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  • Author: Nicola Bilotta, Alissa Siara
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: One of the key priorities of the new European Commission is to enhance the EU’s geopolitical credentials and “learn to use the language of power”, as stated by the incoming EU High Representative Josep Borrell. The EU’s ambition is two-fold: to increase the Union’s ability to project power and influence at the global level, including through increased integration and coordination among member states, and secondly to enhance the EU’s strategic autonomy from the US in the political, military and economic domains. Both objectives, ambitious in the best of circumstances, are today under severe strain by the COVID-19 crisis. Implications will be long-lasting and multidimensional, and for Europe, its impact will have a direct bearing on its ambition for strategic autonomy, touching each of the three pillars outlined above.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Economy, Autonomy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Nicoletta Pirozzi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Every era has its symbols. In 1984, Mitterrand and Kohl held hands on the battlefield in Verdun, coming to symbolise the importance of peace in the pursuit of European integration. Today, in times of COVID-19, the so-called “Coronabonds” could have emerged as the symbol of a new Europe, one that is ready and able to do what it takes to collectively overcome the present crisis. Yet, what some member states consider an indispensable emblem of European solidarity, namely debt mutualisation to face an unprecedented symmetric crisis brought about by COVID-19, is regarded by others as an ultimate excuse for moral hazard. As a result, Europe could end up with a politically more digestible European Fund, as proposed by Commissioners Paolo Gentiloni and Thierry Breton, designed to issue long-term bonds.[1] Or, as outlined by the Eurogroup, a Recovery Fund that is “temporary, targeted and commensurate” to the extraordinary costs of the current crisis, helping to spread them across time.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis, Governance, Finance, Economy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Giulia Di Donato
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: During the last four decades, China experienced impressive economic growth, becoming one of the leading powers of the global economy. After a century of humiliation imposed by Western and Japanese colonial powers, today the country is demonstrating a strong desire to achieve its national rejuvenation (guojia fuxing). Indeed, under the iconic leadership of President Xi Jinping, China is adopting an increasingly assertive international behavior, balancing the need to protect its sovereignty and strategic interests related to economic and security issues, and the ambition to restore its role of a great power[1]. In this context, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) - a massive infrastructure project to improve connectivity between the East and the West, increase regional cooperation and facilitate trade and investments - has been described as China’s grand strategy championing its global governance ambitions[2]. Indeed, BRI-participating economies represent more than one-third of global GDP, and over half of the world’s population (OECD 2017).
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Economy, Grand Strategy, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Vít Havelka
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: On Friday, EU leaders met online to discuss the newest proposal by the European Commission on the future MFF and Next Generation EU recovery fund. As expected, the meeting was devoted to a mere assessment of Member States’ starting negotiation positions, meaning no significant progress has been made. The leaders only agreed to finalize the negotiations as soon as possible, targeting at mid-July during the German presidency. The introduction of Next Generation EU fund rewrote the dividing lines in the EU manifesting during the previous MFF negotiations. Some groupings, such as Frugal Four remain more or less intact, whereas the group of “Friends of Cohesion” disintegrated into several blocks, which makes the negotiations less lucid. Southern Europe supports the new Commission proposals; Czech Republic, Hungary and several Baltic State express reservations. Nevertheless, the good news is that no country vetoed the Commissions proposal and there is a good chance to reach an agreement. Whether this will happen before the summer break remains to be seen. The member states positions are now far away from each other, and the leaders will have to manifest good negotiation skills in order to conclude the negotiations within one month.
  • Topic: Governance, European Union, Economy, Recovery, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Christian Kvorning Lassen
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Christian Kvorning Lassen from EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy together with Jan Kovář from Institute of International Relations Prague wrote a commentary "Czechia: This Covid-19 environment is not conducive to external solidarity" for the EPIN Report publication, concerned with EU external solidarity at the time of Covid-19. EU member states have been discussing how to collectively deal with the socioeconomic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. As major debates continue to take place about internal solidarity, the question arises how the EU and its member states wish to support third countries, outside the EU, in tackling their health and economic emergencies. On the one and, the EU wishes to become a geopolitical power, which requires that the Union and its member states step up their role and support on the global scene. On the other hand, there are signs of ‘coronationalism’ with some national political parties questioning EU external aid at a time when member states themselves are struggling. Based on expert contributions from a representative cross-section of thirteen member states, this report delves into the question of whether and how external solidarity has been part of the political or public debates in Covid-struck Europe. It finds that, for now, neither ‘coronationalist’ nor geopolitical ambitions dominate the relatively little politicized debates about international cooperation and development aid.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Foreign Aid, European Union, Geopolitics, Economy, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Christian Kvorning Lassen
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: As Germany assumes the presidency of the Council of the EU, the Union is facing the “biggest test of its history” according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and a severe economic recession could not be more extraordinary. The weight of expectations on Berlin to assume a European leadership role during the presidency are as extraordinary as those challenges. What exactly do other member states expect from Germany and how do they set their policy priorities? To answer this, the European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN) has compiled an analysis of 15 different national perspectives. Czechia hopes that Germany will forge a compromise that ensures more funding for the cohesion policy and more flexibility to use those funds, including those allocated to the European Green Deal. Czechs look towards the German presidency in hope that the salience of the Green Deal will fall, arguing instead that the pandemic requires a delay – or even abandonment – of a principally green-based restructuring of the economy. The fact that studies based on the previous financial crisis indicate that green investments are ideally positioned to spur economic recovery is ignored; the resistance towards climate neutrality in Czechia is ideological rather than empirical.
  • Topic: Climate Change, European Union, Economy, Recovery, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany