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  • Author: Frédéric Grare
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: The fisheries sector has become a central geopolitical issue in the Indo-Pacific. China is a major cause of the problems in the industry, thanks to the size of its fleet and the tonnage of its captures. China also contributes to the erosion of ocean governance through its participation in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Beijing instrumentalises its fishing fleet for geopolitical gain, as evidenced by its policy on the South China Sea. These predatory fishing activities threaten Europe’s geopolitical and geo-economic interests, as well as its attempts to protect marine biodiversity. Europe cannot be a bystander on the issue; it should develop a more proactive policy on fisheries.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Fishing, Strategic Interests , Biodiversity
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Cinzia Bianco
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Gulf monarchies believe hydrocarbons will continue to be a fundamental – albeit shrinking – source of revenues for decades. But, as shown by Saudi Arabia’s net-zero pledge, they now see economic and political opportunities in embracing the green energy transition. If the EU is to achieve its climate and geopolitical goals, it will need to substantially increase its engagement with Gulf states on the European Green Deal. Electricity interconnection and green hydrogen are the two most promising fields of clean energy cooperation between the sides. Europeans should not cave to international pressure to lower their ambitions on carbon taxation, including the carbon border adjustment mechanism, as this remains a powerful incentive for hydrocarbons producers to make the transition to cleaner energy.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, European Union, Geopolitics, Engagement , Carbon Tax, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Ulrike Franke, José I. Torreblanca
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: New technologies are a major redistributor of power among states and a significant force shaping international relations. The European Union has for too long seen technology primarily through an economic lens, disregarding its implications for its partnerships and for its own geopolitical influence. If the EU wants to be more than a mediator between the two real technological powers, the United States and China, it will need to change its mindset. For the EU and its partners, the vulnerabilities created by battles over technology divide into two types: new dependencies and openness to foreign interference. The EU and its member states need deeper engagement with the geopolitical implications and geopolitical power elements of technology. This engagement has an external element of reaching out to partners and an internal element of ensuring close cooperation between the EU and its member states.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Susi Dennison, Rafael Loss, Jenny Söderström
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: EU member states are publicly committed to the European Green Deal, but are divided over the details of its implementation. They have different views on issues such as the proposed carbon border adjustment mechanism, the role of nuclear energy in Europe’s future energy mix, bridging technologies in the transition to net zero, and the socio-economic consequences of closing down carbon-intensive industries. Member states are not divided into two diametrically opposed camps but rather agree or disagree with one another in varying constellations. This makes the implementation of the European Green Deal an intricate puzzle – yet achievable if coalitions of states push one another to implement its constituent parts. The EU needs a strong foreign policy strategy to manage the geopolitical dimension of the deal and to generate the political resolve to drive climate action. The bloc also needs to mitigate the socio-economic challenges of implementing the European Green Deal if the effort is to succeed.
  • Topic: Climate Change, European Union, Geopolitics, Green Deal
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Matteo Colombo, Federico Solfrini, Arturo Varvelli
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Undersea internet cables are critical infrastructure as important as gas and oil pipelines, and are becoming a focus of growing geopolitical competition. Throughout the EU’s wider neighbourhood, geopolitics influences states’ decisions about who is allowed to build internet infrastructure and where they can do so. China and the US differ in their approaches, but both are racing ahead of the EU in their influence over internet infrastructure and the states that depend on it. The EU has the ambition and potential to become a sovereign digital power, but it lacks an all-encompassing strategy for the sector, in which individual governments are still the key players. The EU should set industry standards, help European telecommunications companies win business abroad, and protect internet infrastructure against hostile powers.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, European Union, Geopolitics, Internet, Digital Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Tarek Megerisi
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Key European states need to make Libya a shared foreign policy priority, and to overcome their competing approaches to the country. Europeans must reinvigorate the UN political track and use it to reinforce a unified national structure rather than entrench competing administrations. They should focus on protecting Europe’s core interests in Libya: sustainably ending the conflict, creating a reliable local partner, and preserving European influence. To make the UN process work, Europeans should take a more hands-on approach to blocking and isolating domestic and international spoilers, refocusing the political track on unifying objectives, and supporting security sector reform. Europeans should also provide stabilisation, technical, and diplomatic support to strengthen Libya’s governance and accountability mechanisms, which are needed to ensure a new government can successfully hold elections in December 2021.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, United Nations, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Libya
  • Author: Mark Leonard, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Jeremy Shapiro, Simone Tagliapietra, Guntram Wolff
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: The European Green Deal will have profound geopolitical repercussions, some of which are likely to have an adverse impact on the European Union’s partners. The EU should prepare to manage these repercussions in its relationships with important countries in its neighbourhood such as Russia and Algeria, and with global players such as the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia. The bloc should engage with oil- and gas-exporting countries to foster their economic diversification, including into renewable energy and green hydrogen that could be exported to Europe. The EU should improve the supply security of critical raw materials and limit its dependence on other countries – primarily on China – for these materials. It should work with the US and other partners to establish a ‘climate club’ whose members would apply similar carbon border adjustment measures. The EU should become a global standard-setter for the energy transition, particularly in hydrogen and green bonds. It should internationalise the European Green Deal by mobilising the EU budget, the EU recovery fund, and EU development policy. The EU should promote global coalitions for climate change mitigation, such as one to protect the permafrost. The bloc should promote a global platform on the new economics of climate action, to share lessons learned and best practice.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, European Union, Geopolitics, Green Deal
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: Gustav Gressel, Nicu Popescu
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • 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: Dumitru Minzarari, Vadim Pistrinciuc
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: The EU’s Eastern Partnership policy is set to receive an update rather than an upgrade consummate with current geopolitical pressures. The Eastern Partnership’s central flaw is its design, which allows local political elites to build ‘facade democracy’. Core to democratic transformation are genuine rule of law reform and strong security against external threats. Adopting a new ‘shared sovereignty’ model would allow the EU into Eastern Partnership states to push through reform, guarantee the rule of law, and expose evasive local elites. Failure to strengthen Eastern Partnership states in this way could strengthen Russia and allow authoritarianism to diffuse westward into the EU. The EU should make shared sovereignty the basis for future Eastern Partnership relations, building on the momentum of the new accession process secured by France.
  • Topic: Sovereignty, European Union, Partnerships, Democracy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe