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Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Josep Borrell Fontelles – High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President: A Stronger Europe in the World

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

International trade [What Think Tanks are thinking]

13-09-2019

The escalating trade conflict between the United States (US) and China has dampened economic growth in the European Union and other regions of the world, analysts say, and poses a further question mark over the continuity of the post-Cold War rules-based order. The EU is seeking to position itself as a defender of the multilateral rules-based system in the context of growing economic nationalism. The EU will need to coordinate closely its trade and climate policies, and think clearly about how best ...

The escalating trade conflict between the United States (US) and China has dampened economic growth in the European Union and other regions of the world, analysts say, and poses a further question mark over the continuity of the post-Cold War rules-based order. The EU is seeking to position itself as a defender of the multilateral rules-based system in the context of growing economic nationalism. The EU will need to coordinate closely its trade and climate policies, and think clearly about how best to defend its economic interests in the challenging new geopolitical environment facing the incoming European Commission. This note offers links to a series of recent commentaries and reports from major international think tanks and research institutes on international trade policy. More reports on trade can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are thinking' published in June 2018.

Mapping threats to peace and democracy worldwide: Introduction to the Normandy Index

03-06-2019

The 'Normandy Index' aims to measure the level of conflict in the world. It is to be presented for the first time on the occasion of the Normandy Global Peace Forum in June 2019, as a result of the partnership between the European Parliament and the region of Normandy. The Index has been designed and prepared by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) and developed by the Institute for Economics and Peace. This paper sets out the initial findings of the 2019 exercise and explains how the ...

The 'Normandy Index' aims to measure the level of conflict in the world. It is to be presented for the first time on the occasion of the Normandy Global Peace Forum in June 2019, as a result of the partnership between the European Parliament and the region of Normandy. The Index has been designed and prepared by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) and developed by the Institute for Economics and Peace. This paper sets out the initial findings of the 2019 exercise and explains how the index can be used to compare peace – defined on the basis of a given country's performance against a range of predetermined threats – across countries and regions. It is complemented by 25 individual country case studies, derived from the Index. The paper is part of the EPRS contribution to the Normandy Global Peace Forum, alongside two studies: on the EU's contribution to peace and security in 2019, and on the EU's support for peace in Colombia.

Ukraine: Religion and (geo-)politics: Orthodox split weakens Russia's influence

18-02-2019

Five years after the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople – widely seen as the spiritual leader (primus inter pares) of the Eastern Orthodox world – granted the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) 'autocephaly' on 5 January 2019, formalising a split from the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The move follows an intensified Ukrainian campaign to obtain religious independence and thereby reduce the influence of the ROC, which plays a key role in the Kremlin's identity ...

Five years after the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople – widely seen as the spiritual leader (primus inter pares) of the Eastern Orthodox world – granted the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) 'autocephaly' on 5 January 2019, formalising a split from the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The move follows an intensified Ukrainian campaign to obtain religious independence and thereby reduce the influence of the ROC, which plays a key role in the Kremlin's identity politics in the region. This development could have wide-reaching implications. Such a blow to the ROC undermines the Kremlin's 'soft' spiritual influence. The Kremlin views the development as a question of national security and is unlikely to accept the defeat without resistance. The issue is expected to play a prominent role in the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine. In a wider context — reflecting Moscow's nexus between geopolitics and religion — the decision of the ROC to sever ties with Constantinople in response to the decision to grant the OCU autocephaly could mark the beginning of a wider rift in the Orthodox world. Moscow appears to be exerting pressure on other Orthodox patriarchates to sever ties with Constantinople.

China [What Think Tanks are thinking]

08-02-2019

China’s increasingly autocratic domestic stance and its assertive foreign policy pose a dilemma for European Union policy-makers as to whether to treat the Asian powerhouse as a partner or a rival, or to take a position somewhere in between. Formally, the EU and China are strategic partners since 2003 - a partnership that was broadened five years ago by the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation. No EU country wants to be openly confrontational towards China, contrary to the approach of the ...

China’s increasingly autocratic domestic stance and its assertive foreign policy pose a dilemma for European Union policy-makers as to whether to treat the Asian powerhouse as a partner or a rival, or to take a position somewhere in between. Formally, the EU and China are strategic partners since 2003 - a partnership that was broadened five years ago by the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation. No EU country wants to be openly confrontational towards China, contrary to the approach of the current United States administration. However, several European governments are wary of Beijing’s economic expansionism and its efforts to take the global lead in digital technologies. Controversy over China’s telecoms giant Huawei has exacerbated those concerns. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on China, its ties with the EU and related issues. More studies on the topics can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are thinking' published in September 2018.

EU preparedness against CBRN weapons

29-01-2019

The European Union faces an increasingly challenging security environment, with a climate of international instability and a level of tension not seen since the end of the Cold War. Repeated chemical attacks by both State and non-state actors in the context of the Syrian conflict, the Novichok attack in Salisbury and the disruption of two ricine terror plots in Germany and in France in 2018 came all as stark reminders that the threat remains real and that Member States could be affected. In this ...

The European Union faces an increasingly challenging security environment, with a climate of international instability and a level of tension not seen since the end of the Cold War. Repeated chemical attacks by both State and non-state actors in the context of the Syrian conflict, the Novichok attack in Salisbury and the disruption of two ricine terror plots in Germany and in France in 2018 came all as stark reminders that the threat remains real and that Member States could be affected. In this context, the European Union (EU) continues to strengthen its capacities in the field of CBRN preparedness and response. The use of EU mechanisms and Member States’ military assets is one of the possibilities for strengthening prevention capacities that must be explored more thoroughly.

Autor extern

Elisande NEXON, Senior Research Fellow, and Claude WACHTEL, Independent Consultant, Associate Senior Research Fellow, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), France

The Civilian CSDP Compact: A stronger EU footprint in a connected, complex, contested world

23-11-2018

Member States demand more coordination, flexibility and efficiency from civilian Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions. The European Union (EU) is currently undertaking a strategic review of the civilian dimension of CSDP to take the form of a civilian CSDP Compact (CCC), in order to adapt the CSDP to the challenges of the current geopolitical environment. Europe's 'strategic environment has changed radically' and is surrounded by 'an arc of instability', according to High Representative ...

Member States demand more coordination, flexibility and efficiency from civilian Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions. The European Union (EU) is currently undertaking a strategic review of the civilian dimension of CSDP to take the form of a civilian CSDP Compact (CCC), in order to adapt the CSDP to the challenges of the current geopolitical environment. Europe's 'strategic environment has changed radically' and is surrounded by 'an arc of instability', according to High Representative Federica Mogherini. Conflict and violence used to be understood in terms of (and as caused by) hard borders. Today, however, physical distances and borders have become redundant in the face of evolving and persistent threats such as poverty, climate change or hybrid warfare. The EU has been active in recognising this changing environment through various defence integration initiatives, not least through the EU global strategy (EUGS). The most visible EU commitments to international peace and security remain its missions and operations deployed outside the Union. Missions under the CSDP can have a military or civilian nature, although the latter are more prominent in EU activities. Focused on goals such as rule of law reform, stabilisation, fighting organised crime, and reform of the security sector, civilian CSDP is currently being adapted to the EU's revitalised integrated approach to conflict prevention, which envisions much closer coordination between the relevant EU actors and instruments during all stages of a conflict. By establishing tight links between the security, development, justice and home affairs (JHA), trade, climate and energy domains, the Compact aims to widen the scope of civilian missions. The goal of eradicating conflict-provoking issues such as poverty, resource scarcity, corruption or flawed governance is combined with the aim of ensuring sustainable long-term development and the societal resilience of partner countries.

Global Trends to 2035 - Economy and Society

20-11-2018

This study maps and analyses current and future global trends in the fields of economics and society, covering the period to 2035. Drawing on and complementing existing literature, it summarises and analyses the findings of relevant foresight studies in relation to such global trends. It traces recent changes in the perceived trajectory of already-identified trends and identifies significant new or emerging trends. It also addresses potential policy implications of such trends for the EU.

This study maps and analyses current and future global trends in the fields of economics and society, covering the period to 2035. Drawing on and complementing existing literature, it summarises and analyses the findings of relevant foresight studies in relation to such global trends. It traces recent changes in the perceived trajectory of already-identified trends and identifies significant new or emerging trends. It also addresses potential policy implications of such trends for the EU.

Autor extern

EPRS, DG

Countering hybrid threats: EU and the Western Balkans case

06-09-2018

The aim of the workshop, held on 26 February 2018, was to assess and discuss the EU’s approach to hybrid threats in its neighbourhood using the Western Balkans as a case study, in the context of the extensive use of propaganda by Russia and its meddling into several elections and in the aftermath of the 2014 events in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea. The first speaker, Jean-Jacques Patry, presented the concept of hybrid threat at various levels and the EU approach and measures to tackle ...

The aim of the workshop, held on 26 February 2018, was to assess and discuss the EU’s approach to hybrid threats in its neighbourhood using the Western Balkans as a case study, in the context of the extensive use of propaganda by Russia and its meddling into several elections and in the aftermath of the 2014 events in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea. The first speaker, Jean-Jacques Patry, presented the concept of hybrid threat at various levels and the EU approach and measures to tackle it, particularly in the Western Balkans. The second speaker, Nicolas Mazzucchi, delivered a presentation on Russia’s declining influence in the Western Balkans (on behalf of Isabelle Facon, who authored the briefing but could not attend the workshop) and added some of his own analysis on energy and cyber issues. The presentations were followed by a debate with members of the Security and Defence Committee of the European Parliament.

Autor extern

Isabelle FACON, Nicolas MAZZUCCHI, Jean-Jacques PATRY

A new era in EU-China relations: more wide-ranging strategic cooperation?

19-07-2018

China is an important strategic partner for the EU, despite fundamental divergences in some areas, mostly related to state intervention and fundamental human rights. The partnership offers mutually beneficial cooperation and dialogue in areas ranging from investment and transport to human rights and cybersecurity. China is navigating in new directions, guided by Xi Jinping's 'Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’. Despite President Xi’s repeated avowals that 'the market ...

China is an important strategic partner for the EU, despite fundamental divergences in some areas, mostly related to state intervention and fundamental human rights. The partnership offers mutually beneficial cooperation and dialogue in areas ranging from investment and transport to human rights and cybersecurity. China is navigating in new directions, guided by Xi Jinping's 'Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’. Despite President Xi’s repeated avowals that 'the market will have a decisive role', public ownership remains the mainstay of the Chinese economy, whereas profound reforms would be needed to tackle the root causes of overcapacity in various industrial sectors. Xi's ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, now also included in the Constitution, is the flagship international connectivity and infrastructure programme dominated by Chinese state-owned companies. Overall, China’s crucial, but complex transition towards more sustainable growth would eventually benefit both, China and the world as a whole. Global economic interdependence, however, makes certain spill-over effects of China’s rebalancing unavoidable. China plays a pivotal role in global governance and the rules-based international order, and this comes with responsibilities. Beijing has begun to shift away from the narrow pursuit of national aims towards a more assertive foreign and security policy, and increased financial, economic and security cooperation with a global outreach. China is also facing domestic concerns, such as lifting millions of people out of poverty and reducing ever-growing income inequalities, deterioration in the situation of human rights and freedoms as well as endemic corruption.

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