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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.

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - March 2021

08-03-2021

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.

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.

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.

Women in foreign affairs and international security: Still far from gender equality

03-03-2021

The debate on the participation and role of women in foreign affairs and international security is a timely and relevant one, and is being raised with increasing frequency at both national and international levels. In particular, there is growing attention to the imbalances in the representation of women in leadership and other key positions in the area of foreign and security policy, as well as to the growing body of evidence regarding the positive effect of including women in several key areas ...

The debate on the participation and role of women in foreign affairs and international security is a timely and relevant one, and is being raised with increasing frequency at both national and international levels. In particular, there is growing attention to the imbalances in the representation of women in leadership and other key positions in the area of foreign and security policy, as well as to the growing body of evidence regarding the positive effect of including women in several key areas of foreign and security policy. While gaps persist, women's representation at management and ministerial levels in the areas of foreign affairs and security has increased whether in the European Union (EU), the United States (US) or at the United Nations (UN) level. Among these issues, women's role in peacekeeping receives particular attention, as research has consistently shown that gender equality contributes to peace, and that peace negotiations involving women have a better chance of being sustainable and effective. Gender-equal societies enjoy better health, stronger economic growth and higher security. The UN and the EU have put pronounced emphasis on the issue in the past two decades. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 established the 'women, peace and security' (WPS) agenda in 2000. Since then, more WPS-related resolutions have been adopted, widening the scope and breadth of gendered peace and security. These resolutions have been instrumental in changing the philosophy and rhetoric focused on conflict and gender equality, thereby challenging the international community to do more. Several initiatives are also being implemented at EU level, including through the 2018 EU strategic approach to WPS. However, critics underline that a lot remains to be done, as women continue to be under-represented in the field of foreign and security policy across the world. This is an update of an EPRS briefing published in September 2019.

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.

Improving the common level of cybersecurity across the EU

11-02-2021

Drawing on the findings of an evaluation of the NIS directive, the IA generally seems to provide a clear and relevant analysis of the shortcomings of the existing NIS Directive and the available policy options for their improvement by a new legal act. It appears that the IA's assumptions are based on a thorough stocktaking exercise involving the consultation of a big number of stakeholders. The IA could however have explained in closer detail practical implications of the proposed initiative. It ...

Drawing on the findings of an evaluation of the NIS directive, the IA generally seems to provide a clear and relevant analysis of the shortcomings of the existing NIS Directive and the available policy options for their improvement by a new legal act. It appears that the IA's assumptions are based on a thorough stocktaking exercise involving the consultation of a big number of stakeholders. The IA could however have explained in closer detail practical implications of the proposed initiative. It would have been useful if the IA had provided a fuller impact analysis particularly of potential economic costs and fundamental rights implications, as noted in the RSB opinion. Finally, the range of options assessed is limited to two in addition to the baseline. Given that the final outcome of the assessment is a significant revision of the existing legal framework, one might have expected a more granular formulation of policy options in the IA.

How the COVID-19 crisis has affected security and defence-related aspects of the EU

27-01-2021

This paper looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has directly and indirectly affected European security and defence. It documents how missions and operations of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) were directly impacted. It finds that COVID-19 has accentuated already recognised capacity shortfalls of the CSDP, such as strategic airlift, secure communications and command and control. Defence spending through EU instruments, and to a lesser extent at national level, has come under pressure although ...

This paper looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has directly and indirectly affected European security and defence. It documents how missions and operations of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) were directly impacted. It finds that COVID-19 has accentuated already recognised capacity shortfalls of the CSDP, such as strategic airlift, secure communications and command and control. Defence spending through EU instruments, and to a lesser extent at national level, has come under pressure although it may still escape post-2008 style cuts. The pandemic revealed the vulnerabilities of Member States’ infrastructure and supply chains, and the limited competences of the EU in supporting Member States’ management of public health emergencies. COVID-19 tends to act as a threat multiplier and source of instability, particularly in low-income countries already affected by socio-economic imbalances and governance problems. The pandemic is likely to accelerate existing trends, including the declining share of the US and the EU in the world economy compared to Asia, intensifying concerns about China’s growing assertiveness, growing attention to IT security and cyber capabilities, and the interconnection between conventional and unconventional security risks. This analysis also looks at which lessons the EU should learn in order to better manage and prepare for such crises. At a strategic level, the EU needs to invest in lesson learning exercises with the European Parliament playing a key role in making the learning publicly accessible. It should also be proactive in shaping international discourses about international governance and the role of the EU post COVID-19. Furthermore, the paper elaborates 19 short and longer-term recommendations, for instance, on how CSDP missions can become more resilient in public health emergencies and which capability shortfalls need addressing most; how defence spending can be made more efficient and better targeted; or how the EU can help to better coordinate military support to civilian authorities. Finally, it advocates investment in health intelligence and better managing the biosecurity risks arising from growing access to dual-use technologies. The EU should forge a preventive approach to future pandemics and associated risks and embrace a comprehensive approach to security and resilience. Yet, one should not lose sight of the distinctive function of the CSDP and what it can currently deliver.

Parlamendiväline autor

Christoph O. Meyer, Sophia Besch, Prof. Martin Bricknell, Dr Ben Jones Christoph O. MEYER, Martin BRICKNELL, Ramon PACHECO PARDO, Ben JONES.

Plenary round-up - January 2021

22-01-2021

The main debates of the January 2021 plenary session were on the inauguration of the new President of the United States, and the presentation of the Portuguese EU Council Presidency. Members also debated the humanitarian situation of refugees and migrants at the EU's external borders, as well as the EU global strategy on Covid 19 vaccinations, and the social and employment crisis caused by the pandemic and the EU's response. Lack of transparency in Council appointments to the European Public Prosecutor's ...

The main debates of the January 2021 plenary session were on the inauguration of the new President of the United States, and the presentation of the Portuguese EU Council Presidency. Members also debated the humanitarian situation of refugees and migrants at the EU's external borders, as well as the EU global strategy on Covid 19 vaccinations, and the social and employment crisis caused by the pandemic and the EU's response. Lack of transparency in Council appointments to the European Public Prosecutor's Office and the consequences of earthquakes in Croatia were also discussed. Members discussed the Court of Auditors' annual report, and Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell made statements on the arrest of Aleksei Navalny, on enhancing EU external action in Latin America and the Caribbean, and on the latest developments in the National Assembly of Venezuela.

Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons ─ The 'Ban Treaty'

20-01-2021

On 22 January 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the TPNW) enters into force. On that day, nuclear weapons development, testing, production, possession, stockpiling, use and threat of use, as well as the stationing or deployment of another country's nuclear weapons on a state party's national territory will become prohibited under international law. The TPNW has been hailed as historic by supporters of an initiative, which has gained ground in recent years, to rid the world of ...

On 22 January 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the TPNW) enters into force. On that day, nuclear weapons development, testing, production, possession, stockpiling, use and threat of use, as well as the stationing or deployment of another country's nuclear weapons on a state party's national territory will become prohibited under international law. The TPNW has been hailed as historic by supporters of an initiative, which has gained ground in recent years, to rid the world of the most destructive weapon known to humankind. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which spearheaded these efforts, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Supporters hope that the TPNW will strengthen the international legal framework and gradually advance the political norm against nuclear weapons possession and use. Opponents of the Treaty argue that the conditions for disarmament do not currently exist and that promoters of the TPNW fail to recognise this. They also point to the danger of undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), recognised as the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime, including by proponents of the TPNW. The nine states known to have military nuclear programmes have not signed the TPMW. Nor have Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which in 2016 re-confirmed its commitment to nuclear deterrence. This raises doubts about the impact of this new instrument and its ability to create normative values. Most EU Member States, 21 of which are members of NATO, oppose the TPNW, and only three have ratified it. The European Parliament has noted that the TPNW provided evidence of the desire to achieve the objective of a nuclear weapons-free world. This is an updated version of an earlier briefing, from January 2018.

Qualified majority voting in foreign and security policy: Pros and Cons

19-01-2021

In her first State of the Union speech, and in the section of the speech most applauded by the European Parliament, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for the use of qualified majority voting (QMV) in areas such as sanctions and human rights. The crises and security challenges accumulating in and around the European Union have added to the urgency of having a more effective and rapid decision-making process in areas pertaining to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP ...

In her first State of the Union speech, and in the section of the speech most applauded by the European Parliament, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for the use of qualified majority voting (QMV) in areas such as sanctions and human rights. The crises and security challenges accumulating in and around the European Union have added to the urgency of having a more effective and rapid decision-making process in areas pertaining to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The core encumbrance against unanimous EU agreement on foreign policy is argued to be the absence of a common strategic culture among EU Member States. The Lisbon Treaty's architects have equipped the EU Treaties with 'passerelle clauses' – provisions usually aimed at modifying the decision-making of the Council of the EU. The passerelle clause for CFSP is Article 31(3) of the Treaty on European Union, which empowers the European Council to, by unanimous agreement, allow the Council of the EU to take decisions by QMV in some areas of the CFSP. Another option is an emergency brake – cancelling a vote for vital reasons of national policy – while constructive abstention is an option which allows a Member State to abstain from a unanimous vote without blocking it. Since 2016, the EU has witnessed growing momentum to shape its identity as a security provider and peace promoter. From 2020 and until 2022, it is undertaking a strategic reflection process taking the form of a 'strategic compass', whereby the threats, challenges and objectives for the Union in security and defence will be better defined. It is in this context that the debate about QMV in foreign and security policy has resurfaced and continues to be the subject of policy discussions. Nevertheless, recent efforts to innovate in the EU’s methods for adopting sanctions in the field of human rights abuses (the European Magnitsky Act) have been unsuccessful in their attempt to move from unanimity to qualified majority voting.

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