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  • Author: Douglas Barrie, Lucie béraud-Sudreau, Henry Boyd, Nick Childs, Bastain Giegerich, James Hackett, Meia Nouwens
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: In 2019, European governments’ combined defence spending, when measured in constant 2015 US dollar terms, surpassed the level reached in 2009, before the financial and economic crisis led to a series of significant defence-spending cuts. However, a different strategic paradigm – one that Europe is struggling to adjust to and which is once more a concern for European governments – has re-appeared in this past decade: great-power competition. Russia attempted to change international borders in Europe through the use of force in 2014 by annexing Crimea and continues to support an armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Moscow’s challenge to Euro-Atlantic security exists in multiple dimensions: as both a conventional military and also a hybrid-warfare issue, with Russia working to dislocate existing societal alignments and disrupt political processes in Western states. The poisoning of a former Russian intelligence officer (and of his daughter) in the United Kingdom, attributed by the British government to Russia, underlines further how much the character of conflict has changed. How to manage the challenge Russia poses without simply reverting to Cold War logic remains a worrying problem for governments in NATO and the European Union member states. Meanwhile, European security establishments are beginning to recognise the growing political, economic and military influence of a rising China. Although less of an immediate challenge, China’s growth in these areas has possible profound consequences in the long run. Indeed, in December 2019, NATO declared: ‘We recognise that China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance.’2 For the United States, China has already become the pacing military threat. The US Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, released in June 2019, opens with the assertion that ‘the Indo-Pacific is the Department of Defense’s priority theater’. In other words, the European theatre is not. European analysts and officials have begun to wonder whether the US might begin to see Europe through an Asian lens, seeking to generate European commitments to the Indo-Pacific region, or at the very least getting Europeans to take on greater responsibility for their own security and thereby freeing up US resources. Although there will be some elements of the US military presence in Europe that are indispensable to US military action in other regions of the world, that might not be enough to sustain Washington’s firm commitment to European security in the future, regardless of who occupies the White House. Significantly, not even the US has the capability to fight two major wars simultaneously any more, meaning binary choices regarding focus are inevitable. As some observers have argued, Europeans need to urgently assess what Washington’s choices in this regard – and their implications for Europe – might look like. Considering both how to deter Russia and what a European contribution to containing China might entail represents a major challenge for Western European nations, which have relegated defence to a secondary position, as almost a discretionary activity. European states partially demobilised in the 1990s and early 2000s, intellectually and in terms of their force structures, in response to the end of the Cold War. For example, according to IISS data, in 1990 West Germany alone was thought to be able to field 215 combat battalions and the UK 94. Today it is a fraction of that. However, security challenges relating to regional instability, crisis management and transnational terrorism – which all dominated the previous two decades – have not disappeared. On the contrary, all these still demand attention and the investment of European resources. While there is a growing recognition among Europe’s analytical community, and some governments, that things cannot simply continue as before in terms of regional security and defence, coherence and resolve among core actors in the Euro-Atlantic sphere have weakened. The US administration has intensified its call for better transatlantic burden sharing, at the same time displaying a cavalier attitude to the collective-defence commitment enshrined in NATO. France’s President Emmanuel Macron has also expressed severe doubts about the viability of NATO’s collective-defence mission. In addition, the British decision to leave the European Union in 2020 implies that the EU has lost one of its most militarily experienced and one of its most capable member states. There is a tendency among many observers and some politicians to argue that European NATO and EU member states need to clarify the political dimension of their defence ambition, via-à-vis greater strategic autonomy, before resolving the problem of how to meet this ambition militarily, at what cost and in what time frame. Indeed, at times, the debate about European strategic autonomy seems to focus more on the degree of independence from the US that its various proponents would like to achieve and less on the military requirement that autonomy is meant to respond to. It is now widely accepted across Europe that Europeans need ‘to do more’ for their own security and defence. Most of the intellectual energy allocated to this aspiration is spent on achieving better coordination – and even a level of integration – among European armed forces. This is useful, but only if it is directed at building capability to provide for the defence of Europe. The existing military capabilities of the European NATO member states fall short when compared to the force requirements generated by the political–military level of ambition as defined by NATO, or for that matter the EU.5 However, this should not be an excuse to lower the level of ambition, nor should the assumption that Europeans are unable to defend themselves be declared an inevitability. Defence output is the result of political, financial and military choices by governments. To think systematically about the challenge of providing capabilities that can meet Europe’s emerging military requirements, The International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Hanns Seidel Foundation convened a group of thinkers and practitioners from Germany and the UK. The group took seriously the US assertion that Europe needs to be able to provide for its own defence. If Europeans can achieve this, they will be valuable partners to the US in upholding and strengthening the liberal international order on which Euro-Atlantic prosperity and security depend. Meeting twice in 2019, the group discussed threat assessments, debated European capability gaps and scoped potential approaches to addressing them. The following pages draw on the group’s deliberations but do not represent a consensus position.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, Asia, North America
  • Author: Hannah Woolaver
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: If a state withdraws from a treaty in a manner that violates its own domestic law, will this withdrawal take effect in international law? The decisions to join and withdraw from treaties are both aspects of the state’s treaty-making capacity. Logically, international law must therefore consider the relationship between domestic and international rules on states’ treaty consent both in relation to treaty entry and exit. However, while international law provides a role for domestic legal requirements in the international validity of a state’s consent when joining a treaty, it is silent on this question in relation to treaty withdrawal. Further, there has been little scholarly or judicial consideration of this question. This contribution addresses this gap. Given recent controversies concerning treaty withdrawal – including the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, South Africa’s possible withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, and the threatened US denunciation of the Paris Agreement – and the principles underlying this body of law, it is proposed that the law of treaties should be interpreted so as to develop international legal recognition for domestic rules on treaty withdrawal equivalent to that when states join treaties, such that a manifest violation of domestic law may invalidate a state’s treaty withdrawal in international law.
  • Topic: International Law, Treaties and Agreements, European Union, Courts, State Actors
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, South Africa, United States of America
  • Author: Paz Andrés Sáenz De Santa María
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: This article examines the European Union’s (EU) treaty practice from the perspective of the international law of treaties, focusing on its most significant examples. The starting point is the EU’s attitude towards the codification of treaty law involving states and international organizations. The article discusses certain terminological specificities and a few remarkable aspects, such as the frequent use of provisional application mechanisms as opposed to much less use of reservations, the contributions regarding treaty interpretation, the wide variety of clauses and the difficulties in determining the legal nature of certain texts. The study underlines that treaty law is a useful instrument for the Union and is further enriched with creative contributions; the outcome is a fruitful relationship.
  • Topic: International Law, Treaties and Agreements, European Union, Courts
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Dario Cristiani
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In March 2019, Italy and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) signed a broad and comprehensive, albeit not legally binding, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Italy to join the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This has triggered a significant debate—in Brussels as well as in Washington—about whether this decision signalled an Italian shift away from its historical pro-European and pro-Atlantic position, to a more nuanced position open to deepening strategic ties with China. The MoU is not definite proof of such a shift, and the Italian government has denied any strategic change. However, Italy is the first major European country, and the first Group of Seven (G7) member, to formalize its participation with the BRI project. As such, this development is particularly remarkable.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, European Union, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Italy
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The dynamism of clandestine African migration flows continues to present criminal and violent extremist groups opportunities for exploitation.
  • Topic: Migration, United Nations, Diaspora, Violent Extremism, European Union
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Southern Europe
  • Author: Antonio Tajani
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Columbia University World Leaders Forum
  • Abstract: This World Leaders Forum program features an address by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, titled "United States and Europe Must Stand Together to Better Defend our Shared Values", followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Migration, European Union, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: New York, Europe, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Salomé Zourabichvili
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Columbia University World Leaders Forum
  • Abstract: This World Leaders Forum program features an address, Georgia - land of attraction and opportunities: despite conflicts a regional player with Euro-Atlantic drive, by President Salome Zourabichvili of Georgia followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Development, European Union, Displacement, Conflict
  • Political Geography: New York, Europe, Georgia
  • Author: Plamen Pantev
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Security and International Studies (ISIS)
  • Abstract: 70 years ago Bulgaria and the Peope’s Republic of China (PRC) established diplomatic relations. As a small country we are proud to be among the first that recognized the new great state and to have a record of long and constructive relations throughout this period. Despite the differences in the socio-political systems the bilateral relations of our countries are at its peak. The PRC is a key partner of both Bulgaria and the European Union (EU), to which my country belongs. I am personally grateful to the organizers of the high-level symposium for this first visit of mine to understand the sagacity of a Chinese proverb, I paraphraze, it is better to see something once than read about it one hundred times. China proved – and this is a lesson for all, that direct copying of experience and models of development of other countries may lead to nowhere. A methodological lesson in statecraft given by China from the end of the 70s of the last century till nowdays is that thinking big and whole while recognizing the truth in the facts of life, opening to the rest of the world and persistently reforming in a strategically chosen direction is the right way to success. The ability to take the best from the experience and wisdom of the past, sincerely seeking to share the achievements of mankind is a Chinese accomplishment that deserves to be studied by present and future politicians, including in my part of the world.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, European Union
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Bulgaria
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Alternative Politics
  • Institution: Department of International Relations, Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey
  • Abstract: In 2015 the forced displacement of Syrians entered a new phase with the sharp rise in the numbers of refugees arriving at Europe’s shores mainly through the Eastern Mediterranean route. Grabbing widespread media and public attention, this unprecedent refugee influx and its surrounding events are commonly dubbed as ‘Europe’s refugee crisis’, which as some scholars highlight, is a ‘re-contextualised’ version of already existing processes of politicisation and mediatisation of immigration. This paper intends to contribute to the debate on ‘mediatisation of refugee crisis’ by giving an insight on the role of Turkish media in telling its readers what to think about the ‘refugee crisis’ during this period of particular significance. The paper relies on a content analysis of front-page articles from three Turkish newspapers (Birgün, Hürriyet and Yeni Akit) between July and November 2015. By limiting our analysis to ‘small data’, we look closely how these newspapers on different sides of the political spectrum react to the spread of the refugee crisis to Europe and its implications on Turkey. We highlight the type of coverage and the definition of issues in this particular media content. Overall, we find that the highly mediatised coverage of the Aylan Kurdi incident triggered a significant discursive shift as it has in other national contexts. While all the three newspapers –regardless of ideological stance– were responsive to the spread of the refugee crisis into Europe, news coverage about topics such as socio-economic vulnerabilities of refugees, issues of legal status and social integration in the domestic context was minimal within our period of analysis. We also assert that the way the three newspapers frame the ‘refugee crisis’ especially in relation to domestic or foreign politics shows significant variation. While we find that issues related to border security and border violations received the most intense coverage during the analysis period, we highlight that the coverage is embedded in a humanitarian narrative rather than a security narrative.
  • Topic: Migration, United Nations, Mass Media, Diaspora, European Union, Media, Refugee Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria
  • Author: Helena Legarda
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Europe has become a major target of China’s push to acquire advanced key technologies. These technologies support the development of dual-use products with civilian as well as military applications, a development that is in line with China’s efforts towards civil-military integration. The EU has been slow to wake up to this trend. Despite recent efforts, including those to set up a tighter investment screening mechanism, it still lacks strong coordinated regulations to protect its research and technologies. Even more importantly, the author of our newest China Global Security Tracker, MERICS researcher Helena Legarda, warns that Europe lacks a clear policy or strategy to keep up with China’s ambitions in this area. Joint European initiatives providing strategic guidance and adequate funding for innovation in dual-use technologies will be needed to not only preserve but to advance the EU’s scientific and engineering expertise. The China Global Security Tracker is a bi-annual publication as part of the China Security Project in cooperation between Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). This issue also features the Trump administration’s tightened export controls in response to China’s civil-military integration efforts, and it tracks other security developments in China in the second half of 2018, from the launch of a number of new defense systems to an increase in China’s military diplomacy activities around the world.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Science and Technology, Military Strategy, European Union
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Beijing, Asia