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Security situation in Afghanistan: Implications for Europe

29-10-2021

Just over two months after the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan on 15 August 2021, the movement remains politically isolated. So far, no country has recognised the caretaker government that the new leaders announced on 7 September 2021. The humanitarian situation in a country that largely depended on foreign aid to survive is deteriorating rapidly, so much so that international aid organisations describe the situation as a 'humanitarian meltdown'. Aware that the collapse of the economic and ...

Just over two months after the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan on 15 August 2021, the movement remains politically isolated. So far, no country has recognised the caretaker government that the new leaders announced on 7 September 2021. The humanitarian situation in a country that largely depended on foreign aid to survive is deteriorating rapidly, so much so that international aid organisations describe the situation as a 'humanitarian meltdown'. Aware that the collapse of the economic and financial system in Afghanistan would impact heavily on the stability of the country, the region and beyond, the international community has mobilised large amounts of funds, including €1 billion in humanitarian aid from the EU budget. While no major population movements out of Afghanistan have been detected so far, the EU is determined to avoid a crisis reminiscent of the 2015 refugee crisis prompted by the Syrian civil war. EU assistance is partly destined for countries in the region hosting Afghan refugees. In the longer term, the EU is concerned that Afghanistan could revert to being a safe haven for international terrorists who might target EU countries. The EU's preparedness to deal with the threat from terrorism has evolved significantly over the past decade. In response to events in Afghanistan, the Council published a counter-terrorism action plan on Afghanistan in September, setting out four clear objectives, and making 22 recommendations for action. The United States government's determination to leave Afghanistan according to a set timetable, irrespective of allies' reservations, has reignited the debate over the need for greater EU strategic autonomy. The EU's 'strategic compass' process provides a framework for these discussions, including negotiations over a potential future rapid reaction or 'initial entry' force, able to provide a European capability to react to events such as those that unfolded in Afghanistan. Members of the European Parliament have called on the EU to reinforce significantly its capacity to act autonomously and for the strategic compass to address the terrorist threat from Afghanistan.

Where will the EU's Strategic Compass point?

07-10-2021

As Member States encounter increasingly complex security threats, momentum to push for EU initiatives to deliver on the Union's level of ambition in defence has emerged. A process aimed at bringing clarity, guidance and incentives to completing the common security and defence policy, the Strategic Compass is a first for the European Union. Announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her 2021 State of the European Union speech, a European Defence Summit is expected to take place in February ...

As Member States encounter increasingly complex security threats, momentum to push for EU initiatives to deliver on the Union's level of ambition in defence has emerged. A process aimed at bringing clarity, guidance and incentives to completing the common security and defence policy, the Strategic Compass is a first for the European Union. Announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her 2021 State of the European Union speech, a European Defence Summit is expected to take place in February 2022. It is envisaged that, following its much-anticipated presentation, EU leaders will endorse the Compass in March 2022. European Council President Charles Michel branded 2022 'the year of European defence'. Launched in 2020, developing the Strategic Compass entails a complex strategic reflection, threat analysis and strategic dialogue among Member States. It is structured around four interlinked thematic baskets: crisis management, defence capabilities, resilience, and partnerships. Unlike the 2016 EU Global Strategy, which saw the EU institutions take the lead, this process is Member State-led, with the institutions playing a supporting and coordinating role. The main challenge of the Strategic Compass appears to be, on the one hand, providing clarity in the EU's objectives (defining the ends, the ways and the means), and on the other, ensuring Member State 'buy-in'. The latter is essential for the follow-up to the process, the findings from which should ideally be reflected in national defence planning processes. The process provides opportunities to improve links between the operational and capability dimensions of EU defence initiatives and external crisis management, to consolidate existing strategic partnerships and rethink the configuration of new ones, and to provide a concrete vision for the commitments made since 2016 to boost the EU as a defence actor. However, experts caution that the Compass risks remaining a paper exercise, should the political will to follow up not materialise.

EU cyber-defence capabilities

30-09-2021

Cyberspace has become the fifth domain of warfare alongside the traditional sea, land, air and space. As societies digitalise and become more technologically connected, cyber risks and vulnerabilities increase. The European Union (EU) has been highly active in strengthening cyber capabilities and coordination frameworks through a collection of initiatives and proposals, notably since 2017. The European Parliament will debate recent as well as future measures during the October I 2021 plenary session ...

Cyberspace has become the fifth domain of warfare alongside the traditional sea, land, air and space. As societies digitalise and become more technologically connected, cyber risks and vulnerabilities increase. The European Union (EU) has been highly active in strengthening cyber capabilities and coordination frameworks through a collection of initiatives and proposals, notably since 2017. The European Parliament will debate recent as well as future measures during the October I 2021 plenary session, with a focus on cyber-defence capabilities, the subject of a report discussed and voted in the Foreign Affairs (AFET) Committee in July 2021.

Who does what in security and defence? EU-US Explainer

29-09-2021

Geopolitical competition between rival nations and a complex security environment are threatening some of the core values of the transatlantic alliance. The institutions responsible for implementing EU and US security and defence policies aim to protect civilians and to promote rules-based conduct in external action. Against this backdrop, both the EU and US are undertaking significant strategic realignments, as the US shifts from counter-insurgency operations to competing with near-peer powers and ...

Geopolitical competition between rival nations and a complex security environment are threatening some of the core values of the transatlantic alliance. The institutions responsible for implementing EU and US security and defence policies aim to protect civilians and to promote rules-based conduct in external action. Against this backdrop, both the EU and US are undertaking significant strategic realignments, as the US shifts from counter-insurgency operations to competing with near-peer powers and the EU moves towards the objective of a defence union and strategic autonomy. Despite the historical transatlantic security and defence relationship, the institutional landscapes of the EU and the US are distinct and complex. This document seeks to give an overview of who does what in security and defence institutions on both sides of the Atlantic.

'Global Britain' and 'Europe of Defence': Prospects, challenges and opportunities

06-09-2021

Since the referendum to leave the European Union (EU) in 2016, the United Kingdom (UK) has been rethinking its role in world affairs. Under the 'Global Britain' banner, the UK sees itself as a force for multilateralism, a strong military power with global presence and reach, and a strong pillar of the transatlantic alliance. Reflection on the implications of 'Global Britain' for the UK's future foreign, security and defence policy has resulted in two strategic documents, the Integrated Review and ...

Since the referendum to leave the European Union (EU) in 2016, the United Kingdom (UK) has been rethinking its role in world affairs. Under the 'Global Britain' banner, the UK sees itself as a force for multilateralism, a strong military power with global presence and reach, and a strong pillar of the transatlantic alliance. Reflection on the implications of 'Global Britain' for the UK's future foreign, security and defence policy has resulted in two strategic documents, the Integrated Review and the Defence Command Paper, which outline policy priorities and the government's strategic vision. Although the EU as such is to a large extent absent from these strategic documents, there are implications to be considered, particularly as the EU has taken significant steps towards defence and military integration and as it is continuing to deepen its relationship with NATO. Although foreign, security and defence policy were excluded from the formal negotiations on a new EU-UK partnership, at the British government's request, it appears that the EU and UK foreign policy positions, strategic considerations, and security interests remain largely aligned. Various experts therefore argue that it is worth considering options for flexible engagements and for cultivating a new relationship through other common multilateral, bilateral and international forums.

Peace and Security in 2021: Overview of EU action and outlook for the future

15-06-2021

This is the fourth Peace and Security Outlook produced by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). The series is designed to analyse and explain the contribution of the European Union to the promotion of peace and security internationally, through its various external policies. The study provides an overview of the issues and current state of play. It looks first at the concept of peace and the changing nature of the geopolitical environment, in light of global shifts of power and of the ...

This is the fourth Peace and Security Outlook produced by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). The series is designed to analyse and explain the contribution of the European Union to the promotion of peace and security internationally, through its various external policies. The study provides an overview of the issues and current state of play. It looks first at the concept of peace and the changing nature of the geopolitical environment, in light of global shifts of power and of the impact of the coronavirus crisis. It then follows the logic of the annual series, by focusing on the promotion of peace and security in the EU's external action. Linking the study to the Normandy Index, which measures threats to peace and democracy worldwide based on the EU Global Strategy, each chapter of the study analyses a specific threat to peace and presents an overview of EU action to counter the related risks. The areas discussed include violent conflict, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, climate change, cyber-attacks, disinformation, and terrorism, among others. The EU's pursuit of peace is understood as a goal embodied in several EU policies, including development, democracy support, humanitarian assistance, security, and defence. The study concludes with an outlook for the future. A parallel study, to be published separately, focuses specifically on EU peace-building efforts in the eastern Mediterranean. The studies have been drafted as a contribution to the Normandy World Peace Forum scheduled for September 2021.

Harnessing the new momentum in transatlantic relations: Potential areas for common action during the Biden presidency

10-06-2021

The transatlantic relationship has been witnessing a significant injection of renewed enthusiasm and policy activity since Joe Biden became President of the United States in January 2021. This paper focuses on three important issues on the rapidly evolving transatlantic policy agenda, exploring their potential for generating, in effect, new 'common global goods' during the Biden presidency. First, it looks at pathways towards developing some kind of 'transatlantic green deal', taking climate action ...

The transatlantic relationship has been witnessing a significant injection of renewed enthusiasm and policy activity since Joe Biden became President of the United States in January 2021. This paper focuses on three important issues on the rapidly evolving transatlantic policy agenda, exploring their potential for generating, in effect, new 'common global goods' during the Biden presidency. First, it looks at pathways towards developing some kind of 'transatlantic green deal', taking climate action, trade and climate diplomacy in the round. Second, it analyses the comparative fabrics of US and European societies through the triple lens of violent extremism, the rule of law and technological disruption. Third, the prospects for 'crisis-proofing' the transatlantic space for the future are examined by looking at defence, health security and multilateralism. The paper also explores some potential avenues for closer transatlantic parliamentary cooperation, building on the already strong relationship between the European Parliament and the US Congress.

Prospects for the 2021 NATO leaders' meeting

04-06-2021

An in-person NATO summit of heads of state or government is scheduled to take place in Brussels on 14 June 2021. Highly anticipated, as part of United States President Joe Biden's first overseas visit, the summit is expected to outline NATO's strategic direction in the decade ahead. The NATO 2030 agenda will be debated, and forward-looking discussions about long-term threats and challenges to Euro-Atlantic security and defence are expected.

An in-person NATO summit of heads of state or government is scheduled to take place in Brussels on 14 June 2021. Highly anticipated, as part of United States President Joe Biden's first overseas visit, the summit is expected to outline NATO's strategic direction in the decade ahead. The NATO 2030 agenda will be debated, and forward-looking discussions about long-term threats and challenges to Euro-Atlantic security and defence are expected.

NATO looks to the 2030s

15-03-2021

Launched by the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg, in June 2020, the NATO 2030 process aims to generate recommendations on ways to strengthen and adapt the alliance. NATO created a marketplace of ideas with inputs from stakeholders, to inform the revision of its guiding strategic policy document, the strategic concept. A NATO summit in Brussels is expected in the first half of 2021.

Launched by the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg, in June 2020, the NATO 2030 process aims to generate recommendations on ways to strengthen and adapt the alliance. NATO created a marketplace of ideas with inputs from stakeholders, to inform the revision of its guiding strategic policy document, the strategic concept. A NATO summit in Brussels is expected in the first half of 2021.

Charting a course through stormy waters: The EU as a maritime security actor

25-02-2021

The European Union (EU) is a one-of-a-kind maritime actor, which brings both opportunities and responsibilities. It is argued that if the EU-27 were to combine the capacities and capabilities of their navies, they would form one of the world's largest maritime powers. There is therefore space for better integration of capabilities and for greater coherence among the EU's tools to promote its multi-dimensional strategic maritime interests. As around 90 % of global goods are traded via maritime routes ...

The European Union (EU) is a one-of-a-kind maritime actor, which brings both opportunities and responsibilities. It is argued that if the EU-27 were to combine the capacities and capabilities of their navies, they would form one of the world's largest maritime powers. There is therefore space for better integration of capabilities and for greater coherence among the EU's tools to promote its multi-dimensional strategic maritime interests. As around 90 % of global goods are traded via maritime routes, freedom of navigation, security, sustainability and respect for international law are crucial for the EU. These routes are however becoming increasingly contested and restricted, reflecting new patterns of global power distribution. In the security and defence field, the EU's common security and defence policy instruments, particularly its missions and operations abroad, are the most visible manifestation of its maritime actorness. The maritime dimension of the EU's security and defence policy has been put in the spotlight by Portugal, the holder of the EU Council presidency in the first half of 2021. Two of the 17 EU missions and operations are naval military operations: EUNAVFOR Somalia Atalanta in the western part of the Indian Ocean, and EUNAVFOR MED Irini in the central part of the Mediterranean Sea. EU Member States also participate in multinational maritime coalitions as well as in NATO's own maritime operation, Sea Guardian, patrolling the entire Mediterranean Sea. In following the orientations provided by its maritime and global strategies, the EU is aiming to increase its capacity and reliability as a maritime security actor. One example is its coordinated maritime presences, launched in January 2021 with a pilot case in the Gulf of Guinea to boost the EU's maritime capacity and global outreach. Another is the EU's action to boost its maritime defence capabilities through the various post-2016 initiatives that aim to incentivise collaborative projects. Finally, the EU has also enhanced its cooperation with NATO in ensuring maritime security in the transatlantic space, although political obstacles remain.

Upcoming events

29-11-2021
The Mutual Defence Clause (Article 42(7) TEU) in the face of new threats
Hearing -
SEDE
29-11-2021
Competitiveness of EU agriculture
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AGRI
30-11-2021
Eliminating Violence against Women - Inter-parliamentary committee meeting
Other event -
FEMM

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