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  • Author: Daniel Litvin
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: In the United States, European Union and Asia, fears about dependence on oil and gas imports from unstable regions have become a major theme of political debate. This paper provides a high-level and historical perspective on this complex issue. Dependence on oil and gas imports raises real economic- and political-security issues for many countries. Neither the global economic crisis nor climate change policies - both of which look set to restrain oil and gas demand - will solve the problem entirely. In fact, over the next few decades it is likely to become worse.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Benjamin J Cohen, Paola Subacchi
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: When Europe's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) became effective nearly a decade ago, the euro was seen as having the potential to be the second pillar of the international monetary system. It was expected to share leadership in monetary affairs with the United States. Ten years later, however, the story looks quite different. Although the euro has firmly established itself as an international currency, the degree of change has been considerably less than expected. Europe's joint money remains at a distinct disadvantage in relation to America's greenback, limiting the role it can play in global monetary governance. The euro is not yet ready for 'prime time' and can at best play only a subordinate role to the dollar in the global system. This can be described as a one-and-a-half currency system – certainly not a two-pillar world. The problem lies in the governance structure of EMU. Because the euro is a currency without a country, based on an inter-state agreement, participating members find it difficult to speak with a single voice. The solution lies in a reform of EMU's governing rules and institutions that would put greater emphasis on the euro's external dimension. On the one hand this calls for more proactive management of the currency's exchange rate by the European Central Bank (ECB), together with an explicit commitment by the Eurogroup –the euro zone's informal committee of finance ministers – to undertake effective coordination of national fiscal policies. On the other hand it means designating a single representative of EMU with real authority to speak on behalf of members in international councils. Unless the euro zone can learn how to project power more successfully than it has until now, dual leadership of monetary affairs at the global level will remain out of reach.
  • Topic: Foreign Exchange
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Roderick Abbott
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: In an important shift, inspired partly by drift in the Doha Round negotiations, the EU announced in 2006 that it would seek new free trade area arrangements with fast-growing economies, particularly in Asia. The plan, which ended a moratorium on the launch of bilateral trade talks, in place since 1996, was billed explicitly as a contribution to the EU's own growth and jobs strategy as well as a market-opening exercise. However, the policy has so far been no more effective than multilateral negotiations in producing concrete results. Negotiations with South Korea and ASEAN have made only slow progress, while the state of talks with India remains unclear. The EU spent most of 2007 renegotiating long-standing agreements with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in an effort to satisfy WTO rules. Meanwhile, the EU's partnership agreements with China and Russia have expired, and appropriate successor arrangements are still being sought. In both cases, a number of important bilateral problems and strains will need to be dealt with. With its various trade negotiations treading water, the EU may need to review its options. One could be a more aggressive pursuit of market access, modelled on the US approach. Alternatively, the EU's traditional preference for multilateral engagement may reassert itself.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, China, Europe, Asia, South Korea, Caribbean
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Demand for food is increasing because the global population is rising and major developing economies are expanding. Global supply capacity, meanwhile, is struggling to keep up with changing requirements. Four global food supply scenarios have been developed by the Chatham House Food Supply Project to consider the challenges created and their impact on the EU/UK: 'Just a Blip': what if the present high price of food proves to be a brief spike with a return to cheap food at some point soon? 'Food Inflation': what if food prices remain high for a decade or more? 'Into a New Era': what if today's food system has reached its limits and must change? 'Food in Crisis': what if a major world food crisis develops? Across the world the responses to change will be conditioned by uncertainties surrounding the availability of sufficient energy, water, land and skills. EU/UK stakeholders need to start planning now to develop new food supply systems that are up to the task.
  • Topic: Agriculture, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Population
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Jim Rollo
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Both Korea and the EU are pursuing free trade areas (FTAs) aggressively as part of their trade policy strategies. Korea is much further down the road. There are strong incentives on both sides to conclude an agreement. However, specific issues and EU's desire to do at least as well as, and preferably better than, the Korea–US FTA may delay or even preclude success. Korea and the EU are not principal suppliers to each other, so while an agreement is predicted to be economically favourable to both sides, the effects are not expected to be very large. Korea has the higher barriers and is expected to make the bigger economic gains. There are sensitive sectors on both sides, notably automobiles for the EU and services and processed foods for Korea. Both sides have important agricultural constituencies to protect. Korea's key role in the East Asian production system suggests that rules of origin could be an area of particular difficulty in the negotiation.
  • Topic: Agriculture, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, East Asia, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Jim Rollo
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The EU and the GCC have seemed close to an agreement on a region-to-region Free Trade Agreement (FTA) – possibly the first in the world between customs unions – for the last two years. The EU seems keener on an agreement than the GCC. An FTA is an element in the EU's Global Europe trade policy strategy and is explicitly linked to energy security concerns. The EU is the GCC's main supplier of goods and services, and since the completion of the GCC Customs Union tariffs are low and the economic effects of an FTA are likely to be small, on goods at least. There may be economic barriers to the final signing of an FTA on both sides: resistance by GCC states to services and investment liberalization; and resistance in the EU over access for GCC refinery products and chemicals. Commentary from the Gulf itself suggests that the EU practice of including clauses on human rights and labour market and environmental regulation may be at the heart of the slow progress from the GCC side.
  • Topic: Environment, Human Rights, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Max Watson
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Today's market turbulence and global imbalances prompt the question whether economic and regulatory policies are poorly designed or just badly implemented. The question is urgent for Europe, which has its own asset booms and imbalances to worry about as well as the backwash of US problems. The imbalances in Europe's economies in large part reflect favourable shocks, such as falling interest rates and growing financial integration. But the 'growth crisis' in Portugal underscores the fact that there can be hard landings, even without a financial crisis, if fiscal policy is unwise and if productivity fails to take off. The current global imbalances and turbulence also have a common backdrop in the long period of unusually easy liquidity and low risk premia during which today's problems built up. This suggests that central banks should be prepared more often to 'lean against the wind' in times of asset price exuberance, and that politicians should not cut taxes or boost spending permanently on the back of revenue gains that result from transient financial booms. Banks and supervisors have many lessons to draw. Some involve going 'back to basics' on issues such as liquidity, off-balance-sheet operations, and the ability to close and reopen banks. Others require a careful look at incentives – in executive pay, rating agency roles and loan production systems. Supervisors also need to take better account of boom-bust cycles when they assess risks, and address cross-border issues in EU banking. Moral hazard has been partly addressed by pain inflicted on bank managements and shareholders. But at the macro level it may be building up as policy-makers act to limit losses in a setting where they cannot trace the ultimate fallout from risks. In future, their discretionary interventions need to be truly exceptional and much more symmetrical, or the money supply and the public debt will ratchet up amid serious resource misallocation.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Stephen Thomsen
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Global competition requires a global response, and European firms are now at the forefront of attempts to become internationally diversified multinational enterprises. European firms have been accused at various times of being too focused on their integrating regional market or too tied by historical links with certain countries or regions to develop a genuinely global strategy. Yet figures for foreign direct investment suggest not only that European firms have invested far more abroad than their American and Japanese rivals, but that they have also done so in far more countries. Of particular relevance for long-term profitability, European enterprises have a much stronger presence in emerging markets than either US or Japanese firms. Europe has in turn received more inward investment from those countries than either the United States or Japan. These growing links between Europe and emerging economies could provide European firms with a competitive edge in what are the most promising markets of the future.
  • Topic: Globalization, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Paola Subacchi, Benedicta Marzinotto, Vanessa Rossi
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: With the euro approaching the tenth anniversary of its establishment, this is a timely as well as critical moment to review policies and performance. Enough experience of the convergence and adjustment processes has been gained to better understand how they work and what problems have been created rather than solved. As the strengths – and the success – of the euro become more visible, so too do its weaknesses and the conflicts it creates. Are the appropriate mechanisms and governance in place to help manage Europe's economy so that it can realize its potential? Governance is critical because of the institutional complexity of the monetary union. Independent policy targets and policy instruments not only have to be consistent with each other, but also need to be integrated in a nonconflicting framework. There are two threads to this debate: convergence and adjustments across the euro area, and how the region as a whole is performing with regard to the rest of the world. Both imply a new approach to governance. When EMU was established, the euro area comprised 11 founding members. Now it comprises 15 and is slowly expanding. Ten years ago the emergence of China was more a possibility than a reality, while the 'Asian Tigers' were coming to terms with a devastating financial crisis. Now the rise of the emerging market economies and the enlargement of the global economy's playing field pose significant challenges to the competitiveness of the euro area. With the euro now becoming the second pillar of the international monetary system, EMU's external dimension has become very relevant. The way forward needs to blend the traditional concerns for macroeconomic stability and competitiveness with the more recent concern about the role of Europe in the global economy. All these dimensions need to be organized into a coherent agenda. The right policy should be implemented at the right time.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Terry Terriff, Mark Webber, Stuart Croft, Jolyon Howorth
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The Nice Summit will best be remembered for the eponymous treaty, designed to make the necessary institutional reforms to allow the European Union to enlarge, but progress in the sphere of security and defence is no less significant. Following changes that began at St Malo in 1998, the EU member states demonstrated their willingness to share the security burden with the United States. However, this apparently positive move has been greeted with caution at best, hostility at worst in the US, where the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) is sometimes portrayed as a threat to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). What has enabled the EU to produce a common policy on security and defence after decades of failure? What are the prospects for ESDP? What are the implications for the Atlantic Alliance?
  • Topic: Security, NATO
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: George Joffé
  • Publication Date: 08-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: In November 1995, the European Union signed a wide-ranging declaration with the twelve littoral states of the South Mediterranean at the end of a major conference in Barcelona. The declaration outlined an agreed policy for future relations between the EU and its Mediterranean partners which sought to create a zone of shared stability, prosperity and peace. This policy is designed to condition relations throughout the Mediterranean on a new basis of partial economic integration and cooperation over mutual security issues, together with support for regional political, cultural and social development. It has extremely ambitious objectives and represents a new departure for the European Union, although the means proposed to achieve it have been modest. Now, almost five years after its inception, it is appropriate to consider to what degree it has begun to realize the objectives it set for itself, given the fact that they should be achieved by the year 2010.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Africa, Barcelona
  • Author: Julie Smith
  • Publication Date: 05-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Thirteen countries are currently seeking to join the European Union. Several more countries, including some Southeast European states that have already signed Stability and Association Agreements with the EU, not to mention some of the Caucasian and Central Asian members of the CIS, have also expressed a desire to be considered for membership at some point in the future. While those former Soviet states, with the possible exception of Moldova, are unlikely to join, the EU is committed to enlarging to the south and east.
  • Topic: International Organization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Moldova
  • Author: Koji Morita
  • Publication Date: 02-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Public projections by the International Energy Agency, the US Energy Information Administration and the European Commission suggest that, with present policies, world consumption of gas will roughly double by 2020, taking about 5% of the primary energy market from other fuels. About half this gain will be at the expense of more carbon-intensive fossil fuels, mainly coal, but the other half will replace carbon-free nuclear energy. The net effect on the growth of greenhouse gas emissions will therefore be small. For comparison, gas consumption increased in the past 20 years by almost 80%, at the expense of other fossil fuels. Half the increased gas demand is projected for developing countries, compared with 45% of the increase over the past 20 years and their present share of about a quarter of total world gas consumption.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Energy Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Walt Patterson
  • Publication Date: 08-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: As governments around the world liberalize their electricity systems, they are overturning the guiding principles that have shaped electricity for the past century. Yet they continue to regard electricity as a public service. The consequent inconsistencies and contradictions are already evident, and intensifying. This Briefing Paper outlines the implications. It is based on a research project now under way in the Energy and Environmental Programme, entitled Keeping the Lights On: Public Service in Liberalized Electricity. For details please see the back page.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: David Bright
  • Publication Date: 06-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: One of the most interesting consequences of the development of the European Union has been the stimulus it has given in recent years to the rediscovery of region within European states. As the supra-state functions of the European institutions in Brussels have burgeoned and the intrinsic sovereignty of the state in Europe has declined, so regions have acquired an ever greater social and political significance. Of course, in some cases, the state was traditionally federal in nature—as with Germany\'s Länder system—and, politically at least, regional aspirations have been satisfied. In the past two decades, however, regional aspirations have expanded into social and cultural spheres that require a new, defined political context. Even in such long-established states as the United Kingdom, such pressures now have to be acknowledged as sub-state factors enter into the complex array of political elements that go to make up the contemporary Union. In this context the Spanish experience is illuminating, both in the way it demonstrates how such tendencies should be accommodated and in the way in which regional populations respond. It is, in fact, a paradigm for a development that will become inevitable and universal as the power of the state declines within the wider structures of contemporary \'Euroland\'.
  • Topic: Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Ralph Negrine
  • Publication Date: 07-1998
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The last decade of the 20th century has apparently seen a profound change in the way in which European media handle their reporting of the political process. It is a process which marks an end to the formality and sense of obligation with which parliamentary debates and the activities of individual politicians have traditionally been treated. It has been paralleled by far-reaching changes in the ways in which politicians seek to influence their electorate. This briefing paper summarizes the findings of a comprehensive study that attempts to quantify what these changes in presentation of news and information might really mean.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe