Serafijn Gentils





Serafijn Gentils

DPhil candidate, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies



Serafijn is a DPhil student at the University of Oxford’s School of Global and Area Studies. He holds an MSc degree in EU Studies and an LLM in EU and International Law, both from Ghent University, Belgium. Prior to commencing his doctoral studies, Serafijn worked as a Policy Analyst at the Embassy of Belgium in the UK, focusing on Brexit-related matters. Before that, he worked in the legal department of a London-based software company. His doctoral project, under the supervision of Professor Paul Irwin Crookes, is a study of EU and UK foreign policy towards Hong Kong during the first 25 years since the Handover. 

DPhil topic

Serafijn studies how the EU and UK have shaped their foreign policies towards Hong Kong since the city became a Special Administrative Region of China. His doctoral project builds on Europeanisation theory to develop an understanding of how the UK, considering its historic relationship with Hong Kong, has influenced how the EU and its member states view the territory.  

Focusing on a period beginning in 1997 and ending in 2022 allows him to consider how certain events have influenced the EU-UK-Hong Kong relationship, for instance: the attempts by the Hong Kong government to introduce Article 23 legislation in 2003, the 'Occupy' movement in 2014, the protests of 2019 and the subsequent introduction of the National Security Law. During 2019-2020, at a time when Hong Kong went through a period of profound change, Brexit caused serious disruption in the EU-UK relationship as well. This brings up questions about whether, and if so how, Britain’s exit from the EU changed both actors’ policies towards Hong Kong. 

While the focus of this research project is firmly fixed on Hong Kong, Serafijn also considers broader questions about how the SAR fits into the wider relationships between the EU, the UK, and China, and about what Hong Kong’s future inside that relationship might be. 

More broadly, Serafijn is interested in EU-China and UK-China relations, the impact of Brexit on EU-UK foreign policy cooperation, and all facets of Hong Kong history and culture.