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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.

Review of dual-use export controls

15-01-2021

Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for military purposes; so-called 'dual-use' goods are subject to the European Union's export control regime. The regime has just been revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments, increase transparency and create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation will recast the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal explicitly ...

Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for military purposes; so-called 'dual-use' goods are subject to the European Union's export control regime. The regime has just been revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments, increase transparency and create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation will recast the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal explicitly defines cyber-surveillance technology as dual-use technology and introduces human rights violations as an explicit justification for export control. It also includes provisions to control emerging technologies. The proposed regulation introduces greater transparency into dual-use export control by increasing the level of detail Member States will have to provide on exports, licences, licence denials and prohibitions. On 17 January 2018, based on the INTA committee's report on the legislative proposal, the European Parliament adopted its position for trilogue negotiations. For its part, the Council adopted its negotiating mandate on 5 June 2019, and on the basis of this mandate, the Council Presidency began negotiations with the European Parliament's delegation on 21 October 2019. Trilogue negotiations ended on 9 November 2020, with agreement on a final compromise text. Endorsed by the INTA committee on 30 November, the Parliament is expected to vote in plenary on the text in early 2021. Sixth edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

EU preparedness against CBRN weapons

29-01-2019

The European Union faces an increasingly challenging security environment, with a climate of international instability and a level of tension not seen since the end of the Cold War. Repeated chemical attacks by both State and non-state actors in the context of the Syrian conflict, the Novichok attack in Salisbury and the disruption of two ricine terror plots in Germany and in France in 2018 came all as stark reminders that the threat remains real and that Member States could be affected. In this ...

The European Union faces an increasingly challenging security environment, with a climate of international instability and a level of tension not seen since the end of the Cold War. Repeated chemical attacks by both State and non-state actors in the context of the Syrian conflict, the Novichok attack in Salisbury and the disruption of two ricine terror plots in Germany and in France in 2018 came all as stark reminders that the threat remains real and that Member States could be affected. In this context, the European Union (EU) continues to strengthen its capacities in the field of CBRN preparedness and response. The use of EU mechanisms and Member States’ military assets is one of the possibilities for strengthening prevention capacities that must be explored more thoroughly.

Autore esterno

Elisande NEXON, Senior Research Fellow, and Claude WACHTEL, Independent Consultant, Associate Senior Research Fellow, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), France

North Korea’s nuclear summitry [What Think Tanks are thinking]

04-06-2018

The US President, Donald Trump, and North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, are preparing for a high-stakes summit on the latter country’s nuclear programme, following Trump’s decision on 1 June to revive the meeting after having cancelled it the previous week. At the summit, due to take place on 12 June in Singapore, Trump is expected to press for denuclearisation of North Korea in exchange for easing economic sanctions and, possibly some aid. The main sticking point lies on the meaning the two countries ...

The US President, Donald Trump, and North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, are preparing for a high-stakes summit on the latter country’s nuclear programme, following Trump’s decision on 1 June to revive the meeting after having cancelled it the previous week. At the summit, due to take place on 12 June in Singapore, Trump is expected to press for denuclearisation of North Korea in exchange for easing economic sanctions and, possibly some aid. The main sticking point lies on the meaning the two countries attribute to the word 'denuclearisation'. Pyongyang, after years of isolation, is engaged in an unprecedented series of high-level meetings with South Korea, China and Russia. This note offers links to reports and commentaries from some major international think-tanks and research institutes on the North Korean nuclear programme. More reports on the topic can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are thinking’, published in September 2017. Credit photo: © jpldesigns / Fotolia

United States' nuclear weapons policy: New priorities, new challenges

08-12-2017

The United States is the world's second largest nuclear power, coming close behind Russia. Together the two states account for 93 % of the world's nuclear weapons. Since the end of the Cold War, the US has followed a policy of reducing its nuclear arsenal, while maintaining a nuclear triad. Under President Obama, it embarked on an intense nuclear modernisation programme, while making commitments towards nuclear non-proliferation and – as a long-term goal – nuclear disarmament. President Donald Trump ...

The United States is the world's second largest nuclear power, coming close behind Russia. Together the two states account for 93 % of the world's nuclear weapons. Since the end of the Cold War, the US has followed a policy of reducing its nuclear arsenal, while maintaining a nuclear triad. Under President Obama, it embarked on an intense nuclear modernisation programme, while making commitments towards nuclear non-proliferation and – as a long-term goal – nuclear disarmament. President Donald Trump took office in January 2017 with the promise to discontinue the previous administration's policy priorities. This is reflected in the current realignment of the US nuclear weapons policy. The new administration aims to expand US nuclear capabilities, is sceptical of international arms-control agreements, and has a more determinant stance on non-proliferation. President Trump has criticised the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and consequently decertified the multilateral Iran nuclear deal in October 2017. The President has also characterised the bilateral New START Treaty, limiting the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons between the US and Russia, as 'a one-sided deal'. The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), a landmark nuclear arms control treaty between the US and the former USSR, seems to be in limbo, and nuclear proliferation efforts in North Korea have sparked a war of words between Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. The ongoing Nuclear Posture Review, together with the coming passage of the annual defence policy bill in Congress, the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2018, have the potential to provoke shifts in US nuclear policy.

Control of trade in dual-use items

14-09-2016

The system of export controls requires its Member States to comply with general international obligations to counter the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and other items with potential military use. The same obligation is also applicable to ‘dual-use items’, i.e. items which can be used for civil and military purposes. The existing export control system of dual-use items requires an export authorisation if a dual-use item is exported from the EU to a non-EU country. Without ...

The system of export controls requires its Member States to comply with general international obligations to counter the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and other items with potential military use. The same obligation is also applicable to ‘dual-use items’, i.e. items which can be used for civil and military purposes. The existing export control system of dual-use items requires an export authorisation if a dual-use item is exported from the EU to a non-EU country. Without an export authorisation, the dual-use items cannot leave EU customs territory. The list of dual-use items requiring this authorisation is included in Annex I of Regulation 428/2009. The regulation also establishes several rules and principles for export, transport, transfer of, and brokering of these items. Although the regulation is binding in its entirety, it gives several broad competences and discretion to the Member States, for example, with regard to sanctions or different types of authorisation. These competences, on the one hand, allow the Member States to implement the regulation in a way that reflects their legal traditions. On the other hand, however, these might influence the process of harmonisation of dual-use export controls negatively, and as a result, limit their effectiveness. In addition, the most recent technological developments such as 3-D printers, geopolitical changes in the world, a growth of international terrorism and connected security concerns, and a greater concern for human rights, may require an update of the existing European legislation. On several occasions, the European Parliament has called on the Commission to update the existing legislation to react to these challenges. Similarly, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee noted the need to update the existing legislation. Finally, the European Commission itself expressed a willingness to come forward with a new legislative proposal that will update the existing system of export controls of dual-use items. Please click here for the full publication in PDF format

Workshop on "Human rights in North Korea: Accountability vs. Engagement?"

12-05-2016

Workshop on "Human rights in North Korea: accountability vs. engagement?", held on 20 April 2016 in the European Parliament.

Workshop on "Human rights in North Korea: accountability vs. engagement?", held on 20 April 2016 in the European Parliament.

Autore esterno

Mariam KHOTENASHVILI (Trans European Policy Studies Association - TEPSA, Belgium)

ISIL/Da'esh and 'non-conventional' weapons of terror

02-05-2016

The European Union and its Member States must prepare for the possibility of a chemical or biological attack on their territory by the self-styled 'Islamic State' in Iraq and the Levant (known variously as IS, ISIS or ISIL, and by the Arabic acronym 'Da'esh'). Since October 2015, terrorist attacks in Ankara, the Sinai Peninsula, Beirut, Paris, Tunis and Brussels, for which ISIL/Da'esh has claimed responsibility, have cost the lives of over 530 people. Immediately following the attacks in Paris and ...

The European Union and its Member States must prepare for the possibility of a chemical or biological attack on their territory by the self-styled 'Islamic State' in Iraq and the Levant (known variously as IS, ISIS or ISIL, and by the Arabic acronym 'Da'esh'). Since October 2015, terrorist attacks in Ankara, the Sinai Peninsula, Beirut, Paris, Tunis and Brussels, for which ISIL/Da'esh has claimed responsibility, have cost the lives of over 530 people. Immediately following the attacks in Paris and Brussels, the jihadist terrorist group threatened further attacks in European cities. ISIL/Da'esh has vowed that future strikes will be more lethal and even more shocking, prompting experts to warn that the group may be planning to try to use internationally banned weapons of mass destruction in future attacks. On 19 November 2015, the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, raised the spectre of ISIL/Da'esh planning a chemical or biological attack. At present, Europeans are generally not contemplating the possibility that extremist groups might use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials during attacks in Europe. Under these circumstances, the impact of such an attack, should it occur, would be even more destabilising. European governments and EU institutions need to be on alert, and should consider publicly addressing the possibility of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological, radiological or even nuclear materials. The EU institutions have devoted considerable efforts to preventing a CBRN attack on European soil and preparing worst-case scenarios. However, some gaps remain, in particular with regard to information-sharing among Member States. This briefing updates the previous edition published on 3 December 2015.

ISIL/Da'esh and 'non-conventional' weapons of terror

03-12-2015

The European Union and its Member States must prepare for the possibility of a chemical or biological attack on their territory by the self-styled 'Islamic State' in Iraq and the Levant (known variously as IS, ISIS or ISIL, and by the Arabic acronym 'Da'esh'). Since the beginning of October 2015, terrorist attacks in Ankara, the Sinai Peninsula, Beirut, Paris and Tunis, for which ISIL/Da'esh has claimed responsibility, have cost the lives of 500 people. Immediately following the latest attack in ...

The European Union and its Member States must prepare for the possibility of a chemical or biological attack on their territory by the self-styled 'Islamic State' in Iraq and the Levant (known variously as IS, ISIS or ISIL, and by the Arabic acronym 'Da'esh'). Since the beginning of October 2015, terrorist attacks in Ankara, the Sinai Peninsula, Beirut, Paris and Tunis, for which ISIL/Da'esh has claimed responsibility, have cost the lives of 500 people. Immediately following the latest attack in Paris, the jihadist terrorist group threatened further attacks in European cities. ISIL/Da'esh has vowed that future strikes will be more lethal and even more shocking. This has prompted experts to warn that the group may be planning to try to use internationally banned weapons of mass destruction in future attacks. On 19 November 2015, the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, raised the spectre of ISIL/Da'esh planning a chemical or biological attack. At present, European citizens are not seriously contemplating the possibility that extremist groups might use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials during attacks in Europe. Under these circumstances, the impact of such an attack, should it occur, would be even more destabilising. European governments and EU institutions need to be on alert, and should consider publicly addressing the possibility of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological, radiological or even nuclear materials. The EU institutions have devoted considerable efforts to preventing a CBRN attack on European soil and preparing worst-case scenarios. However, some gaps remain, in particular with regard to information-sharing among Member States.

Russia: Arms control and non-proliferation

22-06-2015

Arms control and non-proliferation agreements are an important part of Europe's post-Cold War security order, now looking increasingly fragile due to the Ukraine crisis. Numerous concerns have been raised about Russia's commitments on weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms.

Arms control and non-proliferation agreements are an important part of Europe's post-Cold War security order, now looking increasingly fragile due to the Ukraine crisis. Numerous concerns have been raised about Russia's commitments on weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms.

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