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Common rules for gas pipelines entering the EU internal market

27-03-2019

In November 2017, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal to apply key provisions of the 2009 Gas Directive to gas pipelines between the European Union (EU) and third countries. The proposal seeks to apply EU internal gas market rules up to the border of the EU. Member States would need to cooperate with third countries to ensure full compliance with EU rules. The revised directive is seen by many observers as a part of the broader EU response to the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 project ...

In November 2017, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal to apply key provisions of the 2009 Gas Directive to gas pipelines between the European Union (EU) and third countries. The proposal seeks to apply EU internal gas market rules up to the border of the EU. Member States would need to cooperate with third countries to ensure full compliance with EU rules. The revised directive is seen by many observers as a part of the broader EU response to the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 project, which the European Commission publicly opposes. The Parliament adopted its position on the gas directive in plenary on April 2018, whereas the Council only adopted its general approach on 8 February 2019. However, this was swiftly followed by a single trilogue meeting on 12 February 2019 at which the EU institutions reached a provisional agreement. The agreed text needs now to be formally adopted by both Parliament and Council. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Foreign policy and defence challenges [What Think Tanks are thinking]

18-01-2019

The European Union will face increasingly serious foreign policy and defence challenges in 2019. The current Administration in the United States seems to be abandoning its traditional role of ‘benign protector’ of the rules-based international order. Russia, according to many analysts, continues to try to undermine the democratic process in many Western countries, and China’s foreign policy is becoming more and more assertive, notably in the economic field. Furthermore, migration, Brexit and cybersecurity ...

The European Union will face increasingly serious foreign policy and defence challenges in 2019. The current Administration in the United States seems to be abandoning its traditional role of ‘benign protector’ of the rules-based international order. Russia, according to many analysts, continues to try to undermine the democratic process in many Western countries, and China’s foreign policy is becoming more and more assertive, notably in the economic field. Furthermore, migration, Brexit and cybersecurity, as well as a lack of EU unity on certain issues, also feature amongst key challenges. This note offers links to recent selected commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on EU foreign and defence policies. Links to more reports on President Donald Trump’s policies, Russia, EU-China relations and NATO are available in previous items in this series, published last year.

Uzbekistan comes in from the cold: A new era of reforms

17-12-2018

Until recently, Uzbekistan was one of the most repressive countries in the world. Under its long-time leader Islam Karimov, human rights abuses included torture, child and forced adult labour, as well as severe restrictions on religious freedom, the media and civil society. Following Karimov's death in 2016, his successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev has launched an ambitious reform programme. Some of the worst human rights abuses (such as torture and forced labour) have been phased out, or at least diminished ...

Until recently, Uzbekistan was one of the most repressive countries in the world. Under its long-time leader Islam Karimov, human rights abuses included torture, child and forced adult labour, as well as severe restrictions on religious freedom, the media and civil society. Following Karimov's death in 2016, his successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev has launched an ambitious reform programme. Some of the worst human rights abuses (such as torture and forced labour) have been phased out, or at least diminished. Judges have become more independent, and the parliament has gained new powers. Steps have been taken to make the country's civil service more accountable to citizens. Media and civil society now have slightly more freedom to operate. Political reforms have been flanked by economic liberalisation. Barriers to trade and investment are being lifted, including by floating the som, the Uzbek currency, and by cutting red tape for businesses. On foreign policy, Uzbekistan has repaired ties with all its main international partners, from the US and EU to Russia and China. The most dramatic change has been the shift from Karimov-era confrontation with neighbours, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, to regional cooperation. These are highly positive changes, but Uzbekistan still has a long way to go. The economy remains largely state-controlled and uncompetitive, and liberalising reforms need to continue. On the political front, the system remains fundamentally authoritarian, and transition to genuine multiparty democracy seems unlikely.

Societal costs of “Fake news” in the Digital Single Market

14-12-2018

This in-depth analysis explores the mechanisms of “fake news” and its societal costs in the Digital Single Market. It describes the risks to the integrity of information and to the integrity of elections. It highlights the roles of the various actors involved in the production and amplification of such information disorders. Finally, it outlines responses that are being tested in different parts of Europe to deal with the issue. The document has been provided by Policy Department A at the request ...

This in-depth analysis explores the mechanisms of “fake news” and its societal costs in the Digital Single Market. It describes the risks to the integrity of information and to the integrity of elections. It highlights the roles of the various actors involved in the production and amplification of such information disorders. Finally, it outlines responses that are being tested in different parts of Europe to deal with the issue. The document has been provided by Policy Department A at the request of the European Parliament Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection.

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.

Cybersecurity [What Think Tanks are thinking]

26-10-2018

Cybersecurity was back in the spotlight earlier in October, when several Western countries issued a coordinated denunciation of Russia, accusing it of running a global hacking campaign. Moscow denied the allegations. On 4 October, the UK and the Netherlands accused Moscow of sending agents to The Hague to hack into the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, while the United States indicted suspected Russian agents for conspiring to hack computers and steal data to delegitimise international ...

Cybersecurity was back in the spotlight earlier in October, when several Western countries issued a coordinated denunciation of Russia, accusing it of running a global hacking campaign. Moscow denied the allegations. On 4 October, the UK and the Netherlands accused Moscow of sending agents to The Hague to hack into the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, while the United States indicted suspected Russian agents for conspiring to hack computers and steal data to delegitimise international anti-doping organisations. They were also accused of trying to hack into Westinghouse Electric, a nuclear power company. Russia and other countries had earlier been accused of cyber-espionage, proliferation of fake news, and misuse of social media in some election campaigns. Cybersecurity can be defined as the protection of computer systems and mobile devices from theft and damage to their hardware, software or information, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide. This note offers links to reports and commentaries from major international think-tanks and research institutes on cyber-security and related issues. More reports on the topic can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are thinking’, published in April 2018.

US-Russia relations: Reaching the point of no return?

03-10-2018

In August 2018, Russia's embassy in Washington claimed that US-Russia relations were moving towards irreversible breakdown. Long-standing bilateral tensions have been aggravated in recent years by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, sanctions, and accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. Initially, Donald Trump's electoral victory raised hopes in Russia that tensions could ease. But while Trump often appears to share Russian wishes to move from confrontation to a more ...

In August 2018, Russia's embassy in Washington claimed that US-Russia relations were moving towards irreversible breakdown. Long-standing bilateral tensions have been aggravated in recent years by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, sanctions, and accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. Initially, Donald Trump's electoral victory raised hopes in Russia that tensions could ease. But while Trump often appears to share Russian wishes to move from confrontation to a more transactional relationship, a rift has opened up between him and the rest of the US political establishment, which insists that the differences between the two countries are too fundamental to be easily set aside. Growing hostility towards Russia has led to harsher rhetoric and increasingly draconian sanctions. Alongside these more recent developments, US-Russia relations have been complicated for many years by fundamental foreign policy differences. The US sees itself as a global leader and champion of liberal values. For its part, Russia resents what it perceives as US hegemony and unwarranted interference in other countries' internal affairs. Russia is far from being a military equal to the US. Nevertheless, Moscow's nuclear arsenal makes it a potentially formidable adversary. A series of arms-control agreements aims to contain the threat of an arms race or even conflict between the two sides. However, deteriorating relations are making such arrangements look increasingly precarious. Compared to political and security issues, economic ties play only a minor role in US-Russia relations. Bilateral trade and investment have suffered from tensions and are likely to remain limited, not least due to sanctions.

China [What Think Tanks are thinking]

28-09-2018

China is a major strategic partner for the European Union, despite divergences on human rights issues, as well as on some economic and foreign policies. At their 20th EU-China summit in July, the two sides agreed to further develop their partnership and to seek to avoid global trade wars, which many analysts fear could be triggered by US President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies. They agreed, in principle, to support reform of the World Trade Organization, which has been snubbed by President ...

China is a major strategic partner for the European Union, despite divergences on human rights issues, as well as on some economic and foreign policies. At their 20th EU-China summit in July, the two sides agreed to further develop their partnership and to seek to avoid global trade wars, which many analysts fear could be triggered by US President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies. They agreed, in principle, to support reform of the World Trade Organization, which has been snubbed by President Trump. However, China’s increasingly close military ties with Russia cause concern in the EU. Trade, security and connectivity will be important topics of the 12th ASEM (EU-Asia) summit in October, which will gather heads of state or government of 51 European and Asian countries. 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 March 2018. One of the forthcoming publications in this series will be devoted to wider EU-Asia relations.

Russia [What Think Tanks are thinking]

21-09-2018

In September, Russia held its largest military exercise since 1981, the height of the Cold War, deploying 300 000 troops and also inviting Chinese forces to participate. The event highlighted Russia’s growing assertiveness in security and foreign policy, following its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Syria. The policies of President Vladimir Putin, who was re-elected earlier this year, pose a dilemma for the European Union and the United States, with some observers accusing him of ...

In September, Russia held its largest military exercise since 1981, the height of the Cold War, deploying 300 000 troops and also inviting Chinese forces to participate. The event highlighted Russia’s growing assertiveness in security and foreign policy, following its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Syria. The policies of President Vladimir Putin, who was re-elected earlier this year, pose a dilemma for the European Union and the United States, with some observers accusing him of trying to sabotage Western liberal democracy and others saying that he wants to regain the position of global player that the Soviet Union once occupied. This note offers links to commentaries and studies by major international think tanks, which discuss Russia's policies and how to respond to them. More reports on the topic can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking', published in March 2018. Some more papers on US-Russian relations are available in another edition from the series published in August 2018.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

21-09-2018

In today's context of renewed tensions on the European continent, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has an opportunity to play a stronger role as a forum for all Europe's security actors, helping to prevent a logic of confrontation between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the EU versus Russia from prevailing. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) came into being during the detente of 1962-1979. It transformed the zero-sum game of ...

In today's context of renewed tensions on the European continent, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has an opportunity to play a stronger role as a forum for all Europe's security actors, helping to prevent a logic of confrontation between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the EU versus Russia from prevailing. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) came into being during the detente of 1962-1979. It transformed the zero-sum game of the Cold War into a positive-sum game between European states, becoming a forum for discussion between the two superpowers and European countries. However, the main achievement of the Helsinki process that formed the CSCE was that it brought all the participating countries to the negotiating table. The main outcome of the Helsinki process was less the Final Act itself than the original process of negotiations between all the participating states. After the fall of the USSR and the subsequent EU and NATO enlargements, the OSCE (as the CSCE was renamed in 1994) was redesigned as a forum for resolving Cold War tensions and it became gradually less relevant. The main elements of the European security framework established by the CSCE (Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, Vienna Document, Open Skies Treaty) lost their ability to secure effective arms control and build confidence. There was a shift towards soft security cooperation (election monitoring, peace processes, the protection of minorities, and action to ensure a safe environment for journalists). Initiatives to reform the OSCE over the past decade have largely failed because of disagreements between member states on the objectives and the organisation's legal and financial means. Nevertheless, it remains a necessary forum when it comes to resolving a growing number of crises.

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