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Russia in the Middle East: From sidelines to centre stage

21-11-2018

In 2011, it looked as if the Arab Spring uprisings would deal a further blow to Russia's declining influence in the Middle East, by toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, one of Moscow's few remaining allies in the region. In 2015, Russia launched a military intervention. Though it came at an enormous humanitarian cost, the campaign succeeded in saving Assad's regime, at the same time as reversing the Middle Eastern fortunes of Russia as Assad's main international backer. Russia's involvement ...

In 2011, it looked as if the Arab Spring uprisings would deal a further blow to Russia's declining influence in the Middle East, by toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, one of Moscow's few remaining allies in the region. In 2015, Russia launched a military intervention. Though it came at an enormous humanitarian cost, the campaign succeeded in saving Assad's regime, at the same time as reversing the Middle Eastern fortunes of Russia as Assad's main international backer. Russia's involvement in Syria has given its relations with neighbouring countries a new momentum. Despite divergent interests, Iran, Turkey and Israel cooperate with Russia and acknowledge its leadership in Syria. Russia's success in imposing its agenda in Syria has bolstered its influence throughout the wider region. Although Moscow's role is not always a constructive one, it has become a key actor and sometimes a mediator in regional conflicts from Libya to Yemen. Russia's regional clout is also helped by its skilful use of energy cooperation to further economic and geopolitical interests. Russia's drive to become a major Middle Eastern player should be seen in the wider context of global geopolitical rivalry with the United States. Moscow's growing influence in the region is as much the result of Western policy failures as its own strength.

Future EU-Turkey relations

23-10-2018

In June 2018, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected as president of Turkey, this time with extended powers under the revised Turkish Constitution. Over the previous couple of years, his country's relationship with the EU had been challenged by issues such as the ongoing management of the migration crisis and the EU-Turkey Agreement, the attempted military coup in Istanbul and Ankara, and the ensuing purge, which the EU and international organisations criticised for its disproportionate severity. With ...

In June 2018, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected as president of Turkey, this time with extended powers under the revised Turkish Constitution. Over the previous couple of years, his country's relationship with the EU had been challenged by issues such as the ongoing management of the migration crisis and the EU-Turkey Agreement, the attempted military coup in Istanbul and Ankara, and the ensuing purge, which the EU and international organisations criticised for its disproportionate severity. With the constitutional referendum and the subsequent parliamentary and presidential elections, President Erdogan further reinforced his position at the helm of the institutional system and raised concerns among the EU and NATO about his commitment to Western institutions. Turkey deepened its relations with Russia, buying military equipment and coordinating with it on Syrian policies on the ground. At the same time, US-Turkish relations worsened due to the Syrian conflict and the imprisonment of a US pastor by Turkey, although he was subsequently released. Negotiations on Turkey's accession to the EU have nevertheless continued, despite an increasingly lively debate in some Member States about whether or not they should be halted. Some have proposed striking an economic agreement with Turkey as an alternative to membership. Others believe the outcome of the negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU might also provide a possible model for Turkey. Despite the numerous hurdles before it, accession not only remains the ultimate objective of EU-Turkey relations, endorsed by both the European Council and by Turkey, but it also provides potential for reform and dialogue regarding common standards, not least in the area of civil liberties.

The migration challenge [What Think Tanks are thinking]

21-06-2018

Next week, European Union Heads of State or Government will discuss the politically charged issue of reforming the EU’s migration and asylum policies. Divisions among EU members over how to handle migrants were exposed again earlier this month when Italy’s new government tightened its migration policy, while the German ruling coalition faced a potentially destabilising rift over the issue. The EU's southern borders remain under pressure from irregular migrants escaping poverty and war in the Middle ...

Next week, European Union Heads of State or Government will discuss the politically charged issue of reforming the EU’s migration and asylum policies. Divisions among EU members over how to handle migrants were exposed again earlier this month when Italy’s new government tightened its migration policy, while the German ruling coalition faced a potentially destabilising rift over the issue. The EU's southern borders remain under pressure from irregular migrants escaping poverty and war in the Middle East and Africa. Although the 2016 agreement between the EU and Turkey significantly slowed the influx of migrants into Europe, the problem continues to be used for political gain by nationalist, anti-immigrant and populist movements across the EU. 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 March 2018.

Peace and Security in 2018: An evaluation of EU peacebuilding in the Western Balkans

22-05-2018

This first thematic study of the Peace and Security series focuses on European Union (EU) peacebuilding efforts in the Western Balkans. The series will make an annual evaluation of EU performance in the field of peace and security in a specific geographical region. Examining EU engagement in the Western Balkans, the study assesses the extent to which the Union has been able to transform and strengthen the region's governance, economy and resilience. The study is organised around three key inter-connected ...

This first thematic study of the Peace and Security series focuses on European Union (EU) peacebuilding efforts in the Western Balkans. The series will make an annual evaluation of EU performance in the field of peace and security in a specific geographical region. Examining EU engagement in the Western Balkans, the study assesses the extent to which the Union has been able to transform and strengthen the region's governance, economy and resilience. The study is organised around three key inter-connected (and at times overlapping) phases in EU post-conflict peacebuilding − stabilisation, state-building and EU enlargement − to explain the strengths, weaknesses and limits of EU engagement. It ends with an assessment of the new EU strategy for the Western Balkans and analyses the potential to remedy past deficiencies and help move the region towards genuine, inclusive and sustainable peace. A parallel study, published separately, provides an overview of current EU action on peace and security and of the outlook for the future. The studies have been drafted with a view to their presentation at the Normandy World Peace Forum, in June 2018.

Oversight and Management of the EU Trust Funds - Democratic Accountability Challenges and Promising Practices

16-04-2018

This study provides a comparative assessment of the governance and oversight frameworks of selected EU trust funds (EUTFs) and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRT). It explores how these EUTFs and the FRT add to and ‘mix’ the instruments set up under the EU Multiannual Financial Framework. It addresses the issue of their added value in light of the EU Better Regulation guidelines, their impact on the role of the European Parliament as a budgetary authority and the right to good administration ...

This study provides a comparative assessment of the governance and oversight frameworks of selected EU trust funds (EUTFs) and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRT). It explores how these EUTFs and the FRT add to and ‘mix’ the instruments set up under the EU Multiannual Financial Framework. It addresses the issue of their added value in light of the EU Better Regulation guidelines, their impact on the role of the European Parliament as a budgetary authority and the right to good administration. The study recommends reducing the complexity of the EUTF and FRT governance frameworks, and strengthening their consistency with the EU’s cooperation efforts in third countries and EU Treaty values. Finally, it recommends reinforcing the venues for democratic accountability, fundamental rights and rule-of-law impact assessments, which are trust-enhancing.

Autore esterno

Prof. Sergio CARRERA, Senior Research Fellow, CEPS & Professor in the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) at the European University Institute (EUI) Dr. Leonhard DEN HERTOG, former Research Fellow, CEPS Dr. Jorge NÚÑEZ FERRER, Senior Research Fellow, CEPS Mr Roberto MUSMECI, Researcher, CEPS Ms Lina VOSYLIŪTĖ, Researcher, CEPS Ms Marta PILATI, Research Trainee, CEPS

Renewed chemical attack in Syria

12-04-2018

As the conflict in Syria enters its eighth year, Parliament is due to debate the situation, following a recent escalation. The Assad regime is suspected of having carried out a toxic gas attack on the besieged town of Douma near Damascus on 7 April 2018, killing around 80 people and injuring hundreds. The United Nations Security Council debated the attack during an emergency meeting on 9 April 2018, during which Russia denied Syrian regime responsibility for the attack. The EU has strongly condemned ...

As the conflict in Syria enters its eighth year, Parliament is due to debate the situation, following a recent escalation. The Assad regime is suspected of having carried out a toxic gas attack on the besieged town of Douma near Damascus on 7 April 2018, killing around 80 people and injuring hundreds. The United Nations Security Council debated the attack during an emergency meeting on 9 April 2018, during which Russia denied Syrian regime responsibility for the attack. The EU has strongly condemned the latest use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, and the United States, France and the United Kingdom have signalled their willingness to respond with air-strikes in order to uphold the global ban on the use of chemical weapons.

Allargamento dell'Unione

01-02-2018

Il 1o luglio 2013 la Croazia è diventata il 28o Stato membro dell'Unione europea. L'adesione della Croazia, successiva a quella della Romania e della Bulgaria del 1o gennaio 2007, costituisce il sesto allargamento dell'Unione. Sono in corso i negoziati con il Montenegro, la Serbia e la Turchia. Anche l'Albania e la Repubblica di Macedonia del Nord sono paesi candidati, mentre la Bosnia-Erzegovina e il Kosovo rappresentano potenziali candidati.

Il 1o luglio 2013 la Croazia è diventata il 28o Stato membro dell'Unione europea. L'adesione della Croazia, successiva a quella della Romania e della Bulgaria del 1o gennaio 2007, costituisce il sesto allargamento dell'Unione. Sono in corso i negoziati con il Montenegro, la Serbia e la Turchia. Anche l'Albania e la Repubblica di Macedonia del Nord sono paesi candidati, mentre la Bosnia-Erzegovina e il Kosovo rappresentano potenziali candidati.

Rebuilding the Iraqi State: Stabilisation, Governance, and Reconciliation

15-12-2017

The victory over the so-called Islamic State’s territorial rule presents a chance for the Government of Iraq to rebuild its state institutions and re-assert its authority. In this transition, will the Iraqi leadership move past cycles of failure and address the structural problems that perpetuate state weakness and facilitate the emergence of groups like ISIS? To answer this question, this paper analyses the challenges of short-term stabilisation programming with longer-term governance reform at ...

The victory over the so-called Islamic State’s territorial rule presents a chance for the Government of Iraq to rebuild its state institutions and re-assert its authority. In this transition, will the Iraqi leadership move past cycles of failure and address the structural problems that perpetuate state weakness and facilitate the emergence of groups like ISIS? To answer this question, this paper analyses the challenges of short-term stabilisation programming with longer-term governance reform at the local and national levels. It argues that, without establishing representative and responsive state institutions, the processes of reconciliation and integration will be unsuccessful. To conclude, this paper offers policy recommendations on how the EU can support the upcoming state-rebuilding process.

Autore esterno

Renad MANSOUR, Research Fellow, Chatham House, United Kingdom

The settlement of disputes arising from the United Kingdom's Withdrawal from the European Union

17-11-2017

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, analyses the various jurisdiction options, under EU law and under public international law, in settling disputes arising from the Withdrawal Agreement of the UK from the EU and in the context of the Future Relationship Agreement with the UK. It examines in particular the continued involvement of the CJEU in the new context of the EU-UK relations ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, analyses the various jurisdiction options, under EU law and under public international law, in settling disputes arising from the Withdrawal Agreement of the UK from the EU and in the context of the Future Relationship Agreement with the UK. It examines in particular the continued involvement of the CJEU in the new context of the EU-UK relations and, based on CJEU case-law and previous international agreements, presents the various governance possibilities for these agreements.

Customs unions and FTAs: Debate with respect to EU neighbours

07-11-2017

The EU neighbourhood is undergoing deep transformations and this raises debate on how best to establish trade relations with neighbouring partners, like Turkey and the Eastern Partnership countries (such as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia). Moreover, Brexit will entail the reorganisation of EU-UK relations, which will shake up cross-border trade flows. The EU can negotiate two basic types of trade agreement granting preferential market access to partners’ goods: free trade agreements (FTAs) and customs ...

The EU neighbourhood is undergoing deep transformations and this raises debate on how best to establish trade relations with neighbouring partners, like Turkey and the Eastern Partnership countries (such as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia). Moreover, Brexit will entail the reorganisation of EU-UK relations, which will shake up cross-border trade flows. The EU can negotiate two basic types of trade agreement granting preferential market access to partners’ goods: free trade agreements (FTAs) and customs unions (CUs). CUs represent a higher level of integration, as the parties decide to harmonise their external trade barriers with the rest of the world. As FTAs do not maintain a single external border, they may result in trade deflection, whereby third countries can 'free ride' on FTA concessions by entering via the least restrictive border. For this reason, FTAs need to discriminate between goods originating in an FTA member and goods from third countries, through the introduction of costly preferential rules of origin (PRoO). Notwithstanding the cost of PRoO, FTAs have been the main type of trade agreements used, while the smaller number of CUs is due to the higher negotiation costs involved. CUs have therefore mainly been considered as a first step towards deeper regional integration. This is why there are ongoing political debates on customs unions in three different contexts: the assessment of the EU-Turkey CU, a CU as a further step in EU-Ukraine trade relations and the issue of the UK's exit from the EU CU as a result of Brexit. This briefing may be read in conjunction with one by Krisztina Binder, Reinvigorating EU-Turkey bilateral trade: Upgrading the customs union (PE 599.319), EPRS, March 2017.

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