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Outlook for the meetings of EU leaders on 25-26 March 2021

22-03-2021

One year after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the fight against the virus will again top the agenda of the European Council meeting on 25-26 March 2021. EU leaders are expected to focus their discussions on ‘digital green certificates’ (providing proof of vaccination and/or Covid-19 test results) and progress on production, delivery and deployment of vaccines. They will work further on developing a common EU approach to the gradual lifting of restrictions and refer to global solidarity ...

One year after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the fight against the virus will again top the agenda of the European Council meeting on 25-26 March 2021. EU leaders are expected to focus their discussions on ‘digital green certificates’ (providing proof of vaccination and/or Covid-19 test results) and progress on production, delivery and deployment of vaccines. They will work further on developing a common EU approach to the gradual lifting of restrictions and refer to global solidarity. Other agenda points are digitalisation, including digital taxation, the single market and industrial policy. In respect of external relations, EU leaders will review the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and hold a strategic discussion on Russia. The subsequent Euro Summit will discuss the international role of the euro.

Belgrade-Pristina dialogue: The rocky road towards a comprehensive normalisation agreement

10-03-2021

Regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are key elements in the EU accession process for all western Balkan countries. Serbia and Kosovo have both declared their intention to join the EU. However, despite some initial successes, such as the Brussels Agreement of 2013, the dialogue facilitated by the EU and initiated in 2011 has stalled. In 2020, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was relaunched and supported by the international community. The appointment of United States (US) special presidential ...

Regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are key elements in the EU accession process for all western Balkan countries. Serbia and Kosovo have both declared their intention to join the EU. However, despite some initial successes, such as the Brussels Agreement of 2013, the dialogue facilitated by the EU and initiated in 2011 has stalled. In 2020, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was relaunched and supported by the international community. The appointment of United States (US) special presidential envoy Richard Grenell and special EU representative Miroslav Lajčák reflected the importance of the normalisation process. However, a lack of coordination and communication between the US and the EU means that no real progress has yet been made. The reasons for the very limited results are multiple, ranging from the internal political situation in both countries, to ambiguous and asymmetrical expectations of the normalisation agreement. Whereas for Kosovo the final goal is clear – recognition by Serbia of its statehood – for Serbia, normalisation of relations is interpreted in economic terms as an 'economic normalisation' and there is only limited space to go beyond those terms. Serbia also stresses that the process must remain within the framework defined by the Serbian Constitution, which considers Kosovo to be an integral part of the Serbian territory, and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. Currently, the most sensitive issue, the setting-up of the association/community of Serbian municipalities in Kosovo, agreed in 2013, shows that the challenges are rooted deeply in history and have a much broader regional context.

The European Union and the multilateral system: Lessons from past experience and future challenges

05-03-2021

EPRS invites leading experts and commentators to share their thinking and insights on important features of the European Union as a political and economic system. In this paper, David O'Sullivan, former Secretary General of the European Commission and EU Ambassador to the United States, reflects on the Union's contribution to and standing in the multilateral system which it has done so much to support and pioneer, as well as on some of the issues that confront Europe if it is to maximise its influence ...

EPRS invites leading experts and commentators to share their thinking and insights on important features of the European Union as a political and economic system. In this paper, David O'Sullivan, former Secretary General of the European Commission and EU Ambassador to the United States, reflects on the Union's contribution to and standing in the multilateral system which it has done so much to support and pioneer, as well as on some of the issues that confront Europe if it is to maximise its influence in international economic fora of various kinds.

Support for democracy through EU external policy: New tools for growing challenges

26-02-2021

The crisis of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism across the globe, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, highlight the importance of taking a more strategic and autonomous approach to supporting democracy worldwide – an objective often balanced against other external policy aims until now. Since the start of the current parliamentary term, the EU has reviewed its political guidance on democracy and human rights. It has adopted or is about to adopt important measures to strengthen support ...

The crisis of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism across the globe, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, highlight the importance of taking a more strategic and autonomous approach to supporting democracy worldwide – an objective often balanced against other external policy aims until now. Since the start of the current parliamentary term, the EU has reviewed its political guidance on democracy and human rights. It has adopted or is about to adopt important measures to strengthen support for democracy (including better monitoring and enforcement of relevant provisions in trade arrangements). The adoption of the new multiannual financial framework (MFF) and of a new development aid instrument bringing together all former external aid instruments provides new opportunities for better implementing EU funding and better exploiting the EU's leverage as a major provider of development aid. Digital challenges and the narrowing space for civil societies are among the priorities to be addressed. The challenge of engaging more difficult partners, such as China and Russia, has inspired calls to broaden the scope of a values-based agenda to other economic relations, such as investments. These new measures complement an already broad and complex toolbox integrating various external policies. Using the enhanced powers in external affairs provided by the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU has set up extensive political and diplomatic dialogues to enhance partnerships beyond the more asymmetric, specific development assistance and trade leverage going back to the 1990s. While the EU has responded to violations of democratic norms by reducing aid and withdrawing trade preferences, it has consistently sought to build equal partnerships based on constructive and open dialogues, rather than use its economic and commercial traction in a coercive manner. This is an update of a Briefing from February 2018.

Understanding EU counter-terrorism policy

14-01-2021

Faced with a persistent international terrorist threat, the European Union (EU) is playing an ever more ambitious role in counter-terrorism. Even though primary responsibility for combating crime and ensuring security lies with the Member States, the EU provides cooperation, coordination and (to some extent) harmonisation tools, as well as financial support, to address this borderless phenomenon. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as between ...

Faced with a persistent international terrorist threat, the European Union (EU) is playing an ever more ambitious role in counter-terrorism. Even though primary responsibility for combating crime and ensuring security lies with the Member States, the EU provides cooperation, coordination and (to some extent) harmonisation tools, as well as financial support, to address this borderless phenomenon. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as between internal and external security, has come to shape EU action beyond its own borders. EU spending in the area of counter-terrorism has increased over the years, to allow for better cooperation between national law enforcement authorities and enhanced support by the EU bodies in charge of security and justice, such as Europol, eu-LISA and Eurojust. The many new rules and instruments that have been adopted in recent years range from harmonising definitions of terrorist offences and sanctions, and sharing information and data, to protecting borders, countering terrorist financing, and regulating firearms. However, implementing and evaluating the various measures is a challenging task. The European Parliament has played an active role not only in shaping legislation, but also in evaluating existing tools and gaps through the work accomplished by its Special Committee on Terrorism (TERR) in 2018. In line with the Parliament's recommendations, as well as the priorities set by the new European Commission and its counter-terrorism agenda presented in December 2020, future EU counter-terrorism action will focus on better anticipating threats, countering radicalisation and reducing vulnerabilities, by making critical infrastructures more resilient and better protecting public spaces. Upcoming developments also include increased information-sharing, by means of better implementation and modernisation of existing tools, a reinforced mandate for Europol, as well as possible investigation and prosecution of terrorist crimes at EU level, through the proposed extension of the mandate of the recently established European Public Prosecutor's Office. This briefing builds on an earlier one, entitled 'The fight against terrorism', published in 2019.

Implementation of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP)

13-01-2021

Through the common foreign and security policy (CFSP), the European Union (EU) seeks to develop relations and build partnerships with third countries and international, regional or global organisations with shared principles on human rights, democracy and fundamental freedoms. The CFSP promotes multilateral solutions to common problems, based on international law and values. The European Parliament is set to vote on the annual CFSP report covering 2020 during the January 2021 plenary session.

Through the common foreign and security policy (CFSP), the European Union (EU) seeks to develop relations and build partnerships with third countries and international, regional or global organisations with shared principles on human rights, democracy and fundamental freedoms. The CFSP promotes multilateral solutions to common problems, based on international law and values. The European Parliament is set to vote on the annual CFSP report covering 2020 during the January 2021 plenary session.

EU human rights sanctions: Towards a European Magnitsky Act

10-12-2020

Sanctions are a key part of the EU's human rights toolbox. The EU adopts restrictive measures – mostly in the form of travel bans and asset freezes – against individuals and organisations responsible for some of the worst human rights violations. Until now, the EU has mostly adopted sanctions targeted at individual countries. Responding to violations from countries not already covered by EU sanctions means adopting a completely new framework for each country. However, the EU is now shifting to a ...

Sanctions are a key part of the EU's human rights toolbox. The EU adopts restrictive measures – mostly in the form of travel bans and asset freezes – against individuals and organisations responsible for some of the worst human rights violations. Until now, the EU has mostly adopted sanctions targeted at individual countries. Responding to violations from countries not already covered by EU sanctions means adopting a completely new framework for each country. However, the EU is now shifting to a more thematic approach, under which sanctions focus on a particular type of problem rather than a country. For example, the EU already has sanctions on chemical weapons and cyber-attacks that can be flexibly applied to offenders from any country in the world, and it has now added thematic human rights sanctions. The United States' 2016 Global Magnitsky Act, named after Sergey Magnitsky, a Russian whistleblower who died in jail after exposing corruption by high-level officials, gives some idea of how future EU human rights sanctions will work. Under the act, the US government has adopted sanctions against over 100 human rights violators from a wide range of countries. The proposal for the EU's new sanctions regime was tabled by the Netherlands in 2018. The necessary legislation was adopted by the Council of the EU on 7 December 2020, in time for UN Human Rights Day on 10 December 2020.

Nuclear arms control regimes: state of play and perspectives

02-12-2020

The EU is facing important challenges in the arms control and disarmament domain: firstly, the gradual abandonment of bilateral agreements between the US and Russia that protected European territory, and secondly, an increasing polarisation among the parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), evidenced by the controversy sparked by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Both developments combined weaken the arms control and disarmament regime, increasing the likelihood of a ...

The EU is facing important challenges in the arms control and disarmament domain: firstly, the gradual abandonment of bilateral agreements between the US and Russia that protected European territory, and secondly, an increasing polarisation among the parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), evidenced by the controversy sparked by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Both developments combined weaken the arms control and disarmament regime, increasing the likelihood of a global nuclear arms race. While the EU has progressively enhanced its role in arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, it is afflicted by the same cleavage over disarmament that characterises the NPT framework. Based on a review of the drivers of the current crisis and the options for addressing them, the present briefing illuminates the EU’s record, and identifies ways in which the European Parliament can support the nuclear arms control agenda despite its lack of formal competence in the field. These notably include developing a modus vivendi with the TPNW, and encouraging the Council to lay the groundwork for a multilateral arms control treaty system.

Vanjski autor

Clara PORTELA

The Istanbul Convention: A tool to tackle violence against women and girls

20-11-2020

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) is the first instrument in Europe to set legally binding standards specifically to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims of violence and punish perpetrators. Following the EU's signing of the Convention in June 2017, the European Parliament's consent is required for the EU's accession to the Convention. Pending Council's formal request for that consent, Parliament ...

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) is the first instrument in Europe to set legally binding standards specifically to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims of violence and punish perpetrators. Following the EU's signing of the Convention in June 2017, the European Parliament's consent is required for the EU's accession to the Convention. Pending Council's formal request for that consent, Parliament adopted an interim resolution in September 2017, and subsequently reviewed progress towards EU accession, in April and November 2019. EU accession to the Istanbul Convention is one of the priorities in the new EU 2020-2025 gender equality strategy.

Extraterritorial sanctions on trade and investments and European responses

20-11-2020

Recent US measures directed against Iran, Cuba and Russia (North Stream 2) have become indirectly a critical challenge for the European Union as well. As they purport to deter economic actors under EU jurisdiction from engaging with target countries, they have an important extraterritorial dimension, which affects EU business and individuals and ultimately the sovereignty of the EU and its Member States. A review of the existing sanction regimes and of the geopolitical context reveals that other ...

Recent US measures directed against Iran, Cuba and Russia (North Stream 2) have become indirectly a critical challenge for the European Union as well. As they purport to deter economic actors under EU jurisdiction from engaging with target countries, they have an important extraterritorial dimension, which affects EU business and individuals and ultimately the sovereignty of the EU and its Member States. A review of the existing sanction regimes and of the geopolitical context reveals that other international players and the PR China in particular may follow suit in using such measures. The study shows that extraterritorial sanctions have important economic implications, particularly for the EU and its vulnerabilities. Extraterritorial sanctions also raise critical questions as to their legality under general international law, WTO law and other specific international rules. The EU is especially affected by these measures and has taken some measures already in response. These could be improved and additional measures could be taken, as the policy recommendations set out.

Vanjski autor

Tobias STOLL, Steven BLOCKMANS, Jan HAGEMEJER, Christopher A. HARTWELL, Henner GÖTT, Kateryna KARUNSKA, Andreas MAURER

Buduća događanja

21-06-2021
Ensuring effective protection of European consumers in the digital economy
Saslušanje -
IMCO
22-06-2021
AFCO ICM on the Reform of European Electoral Law & Parliament's Right of Inquiry
Drugo događanje -
AFCO
22-06-2021
The development of new tax practices:what new schemes should the EU pay attention to?
Saslušanje -
FISC

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