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  • Author: Inès Abdel Razek, Claudia Del Prado Sartorius
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: It is a busy diplomatic period among the Heads of State and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union and the Mediterranean countries. On the 24 and 25 February 2019, the EU and the League of Arab States (LAS) are set to hold their very first Euro-Arab Summit at the level of heads of state. The two regional blocks are meant to focus on “stability” and “migration”, going back to prioritising the security and stability agenda over the promotion of democracy and human rights. The aim is also to forge a new European-African Alliance, where Arab countries must play a necessary bridging role. This goal already questions whether the centre of gravity of EU-Arab cooperation is moving away from the Mediterranean to Africa. A few months back, the Conference of Mediterranean Ministers of Foreign Affairs – that includes all EU countries and 10 Arab countries – marking the tenth anniversary of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), was held on the 8th of October 2018. However, it passed almost unnoticed on mainstream media. The event could be considered as an achievement in itself given that it gathered the 43 UfM countries, with their divergent and sometimes antagonistic geopolitical agendas – including Israel, Turkey, alongside the European and Arab countries – and allowed to reaffirm a rhetorical commitment to this regional partnership that focuses more on the socioeconomic issues. The Conference did not manage to produce a formal conclusive document, but just a mere declaration signed by the co-presidents1 . The UfM Conference was followed more recently by the Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers of the 5+5 dialogue (Western Mediterranean Forum2 ) on 18 and 19 January 2019, where parties adopted a declaration focused on reinforcing western Mediterranean ties focusing on “sustainable development, youth, migration and mobility”3 . The more “Mediterranean” format of this dialogue only composed of riparian states in the western part of the Mediterranean is attractive to its member countries as more manageable than the UfM, composed of 43 countries, including countries that are remote from the Mediterranean itself. 1 https://ufmsecretariat.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Conclusions-of-the-Co-Presidency.pdf 2 Malta, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania, 3 http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2019-01-18/local-news/5-5-Western-MediterraneanDialogue-Foreign-Ministers-meeting-held-in-Malta-6736202278 Memorandum Opex Nº 239/2019. The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) ten years after its foundation - How to overcome the frustrated ambitions 2 In that regard, France is pushing for its initiative of the “Summit of the two shores”, announced by President Macron, that will take place on the 24th of June 2019 in Marseille. It aims to revive the 5+5 Dialogue format, with 10 of the 43 countries of the UfM, while making it more inclusive and less government-driven, including civil society and all actors of the “voices of the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue”. It proposes a new “Mediterranean policy”, hinting on the existing failures of the UfM formula4 . In this paper, the authors zoom in the UfM, today considered, within the Mediterranean countries political and diplomatic circles, as a positive forum for formal political dialogue among its 43 member-states. However, throughout the past ten years, none have passed without analysts or politicians asking for revitalisation and necessary changes in the partnership, which lacks depth and vision. If you address the 43 capitals of the UfM, you are likely to find at least 20 different interpretations of the value and meaning of this somehow forgotten partnership. The EU, on a discursive level, presents the UfM as a model for regional integration complementing its Neighbourhood policy. Southern Mediterranean countries, on their end, continue to maintain low profiles, showing their moderate interest in an organisation which has failed to become a partnership based on equal footing – one country, one vote- that would increase regional economic integration with the EU. Critical security and geopolitical issues are put on the discussion table outside the UfM’s realm, through the League of Arab States or 5+5 Dialogue. The partnership’s lack of coherence and articulation with the other forums and partnerships (Neighbourhood Policy, 5+5, EU-Arab League) contributes to its weakening. At a time when multilateralism is vilified all around the world, when the EU is internally divided and marked by the rise of nationalist populist forces and securitydriven agendas; at a time when the Arab world, all the more divided, stands far from the short-lived optimism brought by the Arab Springs, is the Mediterranean agenda going to be central to its member states’ international cooperation? Will the UfM hold a central place in the Mediterranean agenda and more broadly EU-Arab relations, or just be one of many actors? Despite all its shortfalls, the authors believe in the added value of the UfM forum to advance people-centred socioeconomic models. We argue for reinforcing its 4 Foreign Policy Speech at the « conférence des Ambassadeurs » http://www.elysee.fr/declarations/article/discoursdu-president-de-la-republique-a-la-conference-des-ambassadeurs/ Memorandum Opex Nº 239/2019. The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) ten years after its foundation - How to overcome the frustrated ambitions 3 existing institutions in order for all Mediterranean countries to advance a progressive socio-economic agenda, whether in the North or the South.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Migration, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Europe, Mediterranean, Southern Europe
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: Our starting point was the observation that the international order, but also the political, social and economic order on a domestic level in the West are undergoing profound changes, some of which stem from the new social, political and economic situation in the United States. The world’s major power has become the epicentre of numerous transformations that have accelerated with the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House. The consolidation of a populist political narrative and the implementation of a series of highly disruptive policies in the international system are unequivocal signs of profound transformations rooted in changes that have been under way for years. At the Fundación Alternativas’s Observatory of Foreign Policy (OPEX) we set out to coordinate a Working Group commissioned with the task of analysing those transformations and trends in the United States, primarily from a European standpoint. Our goal was to explore the new social, political, technological, economic and cultural trends that are going to shape thought and debate in Europe and the rest of the world on numerous and very diverse topics – from the new geopolitics to social breakdown; from globalisation and the technological shift to transatlantic relations; the crisis of the traditional political parties; robotization and digitalisation; migration flows, climate change and renewable energies; fake news and new media. Lastly, we tried to begin reflection with regard to Spanish and European political and social agents, drawing a prospective map of important changes that all of these trends are causing on both sides of the Atlantic. The project included several work sessions at the Fundación Alternativas offices over the course of 2018. They were built around a short presentation, followed by a lively exchange of ideas. Numerous experts linked to the Fundación Alternativas, practitioners and guests from other prestigious Spanish and international institutions took part in the Working Group. To have them with us and Vicente Palacio US Trends That Matter For Europe January 2019 5 be able to broadcast the sessions live to a wide audience, we also made use of Skype and social media. The result, then, is a starting point rather than an end point: an initial cognitive map that will have to be continued and extended in the future. We have chosen to put into print and disseminate this material electronically thanks to the collaboration of the School of International Relations at the Instituto de Empresa (IE) and its Transatlantic Relations Initiative (TRI) led by Manuel Muñiz, Dean of IE School of Global and Public Affairs, to be more precise. Special thanks go to him and to Waya Quiviger, Executive Director of the TRI, for their collaboration in the completion of this project that we present jointly at the IE headquarters in Madrid.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Europe Union, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Atlantic Ocean
  • Author: Anuschka Álvarez von Gustedt, Susanne Gratius
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: Are populism and social cohesion two sides of the same coin, or antagonistic concepts? In deeply divided Latin American societies, populism and discourses from the left have repeatedly promised inclusion and welfare programs under a strong leader who gives voice to the poor and marginalized. At first glance, however, results are ambiguous. The recent wave of left-wing populism in Latin America --from Hugo Chávez in 1999 to Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2019 - show a mixed record of social inclusion or –in a term we will use here - social cohesion. Bolivia under Evo Morales (2006-2019), for example, improved all social indicators compared to former governments, while the severe political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela illustrates how populism and its welfare policies may lead to potentially disastrous consequences. The paper is organized as follows: In the first section, we provide a short overview of current political and academic debates on populism and social cohesion, as well as their relationship. The objective here is to identify a minimal definition of both concepts. In the second part, we develop a series of indicators to compare the social record of five Latin American case-studies where leftist leaders with state-centric discourses promised justice and welfare for the poor. From this comparative perspective, the third part of the document explores the causes that led to the rise of leftist populism between 1999 and 2018 in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela, as well as the social discourse and track record of populist governments. This analysis is based on indicators developed from the broad literature on social cohesion.
  • Topic: Socialism/Marxism, Populism, Humanitarian Intervention
  • Political Geography: Argentina, Latin America, Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia
  • Author: François Vallancourt, Jesús Ruiz-Huerta, Violeta Ruiz Almendral
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: Since 2009 Autonomous Communities have started to set their own Personal Income Tax rates for the first time. This is both the result of the 2009 rule change and the difficulties to get other public revenues during the years of the Great Recession. We will examine what the Autonomous Communitie s explicit choices have been and see how they compare to what Canadian Provinces have done. Before 2000, these provinces other than Québec were required to use a surtax approach that saw provinces collect personal income tax as a% of federal taxes (tax on tax) using the same number of brackets, boundaries of brackets and progressivity structure. Since 2000 they can and have chosen to use a tax on income approach as noted above. Thus they must make similar choices to those of Autonomous Communities for their Personal Income Tax since 2000.
  • Topic: Economics, Global Recession, Tax Systems, Recovery
  • Political Geography: Europe, Canada, Spain, North America, Western Europe
  • Author: Luis Fernando Medina Sierra
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: The present document has three goals: first, present an overview of the main legal and regulatory developments regarding the digital platforms; second, reflect the diversity of view that these technologies have generated among the social actors (unions, workers, government and enterprises) and third, offer a comparative framework to make sense of this diversity and the challenges it presents for labor relations and social dialogue. The institutional response has been so far mainly reactive, giving rise to ambiguities that may generate conflicts in need of resolution. But the structure of the different industries where these platforms have been introduced is such that the workers' experiences, their opportunities and their incentives to organize are all markedly heterogeneous. Given the way in which digital platforms redefines the labor relationship between workers and companies, any possible regulation will entail a serious rethinking of key aspects of the welfare state.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Labor Issues, Regulation, Digital Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain, Western Europe, Mediterranean
  • Author: Juan Manuel López-Nadal
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: The elected President Donald Trump and his new administration at the White House sewed confusion and alarm in Asian and India-Pacific by broadcasting ambiguous and disconcerting signs about the American new policy towards the region. The later steps taken recently point to a certain return to the traditional parameters of Washington's Asian policy: the alliance with Japan and South Korea, and a firm attitude to China in commitment to dialogue, at the same time confirmation of Asia's strategic importance for the American fundamental interests. Since the campaign trail, Trump had already hinted at abandoning the pivot policy on military, commercial and diplomatic terms. Just three days hereinafter his assumption of power, the ambitious and highly contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership was ditched, which spread great dismay among the Trans-Pacific partner countries. To add, the One-China policy, respected by all the Republicans and Democrats since the historical Shanghai Communiqué in 1972, was threatened due to Trump's phone call to the Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-wen, during his first days in office. Would Trump presidency actually redraw the geopolitical landscape in Asia?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Juan Antonio Pavón Losada
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: 2015 has been the year of refugees. Acording to ACNUR, around 1.006.768 migrants have arrived to the European Union running from war and poverty crossing the Mediterranean Sea. More than 850.000 asylum seekers arrived in Greece crossing the Egean Sea, standing for the 84,5% of the people who arrived in Europe in irregular conditions, while the number using the Italian route went slightly down from 170.000 in 2014 to 152.700 in 2015. Member states and EU institutions have a duty to respond to this situation under international law and agreed on an European Agenda on Migration that stated the “immediate imperative is a duty to protect those in need” adopting a substantial package of new measures: Setting out a common approach to managing Europe's external borders, migration flows and the implementation, strengthening and development of a common Asylum and immigration policy withing the Schengen Area. Under this agreement, an Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) has been set up for the period 2014-20, with a total of EUR 3.1 billion for the seven years. As part of this strategy, the European Commission, in its attempts to push forward an EU agenda, has proposed to establish a European Border and Coast Guard to ensure a strong and shared management of the external borders. In this line, Frontex recently accepted a Greek request to deploy Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABIT) increasing the number of officers and technical equipment, such as boats and patrol cars, allowing to identify and register more migrants as soon after they arrive. In addition to 448 officers offered by Member States under thise mechanism, Frontex deploys 16 vessels and more than 260 officers assisting in new arrivals, as well as border surveillance officers, and document experts. However, and due to the lack of political commitment, after this serie of so-far unsuccessful attempts to address the stream of migrants and refugees the EU has opted to push the problem out of its borders following in Greece the model implemented in the West African migration route. According to EU data, the fact is incontestable: through subsidizing third countries to block the route to keeping migrants out of EU borders; express readmission agreements, reinforcing border control, guards and fences whilst dismantling camps at third countries soil; irregular immigration to Spain by sea decreased to very low levels. However, as in tthe Spanish case, this is not only illegal under international law. Human Right Watchdog organizations report gross and systematic violations of human rights since those measures may represent "an unjustified militarization of the border" and "an outsourcing of the control of external borders of the EU to a country that does not respect human rights". Following this strategy, in March 2016, the EU sealed an agreement with Turkey, temporary home to more than 2 million Syrians, to stop commuting to Greece. In return, Turkey will double the 3,000 million euros of aid approved by the European Union in exchange for their commitment to 6,000 million € to “improve border control and to cooperate in the fight against traffickers. Besides allowing the express devolution of irregular migrants and refugees to Turkey, the deal will cap the number of Syrian refugees resettled from Turkey at 72.000. Far from the 850.000 that arrived last year and even far from the 160.000 agreed last year. Undoubtedly, the agreement represents the last attempt to save Schengen after the continous EU failure to set up a common response to the crisis. The EU Parliament -which action is very limited due to the lack of compentencesis officially discussing the agreement in addition to the future of the Schengen zone; the rights of refugees under international law; and racism and violence suffered by these incomers. Many MEPs have expressed grave reservations about the deal, questioning whether the agreement with Turkey violated international conventions.
  • Topic: Migration, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Asylum, Schengen
  • Political Geography: Europe, Brussels
  • Author: José Enrique de Ayala Marín
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: EU security has reached a critical point unparalleled since the end of the cold war. The threat of Jihadism, instability in Eastern Europe, failing states and human trafficking are problems it must deal with at a moment at which the United States is seeking to play a lesser role in European defence. Although as many as 34 civilian and military operations have been conducted during the 16 years in which the CSDP has been active, this instrument is far from being sufficient to meet the EU's security requirements. Of the various areas in which the CSDP must now be strengthened – which range from strategy definition and the development of common capacities to financing and force structure – the most important is Command and Control, a point that has been resolved at the political-strategic level but remains pending at the military-strategic level due to the lack of a permanent European operational headquarters (OHQ) that obliges the Union to negotiate specific agreements in every instance that one is required. None of the three current options for establishing an OHQ satisfies the availability, rapid response and capacity requirements for conducting CSDP operations. The use of NATO assets contemplated in the Berlin Plus agreement has for all intents and purposes been blocked by the diplomatic deadlock between Cyprus and Turkey, the response provided by national OHQs (which are not exclusively devoted to EU defence) is slow, and the capacity of the EU Centre of Operations is severely limited. This problem can only be resolved by creating a permanent, joint, combined, modular and sustainable European Operational Headquarters (EOHQ) with the planning, command, control and coordination capacities needed to guarantee that a 6 military commander can carry out his responsibilities in close coordination with the commander of civilian operations and the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability. An EOHQ would give the CSDP the visibility and rapid response capability it must have to work effectively in an increasingly unstable environment in which heightened security measures are essential and the launch of new operations is inevitable. Its establishment would have a multiplier effect in that it would lead to other initiatives that would pave the way for the expansion of the CSDP – a crucial step towards the common European defence envisioned in EU Treaties that should be a key EU objective. Promoting the creation of this structure and participating in its realisation should be one of the priorities of those Member States, including Spain, that are in favour of strengthening the CSDP as part of a process of political convergence, and consider such a measure to be the most appropriate, urgent and effective action to afford European citizens a higher level of security and a collective contribution towards the achievement of the paramount goal of peace.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Violent Extremism, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain, Brussels
  • Author: Hector Fouce
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: Digital culture already is the present in which we live. The wounds of transition from the analogue model are being gradually left behind and a new model of culture has taken root in our societies. A model whereby users are no longer limited to consume what the media and cultural societies generate, but are now active elements in their circulation and, often, of creativity itself. Evidentently, this new model has generated disruptions and transformations, which, in the case of music, were initially dramatic. But right now the music market is taking advantage of the oportunities in the Internet, and has been growing during the last four years, with the digital market in Spain receiving in 2016 over one hundred million Euros -61% of its revenue. (Promusicae, 2017), while a new panorama is consolidating with new actors, new relationships among them and new ways of action from authors, industries, technologies and users. This work will explore the exisiting interweaving tensions, endeavoring to point out some ecommendations towards a horizon that brings together the potentialities of technologies, the fair remuneration of those whose way of life is music, and the daily practices of the listeners who make music so important .
  • Topic: Mass Media, Culture, Internet, digital culture
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain, Western Europe
  • Author: Juan Martin Navarro Ruiz, Juan Antonio Pavón Losada
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Fundación Alternativas
  • Abstract: The Lima meeting is already over. Again, the script from every climate summit is being repeated: a framework for negotiation has been settled, the basis for future agreements has been laid down, however, decisions are still being postponed. In this case, until the Paris Summit in late 2015. Inter alia, the lack of sensitivity of the United States towards environmental protection, coupled with the failure of the European Union in solving their almost chronic financial, social and political instability crisis, have left the world’s environmental protection strategy orphan of leadership. Certainly, a strategic project in the near future of the international community and essential for humanity.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation, Europe Union
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany, Global Focus