External Publications

April 07, 2021

A Wicked Problem

How to Cooperate with Collusive States?

This paper tackles one of the wickedest of questions: how should the EU cooperate with partner governments which collude with criminals?

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) meets with European Council President Charles Michel (L) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Ankara, Turkey, on April 6, 2021.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) meets with European Council President Charles Michel (L) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Ankara, Turkey, on April 6, 2021.
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At a time of huge international upheaval, a failure to resolve its ‘wicked problems’ risks leaving the EU paralysed on the world stage. This class of problem is characterised by contradictory political pressures, typically a clash of interests and principles. It is exemplified by the dilemma of whether to accommodate partner states that collude with criminals.

The EU has always believed that collusion precludes liberal development outcomes. But now, facing political pressure to engage with as broad a range of states as possible, it is hard-pressed to reassess its beliefs. This Chaillot Paper looks for evidence that collusion can in fact promote positive outcomes, and in so doing develops a methodology which could help resolve other similarly intractable problems.

This text is part of a longer report co-authored by Dr. Roderick Parkes and Mark McQuay for the European Union Institute for Security Studies. You can download the full report here