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The quest for natural gas pipelines - EU and Eastern Partner energy policies: Security versus transit benefits

14-07-2016

The European Union has been increasing efforts to maintain gas supply security especially vis-à-vis its main gas supplier, Russia. In that context, Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, serving either as gas suppliers (Azerbaijan) or transit/corridor countries (all the others except Armenia), have an undeniable role for the EU. Security of gas supply depends on close EU cooperation with its EaP partners and interconnections between them. There have been some welcome developments, such as the Southern ...

The European Union has been increasing efforts to maintain gas supply security especially vis-à-vis its main gas supplier, Russia. In that context, Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, serving either as gas suppliers (Azerbaijan) or transit/corridor countries (all the others except Armenia), have an undeniable role for the EU. Security of gas supply depends on close EU cooperation with its EaP partners and interconnections between them. There have been some welcome developments, such as the Southern Gas Corridor that transports Caspian gas to the EU, which reflects the importance of the EaP partners and also contributes to EU energy security and the ambitious Energy Union project. On the other hand, a project aimed at doubling the capacity of the Nord Stream gas pipeline directly connecting Germany and Russia under the Baltic Sea has raised some criticism.

Between the East and the West: Mobility and Migration from the EU´s Eastern Partners

22-04-2016

The Eastern Partners were among the first countries to launch mobility dialogues with the EU. Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have also engaged in a process of visa liberalisation, which has been completed in the Republic of Moldova and is in its final stages in Georgia and Ukraine. In addition, the Association Agreements with these countries include provisions, which will be applicable from 2017 for the temporary presence – up to two years – of natural persons in EU Member States. Notwithstanding ...

The Eastern Partners were among the first countries to launch mobility dialogues with the EU. Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have also engaged in a process of visa liberalisation, which has been completed in the Republic of Moldova and is in its final stages in Georgia and Ukraine. In addition, the Association Agreements with these countries include provisions, which will be applicable from 2017 for the temporary presence – up to two years – of natural persons in EU Member States. Notwithstanding the influence of these mobility-fostering legal provisions, legal migration from Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine is concentrated in certain Member States as a result of economic opportunities or linguistic ties. However, with the exception of Moldova, the number of migrants from the countries in question is generally smaller in Member States than in the Russian Federation, where specific legal provisions favour internal migration from members of the Eurasian Economic Union (Belarus and Armenia), and to a lesser extent from members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (Moldova and Ukraine) and Georgia. The countries of origin of those large numbers of migrant workers receive a substantial boost to their economies through personal remittances. This precious source of capital has declined recently, however, owing to falling oil prices and, to a lesser extent, to economic sanctions affecting Russia. Personal remittances from the EU are showing a similar trend, with the exception, again, of Moldova.

Could US Oil and Gas Exports Be a Game Changer for EU Energy Security?

08-02-2016

The quest for oil markets abroad can be seen as an attempt by US companies to find higher prices and profits and avoid bankruptcy, since the current low price of oil, resulting from OPEC's strategy of oversupplying the market, is making shale-oil production in the US less and less profitable. The impact of potential US oil exports on the European Union's energy security is expected to be limited in the short term. The oil market is oversupplied, prices are depressed and are only expected to increase ...

The quest for oil markets abroad can be seen as an attempt by US companies to find higher prices and profits and avoid bankruptcy, since the current low price of oil, resulting from OPEC's strategy of oversupplying the market, is making shale-oil production in the US less and less profitable. The impact of potential US oil exports on the European Union's energy security is expected to be limited in the short term. The oil market is oversupplied, prices are depressed and are only expected to increase slightly if OPEC and other producers agree to stabilise production, and Europe can find alternative suppliers easily. These now include Iran, which has the world's fourth-largest reserves of oil, since sanctions were lifted in January following the nuclear deal. The US ban on natural gas exports is still in force. Should it be removed, as part of a TTIP deal or under changes to domestic law, the US has the potential to become a net gas exporter. However, as the US can get higher prices on Asian markets and as both the US and the EU have limited LNG infrastructures, the EU is an unlikely destination for large LNG imports from the US in the short run. Europe can obtain gas from a plethora of suppliers, now including Iran, which has the world's second-largest reserves of gas. The long-term outlook is more promising, as US LNG export capacities are expected to rise significantly in the coming decade and EU Member States may decide to diversify supplier countries and routes, under the European Energy Security Strategy, rather than allowing short-term commercial interests to prevail.

The International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and International Trade

28-01-2016

The EU's trade policy does not exist in a vacuum. On the one hand, it is affected by international standard and rule-setting. On the other hand, the EU is itself an influential actor shaping the international trade agenda by participating in the work of international organisations and fora. This short note focuses on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The EU's trade policy does not exist in a vacuum. On the one hand, it is affected by international standard and rule-setting. On the other hand, the EU is itself an influential actor shaping the international trade agenda by participating in the work of international organisations and fora. This short note focuses on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Ukraine's will to liberalise:Tested on many fronts

04-11-2015

Faced with a deteriorating economy, unstable internal security and the financial repercussions of military efforts in the east, Ukraine is striving to create a business-friendly climate. To this end, the country is preparing for the enforcement by 1 January 2016 of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) created under the Association Agreement with the EU. The war and a decline in industrial output have led Ukraine's foreign trade to contract. Imports have been hit by the country's shrinking ...

Faced with a deteriorating economy, unstable internal security and the financial repercussions of military efforts in the east, Ukraine is striving to create a business-friendly climate. To this end, the country is preparing for the enforcement by 1 January 2016 of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) created under the Association Agreement with the EU. The war and a decline in industrial output have led Ukraine's foreign trade to contract. Imports have been hit by the country's shrinking GDP, and exports are also declining. In the case of exports to Russia, several embargos and the unpredictability of the Russian market have compounded the toll. On the other hand, exports to the EU have demonstrated a surprising resilience, thanks largely to the positive performance of agriculture. While the EU has granted the country autonomous trade measures, these may not be responsible for the recent strength of Ukraine's agricultural exports; instead, traders’ new market orientation may be the cause. Russia's opposition to the implementation of the DCFTA has been muted since trilateral trade negotiations with the EU and Ukraine were launched. A mutually acceptable solution may be found – or not – by the end of 2015. Ultimately, any real improvement in Ukraine's economy will depend on the termination of military activities in the east, on not totally losing trade with traditional Eurasian partners, on the effective entry into force of the DCFTA, on debt restructuring and on a commitment to ambitious reforms. Ukraine's current trade barriers must be removed. For now, at least, Ukraine seems dedicated to doing just that.

Changing Pipelines, Shifting Strategies: Gas in South-Eastern Europe, and the Implications for Ukraine

01-07-2015

Plans for gas pipelines in south-eastern Europe have experienced great upheaval in recent years, the result of business competition as well as the ongoing stand-off between Europe and Russia. The projects' advances and reversals reflect shifting strategies: those of new suppliers to find clients, those of traditional suppliers to conserve their markets and avoid regulatory impediments, and those of both suppliers and clients to ensure greater reliability. For many, this means planning to bypass Ukraine ...

Plans for gas pipelines in south-eastern Europe have experienced great upheaval in recent years, the result of business competition as well as the ongoing stand-off between Europe and Russia. The projects' advances and reversals reflect shifting strategies: those of new suppliers to find clients, those of traditional suppliers to conserve their markets and avoid regulatory impediments, and those of both suppliers and clients to ensure greater reliability. For many, this means planning to bypass Ukraine. Yet Europe a as a whole does not have a single, coherent strategy. Different European countries have divergent relations with Moscow, and their multiple approaches to energy security impede coherence, particularly when it comes to Ukraine. Even within the EU institutions, the messages sometimes appear contradictory, with political declarations deviating from the technical statements of the European Commission. Ukraine's fate – whether or not it remains a transit country for gas to the EU – depends on multiple factors: its own internal reforms, its integration with the EU market, and the EU's continued support.

When Choosing Means Losing: The Eastern Partners, the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union

10-03-2015

The six countries in the EU's Eastern Partnership are sandwiched between two large, potent trading blocs: the EU to the west, and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) to the east. Most of the six have chosen to pursue a deeper alliance with one or the other bloc – a tough choice, reflecting both political and economic factors. Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine signed Association Agreements with the EU on 27 June 2014. Armenia and Belarus chose to accede to the Eurasian Economic Union (belatedly ...

The six countries in the EU's Eastern Partnership are sandwiched between two large, potent trading blocs: the EU to the west, and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) to the east. Most of the six have chosen to pursue a deeper alliance with one or the other bloc – a tough choice, reflecting both political and economic factors. Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine signed Association Agreements with the EU on 27 June 2014. Armenia and Belarus chose to accede to the Eurasian Economic Union (belatedly, in the case of Armenia). For all these countries, a choice for East or West has meant a loss: a loss of trade policy sovereignty – and likely the growth that comes with open trade policies – for some; a loss of the vital and once-fluid exchanges with the EAEU for the others. The trade and economic separation between the EU and EAEU has not aided the Eastern partners. In fact, the division is not simply a commercial one: it has been drawn – and deepened – by political and geopolitical considerations. But from a purely trade perspective, all the partners – the countries choosing one or another alliance, as well as the dozens composing the EU and EEAU – would benefit from a new and more constructive approach.

Commitments Made at the Hearing of Cecilia Malmström - Commissioner-Designate

14-11-2014

Cecilia Malmström, the recently-confirmed European Commissioner for Trade, appeared before the European Parliament on 29 September 2014 to answer MEPs' questions. In that hearing and in her answers to the questionnaire prepared for the meeting in advance, Commissioner Malmström made a number of statements of interest to the European Parliament. This document provides a summary of her most salient points.

Cecilia Malmström, the recently-confirmed European Commissioner for Trade, appeared before the European Parliament on 29 September 2014 to answer MEPs' questions. In that hearing and in her answers to the questionnaire prepared for the meeting in advance, Commissioner Malmström made a number of statements of interest to the European Parliament. This document provides a summary of her most salient points.

Commitments Made at the Hearings of the Commissioners-Designate, Juncker Commission (November 2014 - October 2019)

14-11-2014

This compilation of briefings presents the most salient points and essential commitments made by the commissioners-designate during the hearings held in September/October 2014 before the parliamentary committees. These commitments concern the main on-going legislative procedures, the preparation of future legislative proposals as well as the scrutiny of the implementation of existing legislation. They also touch upon the crucial issue of inter-institutional cooperation.

This compilation of briefings presents the most salient points and essential commitments made by the commissioners-designate during the hearings held in September/October 2014 before the parliamentary committees. These commitments concern the main on-going legislative procedures, the preparation of future legislative proposals as well as the scrutiny of the implementation of existing legislation. They also touch upon the crucial issue of inter-institutional cooperation.

The Russian-Ukrainian Gas Deal: Taking the Bite out of Winter?

11-11-2014

A recent agreement between Moscow and Kyiv, triumphantly heralded by the European Commission, is unlikely to prove everything promised by an outgoing Commission President José Manuel Barroso. Brokered by the EU, the deal should preclude a repeat of the winter gas crisis that hit Ukraine and the EU in 2006 and 2009. Already, Russia – which cut supplies to Ukraine in June 2014, when pro-Russian separatists were waging war in eastern Ukraine – has agreed to restore the supply in the cold months ahead ...

A recent agreement between Moscow and Kyiv, triumphantly heralded by the European Commission, is unlikely to prove everything promised by an outgoing Commission President José Manuel Barroso. Brokered by the EU, the deal should preclude a repeat of the winter gas crisis that hit Ukraine and the EU in 2006 and 2009. Already, Russia – which cut supplies to Ukraine in June 2014, when pro-Russian separatists were waging war in eastern Ukraine – has agreed to restore the supply in the cold months ahead. Prices and conditions have also been settled. But the plan’s short-term solutions leave a number of problems unresolved. Ukraine’s national reserves and the IMF will pay for some of Ukraine’s gas, although a contribution from EU taxpayers cannot be ruled out. Not all of the agreement has been made public, and its sustainability is questionable: even if the deal has taken the bite out of winter, the ramifications for the following seasons are uncertain. The EU’s energy security is likely to remain hostage to tensions between Kyiv and Moscow until Ukraine’s structural weaknesses are repaired and the country’s role as guardian of the pipelines reduced.

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