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  • Author: Amelia Hadfield, Nicholas Wright
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: The UK’s rejection of any institutionalised relationship with the EU in foreign, security and defence policy (FSDP) is arguably the most noteworthy feature of the post-Brexit dispensation. In a stark reversal in early 2020, the British government abandoned pledges made in the 2019 Political Declaration to ‘establish structured consultation and regular thematic dialogues [that] could contribute to the attainment of common objectives’, including on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) (1). This gap was intensified by the absence of any reference to foreign affairs in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) or the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (IR) (2). Indeed, the IR essentially ignores the EU, referring only to British ambitions to remain a lead European defence actor, with a focus on multilateral venues (notably the UN and NATO), bilateral relations and ad hoc groupings. In short, an EU-sized hole now exists in British foreign policy thinking. This matters in London and across Europe. While in the EU, the UK exercised significant influence and leadership in FSDP, its EU membership magnifying its global capacities. In leaving, Sir Simon Fraser, formerly permanent under-secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), warned that Brexit represented ‘the biggest shock to [the UK’s] method of international influencing and the biggest structural change to our place in the world since the end of World War Two’ (3). From the EU’s perspective, as observed by High Representative Josep Borrell, ‘with Brexit, nothing gets easier and a lot gets more complicated. How much more complicated depends on the choices that both sides will make’ (4). The choices thus far indicate a rejection of ‘old obligations’ (5) and an essentially transactional relationship that will be ‘structurally adversarial for the foreseeable future’ (6). Nonetheless, Brexit also gives both the UK and the EU a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink and reconfigure their approaches to foreign affairs and how they navigate a profoundly changed regional context. To understand the scale of this undertaking, we offer an innovative thematic analysis focused on four ‘Rs’: reputation, responsibility, resources and relevance. Each ‘R’ represents a core element of both sides’ respective foreign policies, offering insights into possible international roles and goals. The four ‘Rs’ also help us identify the main risks and opportunities Brexit encompasses, providing a conceptual symmetry as to how the choices of both the EU and UK might align and impact each other.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, European Union, Brexit
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Patryk Pawlak, Fabio Barbero
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: In the second that just elapsed, over 116 terabytes of data were exchanged throughout the internet, an amount comparable to ten times that produced by the Hubble Space Telescope in one year. Data has become an essential resource for economic growth, job creation and societal progress. It will ‘reshape the way we produce, consume and live’. However, our increasingly digital way of life comes at a cost for the environment. The 2020 speech ‘The state of the planet’ by UN Secretary-General António Guterres made it clear: the world economy needs to transform to embrace a sustainable economic model with cleaner infrastructure, including digital and internet infrastructure. It is a global problem that requires a concerted international effort. And yet the environmental impact of new technologies is hardly addressed as a foreign policy issue. The EU–Japan Green Alliance signed in May 2021, despite being relatively comprehensive, does not make any reference to the environmental challenges of digital transition. The partnership between the European Commission and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to boost investments in critical climate technologies focuses on green hydrogen, direct air capture, long-duration energy storage and sustainable aviation fuels, but not on the information technology sector. This is puzzling given that data centres that power the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector generate up to 2 % of global carbon emissions, a number comparable to the aviation sector. The ICT sector accounts for around 7 % of global electricity use, but according to certain predictions, it could be using one fifth of all the world’s electricity by 2025. By the same year, the ICT sector may be responsible for 5.5 % of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If the ICT sector were a country, this would make it the fifth largest polluter in the world, after China, the United States, India and Russia. Consequently, any international actor aspiring to global leadership on climate change needs to look beyond the energy consumption, GHG emissions and natural resources related to design, production and end-of-life of the digital sector. To be responsible digital players, states need to address the environmental cost of using digital services that rely on large volumes of data and to promote green solutions as part of their international digital engagement strategies. For the EU’s foreign policy, this means embracing ‘green digital diplomacy’ as one of the priorities. Such an approach would bring digital and climate – two of the EU’s key policy priorities – under the same roof and contribute to promoting a ‘European way, balancing the flow and wide use of data, while preserving high privacy, security, safety and ethical standards’. It also offers a new opening for the EU’s commitment to strengthening multilateralism and a rules-based international order, including through setting norms and principles for the world’s digital transition, and the EU’s capacity-building and development cooperation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, European Union, Data, Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Narek Sukiasyan
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Armenia’s foreign policy and its role in the post-Soviet space are often characterised as ‘pro-Russian’. While such a description is partially true, it is overly simplistic. This Brief analysis the main trends and evolutions in Armenia’s Russia policy after the 2018 Velvet Revolution: how the changes have influenced Russia’s approach towards Armenia, how these dynamics affect Armenia’s autonomy and what the consequences of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war are for Armenia’s regional security and alliances. After the revolution and up until the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, no substantial strategic changes were made to Armenian foreign policy. The leadership has avoided framing its external affairs in geopolitical ‘pro or against’ terms, promoting a ‘pro-Armenian’ policy that aims to maintain good relations in all directions and prioritises sovereignty as a foreign policy principle. Instead, the revolutionary ambitions of the new leadership have been directed towards domestic issues such as fighting corruption, reforming the judiciary and law enforcement bodies, improving the business environment and addressing social issues.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Conflict, Regional Integration, Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Appeasement
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Armenia
  • Author: Daniel Fiott
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Words have meaning. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen took up her mandate calling for a ‘geopolitical Commission’ and Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP), echoed this by stating that the EU needs to ‘learn the language of power’. Reflecting the current geopolitical turbulence facing Europe, the EU’s rhetorical shift could split opinion – at the very least, the choice of language is open to interpretation. It could be argued that the word ‘geopolitics’ sits uneasily alongside terms such as ‘multilateralism’, especially when one considers the historical connotations of geopolitics. The implication is that visions of peace and international cooperation cannot simultaneously sit alongside ideas such as the military control of the ‘heartland’ or mastery of the seas – to put it differently, if the EU is Monnet, can it ever survive in the world of Mackinder or Mahan? EU member states would react to this statement in different ways and this is one among many reasons why it is so difficult to form a ‘common strategic culture’ in Europe. Behind the EU’s mosaic of various national strategic cultures lie profound differences between geopolitical interests and strategic histories. As the 2017 French Defence and National Security Strategic Review observes, ‘[g]eography and history remain important factors in the manner in which European states rank threats and risks, and more generally, in the diversity of their strategic cultures.’ Despite the direction offered by the EU Global Strategy, there is as yet no common approach to how member state governments understand threats to the EU’s security. Defining ‘threats’ is not an easy task and it has split security scholars. Nevertheless, member states have stressed the need for a strategic reflection on security and defence based on ‘a shared assessment of threats and challenges.’ This echoes the EU Global Strategy, which stated that ‘European security hinges on better and shared assessments of internal and external threats and challenges.’
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, European Union, Strategic Planning
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Stanislav Secrieru
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Over the last few years, news about Russia’s conduct in the Western Balkans has resembled dispatches coming from the trenches of political and economic warfare: Moscow has slashed gas supplies, banned imports of agro-food products, conducted coordinated disinformation campaigns, nurtured nationalist organisations, deployed Cossack paramilitary groups, tested cyber defences and allegedly even tried to overthrow legitimate governments. This flurry of disruptive operations caught Europe by surprise and generated debate: does this resurgence herald Russia’s return to the region and if so, what is driving the comeback? What does Moscow want to achieve? What is the Russian modus operandi in the region? Is it confined only to coercion, as the headlines suggest, or is there a softer side to Russia’s power? Finally, looking retrospectively, did Russia’s approach bear fruit? This Brief addresses this set of questions in greater detail, with two key findings. First, Russia’s policy in the region is executed by a network of Russian state and non-state actors who are blurring the traditional lines between the public and private domains. This allows the Kremlin to tap into the resources of informal institutions and hide behind a fog of deniability. Second, Russia has raised the cost of Western Balkan integration in the EU and NATO by exploiting the region’s political and economic vulnerabilities. That said, although Moscow was able to slow down the process, it has hitherto failed to alter the region’s steady drift towards Western institutions, at least for now.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Balkans
  • Author: Nicola Casarini
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: The establishment of the EU-China 'strategic partnership' on 30 October 2003 came at a time of converging priorities between the two actors. It also coincided with one of the worst crises in transatlantic relations, mainly due to disagreements over the US-led war in Iraq and the foreign policy stance of the first Bush ad¬ministration. As a result of the partnership, the then EU-15 and China adopted three initiatives which caught the attention of US policymakers.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Biosecurity
  • Political Geography: China, Iraq, Europe
  • Author: David Camroux
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: The presence of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg in early September went virtually unnoticed by the European media. That his attendance was overlooked can be explained by immediate factors, namely the overriding importance of the Syrian conflict in the discussions among leaders, and the fact that SBY (as President Yudhoyono is commonly known) is a lame-duck president with less than a year to go before the end of his two-term limit. Lacking BRIC status (for now at least), Indonesia – unlike China, India or even Brazil – barely registers on the radar screen of public awareness in Europe. Symptomatic of this neglect is the fact that, almost four years after its signing in November 2009, two EU member state parliaments (and the European Parliament itself) have yet to ratify the EU-Indonesia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, India, Brazil, Syria, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Francesco Giumelli
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: The European Union has devoted growing attention to sanctions since the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty.1 In total, the Council has imposed Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) sanctions targeting countries, economic sectors, groups, individuals and entities on 27 different occasions. The novelty in the area of sanctions is that targets are not only states, as in the recent cases of Iran and Syria, but they are also individuals and non-state entities, e.g. anti-terrorist lists, President Robert Mugabe and his associates, and several companies connected with the military junta in Burma/Myanmar. Additionally, the contexts in which sanctions are utilised can be diverse, ranging from the protection of human rights to crisis management and non-proliferation. Despite the fact that the effectiveness of sanctions has been much debated, the EU has developed a sanctioning policy and intensified its adoption of sanctions. Sanctions were traditionally seen as a way to impose economic penalties as a means of extracting political concessions from targets, but EU sanctions do not always impose a cost nor do they always seek to induce behavioural change. To this extent, a new narrative may be needed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Human Rights, International Cooperation, International Law, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Europe, Burma, Myanmar
  • Author: Liu Lirong
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: China's engagement in Africa has obliged the EU to re-evaluate its own relationship with Africa. Since 2008, in an attempt to resolve the conflicts of norms and interests, the EU has proposed establishing a trilateral dialogue and cooperation mechanism between the EU, China and Africa, which so far has not yielded any substantial results. The differences between China's and the EU's Africa policies are mainly visible in two areas: aid and security. The contradiction between their respective aid policies lies in China's 'no-strings-attached aid' versus European 'conditionality' or emphasis on 'fundamental principles'. The contradiction between their security approaches in Africa lies in China's non-interference policy and the European concept of human security. Promoting common normative values and principles is at the core of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), which is important for the EU's self-construction at present. China's non-interference policy is related to its domestic security and stability and in this context it engages in its own rhetoric. In matters of principle it is difficult for both sides to make compromises or accept limitations imposed by the other.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Europe
  • Author: Álvaro de Vasconcelos (ed)
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Nothing is perhaps more fundamental to EU foreign policy than the imperative of defining a common agenda with the US. Unfortunately, however, in Europe relations with the United States are marked by ideological divergences or antagonisms which are largely a legacy of the Cold War era. But such a rift is clearly dysfunctional in a polycentric world, which is no longer characterised by a bipolar world order, but by the need to define much larger coalitions, across ideological divides, than just the Euro-American one.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe