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Russia–Ukraine stand-off ends – For now

23-04-2021

After a period of relative calm, the seven-year-old conflict in eastern Ukraine is heating up again. On the Russian side of the border, recent mass deployments of troops and weapons, now ended, led to fears that Moscow was considering further military aggression against Kyiv. The EU and its Western partners have expressed concern about escalating tensions, and affirmed their strong support for Ukraine.

After a period of relative calm, the seven-year-old conflict in eastern Ukraine is heating up again. On the Russian side of the border, recent mass deployments of troops and weapons, now ended, led to fears that Moscow was considering further military aggression against Kyiv. The EU and its Western partners have expressed concern about escalating tensions, and affirmed their strong support for Ukraine.

The Biden challenge in foreign policy [What Think Tanks are thinking]

12-03-2021

Nearly two months ago, on 20 January, Joseph Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, at the end of perhaps the most divisive electoral processes in his country's history. The new President's supporters and advocates, including many in Europe, are counting on him to set a new course for the US in global politics, moving to firm up and advance the multilateral, rules-based world order and rekindle America's traditional alliances, notably within the NATO framework. Very high hopes ...

Nearly two months ago, on 20 January, Joseph Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, at the end of perhaps the most divisive electoral processes in his country's history. The new President's supporters and advocates, including many in Europe, are counting on him to set a new course for the US in global politics, moving to firm up and advance the multilateral, rules-based world order and rekindle America's traditional alliances, notably within the NATO framework. Very high hopes and expectations have been raised about the potential of Washington to make a decisive shift from the assumptions and actions of Trump years. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on President Biden's early weeks in office and the various expectations regarding his presidency, especially in respect of the place of the United States in the world.

Russia's armed forces: Defence capabilities and policy

10-03-2021

Reforms launched under Vladimir Putin have restored some of the Russian armed forces' former glory. Russia now has a streamlined, mobile and mostly professional military, equipped with modern weapons. The impact of these changes was visible in Syria, Russia's first military intervention outside the post-Soviet region. Despite this increased capability, there are demographic and financial constraints on Russian military power. The armed forces are not attracting enough recruits to go fully professional ...

Reforms launched under Vladimir Putin have restored some of the Russian armed forces' former glory. Russia now has a streamlined, mobile and mostly professional military, equipped with modern weapons. The impact of these changes was visible in Syria, Russia's first military intervention outside the post-Soviet region. Despite this increased capability, there are demographic and financial constraints on Russian military power. The armed forces are not attracting enough recruits to go fully professional, and therefore still need conscripts – who are less well-trained than career soldiers – to make up the numbers. Moscow has spent billions of dollars on new weapons, such as the innovative nuclear missiles unveiled by President Putin in 2018, but not all branches of the armed forces are equally well equipped. Russia's increasingly assertive foreign policy raises the question of how much of a threat its military represents. Officially, the role of the armed forces is to defend Russian territory, but in practice Moscow uses military force to assert control over its post-Soviet sphere of influence, for example in Ukraine. Russia also uses hybrid methods such as cyber-attacks, including against North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. NATO's overall numerical superiority means that Russia is likely to avoid all-out war with the alliance. However, the risk that it might use nuclear weapons and other niche strengths to escape retaliation for a limited attack (for example in the Baltic region) cannot be entirely discounted.

Outcome of the European Council video-conference of 26 February 2021

03-03-2021

On 26 February 2021, EU leaders met for a second videoconference session to discuss security and defence and the southern neighbourhood. They reaffirmed their commitment to implement the 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda by increasing the EU's ability to act autonomously and strengthening its resilience by taking 'more responsibility for its security'. They also expressed their wish to deepen the transatlantic bond with the US and through NATO. In line with past meetings dedicated to security and defence ...

On 26 February 2021, EU leaders met for a second videoconference session to discuss security and defence and the southern neighbourhood. They reaffirmed their commitment to implement the 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda by increasing the EU's ability to act autonomously and strengthening its resilience by taking 'more responsibility for its security'. They also expressed their wish to deepen the transatlantic bond with the US and through NATO. In line with past meetings dedicated to security and defence, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, joined the EU leaders to discuss EU-NATO cooperation.

US foreign policy after the 2020 Presidential election: Issues for the European Union

03-12-2020

The election of the 46th President of the United States took place on 3 November 2020 amidst the unprecedented scenario of the coronavirus pandemic. Following several days of vote-counting, the democratic candidate, Joe Biden, secured the electoral votes needed to become the next President of the United States. His inauguration will take place on 20 January 2021. Domestic concerns, most notably the management of the coronavirus crisis and the economy, as well as racial issues, were the most important ...

The election of the 46th President of the United States took place on 3 November 2020 amidst the unprecedented scenario of the coronavirus pandemic. Following several days of vote-counting, the democratic candidate, Joe Biden, secured the electoral votes needed to become the next President of the United States. His inauguration will take place on 20 January 2021. Domestic concerns, most notably the management of the coronavirus crisis and the economy, as well as racial issues, were the most important subjects in determining voter preference. As usual, foreign policy did not rank highly amidst voters' concerns. However, for the European Union, the impact of the election of Joe Biden on US foreign policy will leave a substantial mark on the future course of transatlantic relations and of global cooperation. While foreign policy under the forthcoming Biden Administration is expected to depart from some of the key tenets of President Trump's 'America First' foreign policy, experts also point to a high possibility of continuity in areas such as trade and relations with China. However, on climate change, multilateral cooperation and support for NATO, expectations are high regarding a potential return to deep levels of transatlantic consensus and cooperation. Biden's foreign policy is likely to focus on multilateral cooperation, for example by re-joining the Paris Agreement on climate change and resuming US support for the World Health Organization. The former Vice-President has stated he will likely re-join the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran Nuclear Deal) in time, and pursue an extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia.

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

25-11-2020

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 ...

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.

Autor externo

Louise VAN SCHAIK, Ties DAMS

Understanding EU-NATO cooperation: Theory and practice

08-10-2020

The European Union and NATO have gone through the most acute strategic challenges of the Euro-Atlantic space together. Their history of cooperation is long and has seen both ups and downs. Already in 1949, the two defence players in western Europe, NATO and the Western Union (later the Western European Union), had begun to interact. In the 1990s, as the shift from nuclear deterrence to crisis management took place, the EU and NATO began to cooperate on operations, particularly in the Balkans. In ...

The European Union and NATO have gone through the most acute strategic challenges of the Euro-Atlantic space together. Their history of cooperation is long and has seen both ups and downs. Already in 1949, the two defence players in western Europe, NATO and the Western Union (later the Western European Union), had begun to interact. In the 1990s, as the shift from nuclear deterrence to crisis management took place, the EU and NATO began to cooperate on operations, particularly in the Balkans. In the early 2000s, the two cemented a strategic partnership based on mutually reinforcing cooperation, with crisis management at its heart. One concrete example is the EU's Operation Althea, still ongoing today, which the EU took over from NATO in 2004 and conducted while also making use of NATO assets. The dynamic of cooperation has intensified in the face of new threats ranging from terrorism to climate change to hybrid warfare. Each of these challenges shares one feature: they are common to both the EU and NATO. This realisation has given political impetus to formalise the current level of cooperation, through a joint declaration and concrete follow-up actions. In practice, this means joint training and exercises on matters ranging from cyber defence to hybrid warfare. There is also close coordination on foreign policy issues, including on 5G and cooperation with China, with the aim of crafting a solid joint approach. While the coronavirus pandemic has tested the resilience of EU-NATO cooperation, being met with coordination and a robust crisis response, questions nevertheless remain regarding the way forward for EU-NATO cooperation. For instance, the need to clarify the relationship between the EU and NATO's mutual defence clauses has become apparent. The materialisation of EU ambitions for strategic sovereignty, not least through multiple defence cooperation initiatives, will also present a test to the resilience of EU-NATO cooperation.

Understanding the financing of intergovernmental organisations: A snapshot of the budgets of the UN, NATO and WTO

23-09-2020

Access to stable and adequate financial resources is a crucial condition for the realisation of the global goals of intergovernmental organisations (IGOs). In recent decades, alongside global political changes and the evolution in the role of multilateral cooperation, the resourcing and budgetary management of IGOs have also changed. Moreover, funding available to IGOs has become ever more diversified and complex both in terms of its origin and type. This briefing presents selected aspects of the ...

Access to stable and adequate financial resources is a crucial condition for the realisation of the global goals of intergovernmental organisations (IGOs). In recent decades, alongside global political changes and the evolution in the role of multilateral cooperation, the resourcing and budgetary management of IGOs have also changed. Moreover, funding available to IGOs has become ever more diversified and complex both in terms of its origin and type. This briefing presents selected aspects of the financing of three of the world's largest IGOs: the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It presents the size and evolution of their budgets as well as the main contributing countries to these budgets, with a particular focus on the EU Member States. The analysis is based mainly on budgetary data for the financial year 2018.

NATO’s response in the fight against coronavirus

10-06-2020

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) might not be the first organisation that comes to mind for fighting pandemics. As the coronavirus crisis hit the world indiscriminately, NATO was fast to react, and used all the instruments in its toolbox to assist Allied countries and partners. From coordinating the transport of medicines and supplies, to launching scientific programmes to study the virus, NATO has again proven its value in times of crisis. Close European Union (EU) and NATO coordination ...

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) might not be the first organisation that comes to mind for fighting pandemics. As the coronavirus crisis hit the world indiscriminately, NATO was fast to react, and used all the instruments in its toolbox to assist Allied countries and partners. From coordinating the transport of medicines and supplies, to launching scientific programmes to study the virus, NATO has again proven its value in times of crisis. Close European Union (EU) and NATO coordination during the crisis was equally helpful in ensuring a coherent, civil-military approach.

Military mobility: Infrastructure for the defence of Europe

25-02-2020

To 'unite and strengthen Europe' is one of the goals expressed by the newly elected President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, believed that only 'a strong and united Europe can protect our citizens against threats internal and external.' European infrastructure that enables connectivity and ensures a rapid response in case of a crisis is a prerequisite for these visions. Since 2017, awareness has been increasing about the obstacles preventing ...

To 'unite and strengthen Europe' is one of the goals expressed by the newly elected President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, believed that only 'a strong and united Europe can protect our citizens against threats internal and external.' European infrastructure that enables connectivity and ensures a rapid response in case of a crisis is a prerequisite for these visions. Since 2017, awareness has been increasing about the obstacles preventing armed forces from moving effectively and swiftly across borders in crisis conditions. The measures taken to correct this strategic vulnerability are known under the term military mobility. Existing regulatory, administrative, and infrastructure inconsistencies and impediments across the territory of the European Union (EU) significantly hamper military exercises and training. Military mobility aims to harmonise rules across EU Member States and to explore the potential of a civilian-military approach to infrastructure development. Through measures such as funding dual use transport infrastructure, and simplifying diplomatic clearances and customs rules, the European Commission aims to improve military mobility across as well as beyond the EU, in support of missions and operations under the Common Security and Defence Policy. The unique EU contribution is its ability to leverage existing policies in the civilian realm to create added value for the military. This goal can be achieved only if a whole-of-government approach is applied, which in turn requires close collaboration between different bodies at the EU level, between them and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and between them and various actors at the Member State level. So far, military mobility has enjoyed a high degree of commitment from all stakeholders, which has in turn ensured swift policy implementation. It is becoming increasingly clear that military mobility is an essential piece in the EU's ambition to become a stronger global actor.

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