The past year was tumultuous on a variety of levels and CSD stayed on the pulse of time focusing on some of the hottest topics in the following key areas:
- countering corruption, illicit finance and state capture, analysing authoritarian influence, hybrid threats, and disinformation, economic security and undeclared work;
- prioritising energy and climate security, just and socially acceptable low-carbon transition and cutting-edge low-carbon technologies, energy efficiency, energy poverty and air quality;
- providing assessments of organised crime risks in emerging markets, countering radicalisation and right-wing extremism, protection of EU external borders;
- supporting good governance, justice and security, legal empowerment, equality and fundamental rights, youth employment, religious diversity, energy democracy and migrant integration.
In 2023, CSD was at the forefront of the ongoing geopolitical struggle to contain Russian aggression in Europe and to break free from the economic dependence on Russia. By partnering with some of the most influential NGOs that focus on monitoring Russian sanctions evasion, such as the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and Global Witness, CSD spearheaded a series of joint investigations on how Lukoil has been taking advantage of the exemption from the EU’s ban on Russian oil imports that Bulgaria received to boost Moscow’s revenues by continuing to sell crude oil and fuel products in Europe. The analyses, which were reported and validated by in a series of articles in Politico, reveal that Lukoil has sold around $2.2 billion worth of Russian crude oil to Bulgaria. Approximately half of this oil supply has been resold in the form of final fuel products worldwide, constituting a major loophole that allows Russia to utilise the EU to maintain its global oil market share.