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Political crisis in Guinea

15-09-2021

On 5 September, a coup perpetrated by the military removed the President of Guinea, Alpha Condé, from power. The president was less than one year into his third term, obtained after a much-contested constitutional amendment. Under Condé, the administration yielded disappointing economic results and he was increasingly perceived as an authoritarian ruler who handled his opponents and critics with harsh repressiveness.

On 5 September, a coup perpetrated by the military removed the President of Guinea, Alpha Condé, from power. The president was less than one year into his third term, obtained after a much-contested constitutional amendment. Under Condé, the administration yielded disappointing economic results and he was increasingly perceived as an authoritarian ruler who handled his opponents and critics with harsh repressiveness.

Security situation in Mozambique

12-07-2021

Since 2017, a relatively unknown Islamic group has staged a destabilising insurgency against the Mozambican government forces and the local population in the predominantly Muslim northern province of Cabo Delgado. Off the provincial coast, huge gas extraction projects have been launched in a bid to revitalise the national economy, crippled by external debt. So far, the army has proved relatively ineffective in dealing with the insurgency. The government has asked external partners for support, including ...

Since 2017, a relatively unknown Islamic group has staged a destabilising insurgency against the Mozambican government forces and the local population in the predominantly Muslim northern province of Cabo Delgado. Off the provincial coast, huge gas extraction projects have been launched in a bid to revitalise the national economy, crippled by external debt. So far, the army has proved relatively ineffective in dealing with the insurgency. The government has asked external partners for support, including in training and logistics.

G7 summit, June 2021: Asserting democratic values in the post-crisis context

10-06-2021

The 47th G7 summit is scheduled for 11-13 June 2021, and will be chaired and hosted by the United Kingdom. After a year-long break caused by the pandemic and the former US administration's inability to organise the 2020 summit at a later date than initially scheduled, this year's event is expected to mark a return to strong global cooperation among the world's major democracies. The leaders of four guest states – Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea – will join the leaders of the G7 nations ...

The 47th G7 summit is scheduled for 11-13 June 2021, and will be chaired and hosted by the United Kingdom. After a year-long break caused by the pandemic and the former US administration's inability to organise the 2020 summit at a later date than initially scheduled, this year's event is expected to mark a return to strong global cooperation among the world's major democracies. The leaders of four guest states – Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea – will join the leaders of the G7 nations and the European Union, thus reinforcing the group's global democratic representativeness. The G7 has built up a reputation for being an informal framework of cooperation on major global issues, which is driven by a shared commitment to the fundamental values of liberal democracy. This year's summit is expected to reaffirm these values in the face of assertive authoritarian tendencies elsewhere in the world. Ahead of the summit, ministerial meetings in areas selected by the presidency have already taken place, shaping future cooperation among the G7 nations. 'Beat[ing] Covid-19 and building back better' is an obvious priority this year. Achieving it includes ensuring more equitable and rapid access to vaccines and other medical supplies for developing countries. While the group has reaffirmed its general commitment to this priority, the US proposal to waive patent rights for the production of vaccines still needs to find common ground among the G7 members. Another US initiative – setting a minimum global corporate tax rate – has already been endorsed by G7 finance ministers. It is considered a major change in the international taxation system, potentially making history for the G7. Reinforcing cooperation on the regulation of digital developments is another priority, as are ambitions linked to honouring the commitments under the Paris Agreement. As every year, the EU, which is a G7 member in its own right, will be represented by the Presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission. This is an updated version of a Briefing published ahead of the Parliament's debate on 9 June 2021.

State of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa: Democratic progress at risk

03-06-2021

Although countries in sub-Saharan Africa started opening up to democracy three decades ago, the region is still characterised by a high heterogeneity of political regimes. Fragile democracies often endure numerous challenges and shortcomings, and share their borders with some of the world's least democratic regimes. Virtually non-existent in 1990, multi-party elections are the norm today, yet they still only rarely lead to power changes. The recent trends of democratic recession have not left sub-Saharan ...

Although countries in sub-Saharan Africa started opening up to democracy three decades ago, the region is still characterised by a high heterogeneity of political regimes. Fragile democracies often endure numerous challenges and shortcomings, and share their borders with some of the world's least democratic regimes. Virtually non-existent in 1990, multi-party elections are the norm today, yet they still only rarely lead to power changes. The recent trends of democratic recession have not left sub-Saharan Africa untouched, but they have affected individual countries differently. Some unexpected democratic transitions have taken place at the same time as overall democratic decline has set in. Two sets of reasons account for the fragility of democracies in sub-Saharan Africa – those that are extrinsic and those that are intrinsic to political and institutional settings. The first include low socio-economic development, conflict and insecurity; the second include weak institutions, lack of judicial independence, manipulation of electoral laws and constitutional norms, as well as serious limitations of civil and political rights. In practice, authoritarian regimes have become skilled at using a façade of legality to legitimise their grip on power. The coronavirus pandemic has affected the region less severely than compared to other parts of the world, but its impact on democratic and human rights norms has been significant. For the EU – which is an important partner and development aid provider to the region, while also launching frequent election observation missions there – issues of concern include the shrinking space for civil society, the need to broaden political participation for various groups such as women and youth, as well as the impact of digital developments on democracy and human rights in societies that are still suffering from limited internet access and insufficient digital literacy.

Fighting corruption globally: The link with human rights

26-05-2021

The UN Convention against Corruption – the only legally binding international instrument for fighting corruption – was adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 2003. Although it has been ratified by the vast majority of the states in the world, serious implementation gaps persist to this day. The harmful impact of corruption on human rights and on the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been widely recognised. In this context, the UNGA is to hold its first special ...

The UN Convention against Corruption – the only legally binding international instrument for fighting corruption – was adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 2003. Although it has been ratified by the vast majority of the states in the world, serious implementation gaps persist to this day. The harmful impact of corruption on human rights and on the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been widely recognised. In this context, the UNGA is to hold its first special session on corruption on 2-4 June 2021.

Sakharov's legacy on the centenary of his birth

18-05-2021

Andrey Sakharov was a Soviet physicist who played a leading role in his country's nuclear weapons programme. However, in the 1960s he fell out of favour with the regime due to his activism for disarmament and human rights. On the 100th anniversary of his birth, Sakharov's legacy is more relevant than ever. Since 1988, the European Parliament has awarded an annual prize for freedom of thought named after him.

Andrey Sakharov was a Soviet physicist who played a leading role in his country's nuclear weapons programme. However, in the 1960s he fell out of favour with the regime due to his activism for disarmament and human rights. On the 100th anniversary of his birth, Sakharov's legacy is more relevant than ever. Since 1988, the European Parliament has awarded an annual prize for freedom of thought named after him.

EU climate action policy: Responding to the global emergency

18-03-2021

The European Green Deal aims to make the European Union climate-neutral by 2050, a target supported by all EU institutions. With this objective, the EU takes a leading role in addressing the global climate emergency. Achieving the climate-neutrality goal requires massive investment and an unprecedented transformation of all sectors of the economy. This study explains the physical basis of climate change and highlights its expected impacts on the EU. To give an overview of EU and international climate ...

The European Green Deal aims to make the European Union climate-neutral by 2050, a target supported by all EU institutions. With this objective, the EU takes a leading role in addressing the global climate emergency. Achieving the climate-neutrality goal requires massive investment and an unprecedented transformation of all sectors of the economy. This study explains the physical basis of climate change and highlights its expected impacts on the EU. To give an overview of EU and international climate policies, it outlines international climate agreements, EU climate action and the climate policies of major economies. It assesses the coherence of EU climate policy with other policy areas, and presents the financing of EU climate action through the EU budget and other instruments. To assess the implications of the climate neutrality objective, the study analysis the challenges and opportunities for the EU economy and its impacts on issues such as international relations, migration, trade, consumers and health . The final chapter addresses the issues facing European decision-makers and the outlook for European and global climate action in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

WTO rules: Compatibility with human and labour rights

04-03-2021

Supply chains are increasingly international, but many of EU's trade partners fail to meet both the labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and international human rights norms. EU trade policy is designed to ensure that economic development complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, while upholding human rights and high labour standards. WTO rules require members to comply with a set of basic free trading principles, in particular national treatment and most-favoured ...

Supply chains are increasingly international, but many of EU's trade partners fail to meet both the labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and international human rights norms. EU trade policy is designed to ensure that economic development complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, while upholding human rights and high labour standards. WTO rules require members to comply with a set of basic free trading principles, in particular national treatment and most-favoured nation status. When a member wishes to take a trade-affecting measure that departs from WTO rules, they can justify the action on the basis of general exceptions. Whereas there is no specific provision in the WTO rules on human rights, according to case law and precedents, the general exception can sometimes allow trade-restricting measures based on human rights concerns. Yet, the open nature of WTO-rules means that members must devise trade-restrictive measures carefully, and that the dispute settlement process can involve complex legal interpretation if litigation arises. The uncertainty surrounding the compatibility between WTO rules and human and labour rights is attracting growing attention, generating calls for WTO reform. Another WTO framework that has been the subject of a long-standing debate on whether its flexibility provisions are sufficient to protect human rights and in particular the right to health is the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the debate has refocused on the need to waive some TRIPS provisions. This briefing provides an overview of complex issues relating to human rights and WTO rules. It does not argue for a specific interpretation or position, and does not attempt to bring final clarification on aspects still disputed among legal experts.

Women in foreign affairs and international security: Still far from gender equality

03-03-2021

The debate on the participation and role of women in foreign affairs and international security is a timely and relevant one, and is being raised with increasing frequency at both national and international levels. In particular, there is growing attention to the imbalances in the representation of women in leadership and other key positions in the area of foreign and security policy, as well as to the growing body of evidence regarding the positive effect of including women in several key areas ...

The debate on the participation and role of women in foreign affairs and international security is a timely and relevant one, and is being raised with increasing frequency at both national and international levels. In particular, there is growing attention to the imbalances in the representation of women in leadership and other key positions in the area of foreign and security policy, as well as to the growing body of evidence regarding the positive effect of including women in several key areas of foreign and security policy. While gaps persist, women's representation at management and ministerial levels in the areas of foreign affairs and security has increased whether in the European Union (EU), the United States (US) or at the United Nations (UN) level. Among these issues, women's role in peacekeeping receives particular attention, as research has consistently shown that gender equality contributes to peace, and that peace negotiations involving women have a better chance of being sustainable and effective. Gender-equal societies enjoy better health, stronger economic growth and higher security. The UN and the EU have put pronounced emphasis on the issue in the past two decades. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 established the 'women, peace and security' (WPS) agenda in 2000. Since then, more WPS-related resolutions have been adopted, widening the scope and breadth of gendered peace and security. These resolutions have been instrumental in changing the philosophy and rhetoric focused on conflict and gender equality, thereby challenging the international community to do more. Several initiatives are also being implemented at EU level, including through the 2018 EU strategic approach to WPS. However, critics underline that a lot remains to be done, as women continue to be under-represented in the field of foreign and security policy across the world. This is an update of an EPRS briefing published in September 2019.

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.

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EPRS online Book Talk with David Harley: Inside the room - Shaping Europe, 1992-2010
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Turning the tide on cancer: the national parliaments' view on Europe's Cancer Plan
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