The thoughts that count - the best of global thought leadership (May 2023)

Public services, public policy & civil service reform

The distribution of public service spending – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

The IFS examines how public service spending is distributed across the UK population in this comment piece, which seeks to: explain the key conceptual and methodological issues involved in analysis of this sort; set out what we know about the distribution of spending on major public services; and identify key lessons for policy and avenues for future research.

Appointed on merit: the value of an impartial civil service – Institute for Government (UK)

The UK civil service’s role in government has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks and months, and its impartiality, or the need for its impartiality, has been questioned by some. This report examines impartiality in the UK civil service, its advantages and disadvantages, and weighs the UK model against the more politicised systems in France and the US. It concludes the impartial model is of most value to the UK Government.

How the EU can shape the new era of strategic export restrictions – European Council on Foreign Relations (Europe)

With technology increasingly a battleground in the escalating geostrategic competition between the US and China and given US pressure on EU countries to follow its example in restricting trade in key technologies with China, this article argues that the EU must deliver clearer policies on China and security, de-risk its relations with Beijing, develop a new strategic technology doctrine and upgrade its export control policy. This will enable the EU to act where necessary but insulate it and its member states from future pressure from both Beijing and Washington.

UK-EU regulatory divergence tracker: seventh edition – UK in a Changing Europe (UK)

UKICE’s series of regulatory divergence trackers provide an overview of where and how the UK has used its newfound regulatory freedoms to diverge from EU regulation. It identifies and analyses the most significant cases of divergence between the UK and EU which have taken place since Brexit. It explains what the changes are, what impact they are having, and likely further consequences.

Home truths: Cultural and Institutional problems at the Home Office – Institute for Government (UK)

An IfG report that looks at the cultural and institutional problems besetting the Home Office. The report finds that deep-rooted institutional and cultural problems undermine the Home Office’s performance and approach to crime, immigration, and asylum seekers – and are neglected by ministers at their peril. This argues ministers should uphold their commitments to the reforms set out in Wendy Williams’ Windrush scandal lessons learned review.

G7: Exit globalisation, enter the like-minded and economic security? – European Policy Centre (Europe)

This EPC flash analysis suggests that the recent G7 summit in Hiroshima may have been a preview to a post-globalisation world order. The US is actively corralling a club of ‘likeminded’ allies together, one which encompasses the West as well as countries such as South Korea and Ukraine; Japan successfully reached out to ‘middle ground’ countries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia and Vietnam; and the Hiroshima G7’s focus on economic security and the need to ‘de-risk’ international relations may have shown the way to a ‘likeminded’ alliance of countries, which work together to shore up economic security against the increasingly hegemonic China.

Digital ID can help to better serve marginalised groups in society – Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (UK)

This paper by the TBI explores the different economic benefits of digital ID in African countries. The authors argue that digital ID can be an extremely effective tool for inclusive development if adopted according to the best use-cases.

Here’s what to expect on China, AI, green energy, and more when EU and US officials meet in Sweden – European Policy Centre (Europe)

With the US-EU Trade and Technology Council meeting on May 30-31 in northern Sweden, the EPC previews what to expect, as Washington and Brussels look to take coordinated action on some of their biggest common challenges in trade and technology, including export controls, Chinese non-market practices, geopolitical challenges, AI, green energy and more.

Are the costs of Brexit big or small? – Centre for European Reform (Europe)

In this article, John Springford, the CER’s deputy director, defends his assessment that the British economy is around 5% smaller due to Brexit. He concludes by reiterating that the UK’s departure from the EU has blown a ‘sizeable hole’ in the British economy, and that major reforms are needed to recover lost ground.

11th package of EU sanctions: Focusing on circumvention – European Policy Centre (Europe)

Amid Russia’s intensified attacks on Ukrainian cities, the European Commission has proposed an 11th package of sanctions, this time focused on preventing Moscow’s circumvention of existing EU sanctions rather than on introducing new export bans. The three key measures proposed in the new package are: expanding the EU road transit ban to prevent abuse of transit rules; banning the export of goods to third countries suspecting of aiding Russia in circumventing sanctions; and banning or blacklisting entities from Russia and third countries which intentionally bypass EU sanctions.

Economy, taxation & fiscal policy

How a Better Budget Control Act Would Limit Spending and Control Debt – Cato Institute (USA)

Cato makes the case for a Better Budget Control Act (BBCA) to rein in spending and federal debt, the latter being of ‘economically damaging levels’ and growing unsustainably. The article suggests that a BBCA could aim to save at least $8tn over the next decade through limiting discretionary spending, reductions to mandatory programmes, and reforms to Medicare and Social Security.

Commonwealth Budget 2023-24 – The Australia Institute (Australia)

The Australia Institute calls the Government’s 2023-24 Budget that of a ‘progressive government seeking to help lower paid workers’ and those Australians struggling with the cost of living. This includes fiscal support for higher wages for aged care workers, increased JobKeeper wage subsidies, and enhanced Commonwealth Rent Assistance, all the while having little inflationary impact on overall aggregate demand and proactively reducing inflation through a $500 energy relief plan. However, this analysis calls it a first step, with more to be done to compensate for ‘previous harms done to workers, low-income Australians, public services and infrastructure, and the environment’.

Has the Debt Ceiling Drama Been Worth All the Angst? – American Enterprise Institute (USA)

The AEI argues that the battle over raising the US debt ceiling has undeniably accomplished something: the Fiscal Responsibility Act will see federal spending in 2024 and 2025 0.1-0.2% lower compared to the present Congressional Budget Office baseline. The author expresses hope that reform of Medicare and Social Security will eventually be debated in Washington.

A deepening freeze: more adults than ever are paying higher-rate tax – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

This IFS report looks at the amount of people paying higher rates of income tax. The authors analyse the large increases in the share of adults paying the 40% rate or above since 1991-92. In the report, moreover, the IFS charts the transformation of the role played by top rates in the UK tax system over a 40-year period.

The Future of the WTO – Cato Institute (USA)

Cato posits that, given the world’s turn against further trade liberalisation, that prospects for the traditional, 20th-century consensus-based approached of the World Trade Organisation are dimming. In response, WTO members should not abandon the aim of trade liberalisation, but should consider addressing the most pressing world trade issues through plurilateral agreements.

Central banks: uncertainty is the problem, not managing the trilemma – Bruegel (Europe)

EU policymakers are currently handling a trilemma of problems: in the IMF’s phrase, Europe must strike a balance between ‘sustaining the recovery, defeating inflation and safeguarding financial stability’. Much of the discourse around this has, Bruegel says, focused on central bank policies – but Bruegel argues that while regaining price stability is doable (though difficult), the bigger problem central banks face is economic uncertainty.

Protecting our tax reforms – Menzies Research Centre (Australia)

Stage 3 income tax reforms, which would abolish the 37% income tax bracket and create a single bracket for Australians earning from $45,000 to $200,000, are set to be implemented in Australia in 2024-25, but the Labor Government may choose to scrap these tax cuts. The MRC argues that the tax reform is very important, as any Australians earning over $45,000 (eight million taxpayers) will benefit, and has published data purporting to show how many Australian taxpayers will benefit from it, rather than just the ‘top end of town’.

Budget gets worse with age – The New Zealand Initiative (New Zealand)

The NZ Initiative reflects on New Zealand’s recent Budget, which, it argues, failed to address the root cause of the affordable housing crisis, did nothing to ease shortages in the health workforce or address the crime wave, and including misdirected, though generous, new allowances for schools.

An immediate response to the Scottish Government’s MTFS – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

The Scottish Government recently published its Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), which contains updated projections of its funding and spending needed to maintain provision of public services over the next five years. The MTFS represents a less dire picture, the IFS says, than Holyrood’s last comparable projections, published in December 2021 – this reflects that the Scottish Fiscal Commission has upgraded its forecast for faster growth in Scottish income tax revenues than it had predicted in late 2021.

Inflation & the cost of living

Food for thought: the role of food prices in the cost of living crisis – Resolution Foundation (UK)

The cost-of-living crisis is often thought of as a cost of energy crisis. That is an understandable, but increasingly inadequate, view. In particular, it understates the growing role of food prices (up by 25 per cent over the past year and a half) in the squeeze on living standards that households – especially low- and middle-income households – are living through. This spotlight examines the contribution of food prices to today’s high inflation and the pressure on households’ living standards, before considering how families and government have responded to date.

Levelling up & industrial policy

Securing Semiconductor Supply Chains in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity – Center for Strategic and International Studies (USA)

With national security, economic policy and tech competition increasingly intertwined, the US is moving away from traditional free trade agreements and more towards an industrial policy that would strengthen American high-tech competitiveness while preventing foreign rivals from obtaining advanced technologies – this is evident in recent US export controls on advanced semiconductor chips and tools used to manufacture them. This paper examines US high-tech industrial policy, in particular the CHIPS and Science Act of August 2022, and how this is bleeding into trade policy as Washington seeks to shore up semiconductor supply chains in US allies.

Marketcrafting: A 21st-Century Industrial Policy – Roosevelt Institute (USA)

The Roosevelt Institute posits that the US is embracing ‘marketcrafting’, defined as ‘the creation and implementation of frameworks of market governance and public investment to pursue certain social and economic goals’. This is seen in how the 117th Congress passed three large-scale, state-directed economic policy programmes designed to reorganise markets for better outcomes: onshoring semiconductor manufacturing; upgrading the US infrastructure; and accelerating technological development to combat climate change.

Equity across the regions: the case for a British Regional Investment Bank – Social Market Foundation (UK)

The majority of British equity investment occurs in London and the South East, with regional businesses largely missing out. To help close the ‘equity finance gap’, this briefing makes the case for a British Regional Investment Bank – first made by the Gordon Brown Commission on the UK’s future – that can better match public investment and private sector expertise with businesses that have the potential to drive regional economies.

Adjusting to the energy shock: the right policies for European industry – Bruegel (Europe)

While EU industrial employment and output grew increased above 2021 levels in 2022 despite rising energy prices, output declined from energy-intensive industries, including basic metals, chemicals, non-metallic minerals and paper, as higher energy costs represent a much bigger share of production costs in these industries than in less energy-intensive manufacturing. In considering its industry strategy, Bruegel argues the EU must consider whether energy-intensive parts of the value chain should be outsourced permanently, and, if not, how it can reduce energy prices to ensure the competitiveness of those energy-intensive production stages that remain in Europe.

The industrial policy revolution has begun, but another is still needed – Economic Policy Institute (USA)

The Economic Policy Institute welcomes the US’ turn towards industrial policy in 2022, with the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. However, it argues that industrial policy alone will not transform the US economy as needed, such as by addressing rising economic inequality.

How can devolution deliver regional growth in England? – Institute for Government (UK)

This report by the IfG sets out where devolution of policy responsibilities would be most beneficial. The authors finds that the international evidence on the link between devolution and economic performance is inconclusive at best and regional growth is not guaranteed when powers are devolved. The report argues that devolution of powers across England must be coherent – devolving the right responsibilities to the right institutions with flexible funding – to achieve the positive economic outcomes desired by both main parties.

Chips, subsidies, security, and great power competition – Lowy Institute (Australia)

Government subsidies to industry have sharply risen in many leading economies since 2008, particularly in relation to the semiconductor industry. This is especially pertinent given the growing entanglement of national security and industrial policy. Amid rising tech competition between the US and China, this report examines whether these measures will be effective in denying frontier technology to rival economies. How industry subsidies and export controls are implemented will have consequential impacts, which could be beneficial in speeding tech innovation, but also detrimental if they split the world economy into competing trade blocs.

Lessons from successful ‘turnaround’ cities for the UK – Resolution Foundation (UK)

In this essay, the authors explore how cities can reverse long-term economic underperformance and move towards a new trajectory, looking at seven cities across five countries that have faced severe economic shocks but managed to break away from the resulting cycles of decline and transition to a more successful development path.

Employment, wages & labour force

Changing labour markets: How to prevent a mismatch between skills and jobs in times of transition – Eurofound (Europe)

This Eurofound paper outlines some of the key challenges for European labour markets in relation to employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs, and was prepared on request by the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU. The paper also points to factors for improving the matching of skills and jobs in both the short and long term.

Will a Recovery of Real Wages Obstruct Progress Toward Disinflation? – American Enterprise Institute (USA)

“Many observers, including officials at the Federal Reserve, have focused on the need for wages to decelerate if progress toward reducing inflation is to be sustained. We agree that current elevated rates of wage growth would not be consistent with the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target in the longer run, and so would eventually need to come down. At the same time, however, real wages have suffered over the past couple of years, suggesting a potential tension between the goals of returning inflation to the Fed’s longer-run goal and restoring real wages to their pre-Covid trend. In this note, we use a macroeconomic simulation model to explore different ways in which the gap between real wages and their trend could be resolved and their implications for inflation, unemployment, and interest rates.”

Reforming the apprenticeship levy – Policy Exchange (UK)

While the Apprenticeship Levy has many strengths, the system is not currently delivering the number of high-quality apprenticeships that our country needs – with young people, those from disadvantaged backgrounds and SMEs being hit the hardest. In a report with cross-party backing, Policy Exchange set out a series of reforms in three key areas: increased opportunities for young people, greater SME support, and flexibility to support employer-relevant skills.

Hybrid work in Europe: Concept and practice – Eurofound (Europe)

With hybrid work expected to continue to grow, it will be crucial for policymakers and social partners to reach consensus on the conditions under which hybrid work should ideally be performed, including in relation to health and safety; work-life balance; working time; work equipment; reimbursement of costs; and more.

Office politics: London and the rise of home working – Centre for Cities (UK)

Three years on from lockdown, central London workers spend on average 2.3 days in the office per week. In this thought-provoking report, the centre for cities asks: will a London running on 59 per cent of January 2020’s office attendance levels be enough to avoid a slump in the UK's long-term productivity and prosperity? In answering this question, the authors put forward policy recommendations for the Government aimed at boosting in-person office time.

Unacceptable Risks – The Australia Institute (Australia)

The Australia Institute argues in this paper that the ‘gigification’ of the care sector is creating insecure work, posing especial risks to frontline care and support workers. Many of these workers face below award-level pay; insecure work and incomes; lack of support, training and employment benefits, such as leave and superannuation; and more. The Australia Institute thus calls for ‘comprehensive industrial reforms in the care and disability support sector in Australia.

Employer perspectives on employee work location: collaboration, culture and control – Bruegel (Europe)

This Bruegel paper discusses employers’ experience of working remotely during the pandemic, and how they have approached returning to the office following the pandemic. It finds that remote work does not have negative effects on performance; that the sample of employers interviewed experienced strong company and employee performance while remote working was in place; and that all employers interviewed are implementing a hybrid return-to-office policy, with no employers instituting full in-office work after the pandemic.

Platform Reps Project - Country Reports and Key Policy Recommendations – European Trade Union Confederation (Europe)

ETUC and its member organisations have conducted in-depth research into collective and legislative approaches towards digital labour platforms, and published 12 country reports analysing the national-level situation in those countries in terms of trade union organising and collective bargaining strategies.  

Expansions in Paid Parental Leave and Mothers' Economic Progress – Cato Institute (USA)

Despite considerable advances in gender equality in education and the labour force since the 1960s, women remain underrepresented in leadership roles and in top-earning jobs. This research by Cato examines whether government-funded parental leave extensions have aided women’s journey to the ‘upper echelons of the corporate world’.

Minimum wage developments in 2022 – European Trade Union Institute (Europe)

ETUI finds that, despite substantial minimum wage increases in almost half of the EU member states with a statutory minimum wage, these were not sufficient to safeguard the purchasing power of minimum-wage earners in the present cost-of-living crisis, and makes recommendations for member states to mitigate the negative impacts of inflation on the lives of minimum-wage workers.

5 Fast Facts About the FAMILY Act and Paid Leave – Center for American Progress (USA)

This column lists five fast facts on the FAMILY Act, a piece of legislation which was recently reintroduced to the 118th Congress and which has been introduced in every Congress since 2013. The bill would guarantee workers the right to paid leave for serious health- and caregiving-related needs.

Developments in working life 2022 – Eurofound (Europe)

“This publication comprises individual country reports on developments in working life in each of the 27 EU Member States and Norway in 2022, based on national research and survey results. The topics covered include the policy responses of governments to inflation and how inflation has featured in collective bargaining; the role of the social partners in addressing labour shortages; and the working life of Ukrainian refugees. The reports also include updates on policy developments regarding issues such as the gender pay gap, health and safety, and work–life balance.”

95 per cent of gig workers want the sector reformed. Here's why. – The McKell Institute (Australia)

This article follows on from a report published in March by the McKell Institute, which was based on one of the largest-ever surveys of transport workers in the gig economy, coming from the food and parcel delivery and rideshare sectors of the transport economy. The McKell Institute is now publishing this article shortly after having shared its findings from March with the Albanese Government as it embarks on a programme of industrial relations reform, to illustrate that reform of gig work is vital, underpayment and dangerous conditions are widespread in the gig economy, gig work is more than a ‘side hustle’ (many gig workers work over 40 hours per week), and support for reform among gig workers is almost universal.

Health & social care

The government’s plans for general practice will do little to improve patient access – Institute for Government (UK)

This IfG comment piece welcomes the UK Prime Minister’s plan for general practice, and commends how it aims to improve patient experience by improving telephony and expanding the range of services pharmacists can deliver. However, it warns that unless the Government addresses longer-term workforce issues, it will remain difficult for Britons to get GP appointments – the number of fully qualified, permanent GPs continues to decline, having fallen by 3% between March 2019 and March 2023 even as GP appointments rose 5.3% in the same period.

Can the EU's pharmaceutical strategy make Europe a leader in health? – European Policy Centre (Europe)

After the EU’s Pharmaceutical Strategy was endorsed by the College of EU Commissioners last month, this EPC flash analysis looks at the Strategy’s importance and how it could contribute to reducing Europe’s dependence on other world regions.

Caring in a complex world: perspectives from unpaid carers and the organisations that support them – The King’s Fund (UK)

This report looks at the level and type of local support available to unpaid carers in England. Based on a literature review and interviews conducted with providers of support to carers, the authors put forward proposals to embed awareness of carers in strategic-level and commissioning decisions with the aim of integrating health and social care systems while recognising the crucial contribution carers play.

Building a resilient social care system in England: What can be learnt from the first wave of Covid-19? – Nuffield Trust (UK)

At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, social care in England was in a fragile state. Covid’s effects on social care were far-reaching, and exacerbated many longstanding issues in the system. This report analyses the structural and systemic factors which influenced the UK Government’s response to the pandemic in the social care sector, highlight progress made since then, and identify where more action is needed to create a more resilient system.

Patterns of less-than-full-time working by NHS consultants – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

Less-than-full-time (LTFT) working enables staff to balance paid work with other commitments and is an important component of flexible working, opportunities for which the 2020 NHS People Plan committed to providing to all NHS staff. This report examines the patterns of LTFT working amongst consultants in NHS acute trusts, considering first how the prevalence of this mode of working has changed over time, how it varies by age and gender, and the extent to which the changes to the demographic makeup of the consultant workforce explain the changes to LTFT working rates.

Biden’s executive order on care work is an important step for an industry in crisis – Brookings Institution (USA)

This Brookings piece analyses President Biden’s recent executive order to improve jobs in care and expand access to affordable childcare and long-term care. The executive order addressed: the struggle faced by millions of Americans trying to access high-quality, affordable childcare and long-term care; the dire shortage of care workers who provide these services; and the inadequate pay, benefits and job quality plaguing the care sector.

More, more, more: do we have more NHS staff than ever before? – Nuffield Trust (UK)

In this blog, the Nuffield Trust looks at trends in NHS staff numbers in different regions and services. The author outlines possible explanations for why, despite an increase in the number of NHS staff, patients are not reaping the benefits.

The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care, 2023 – Fraser Institute (Canada)

The Fraser Institute “finds an estimated 1.2 million Canadian patients waited for medically necessary treatment last year, and each lost an estimated $2,925 (on average) due to lost wages and reduced productivity during working hours. Put differently, long waits for surgery and medical treatment cost Canadians almost $3.6 billion in lost wages and productivity last year.”

The King’s Fund submission to the Special Inquiry Committee on the Integration of Primary and Community Care – The King’s Fund (UK)

This evidence submission draws on the King’s Fund’s experience of working closely with local system leaders, and their research on primary care, community health services and integrated care in England and internationally. It focuses on community health services, such as district nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and falls services, rather than primary care.

Keir Starmer’s NHS targets are not without risk – Institute for Government (UK)

The third of Labour’s five missions is to build an ‘NHS fit for the future’. To that end, Labour leader Keir Starmer has outlined a range of policies which a Labour Government would implement if they were to win power. Labour’s most notable commitment on acute care was that the NHS would return to hitting waiting time targets for A&E, diagnostics, elective and cancer care, and ambulance response times within five years. The IfG commends Labour for giving a clear metric to use when measuring performance, but warns that targets alone will not achieve an NHS fit for the future.


Rows over net migration numbers miss the point – Rishi Sunak needs a post-Brexit migration strategy – Institute for Government (UK)

Net migration to the UK in 2022, while lower than some had predicted, nevertheless reached a record high of 606,000 – figures which have split the Government on how to respond. The IfG argues that more pressing than whether and how to bring down migration numbers is the UK’s current lack of a coherent migration strategy.

Regulating platform work: How will this impact migrant workers – European Policy Centre (Europe)

This EPC discussion paper examines the impact of the European Commission’s proposed Directive of improving the working conditions and rights of platform migrant workers, who enjoy none of the protections of employment law and can be subject to exploitation due to their migration and residence status. The paper offers six recommendations to make targeted improvements to the EU’s proposed framework.

Short-changed: How to stop the exploitation of migrant workers in Australia – Grattan Institute (Australia)

Exploitation of migrant workers in Australia is rife: up to 16% of recent migrants are paid less than the national minimum wage. This, argues the Grattan Institute, weakens the bargaining power of all Australian workers, harms businesses do not exploit migrants, and undermines confidence in Australia’s migration programme. As such, this report makes three proposals to eliminate exploitation: reforms of visa rules that increase migrants’ risk of exploitation; strengthening and better enforcement of workplace and migration laws to deter exploitation; and more support for migrants to reclaim lost wages.

An Assessment of the State of the EU Schengen Area and its External Borders – Centre for European Policy Studies (Europe)

“Commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, this study assesses the state of play of the EU Schengen area and the latest legal and policy developments with direct relevance to the Schengen acquis. It analyses the impact of these developments, and the role of ‘declared crisis’, on the Schengen Borders Code, Luxembourg Court standards and EU Treaty principles and fundamental rights. The study calls for an approach based on ‘merited or deserved trust’ to uphold the legitimacy of the Schengen area.”

Optimising for our openness: the economic effects of visa auctions on the UK – Adam Smith Institute (UK)

In this innovative paper by the Adam Smith Institute, Duncan McClements (King’s College London Mathematics School) and ASI Fellow Dr Bryan Cheang (Assistant Director and Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Governance & Society at King’s College London) explore the application of a visa auction model in the UK.

Defence & national security

Impactful mateship: Strengthening the US–Australia defence relationship through enhanced mutual understanding – Australian Strategic Policy Institute (Australia)

This report highlights nine opportunities for defence policymakers in Australia and the US to continue to strengthen their alliance as it and the international security environment grow increasingly complex. This includes a series of ‘quick wins’ for the US Department of Defence (DoD), including arranging for more training for inbound Pentagon personnel and conducting allied-centric training for action officers and planners based in the US. Meanwhile, Australian Defence should further leverage its personnel based in the US and encourage greater transparency with US counterparts regarding capacity.

A Welcome Refreshment? Implications of the Spring Budget for UK Defence – RUSI (UK)

This RUSI briefing provides an overview of the UK’s defence budget as announced in the Integrated Review refresh and the Spring Budget in March 2023. Starting from the welcome news that the defence budget is expected to increase from 2.06% of GDP to 2.27% of GDP by 2024-25, the authors explore what this means for specific, noteworthy aspects of the budget such as capital spend and the AUKUS programme.

Nuclear Deterrence and Arms Control in the Twenty-First Century – Hudson Institute (USA)

This article cautions against an approach to nuclear strategy which ‘consciously or unconsciously echoes what may have worked in the past’. It is particularly important, Hudson contends, for Washington to consider how outmoded thinking may adversely impact US nuclear strategy vis-à-vis the growing threat of China’s nuclear forces. The Pentagon should make investments in the modernisation and diversification of its nuclear capabilities which would truly reflect how conflict with China would play out across the full spectrum of conventional and nuclear conflict. Only this will ‘complicate the Chinese calculus’ and form ‘a true foundation for sustainable deterrence’.

Navigating complex maritime security challenges in the Black and Mediterranean seas: Insights from the updated EUMSS – Middle East Institute (Middle East)

The Middle East Institute examines the recently updated EU Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS), identifying new and persisting threats to European maritime security, and what it says about EU plans to continue cooperating with non-EU partners in and around the Black and Mediterranean Seas.

Climate and Readiness: Understanding Climate Vulnerability of U.S. Joint Force Readiness – RAND Corporation (USA)

The US Department of Defence (DoD) is increasingly affected by climate hazards, which adversely affect the performance of the joint force and its supporting systems. Generating, maintaining, and even increasing force readiness in light of escalating climate threats is crucial to meeting high-level US strategic goals. This report concerns the findings of an initial study conducted to develop links between climate and force readiness, to eventually pave the way for the integration of climate risk with quantitative readiness assessment.

Climate change dilemmas for UK Defence and Security – RAND Europe (Europe)

In a similar vein to the RAND report above, RAND Europe examines how climate change is poised to impact the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD)’s ability to: strengthen the UK’s national security; protect the UK and its overseas territories; enhance global security; contribute to NATO’s collective deterrence; and modernise and integrate defence capabilities through a whole-force approach. It makes six recommendations for the MoD, which include running games and simulations of climate change implications to identify responses to complex crises.


Education Is More Important Than Inflation, Housing or Crime; Here’s Why. – Maxim Institute (New Zealand)

New Zealanders are going to the polls in October to elect a new government, and top of their concerns are inflation, housing and crime. Education has slipped down the ranks of their priorities, but this article argues it is more important than all of them, as education deeply affects all the ‘urgent’ issues. This is of particular concern, given that only about half of New Zealand’s schoolchildren regularly attended school in the final term of 2022.

Tech, digital & AI

The US government should regulate AI if it wants to lead on international AI governance – Brookings Institution (USA)

Following on from the US Senate hearing on regulating AI on May 16, Brookings argues that more is needed in the US when it comes to AI regulation, which would pave the way for more effective US leadership on international AI governance.

The 2023 State of UserCentriCities – The Lisbon Council (Europe)

From Rotterdam to Bratislava, this UserCentriCities report examines how cities and regions across Europe are delivering effective e-government services by putting citizens’ needs at the centre of service delivery, measured against 41 indicators inspired by the 2017 Tallinn Declaration on e-Government.

The Interoperability Imperative – The Lisbon Council (Europe)

“In the margins of The 2023 Digital Government Summit convened in Brussels, the Lisbon Council launches The Interoperability Imperative: A Tale of Four Cities, a look at the coming breakthrough in digital government service provision and a reflection on the policy framework Europe will need to deliver it.”

Quantum Technology: Applications and Implications – Center for Strategic and International Studies (USA)

“While quantum phenomena have been studied for decades, important technologies based on those phenomena have only appeared relatively recently. Some of these technologies will offer significant advantages for business and national security. Others will create new risks for encryption and stealth. This makes quantum an important topic for policymaking and an important area for cooperation between the United States and its allies. This paper, written to introduce a general audience to the topic, looks at key quantum technologies, timelines for deployment, and national policies for quantum innovation.”

The generative AI revolution: opportunities, shocks and risks – Onward (UK)

This report explores the risks and opportunities presented by AI, which is defined by the authors as the transformational technology of our generation. The report calls on the Government to invest in GB GPT and treat AI safety as a priority foreign policy objective.

The technical is geopolitical: Expanding US-UAE relations through AI – Middle East Institute (Middle East)

In the emerging field of artificial intelligence (AI), disproportionate attention has been given to the technological heavyweights, the US and China. But the UAE has made no secret of its intention to be a world leader in AI by 2031, having developed a national AI strategy, and is adopting and investing in AI at breathtaking speed. This analysis explores the implications of Abu Dhabi’s AI strategy for bilateral relations between the US and the UAE.

AI, ChatGPT, and Language as Technology: Q&A with William Marcellino – RAND Corporation (USA)

RAND expert Thomas Marcellino sits down to answer questions about the rapidly expanding reach of AI, the challenges it could pose for society and policymakers, and how the research community can help.

The UK's competition authority is ready to regulate big tech – Centre for European Reform (Europe)

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has blocked Microsoft from acquiring games company Activision, in a move that should reassure European observers that it has little appetite for intrusive regulation of big tech.


On the way to electromobility - a green(er) but more unequal future? – European Trade Union Institute (Europe)

It has become increasingly clear that all the 14 million jobs in the automobile industry will be affected by the transition to electromobility, but there has been little discussion of what would happen if the European car industry fell behind the global competition in fast-evolving zero-emission technologies. This ETUI book reveals that, if European manufacturers continue to abandon lower-market segments of electric vehicles to foreign competitors, the European automotive industry could face further employment risks and growing inequalities. 

Energy & climate change

Keeping the lights on: The EU’s energy relationships since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – European Council on Foreign Relations (Europe)

The EU has sought to rapidly reduce its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons since the war in Ukraine began, and many alternative major suppliers to Europe have stepped up as ‘friends in need’ to help the EU plug the gap. The EU’s climate goals direct it to encourage the development of renewable energy sources, meaning it must also cultivate ‘friends indeed’ who can supply clean energy. The countries best able to fulfil both short-term needs and long-term ambitions would be Norway and the US, both of which have stable natural gas supplies and are making strides in clean energy.

Is blue the new green? Opportunities for developing a climate-resilient blue economy in the MENA region – Middle East Institute (Middle East)

The Middle East Institute examines the potential of the blue economy, or the ‘sustainable use of maritime resources for economic growth, jobs, and improved livelihoods’, in the area of climate change mitigation and resilience, such as through natural protection of ecosystems from natural disasters as well as their potential for renewable energy generation. These are of particular interest to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, given its vast coastal zones.

A Political Economy Perspective on the EU’s Carbon Border Tax – Carnegie Europe (Europe)

“The EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism has sparked a debate about its negative spillover effects, particularly for developing and least developed countries. Reforming CBAM should be a priority for the EU not only for climate justice but also for geopolitical considerations.”

Wishful thinking – Menzies Research Centre (Australia)

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has pledged to achieve an 82% renewable energy capacity in the Australian energy grid by 2030; given this, the Menzies Research Centre calls for Australia to invest in nuclear power rather than ‘remarkably inefficient’ wind and solar. It points to Finland, which thanks in large part to its much-delayed but now-open Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor has achieved a 96% zero-carbon electricity system, as an example to the worthiness of a long-term investment in nuclear, and to numerous other countries which supplement renewable energy with nuclear.

Cleantech manufacturing: where does Europe really stand? – Bruegel (Europe)

With China dominant in the cleantech manufacturing sector and the US having recently offered generous subsidies under its Inflation Reduction Act, securing a competitive edge in the cleantech sector has become a priority for the EU: the European Commission published a Green Deal Industrial Plan in February 2023. Bruegel argues that a single EU cleantech manufacturing capacity target should be based on an understanding of each cleantech sector.

Fossil fuel subsidies in Australia 2023 – The Australia Institute (Australia)

This report finds that Australia’s Federal and state governments provided $11.1bn worth of spending and tax breaks to assist fossil fuel industries. This is a decline of 5% on last year, but subsidies in the forward estimates have increased to a record $57.1bn.

The Energy Transition and Export Diversification in Oil-Dependent Countries: The Role of Structural Factors – KAPSARC (Saudi Arabia)

“The energy transition toward decarbonization is expected to impact producers of fossil fuels. However, oil-exporting countries are currently key players in the modern economy. Thus, the energy transition will not be successful if state revenues in these countries are not stably maintained. These countries can protect themselves against revenue volatility and mitigate carbon risk by diversifying their economies. However, export diversification appears to be particularly challenging for many oil-producing countries.”

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