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Uzbekistan comes in from the cold: A new era of reforms

17-12-2018

Until recently, Uzbekistan was one of the most repressive countries in the world. Under its long-time leader Islam Karimov, human rights abuses included torture, child and forced adult labour, as well as severe restrictions on religious freedom, the media and civil society. Following Karimov's death in 2016, his successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev has launched an ambitious reform programme. Some of the worst human rights abuses (such as torture and forced labour) have been phased out, or at least diminished ...

Until recently, Uzbekistan was one of the most repressive countries in the world. Under its long-time leader Islam Karimov, human rights abuses included torture, child and forced adult labour, as well as severe restrictions on religious freedom, the media and civil society. Following Karimov's death in 2016, his successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev has launched an ambitious reform programme. Some of the worst human rights abuses (such as torture and forced labour) have been phased out, or at least diminished. Judges have become more independent, and the parliament has gained new powers. Steps have been taken to make the country's civil service more accountable to citizens. Media and civil society now have slightly more freedom to operate. Political reforms have been flanked by economic liberalisation. Barriers to trade and investment are being lifted, including by floating the som, the Uzbek currency, and by cutting red tape for businesses. On foreign policy, Uzbekistan has repaired ties with all its main international partners, from the US and EU to Russia and China. The most dramatic change has been the shift from Karimov-era confrontation with neighbours, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, to regional cooperation. These are highly positive changes, but Uzbekistan still has a long way to go. The economy remains largely state-controlled and uncompetitive, and liberalising reforms need to continue. On the political front, the system remains fundamentally authoritarian, and transition to genuine multiparty democracy seems unlikely.

The Development of an Institutional Framework for the Implementation of the Association Agreements in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine: a comparative perspective

19-09-2018

In recent years the EU concluded Association Agreements, including the creation of a Comprehensive Free Trade Areas with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. These are amongst the most complex and comprehensive legal treaties concluded by the EU with third countries. The treaties place a profound obligation on the partner countries of legal approximation, that is, to undertake extensive, binding commitments to adopt vast swathes of the acquis in order to stimulate political and economic development and ...

In recent years the EU concluded Association Agreements, including the creation of a Comprehensive Free Trade Areas with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. These are amongst the most complex and comprehensive legal treaties concluded by the EU with third countries. The treaties place a profound obligation on the partner countries of legal approximation, that is, to undertake extensive, binding commitments to adopt vast swathes of the acquis in order to stimulate political and economic development and institutional modernisation. This study shows that creating the institutional framework for implementation is a challenging and drawn-out process. While all countries have made some progress with devising these mechanisms, they are short of the necessary political leadership, policy planning, administrative capacity and there is a dearth of budgetary planning to enable effective implementation. There is also a notable need to embed implementation into wider reform strategies. While these issues are being addressed on the part of the countries, the EU can assist them by providing the necessary systemic support in an integrated, sequenced and long-term way.

Awtur estern

Kataryna WOLCZUK, Professor of East European Politics, University of Birmingham and Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House, United Kingdom

The state of implementation of the associations and free trade agreements with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova with a particular focus on Ukraine and systemic analysis of key sectors

16-11-2017

Signing and ratifying Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine has proven to be an impressive affirmation of Brussels’ soft power. The EU’s overtures have persuaded elites and mobilised societies despite the fact that the Agreements come neither with a membership promise nor with the kind of financial assistance that has been given to the EU’s new member states. EU assistance has been effective in restoring macro-financial stability in all three countries. While costs of compliance ...

Signing and ratifying Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine has proven to be an impressive affirmation of Brussels’ soft power. The EU’s overtures have persuaded elites and mobilised societies despite the fact that the Agreements come neither with a membership promise nor with the kind of financial assistance that has been given to the EU’s new member states. EU assistance has been effective in restoring macro-financial stability in all three countries. While costs of compliance with the DCFTA were calculated, level of investment associated with the necessary modernisation to make these economies competitive were neglected. The discrepancy between costs and benefits should prompt the EU to be more flexible. Brussels’ achievements remain fragile. Informal interests continue to play important roles in these countries and have the potential to thwart reforms. In the absence of strong, de-politicised institutions, the EU should work to support political consolidation—the alternative is further polarisation and political fragility—while at the same time insisting on adherence to democratic standards and strengthened institutional checks and balances.

Awtur estern

Iulian GROZA; Balazs JARABIK (coordinator); Jana KOBZOVA; Dr. Viktor KONSTANTYNOV; Tsovinar KUIUMCHIAN; Leonid LITRA; Tornike SHARASHENIDZE; Isaac WEBB

Structural reform support programme 2017-2020

16-06-2017

Structural reforms have been identified as crucial to accelerating economic recovery, boosting growth and reducing unemployment. In November 2015, the European Commission proposed to establish the Structural Reform Support Programme 2017-2020, to provide Member States with technical assistance in designing and implementing structural reforms. The proposed budget is €142.8 million, to be taken from existing technical assistance resources under the European Structural and Investment Funds. Building ...

Structural reforms have been identified as crucial to accelerating economic recovery, boosting growth and reducing unemployment. In November 2015, the European Commission proposed to establish the Structural Reform Support Programme 2017-2020, to provide Member States with technical assistance in designing and implementing structural reforms. The proposed budget is €142.8 million, to be taken from existing technical assistance resources under the European Structural and Investment Funds. Building on experience relating to reforms in Greece and Cyprus, the programme aims to improve administrative and institutional capacity, to facilitate better implementation of EU law, in particular the country-specific recommendations issued under the European Semester, more efficient use of EU funds and the introduction of growth-enhancing structural reforms. Agreement was reached in interinstitutional negotiations in February 2017, and the EP plenary vote took place in April. The adopted regulation (EU) 2017/825 was signed on 17 May and published in the Official Journal on 19 May 2017. Fourth edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

The European Neighbourhood Policy

21-10-2016

Since 2004, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has provided a framework for relations between the EU and its 16 geographically closest eastern and southern neighbours, affording enhanced cooperation and access to the EU market under bilateral action plans, which are intended to lead eventually to association agreements.

Since 2004, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has provided a framework for relations between the EU and its 16 geographically closest eastern and southern neighbours, affording enhanced cooperation and access to the EU market under bilateral action plans, which are intended to lead eventually to association agreements.

Public Sector Reform: How the EU Budget Is Used to Encourage it

31-08-2016

The recent European crisis has put the issue of government efficiency high on national policy agendas. Policy measures that result in a reduction of bureaucratic slack or red tape can alleviate the trade-off between consolidation and public service provision. Since 2007 the role of the EU budget in support of administrative reforms has been strengthening, at least in formal terms. However, the extent to which the various EU budgetary instruments have encouraged public administration reforms is unclear ...

The recent European crisis has put the issue of government efficiency high on national policy agendas. Policy measures that result in a reduction of bureaucratic slack or red tape can alleviate the trade-off between consolidation and public service provision. Since 2007 the role of the EU budget in support of administrative reforms has been strengthening, at least in formal terms. However, the extent to which the various EU budgetary instruments have encouraged public administration reforms is unclear. Against the background of the overall European approach towards public administration reforms, this study reviews the current budgetary instruments that directly or indirectly support such reforms, and analyses the coherence, EU added value and complementarities within them. Case studies on four Member States and an analysis of current networks and award initiatives to disseminate best practices complete the study. Based on extensive desk research and a set of semi-structured interviews, the analysis finds a positive but modest impact of the EU budget and existing networks on reform activity. Some of the key recommendations are to improve the consistency of Country Specific Recommendations related to administrative reforms, increase the effectiveness of the Structural Reform Support Programme, and to ensure coherence and complementarity between all EU-funded interventions as well as their monitoring and evaluation processes. As to the role of learning and policy-diffusion, the study recommends to promote focused peer-to-peer exchange among public sector managers, and to develop a more credible evaluation of public sector awards.

Awtur estern

Zareh Asatryan, Friedrich Heinemann and Mustafa Yeter (Centre for European Economic Research - ZEW, Mannheim, Germany for Chapters 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7) ; Eulalia Rubio and David Rinaldi (Jacques Delors Institute - JDI, Paris, France for Chapters 1, 4, and 7) ; Fabian Zuleeg (European Policy Centre - EPC, Brussels, Belgium for Chapter 7) ; Case studies: Asatryan (Estonia), Rinaldi (Italy), Rubio (Greece), Yeter (Bulgaria)

Tunisia: Democracy in transition

13-06-2016

Tunisia has taken key steps toward democracy since its Jasmine Revolution, and has so far avoided the violent chaos and/or return to authoritarian government seen in other Arab Spring countries. Tunisians adopted a new constitution in January 2014 and held national elections between October and December 2014, marking the completion of a four-year transition period.

Tunisia has taken key steps toward democracy since its Jasmine Revolution, and has so far avoided the violent chaos and/or return to authoritarian government seen in other Arab Spring countries. Tunisians adopted a new constitution in January 2014 and held national elections between October and December 2014, marking the completion of a four-year transition period.

EU Policies in Tunisia before and after the Revolution

21-04-2016

This study investigates the evolution and potential impacts of EU policies in Tunisia before and after the Revolution using an innovative analytical framework. To do that, the most important milestones in the frameworks of cooperation agreed between the EU and Tunisia and the policies implemented, are described. The impact of such policies before the Revolution and their subsequent evolution, are analysed to highlight the causes and the consequences of the shifting approach of the EU towards Tunisia ...

This study investigates the evolution and potential impacts of EU policies in Tunisia before and after the Revolution using an innovative analytical framework. To do that, the most important milestones in the frameworks of cooperation agreed between the EU and Tunisia and the policies implemented, are described. The impact of such policies before the Revolution and their subsequent evolution, are analysed to highlight the causes and the consequences of the shifting approach of the EU towards Tunisia. Finally, the analysis is complemented with inputs collected via a consultation from key participants across the Tunisian political and civil society landscape. In the pre-Revolution period, EU relations with Tunisia were narrowed down to an exchange of commercial, financial and strategic interests, in line with most development aid programmes across the world. The Tunisian Revolution brought two fundamental dynamics – democratisation and destabilisation – which had broad repercussions on the relations between Tunisia and the EU. These dynamics enhanced the probability of more synergies and complementarities between the two partners’ political projects and the necessity to strengthen financial support, providing the EU with a window of opportunity for enhanced cooperation, underlined in a win-win philosophy, co-development and deeper integration.

Awtur estern

Rym AYADI (International Institute for Cooperatives at HEC Montreal and Founding President of the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association - EMEA) and Emanuele SESSA (Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association)

The Western Balkans and EU Enlargement: Lessons learned, ways forward and prospects ahead

05-11-2015

Twelve years after the Thessaloniki promise that the future of the Balkans is within the European Union, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, fYRoM, Montenegro, and Serbia remain excluded with no foreseeable accession date in sight. Despite initial success, the current approach to enlargement has reached its limits, as it seems to be slowing down the integration process rather than accelerating it. In the meantime, in addition to the democratic and economic setbacks in the region, renewed tensions ...

Twelve years after the Thessaloniki promise that the future of the Balkans is within the European Union, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, fYRoM, Montenegro, and Serbia remain excluded with no foreseeable accession date in sight. Despite initial success, the current approach to enlargement has reached its limits, as it seems to be slowing down the integration process rather than accelerating it. In the meantime, in addition to the democratic and economic setbacks in the region, renewed tensions are threatening to undermine fragile regional stability. Moreover, the EU’s unfinished business in the Balkans opens the door to various political, economic and security alternatives. This is precisely why the main message of this study is that the current autopilot mode of enlargement cannot continue.

Awtur estern

Dr Marko KMEZIĆ, Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz, Austria

Japan: Foreign and Security Policy at a Crossroads

26-08-2015

On 16 July 2015, the Lower House of Japan’s Diet (the House of Representatives) approved a controversial package significantly reducing barriers to the deployment of Japanese defence forces overseas. This is the most significant change to have been made to Japan’s security and defence policy since World War II. The reforms promoted by Prime Minister Abe represent a fundamental shift in Japan’s foreign and security policy since WWII. Abe’s reforms are the logical consequence of a process of revision ...

On 16 July 2015, the Lower House of Japan’s Diet (the House of Representatives) approved a controversial package significantly reducing barriers to the deployment of Japanese defence forces overseas. This is the most significant change to have been made to Japan’s security and defence policy since World War II. The reforms promoted by Prime Minister Abe represent a fundamental shift in Japan’s foreign and security policy since WWII. Abe’s reforms are the logical consequence of a process of revision started more than twenty years ago with the end of the Cold War and later fuelled by the need to contest and contain the rising of China as a regional and global power. These reforms, including the reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, have been undertaken in a context of constantly shifting regional balance in the Asia-Pacific region, where Japan has been increasingly threatened by both China and North Korea. This has prompted a significant upgrade in relations with the US and may pave the way for a new phase of Japanese foreign policy, but also has a negative impact on Japan’s already lukewarm relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Koreas.

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