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  • Author: Andrew Lebovich
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: France, Germany, and Sahel countries launched the Sahel Alliance in 2017 with the aim of bringing together major international donors to better coordinate development assistance and other financing efforts for the region. The Alliance aimed to integrate security, development, and governance perspectives but has struggled to find coherence and effectiveness – although it has adopted some novel approaches. The worsening security situation in the Sahel led international actors to then set up new initiatives, including the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel and, more recently, the Coalition for the Sahel. However, the relationship between these initiatives remains largely theoretical, with the practicalities of cooperation and burden sharing yet to be fully defined. These new initiatives risk privileging security solutions to complex problems, meaning that necessary governance reforms may fall by the wayside. This is despite widespread acknowledgement, including from senior French officials, that there is no purely military solution to the varied conflicts and challenges in the Sahel.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Diplomacy, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany, North Africa, Sahel
  • 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: Jonathan Hackenbroich
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: European countries are increasingly coming under threat of economic coercion from great powers. The European Union and member states have few tools with which to combat the economic coercion waged against them. The EU’s vulnerability threatens its sovereignty and its openness. The EU should move quickly to consider and adopt a suite of tools to protect and enhance European sovereignty in the geo-economic sphere. The mere acquisition of such powers will have a deterrent effect. Such tools are thus necessary to preserve the EU’s economic openness as well as to defend and preserve the rules-based international order. This collection outlines ten such tools that the EU could adopt.
  • Topic: International Relations, Sovereignty, European Union, Economy, Soft Power
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Andrew Wilson
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The European Union was largely on the sidelines when the Belarusian regime rigged the 2020 presidential election, but upcoming votes in Georgia and Moldova pose a different challenge. The EU should make use of its significant leverage in Georgia and Moldova to counter their ruling parties’ extensive repertoire of electoral dirty tricks. The bloc will need to account for the obstacles created by the coronavirus crisis, not least the difficulty of conducting large-scale monitoring missions. The EU will also need to adjust to the ruling parties’ use of pandemic assistance for political gain, and their efforts to prevent citizens abroad from voting.
  • Topic: International Relations, Corruption, Elections, European Union, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, Moldova, Georgia, Belarus
  • Author: Raiman Al-Hamdani, Helen Lackner
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Early Houthi promises to Yemenis of fairer and more transparent government have come to nothing, and the group exerts a rule of brutal suppression. The Houthis now govern over most of Yemen’s population and should be included in efforts to end the conflict and restore peace to the country. The Houthis seek international recognition, face growing internal challenges, and may no longer want to extend their control over southern Yemen. This provides some negotiating space. While the Houthis benefit from Iranian support, they are driven by their own interests and will wage war regardless of Tehran’s position. European states should now increase conditional engagement with the Houthis, looking to widen political and humanitarian space on the ground, while pushing all sides to the negotiating table.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Negotiation, Peace, Houthis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Yemen, Gulf Nations
  • 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: Gustav Gressel, Nicu Popescu
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The European Union and its member states have yet to start upgrading EU policies to their declared ambitions of a more geopolitical and strategically sovereign EU. The EU spends more on support for Eastern Partnership countries than the United States does, but Washington has long taken care of security sector reform and capacity building there. If the EU is to be more geopolitically influential in its own neighbourhood, it needs to start developing strategic security partnerships with key neighbours to the east and the south. The bloc should do so by creating a security compact for the Eastern Partnership, comprising targeted support for intelligence services, cyber security institutions, and armed forces. In exchange, Eastern Partnership countries should conduct anticorruption and rule of law reforms in the security sector. The EU should treat this compact as a pilot project that it will implement with important partners in the Middle East and Africa.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Amandine Gnanguênon
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Regional organisations have proliferated in Africa in recent decades, with many organisations attempting to address similar issues in similar parts of the continent. International donors have helped create this situation by funding new and existing African regional organisations without questioning the downsides of doing so. In recent years, African regional organisations have increasingly sought to concentrate on security issues, contributing to a rise in the use of ‘hard security’ solutions at the expense of ‘people-centred’ approaches. This proliferation comes with further costs, such as wasted resources, and ‘forum shopping’ by state leaders. Europeans and other international donors should take stock of the situation they have helped create. As a first step, they should agree a tacit ‘non-proliferation agreement’ before considering other options.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Regional Cooperation, Peace, Development Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Majda Ruge
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: A quarter of a century after the Dayton agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina enjoys peace. But, in the last 15 years, the EU and US have failed to press for reform in the country, a neglect that has enabled ethno-political leaders to capture the state. Reformist political actors have carved out space for economic and governance reforms in scattered municipalities. For such initiatives to expand, however, change in the governing modus operandi is needed at higher levels of government. Restoring independence to the judiciary and strengthening the rule of law are key to the country’s future stability and success, including boosting its economy and stemming emigration. Organised crime and corruption are already worries for EU capitals – and the new Biden administration appears to share this concern. Concerted EU-US action and judicious use of sanctions can jumpstart reform in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • Topic: Corruption, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, European Union, Peace
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Ivan Krastev, Mark Leonard
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As covid-19 raged, speculation grew that the crisis would restrengthen public support for the state; faith in experts; and both pro- and anti-Europeanism. New research reveals these all to be illusions. Instead, the crisis has revolutionised citizens’ perceptions of global order – scrambling the distinctions between nationalism and globalism. One group – the DIYers – sees a nineteenth-century world of every nation for itself; the New Cold Warriors hear echoes of the twentieth century and look to Trump’s America to defend them from China; the Strategic Sovereigntists foresee a twenty-first-century world of blocs and regions. This last group are the largest and represent a new form of pro-European who believe Europe will need to support its own sovereignty through joint foreign policy, control of external borders, and relocalised production. This moment represents a new opportunity for European cooperation – but the continent’s leaders must make the case carefully to avoid provoking a backlash of reintensfied Euroscepticism. Rather than a ‘Hamilton moment’ of proto-federalisation, we are instead living through a ‘Milward moment’ of strong nation state identities searching for protection in a dangerous world.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Politics, Crisis Management, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe