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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: Ivan Krastev, Mark Leonard
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: The lived experience of the covid-19 pandemic has split Europe just as the euro and refugee crises did, with the south and the east feeling much more badly affected than the north and the west. Some people were affected directly by illness, some only experienced economic consequences, while others feel untouched by covid-19. The economic victims are more likely than others to say that restrictions have been too severe, and they tend to be more sceptical about their governments’ intentions behind lockdowns. Europeans are divided over what they believe to be governments’ motivations behind restrictions: the Trustful have faith in governments; the Suspicious believe rulers want to cover up failings; the Accusers think governments are trying to increase their control over people. Splits are appearing between those who believe that, in the context of the pandemic, the biggest threat to their freedom comes from governments, on the one hand, and those who fear the behaviour of their fellow citizens, on the other. There is a major generational divide, with the young more likely than the old to blame governments for the ongoing impact; the young also feel more badly affected. Poland, Germany, and France could each be emerging as archetypes for post-pandemic politics.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Refugees, Crisis Management, Pandemic, COVID-19, Polarization
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Poland, Germany
  • Author: Piotr Buras, Jana Puglierin
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: A new poll conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations shows that EU citizens view Germany as a trustworthy, pro-European power. Angela Merkel’s approach of searching for compromises between competing interests is a major source of Berlin’s positive image. Pluralities in all countries polled would support her in a hypothetical election for president of Europe if her opponent was Emmanuel Macron. Merkel’s rule has reduced neighbours’ fear of German dominance. Most Europeans do not believe a German heading the European Commission is a bad thing. And significant numbers trust Berlin to lead the EU, especially on financial and economic issues and democracy and the rule of law. Paradoxically, to fulfil many Europeans’ expectations, Berlin will need to revise the principles of Merkelism that created this trust. Germany will need to do this to successfully lead the EU in tackling the two greatest threats facing it: a weakening of the rule of law inside the EU, and a failure on the part of Europe to defend its interests in the world.
  • Topic: Elections, European Union, Domestic politics, Polls
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Gustav Gressel
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Russia’s capacity to carry out large-scale military operations against Black Sea states allows it to coerce and extort them. Reducing the predictability of such operations is the first step towards deterring them, because Moscow carefully weighs their risks. Western countries should increase their militaries’ interoperability with Black Sea states’ armed forces and improve the infrastructure they use to deploy reinforcements in the region. This would allow them to react to Russian military escalation in kind and thereby increase the risks for Moscow. With Ukraine and Georgia engaged in land wars against Russia, the vulnerabilities of Ukrainian and Georgian airspace and territorial waters have received relatively little attention. Western states could begin to address these vulnerabilities by establishing an international naval presence in the Black Sea. This would counter Russia’s attempts to deny other nations free use of the sea, and could help mitigate long-standing rivalries between allied states in the region. These efforts to enhance Black Sea states’ security will depend on improvements in other areas, particularly the security of government communications, counter-intelligence, the rule of law, and the fight against corruption.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Military Affairs, European Union, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Turkey, Crimea, Black Sea
  • Author: Ivan Krastev, Mark Leonard
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: A majority of European citizens believe a new cold war with both China and Russia is under way – but they mostly do not think that their own country is involved. Most believe the US is already taking part in these confrontations, and they consider EU institutions as more likely than their own governments to be in a cold war with China and Russia. An optimistic interpretation sees the outsourcing of such great-power competition to Brussels as the arrival of a true EU foreign policy – but a more pessimistic analysis sees a gap emerging between Brussels on the one hand and member state capitals and EU citizens on the other. This difference in views between whether one’s own country is taking part in the brewing conflict, as opposed to whether America and the EU are, suggests there is no European public consensus that the world of tomorrow will be one of growing competition between democracy and authoritarianism. Given this risk, policymakers should find a different, less ideological, framing to generate public support for a strong transatlantic alliance.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Authoritarianism, European Union, Democracy, Alliance, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • 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: 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: Alex Clark, Susi Dennison, Mats Engström
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: The global transition away from carbon will fundamentally alter the EU’s dependencies on energy, raw materials, and new technologies. The bloc needs to manage these dependencies while maintaining the fragile consensus between member states on the European Green Deal and fulfilling its ambitions for global climate leadership. The EU should help deliver a green grand bargain by making use of all its sources of economic, multilateral, and soft power. The bloc should reframe the international debate on energy security to focus on clean energy resources and efficiency, engaging in the market reforms needed to incentivise this shift. The EU should make every effort to reassure countries in the global south that the green transition will not leave them behind. The Global Gateway provides a strong framework for doing this – as would an EU Co-innovation and Green Tech Diffusion Fund. The EU also needs to place European sovereignty at the centre of its internal narrative on the European Green Deal. This could help win support for the agreement from member states that are concerned about the economic and social effects of the green transition.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Science and Technology, European Union, Partnerships, Multilateralism, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • 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: Susi Dennison, Jana Puglierin
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Public faith in EU institutions has declined due to their handling of the covid-19 pandemic and vaccine procurement. This effect is strongest in Germany: disappointment with the EU has now spread from the periphery to the centre. However, the European project is not doomed, as citizens still believe in the need for greater cooperation – particularly in strengthening the EU as a global actor. Europeans see the world as being made up of strategic partnerships, with no automatic alliances. They are sceptical about the restoration of America’s leadership and feel that there can be no return to the West of the cold war era. They acknowledge the centrality of the EU in their future, but their sense of shared vulnerability will not be enough to move the European project forward. The EU should demonstrate its capacity to deliver.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Public Opinion, European Union, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany