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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 ...

Myanmar: The return of the junta

Kort overzicht 16-02-2021

On 1 February 2021, the Myanmar armed forces seized power and imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of the country since 2016. The coup threatens to derail Myanmar’s progress towards democracy, which began in 2008 after five decades of brutal military rule. Huge protests have broken out in Myanmar, calling for the restoration of the elected civilian government. The EU is considering additional sanctions against the country.

Turkey is the EU's fifth largest trading partner, while the EU is Turkey's largest. The association agreement concluded between the European Economic Community (EEC) and Turkey in 1963 was an interim step towards the country's accession to the EEC, membership of which it had applied for in 1959. The EU-Turkey customs union came into force in 1995, and Turkey obtained EU candidate status in 1999. In December 2004, the European Council decided that Turkey qualified for EU accession, making it possible ...

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 ...

Support to democracy in Belarus

Kort overzicht 14-10-2020

Presidential elections in Belarus in August 2020 were conducted in flagrant violation of all internationally recognised standards, democratic principles and European values. The European Union stands with millions of Belarusians who decided to oppose Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s regime. The European Parliament is expected to vote on a draft recommendation on relations with Belarus, during the October II plenary session.

EU cyber sanctions: Moving beyond words

Kort overzicht 25-09-2020

The EU recognises that cybersecurity and cyber-defence are critical for its prosperity, security and global ambitions. Offensive cyber-attacks by malicious actors show no sign of slowing down (not even during the coronavirus pandemic) and thus require concrete dissuasive measures. In July 2020, the EU Member States decided for the first time to use the 'teeth' rooted in the EU cyber-diplomacy framework and to 'bite cyber perpetrators back' by placing sanctions on them. This precedent has helped reinforce ...

Across the world, democratic societies, institutions, processes and values are under increasing external and internal attack. The coronavirus crisis has, meanwhile, exacerbated the systemic struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, prompting authoritarian state and non-state actors to deploy a broad range of overt and covert instruments in their bid to destabilise their democratic counterparts. Against this backdrop, and following a string of examples of hostile meddling by authoritarian actors ...

The poisoning of Alexey Navalny

Kort overzicht 21-09-2020

EU-Russia relations hit a new low in August 2020, after Alexey Navalny, one of Russia's leading opposition activists, was poisoned by a banned nerve agent. Although the perpetrators have not yet been identified, the attack has to be seen in the context of repression and growing discontent against Putin. In response to this clear breach of international law and human rights, the EU is considering additional sanctions against Moscow.

The European Council meeting on 19 June, to be held by video-conference, will be almost exclusively dedicated to the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the proposed new EU recovery fund, dubbed ‘Next Generation EU’. The two European Commission proposals are now to be considered as one package for the purpose of negotiation, since the recovery fund is in effect embedded within the revamped EU long-term budget. This has increased the pressure on Member States to reach a political agreement ...

The coronavirus pandemic has raised concerns that international sanctions may be exacerbating the risk of a humanitarian crisis. In March 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on world leaders to waive restrictions on food and medicines that are affecting the world's most vulnerable countries. Especially since the suffering caused by the international trade embargo against Iraq in the 1990s, the European Union has sought to design its sanctions for maximum effect at the least ...