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  • Author: Hafsa Halawa
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: After a decade of domestic turmoil, Egypt is looking to regain its former role as a major regional player. Growing stability at home, improving economic prospects, and recent détente across the Middle East have boosted Cairo’s feelings of self-assurance. In particular, Egypt is distancing itself from the anti-Islamist alliance it had joined with the UAE and Saudi Arabia and is engaged in dialogue with former adversaries Qatar and Turkey. Major threats along Egypt’s borders, including water security concerns to its south and the war in Libya, have prompted Cairo to re-engage with its European partners – which it expects to help on these issues. American and European fears that Egypt is “too big to fail” further boost Cairo’s confidence. The Egyptian regime has become somewhat more open to discussing matters such as human rights than Western capitals sometimes assume. Europeans should seize this opportunity as part of a wide-ranging engagement addressing European regional interests as well as ongoing concern about the domestic situation in Egypt.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economy, Political stability, Alliance, Regional Integration, Regional Power
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Joanna Hosa, Tefta Kelmendi, Pavel Slunkin
  • Publication Date: 11-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Young diplomats in Eastern Partnership countries are optimistic and pro-European. Many of them want the EU to become a bolder geopolitical actor. They often criticise their countries’ leaderships and prefer to trust institutions rather than individuals. Most young diplomats tend to link success in foreign policy with domestic reforms. Russia is losing support among them, but it maintains a significant presence on the ground in their countries. Young diplomats see China as an attractive economic player but a controversial political partner. They would like to maintain good relations with the US, but the confrontation between Washington and Moscow forces some Eastern Partnership countries to take the Russian side.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Reform, Partnerships, Youth
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Asli Aydıntaşbaş , Susi Dennison
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Europeans know that the EU needs to create a new paradigm in its relationship with Turkey after a challenging few years. The bloc also needs to develop a form of European climate leadership that complements but is distinct from Washington’s re-engagement with the green agenda. Through close cooperation with Turkey on the European Green Deal, the EU could meet both challenges and build trust in relations with Ankara. The sides have a shared interest in supporting Turkey’s pro-Western business community and in developing the promising Turkish renewables sector. EU member states should help Turkey manage the impact of the new trade regulations the European Green Deal would bring in. This refreshed approach would not resolve broader disputes over issues such as human rights – but it could start rules-based engagement and change the mood music enough to improve other areas of the relationship.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, Energy Policy, European Union, Green Deal
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey
  • Author: Carl Bildt, Gustav Gressel, Kadri Liik, Nicu Popescu
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: In recent years, the EU has based its Russia policy on modest sanctions, periodic offers of engagement, and a careful accommodation of Russian strategic sensitivities. But the Russian approach to the EU has been much less calibrated, involving deliberate attempts to disrupt the bloc’s influence in large swathes of its neighbourhood. The EU should push back against, contain, and engage with Russia, bracing itself for rocky diplomatic interactions with the country. The bloc should reframe how it speaks of human rights and democracy, while developing closer security and military links with select neighbours in the Balkans, its eastern neighbourhood, and the Middle East and Africa. The EU should continue to selectively engage with Russia’s government and society through multilateral institutions, simplified visa procedures, and dialogue with a wide spectrum of organisations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, European Union, Multilateralism, Strategic Accommodation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Mark Leonard, Jana Puglierin
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Fifteen months into the covid-19 pandemic, there has been a major collapse in Germans’ trust in the European Union. German politicians need to react to the growing pressure on the consensus in German society for an outward-looking and pro-EU Germany. At the same time, Germany’s traditional ways of thinking are increasingly unsuited to addressing new foreign policy challenges. To find a viable model for its economic, security, and EU policy, the next federal government needs to address some of the unsettling issues that its predecessors have often ignored. The key to building support for an outward-looking and pro-EU Germany lies, paradoxically, in anchoring German policy in a narrower focus on the national interest. To engage more confidently with a world that is changing, outward-looking Germans need to shape a progressive new national identity before it is defined by the forces of isolation and exclusion. If Germany does not shift its course, it will end up with an inadequate foreign policy that lacks public support. Policymakers need to better explain how Berlin uses the EU to increase its influence and thereby enhance the wealth, prosperity, and security of the German public.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, European Union, Engagement
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Asli Aydıntaşbaş, Cinzia Bianco
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are engaged in a decade-long feud that is reshuffling the geopolitical order in the Middle East and North Africa. They see each other as existential rivals and are waging a series of proxy wars between the Horn of Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Their rivalry also plays out in the halls of Washington and Brussels, the global media discourse, the energy industry, and, lately, ports and the high seas. Europe should avoid being sucked into this power struggle to redefine the Middle East and North Africa. Instead of using the UAE to push back against Turkey or vice versa, Europe should develop its own strategy on their rivalry. Europe should establish a NATO deconfliction mechanism, push ahead with the political process in Libya, and design a constructive new framework to insulate European-Turkey relations from the rivalry.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Power Politics, Geopolitics, Strategic Competition, Rivalry
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Janka Oertel
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • 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 (ECFR)
  • 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 (ECFR)
  • 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 (ECFR)
  • 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