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Belarus on the brink

25-08-2020

As usual in Belarus, the 9 August presidential election was marred by fraud, repression and state violence against the opposition. As expected, the long-standing President, Aleksander Lukashenko, claimed a landslide victory. What was unusual this time, however, was the scale of Belarusians' disappointment: peaceful protests and strikes spread throughout the entire country in response to the stolen election, despite brutal crackdowns. What started as a national crisis now represents a wider struggle ...

As usual in Belarus, the 9 August presidential election was marred by fraud, repression and state violence against the opposition. As expected, the long-standing President, Aleksander Lukashenko, claimed a landslide victory. What was unusual this time, however, was the scale of Belarusians' disappointment: peaceful protests and strikes spread throughout the entire country in response to the stolen election, despite brutal crackdowns. What started as a national crisis now represents a wider struggle between truth and lies, democracy and autocracy, raising the stakes for both Minsk and Moscow, whose nervousness has spilled over into mounting aggression.

Outcome of the European Council video-conference of 19 August 2020

25-08-2020

The European Council video-conference meeting of 19 August 2020 was called by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, due to the increasingly worrying situation in Belarus after the recent national elections. As Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, summarised, the European Council decided to convey three clear messages from the meeting: i) the EU stands with the Belarussian people; ii) the EU will place sanctions on all those responsible for violence, repression ...

The European Council video-conference meeting of 19 August 2020 was called by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, due to the increasingly worrying situation in Belarus after the recent national elections. As Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, summarised, the European Council decided to convey three clear messages from the meeting: i) the EU stands with the Belarussian people; ii) the EU will place sanctions on all those responsible for violence, repression and the falsification of election results; and iii) the EU is ready to accompany the peaceful democratic transition of power in Belarus. While mainly focusing on Belarus, the Heads of State or Government also discussed two further issues during the video-conference meeting. First, as regards the tense situation in the eastern Mediterranean as a result of increasingly hostile Turkish activity, the European Council expressed its full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, recalling and reaffirming its previous conclusions on the illegal drilling activities, and called for de-escalation. Second, on the situation in Mali, EU leaders expressed their deep concern over the events in the country, which have a destabilising impact on the entire region and on the fight against terrorism, and called for an immediate release of prisoners and restoration of the rule of law.

A Balanced Arctic Policy for the EU

20-07-2020

The EU is currently working towards updating its Arctic policy. It needs to respond to two major changes that affect the region and pose challenges to the role of the EU in the Arctic; accelerated climate change and increased geoeconomic and geopolitical competition. The EU finds itself in a rather unique position. As a supranational institution with competences in parts of the Arctic, and with Member States having territories in the region, as well as institutionalised linkages with Arctic countries ...

The EU is currently working towards updating its Arctic policy. It needs to respond to two major changes that affect the region and pose challenges to the role of the EU in the Arctic; accelerated climate change and increased geoeconomic and geopolitical competition. The EU finds itself in a rather unique position. As a supranational institution with competences in parts of the Arctic, and with Member States having territories in the region, as well as institutionalised linkages with Arctic countries Iceland and Norway — with whom the EU shares the European Economic Area (EEA) — it needs to balance sectoral policies, priority areas and addressing different Arctics. The EU should therefore create ‘more EU in the Arctic’ by broadening the scope of its existing Arctic policy, as well as incorporating ‘more Arctic in the EU’ by stipulating that the Arctic becomes a cross-cutting consideration in other relevant EU policies. In addition, the EU will need to address hard and soft security issues within existing functional, regional and global frameworks and continue engaging in dialogue and confidence-building measures with Russia. Finally, a revised EU Arctic policy needs to be proactive and ambitious, based on existing strengths and expertise within the EU. At the same time, in an Arctic that witnesses the return of geopolitics, the ‘civilian power’ EU will encounter challenges assuming its role in the region. How it narrates its future position in the Arctic will play a tangible role in negotiating this position politically.

Externí autor

Dr. Petra Dolata, University of Calgary

Association agreement between the EU and Ukraine

07-07-2020

The European implementation assessment (EIA) evaluates the implementation of the association agreement (EU AA), including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), between the EU and Ukraine. The evaluation forms an update of an evaluation published in July 2018. The EIA shows progress and challenges in the implementation of the agreement in Ukraine and stresses the importance of further reforms in this Eastern Partnership country. The EIA consists of two parts, an opening analysis ...

The European implementation assessment (EIA) evaluates the implementation of the association agreement (EU AA), including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), between the EU and Ukraine. The evaluation forms an update of an evaluation published in July 2018. The EIA shows progress and challenges in the implementation of the agreement in Ukraine and stresses the importance of further reforms in this Eastern Partnership country. The EIA consists of two parts, an opening analysis prepared internally by the DG EPRS and a briefing paper prepared externally by the Polish Institute of International Affairs. The EIA has been prepared to accompany the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) in its scrutiny work, namely on its work on the own-initiative annual implementing report on the EU association agreement with Ukraine.

New EU-UK partnership

16-06-2020

Following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the two parties are negotiating their future relationship, with a view to sealing an agreement that will enter into force after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. After the fourth round of negotiations ending on 5 June 2020, a number of critical points of divergence remain, with only limited progress made so far towards resolving them. The European Parliament is expected to vote on a recommendation on the negotiations ...

Following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the two parties are negotiating their future relationship, with a view to sealing an agreement that will enter into force after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. After the fourth round of negotiations ending on 5 June 2020, a number of critical points of divergence remain, with only limited progress made so far towards resolving them. The European Parliament is expected to vote on a recommendation on the negotiations during its June plenary session.

Eastern Partnership 3.0: Principles, priorities, and prospects

15-06-2020

The geopolitical, economic and security situation in Europe has evolved significantly in the past 10 years since the Eastern Partnership (EaP) was first created in 2009. With the growing pressure on democracies and multilateralism worldwide, an aggressive Russia under Vladimir Putin and an increasingly influential China, the role of the European Union – a major global champion of democracy and multilateralism – and its responsibility for sustainable stability in the EaP region are growing. Against ...

The geopolitical, economic and security situation in Europe has evolved significantly in the past 10 years since the Eastern Partnership (EaP) was first created in 2009. With the growing pressure on democracies and multilateralism worldwide, an aggressive Russia under Vladimir Putin and an increasingly influential China, the role of the European Union – a major global champion of democracy and multilateralism – and its responsibility for sustainable stability in the EaP region are growing. Against this backdrop, the new 'geopolitical' European Commission and the EU's High Representative have put forward a proposal for the EaP policy beyond 2020, focused on 'reinforcing resilience'.

Foreign policy consequences of coronavirus

11-06-2020

The Covid-19 crisis has had economic, social, political and geopolitical consequences that will inevitably affect key aspects of EU foreign policy. These include relations with major powers, as well as several aspects of humanitarian aid, development and peacekeeping, and the fight against disinformation and cyber-attacks. It has also accentuated the debate about the future of multilateralism, a primary concern of EU foreign policy. Parliament is due to hear a statement on the issue from the High ...

The Covid-19 crisis has had economic, social, political and geopolitical consequences that will inevitably affect key aspects of EU foreign policy. These include relations with major powers, as well as several aspects of humanitarian aid, development and peacekeeping, and the fight against disinformation and cyber-attacks. It has also accentuated the debate about the future of multilateralism, a primary concern of EU foreign policy. Parliament is due to hear a statement on the issue from the High Representative during the June plenary session.

NATO’s response in the fight against coronavirus

10-06-2020

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) might not be the first organisation that comes to mind for fighting pandemics. As the coronavirus crisis hit the world indiscriminately, NATO was fast to react, and used all the instruments in its toolbox to assist Allied countries and partners. From coordinating the transport of medicines and supplies, to launching scientific programmes to study the virus, NATO has again proven its value in times of crisis. Close European Union (EU) and NATO coordination ...

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) might not be the first organisation that comes to mind for fighting pandemics. As the coronavirus crisis hit the world indiscriminately, NATO was fast to react, and used all the instruments in its toolbox to assist Allied countries and partners. From coordinating the transport of medicines and supplies, to launching scientific programmes to study the virus, NATO has again proven its value in times of crisis. Close European Union (EU) and NATO coordination during the crisis was equally helpful in ensuring a coherent, civil-military approach.

Three critical issues in EU-UK relations

08-06-2020

Following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) on 1 February 2020, the EU and the UK launched negotiations on a new partnership agreement, to come into effect at the end of the transition period, scheduled for 31 December 2020. The negotiations are intended to address nearly all the domains covered in the Political Declaration negotiated by both parties alongside the Withdrawal Agreement, including trade and economics, fisheries, thematic cooperation, and internal ...

Following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) on 1 February 2020, the EU and the UK launched negotiations on a new partnership agreement, to come into effect at the end of the transition period, scheduled for 31 December 2020. The negotiations are intended to address nearly all the domains covered in the Political Declaration negotiated by both parties alongside the Withdrawal Agreement, including trade and economics, fisheries, thematic cooperation, and internal and external security. As far as negotiations on the future economic relationship are concerned, while the parties agree in principle on an exceptional zero-tariff and zero-quota comprehensive and balanced free trade agreement (FTA) aiming for as 'frictionless' trade as possible, they still disagree on major aspects of the economic partnership, especially fisheries and level playing-field (LPF) commitments. The EU wants the future agreement in the fisheries domain to retain the status quo as far as possible, including reciprocal access to waters in return for access to markets and quota-shares that are based on historical fishing patterns. The EU also insists that an effective LPF would ensure fair competition. After the third round of talks, which took place in May 2020, the UK's chief negotiator, David Frost, said that the EU proposal on fisheries was ‘simply not realistic’, and it was unacceptable that the LPF binds the UK to EU law or standards; if need be, the UK would aim for a less ambitious FTA. The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said that negotiating an FTA providing for tariffs would be far more time-consuming, and the EU would still demand the same LPF commitments because 'open and fair competition is not a "nice-to-have", it is a "must-have" '. Following the fourth round of negotiations, from 2 to 5 June, the positions therefore still seemed irreconcilable. However, the long stand-off in the earlier negotiations on UK withdrawal had seemed equally irreconcilable before the final agreement was reached and then ratified. One area in which the two sides did manage to agree in those negotiations is the financial settlement included in the Withdrawal Agreement. While that settlement is now being implemented, it had initially been seen as one of the more difficult areas of the withdrawal negotiations.

Better Regulation practices in national parliaments

03-06-2020

Ex-ante impact assessment and ex-post evaluation are regulatory policy tools that help inform the policy-making process with evidence-based analysis. Both tools are geared towards raising the quality of policies and legislation. While Better Regulation is widely deemed a prerogative of the executive branch, increasingly, parliaments are also emerging as actors. This study sheds light on the parliamentary dimension of Better Regulation. Based on a survey, it maps the capacities and experiences of ...

Ex-ante impact assessment and ex-post evaluation are regulatory policy tools that help inform the policy-making process with evidence-based analysis. Both tools are geared towards raising the quality of policies and legislation. While Better Regulation is widely deemed a prerogative of the executive branch, increasingly, parliaments are also emerging as actors. This study sheds light on the parliamentary dimension of Better Regulation. Based on a survey, it maps the capacities and experiences of the national parliaments of all 27 European Union (EU) Member States and of 11 further Council of Europe countries in the field of ex-ante impact assessment and ex-post evaluation. The study reveals that roughly half of the surveyed parliaments engage in regulatory policy beyond classical parliamentary scrutiny mechanisms. Overall, these parliaments show a very diverse pattern in terms of drivers, types and depth of engagement. There is no 'one size fits all' approach.

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