the extension of border processing to almost all asylum applications, which can lead to the de facto detention of children and other vulnerable people.

According to ECRE and PICUM, there is evidence that border processing takes place in detention. Thus, the fundamental rights to ‘human dignity, the right to asylum, the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to liberty and security, protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition, the rights of the child and the right to an effective remedy’ would be affected under the Regulation.

While acknowledging that there is no one magic solution for these situations, it is necessary to ensure that the option chosen complies with human rights standards enshrined in EU and international law.

A different approach: Human rights as the cornerstone

Firstly, as the main root cause of this situation is the over-outsourcing of responsibility for border controls, the EU should abandon its practice of externalising border management and asylum procedures so that no third country is placed in a position of responsibility or privilege.

As for the question of how to respond effectively to these types of threats, various points are worth mentioning.

Regarding the Instrumentalisation Regulation, the mere idea of addressing a conflicting situation by cutting back on human rights is, as expressed by the aforementioned Joint Statement, misguided. If third country leaders seek to destabilise the EU by trying to overwhelm Member States’ border management capacities, the measures to be taken should be addressed to them (i.e. targeted sanctions to political leaders), rather than by further harming those who have migrated.

If the Regulation is to be adopted, any derogation from the CEAS must be based on detailed and well-defined concepts and limits. It is certain that flexibility is key when dealing with extraordinary situations, but the emergency rhetoric should not be used to cut back on human rights. The applicable framework must not leave a margin of discretion capable of undermining the rights of the most vulnerable.

More broadly, rather than devising entirely new policies or procedures, a change of perspective may be more desirable: To avoid the need for exceptional measures against instrumentalisation threats, preparing the asylum system to welcome people seeking international protection is key. This has been proven recently by the efficient reception and welcoming of the thousands of people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Since the objective of such threats is to place a burden on the EU’s external borders, in order to deny such an effect, we must not treat it as a border issue that can solely be solved by closing or limiting access to crossing points. Instead, migration management systems (i.e. reception capacities, asylum procedures and safe returns) must be strengthened to guarantee that human rights are respected.

These threats are clearly aimed at politically trapping receiving countries. As such, the EU and its Member States must ensure that human rights are protected and the respective procedures are duly followed, both with regards to migrants and asylum-seekers.

All of this would have the ultimate effect of depriving neighbours of such a politically sensitive tool and denying them the intended results of such tactics.

Only by eradicating the privileged positions of third countries over EU border management, changing the mindset and adopting better defined measures, can the EU deny neighbouring authorities the power to use migrants as weapons for political ends.

[1] Marco Gerbaudo (2022), ‘The European Commission’s Instrumentalization Strategy: Normalising Border Procedures and De Facto Detention’, available at https://www.europeanpapers.eu/en/europeanforum/european-commission-instrumentalization-strategy-border-procedures-detention; Mirko Forti (2022), ‘Weaponisation of Migrants? Migrants as a (Political) Weapon and the EU Regulatory Response: What to Expect Now’, available at https://www.ejiltalk.org/weaponisation-of-migrants-migrants-as-a-political-weapon-and-the-eu-regulatory-response-what-to-expect-now/

[2] It is worth mentioning that this number does not unequivocally correspond to the number of persons present in the border, as many attempt to cross several times.

The author

Inés Satué Crespo

Rosanna Fanni

Researcher & TTD Coordinator

Rosanna Fanni is Coordinator of the Trade and Technology Dialogue (TTD) and Researcher in the Global Governance, Regulation, Innovation and Digital Economy (GRID) Unit.

As TTD Project Coordinator, she is responsible for the overall management of analysis, events and stakeholder engagement activities to support the EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council and its ten Working Groups.

Her research interests focus on comparative analysis of digital policy and the impact on international relations. Working on the European Union’s digital portfolio, she developed expertise on governance and regulation of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), data, platforms, digital identity, and digital rights. She studied the impact of AI on European fundamental rights on behalf of the European Commission and was rapporteur for the CEPS Industrial Policy Task Force – Digital & Data Working Group. In 2021, she was a Fulbright-Schuman Fellow and Visiting Researcher at The Brookings Institution (Washington, DC), working on transatlantic relations and AI governance for the Forum for International Cooperation on AI (FCAI). She also co-organises the CEPS Young Thinkers Initiative to bring bright young minds at the forefront of EU policy debates. She is currently also EU-ASEAN Think Tank Dialogue Fellow and board member of Club Alpbach Belgium–Brussels.

Prior to joining CEPS, she was study visitor at the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) focusing on foresight and science communication, interned with the European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom, and earlier worked in political journalism at ZEIT ONLINE and ZDF.

Rosanna holds an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) in Digital Communication Leadership from Universität Salzburg (AT) and Vrije Universiteit Brussels (BE). She specialised in EU digital policy and innovation with a semester at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her MA thesis on the normative policy framework of (un)ethical AI was awarded greatest distinction. She holds a BA degree in Communication, Media and Political Science from the Freie Universität Berlin including an Erasmus year at the University College London in European Social and Political Studies.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Cameron MacBride

I am a final year masters student, originally from Scotland but currently living in Bosnia & Herzegovina. My main area of focus is the Western Balkans & EU integration. I am incredibly excited to get underway with the work of the YPD due to the opportunity it provides for young thinkers to come together and discuss some of the most pressing issues for the EU going forward.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Giovanni Scomparin

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs from the University of Turin (Italy), and a Master’s Degree in International Energy from the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) at Sciences Po. Currently, I am working within the consulting division of a major French utility company, focusing on energy transition-related projects (e.g. multi-country on-site solar projects, clean electricity procurement, etc.). Before that, I spent a year at a policy/regulatory consultancy, covering EU energy and climate policy. I am particularly interested in broadening my understanding of clean technologies (including their impact on raw materials demand), power and gas markets, and energy infrastructures.

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Alexis Kontoghiannis

As a Chemical Engineer and Environmental Policy graduate from Sciences Po Paris, I have an in-depth experience of the hands-on work in labs and project management in industry. As I envisioned to work in interests’ representation at EU institution’s level, I took the opportunity to enrich my EU understanding and policy-making skills at the College of Europe this year (2022-2023). As I’m always seeking to stay in real-life situations, I looked forward to joining this Youth Thinkers Policy Dialogues to carry-out some group practice policy-making on today’s critical Energy and Climate subjects.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Muhammad “Moby” Maulana

Muhammad “Moby” Maulana is an aspiring researcher and a sophomore student at ODTÜ, Ankara, majoring in international relations with a focus on environmental politics. Most recently, he was a researcher for the G20 Youth Summit 2022, handling the topics of youth employment and environmental sustainability, where he designed several policy papers particularly addressing the issue of social safety nets, social entrepreneurship, and circular economy. He has also worked for several environmental consultancies where he was involved in the sustainable land use, forestry, and agricultural industries in the Southeast Asian region. Aside from his current research focus, Moby is especially interested in expanding his knowledge and expertise on energy policy through the international lens, including global partnership, energy market, and just transition.

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Felicitas Murat

Originally, I completed a three-year banking apprenticeship in Switzerland and a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland). In addition to my employment in banking, coaching and at a newspaper, I have gained a variety of volunteer experiences. These range from working for more educational justice and equal opportunities, to promoting mutual cultural understanding between Switzerland and Colombia, to founding a school project with the organisation World Vision.

Currently, I am specializing in Environmental Policy and Sustainability as well as Development Management as part of a double master’s degree offered by Sciences Po Paris (France) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (England). As a Young Thinker at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), I am particularly interested in approaching climate change issues from a perspective that takes into account different life situations and realities. In this respect, one of my personal goals is to shape gender-responsive policies.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Zofia Borowczyk

Zofia, is a final year Social Policy student at the University of Bristol, UK. She is particularly interested in issues concerning our society, such as climate change, democracy and employment, and focuses on EU and Polish politics. Previously, she has interned in the Senate of the Republic of Poland and EU Parliament. Moreover, she was the European Union Youth G20 Delegate in 2022, where she worked in the Youth Employment track and participated in a youth policy dialogue with Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, at both of which she focused on the topic of Youth Employment. She has organised the 2022 edition of the Congress of Polish Student Societies in the UK, where she headed the logistics and events team.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Lucrezia Sala

Lucrezia holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from IE School of Politics, Economics & Global Affairs. Her past experiences at Real Instituto Elcano and Finabel (European Army Interoperability Centre) have led to her interest in being a trainee within the Secretariat of the European Parliament at the Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) in March 2023.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Laura Lisboa

Laura Lisboa works at the NATO Defence Investment Division focusing on the space domain. Before, she was at the Private Office of the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. She is currently based in Brussels and spent seasons abroad in Germany, the United States and England during her studies and early career. She holds a Master’s in Politics and International Relations from Universidade Católica Portuguesa and a Bachelor’s in Engineering Physics from Instituto Superior Técnico. She is also part of a reflection group that meets regularly with the President of Portugal.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Cédric Lombaerts

Cédric holds a Master of Laws from the University of Antwerp and a Master of Arts in EU International Relations and Diplomacy from the College of Europe. Currently, he coordinates EU energy policy as an Attaché in European Affairs at the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Eter Glurjidze

Eter is a program coordinator at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies. She holds a post-graduate degree in International Relations and European Integration from the Estonian School of Diplomacy. Her area of interest includes the EaP region, Central and Eastern European Region (CEE) and China. Covering these topics, Eter has been a speaker in numerous young professionals seminars in Brussels, Budapest, Luxembourg, Lisbon etc.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Sofia Romansky

Sofia is a Ukrainian-Dutch-American completing a Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy at Leiden University in The Hague, Netherlands. Before joining the Youth Policy Dialogues, she was an Assistant Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. She also volunteers with Students for Ukraine.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Dominik Juling

Dominik is a graduate student in Conflict Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science following practical experience as a soldier and internships at the George C. Marshall Center and NATO. He is particularly interested in the intersection between security, defence, and climate change.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Núbia Rodrigues

Núbia Rodrigues, 24, Brazil. BA in Psychology, specialized in Global Health & Health Diplomacy, and in Epistemologies of the South. I’m working as a Project and Research Officer for the Data Feminism Program at Data-Pop Alliance. My research interests are focused on migration and gender studies. I’m also passionate about the intersection of art and activism – and puzzles.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
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Chiara Frittitta

My name is Chiara Frittitta, I am a 24-year-old Italian whose pronouns are she/her. Prior to being selected as one of the 30 young thinkers, I majored in International Studies with a regional specialisation in Europe. I have diverse research experiences, including field research in Rabat on young Moroccan women’s political participation.

I hold a master’s degree in Gendering Practices at Gothenburg University, where I gathered skills to critically analyse and draft gender equality policy plans and strategies with a dissertation on recommendations for making non-binary gender equality policy. I am passionate about gender equality, diversity and inclusion, and the role played by policymaking in creating safer space for all.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
 Democracy and Institutions

Iman Jibreen

Born and raised in Palestine, Iman Jibreen is a compassionate, community focused individual who is interested in humanitarian assistance, sustainable development and research. Through the latter, Iman aims to shed light over the socio-economic inclusion of vulnerable segments in the society.

She has received her Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Birzeit University in Palestine and her MSc in Sustainable development from a consortium of three European Universities (Padova, Leuven and Paris 1). She currently works as an Economic Development Officer at EducAid Onlus in Palestine where she is responsible for the implementation of all the economic empowerment activities of persons with disabilities in Palestine.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
 Democracy and Institutions

Nils Seidel

After studying law at Leipzig University and Harvard University with internships – among others – at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung´s Rule of Law Program Sub-Saharan Africa in Nairobi and the Trade Policy Division of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, I joined the Chair for European and Public International Law at Leipzig University as a research fellow focusing on European law, European citizenship and international human rights. I have also launched “Transatlantic Debates”, a debating project where pupils think about their priorities for a future transatlantic agenda

Panka Rekasy


Panka Rékasy is an Intern in the Global Governance, Regulation, Innovation, Digital Economy (GRID) unit at CEPS.

She works on the implementation of the European Commission funded EU-U.S. Trade & Technology Dialogue (under the EU-U.S. TTC). Through this project she helps with the organisation and delivery of topical events, reporting to and liaising with the TTC Working Groups.
She is also involved in a research project on evaluating the EU’s health crisis preparedness. Her main interest lies in European health governance.

Panka holds a BSc in Politics, Psychology, Law & Economics from the University of Amsterdam. She is currently following a double degree master’s in European Governance between the University of Konstanz (Germany) and Utrecht University (Netherlands).
Her master’s thesis focuses on the expansion of EU public health policies into more long-term, integrated healthcare measures.

Her mother tongue is Hungarian, she is fluent in English and has limited working proficiency in Italian, also some basic knowledge of German and Dutch.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
 Democracy and Institutions

Beatriz Duarte

Beatriz is a young professional from Portugal, with a background in International Relations, and a specific interest in European Union politics. Fluent in Portuguese and English, and having advanced knowledge of French, Beatriz is always looking forward to learning new languages and embracing new adventures.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
Trade and Technology

Simon van Hoeve

Simon van Hoeve is a Policy Coordinator for European Government Affairs at Microsoft, based in Brussels, Belgium. In this role, he provides horizontal support functions to the Vice-President for European Government Affairs and the Director for Strategy, contributing to policy related workstreams and ensuring synergies between advocacy and policy campaigns.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Simon spent a year as an Assistant Analyst, Cyber at Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. Simon completed his Master’s degree in International Relations at Leiden Universiteit in the Netherlands (2021) and completed his Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Political Science at the University of Waterloo in Canada (2020).

In his spare time, Simon runs the BRUBBLE podcast, where he talks to young professionals in and around the Brussels Bubble on a variety of policy and topical issues.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
Trade and Technology

Sher Yao

A native of Canada, Sher is a currently a Master of Education candidate with a specialization in Comparative, International and Development Education at the University of Toronto. More recently, she was a Junior Professional Consultant for UNICEF HQ supporting primary education policy and system strengthening across 15 countries. In 2022, she was selected to be a Graduate Fellow of the United Nations Office at Geneva and a European Forum Alpbach Scholar. Sher also graduated with a B.A. (Honors) in Music Education with a minor in the French Language from the University of Toronto, where her undergraduate thesis was awarded both The Thomas Clarkson Gold Medal and the Research Showcase Award.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
Trade and Technology

Paula Oliver Llorente

Paula studies at the College of Europe a Master in International Relations and European Diplomacy. Previously, she graduated from IE University after studying a dual degree in International Relations and Business Administration. She has worked in consulting, public advocacy and research in different organizations. Her research interests include the US-EU-China relation, monetary policy and the impact of technology on society.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
Trade and Technology

Sonia Stoyanova

Sonia is interested in transatlantic decarbonisation, climate clubs theory and the reconciliation of green industrial policy priorities with global trade rules.

Currently working at Clean Air Task Force, she has also completed a traineeship at the trade section of the EU Delegation in the United States. Prior to this, she worked at the American Chamber of Commerce in the EU, and interned at the UN Environment Programme, the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, and the Bulgarian Ministry of the Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Sonia holds an Advanced Master’s degree in EU Politics and Policy from KU Leuven and a Bachelor’s degree in European Studies from Sofia University.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
Trade and Technology

Brian Kelly Nyaga

Kelly is a legal practitioner with experience in international economic law, dispute resolution, banking and finance law and corporate commercial law.

He is also an avid researcher, having undertaken research and published widely on topics ranging from dispute settlement in the context of international trade, African economic integration, and economic recovery post the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously, Kelly was an East African regional representative at the AfronomicsLaw Academic Forum, which is a platform dedicated to stimulating open and inclusive discourse on international economic law issues as they relate to Africa and the Global South.

Kelly has also participated in and spoken at conferences with thematic areas centred on emerging issues in his areas of interest. Notably, in 2021, he presented his research results at an international conference in Stellenbosch, South Africa titled ‘Prospects for Regional Integration in Africa – A Comparative Perspective’.

More recently in November 2022, Kelly joined a panel of multidisciplinary experts at an international conference organised by the Policy Center for the New South in Rabat, Morocco to discuss the role of regional integration in reigniting economic growth in African economies in the Post-COVID era, with an emphasis on the SADC region.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
Trade and Technology

Drew Fenner

Drew is a Master’s candidate in European Studies and International Business Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. He specializes in the intersection of business and public policy, focusing on trade, technology, and climate. His experience spans the policy research, government affairs, and private equity industries.

Currently, he works as a Government Affairs Analyst at TotalEnergies in Washington, DC. Prior to this role, Drew held the prestigious Wallenberg International Fellowship in Stockholm, Sweden, where he served as a Sustainability Associate at EQT Group.

Andrea Bittnerová

Senior Events and External Relations Manager

Andrea Bittnerová is Senior Events and External Relations Manager in the Membership Services and Communications and Marketing Unit at CEPS.

Andrea is an experienced project and event manager, with a rich background in civil society organisations focused on youth and education.

Project and event management: Project management is Andrea´s great passion since 2017. She has experience in all stages of project management, from initiation to reporting. She mostly worked on pilot projects that needed to be built from scratch and which involved several national and international partners. She led internal projects as well as projects linked to public funding, especially Erasmus+. In the past 8 years, Andrea has also led or co-organised small and medium-sized international events, covering all sorts of areas from logistics, agenda, through team coordination to liaising with speakers. The portfolio of her events consists of conferences, workshops, trainings and webinars, both in-person and virtual. She has also led panel debates or chaired statutory meetings.

Stakeholder engagement: Since 2017, Andrea has been involved with a variety of stakeholders, such as business, academia, representatives of the European Commission, ambassadors, local, regional and national authorities, or civil society organisations. She liaised with these stakeholders via projects, collaborations, membership and events, as well as hosted high-level events for philanthropists.

Youth and education: Andrea has over 10-year experience in volunteering and working in the youth and education sector. She held various positions in European and international civil society organisations in this area. In 2021, she was selected as a member of a pilot cohort of the first-ever youth advisory board of the OECD – Youthwise. This pilot cohort published a document titled “Young people and the future (of work): 10 key insights from Youthwise”. Her main areas of interest include youth participation, skills development, volunteering, non-formal education and intercultural learning.

Danai Ellina

Research Assistant and IFI Coordinator

Danai Ellina is a Research Assistant in the Financial Markets and Institutions Unit.

She also coordinates the Network of EU Independent Fiscal Institutions (IFIs). In her role as IFI Coordinator, Danai manages a Network of 32 EU independent fiscal institutions, takes part in authoring the Network’s papers (including a bi-annual European Fiscal Monitor), etc.

She has expertise in EU public finances and has tackled topics such as the upcoming European Economic Governance Review in a recent commentary.

Her research interests include monetary economics, fiscal policy, public finances and international trade.

More recent interests in the green economy have arisen after her Master’s degree at the College of Europe. The topic of her Master’s thesis was “a quantitative analysis of monetary policy spillovers in non-EU countries particularly in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood”, which also got published at the College of Europe’s library. These fields have been researched mainly through quantitative methods including time series vector autoregressions and panel data analysis.

Dylan Macchiarini Crosson


Dylan Macchiarini Crosson is a Researcher in the EU Foreign Policy Unit at CEPS.

A young professional working on Common Foreign and Security Policy, the European Defence Union and transatlantic relations, he has carried out research and policy evaluation in both the professional and academic spheres.

He has experience in data collection and analysis across EU countries, including conducting semi-structured interviews and carrying out surveys.

An English and Italian native speaker, he also has full proficiency in French and Spanish.

Jane Arroyo

Research Assistant

Jane Arroyo is a Research Assistant in the Global Governance, Regulation, Innovation, Digital Economy (GRID) unit at CEPS.

Her research interests lie in the challenges raised by trade and technology for global governance and the overarching goal of sustainable development. She is interested in investigating the policy and regulatory questions arising from these key challenges in the European Union, which she currently does at CEPS by being involved in a wide range of projects, including inter alia on health governance, industrial policy, and artificial intelligence.

Jane holds a Master’s degree in International Economic Policy from Sciences Po Paris, where she developed advanced skills in policy and political analysis in the field of economic governance and policy with a focus on the European and East-Asian regions. Her thesis specifically focused on the qualitative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on European trade policy. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Economics awarded with highest honours by University Paris-Dauphine (PSL), where she specialised in international economics and development during an exchange semester at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok.

Mother tongue French, she is fluent in English, has an excellent command of Spanish, and some notions of German and Japanese. She holds French and Spanish citizenships.

Laura Nicolás

Membership Officer

Laura Nicolas joined CEPS as Membership Officer in May 2022. Her key responsibilities involve maintaining regular communication with CEPS members, overseeing the CEPS membership programme, and expanding the organization’s membership and funding sources.

Prior to joining CEPS, Laura worked with several NGOs in Europe and Asia, focusing on communication, partnership building, fundraising, and project management. She has coordinated small and medium-sized events on sustainability and education with the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and local NGOs, reflecting her interest in social impact projects. Laura’s experience in public-oriented roles has honed her skills in storytelling, sales, and public speaking, enabling her to effectively communicate ideas and promote initiatives.

In addition, Laura’s degree in International Studies, with a specialization in International Cooperation and Latin American Studies, combined with her experience living in various countries and continents, has equipped her with exceptional intercultural communication skills and the ability to work proficiently in multicultural environments.

Finally, Laura is also part of the CEPS Young Thinkers team, where she focuses on partnership building, sponsorship, and other logistical and visibility tasks. She is a native Spanish speaker, fluent in English, and has an intermediate level of French, and a basic level of Italian.

Lisa Di Giacomo


Lisa Di Giacomo is a young graduate interning in the Foreign Policy Unit at CEPS, specifically within the Connectivity Team, where she focuses on enhancing connectivity projects between the EU and Asia.

She obtained an LLM in European and International law at Radboud Universiteit in the Netherlands and a Master’s degree in European Affairs and Security Studies at Sciences Po Strasbourg. Her master’s thesis examined cyberterrorism and its assessment under conflict laws. Lisa is particularly interested in conflict management and seeks to leverage connectivity projects to reduce tensions.

As a native French speaker, she possesses full working proficiency in English, limited working proficiency in Italian, and basic knowledge of Spanish.

Martina Giani

Digital Communications Officer

Martina Giani is the Digital Communications Officer at CEPS.

Expert in communication, social media management and graphic design, Martina has worked for the past three years in different international organisations and European institutions, such as the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).

In her professional career, she supported the development of different communications and social media strategies, helping to set strategic objectives to improve brand awareness, drive larger website traffic and boost engagement.

By creating daily engaging content for social media, including designed visuals, infographics and videos, Martina has also gained extensive skills in the promotion of events and publications, attracting wider audiences and growing the total number of followers on the social media channels of the organisations she worked in.

She also has experience in both printed and digital design. As Acting Communications Officer at ENNHRI, she was responsible for the management and delivery of branded materials and publications as well as newsletters and web channels.

Thanks to her experiences she has developed good knowledge of Adobe programmes such as Illustrator, After Effects and Premiere Pro as well as analytics tools to examine website and social media performances.

Mother tongue Italian, she is fluent in English and has some knowledge of Russian, as she graduated in Eastern European Studies at the University of Bologna.

Youth Policy Dialogue:
  Energy and Climate 

Ciara Connolly

My name is Ciara Connolly, I am half-Irish, half-German. I studied International Relations at King’s College London, where I also pursued several climate-related activities, such as being in the KCL Climate Action Society and taking part in French-speaking climate-related debate competitions. I graduated last summer and completed an internship at adelphi, a German government-funded think tank specializing in climate policy. I have now moved to Berlin, where I work as an Editor at the German news agency, dpa. I would love to work in European or German climate policy and can’t wait to get a chance to put this into action with CEPS. In my free time I like to go to gigs, do creative things with my friends and am currently learning Spanish as my dream is to visit Costa Rica someday!