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  • Author: Sarah Brichet, Hugo Chouarbi, Marie Dénoue, Valérian Frossard, Armony Laurent, Nicolas Libert, Anne-Flore Magnuszewski, Pauline Maillard, Juliette Rolin
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: The launch of the European Defence Fund is a true step forward. Its objective is to facilitate the emergence of a European defence industrial and technological base through cooperation between European industrialists and thus reduce European "capability bottlenecks" in the field of military equipment while attempting to increase the Union's "strategic autonomy". With a budget of €7 billion under the EU's new multi-annual budget, a new Directorate General, DG DEFIS, will be responsible for its management, under the supervision of the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton. At the heart of European institutional and conceptual transformations, its operation and management are of particular importance.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Regional Cooperation, Science and Technology, Governance, Industry
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: 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: Pawel Zerka
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: ECFR research into how EU member states and institutions worked together – or failed to – at the height of covid-19 confirms Germany was the bloc’s undisputed crisis leader. Germany made a shaky start in showing solidarity on the pandemic, but regained other member states’ trust on the health and economy fronts. The Netherlands, however, paid a reputational price as the leading ‘frugal’ state opposing greater financial burden-sharing. EU institutions won few plaudits but policymakers still look to it for post-crisis economic leadership. France emerged at the head of a strengthened ‘southern’ grouping of member states, while the Visegrad platform was invisible during this crisis. It will fall to Germany and France to close the north-south divide, building coalitions on major policies. But they should not forget that closing the east-west divide remains an important goal.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, Health Care Policy, European Union, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • 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: Cristina Gherasimov
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: While the magnitude of the current pandemic is still unknown, Eastern Europe might be facing a major regional catastrophe. The six countries of the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) have dysfunctional health-care systems and lack resources and protective equipment for their doctors and hospitals. The European Commission’s offer of immediate assistance is good news. However, much more will be needed to help the EU’s eastern partners fight the coronavirus and mitigate the socioeconomic impact of this crisis.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, European Union, Partnerships, Crisis Management, Coronavirus, Pandemic
  • Political Geography: Europe, Brussels
  • Author: Shahin Vallée
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: While the ECB has already taken bold steps, the EU member states need to support its efforts by committing to underwrite together some of the fiscal costs of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The best option would be to launch a Corona Fund with the power to mobilize 1 trillion EUR—support for such a fund need not be unanimous.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, European Union, Economy, Recovery, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Kristi Raik, Josef Janning
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Centre for Defence and Security - ICDS
  • Abstract: This policy paper examines Estonia’s partners in the European Union with the aim of identifying ways to enhance its influence on policy-making. Effective coalition-building is also important for the EU as a whole, since it can improve the Union’s capacity to take decisions and act. The paper highlights that: Estonia has a relatively strong position in the EU, considering its small size and limited resources. It is particularly well-connected with the Nordic-Baltic partners and should seek ways to use this grouping more effectively as a means to reach out to larger member states and shape decisions in the Union. The main challenge is to build stronger links with France and Germany, something that has become all the more important due to Brexit. Teaming up with other countries that are better connected to Berlin and Paris, such as Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium, is one way to pursue this goal. It is too early to draw conclusions about the impact of the latest change of government in Estonia on the country’s influence and image among partners in the EU. However, the research interviews show some indications of a weakened position. Estonia should avoid losing its reputation as a results-oriented member state that takes into consideration the priorities of others while pursuing its own interests in a constructive manner.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Estonia
  • Author: Christian Lequesne
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: The United Kingdom officially left the European Union on 31 January 2020 following the signing of the exit agreement. This departure went hand in hand with the opening of a transitional period until 31 December 2020, during which the rules of the internal market continue to govern relations between the two sides. However, negotiations have not yet been completed, since the framework for the future relationship between the United Kingdom – which has now become a third country – and the 27 Member States of the European Union has yet to be established. The joint political declaration of 30 January 2020 accompanying the exit Agreement provides for : "an ambitious, broad, deep, flexible partnership in trade and economic cooperation – with a comprehensive and balanced free trade agreement at its centre –, law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign, security and defence policy, as well as broader areas of cooperation"[1]. Initiated in February 2020 the negotiations on the future Agreement have been hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic. The 27 Member States decided that the defence of their positions would, as with the exit Agreement, be entrusted to the European Commission represented by a single negotiator, the Frenchman Michel Barnier. On the British side, former diplomat, David Frost, is in charge of defending the positions of the British government led by Boris Johnson, however the former will be called to another post as Government Adviser for National Security from September 2020. Although face-to-face negotiations resumed in Brussels at the end of June 2020, in substance they have made very modest progress. Hence a legitimate question: can an agreement on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union be reached by 31 December 2020, while Boris Johnson's government has refused to make use of the possibility offered of extending the transition period and thus the negotiations until 30 June 2020? Is there a risk of ending the year 2020 without a no deal and to have economic relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union governed by the common law of the World Trade Organisation?
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, European Union, Trade
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Rudolf Furst
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The sub-regional multilateral format of China and 16 post-communist states (16+1) proved that it could last seven years and that it has the potential to absorb new members. Consequently, the European Union is increasingly concerned about its potentially divisive effects on the EU’s unity. The expected economic benefits of 16+1 for the European partners have been scarcely relevant; still, the European states exploit the 16+1 format for strengthening their bilateral agendas with China. Amidst the trade war with China, the US regards China’s rising influence in Central Europe as a political issue. Beijing’s priority in Europe is to calm down the tension with the EU, Germany, and France over the 16+1 platform. However, the accession of Greece to the enlarged format of 17+1 in the recent 16+1 summit in Dubrovnik and the gaining of support for the Belt and Road Initiative in Italy enable China to establish its foothold on the European South’s doorstep in connection with the 17+1 regional platform.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, European Union, Economy, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, France, Germany