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Western Balkans: State of play in the European Council

17-10-2019

The Western Balkans have regularly featured on the agenda of the European Council since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009. Three dimensions – enlargement, counter-terrorism and migration – have been at the centre of the EU leaders' discussion of the subject. The European Commission recommended twice in the last two years the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. In the absence of an agreement at the 15 October 2019 General Affairs Council, the ...

The Western Balkans have regularly featured on the agenda of the European Council since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009. Three dimensions – enlargement, counter-terrorism and migration – have been at the centre of the EU leaders' discussion of the subject. The European Commission recommended twice in the last two years the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. In the absence of an agreement at the 15 October 2019 General Affairs Council, the decision on whether to open accession negotiations with the two countries now lies with the European Council.

Assessing the Leaders’ Agenda

06-05-2019

The Leaders' Agenda can be assessed rather favourably as it has enabled more structured work and better preparation by all actors concerned. This method can be recommended for the future work of the European Council as it allows a consistent follow-up. However, it has not helped to overcome deadlock on some of the most sensitive issues, such as migration and taxation.

The Leaders' Agenda can be assessed rather favourably as it has enabled more structured work and better preparation by all actors concerned. This method can be recommended for the future work of the European Council as it allows a consistent follow-up. However, it has not helped to overcome deadlock on some of the most sensitive issues, such as migration and taxation.

The cost of non-Europe in the area of legal migration

14-03-2019

Further EU action in the area of legal migration could address obstacles experienced by Third Country Nationals within the European Union. Depending on the policy option pursued these options could result in up to €21,75 billion in benefits. Further gains could be made by addressing the fragmented national policies in this area, which are currently undermining ability of the EU as a whole to attract the workers and researchers it needs.

Further EU action in the area of legal migration could address obstacles experienced by Third Country Nationals within the European Union. Depending on the policy option pursued these options could result in up to €21,75 billion in benefits. Further gains could be made by addressing the fragmented national policies in this area, which are currently undermining ability of the EU as a whole to attract the workers and researchers it needs.

The first EU-Arab League summit: A new step in EU-Arab relations

22-02-2019

On 24 and 25 February 2019, heads of state or government from the European Union (EU) and the League of Arab States (LAS) will meet in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for the first-ever EU-LAS summit. The summit comes at a time of heightened EU interest in developing closer cooperation with its main regional counterpart in the Arab world. The meeting will be co-chaired by Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and European Council President, Donald Tusk, who will represent the EU alongside European Commission ...

On 24 and 25 February 2019, heads of state or government from the European Union (EU) and the League of Arab States (LAS) will meet in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for the first-ever EU-LAS summit. The summit comes at a time of heightened EU interest in developing closer cooperation with its main regional counterpart in the Arab world. The meeting will be co-chaired by Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and European Council President, Donald Tusk, who will represent the EU alongside European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker. A large number of EU and LAS heads of state or government have confirmed their attendance. A wide range of issues and common challenges will be on the agenda, including multilateralism, trade, investment and economic cooperation, technology, migration, climate change, security and the situation in the region. Since 2011, EU-LAS meetings have been taking place regularly at different levels in the context of a political and strategic dialogue. The most recent ministerial meeting, which brought together 10 EU and 15 Arab League foreign ministers, took place in Brussels on 4 February 2019. Moreover, working groups have been gathering in between meetings of senior officials to discuss political and security matters of shared concern. The EU and the LAS share positions on a range of issues, including support for a political transition in Syria, the two-state solution under the Middle East peace process, and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state. The two partners also cooperate to find solutions to the war in Yemen and the conflict in Libya. The summit is taking place at a time of intensified talks with Egypt and other North African countries to address the issue of migration. It is also seen as part of a broader effort to build closer ties with Africa. In September 2018, Commission President Juncker urged the EU to strike a new alliance with Africa to boost investment and create millions of jobs. The EU holds regular summits with other regional players, including the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the African Union (AU).

Interlinks between migration and development

23-01-2019

The EU and its Member States have reshaped their external policies, including development cooperation, to place more focus on migration-related issues. Widely used in this context, political rhetoric on 'addressing root causes of migration' has been questioned by academics as creating unrealistic expectations. Indeed, a positive correlation between migration and narrowly understood economic development persists until countries reach middle-income country level. However, several key drivers of migration ...

The EU and its Member States have reshaped their external policies, including development cooperation, to place more focus on migration-related issues. Widely used in this context, political rhetoric on 'addressing root causes of migration' has been questioned by academics as creating unrealistic expectations. Indeed, a positive correlation between migration and narrowly understood economic development persists until countries reach middle-income country level. However, several key drivers of migration are related to discrepancies in levels of human development. Demographic pressures, youth unemployment, job opportunities in the country of destination, the growth of migrant networks and the desire to reunite families, all play roles in migration. A complex interaction between aid and migration also exists, which is far from a simple one-way causality. In general, poverty alleviation, the primary objective of development aid, tends to enhance rather than deter the realisation of the aspiration to migrate, in the short- and medium-term, by increasing household incomes. A more global approach to cooperation with third countries, such as the EU's already well-established assistance focusing on good governance, infrastructure, rural development and strengthening resilience, as well as going beyond development assistance to include trade and investment, appears promising in terms of deterring migration. On the other hand, studies confirm that international migration is an important path for development: remittances constitute a tool for poverty reduction, while diaspora skills and networks provide resources for economic and social progress. Nevertheless, EU policy integrating development aid as an instrument for curbing irregular migration is criticised by development stakeholders as undermining aid effectiveness, principles, and risks diverting aid from the most needy and indirectly prompting human rights violations. To avoid such outcomes, a contextual analysis must be the basis for identifying genuine synergies to be reinforced between development and migration management.

2018: Challenges and choices [What Think Tanks are thinking]

20-12-2018

After 2017 brought optimism for the European Union, 2018 has proved a year of tougher challenges and choices. It was a time of slower growth, with the spectre of a global trade war. Turbulent negotiations on Brexit brought an agreement, but the chances of its approval by the UK House of Commons look unpromising. It was a year of uncertainty for transatlantic ties and for US global leadership. Tensions re-emerged over migration. Progress in overhauling the euro-area was limited. The simmering Russia-Ukrainian ...

After 2017 brought optimism for the European Union, 2018 has proved a year of tougher challenges and choices. It was a time of slower growth, with the spectre of a global trade war. Turbulent negotiations on Brexit brought an agreement, but the chances of its approval by the UK House of Commons look unpromising. It was a year of uncertainty for transatlantic ties and for US global leadership. Tensions re-emerged over migration. Progress in overhauling the euro-area was limited. The simmering Russia-Ukrainian conflict erupted again. These and other developments form the backdrop for the European elections in 2019. This note offers links to recent selected commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on the state of the EU in 2018 and its outlook in several important areas.

Migration [What Think Tanks are thinking]

14-12-2018

On 10 December 2018, at a conference in the Moroccan city of Marrakech, more than 160 United Nations members adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This is the first multilateral framework providing a global response to migration, and comes at a time of mounting public concern about the issue, in particular in the EU and US. Even though the agreement is non-binding and serves more as a set of best practices for the international community to improve global cooperation ...

On 10 December 2018, at a conference in the Moroccan city of Marrakech, more than 160 United Nations members adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This is the first multilateral framework providing a global response to migration, and comes at a time of mounting public concern about the issue, in particular in the EU and US. Even though the agreement is non-binding and serves more as a set of best practices for the international community to improve global cooperation on migration, nearly 30 countries, including the US and a number of EU Member States, have decided to oppose it. This note offers links to commentaries and studies on migration by major international think tanks. Earlier papers on the same topic can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking', published in October 2018.

Algeria and the EU: Challenges before the elections

05-12-2018

Algeria will shortly be holding elections in April 2019 that will be crucial for its future. The country did, it is true, introduce constitutional reforms in response to the Arab Spring in the region, but whether or not President Bouteflika will have a fifth term in office is still the chief cause of the uncertainly hanging over the country. Although elderly now and in frail health, the President is still the glue binding Algeria’s political system together after its terrible civil war in the 1990s ...

Algeria will shortly be holding elections in April 2019 that will be crucial for its future. The country did, it is true, introduce constitutional reforms in response to the Arab Spring in the region, but whether or not President Bouteflika will have a fifth term in office is still the chief cause of the uncertainly hanging over the country. Although elderly now and in frail health, the President is still the glue binding Algeria’s political system together after its terrible civil war in the 1990s. In this context, the Algerian equation remains a complex one with three unknown factors (youth, climate and migration) that may shape short and medium-term prospects. Algeria has a high number of young people and constant growth is needed for them to find jobs on the labour market. Young people are still not particularly engaged in Algeria’s political system and little is known about their preferences. Climate warming is a second unknown: it will have major consequences for the area and will probably push both Algeria’s population and people in the wider Sahelian region towards coastal towns, making investment in sustainable urban planning and suitable public services essential. Lastly, demographic dynamics, both as regards the country’s own population and how migration affects it, constitute an important challenge for the future. These concerns place Algeria firmly in its regional context where it plays a central role in the conflicts in the western Sahara, in relation to Libya, and in the Sahel. Algeria is also a vital partner in the fight against international terrorism. The country’s economic situation still needs to be watched: Algeria’s economy is coming under pressure from fluctuating energy prices. The Algerian authorities agree that reforms are needed but they are difficult to bring in when the State is facing a fall in revenue. The European Union is Algeria’s main trade partner and the Association Agreement provides a framework for further developing trade relations. The two partners recently opened discussions on Algeria’s tariff barriers as they do not seem to be heading in the right direction.

Migration from Central America

25-10-2018

Although not a new phenomenon, migration flows from Central America, in particular from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (also called the Northern Triangle of Central America, NTCA), have grown exponentially since 2014, with a considerable increase in the number of adults and a huge one in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the borders. And the ‘caravan’ of Central American migrants that has recently reached Mexico on its way to the US border has again turned public and media attention ...

Although not a new phenomenon, migration flows from Central America, in particular from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (also called the Northern Triangle of Central America, NTCA), have grown exponentially since 2014, with a considerable increase in the number of adults and a huge one in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the borders. And the ‘caravan’ of Central American migrants that has recently reached Mexico on its way to the US border has again turned public and media attention towards this silent exodus. The push factors that have been fuelling migration from these countries include poverty, unemployment and under-employment, rampant crime and violence – in particular gang violence – but also institutional weakness and corruption. The pull factors include family re-unification, migrants' perceptions of more permissive immigration laws in destination countries, and the existence of well-organised smuggling networks. Their main destination countries are the United States and Mexico, but other neighbouring countries such as Belize and Costa Rica are receiving growing numbers of NTCA migrants, as are some European countries, including Spain, Italy and France. Countries of origin, transit and destination have set up new instruments for alleviating the problem, such as Mexico´s Southern Border Programme, and the regional Alliance for Prosperity, which have produced mixed results. International organisations, such as the EU and the United Nations, have been providing help, and the European Parliament has also expressed its concern on the situation of these migrants and their human rights.

Migration [What Think Tanks are thinking]

19-10-2018

At the European Council meeting on 18 October, European Union Heads of State or Government vowed to step up the fight against illegal migration, by intensifying efforts to crack down on smuggling networks, protect external borders and cooperate with countries of origin and transit. The EU's southern borders remain under pressure from irregular migrants escaping poverty and conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, although the leaders noted that illegal border crossings into the EU have declined by ...

At the European Council meeting on 18 October, European Union Heads of State or Government vowed to step up the fight against illegal migration, by intensifying efforts to crack down on smuggling networks, protect external borders and cooperate with countries of origin and transit. The EU's southern borders remain under pressure from irregular migrants escaping poverty and conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, although the leaders noted that illegal border crossings into the EU have declined by 95 % from their peak in October 2015. The leaders also said in their conclusions that a joint task force should be established at Europol's European Migrant Smuggling Centre. The European Commission is to propose a comprehensive set of implementation measures by December, and the leaders urged the European Parliament and Council to examine promptly the recent proposals on the Return Directive, the Asylum Agency and the European Border and Coast Guard. This note offers links to commentaries and studies on migration by major international think tanks. Earlier papers on the same topic can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking', published in June 2018.

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