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EU-China relations: De-risking or de-coupling − the future of the EU strategy towards China

26-03-2024 PE 754.446 AFET
Summary : To evaluate the European Union’s (EU) policy framework towards China, this study analyses the varied facets of bilateral relations and the EU’s approach towards China, including its policy of de-risking, together with issues relating to China’s domestic politics and foreign policy. It highlights the need for the EU to adopt a coherent vision and a comprehensive and consistent long-term China strategy that can guide its future actions towards China and on the world stage. Based on its findings, it also provides a series of specific recommendations for the EU on the numerous topics analysed in the study.
Authors : Andreea BRINZA, Una Aleksandra BĒRZIŅA-ČERENKOVA, Philippe LE CORRE, John SEAMAN, Richard TURCSÁNYI, Stefan VLADISAVLJEV

Two years of war: The state of the Ukrainian economy in ten charts.

23-02-2024 PE 747.858 AFET ECON
Summary : After enduring the devastating impact of Russia's full-scale military aggression over the course of two years, the Ukrainian economy has shown resilience but also faces challenges going forward. The future course, intensity and duration of the war are uncertain. Ukraine has nevertheless, with the help of international partners, been simultaneously bolstering its economy at war and planning for the future transition to a more stable environment. This paper uses ten charts to summarise the key economic issues at stake.
Authors : Drazen RAKIC

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights February 2024

At a Glance

Multilateral financial assistance to Ukraine - January 2024

11-01-2024 PE 733.763 AFET BUDG ECON INTA
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : This paper provides a snapshot of multilateral financial assistance provided to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022 by the European Union and its bodies (European Investment Bank), international financial institutions (International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) and groups of bilateral creditors (“The Group of Creditors of Ukraine”). The paper aims to increase understanding and support scrutiny of international financial assistance to Ukraine. The Annex provides information on the conditions attached to EU and IMF loans.
Authors : Drazen RAKIC

Deepening EU-Japan cooperation

10-11-2023 PE 754.443 AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : The EU–Japan partnership has undergone a substantial transformation over the past two decades. Historically limited to trade and economic cooperation, the decision to step up political-security cooperation, recorded since the mid-2010s, is a result of both partners’ shifting foreign policy outlooks against an increasingly volatile global strategic environment that is defined by a return of great power politics. The conclusion of the EU–Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) in 2018 marks a symbolic upgrade in the relationship, reflecting a growing strategic alignment and willingness to address common global security challenges. Bilateral cooperation has so far increased, especially in the fields of economic security, maritime security, cybersecurity, sustainable connectivity, energy transition, digital transformation, as well as greater coordination within relevant multilateral international frameworks. However, the prospects for further cooperation are vast and many of the political agreements still need to be translated into action. This In-Depth Analysis traces the progress in EU–Japan cooperation achieved so far, highlighting the most promising areas for future collaboration based on both parties shared strategic interests, respective capacities, and political objectives.
Authors : Ramon Pacheco Pardo & Eva Pejsova

The EU's preventive diplomacy: Practice makes (not yet) perfect?

01-11-2023 PE 754.441 AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : The EU’s approach to preventive diplomacy is embedded in a wider ambition to ‘preserve peace, prevent conflicts and strengthen international security’. Given deteriorating security and increasing geopolitical tensions worldwide, it is evident that preventive diplomacy requires sustained and enhanced attention by the EU. Regarded as a credible and reliable partner – as well as an international frontrunner in preventive diplomacy – continued violence and conflict in Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kosovo, and Israel/Palestine over the past months, increasing geopolitical tensions and competition, weakening multilateralism, and the complexity of violent geopolitical contexts worldwide prove that the EU must re-assert its commitment to preventive diplomacy. The recommendations contained in this analysis chart a path forward to address implementation gaps, provide greater political steer to the EU’s preventive engagement, contribute to more effective use of this tool, and ensure it is more centrally positioned in the integrated approach.
Authors : Sean McGearty & Dylan Macchiarini Crosson

Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan and the Kyiv Security Compact – An assessment

30-10-2023 PE 754.444 AFET
Summary : With the aim of bringing Russia’s war of aggression to an end and developing a sustainable post-war peace, Ukraine has advanced its vision of peace (as encompassed in President Zelenskyy’s ‘peace formula’) and the paths that lead to this (as outlined in Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan). Other actors, including China, Indonesia and the collective African Peace Initiative Mission, have advanced their own peace proposals. This in-depth analysis (IDA) scrutinises the different proposals that have been put forward and their visions for the post-war future of Ukraine and the European security order. It concentrates on the following questions: what are the varying assumptions about the preconditions for peace versus ceasefire? Do the ‘peace’ proposals in question draw a distinction between ceasefire and peace? There is an important difference between war termination, conflict resolution and peacebuilding – how is this dealt with by the various proposals? Finally, the IDA seeks to assess how feasible the peace proposals are in light of two baseline scenarios for the war’s future course – a stalemate (long war of attrition) and Ukraine’s victory. It concludes that the question of how to sustain Ukraine’s independence and security is central to any discussion of finding an end to the war and a long-term peace, underscoring the centrality of an unambiguous political settlement supported by acceptable, effective guarantors.
Authors : Andriy Tyushka, Tracey German

Commitments made at the hearing of WOPKE HOEKSTRA, Commissioner-designate on Climate Action

17-10-2023 PE 754.186 DEVE ENVI AFET ITRE
Summary : The Commissioner-designate, Wopke Hoekstra, appeared before the European Parliament on 2 October 2023 to answer questions put by MEPs from the Committees on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), Foreign Affairs (AFET), Development (DEVE) and Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). During the hearing, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to his portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to him by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, including on Climate Action.

Cross-border claims to looted art

Summary : This study addresses cross-border restitution claims to looted art, considering Nazi-looted art and colonial takings, but also more recent cultural losses resulting from illicit trafficking. Although these categories differ considerably, commonalties exist. The study highlights blind spots in the legal and policy frameworks and formulates recommendations on how these could be bridged. This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI Committee.
Authors : Evelien CAMPFENS

Policy Departments' Monthly highlights - October 2023

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, on the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Implementation and monitoring of the EU sanctions’ regimes, including recommendations to reinforce the EU’s capacities to implement and monitor sanctions

10-10-2023 PE 702.603 AFET
Summary : Sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) against Russia following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine brought about an unprecedented emphasis on sanctions implementation and enforcement, which – in contrast to decision-making – have traditionally relied on a decentralised system. This has resulted in a mosaic of practices across the EU, involving more than 160 designated competent authorities within Member States. While reflecting the principle of subsidiarity, this nevertheless poses a risk to the internal market’s equity by triggering practical confusion and contradictory legal interpretations of key sanctions provisions between Member States. While EU institutions and Member States have rightly put the monitoring of the implementation and effectiveness of sanctions at the top of the agenda, more needs to be done. The EU should agree on a joint definition of what constitutes a competent national authority, ensure adequate guidance for the EU’s economic operators, enhance the involvement of implementation and enforcement expertise in the planning phase of sanctions regimes, and design a new horizontal sanctions regime to counter circumvention. At the same time, the European Parliament should strengthen its organisational know-how, technical expertise and independent monitoring capacities, as well as demand more technical guidance from other EU institutions.
Authors : Clara PORTELA & Kim B. OLSEN
Document type

Executive summary

Future Shocks 2023: Anticipating and weathering the next storms

At a Glance
Summary : The European Parliament launched a process of monitoring possible future risks for the EU during the COVID-19 crisis, and has developed this further during Russia's war on Ukraine. The annual 'Future Shocks' series provides up-to-date, objective, and authoritative information on global risks through a 360° survey based on risk literature from a broad range of sources. Future Shocks 2023: Anticipating and weathering the next storms discusses 15 risks related to geopolitics, climate change, health, economics and democracy that could occur in the coming decade, and 10 policy responses to address both existing governance capacity and possible ways to enhance risk-response capabilities within the EU.
Authors : Gabor Zsolt PATAKI

First EU space strategy for security and defence: What implications for EU strategic autonomy?

28-08-2023 PE 747.448 AFET ITRE IMCO SEDE
At a Glance
Summary : In 2022, the EU Strategic Compass included space as a strategic domain, and called for a dedicated European strategy. In the meantime, Russia's invasion of Ukraine confirmed the key role of space for defence and resilience, but also highlighted vulnerabilities related to space systems. Another 'wake-up call' came from a different direction; SpaceX's advances in reusable rocket technology leading to Starship's first orbital flight test turned the spotlight onto launch providers and access to space. Space is a critical infrastructure issue with growing economic significance. It is also an increasingly contested arena between competing geopolitical interests. To address these rising challenges, in March 2023 the European Commission and the High Representative/Vice-President presented their first joint communication on a European space strategy for security and defence.
Authors : Gabor Zsolt PATAKI

EU critical raw materials act

Summary : As the first EU act specifically regulating the EU's CRM supply, the proposed initiative aims to address an area previously identified as one of the EU's strategic dependencies. Following a clear problem description, the IA presents three (partially overlapping) policy options and a thorough analysis of their possible impacts, with a clear focus on economic impacts. The identification of the preferred policy option appears justified. The predominantly qualitative assessment draws merely on desk research and stakeholder input. In this respect, the IA admits to having 'significant data gaps' and a 'limited' evidence base, owing in part to 'the lack of a supporting study'. With regard to stakeholder input, the IA does not explain why the public consultation was open for only 8 weeks (instead of the default 12). It is notable that the proposed regulation deviates somewhat in scope from the IA: it adds a further specific objective – namely to diversify CRM imports in order to reduce strategic dependencies – and provides for a few measures that were either not assessed at all in the IA, or which were outside the preferred policy option.
Authors : Irmgard ANGLMAYER

Antarctica: What role for the European Union?

03-05-2023 PE 702.589 AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : The European Union has yet to communicate its strategic ideas for Antarctica. Unlike the EU’s engagement with the Arctic region, which is acknowledged to be both coherent and substantive, the southern polar region is best described as an emerging area of interest. However, this could all change as shifting geopolitical dynamics transform Antarctica’s status as a reliable pole of peace. The EU needs to develop a robust understanding of the geopolitical situation in Antarctica. There is growing evidence that parties associated with the Antarctic Treaty System are struggling to secure consensus over a range of issues, including ocean conservation, environmental protection measures and the management of geostrategic rivalries. 20 EU Member States are involved in the formal governance of Antarctica, and France is one of the seven historic claimant states. The EU continues to be an active champion of Marine Protected Areas for the Southern Ocean, but there are opportunities to leverage the expertise of EU research institutions and infrastructure to inform and shape the future direction of EU Antarctic policy. It is now opportune for the EU to develop a more coherent and overarching approach to Antarctica, as there are core interests at stake. The study offers six recommendations.
Authors : Klaus DODDS, Andreas RASPOTNIK

African Union: The African political integration process and its impact on EU-AU relations in the field of foreign and security policy

03-05-2023 PE 702.587 AFET
Summary : The European Union (EU) has long paid significant diplomatic, financial and institutional attention to its relationship with the African Union (AU). Engagement between the two organisations has steadily risen in scope and complexity over recent years, reflecting the AU’s increasing role in African foreign and security policy matters. This study analyses the dynamics that shape African political integration as well as foreign and security cooperation, identifying areas of convergence and divergence in the various cooperation formats that link both unions. The EU remains the AU’s principal partner, notably in the domain of peace and security. However, the relationship has become more politicised, with differing perspectives on the war in Ukraine and the EU’s pursuit of flexible security arrangements in Africa. This study recommends that the EU adapt its funding arrangements, cooperation formats and multilateral engagement in its relationship with the AU to remain in tune with the pace and direction of political integration in Africa. In this effort, the European Parliament can add specific value through parliamentary diplomacy.
Authors : Frank MATTHEIS, Dimpho DELEGLISE, Ueli STAEGER
Document type

Executive summary

Enhancing the capabilities of CSDP missions and operations to identify and respond to disinformation attacks

17-02-2023 PE 702.578 SEDE AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : With more and more disinformation campaigns targeting the EU and its institutions in recent years, Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations have also been subject to such attacks. While this analysis did not identify systematic disinformation campaigns against the EU CSDP missions and operations, it does not imply that the CSDP missions and operations are not on the radar of the malign actors creating and disseminating disinformation. In fact, their activities are occasionally used by malign actors to feed into their campaigns intended to undermine the EU and its allies, which constitute the main target of these campaigns.

Afghanistan: Lessons learnt from 20 years of supporting democracy, development and security

01-02-2023 PE 702.579 AFET
Summary : The Taliban’s rapid seizure of power in August 2021 took the European Union (EU) by surprise. In response, the EU developed a ‘Basic Needs’ approach and now supports the United Nations’ initiatives to alleviate human suffering and support non-governmental organisations’ activity on the ground. This study asks how, with over 20 years of international action, the EU finds itself in this situation. Significantly, the EU was but one international actor supporting actions initiated by the United States of America (USA) after the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. Yet the EU’s external action has now been recognised as having been inadequate and deeply flawed. Afghanistan may have been the largest recipient of EU development and humanitarian aid over the last two decades, but EU state-building exercises failed to account for the growing insecurity within Afghanistan and changes in the US strategy. The country should not have been treated as a ‘blank slate’ upon which a new modern state could be erected; nor should peacebuilding have been rejected because it involved negotiating with the Taliban. The EU did have successes during this time, including the establishment of a peace deal that held for some time. Yet, regrettably, the EU was too slow to recognise the impact of corruption, and it worked at cross-purposes with the USA’s shorter-term commitments.
Authors : Oz HASSAN

Global Gateway: Strategic governance and implementation

01-02-2023 PE 702.585 AFET
Summary : This study assesses the EU Global Gateway strategy in terms of its strategic governance and implementation in its first year. To this end, the Global Gateway’s policy context, financial architecture and initial flagship projects were examined by means of a desk review and multi-stakeholder consultations. At the same time, a preliminary assessment was conducted using the criteria laid down by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development. The assessment results provide a mixed picture, especially regarding the implementation of the Global Gateway. Finally, a set of recommendations was compiled for the EU institutions, particularly the European Parliament, and the EU Member States with a view to enhancing the effectiveness, efficiency and impact of the Global Gateway and improving its democratic and budgetary oversight.
Authors : Carlos BUHIGAS SCHUBERT, Olivier COSTA

Towards EU leadership in the space sector through open strategic autonomy - Cost of non-Europe

Summary : This 'cost of non-Europe' report looks at the potential benefits of efficient, ambitious and united EU-level action in the space sector. The report finds that to enable the European space sector to benefit from open strategic autonomy, and to ensure EU access to and use of space, including for its security, the EU must act decisively. Moving away from fragmentation could bring large benefits, amounting to at least €140 billion per year by 2050.

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - December 2022

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Prospects of reinvigorating the Middle East Peace Process: a possible joint EU-US undertaking?

02-12-2022 PE 702.573 AFET
Summary : The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute has been an issue of strategic and common interest for the European Union (EU) and the United States (USA), for which they have both sought to cooperate from the onset. The Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) was initiated through the 1991 Madrid Conference co-sponsored by the Soviet Union and the USA. However, the most recent developments, such as the clashes in Gaza and the acts of violence in the West Bank that began in the summer of 2022, demonstrate that despite the numerous initiatives of international actors, these efforts have failed to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. This study recommends that the EU should realise that the current status quo is not sustainable, considering that this situation could be further eradicating its influence over the MEPP and the Israeli and Palestinian actions, as well as undermining its legitimacy on the global scene. Instead of focusing on creating a new standing EU-USA mechanism on the MEPP, the EU should take a new stance of acting more independently while remaining loyal to its principles and approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Authors : Daniel LEVY, Zaha HASSAN, Emmanuel COHEN-HADRIA and Katarzyna SIDŁO

The European Union’s relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan - European Implementation Assessment

09-11-2022 PE 734.676 AFET INTA
Summary : In December 2021, the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) launched an own-initiative procedure (2021/2230(INI)) on EU-Armenia relations and another on EU-Azerbaijan relations (2021/2231(INI)). The appointed rapporteurs are, respectively Željana Zovko (EPP, Croatia) and Andrey Kovatchev (EPP, Bulgaria). To accompany its scrutiny work, Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) requested the Ex-Post Evaluation Unit Ex-post Evaluation Unit of the Directorate for Impact Assessment and European Added Value, within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament, to prepare a European implementation assessment on the implementation of the EU's Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Armenia, and Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Azerbaijan.

Outlook for the European Council meeting on 20 – 21 October 2022

17-10-2022 PE 743.680 ENVI AFET ITRE ECON
At a Glance
Summary : On 20 and 21 October 2022, EU Heads of State or Government will meet for a formal European Council dedicated to Ukraine, energy and the economy – three interlinked topics that have been permanently on the European Council agenda since Russia launched its war on Ukraine. EU leaders are expected to condemn Russia's further escalation of the conflict and recent attacks on civilians and infrastructure across Ukraine; condemn the sham referendums in four Ukrainian regions; consider the deepening food crisis; and explore ways to protect critical infrastructure after the Nord Stream pipelines sabotage. On energy, the European Council meeting is expected to agree on new strategic guidelines, with discussion on means of reducing gas prices, price-caps or alternative approaches – an issue on which Member States have diverging views – likely to be rather heated. EU leaders will also discuss climate change and biodiversity protection ahead of the main annual events on these topics led by the United Nations (UN). Moreover, leaders will hold a debate on China and prepare for the December 2022 summit between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The European Council meeting will open with the traditional exchange of views with the European Parliament's President, Roberta Metsola.
Authors : Suzana Elena ANGHEL

Towards an International Anti-Corruption Court?

10-10-2022 PE 702.580 DROI AFET
Summary : Momentum is building globally for the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court, which would have jurisdiction over acts of grand corruption and fill the domestic accountability vacuum in kleptocratic regimes. Before such an institution can become reality, though, a number of practical, political and legal concerns will have to be addressed, for instance in relation to state ratification and cooperation. Hence, this Briefing identifies key issues which the European Parliament should assess and consider when forming its position. However, irrespective of its support for an International Anti-Corruption Court, the European Parliament may also want to strengthen other mechanisms enhancing legal accountability, such as existing international courts or extraterritorial jurisdiction. It may also continue to promote more indirect tools for advancing the fight against impunity such as anti-corruption clauses in trade agreements, targeted sanctions, and global asset recovery.
Authors : Cedric RYNGAERT
Document type


EU-US Trade and Technology Council: Impact of the war in Ukraine and the way forward

26-09-2022 PE 733.661 AFET INTA
Summary : The EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) was formally launched during the EU-US Summit in June 2021 to intensify transatlantic cooperation, expand bilateral trade and investment, and reinforce the parties' technological and industrial leadership. Another aim is to ensure that trade and technology serve society and economy while preserving shared values. The TTC has held two high-level political meetings, in September 2021 in Pittsburgh and in May 2022 in Paris-Saclay. These meetings steer cooperation within the TTC and guide its 10 working groups whose remit includes technology standards, secure supply chains, tech regulation, global trade challenges, climate and green technologies as well as investment screening and export controls. Since its launch, the TTC has created a community of experts and policy-makers from both sides of the Atlantic who now regularly work together. Joint work in areas such as standards, integrity of information, supply chains, green public procurement and addressing non-market practices has yielded the TTC's first successful steps. Moreover, Russia's war on Ukraine is thought to have strengthened both the transatlantic relationship as a whole and the TTC, which has played a key role in ensuring swift and coordinated roll-out of export controls. After the war broke out, the TTC started supporting coordinated economic action to counter Russia's autocratic attempts to also undermine the security of other nations. Yet, while the TTC has done well in areas related to war, some underline that it must deliver tangible results across all the work strands to increase its importance and impact. So far, the TTC has focused mostly on information-sharing, joint mapping, risk identification and exploring options for closer cooperation in the future. Its success may well depend on the degree of alignment the parties can achieve across the policy areas and on whether they can move from joint identification of issues to elaborating common responses and solutions to them. The European Parliament supports the establishment and work of the TTC, while calling for a more democratic scrutiny over it. The next TTC meeting will take place before the end of 2022 in the United States.
Authors : Marcin SZCZEPANSKI

Tracking the EU Commissioners’ commitments - Von der Leyen Commission, 2019 - 2024

Summary : This document is a compilation of briefings that track the commitments made by the Vice-Presidents and Commissioners to the European Parliament – in their written answers to Parliament’s questions, at their hearings, and, in some cases, in subsequent appearances before Parliament’s committees. The document provides an overview of the state-of-play at the mid-term of the von der Leyen Commission. Since many of these commitments were made, major international crises have shifted some political priorities. The Vice-Presidents’ and Commissioners’ progress on their commitments should be considered in this context.

Tracking the EU Commissioners’ commitments - Von der Leyen Commission, 2019 - 2024: Josep Borrell Fontelles

20-09-2022 PE 639.323 AFET
Summary : This briefing follows up the commitments made by the High Representative / Vice President since 2019.

Tracking the EU Commissioners’ commitments - Von der Leyen Commission, 2019 - 2024: Olivér Várhelyi

20-09-2022 PE 639.326 AFET
Summary : This briefing follows up the commitments made by the commissioner since 2019.

Multilateralism and Democracy. A European Parliament perspective

In-Depth Analysis
Summary : This analysis looks into the complex relationship between two trends in international governance: an increase in multilateral arrangements between countries in order to govern internationally on the one hand, and a lack of democratic control over the decisions taken by multilateral organisations or conferences on the other. Multilateralism in the modern sense refers to an international mode of operation involving peaceful negotiations and diplomacy, also referred to as a ‘rules-based international order’ or ‘rules-based multilateralism’. Several European countries have recently launched initiatives in support of multilateralism, in reaction to the increasingly unilateral behaviour of states undermining the existing rules-based international order. Apart from the European Union, no other multilateral organisation has a parliamentary body with the competence to block or amend its decisions, which indicates that there is a democratic deficit in these multilateral organisations. An initial response to such a democratic deficit is the involvement of national parliaments in international decision-making. This is known as ‘parliamentary diplomacy’. Secondly, the involvement of civil society in international decision-making through protests, petitions, consultations or participation can also enhance democracy. Thirdly, the organisation of national referenda on international decisions can be used by national governments or citizens’ initiatives to increase democratic legitimacy. Fourthly, a lack of democracy at international level can also be countered by creating an ‘alliance of democracies’, aimed at multilateral cooperation between democratic countries rather than the democratisation of multilateral organisations. These are mostly alliances of Western countries, which risks emphasising the differences between West and East or North and South. Three short case studies of parliamentary diplomacy with the strong involvement of the European Parliament (the Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization (WTO), delegations to the Conferences of Parties of climate change agreements and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly) show that enhancing multilateral democracy is not the only aim of parliamentary diplomacy and that each case reveals a different mix between the ‘parliamentary’ aspect of democratisation and the ‘diplomacy’ aspects of information exchange or influencing.
Authors : Mario DAMEN

EU sanctions against Russia: alignment of the EU enlargement countries

20-06-2022 PE 639.327 AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : This in-depth analysis provides an overview of alignment of EU enlargement countries with EU sanctions against Russia due to its aggression against Ukraine. It analyses the legal and political basis for the alignment with the EU’s Common and Foreign Policy, including the restrictive measures (sanctions). Furthermore, it provides a factual account of the main steps taken by the countries covered by the EU enlargement policy in the Western Balkans and Turkey (Türkiye), coupled by a brief assessment of the main reasons for their policies. Lastly, policy options for the EU and for its parliamentary dimension are laid out.

The Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans: assessing the possible economic, social and environmental impact of the proposed Flagship projects

31-05-2022 PE 702.561 AFET
Summary : This study provides Members of the European Parliament and other interested stakeholders with an independent evaluation of the likely economic, social and environmental impacts from the 10 Flagship projects of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans (EIP), adopted by the European Commission on 6 October 2020. On the basis of a tailor-made methodology, the EIP projects’ impact is assessed according to their relevance, effectiveness and efficiency, as well as their synergies and coherence with the wider aims of the EIP and EU enlargement policy. The study identifies the novel aspects of these Flagship projects and considers lessons learned from previous EU and international assistance. Finally, the study evaluates the projects’ overall economic, social and environmental impacts as well as their transversal implications in the Western Balkans. In the concluding section, potential obstacles to successful implementation are identified and some recommendations are proposed on ways to improve the EIP’s developmental impact, thereby ensuring effective strategic guidance and scrutiny by the European Parliament.
Authors : Will BARTLETT, Matteo BONOMI, Milica UVALIC

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - June 2022

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

EU response to economic coercion by third countries

11-05-2022 PE 730.326 AFET IMCO INTA
Summary : This initiative focuses specifically on the issue of economic coercion and the EU's possible response, aiming to preserve the EU's open strategic autonomy and policy-making space. The IA clearly defines the problem, its underlying causes, and the objectives to address it. The creation of a new legal instrument to deter and counteract economic coercion is the only type of option retained for analysis. This presumably follows on from the political commitment made in early 2021 (although this is not stated explicitly in the IA). This option was broken down into several policy options based on possible parameters used for the design of the instrument. The IA is substantiated by academic work, stakeholders' contributions and examples. The majority of stakeholders support a new policy instrument and their input contributed to the design of the proposed instrument. The IA focuses mostly on economic impacts, while social and environmental impacts are assessed briefly. Important benefits are expected from the instrument. Costs are expected only from its use, in particular from the application of countermeasures. The IA focuses on a qualitative assessment of impacts linked to the instrument's creation and existence, acknowledging that the impacts linked to the instrument's use are difficult to estimate at the design stage. Adequate monitoring and evaluation of the use of the instrument and of progress made against the objectives will therefore be important aspects that would have benefited from further detail in terms of indicators and provisions. The proposal generally reflects the preferred option of the IA, although some elements differ from the IA, such as the objectives and definition of economic coercion.

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - May 2022

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

A new agenda for the Mediterranean: Are the EU tools and means of action up to its ambitions?

20-04-2022 PE 702.558 AFET
Summary : The Southern Neighbourhood (SN) of the European Union (EU) remains in what appears to be a state of permanent turmoil. Similarly, the rift in Euro-Mediterranean relations seems to be growing, as exemplified by reactions to the Russian aggression on Ukraine across the SN region and despite a window of opportunity the pandemic offered to relaunch cooperation between both sides of the Mediterranean. The Joint Communication on a ‘Renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood: a New Agenda for the Mediterranean’, released in February 2021 and endorsed by April 2021 Council conclusions, is an attempt at addressing both the above mentioned rift, and the multitude and magnitude of challenges facing societies and economies of the SN countries. The present study considers whether the Joint Communication is well-fitted to achieve these goals. Accordingly, it first undertakes an analysis of the geopolitical trends and megatrends, of the political, and socio-economic situation in the region, and the state of Euro-Mediterranean relations. Subsequently, it looks into the text of the Joint Communication and the accompanying Economic and Investment Plan, exploring their potential for launching a new phase in this relationship in the areas of green and digital transitions, promotion of ‘inclusiveness’, migration, trade, and peace and security. The study concludes that more than a year after its adoption, many question marks remain in relation to the implementation of the Joint Communication, and a truly comprehensive and strategic framework to guide the EU’s relations with its SN is still missing.
Authors : Katarzyna SIDŁO; Emmanuel COHEN-HADRIA

Values on the retreat? The role of values in the EU’s external policies

Summary : There is a general perception in Western countries that the role of values as a foreign policy driver is currently on the decline. This study in the series ‘global trends in external policies’ seeks to contribute to the debate by investigating what is meant by ‘values’, whether their importance is on the wane and, if so, how this manifests itself, and how the European Union (EU) can respond to these trends. The broad concept of values has therefore been split into five categories. Socio-cultural values are implicit drivers of foreign policy. In the case of the EU, these are characterised by diversity. ‘Political values’ is used as a term to describe the fundamental principles of political and public action, defining the relationship between the state and its citizens. For the EU, these are often referred to as the triad of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Economic values characterise the nature of the prevailing economic system in a country. The EU advocates a social market economy. The term ‘Earth values’ refers to the inclusion of environmental considerations in external policies. The EU has become a leader in promoting sustainability. Resulting from the preceding four are ‘international order values’, which characterise the overall international outlook of actors. The EU’s international order value is ‘principled pragmatism’. This study compares the EU’s values with those of four reference countries: the US, Turkey, Russia and China. The US in the West comes closest to many of the EU’s values, but does not overlap completely. Turkey and Russia are in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood and increasingly disagree with the EU on values. Chinese values overlap least with the EU’s values. The study confirms a decline in the influence of the political values preferred by the EU. This decline appears to correspond to a clear West-East spectrum. However, the study also notes an opposite trend of increasing influence of Earth values. For these, a Eurocentric spectrum appears more adequate. For economic values, the definition of trends depends on benchmarks and methodology. The international order notion of ‘principled pragmatism’ has been extended to ‘EU strategic autonomy’. Values are often considered as part of EU strategic autonomy and some policies, such as EU accession or trade policy, incorporate them. A values-based approach to external policies should differentiate according to the partner country and the value category concerned. Whereas cooperation on political values does not appear to be fruitful with certain countries, continued efforts on economic or Earth values may still be possible. The study explores what such a differentiated approach could mean for the four reference countries in the near future. Such an approach should also take into account the differing perceptions of partner countries. Although positive avenues of cooperation on, for example, Earth values are still possible, geopolitical tensions, partly rooted in differing values, are overshadowing this path.
Authors : Mario DAMEN

The Economic Reconstruction of Belarus: Next Steps after a Democratic Transition

28-03-2022 PE 653.663 AFET
Summary : The economic performance of Belarus has been unimpressive ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, due mainly to the country’s lack of serious structural reforms. This study examines the consequences of this benign neglect should a democratic transition occur and attempts to understand the assistance that may be required to help Belarus successfully transform. Unlike the transformations which began in Central Europe during 1989, though, Belarus’ potential transition is complicated by immense Russian pressure. Hence, the provision of much needed assistance will be highly dependent upon Russia’s stance towards a democratic transfer of power. This study examines its possible responses to understand how the EU can best be involved in the long-delayed Belarusian transformation and also how much assistance may be required.
Authors : Christopher A. HARTWELL; Kateryna BORNUKOVA; Dzmitry KRUK; Benedikt ZOLLER-RYDZEK

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - March 2022

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Turkey’s foreign policy and its consequences for the EU

16-02-2022 PE 653.662 AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : The present impasse in EU-Turkey relations is attributed by Europeans to Turkey’s democratic backsliding and increasingly unilateral foreign policy. This, however, cannot be considered separately from the current state of institutional affairs and blurring of frameworks obstructing EU-Turkey cooperation in foreign and security policy. This study takes these elements into consideration while introducing different frameworks of Turkey-EU relations, namely Turkey as: (i) a candidate for accession; (ii) a key partner in economy and trade; as well as (ii) a strategic partner. The study then focuses on the overall dynamics of Turkish foreign policy-making, its relations with historical allies and approach to theatres of power in its neighbourhood. To understand better the consequences of Turkish policies for European security, the study assesses the country’s key recent foreign policy principles, such as the ‘strategic-depth doctrine’ and the ‘blue homeland doctrine’ as well as the situation in three Mediterranean hotspots. A short evaluation of the presidential system’s impact on foreign policy and the country’s relations with the United States are also included. The analysis ends with an overlook to the future and policy recommendations for decision-makers in Europe.
Authors : Ilke TOYGÜR; Funda TEKIN; Eduard SOLER i LECHA; Nicholas DANFORTH

‘Assessing the political dialogue and cooperation pillar of the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement: towards a bi-regional strategic partnership?’

26-01-2022 PE 653.652 AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : On 28 June 2019, the European Union and Mercosur reached a political agreement to establish an interregional trade agreement as ‘part of a wider Association Agreement between the two regions’. The European Commission and Mercosur member states went on to publish a summary of the negotiating results, while both sides started the process of legal revision. Meanwhile, the European External Action Service and Mercosur representatives were negotiating the political dialogue and cooperation part of the Association Agreement, which was completed one year later, on 18 June 2020, and has not been published. The present report is about the latter document, to which the author has been granted confidential access: it scrutinises its content, compares it to previous and similar agreements, analyses its prospects of ratification and impact – with a special focus on Brazil – and assesses its potential to cement a meaningful EU-Mercosur strategic partnership. The study is enriched by direct, off-the-record interviews as well as public documents and analyses. Its originality resides in the consideration of informal practices, besides and beyond formal frameworks, to estimate the odds of ratification and implementation of the agreement.
Authors : Andres Malamud

Promoting gender equality through parliamentary diplomacy

15-11-2021 PE 653.654 AFET
Summary : The purpose of this study is to support the European Parliament (EP), in particular its standing delegations, in implementing the commitment made in the EP resolution of 23 October 2020 on gender equality in EU foreign and security policy. Based on desk research as well as quantitative and qualitative empirical analysis, the study describes the existing EP practices of gender equality promotion, analyses whether the current practices deliver on the commitment, and presents what can be learned both from the bottlenecks identified in the EP’s existing institutional arrangements and from the practices of other national parliaments and international parliamentary institutions. The study concludes that while the EP is highly advanced when it comes to gender mainstreaming in external relations, there are a number of aspects that need improvement or fine-tuning. To facilitate the implementation of the overarching EP gender action plan, the study provides a set of policy recommendations aimed at increasing the effectiveness of gender equality promotion through parliamentary diplomacy. The recommendations comprise proposals to strengthen the institutional framework, clarify the roles of gender focal points, increase access to gender-specific information and training, maximise the use of interparliamentary meetings and DEG activities for gender mainstreaming abroad, streamline the links with civil society and other external stakeholders, and improve the gender dimension of oversight over EP external relations.
Authors : Davor JANCIC; Małgorzata DRUCIAREK, Aleksandra NIZYNSKA; Veronika KUBEKOVÁ, Roland BLOMEYER

EU climate change diplomacy in a post-Covid-19 world

12-07-2021 PE 653.643 AFET
Summary : Since the European Parliament issued its resolution on climate diplomacy in June 2018, several important trends have been shaping this area of the EU’s external action, enabling progress and posing new challenges. The EU started its comprehensive low-emission transformation with the Green Deal, established a progressive policy framework for sustainable finance and had to cope with the impacts of the pandemic in a way that is compatible with its transformative ambition. At the same time, its role on the international stage has evolved substantially, and sustainability has been playing an ever-stronger role across its external relations. Against the backdrop of these developments, this study assesses the progress of climate diplomacy since 2018, with a focus on climate security, trade, development cooperation, sustainable capital flows, gender equality and science, research and innovation. Based on this assessment, it outlines the tasks for a European climate diplomacy of the future and highlights the role of the European Parliament in shaping this policy field.
Authors : Dennis TÄNZLER; Daria IVLEVA; Tobias HAUSOTTER

Workshop: Achieving Strategic Sovereignty for the European Union

28-04-2021 PE 653.634 AFET
Summary : The notion of European ‘strategic sovereignty’ is increasingly important in debates about the European Union. Given rapidly shifting global geopolitical and technology trends, and the seeming fragmentation of the multilateral order, the EU is being forced to confront its own position in international affairs. A number of concepts have been given life because of the deteriorating international scene including “European sovereignty”, “strategic autonomy”, “digital sovereignty”, “technological sovereignty” and “open strategic autonomy”. However defined, there is a need to move beyond concepts and focus on the nature of economic interdependence, multilateralism and strategic partnerships. This online workshop, requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, zoomed in on each of these elements with case studies that centre on semiconductors, the Iran nuclear deal and EU security and defence.
Authors : Daniel FIOTT;Niclas POITIERS;Pauline WEIL;Guntram WOLFF;Jana PUGLIERIN;Riccardo ALCARO

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - April 2021

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Mapping Fake News and Disinformation in the Western Balkans and Identifying Ways to Effectively Counter Them

23-02-2021 PE 653.621 AFET
Summary : Disinformation is an endemic and ubiquitous part of politics throughout the Western Balkans, without exception. A mapping of the disinformation and counter-disinformation landscapes in the region in the period from 2018 through 2020 reveals three key disinformation challenges: external challenges to EU credibility; disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and the impact of disinformation on elections and referenda. While foreign actors feature prominently – chiefly Russia, but also China, Turkey, and other countries in and near the region – the bulk of disinformation in the Western Balkans is produced and disseminated by domestic actors for domestic purposes. Further, disinformation (and information disorder more broadly) is a symptom of social and political disorder, rather than the cause. As a result, the European Union should focus on the role that it can play in bolstering the quality of democracy and governance in the Western Balkans, as the most powerful potential bulwark against disinformation.
Authors : Samuel GREENE, Gregory ASMOLOV, Adam FAGAN, Ofer FRIDMAN, Borjan GJUZELOV

No way back:Why the transatlantic future needs a stronger EU

25-11-2020 PE 653.619 AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : There is no way back for transatlantic politics; in recent years it has suffered severe setbacks that cannot be undone. Although the Biden win promises opportunities for EU-US cooperation, the EU’s drive for strategic autonomy will not stop here. It is high time to look afresh at the very foundations of the transatlantic partnership, in light of not only the politics of today, but also the structural trends in the global balance of power and the lasting institutional ties between the two continents. Above all, the transatlantic future needs a stronger EU. For this to happen, the following issues should be given priority: i) dealing with an increasingly assertive China; ii) gaining more from transatlantic trade relations; iii) safeguarding the benefits of NATO and multilateral institutions like the WTO; iv) battling disinformation and other hybrid threats; and v) reinvigorating cooperation over climate change and global health. Because understanding of and trust in US intelligence and foreign policy positions has been eroded, a ‘thickening’ of transatlantic dialogue structures, including among elected representatives, should be pursued. This could include staff exchanges, track-two dialogues with think tanks and civil society, and an increased frequency of the Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue, possibly supplemented with more subordinate bodies on specific issues, such as dealing with China.
Authors : Louise VAN SCHAIK, Ties DAMS

State of play of EU-Iran relations and the future of the JCPOA

30-10-2020 PE 603.515 AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), spearheaded by the European Union (EU), was a successful multilateral non-proliferation agreement. The hope was that it would also pave the way for dealing with other outstanding issues over which the EU and United States (US) were at loggerheads with Iran. Instead, with the election of President Trump, the main focus has been to save the JCPOA. As Iran has decreased its compliance with the deal and regional friction has intensified, particularly as a result of the US maximum pressure campaign, the EU has faced increasing challenges to maintain a working relationship with Tehran and to pursue its strategic objectives on Iran – a tall order even in more conducive circumstances. While the outcome of the US presidential elections in November 2020 will affect developments thereafter, the EU should shape its policy independent of a rturn to constructive multilateralism in Washington. It must further develop its strategic autonomy, enhance and expand its interaction with Tehran to ensure the JCPOA’s survival, while also taking a more proactive role in mitigating and mediating conflicts in the region.
Authors : Rouzbeh PARSI, Aniseh BASSIRI TABRIZI

Commitments made at the hearings of the Commissioners-designate - von der Leyen Commission 2019-2024

At a Glance
Summary : This document provides links to all Briefings produced by the Policy Departments of the Directorate-General for Internal Policies and of the Directorate-General for External Policies of the European Parliament, with salient points and essential commitments made by the Vice-Presidents and Commissioners-designates at their respective hearings before the European Parliament, in September-November 2019 and in October 2020. For an exhaustive list of all commitments made and positions taken by the candidates, the full verbatim report of each public hearing is available on the dedicated hearings website of the European Parliament, as are the written questions and answers.

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - November 2020

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Commitments made at the hearing of Valdis Dombrovskis Commissioner for Trade

Summary : The Commission Executive Vice-President/Commissioner-designate, Valdis Dombrovskis, appeared before the European Parliament on 02 October 2020 to answer questions put by MEPs from the Committee on International Trade, in association with the Committees on Foreign Affairs, on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on Development and on Budgets. During the hearing, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to his portfolio as Trade Commissioner, as described in the mission letter sent to him by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, including: - A level playing field for all; - Strengthening Europe’s global leadership; - Trade for sustainable development and climate action

Geopolitical implications of the COVID-19 pandemic

29-09-2020 PE 603.511 AFET
Summary : Since the Coronavirus began its spread across the world, many analysts have speculated about its impact: would it merely accelerate previously-existing trends, or would it prove to be a geopolitical ‘game-changer’, creating a world profoundly different than before? The answer is much more complex than either or: the world during and after COVID-19 will have elements of both, the old and the new, the known and the unknown. This study explores both dimensions of the pandemic’s impact: how does it affect the geopolitical context it erupted into, and what possibility space does it open up? The first section assesses the geopolitical trends antedating the pandemic and measures its present and expected impact on them, while the second section lays out the space for action and change created by the disruption. In the third section, the interplay of trends and uncertainties is explored in three scenarios set in 2025: Strategic Distancing; Europe in Self-isolation; and Lockdown World. The study finds that European foreign policy is entering an era of re-definition in which the European Parliament should play a crucial role. This means outlining the elements of strategic autonomy, but also streamlining them with each other. As such, classical foreign policy needs to join forces with other policy areas such as environmental and technological matters, trade, strategic communication – and of course, health. In that sense alone, the pandemic is already proving to be a game-changer.
Authors : Florence GAUB, Lotje BOSWINKEL; EUISS

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - September 2020

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

A Balanced Arctic Policy for the EU

20-07-2020 PE 603.498 AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : The EU is currently working towards updating its Arctic policy. It needs to respond to two major changes that affect the region and pose challenges to the role of the EU in the Arctic; accelerated climate change and increased geoeconomic and geopolitical competition. The EU finds itself in a rather unique position. As a supranational institution with competences in parts of the Arctic, and with Member States having territories in the region, as well as institutionalised linkages with Arctic countries Iceland and Norway — with whom the EU shares the European Economic Area (EEA) — it needs to balance sectoral policies, priority areas and addressing different Arctics. The EU should therefore create ‘more EU in the Arctic’ by broadening the scope of its existing Arctic policy, as well as incorporating ‘more Arctic in the EU’ by stipulating that the Arctic becomes a cross-cutting consideration in other relevant EU policies. In addition, the EU will need to address hard and soft security issues within existing functional, regional and global frameworks and continue engaging in dialogue and confidence-building measures with Russia. Finally, a revised EU Arctic policy needs to be proactive and ambitious, based on existing strengths and expertise within the EU. At the same time, in an Arctic that witnesses the return of geopolitics, the ‘civilian power’ EU will encounter challenges assuming its role in the region. How it narrates its future position in the Arctic will play a tangible role in negotiating this position politically.
Authors : Dr. Petra Dolata, University of Calgary

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - July 2020

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

A Comprehensive EU Strategy for Africa

25-06-2020 PE 603.506 AFET
Summary : The new EU-Africa Strategy presented by the Commission on 9 March puts a reinforced emphasis on the creation of a real partnership with a continent whose relevance for Europe is growing by the day. The three briefings focus on different aspects of this new partnership, the first one dealing with the implications for the political dialogue with a focus on (good) governance and the even bigger challenge of security and migration. The second briefing has a look at more ‘traditional’ aspects of this relationship, development and humanitarian aid, complemented with the rising challenge of climate change. The new approach is also illustrated by the emphasis put on the promotion of bilateral trade and investment relations, the topic of the third briefing. All these briefings also try to incorporate first elements on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the bilateral relationship.

A Comprehensive EU Strategy for Africa - Political Dialogue: Governance, Security and Migration

25-06-2020 PE 603.507 AFET
Summary : Much has changed since the creation of the Joint Africa-European Union (EU) Strategy in 2007. The developing world has been changing fast. Development policy and practices are also transforming, albeit at a slower pace. The divide between emerging economies and ‘fragile states’ is increasing. This is also the case in Africa. As not only Africa, but also the EU-Africa relationship is changing and evolving into new dimensions, there is clearly a need to develop a new European strategy, constructed on the basis of an emerging continent. Africa is home to the youngest population in the world and some of the world’s most fragile states. However, it is also a continent with emerging markets and more effective governments. This brief aims to clarify how well the new Strategy must manage to mainstream a European approach to Africa that considers both the inter-continental dialogue and the diversity of development on this emerging continent within the fields of governance, security and migration. As the COVID-19 has turned into a pandemic, the brief also suggests that the new European strategy must reflect this development and the European Parliament should closely monitor the situation as it discusses the Strategy.
Authors : Morten BØÅS

A Comprehensive EU Strategy for Africa - Development, Humanitarian Aid and Climate Change

25-06-2020 PE 603.508 AFET
Summary : The new EU Strategy for Africa attempts to reflect the continent’s growing relevance within a partnership rather than through a donor-recipient framework. However, this leads to a prioritisation of the formal, productive and technology sectors as well as climate mitigation at the expense of agriculture, informal sector, human development and climate adaptation. With such skewed priorities, this Strategy is ill-adapted for the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. Institutionally, political will is needed to ensure that the continent-to-continent approach is not hampered by parallel, contradictory and fragmenting forces within the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) governance frameworks. Financially, mutual accountability must be strengthened by joint funding of joint actions. An inclusive institutional mechanism is also needed to promote political and civil society participation as well as policy coherence for sustainable development beyond migration and climate. More generally, the Strategy advances a government-to-government type of partnership at the expense of a more people-centred approach that is more in line with the ‘principled pragmatism’ of the EU.
Authors : Ondřej HORKÝ-HLUCHÁŇ

A Comprehensive EU Strategy for Africa - Trade and Investments

25-06-2020 PE 603.509 AFET
Summary : The new European Commission (EC) is putting EU-African relations to the fore. A Joint Communication of the EC towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa stresses the African Continent’s strategic importance and the EU’s need to strengthen its partnership with (and not for) Africa. Proposals in the Joint Communication maintain promotion of sustainable investments with Africa on top of the EU’s agenda. Partnership with Africa to attract investors and boost regional as well as continental integration are specific actions aimed to attain sustainable growth and jobs in African countries. This emphasis is not new, being in line with a geopolitically oriented Commission and the European Union’s (EU) trend of shifting from a Donor-recipient model to a relationship based on mutual cooperation, pursuing common interests and mutual benefits. As the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold in Africa during 2020, it is becoming more urgent that EU and African relations post COVID-19 be tailored to a new scenario and show tangible action using partnership rhetoric.

Trade and biodiversity

05-06-2020 PE 603.494 AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : International trade has a direct impact on EU biodiversity, imported invasive species and pathogens, being an example. Trade also impacts global biodiversity, for instance through the 'virtual' water, land, and deforestation contained in EU imports. Economic theory shows that trade with countries that fail to protect a renewable resource can be detrimental for all. Protecting global biodiversity calls for a variety of instruments, at the EU border as well as in the provisions of preferential agreements. The EU already includes biodiversity-related non-trade provisions in trade agreements, but these provisions are not legally binding and hardly effective. This is partly explained by the complexity of the issues posed by biodiversity: since there is no simple synthetic indicator, policy instruments are difficult to enforce. However, an effort to specify measurable and verifiable commitments is needed; more binding mechanisms, along with transparent and automatic sanctions in case of non-compliance should be considered.
Authors : Cecilia BELLORA (CEPII, France), Jean-Christophe BUREAU (AgroParisTech, France), Basak BAYRAMOGLU (INRAE, France), Estelle GOZLAN (INRAE, France), Sébastien JEAN (CEPII and INRAE, Paris)

The EU and Latin America and the Caribbean: towards a stronger partnership?

13-01-2020 PE 639.314 AFET
In-Depth Analysis
Summary : In the course of the past two and a half years, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Council of Ministers have presented strategic documents on the EU's relations with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and the direction they should take in the coming years. This in-depth analysis aims to present the main points of view of the three EU institutions and the Member States on the future of EU-LAC relations. Its second half includes a critical assessment of some aspects of the bi-regional relationship as it has developed in recent years, particularly the institutional links and trade issues, and the challenges it may face in the coming years. Here, the focus is on the political divisions in the LAC region, the uncertainty about regional cooperation and integration and the possible challenges to multilateral policies.
Authors : Jesper TVEVAD

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - December 2019

At a Glance
Summary : The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.
Summary : This document is a compilation of all Briefings produced by the Policy Departments of the Directorate-General for Internal Policies and of the Directorate-General for External Policies of the European Parliament, with salient points and essential commitments made by the Vice-Presidents and Commissioners-designates at their respective hearings before the European Parliament, in September-November 2019 and in October 2020. For an exhaustive list of all commitments made and positions taken by the candidates, the full verbatim report of each public hearing is available on the dedicated hearings website of the European Parliament, as are the written questions and answers.

Commitments made at the hearing of Josep BORRELL FONTELLES, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President-designate of the European Commission

22-11-2019 PE 639.311 AFET
Summary : The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President designate of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, appeared before the European Parliament on 7 October 2019 to answer MEPs’ questions. During the hearing, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document.
Authors : Marika LERCH, Jesper TVEVAD, Jérôme LEGRAND

Commitments made at the hearing of Olivér VÁRHELYI, Commissioner-designate - Neighbourhood and Enlargement

22-11-2019 PE 639.312 AFET
Summary : Commissioner-designate Olivér Várhelyi appeared before the European Parliament on 14 November 2019 to answer questions from MEPs in the Committee on Foreign Affairs (the Committee on International Trade was invited). This document highlights a number of commitments which he made during the hearing. They refer to his portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to him by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, including: Western Balkans and Turkey; Eastern Neighbourhood; Southern Neighbourhood.

The Mekong River: geopolitics over development, hydropower and the environment

Summary : The Mekong River is a vital source of livelihoods and economic activity in continental South-East Asia and extends from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea. Its length is 4 800 km. More than half circulates in China, but its channel runs through Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. The Mekong has the world's largest inland freshwater fishery industry, vital to the region's food security, representing around USD 3 000 million per year. Its unique and rich biological habitat provides diverse livelihoods as well as four fifths of the animal protein for more than 60 million people. At the level of biodiversity, the importance of this river for global nature is vital. The Mekong region is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and to the degradation of ecosystems. The uncontrolled growth of the population both in China and in Southeast Asia is exerting unsustainable pressure on the Mekong in terms of a massive exploitation of all kinds of resources linked to the River: water, food, wood, energy, especially recent infrastructure and hydropower development, together with deforestation, illegal wildlife trade and habitat fragmentation. Water scarcity leads to reduced agricultural productivity, unemployment and poverty Four countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam) formed an intergovernmental agency in 1950, The Mekong River Commission (MRC), to defend the sustainable development of the Mekong River and to plan its future. The absence of China and Myanmar mitigates and erodes the effective dialogue of the MRC on the management of the River. The lack of implementing mechanisms denatures the organization itself..