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  • Author: Janka Oertel
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Since the onset of the covid-19 crisis, there has been a new convergence of EU member states’ assessment of the challenges China poses to Europe. The Sino-European economic relationship lacks reciprocity, and there are mounting concerns within the EU about China’s assertive approach abroad, as well as its breaches of international legal commitments and massive violations of human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Overall, there is growing scepticism about the future trajectory of the relationship, which provides an opportunity for a more robust and coherent EU policy on China. In its remaining months, the German Council presidency could use this momentum to create institutional structures to improve the EU’s capacity to act. In doing so, it will be crucial to ease concerns about Franco-German dominance of the China agenda – especially those of eastern and southern European countries – while enabling all member states to become more engaged in shaping the EU’s future approach to China.
  • Topic: International Relations, Human Rights, European Union, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Susi Dennison, Livia Franco
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Portugal’s plans for the EU presidency centre on European priorities for the pre-coronavirus world. These include the completion of the monetary union, the UK-EU relationship after Brexit, the EU’s relationships with Africa and India, climate change, digital transformation, and social inequality. The Portuguese EU presidency should handle these issues in line with European voters’ perceptions of the new reality created by the coronavirus. Many Europeans have lost confidence in the transatlantic relationship, fear for Europe’s place in a world dominated by US-China competition, and want the EU to provide global leadership and shape the international order. Portugal can help the EU develop a foreign policy strategy that takes account of these changes.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, European Union, Transatlantic Relations, Strategic Competition, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Portugal, United States of America
  • Author: Susi Dennison, Pawel Zerka
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: A new pan-European survey conducted by ECFR shows that, after the onset of the covid-19 crisis, there has been a rise in public support for unified EU action to tackle global threats. This is grounded in Europeans’ realisation that they are alone in the world – with their perceptions of the United States, China, and Russia worsening overall. The pandemic has made European voters keenly aware of the need to prepare for the next crisis. There is growing support for the fulfilment of climate change commitments in every surveyed country. Respondents still believe in the value of European cooperation, but generally feel that EU institutions have not helped them enough during the crisis. Policymakers need to elicit voters’ support for a strong European voice on the global stage by building coalitions and identifying areas in which there is either a consensus or a bridgeable divide.
  • Topic: International Relations, European Union, Economy, Alliance, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Josep Borrell
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The pandemic will likely magnify existing geopolitical dynamics and test the strength of Europe’s democratic systems. Europe needs a new kind of globalisation capable of striking a balance between the advantages of open markets and interdependence, and between the sovereignty and security of countries. Europe should work to prevent the US-China rivalry from having negative repercussions in certain regions of the world – particularly Africa. European leaders need to focus on meeting the immediate needs of healthcare systems, providing an income for people who cannot work, and giving businesses guarantees. The European model will only mean something in the eyes of the world if we can successfully promote solidarity among EU member states.
  • Topic: Globalization, Geopolitics, Coronavirus, Pandemic, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Andrew Small
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Beijing’s handling of the pandemic has changed long-standing European assumptions about its reliability as a crisis actor and its approach to the European project. Europe’s immediate medical-supply needs and dire economic situation will limit the scope of shifts in its China policy – for now. But, on issues ranging from supply chains to ideological competition, European governments have rebalanced their view of what dynamics with China should look like in the aftermath. The crisis is also intensifying demands from European parliaments, media outlets, and citizens for Europe to puts its China policy on a more open, accountable, and values-based footing. Governments’ pursuit of a “business as usual” approach to Beijing is growing harder to sustain.
  • Topic: Ideology, Strategic Competition, Pandemic, COVID-19, Rivalry
  • Political Geography: China, Europe
  • Author: Camille Lons, Jonathan Fulton, Degang Sun, Naser Al-Tamimi
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: China has significantly increased its economic, political, and – to a lesser extent – security footprint in the Middle East in the past decade, becoming the biggest trade partner and external investor for many countries in the region. China still has a limited appetite for challenging the US-led security architecture in the Middle East or playing a significant role in regional politics. Yet the country’s growing economic presence is likely to pull it into wider engagement with the region in ways that could significantly affect European interests. Europeans should monitor China’s growing influence on regional stability and political dynamics, especially in relation to sensitive issues such as surveillance technology and arms sales. Europeans should increase their engagement with China in the Middle East, aiming to refocus its economic role on constructive initiatives.
  • Topic: Security, Power Politics, Geopolitics, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Ulrike Franke
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: There is currently too little European thinking about what artificial intelligence means for the military. AI experts tend to overlook Europe, focusing on the US and China. But AI will play an important role for Europe’s defence capabilities, and its funding and development decisions will influence the future of military AI. France and Germany stand at opposite ends of the AI spectrum in Europe: France considers AI a part of geopolitical competition and shows clear interest in military AI, while Germany sees AI only as an economic and societal issue. The new European Commission’s stated goal of achieving “European technological sovereignty” should lead it to include engagement on the topic of military AI, and help EU member states harmonise their approaches. Failing to coordinate properly in this area could threaten future European defence cooperation, including PESCO and the European Defence Fund.
  • Topic: Development, Military Affairs, Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, France, Germany, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony Dworkin, Richard Gowan
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Multilateralism is core to Europe’s approach to foreign policy, but in recent years this has weakened as EU countries disagree among themselves. The US, China, and Russia have each sought to challenge or disrupt the existing, post-1945 world order; and each seeks to divide Europeans from one another. The turmoil in the current system represents an opportunity for Europeans to shape a new order that meets their strategic needs. In addition to the fight against climate change, European interests include: increasing stability on its troubled periphery; managing migration more effectively; and defending the open world trading system. European countries will need to transform EU foreign policy decision-making processes, deepen their cooperation in multilateral settings, and set multilateral standards for emerging technologies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Migration, Political stability, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Ellie Geranmayeh, Manuel Lafont Rapnouil
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Secondary sanctions have become a critical challenge for Europe, due to the Trump administration’s maximalist policy on Iran and its aggressive economic statecraft. Europe’s vulnerabilities mostly result from asymmetric interdependence with the US economy, due to the size of US markets and the global role of the US dollar. In future, states will likely weaponise economic interdependence with the EU to target countries that are more important to the European economy than Iran, such as China and Russia. European countries should demonstrate that, despite their economic interdependence with the US, they control EU foreign policy. The EU and its member states should strengthen their sanctions policy, begin to build up their deterrence and resilience against secondary sanctions, and prepare to adopt asymmetric countermeasures against any country that harms European interests through secondary sanctions. They should also attempt to bolster the global role of the euro and lead a robust international dialogue on the role of sanctions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sanctions, European Union, Economy, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Iran, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ulrike Franke
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Artificial intelligence is impossible to disregard – it is set to transform society, the economy, and politics. Europe has not yet taken all the steps it needs to benefit from these advances or to protect itself from AI’s potentially dangerous aspects. The US, China, and Russia are alert to AI’s power to change modern warfare: they grasp the geopolitics of AI and may pursue techno-nationalist agendas in recognition of this. Europe can develop sovereignty in AI by beefing up the talent, data, and hardware it draws on; and as a “regulatory superpower” it can set standards the rest of the world will have to follow. If Europe does not address these difficult questions soon it will find itself surrounded by more powerful rivals deploying AI against it.
  • Topic: Politics, Geopolitics, Economy, Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Carl Bildt, Eric K. Leonard
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The EU’s foreign policy is inadequate to the task of keeping Europe safe in today’s world of great power politics and uncertainty. Over the last five years, trust between Brussels and member states dwindled, and policy came to reflect the lowest common denominator of popular opinion. The coming five years herald acute pressure on Europe, particularly as Russia, China, and the US undermine multilateral institutions and treat trade, finance data, and security guarantees as instruments of power rather than global public goods. The new high representative should move quickly to rewire European foreign policymaking to exercise strategic sovereignty. The high representative needs more support on this strategy – from deputies, special representatives, and foreign ministers tasked with specific roles. The new leadership team in Brussels needs to reoperationalise European defence, build Europe’s self-sufficiency through a strong European pillar in NATO, and consider innovations such as a European Security Council. Europe will only build greater unity by tackling controversial issues head on in the European Council and the Foreign Affairs Council. The high representative needs to play a much more active role in these debates.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, European Union, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, United States of America