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EU policies – Delivering for citizens: EU support for democracy and peace in the world

28-06-2019

From the outset, the European Union (EU) has been an integration project directed at preserving peace among its Member States – a fundamental objective that it has succeeded in achieving for over 60 years. As a community of like-minded states, the EU is also based on certain fundamental values, such as democracy and the rule of law, which the Union aspires to promote, both internally and externally, and which guide all its policies. In line with this vision, the EU has developed specific policies ...

From the outset, the European Union (EU) has been an integration project directed at preserving peace among its Member States – a fundamental objective that it has succeeded in achieving for over 60 years. As a community of like-minded states, the EU is also based on certain fundamental values, such as democracy and the rule of law, which the Union aspires to promote, both internally and externally, and which guide all its policies. In line with this vision, the EU has developed specific policies to support democracy and peace in the world. It also aims to integrate the pursuit of peace and democracy with all its other external actions in areas such as trade, development, enlargement and neighbourhood policies, its common foreign and security policy, and political and diplomatic relations with third countries and multilateral institutions. The EU has established a reputation as a soft power organisation guided by a normative vision and as an effective actor for peace and democracy. Strengthening peace and democracy globally has never been an easy task, however, and today's geopolitical context poses new challenges. The proliferation and increasing gravity and duration of conflicts – some in the EU's immediate neighbourhood, the emergence of new threats, such as terrorism or nuclear proliferation, and the crisis of liberal systems have driven the EU to widen and intensify its efforts. They have also led to a new vision for action revolving around the concept of 'resilient societies' based on the mutually reinforcing pillars of peace and democracy, and a special emphasis on fragile states. Against this background, recent surveys have shown that citizens expect the EU to be even more active in promoting peace and democracy externally – something that should surely strengthen its resolve to make further progress in this crucial area. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Human Rights

28-06-2019

In the 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first international document to set common standards of achievement for all states – the pivotal role and moral, legal and political significance of human rights in the international arena have become indisputable. However, despite considerable progress in many areas on recognition, codification and implementation, human rights have also come under increased attack. Whether in theatres of war or in the political ...

In the 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first international document to set common standards of achievement for all states – the pivotal role and moral, legal and political significance of human rights in the international arena have become indisputable. However, despite considerable progress in many areas on recognition, codification and implementation, human rights have also come under increased attack. Whether in theatres of war or in the political arena, human rights are now often rejected on ideological grounds. The EU itself has not been spared by the current backlash. In its Member States, a populist wave has empowered some political forces that increasingly question the significance of core human rights, such as the right to freedom of expression. In these troubled times for human rights, opinion polls show that European citizens perceive human rights as one of the most important values for them personally and one of the values that best represent the EU itself. Having emerged from World War II and its atrocities, European countries were determined to secure lasting peace, and the Union they created is founded on respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights, which guide and shape its legislation and policies. Within the EU, recent action has included new legislation on data protection and access to justice, the European Pillar of Social Rights, and initiatives to combat inequality, discrimination and hate speech. There is also an acknowledgement that more needs to be done to complete the legal framework to combat discrimination and strengthen internal mechanisms for upholding the rule of law. Human rights are additionally a general objective of EU external action. The EU is deeply committed to promoting human rights, as enshrined in international treaties, in its relations with third countries and with other multilateral regional and global institutions. During Parliament's last mandate, the EU consistently applied and deepened a range of policy approaches that strengthen its role and image as a normative power that inspires others through its example. Maintaining and consolidating this policy remains vital for preserving the EU's image and credibility as a normative power based on values, and one that has the capacity to act at a time when the principle of multilateralism is increasingly questioned. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

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

22-05-2018

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

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

Research for REGI Committee - The economic, social and territorial situation of Northern Ireland

15-05-2018

This briefing was prepared to provide information for the visit to Northern Ireland from 21 to 23 March 2018 of a delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development (REGI).

This briefing was prepared to provide information for the visit to Northern Ireland from 21 to 23 March 2018 of a delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development (REGI).

Peace and Security in 2018: Overview of EU action and outlook for the future

14-05-2018

This is the first EU 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. It then focuses on the centrality of the ...

This is the first EU 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. It then focuses on the centrality of the promotion of peace and security in the EU's external action and proceeds to an analysis of the practical pursuit of these principles in three main areas of EU policy: development, democracy support, and security and defence. It concludes with an outlook to the future. A parallel study, published separately, focuses specifically on EU peacebuilding efforts in the Western Balkans. The studies have been drafted with a view to their presentation at the Normandy World Peace Forum, in June 2018.

EU external financing instruments and the post-2020 architecture: European Implementation Assessment

28-02-2018

This study evaluates the performance of the EU external financing instruments (EFIs) in the light of the results of the European Commission’s mid-term review and discussions on their post-2020 architecture. This evaluation finds that the existing architecture and geographic/thematic coverage of the EFIs has, overall, been relevant to the EU policy objectives set in 2014. However, they were less responsive to recipients’ needs, and implementation weaknesses persist. At the strategic level, weaknesses ...

This study evaluates the performance of the EU external financing instruments (EFIs) in the light of the results of the European Commission’s mid-term review and discussions on their post-2020 architecture. This evaluation finds that the existing architecture and geographic/thematic coverage of the EFIs has, overall, been relevant to the EU policy objectives set in 2014. However, they were less responsive to recipients’ needs, and implementation weaknesses persist. At the strategic level, weaknesses in EFIs that need attention in the post-2020 architecture include: balancing short-term expediency with long-term needs; ensuring EU security needs and interests do not marginalise EU values; and safeguarding the development-oriented agenda of EFIs. At an operational level, the EFIs need to overcome the ‘silo’ approach to implementation, and develop solid monitoring and evaluation systems that assess the EFIs’ impact in recipient countries. This study provides options for tackling these limitations, including the need to integrate simplification, ensure sustainability of EU action, strengthen flexibility while remaining consistent and committed to EU fundamental values, create multi-actor partnerships, link EU action to EU strategies, and strengthen EU strategic communication. The annexed expert paper found that EU support to civil society in Turkey, Ukraine and Egypt has improved in recent years, but it still struggles to meet new challenges. Neither radical simplification of the EFIs nor a dedicated civil society instrument would necessarily improve civil society support, and may involve serious drawbacks. The EU’s most pressing challenges are to link civil society more effectively to reform-oriented aid; find ways to support new civic actors; temper the current assault on civil society organisations; and to find more nuanced ways to link civil society to strategic goals.

External author

Annex: EU Support to Civil Society in Turkey, Ukraine and Egypt: Mapping reforms to the external financing instruments, written by Professor Richard Youngs, Carnegie Europe.