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EU-Belarus relations: State of play - Human rights situation

23-11-2021

Over the summer and autumn of 2021, in what is increasingly viewed as a hybrid warfare tactic aimed at destabilising Europe, Aliaksandr Lukashenka's Belarussian regime has instrumentalised migrants, manipulating the organisation of flights from the Middle East to Minsk and deliberately orchestrating migrants' onward travel to the EU-Belarus border. With weather conditions endangering migrants' lives, the situation has also led to serious humanitarian consequences. This activity – which many argue ...

Over the summer and autumn of 2021, in what is increasingly viewed as a hybrid warfare tactic aimed at destabilising Europe, Aliaksandr Lukashenka's Belarussian regime has instrumentalised migrants, manipulating the organisation of flights from the Middle East to Minsk and deliberately orchestrating migrants' onward travel to the EU-Belarus border. With weather conditions endangering migrants' lives, the situation has also led to serious humanitarian consequences. This activity – which many argue also aims at distracting attention from the worsening situation of freedom in the country, with attacks against independent society, journalists and electronic media users – is only the latest in a string of events underlining deteriorating EU relations with Belarus. The Lukashenka regime has been isolated since the falsified presidential elections of August 2020, and the brutal crackdown against peacefully protesting Belarusians. Instead of embracing dialogue with the democratic opposition and wider Belarusian society, Lukashenka chose another path, involving continued brutal repression of the country's citizens. The worsening human rights situation and hijacking of Ryanair flight FR 4978, in June 2021, provoked a response from the EU. This includes a ban on Belarusian air carriers landing in or overflying the EU, a major extension of the list of people and entities already subject to sanctions, and the introduction of sanctions on key sectors of the Belarusian economy. The European Parliament plays an active part in shaping this EU response. Parliament does not recognise Lukashenka's presidency and has spoken out on human rights abuses in Belarus. Awarded Parliament's 2020 Sakharov Prize, the Belarusian democratic opposition is frequently invited to speak for the Belarusian people in the European Parliament. Following the recent developments, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will make a formal address to the European Parliament in plenary session, on 24 November 2021. This Briefing updates a previous edition, published in July 2021.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): The EU's strategic partner in Asia

23-11-2021

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is often compared with the EU. Both organisations brought together former adversaries and successfully resolved tensions through cooperation, helping to bring peace and prosperity to their regions. However, the EU and ASEAN operate in very different ways. ASEAN is a strictly intergovernmental organisation in which decisions are based on consensus. While this approach has made it difficult for south-east Asian countries to achieve ...

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is often compared with the EU. Both organisations brought together former adversaries and successfully resolved tensions through cooperation, helping to bring peace and prosperity to their regions. However, the EU and ASEAN operate in very different ways. ASEAN is a strictly intergovernmental organisation in which decisions are based on consensus. While this approach has made it difficult for south-east Asian countries to achieve the same level of integration as the EU, it has also enabled ASEAN to accommodate huge disparities among its 10 member states. In 2003, south-east Asian leaders decided to take cooperation to another level by setting up an ASEAN Community. To this end, they adopted a charter in 2007, though without fundamentally changing the nature of the organisation's decision-making or giving it stronger institutions. The community has three pillars: political-security, economic, and socio-cultural. ASEAN's impact has been uneven. The organisation is an effective platform for cooperation between its member states and the wider Indo-Pacific region, but its goal of promoting peaceful cooperation is undermined by growing geopolitical tensions, especially in the South China Sea. There has been significant economic integration, even if the goal of an EU-style single market is a long way off. On the other hand, south-east Asians still perceive ASEAN as an elite project with little impact on their daily lives. EU-ASEAN relations span four decades and have steadily deepened, building on common values as well as booming trade and investment. In 2020, the two sides upgraded to a strategic partnership. This Briefing updates a previous one, published in November 2020.

Kyrgyz political landscape ahead of elections

18-11-2021

Kyrgyzstan is the most democratic but also the least stable of the former Soviet Central Asian republics. The most recent upheaval resulted in the cancellation of the October 2020 parliamentary elections. New elections scheduled for November 2021 are likely to consolidate the position of Sadyr Japarov, the country's new president. A controversial new constitution raises concerns over the future of Kyrgyz democracy.

Kyrgyzstan is the most democratic but also the least stable of the former Soviet Central Asian republics. The most recent upheaval resulted in the cancellation of the October 2020 parliamentary elections. New elections scheduled for November 2021 are likely to consolidate the position of Sadyr Japarov, the country's new president. A controversial new constitution raises concerns over the future of Kyrgyz democracy.

Global human rights sanctions - Mapping Magnitsky laws: The US, Canadian, UK and EU approach

16-11-2021

Human rights sanctions are nothing new, but the death in 2009 of Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky in detention resulted in calls for more vigorous action to counter continuing abuses in many countries. Adopted by the US in 2016, the Global Magnitsky Act was the first of a new generation of human rights sanctions programmes, which, in contrast to traditional sanctions targeted at individual countries, can be flexibly applied to perpetrators from all over the world, regardless of their geographical ...

Human rights sanctions are nothing new, but the death in 2009 of Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky in detention resulted in calls for more vigorous action to counter continuing abuses in many countries. Adopted by the US in 2016, the Global Magnitsky Act was the first of a new generation of human rights sanctions programmes, which, in contrast to traditional sanctions targeted at individual countries, can be flexibly applied to perpetrators from all over the world, regardless of their geographical location. This briefing compares four such programmes: the US Global Magnitsky Act, Canada's Sergei Magnitsky Law, the UK's Global Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Regulations, and the EU's restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses, the most recent of the four to be adopted. All of these are inspired by the ambition to tackle serious human rights crimes from around the world, but there are also significant differences, for example, in terms of the threshold for human rights offences, the inclusion or not of corruption-related offences, and the role played by parliaments and civil society. In terms of practical application, Global Magnitsky is by far the most active of the four programmes for the time being, targeting over 300 individuals and entities from 40 countries. Traditional geographical sanctions still predominate in all four jurisdictions; nevertheless, restrictive measures applied under global programmes to Chinese, Russian and Saudi officials highlight the role that such sanctions can play in furthering Western cooperation on human rights. This briefing has been written as part of a collaborative project between the European Parliament's Research Service and Directorate-General for External Policies on mapping best practices in global human rights sanctions regimes.

The Arctic: Opportunities, concerns and security challenges

30-09-2021

Global warming and growing interest in the Arctic's economic potential are bringing changes for the region's 4 million people. The EU's 2016 Arctic policy, prioritising sustainability, economic development and international cooperation, is being revised to reflect these developments. The Foreign Affairs Committee report, on the October I session agenda, notes some of the environmental and security concerns, including the risk of geopolitical tensions.

Global warming and growing interest in the Arctic's economic potential are bringing changes for the region's 4 million people. The EU's 2016 Arctic policy, prioritising sustainability, economic development and international cooperation, is being revised to reflect these developments. The Foreign Affairs Committee report, on the October I session agenda, notes some of the environmental and security concerns, including the risk of geopolitical tensions.

Russia's 2021 elections: Another step on the road to authoritarian rule

15-09-2021

On 17-19 September, Russia will hold elections at local, regional and national level, most importantly to the State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly. Four hundred and fifty deputies will be elected for a five-year term. Ever since 2003, the State Duma has been dominated by the pro-Putin United Russia party, which currently holds a three-quarters supermajority. With the ruling party clearly in charge, the parliament serves as little more than a rubber stamp for Kremlin and government ...

On 17-19 September, Russia will hold elections at local, regional and national level, most importantly to the State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly. Four hundred and fifty deputies will be elected for a five-year term. Ever since 2003, the State Duma has been dominated by the pro-Putin United Russia party, which currently holds a three-quarters supermajority. With the ruling party clearly in charge, the parliament serves as little more than a rubber stamp for Kremlin and government initiatives. In Russia's system of managed democracy, the main role of the parliamentary opposition is to preserve an appearance of political pluralism, while carefully excluding most regime critics. Following the June 2020 constitutional referendum, which opened the door to President Vladimir Putin potentially staying on until 2036, the authorities moved to eliminate the few remaining pockets of resistance. Opposition activist Alexey Navalny is now in jail, and many other regime opponents are either facing criminal charges or have left the country. Even though United Russia faces no real electoral competition, it may struggle to repeat its 2016 performance. Voters are alienated by the party's reputation for corruption and the generally unpromising context of political and economic stagnation. Opinion polls suggest that its majority will be reduced, possibly below the two-thirds threshold needed to adopt constitutional changes; nevertheless, the party is virtually guaranteed to win. Many observers see the elections, and the wave of repression preceding them, as the latest stage in Russia's transition from flawed democracy to fully fledged authoritarian state.

The direction of EU-Russia political relations

08-09-2021

Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea marked the beginning of a new and difficult phase in bilateral relations. The latter are based on the five principles agreed by EU foreign ministers in 2016, in addition to the joint communication of June 2021. During the September plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to debate EU–Russia political relations and vote a draft recommendation to the Council, the Commission and the High Representative. While acknowledging that the EU approach has contained ...

Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea marked the beginning of a new and difficult phase in bilateral relations. The latter are based on the five principles agreed by EU foreign ministers in 2016, in addition to the joint communication of June 2021. During the September plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to debate EU–Russia political relations and vote a draft recommendation to the Council, the Commission and the High Representative. While acknowledging that the EU approach has contained the risk of Russian aggression, the draft recommendation calls for a review of EU policy, including more support for human rights.

The Organization for Security and Co operation in Europe (OSCE) : A pillar of the European security order

02-09-2021

The OSCE's origins go back to 1975, when the countries in the two opposing blocs in the Cold War signed the Helsinki Final Act, enshrining principles such as territorial integrity and respect for human rights. The act was followed by a series of follow-up meetings to monitor implementation, in a process known as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). Following the adoption of the 1990 Paris Charter envisaging a new post-Cold War European order, in 1995 the CSCE was put on a ...

The OSCE's origins go back to 1975, when the countries in the two opposing blocs in the Cold War signed the Helsinki Final Act, enshrining principles such as territorial integrity and respect for human rights. The act was followed by a series of follow-up meetings to monitor implementation, in a process known as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). Following the adoption of the 1990 Paris Charter envisaging a new post-Cold War European order, in 1995 the CSCE was put on a more permanent, institutional basis and renamed the OSCE. The OSCE, like the CSCE before it, is based on a vision of 'comprehensive security' that encompasses human rights and economic cooperation, as well as traditional 'hard' security. However, hopes that the OSCE could become the central pillar of a new post-Cold War order faded as divisions re-emerged, between an enlarged EU and NATO on the one hand, and Russia on the other. The OSCE lacks the legal powers and the resources needed to live up to its ambition of becoming a platform for pan-European/trans-Atlantic cooperation. With decisions taken by consensus, disagreements between participating states hamper decision-making and prevent the organisation from becoming more effective. The OSCE plays a useful though limited role in several areas. The organisation has been powerless to resolve conflicts in the post-Soviet region, but its observers are the main source of detailed and reliable information on the situation in eastern Ukraine. OSCE agreements, such as the Vienna Document, help to promote military transparency, and election observation missions have advanced democratic reforms in several countries.

A second chance for Armenia after elections?

12-07-2021

The 2018 Velvet Revolution installed Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister of Armenia. By 2020, Pashinyan's reform drive, already running out of momentum, hit two major obstacles: the coronavirus pandemic and, above all, a brief but disastrous war with Azerbaijan. Despite the trauma of defeat, in June 2021 voters gave Pashinyan a second chance, in elections seen as a positive sign for the country's future.

The 2018 Velvet Revolution installed Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister of Armenia. By 2020, Pashinyan's reform drive, already running out of momentum, hit two major obstacles: the coronavirus pandemic and, above all, a brief but disastrous war with Azerbaijan. Despite the trauma of defeat, in June 2021 voters gave Pashinyan a second chance, in elections seen as a positive sign for the country's future.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline: Economic, environmental and geopolitical issues

01-07-2021

The EU's dependence on Russian gas imports shows no signs of lessening. Although the Green Deal envisages a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050, natural gas remains a key part of the energy mix as coal is phased out and renewable energy is not yet ready to fully take up the slack. EU domestic gas production is fast declining, and there is not enough gas at affordable prices from alternative suppliers to replace Russian production. Launched in 2015, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline connects Russia and Germany ...

The EU's dependence on Russian gas imports shows no signs of lessening. Although the Green Deal envisages a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050, natural gas remains a key part of the energy mix as coal is phased out and renewable energy is not yet ready to fully take up the slack. EU domestic gas production is fast declining, and there is not enough gas at affordable prices from alternative suppliers to replace Russian production. Launched in 2015, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline connects Russia and Germany directly via the Baltic Sea, following a similar route to Nord Stream 1 completed in 2011. Construction has taken several years, with delays due to protracted legal battles and, since 2019, US sanctions. Nevertheless, pipe-laying continues and is on track for completion in the next few months. Few energy projects have ever been as hotly debated as Nord Stream 2. Pipeline owner Gazprom, a Russian state-controlled company, argues that it is needed to meet the EU's growing demand for gas imports. Germany's energy sector also sees the pipeline as a viable commercial project. Some opponents point to the environmental impact of the pipeline's construction, as well as the contradiction between the EU's climate goals and long-term investments in fossil fuel import infrastructure. However, the pipeline's geopolitical implications are its most controversial aspect. Critics, including several EU Member States, describe Nord Stream 2 as a Kremlin project to export malign Russian influence as well as gas to Europe. They note that, combined with the new TurkStream pipeline delivering Russian gas to south-eastern Europe, it will eventually enable Russia to starve Ukraine's ailing economy of much needed transit fee revenue. The pipeline looks set to perpetuate Russia's stranglehold on EU energy markets and compromise European strategic autonomy.

Futuros eventos

29-11-2021
The Mutual Defence Clause (Article 42(7) TEU) in the face of new threats
Audição -
SEDE
29-11-2021
Competitiveness of EU agriculture
Audição -
AGRI
30-11-2021
Eliminating Violence against Women - Inter-parliamentary committee meeting
Outro evento -
FEMM

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