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Policy area
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Mapping the future of Syria: State of play and options

23-03-2017

Despite the humanitarian and security crisis, progress towards a United Nations (UN) negotiated political settlement of the conflict has been slow, mostly on account of disagreement over President Bashar al-Assad's future. The adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on 18 December 2015 – setting out a roadmap for a peace process in Syria with a clear transition timeline – offered new hope but failed to produce results. After several failed attempts at a cessation of hostilities, the ceasefire ...

Despite the humanitarian and security crisis, progress towards a United Nations (UN) negotiated political settlement of the conflict has been slow, mostly on account of disagreement over President Bashar al-Assad's future. The adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on 18 December 2015 – setting out a roadmap for a peace process in Syria with a clear transition timeline – offered new hope but failed to produce results. After several failed attempts at a cessation of hostilities, the ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey in December 2016, including a monitoring mechanism for violations, opened the way for a new UN Security Council Resolution 2336 which was adopted unanimously on 31 December 2016. The resolution provided an impulse for re-booting the political process during the talks in Astana at the beginning of 2017. At the same time, the discussion about the future of Syria revolves around questions linked to the future of the Assad regime, territorial integrity of Syria, political accountability, the creation of safe zones, and the reconstruction work that will follow a potential peace agreement. In March 2017, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, presented a joint communication providing elements of an EU strategy for Syria. For its part, the European Parliament has focused on addressing the implications of the refugee crisis, strengthening EU humanitarian assistance in Iraq and Syria and aid to vulnerable communities, and improving the EU response to the terrorist threat posed by ISIL/Da'esh.

Communicating Europe in third countries

15-03-2017

Work on implementing the EU's global strategy for 2016-2017 includes stepping up public diplomacy efforts as one of the priority areas. A number of factors motivated this move. Firstly, the substantial resources committed for relief and recovery assistance to Syrian refugees and their host communities in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt have had little impact on public awareness of the existing European cooperation programmes. The visibility of EU funds has also been limited in ...

Work on implementing the EU's global strategy for 2016-2017 includes stepping up public diplomacy efforts as one of the priority areas. A number of factors motivated this move. Firstly, the substantial resources committed for relief and recovery assistance to Syrian refugees and their host communities in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt have had little impact on public awareness of the existing European cooperation programmes. The visibility of EU funds has also been limited in the 10 EU strategic partner countries, where the profile of EU programmes is still low. Secondly, the need for a strategic EU approach to communication also results from intensified propaganda and disinformation campaigns seeking to discredit the EU and eventually undermine its position. Thirdly, effective EU communication in third countries plays a key role in countering jihadist propaganda in the EU's neighbourhood and its spilling over into EU territory. This briefing has been adapted from an earlier one prepared for the annual meeting of EU Ambassadors and Members of the European Parliament on 'Support to democracy in third countries: the EU's added value', held in September 2016.

Countering hybrid threats: EU-NATO cooperation

02-03-2017

The concept of hybrid threat has gained traction in relation to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the ISIL/Da’esh campaigns going far beyond Syria and Iraq. Faced with this constantly evolving challenge, the European Union and NATO have taken several steps to strengthen their respective capabilities and pursue common objectives through closer cooperation. The EU-NATO joint declaration adopted in July 2016 in the margins of the Warsaw NATO Summit represents a clear step forward in this regard. The document ...

The concept of hybrid threat has gained traction in relation to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the ISIL/Da’esh campaigns going far beyond Syria and Iraq. Faced with this constantly evolving challenge, the European Union and NATO have taken several steps to strengthen their respective capabilities and pursue common objectives through closer cooperation. The EU-NATO joint declaration adopted in July 2016 in the margins of the Warsaw NATO Summit represents a clear step forward in this regard. The document outlines new areas for practical cooperation, in particular with regard to hybrid threats, building resilience in cybersecurity, and strategic communications. The Council conclusions of 6 December 2016 stressed that the implementation of the joint declaration is a key political priority for the EU. It welcomed the progress achieved in advancing EU-NATO relations, including implementing and operationalising parallel procedures and playbooks for interaction in countering hybrid threats. With a view to ensuring further progress, the Council endorsed a common set of proposals focused on better coordination, situational awareness, strategic communication, crisis response, and bolstering resilience. The North Atlantic Council endorsed the same set of measures. Reports on implementation, including possible suggestions for future cooperation, should be provided on a biannual basis from the end of June 2017. This is an updated edition of an At a Glance note published in June 2015.

A global strategy on foreign and security policy for the EU

02-03-2017

Tracking European Commission priority initiatives in 2017 – Number 1 The letter from Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, of 31 January 2017, notes that ‘the challenges currently facing the European Union are more dangerous than ever before in the time since the signature of the Treaty of Rome’. Indeed, the current evolving international environment and geopolitical shifts highlight the need for effective and coherent implementation of the EU global strategy. The top strategic priorities ...

Tracking European Commission priority initiatives in 2017 – Number 1 The letter from Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, of 31 January 2017, notes that ‘the challenges currently facing the European Union are more dangerous than ever before in the time since the signature of the Treaty of Rome’. Indeed, the current evolving international environment and geopolitical shifts highlight the need for effective and coherent implementation of the EU global strategy. The top strategic priorities for the implementation of the strategy, as decided by the Foreign Affairs Council on 17 October 2016 include: security and defence; building resilience and an integrated approach to conflicts and crises; addressing the internal/external security nexus; updating existing strategies and preparing new ones; and enhancing public diplomacy. Strengthening EU cooperation on external security and defence was also discussed at the European Council meeting in December 2016. Heads of State or Government focused on three priorities: implementation of the EU global strategy in the security and defence area, the European defence action plan, and the implementation of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration signed in Warsaw in July 2016. The first implementation report is expected in June 2017. This is an updated edition of a briefing published in April 2016.

EU space policy: Industry, security and defence

14-11-2016

Autonomous space capabilities play a key role for in enhancing situational awareness, response to complex crises (natural disasters), management of natural resources (water, forests), delivery of services (health, energy, transport, communication, weather forecasting), and national security. With an increasing number of countries gaining access to outer space, the European Commission adopted a 'Space Strategy for Europe' in October 2016. This publication updates an 'at a glance' note from June 2016 ...

Autonomous space capabilities play a key role for in enhancing situational awareness, response to complex crises (natural disasters), management of natural resources (water, forests), delivery of services (health, energy, transport, communication, weather forecasting), and national security. With an increasing number of countries gaining access to outer space, the European Commission adopted a 'Space Strategy for Europe' in October 2016. This publication updates an 'at a glance' note from June 2016.

Justice against sponsors of terrorism: JASTA and its international impact

28-10-2016

On 27 September 2016, the United States Congress overrode the presidential veto to pass the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), the culmination of lengthy efforts to facilitate lawsuits by victims of terrorism against foreign states and officials supporting terrorism. Until JASTA, under the 'terrorism exception' in the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, sovereign immunity could only be denied to foreign states officially designated by the USA as sponsors of terrorism at the time ...

On 27 September 2016, the United States Congress overrode the presidential veto to pass the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), the culmination of lengthy efforts to facilitate lawsuits by victims of terrorism against foreign states and officials supporting terrorism. Until JASTA, under the 'terrorism exception' in the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, sovereign immunity could only be denied to foreign states officially designated by the USA as sponsors of terrorism at the time or as a result of the terrorist act. JASTA extends the scope of the terrorism exception to the jurisdictional immunity of foreign states so as to allow US courts to exercise jurisdiction over civil claims regarding injuries, death or damages that occur inside the USA as result of a tort, including an act of terrorism committed anywhere by a foreign state or official. The bill has generated significant debate within and outside the USA. State or sovereign immunity is a recognised principle of customary international law and, for that reason, JASTA has been denounced as potentially violating international law and foreign states' sovereignty; some countries have already announced reciprocal measures against the USA. The terrorism exception to state immunity was already a controversial concept, with only the USA and Canada having introduced legislation on the matter.

Perspectives on transatlantic cooperation: Cybersecurity and cybercrime - Building more resilient and prosperous transatlantic societies

11-07-2016

Internet-based platforms are increasingly used for delivery of services, basic governance functions or communication. As such, open and secure access to the Internet constitutes a significant element in generating growth, prosperity and citizens’ empowerment on both sides of the Atlantic. However, this potential is increasingly undermined by digital risks and vulnerabilities in cyberspace: online fraud, attacks on critical infrastructure or the use of new technologies by terrorist networks. According ...

Internet-based platforms are increasingly used for delivery of services, basic governance functions or communication. As such, open and secure access to the Internet constitutes a significant element in generating growth, prosperity and citizens’ empowerment on both sides of the Atlantic. However, this potential is increasingly undermined by digital risks and vulnerabilities in cyberspace: online fraud, attacks on critical infrastructure or the use of new technologies by terrorist networks. According to several studies, Europe and the United States can still reap tremendous benefits from digitisation but, in order to secure the potential gains, they need to strengthen transatlantic cooperation in building more resilient systems and societies, as well as deliver on their commitment to enhancing ties between regulatory, law enforcement, policy and civil society actors. This briefing forms part of a broader research project on the perspectives on transatlantic cooperation in the US election year, requested by the Chair of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with the United States.

Public expectations and EU policies - Security and defence policy

30-06-2016

Decisions on security and defence policy are, most of the time, taken by the EU-28's national governments and usually without public scrutiny. Yet, almost two thirds of EU citizens would like the EU to intervene in this policy area more than it does at present. Since the introduction of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in the Treaty of Maastricht, the EU has made substantial progress in assuming its role as a regional security provider. Although significantly strengthened by the Treaty ...

Decisions on security and defence policy are, most of the time, taken by the EU-28's national governments and usually without public scrutiny. Yet, almost two thirds of EU citizens would like the EU to intervene in this policy area more than it does at present. Since the introduction of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in the Treaty of Maastricht, the EU has made substantial progress in assuming its role as a regional security provider. Although significantly strengthened by the Treaty of Lisbon, this policy area continues to be hampered by the Member States' lack of will to make better use of the existing legal framework, and by inadequate funding mechanisms.

The EU security environment: Challenges and shifts

15-06-2016

Over the past few years, the world’s commitment to peace and its capacity to deal with evolving security challenges have been put to the test. The outcomes – an increasing number of refugees, an expanding network of terrorist organisations, some countries’ high dependency on international aid, and a relatively low level of respect for civil liberties around the world – demonstrate an urgent need for reflection and adaptation.

Over the past few years, the world’s commitment to peace and its capacity to deal with evolving security challenges have been put to the test. The outcomes – an increasing number of refugees, an expanding network of terrorist organisations, some countries’ high dependency on international aid, and a relatively low level of respect for civil liberties around the world – demonstrate an urgent need for reflection and adaptation.

Resilience in the EU's foreign and security policy

15-06-2016

The migratory pressure with which the European Union is struggling is yet more evidence that distance or the natural borders inherent in seas, mountains and deserts are of little significance when people are confronted with challenges like conflict, fragility or failure of governance. The scale of conflicts, natural hazards, water shortages and state collapse suggests that things will only get worse – unless a new policy paradigm is effectively implemented. Resilience – understood as the capacity ...

The migratory pressure with which the European Union is struggling is yet more evidence that distance or the natural borders inherent in seas, mountains and deserts are of little significance when people are confronted with challenges like conflict, fragility or failure of governance. The scale of conflicts, natural hazards, water shortages and state collapse suggests that things will only get worse – unless a new policy paradigm is effectively implemented. Resilience – understood as the capacity of different layers of society to withstand, to adapt to, and to recover quickly from stresses and shocks – has gradually emerged as an answer to the growing complexity of the international security environment. In the EU context, the concept of resilience combines different policy areas: humanitarian aid, development assistance, disaster-risk reduction, climate-change adaptation, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. As a relatively new addition to EU jargon, the aim of building societal resilience still needs to be translated into tangible, practicable measures. This briefing complements an earlier briefing, Risk and resilience in foreign policy, published in September 2015.

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