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  • Author: Flavio Fusco
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Located at the heart of the Middle East, connecting the Levant to the Persian Gulf, Iraq has always been at the centre of regional dynamics. Yet, the country is today reduced to a quasi-failed state fundamentally damaged in its political, social and economic fabric, with long-term consequences that trace a fil rouge from the 2003 US-led invasion to the emergence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) and the country’s current structural fragility.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, European Union
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Vedran Džihić, Paul Schmidt
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In societies devastated by the pandemic, the EU needs to leave its conventional tool-box behind and urgently speed up the Europeanisation of its neighbours in Southeast Europe. The coronavirus pandemic has deepened the vulnerabilities affecting Western Balkan countries and exposed the weakness of their state institutions, especially in the health sector and social protection. At the same time, related to the limited effectiveness of the EU enlargement process over the past years, the progress of reforms has stagnated and some countries have even experienced concerning regressions in the rule of law. The outbreak of the coronavirus crisis has meanwhile increased the presence of other geopolitical players in the region, mainly in the context of competition over vaccinations, not only of China but also of Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Awareness is growing that the EU and the West is not the only available partner. As other powers not known for their democratic practices use or misuse the Western Balkans to promote their interests, the vision of a free, democratic and truly European Balkans is no longer self-evident.
  • Topic: European Union, Institutions, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Tony van der Togt
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: A global multilateral rules-based order, supported by a pro-active and interventionist United States, is gradually being replaced by a more fragmented world, in which geopolitics and geo-economics are becoming the dominant factors and universal rules, norms, and values are increasingly questioned. For the EU such developments are particularly challenging, as it has long perceived itself as a post-Westphalian soft power, mainly projecting its norms and values in its relations with both its direct neighbors and the world at large. A more isolationist US, a more assertive Russia, and the growing global influence of China have raised questions about the EU’s place and role in the world, which become even more pertinent after Brexit. Therefore, Commission President Von der Leyen intends to lead a “geopolitical Commission” and we are hearing calls for European strategic autonomy or even strategic sovereignty.
  • Topic: International Relations, European Union, Geopolitics, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Katerina Davidova, Vít Havelka, Jana Juzová, Christian Kvorning Lassen, Danielle Piatkiewicz, Zuzana Stuchlíková
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Experts from EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy comment on the State of the Union address (SOTEU) given by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on 16 September 2020. Topics of the commentaries: Christian Kvorning Lassen: General Impressions – A Visionary Speech Challenged by Political Reality; Christian Kvorning Lassen: A Stronger European Health Union is Needed; Christian Kvorning Lassen: Migration – Ambitious rhetoric, dubious feasibility; Danielle Piatkiewicz: Multilateralism: Europe’s Call to Global Action – Taking the Lead; Kateřina Davidová: EU’s climate momentum not quashed by the pandemic as new target is presented; Jana Juzová: European Neighbourhoods – Vague Reassurances, Economy First; Zuzana Stuchlíková: Next Generation EU, Rule of Law and Conference on the Future of Europe; Vít Havelka: The EU and the UK fights over blame for Brexit fiasco
  • Topic: Climate Change, Health, Migration, European Union, Multilateralism, Rule of Law
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jana Juzová
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Wednesday’s Summit of EU and Western Balkans leaders was long-anticipated following the efforts aimed at reviving the EU enlargement process. The Summit was originally planned to be organized in Zagreb, under the Croatian EU presidency, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was held as a videoconference. Nevertheless, the fact that the Summit was realized despite the current global situation, even on the scheduled date, demonstrates that the Western Balkan region represents a priority for Croatia as well as the rest of the EU, and that the EU genuinely wants to revitalize the enlargement process. It was expected that the Summit in Zagreb would follow up on the positive developments in the past months, those being the positive decision of the European Council on opening the accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, and the adoption of a new enlargement methodology (i.e. set of rules leading the accession process). However, the Summit’s agenda was naturally influenced by the current COVID-19 pandemic and the central topic was eventually the assistance provided by the EU to the Western Balkan countries and a larger plan for their economic recovery.
  • Topic: Reform, European Union, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans
  • 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
  • Author: András Rácz
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Political leaders could abuse the coronavirus crisis to undermine democracy. Europe’s biggest risk is Hungary. In late March, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán could use his two-thirds majority in parliament to push through a law that would empower him to rule by decrees with no specified time limit. If he succeeds, it will undermine the European Union’s core principles, making the EU even more fragmented and difficult to manage once the pandemic is over.
  • Topic: Government, Authoritarianism, European Union, Democracy, Coronavirus, Pandemic
  • Political Geography: Europe, Hungary
  • Author: Robert Cox
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Amid the toil and trouble of their own politics Americans might have a moment to note the self-flagellation of their closest European ally. There’s more to come – and the US is going to be drawn into it, whether it likes it or not. Coronavirus has now temporarily obscured the Brexit issue while arguably inflicting upon the European Union the greatest strains since its creation. A stricken EU helps nobody.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, European Union, Brexit, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, United States of America, North America
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Following the announcement of hosting an international summit on February 13 and 14, 2019, Iran has launched a diplomatic offensive against Poland, where one of the conference main elements will be how to respond to the Iranian interventions in the region. In addition, Iran has also begun to take preemptive moves both to send messages to the powers concerned with the repercussions of those interventions and to tout its ability to contain the pressures of US policy. These moves include attempts to pivot to the East, particularly towards some neighboring countries, and hints at its ability to withdraw from the nuclear deal and resume its suspicious program again.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, Poland, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Simon Kyte, David Goodger, Helen McDermott
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: A “no-deal” Brexit would cause a 5% drop in UK outbound travel and tourism trips in 2020, because of the stifled economic backdrop and impact of a weaker pound. Ireland and Spain would be the hardest hit from fewer UK visitors. In contrast, the weaker pound could mean that UK tourism inflows are 4% higher in a “no-deal” scenario, provided there is no travel disruption. But lower levels of domestic tourism mean that we would expect UK travel and tourism GDP to be 2% lower than our baseline forecast in 2020.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Tourism, European Union, Brexit
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: French President Emmanuel Macron’s call to create a unified European army, independent of NATO, to defend the European continent in the face of major powers such as Russia, China and even the US, has sparked a political firestorm. The most notable of these reactions came from US President Donald Trump, who tweeted rejecting the proposal and criticizing the French President, heightening tensions between the two sides. At the official level, the US State Department commented on the idea of the European Union forming an independent army of member states, stating that the US opposes any actions that could contribute to weakening NATO. “That’s been a sustained entity that the United States government and many others supported for many years, and so we would not want the weakening of NATO”, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on November 14, 2018.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Armed Forces, European Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, France, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran is keen to maintain good relations with the European countries at the current stage because they can help it cope with US pressures. These relations gained added importance after the withdrawal of the US from the nuclear deal and the re-imposition of sanctions on Tehran. However, Iran has not changed some elements of its foreign policy, which continually widens the differences between it and European states and may eventually undercut its ability to contain the repercussions of the US sanctions, with the approaching date of the toughest batch of sanctions, set to start on November 5.
  • Topic: International Relations, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, France, Syria