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  • Author: Flavio Fusco
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Located at the heart of the Middle East, connecting the Levant to the Persian Gulf, Iraq has always been at the centre of regional dynamics. Yet, the country is today reduced to a quasi-failed state fundamentally damaged in its political, social and economic fabric, with long-term consequences that trace a fil rouge from the 2003 US-led invasion to the emergence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) and the country’s current structural fragility.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, European Union
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Vedran Džihić, Paul Schmidt
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In societies devastated by the pandemic, the EU needs to leave its conventional tool-box behind and urgently speed up the Europeanisation of its neighbours in Southeast Europe. The coronavirus pandemic has deepened the vulnerabilities affecting Western Balkan countries and exposed the weakness of their state institutions, especially in the health sector and social protection. At the same time, related to the limited effectiveness of the EU enlargement process over the past years, the progress of reforms has stagnated and some countries have even experienced concerning regressions in the rule of law. The outbreak of the coronavirus crisis has meanwhile increased the presence of other geopolitical players in the region, mainly in the context of competition over vaccinations, not only of China but also of Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Awareness is growing that the EU and the West is not the only available partner. As other powers not known for their democratic practices use or misuse the Western Balkans to promote their interests, the vision of a free, democratic and truly European Balkans is no longer self-evident.
  • Topic: European Union, Institutions, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Simona Autolitano, Agnieszka Pawlowska
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: There is currently much discussion about “digital sovereignty” in Europe. While the term encompasses very diverse connotations, it refers to a broad concept involving data, technological, regulatory and political elements. Cloud computing represents one example of the concrete materialisation of the European Union’s quest for “digital sovereignty” – especially through the development of its GAIA-X project. It is too early to assess whether or not GAIA-X will definitively help the Union to achieve this much-desired goal; however, some challenges have already emerged along the way. Looking to the future, if the EU wants to achieve “digital sovereignty”, a different strategy to the one currently under discussion will be needed.
  • Topic: Politics, Science and Technology, Sovereignty, European Union, Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany
  • Author: Alessandro Marrone, Karolina Muti
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Europe’s missile defence is structurally linked to NATO deterrence and defence architecture, and it has to face both a worsened international security environment and an accelerating, worldwide technological innovation. Russia and China are heavily investing in new hypersonic systems which dramatically decrease the time needed to reach the target by flying mostly within the atmosphere. The US remains a global leader in the development and deployment of missile defence capabilities, including the Aegis systems which represent the cornerstone of NATO integrate air and missile defence covering the Old Continent. European countries are increasingly collaborating within the EU framework on the related capability development, primarily via the TWISTER project under the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PeSCo). Being exposed to missile threats from Middle East and North Africa and participating to allied nuclear sharing, Italy has a primary interest in upgrading its military capabilities through PeSCo, maintaining them fully integrated within NATO, and involving the national defence industry in cutting-edge procurement programmes.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Science and Technology, European Union
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Turkey, France, Poland, Germany, Italy, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Francesca Ghiretti
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The debate on technological development and the unfolding fourth technological revolution tends to neglect the role of the EU, relegating it to follower status. The leadership positions are occupied by the US and China, who compete with one another for technological supremacy. Yet, despite lagging behind in some areas, the EU is better placed than is often assumed and still stands a chance of guaranteeing the delivery of a technological revolution that is not only environmentally but also socially sustainable. This is critical in proposing a model of technological development alternative to that of China, in particular, and especially in such sectors as artificial intelligence, supercomputing and digital skills.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, European Union
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Luca Franza
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Hydrogen is the most promising vector for harnessing North Africa’s largely untapped renewable energy potential. Low-carbon hydrogen produced in North Africa can play an important role in enabling the European Union and Italy to reach their increasingly ambitious decarbonisation targets as a complement to electrification and locally produced renewables. It is estimated that the EU could achieve cost savings by producing at least part of its future renewable energy needs in neighbouring high-yield regions. Italy is set to play a particularly important function as both a gateway and a catalyst for North African hydrogen exports. In turn, North Africa stands to benefit from hydrogen both as a source of revenues and as an instrument of diversification, industrialisation and local economic development. This would in turn improve social resilience, increase political stability, reduce the risk of radicalisation and limit migration flows. Italy has a particularly strong strategic interest in all of these areas, given its geographic location in the Central Mediterranean and marked exposure to social, political and security developments in North Africa. North African hydrogen could also create profitable business opportunities for several Italian companies. In sum, hydrogen can contribute to fighting climate change while preserving positive trade interdependence across the Mediterranean. Strong coordination between the private sector and policy-makers is going to be key to abate costs along the hydrogen value chain and launch successful international hydrogen trade schemes.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, European Union, Trade, Imports, Hydrogen
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Africa, Italy, Mediterranean
  • Author: Daniela Huber
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Historically speaking, the European Community and then the European Union have always reacted with paradigm changes in their foreign policies to watershed moments in the Middle East. In response to the two Arab-Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973, the European Community actually set up its own foreign policy in the first place and initiated the Euro-Arab Dialogue. After the Camp David Accords, the nine foreign ministers came out with the Venice Declaration in 1980 which reminded its partners in Washington and Tel Aviv that the Palestine question had been ignored and set the parameters for diplomacy in the 1990s. After the Cold War, however, the European Union became absorbed into the so-called Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), resulting in less independent EU agency on Israel/Palestine. This trend has become particularly obvious over the past four years of the Trump presidency, during which time the EU seemed almost paralyzed. While Europeans are now counting on the incoming Biden administration, during the election campaign Joe Biden stated that he will leave the US embassy in Jerusalem and that he is also favourable of the normalization deals between Israel and certain Arab states which President Trump had pushed for. At the same time, the Biden team seems hesitant to return to negotiations.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Human Rights, Territorial Disputes, European Union, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Mehdi Lahlou
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic has turned into a global economic crisis with severe social effects in the least developed countries, particularly in Africa. Pre-existing challenges related to widespread poverty, demographic growth, food insecurity and governance issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic. While migration remains one of the key elements of the partnership agenda between Africa and the European Union, the aggravating socioeconomic situation in the African continent due to the impact of COVID-19 and its implications for migration dynamics requires going beyond business-as-usual approaches. The renewed scenario calls for a more comprehensive and development-oriented approach to migration, requiring new policy initiatives addressing the wider set of conditions that, beyond constituting developmental challenges in their own right, also drive migration in North Africa as well as in Sub-Saharan African countries.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, European Union, Mobility, Asylum, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, North Africa
  • Author: Tsio Tadesse Abebe, Ottilia Anna Maunganidze
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the current state and prospects of partnership between the East African countries and the European Union on migration and forced displacement. The pandemic has exacerbated the root causes of migration and forced displacement. This is manifested by the continuation of irregular arrivals in Europe including from East Africa, after a brief decline in the initial phase of the COVID-19 response. The strong economic impact of the pandemic on the region has also disrupted the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees that aspires to address forced displacement challenges through facilitating refugees’ self-reliance. These challenges require East African countries and the EU to work towards establishing a better migration governance system with a people-centred approach and with a view to addressing the root causes of migration. East African states should drive their migration and forced displacement policies in ways that benefit their citizens. This should include devising ways of engaging the EU in line with its proposed talent partnerships in its New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The EU should work towards easing the economic burden of countries in East Africa including through providing additional development support and debt cancellation.
  • Topic: Migration, Politics, European Union, Refugees, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe
  • Author: Asli Selin Okyay, Luca Barana
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Europe’s institutional landscape and political context have evolved considerably over the past year, with implications spanning numerous policy domains, including migration. The formation of the new European Commission, its commitment to deliver a New Pact on Migration and Asylum and the negotiations for the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) have set the stage for much needed reforms in the migration field, a policy area still largely driven by the emergency mindset inherited from the 2015–16 “crisis”.
  • Topic: Migration, Reform, European Union, Refugees, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe