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  • Author: Alexandre Kateb
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: According to official statistics, the African continent has been relatively spared by the Covid-19 pandemic compared to Europe, America and Asia. The factors behind the low incidence of coronavirus in Africa are not fully understood. According to the WHO, the African continent has benefited from certain structural factors such as the limited international connectivity of most African countries, with the exception of some regional "hubs" such as Johannesburg, Casablanca, Addis Ababa and Nairobi. Incidentally, the most 'connected' African countries such as Morocco and South Africa have incurred the highest prevalence rates of Covid-19, which may lend credence to this explanation.
  • Topic: International Relations, European Union, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe
  • Author: Charles Thépaut
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S.-European cooperation in the Middle East may not rank high in American voters’ minds, but the issue will demand close policy attention in the months ahead. If Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump, European leaders should not allow their undoubted relief to lapse into complacency. And if Trump prevails, they should continue seeking opportunities to deepen the partnership in areas such as counterproliferation and defining the operational contours of Great Power competition. Either way, the dynamic requires a full reset. As one continental diplomat lamented, “Under Bush, Europeans agreed less with the U.S. but were more consulted. Under Obama, they agreed more but were less consulted. Under Trump, they disagree and are barely consulted.” In this new Policy Note, Charles Thepaut deftly assesses the transatlantic dilemma explaining why the post-election period will call for a strategic reckoning between European capitals and Washington. From shared priorities, a fresh approach can emerge in the Middle East, coupled with the pursuit of achievable goals and rooted in a more thoughtful division of military and political tasks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Transatlantic Relations, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Benjamin Tallis, Elena Zhirukhina, Mark Galeotti, Jan Mazač
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The policy brief is a result of conclusions from roundtable discussions with policy makers and researchers that took place in Prague and Oslo in late 2019 and early 2020. The researchers studied how to better respond to fear factors and move beyond them in foreign policy. A key observation made in the new brief is that while changes in American, Chinese and Russian foreign policies may trigger anxiety and uncertainty among smaller European states, fears like this can also have productive effects on foreign policy thinking and practice. For states like Czechia and Norway, it can create opportunities for re-thinking support networks and reaching out to new partners. While Norway and Czechia have different historical, geographical and (sometimes) political points of departure, the two states’ assessment of recent international developments is similar. This creates room for conversation and mutual learning - including how to best respond to increased levels of rivalry between great powers, and changing dynamics in the EU and NATO. There are also similarities in how Norway and Czechia perceive their regional collaboration with their respective Nordic and Visegrad states – and how there is considerable scope for them to branch out from their regional formats.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Norway, Czech Republic
  • Author: Taylor Butch
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In October 2015, People’s Republic of China (PRC) President Xi Jinping visited the United Kingdom at the request of Queen Elizabeth II, marking the first time that the PRC head of state had done so in ten years. In the lead-up to the visit, both Chinese and British officials had publicly acknowledged the significance of this meeting, calling it a “golden era” in relations between the two countries. Five years on, U.K.-China relations remains steady, but there are increasing signs of tension in the relationship. Rising controversies over Huawei’s role in 5G infrastructure, and Beijing’s actions to suppress opposition in Hong Kong—as well as tensions over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic—lie at the heart of this downturn in relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Science and Technology, Communications, Infrastructure, COVID-19, 5G
  • Political Geography: China, United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Hong Kong
  • 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, 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: Cinzia Bianco
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Since 2011, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have become increasingly assertive players across the Middle East and north Africa, particularly given the shifting US role in the region. European countries, long used to working under a US umbrella in the Gulf, have struggled to recalibrate their relationships with Gulf states and have been increasingly marginalised as relevant actors. Europeans urgently need to strengthen their geopolitical role in the Gulf, overcoming competition between one another to shape a more autonomous, strategic, and forceful role in defence of their key interests. Europeans can shift the balance of power in the Gulf in their favour and help address key crises by approaching the Gulf through flexible new frameworks based on core coalitions that address specific issues.
  • Topic: International Relations, Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, North Africa, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Gérard Pogorel, Augusto Preta
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is tragically affecting our societies worldwide. As we are forced under these extraordinary circumstances to spend more time indoors, severely limiting our movements and journeys, telecommunications networks, communications services and the media are standing in to play a major role in economic and social resilience. They are providing the required tools for a transformed virtual workplace; making entertainment at home possible, at a time when theatres, and sports venues are at a standstill. More than ever before, the transformative nature of digital innovation in the media and telecommunications industries is moving along with the way we are living and working today.
  • Topic: International Relations, Communications, Media, Transatlantic Relations, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Miroslav Tuma
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: Will the U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the American-Soviet INF Treaty of 1987 become a possible reality? The Treaty prohibits ground-launched shorter and the middle-range missiles (500–5,500 kms) with nuclear or conventional warheads. The Treaty´s security significance and its main parameters, the legal framework of the withdrawal and the reasons of both parties for accusing each other of violating the Treaty, are discussed in the article as well. In its conclusion, the article, among other things, explains the context of the possible termination of the Treaty, and its consequences for the U.S.-Russia arms-control architecture. Motto: “ A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” (A joint statement of the American president Ronald Reagan and the Soviet highest representative Mikhail Gorbachev from their first meeting in Geneva in January 1985)
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Ana Uzelac
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: European Union (EU) policies towards Africa have in the past years experienced a shift away from forging relations based on trade and development, to cooperation based on and measured by the successes of joint migration management. This shift has been producing often controversial outcomes for the EU, African countries and migrants themselves. Just under four years since the pivotal Valetta Summit on migration, the evidence base of these policies’ poor human rights record is growing, as is the evidence base on their localised adverse economic and societal impact. The impact of EU policies on the regional integration processes in Africa – once a pillar of the EU’s Africa strategy – has, however, not yet been sufficiently documented. But the emerging evidence and policy analysis strongly suggest that the EU policies in West Africa have the power to create incentives and even localised policy outcomes that could in the medium term challenge ECOWAS commitments to freedom of movement, and in that way also likely slow down the processes of regional economic and political integration. Paradoxically, the EU policies aimed at curbing migration may thus also end up slowing down the development processes in West Africa that the EU perceives as one of the key approaches to tackling the root causes of migration.4 It may also lead to a weakening of the existing economic coping mechanisms within these countries, and thereby potentially also to increased migratory pressures. This policy brief, by Ana Uzelac, looks at the emerging patchwork of evidence around the impact of EU migration policies on regional integration in West Africa, with a view to offering initial advice to policy-makers on how to prevent the outcomes that could slow down the economic development of the countries of West Africa, further weaken the EU’s human rights record abroad and undermine the long-term goal of sustainable managing migratory pressures on the continent. Download publication.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration, European Union, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, West Africa
  • Author: Richard Giragosian
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Armenia’s 2018 Velvet Revolution swept old elites out of power, but, unlike Ukraine’s Maidan revolution, had no broad effect on relations between Russia and the West. Armenia lacks friendly neighbours in its immediate region, and it remains heavily reliant on Russia. Russia is a dominant presence in the country but finds itself in a ‘paradox of power’: it wishes to avoid turning Armenian opinion against it, especially since 2016 revelations about Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan. The government and public wish to loosen ties with Russia, strengthen them with Europe, and improve relations with neighbouring countries, including Iran. Europe should break out of its self-imposed ‘ring of restraint’ with Armenia by increasing its technical support, something it can do without provoking Russia.
  • Topic: International Relations, History, Geopolitics, Revolution
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Armenia
  • Author: Jana Juzová
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: The example of the dissolution of Czechoslovakia referred to also as the “Velvet Divorce”, in the early 1990s, often serves as a model of peaceful dissolution of a joint state. While the context of the joint Czechoslovak state and its split as well as the shared history of Czechs and Slovaks is very different from that of the Western Balkan countries, due to its peaceful, well-managed preparation as well as the implementation and establishment of “above-standard” friendly relations after the dissolution, for which is Czechoslovakia studied as a model example and compared to other states’ dissolutions, it would be impossible not to include it among the cases studied in this project.
  • Topic: International Relations, History, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans, Czech Republic
  • Author: Adam Balcer, Klaus Ziemer
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: In 2017, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs established the “Reconciliation and Remembrance” seminar, which aims to share the experience of Polish-German reconciliation as an inspiration for improving relations between the Western Balkan nations and overcoming historical barriers. The project is implemented in cooperation with the Krzyżowa Foundation and the German Embassy. Certainly, Polish-German reconciliation may serve to a certain degree as a source of inspiration for the similar processes taking place in the Western Balkans.
  • Topic: International Relations, History, Conflict, Reconciliation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland, Germany, Balkans
  • Author: Amal Cemal Ertürk
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: Since the end of World War II, foreign policy and security issues have haunted the European dreams of complete integration in terms of alignment in a highly challenging field, which is also constantly interrupted by sovereignty concerns of member states. Within today’s changing dynamics, the EU’s current instruments seem to fall short of preventing terrorism or providing a meaningful answer to the problems in the Middle East. The EU’s capacity to act in this field needs to be strengthened. The newest approach presented by the European External Action Service (EEAS) is called PESCO (the Permanent Structured Cooperation) and aims to change this current structure of “inactivity”. This short paper will briefly analyze this new instrument.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Margriet Drent
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: With the boost that has been given to the EU’s defence policy, some of the St. Malo reflexes have reoccurred in Washington. Mostly, there are some misgivings in the United States about the exact meaning of ‘European strategic autonomy’, as it featured in the 2016 EU Global Strategy. But also in Europe, it is not clear what strategic autonomy means. In light of the increasing uncertainty among the EU and European NATO-members about the solidity of the American security guarantees, strategic autonomy gains a new quality. If Europe were forced ‘to go it alone’, what would that take, both in terms of conventional and nuclear capabilities? In her latest Policy Brief author Margriet Drent concludes that European countries face a dilemma: they have to simultaneously invest in their strategic autonomy and in keeping the United States committed to their security.
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy, European Union, Autonomy
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Mikkel Runge Olesen, Matthew Hinds
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The election of Donald Trump as US president was met with considerable unease in Europe. This has not least been the case among those who, like the UK and Denmark, consider themselves among America’s closest allies. In the policy brief, Matthew Hinds and Mikkel Runge Olesen take stock of the US special relationships in Europe – large and small. In the policy brief they discuss both the classical “Special Relationship” between the US and the UK, as well as the US-Danish relationship, as an example of a small power that has chosen to give the relationship to the superpower premium priority. Hinds and Runge Olesen find that Trump may destabilize relations, but also that he may open up for new opportunities as well – especially for the UK.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Britain, America, Europe
  • Author: Hamza Meddeb
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Six years since the revolution, the success of democracy in Tunisia depends on those parts of the country where the popular uprising began: its ‘periphery’, whose regions lag far behind the country’s economically more developed coast. Tunisia’s periphery regions suffer from weak economic growth and high levels of poverty and unemployment – a legacy of decades of underinvestment. Regional conflict, terrorism and organised crime have led the government to crack down on security threats in the periphery regions. This has disrupted the informal and illegal economic networks on which much of the population relies and caused it to lose faith in the government. Tunisia has enjoyed extensive support from international partners since 2011 – money is not the problem. Instead, the country must strengthen its regional governance and address fragmentation at the heart of government. Europeans can radically alter the terms of debate by offering Tunisia membership of the European Economic Area, galvanising change in support of its journey towards democracy and stability.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe