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State of Play of EU-Mauritania Relations

23-02-2017

Mauritania, an important ally of the EU in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel, faces several inter-related development challenges: ensuring an efficient use of the revenue derived from natural resources, economic diversification and improved governance. The severity of these development challenges is increased by difficult political relations between the three main ethnic groups in the country, the dominant group being the Arab-Berber Bidhan. They constitute less than one-third of the country ...

Mauritania, an important ally of the EU in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel, faces several inter-related development challenges: ensuring an efficient use of the revenue derived from natural resources, economic diversification and improved governance. The severity of these development challenges is increased by difficult political relations between the three main ethnic groups in the country, the dominant group being the Arab-Berber Bidhan. They constitute less than one-third of the country’s population, but dominate economically and politically. The Haratin, the largest group in the country, is made up of descendants of black Africans enslaved by the Bidhan (freed or still enslaved). The third group in the country is the West Africans or Black Mauritanians. Mauritania’s post-independence history is marked by repeated attempts by this group to assert its non-Arab identity and claim for a more equitable share of political and economic power. The tension that these divisions create is a problem in itself, but they can also be appropriated by violent Islamist insurgencies in the region. The urgency of this challenge is further complicated by the likelihood of increased climate change effects that the country is currently not adequately prepared for. This study therefore discusses the main political, economic and development challenges that contemporary Mauritania is faced with, illustrating how these challenges can only be properly grasped with consideration to their historical evolution. Based on this, the study investigates the current basis for EU-Mauritania relations and suggests a select number of policy areas for consideration, as this relationship continues to evolve around issues of mutual concern such as security and development.

Activation of Article 42(7) TEU France's request for assistance and Member States' responses

04-07-2016

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, France requested aid and assistance from the other Member States based on Article 42(7) TEU. This represented the first activation of the mutual assistance clause since the Lisbon Treaty introduced it in 2009. Member States expressed their solidarity and political support to France instantly and unanimously. Within days, several Member States, including Germany and the United Kingdom, decided on a series of contributions. More decisions ...

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, France requested aid and assistance from the other Member States based on Article 42(7) TEU. This represented the first activation of the mutual assistance clause since the Lisbon Treaty introduced it in 2009. Member States expressed their solidarity and political support to France instantly and unanimously. Within days, several Member States, including Germany and the United Kingdom, decided on a series of contributions. More decisions followed or are still pending, subject, in some cases, to parliamentary approval. This allows France to reconsider its engagements and redeploy its military. There is also a window of opportunity to strengthen political cooperation, as Member States have expressed their full support for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria. Furthermore, it could contribute to enhancing intelligence-sharing and the stepping up of counter-terrorism cooperation, particularly in the aftermath of the 22 March 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels.  This is the second update of a briefing published in December 2015 and first updated in April 2016.    

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.

Activation of Article 42(7) TEU: France's request for assistance and Member States’ responses

10-12-2015

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, France has requested aid and assistance from the other Member States based on Article 42(7) TEU. France's request is the first activation of the mutual assistance clause since Article 42(7) TEU was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. Member States expressed their solidarity and political support to France instantly and unanimously. Within days, several Member States, among them Germany and the United Kingdom, decided on a series of initial ...

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, France has requested aid and assistance from the other Member States based on Article 42(7) TEU. France's request is the first activation of the mutual assistance clause since Article 42(7) TEU was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. Member States expressed their solidarity and political support to France instantly and unanimously. Within days, several Member States, among them Germany and the United Kingdom, decided on a series of initial contributions. More decisions are expected in the days and weeks to come from several other Member States, subject, in some cases, to parliamentary approval. This will allow France to reconsider its engagements and redeploy its military. Furthermore, it could contribute to enhancing intelligence sharing and stepping up counter-terrorism cooperation. There is also a window of opportunity to strengthen political cooperation, as Member States are expressing their full support to the Vienna process for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria.

Mali: The Economic Factors behind the Crisis

11-03-2014

By some measures, Mali’s economy has performed well over the last decade. It has respected most of the West African Economic and Monetary Union’s macroeconomic convergence criteria, was made eligible for the debt relief initiative for heavily indebted countries, and assessments by regional and international organisations highlight its fiscal prudence, appropriate economic policy choices and macroeconomic stability. Yet a closer look reveals additional patterns that have contributed to growing disparities ...

By some measures, Mali’s economy has performed well over the last decade. It has respected most of the West African Economic and Monetary Union’s macroeconomic convergence criteria, was made eligible for the debt relief initiative for heavily indebted countries, and assessments by regional and international organisations highlight its fiscal prudence, appropriate economic policy choices and macroeconomic stability. Yet a closer look reveals additional patterns that have contributed to growing disparities, weak trust in government and public discontent. Mali’s positive economic growth in aggregate terms translates into slow per capita growth rates and Mali continues to rank as one of the world’s poorest countries. The economy’s heavy reliance on a few key sectors and persistent structural weaknesses have led to growing unemployment. The gradual reduction in the national poverty headcount measure conceals an increase in the absolute number of poor people and the persistence of poverty in the country’s Northern regions. The food crisis that preceded the recent escalation of conflict further aggravated regional disparities. In addition to its vulnerability to shocks, Mali’s challenges include weak governance, widespread corruption and the recent expansion of the illegal economy. Several policy measures have been taken over the years to address economic and social policy gaps. The European Union should support the government of Mali in building on progress made and introducing new initiatives to promote broad-based and equitable development.

Autor externo

Francesca BASTAGLI (Overseas Development Institute, the UK) and Camilla TOULMIN (International Institute for Environment and Development - IIED, the UK)

Algeria’s Underused Potential in Security Cooperation in the Sahel Region

24-06-2013

Algeria is a regional power in both economic, political and military terms. Up to now, relations between the EU and Algeria have been mainly based on economic considerations. The crisis in Mali, the Franco-African military intervention (AFISMA) and the terrorist attacks at the gas facility In Amenas in eastern Algeria have opened a new window of opportunity for reinforced cooperation in the field of security between Algeria and the EU in order to combat common threats. Given its strong military power ...

Algeria is a regional power in both economic, political and military terms. Up to now, relations between the EU and Algeria have been mainly based on economic considerations. The crisis in Mali, the Franco-African military intervention (AFISMA) and the terrorist attacks at the gas facility In Amenas in eastern Algeria have opened a new window of opportunity for reinforced cooperation in the field of security between Algeria and the EU in order to combat common threats. Given its strong military power and political stature in the region, Algeria has the potential to develop into an important ally of the EU in the Sahel region. The probable transfer of presidential powers in Algeria will offer a chance for Algeria to reshape its policy in the region, as an assertive and constructive regional power not only in the Maghreb but also in West Africa.

Mali: reconstruction and democratisation

06-06-2013

On 11 January 2013, at the request of the interim Malian President, France intervened militarily and regained control of the three northern regions of Mali, held since mid-2012 by armed Islamist groups. With the Islamist threat currently reduced, the stabilisation of Mali depends on organising democratic elections, on national dialogue and reconciliation and on the sustainable development of the country.

On 11 January 2013, at the request of the interim Malian President, France intervened militarily and regained control of the three northern regions of Mali, held since mid-2012 by armed Islamist groups. With the Islamist threat currently reduced, the stabilisation of Mali depends on organising democratic elections, on national dialogue and reconciliation and on the sustainable development of the country.

The Army Consolidates its Position in Bamako

18-12-2012

The de facto partition of the country is both a result and a cause of the political crisis in Bamako. The humanitarian situation in the north of the country has worsened, with numerous human rights violations reported. The interim institutions face difficulties in steering the transition process. The last four months of 2012 have seen the intensification of diplomatic efforts to authorise deploying an African-led force in the north of the country. The EU has called for a coherent and comprehensive ...

The de facto partition of the country is both a result and a cause of the political crisis in Bamako. The humanitarian situation in the north of the country has worsened, with numerous human rights violations reported. The interim institutions face difficulties in steering the transition process. The last four months of 2012 have seen the intensification of diplomatic efforts to authorise deploying an African-led force in the north of the country. The EU has called for a coherent and comprehensive approach. The EU Council has endorsed the concept of a new CSDP training mission in Mali. Within the UN, the US and France disagree on the best way forward. Recent events are likely to delay the adoption of a UN resolution.

Access to Energy in Developing Countries

07-11-2011

Despite the continuous efforts of developing countries and the international community to reduce energy poverty, some 2.7 billion people around the world still rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating and 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity. Over 80% of the energy poor live in rural areas and roughly two thirds in sub- Saharan Africa and India – the focus regions for this study. While fossil fuels will inevitably play a major role in expanding on-grid energy supply, this ...

Despite the continuous efforts of developing countries and the international community to reduce energy poverty, some 2.7 billion people around the world still rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating and 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity. Over 80% of the energy poor live in rural areas and roughly two thirds in sub- Saharan Africa and India – the focus regions for this study. While fossil fuels will inevitably play a major role in expanding on-grid energy supply, this study shows that renewable energy sources – and especially small decentralised solutions – have huge potential for providing reliable, sustainable and affordable energy services for the poor, particularly in rural areas of developing countries. Many challenges remain, including financing, capacity building, technology transfer and governance reforms. A careful assessment of the environmental impacts of renewable energy technologies, particularly those on water, is an important prerequisite for donor finance. With the right design, energy access projects can also bring a host of developmental co-benefits. It should be possible for international initiatives including the UN’s Year of Sustainable Energy for All and the EU’s partnership with Africa to build on the rich experience and lessons learned from pilot projects over the last two decades in order to optimise donor effectiveness in this area.

Autor externo

Arno BEHRENS, CENTRE FOR EUROPEAN POLICY STUDIES (CEPS), Belgium; Jorge NUNEZ FERRER, CENTRE FOR EUROPEAN POLICY STUDIES (CEPS), Belgium; Mathilde CARRARO, CENTRE FOR EUROPEAN POLICY STUDIES (CEPS), Belgium; Glada LAHN, CHATHAM HOUSE, UK; Eike DREBLOW, ECOLOGIC INSTITUTE, Germany

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