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  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Thomas Philippon, Jean Pisani-Ferry
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The measures that most governments took in response to the sudden collapse in economic activity during the COVID-19 lockdowns nearly exclusively focused on protecting vulnerable workers and firms. These measures included unemployment benefits, grants, transfers, loans at low rates, and tax deferrals. As lockdowns are lifted, governments must shift policies toward supporting the recovery and design measures that will limit the pain of adjustment while preserving productive jobs and firms. This Policy Brief explores how such measures can be designed, with particular emphasis on Europe and the United States. The authors propose a combination of unemployment benefits to help workers, wage subsidies and partially guaranteed loans to help firms, and debt restructuring procedures for small and medium-sized companies handicapped by excessive legacy debt from the crisis.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Labor Issues, Unemployment, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Charles Thépaut, Elena DeLozier
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By triggering the nuclear deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, Britain, France, and Germany are opening diplomatic space that could help the United States and Iran return to the negotiating table. In a press conference following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, President Trump reaffirmed his administration’s “maximum pressure” policy against Iran and asked, once again, for European countries to leave the nuclear deal. Meanwhile, Tehran announced what it called a “fifth and final remedial step” away from its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In response, the British, French, and German foreign ministers stated on January 14 that they would trigger the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism (DRM). At the same time, however, the E3 clarified that they are not joining the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign, which has steadily intensified ever since the United States withdrew from the JCPOA and reimposed unilateral sanctions in 2018. Contrary to U.S. claims, the European decision will not immediately provoke “snapback” UN sanctions on Iran (though that scenario could unfold later if the E3 plan fails and Iran’s violations go before the UN Security Council). Instead, Europe is maintaining its evenhanded position somewhere between Washington and Tehran in order to preserve the possibility of new negotiations, on both the nuclear program and other regional issues.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Fabrice Balanche
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Various displacement scenarios may unfold as the fighting escalates, each carrying a high risk of negative humanitarian and economic consequences even if the parties live up to their promises. The battle for Idlib province, the last stronghold of Syrian rebel forces, is heating up again. As Turkish troops clash with Assad regime forces and displaced civilians continue piling up along the border, various foreign and domestic players are considering moves that could send hundreds of thousands of refugees to other parts of Syria, northern Iraq, or Europe.
  • Topic: Refugees, Displacement, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Benjamin Tallis, Elena Zhirukhina, Mark Galeotti, Jan Mazač
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The policy brief is a result of conclusions from roundtable discussions with policy makers and researchers that took place in Prague and Oslo in late 2019 and early 2020. The researchers studied how to better respond to fear factors and move beyond them in foreign policy. A key observation made in the new brief is that while changes in American, Chinese and Russian foreign policies may trigger anxiety and uncertainty among smaller European states, fears like this can also have productive effects on foreign policy thinking and practice. For states like Czechia and Norway, it can create opportunities for re-thinking support networks and reaching out to new partners. While Norway and Czechia have different historical, geographical and (sometimes) political points of departure, the two states’ assessment of recent international developments is similar. This creates room for conversation and mutual learning - including how to best respond to increased levels of rivalry between great powers, and changing dynamics in the EU and NATO. There are also similarities in how Norway and Czechia perceive their regional collaboration with their respective Nordic and Visegrad states – and how there is considerable scope for them to branch out from their regional formats.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Norway, Czech Republic
  • Author: Arthur Boutellis, Michael Beary
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Since 2013, after years of near absence from the continent, a number of European countries, along with Canada, have again deployed to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. The European presence in UN peacekeeping in Africa is now nearly at its largest since the mid-1990s. These countries provide much-needed high-end capabilities, as well as political and financial capital, to UN peacekeeping operations. Nonetheless, securing and sustaining European contributions to these types of peacekeeping operations remains an uphill battle for the UN. This paper draws lessons from this renewed engagement by European countries and Canada, both from their point of view, as well as from that of the UN Secretariat, UN field missions, and other troop contributors. It aims to explore how these bodies and other countries can best work together in a collective endeavor to improve UN peacekeeping’s efficiency and effectiveness. Toward this end, the paper recommends a number of actions to the UN Secretariat: Build peacekeeping operations around first-class medical systems; Focus on improving processes for casualty evacuation; Strengthen the UN’s capacity to foster partnerships among troop-contributing countries; Engage Europe strategically and politically; Be flexible and make European contributors (and others) feel included in planning; Continue educating European contributors about UN peacekeeping; Do not limit engagement with European contributors to high-end capabilities; Ensure European contributors adhere to UN standards; and Encourage European contributors to commit to longer deployments.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peacekeeping, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Canada
  • Author: David Carment
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: After three years of limited discussion, the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine renewed their peace talks to resolve the separatist conflict in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas). Efforts to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Donbas began five years ago with the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine. This framework, developed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), attempted to facilitate a dialogue between Russia and Ukraine through the mediation of an impartial actor, and it culminated in the Minsk I (September 2014) and then Minsk II (February 2015) agreements. The Minsk II agreements comprised a 13-point peace plan, chief among which is an arrangement specifying support for the restoration of the Ukrainian-Russian border. While the implementation of the military portions of the Minsk II agreements were finalized within three months of signing, the political and security portions remained unresolved. Though President Vladimir Putin has declared his intent to protect the Russian-speaking peoples of the region, he has also stated he has no interest in reclaiming Eastern Ukraine. Not surprisingly, since Russia’s ultimate goal is undeclared, the conflict has proved very difficult to resolve.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Territorial Disputes, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Canada, France, Germany, United States of America
  • Author: John Seaman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: From emerging technological fields such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities to traditional sectors including energy, health care, railways and agriculture, China is increasingly proactive in nearly every domain where technical standards remain to be developed and set. Technical standards are the definition of processes or technical specifications designed to improve the quality, security and compatibility of various goods and services, for instance GSM for telecommunications or WiFi for wireless Internet. They can be thought of as basic specifications or technologies on which other technologies or methods will evolve – creating lock-in effects and path-dependency for future products and technological trajectories. Defining standards can provide significant benefits for society at large, but can also carry significant implications for which technologies will dominate future markets and provide substantial advantages to those who master standardized technologies. Chinese policymakers have become keenly aware of the relationship between technical standard-setting and economic power. Indeed, a popular saying in China posits that third-tier companies make products, second-tier companies make technology, first-tier companies make standards. In 2015, the State Council highlighted China’s deficiencies in the field and set out to transform the country’s standardization system, seeking to harness the capacity of standard setting not only to improve the daily lives of its citizens, but to drive innovation, boost China’s economic transformation toward the industries of the future, and turn China into a premier purveyor of international technical standards.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Multilateralism, Standardization
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Laura-Theresa Krüger, Julie Vaillé
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: On 22 January 2019, France and Germany signed the Aachen Treaty. Therein, 56 years after the Elysée Treaty, re-emphasising their support for multilateralism, sustainable development and development cooperation. Despite the ambitions expressed in this document, the signing of the Treaty calls for reflection: to what extent does this type of agreement indeed lead to joint operational approaches and have a real impact on French–German cooperation? To answer this question, this Briefing Paper analyses the obstacles to a closer French–German cooperation in the field of sustainable international development. It focuses on how these commitments are put into practice at the level of political coordination and project implementation. The analysis is based on about 20 interviews with representatives of French and German ministries, development agencies and think tanks. It finds that things get most complicated at the level of political coordination. Three main obstacles are identified: slightly diverging strategic visions; an incompatibility between institutional structures concerning the degree of specialisation and the mandates of the ministries responsible for steering aid, as well as the degree to which development agencies are involved in strategic decision-making; and cultural particularities regarding communication and time management. Five recommendations are proposed: 1. Protect what has been achieved: the alignment between France and Germany at the political and project implementation levels is an asset in an international context where the focus on national interests is increasing. Such cooperation should thus continue to be supported and reinforced. 2. Channel the political momentum to the working level: in order to reinforce their coordination, the two countries could establish a solid and regular follow-up mechanism for each commitment, detailing joint actions, shared objectives and milestones. 3. Promote mutual knowledge and trust: personnel exchange between the departments, as well as deep dive sessions on the two countries’ activities and strategies would allow increased understanding of each other. 4. Share best practices: a balanced and respectful French–German collaboration could be encouraged by the sharing of practices for which one country is more advanced or better positioned than the other (such as the French interministerial coordination or the German project evaluation and monitoring procedures). 5. Act jointly or divide the work: in the run-up to each joint Franco-German action, make a deliberate and conscious decision whether the two countries have an interest to act jointly or to divide the work. This decision would allow maximisation of the impact, either by specialising or by working together.
  • Topic: Development, Treaties and Agreements, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer , Zhiyaou (Lucy) Lu
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In early 2019, several important members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) submitted noteworthy proposals in a realm of international commerce that has evolved faster than rules to govern it: e-commerce or digital trade. While countries agree on less controversial subjects like banning unsolicited commercial electronic messages, the three leading WTO members—China, the European Union, and the United States—have big differences in their approaches to more challenging issues: data flows, data localization, privacy invasions by data collectors, transfer of source code, imposition of customs duties and internet taxes, and internet censorship. Their differing viewpoints lead Hufbauer and Lu to conclude that the prospect of reaching a high-level WTO e-commerce agreement is not promising. To reach an agreement, either most of the contentious issues must be dropped or the number of participating countries must be sharply reduced. A WTO accord, even of low ambition, would have value if only to establish basic digital norms on matters such as banning unsolicited commercial messages and protecting online consumers from fraudulent practices. A more ambitious accord covering the controversial issues should be negotiated in bilateral and/or plurilateral/regional pacts rather than in the WTO.
  • Topic: Economics, World Trade Organization, Finance, Privacy, Data
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, North America, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon, Christopher G. Collins
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Central banks in the three largest advanced economies (the United States, Japan, and the eurozone) have only limited ammunition to fight a recession based on the tools used to date. The Federal Reserve has the most amount of tried and tested ammunition in this group. If a recession were to hit the US economy now, the Fed would be able to deliver monetary stimulus equivalent to a cut in the short-term policy interest rate of about 5 percentage points, which is sufficient to fight a mild but not severe recession. The European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan have little ability to ease policy with tools used to date, about the equivalent of a 1 percentage point cut in the policy rate. But they can engage in more exotic forms of monetary policy, such as large-scale purchases of equity and real estate and direct transfers to households, which the Fed cannot do. These tools, however, are largely untested and face political resistance. An important implication of this analysis is that raising expected inflation before a recession hits has a much larger benefit than has been widely recognized. A higher long-run inflation rate gives central banks more room to not only cut their policy rates but also use forward guidance and quantitative easing to reduce longer-term rates.
  • Topic: Global Recession, Economy, Central Bank
  • Political Geography: Japan, Europe, North America, United States of America