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The EU strategic autonomy debate [What Think Tanks are thinking]

30-03-2021

An increasing number of politicians and analysts argue that the European Union should boost its ‘strategic autonomy’ and/or develop a higher degree of ‘European sovereignty’. These concepts encompass a greater potential for independence, self-reliance and resilience in a wide range of fields – such as defence, trade, industrial policy, digital policy, economic and monetary policy, and health policy – following a series of events in recent years that have exposed Europe’s vulnerability to external ...

An increasing number of politicians and analysts argue that the European Union should boost its ‘strategic autonomy’ and/or develop a higher degree of ‘European sovereignty’. These concepts encompass a greater potential for independence, self-reliance and resilience in a wide range of fields – such as defence, trade, industrial policy, digital policy, economic and monetary policy, and health policy – following a series of events in recent years that have exposed Europe’s vulnerability to external shocks. The debate emerged in the late 2010s, after the French President, Emmanuel Macron, called for a conscious ‘European sovereignty’ and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that Europe would have to take its destiny into its own hands, as it could no longer necessarily rely on the United States to protect it. This latter statement followed President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, in which the EU had invested significant political capital. In parallel, there is growing concern about the implications for Europe of the progressive hardening of positions between the US and China, on both economic and political fronts. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on the European issues related to European strategic autonomy and sovereignty.

The Biden challenge in foreign policy [What Think Tanks are thinking]

12-03-2021

Nearly two months ago, on 20 January, Joseph Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, at the end of perhaps the most divisive electoral processes in his country's history. The new President's supporters and advocates, including many in Europe, are counting on him to set a new course for the US in global politics, moving to firm up and advance the multilateral, rules-based world order and rekindle America's traditional alliances, notably within the NATO framework. Very high hopes ...

Nearly two months ago, on 20 January, Joseph Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, at the end of perhaps the most divisive electoral processes in his country's history. The new President's supporters and advocates, including many in Europe, are counting on him to set a new course for the US in global politics, moving to firm up and advance the multilateral, rules-based world order and rekindle America's traditional alliances, notably within the NATO framework. Very high hopes and expectations have been raised about the potential of Washington to make a decisive shift from the assumptions and actions of Trump years. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on President Biden's early weeks in office and the various expectations regarding his presidency, especially in respect of the place of the United States in the world.

Brexit: The EU-UK trade deal [What Think Tanks are thinking]

19-01-2021

The European Union and the United Kingdom reached a last-minute deal on trade and other issues on 24 December 2020, thereby avoiding major disruption from 1 January 2021, the date on which the transition period ended. However, many politicians and experts have noted that the agreement does not cover all areas of potential partnership, as well as leaving some issues ambiguous, so there is much potential for complex further negotiations in the future. In practice, the EU-UK trading relationship has ...

The European Union and the United Kingdom reached a last-minute deal on trade and other issues on 24 December 2020, thereby avoiding major disruption from 1 January 2021, the date on which the transition period ended. However, many politicians and experts have noted that the agreement does not cover all areas of potential partnership, as well as leaving some issues ambiguous, so there is much potential for complex further negotiations in the future. In practice, the EU-UK trading relationship has been further complicated, at least in the short term, by the effects of the coronavirus crisis and a recent upsurge in infections in the United Kingdom. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on Brexit and related issues. More studies on the topic can be found in a previous item from this series, published in September 2020.

Coronavirus: The battle continues [What Think Tanks are thinking]

04-12-2020

As the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be peaking in Europe, governments and citizens are buoyed by the successful human trials of several vaccines which their producers hope to be able to distribute widely over the coming months. There is growing expectation that, as these vaccines start to become available to the general public in coming months, daily life may gradually return to normal, or at least to a ‘new normal’, during the course of 2021. Meanwhile, many regions of the ...

As the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be peaking in Europe, governments and citizens are buoyed by the successful human trials of several vaccines which their producers hope to be able to distribute widely over the coming months. There is growing expectation that, as these vaccines start to become available to the general public in coming months, daily life may gradually return to normal, or at least to a ‘new normal’, during the course of 2021. Meanwhile, many regions of the world continue in some form of lockdown to stave off the second wave. The political debate on health policy is currently focussed not only on priorities for distributing the vaccine in the advanced economies, such as those of the EU, but on how to make it available to poorer countries too, as scientists underline that the virus knows no borders. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on pandemic-related issues. Earlier think tank studies on the issue can be found in the ‘What Think Tanks are Thinking’ of 10 November.

Post-Trump: Great expectations of Biden [What Think Tanks are thinking]

30-11-2020

Joseph Biden, who takes office as the next US President on 20 January 2021 has started to announce nominations for key posts in his Administration. Most commentators outside the US, as well as many at home, hope that a Biden presidency will seek to restore a rules-based international order, which has been badly shaken by his predecessor, Donald Trump. Although pundits warn against expecting miracles from the new President in international policy, as the national agenda is likely to be his top priority ...

Joseph Biden, who takes office as the next US President on 20 January 2021 has started to announce nominations for key posts in his Administration. Most commentators outside the US, as well as many at home, hope that a Biden presidency will seek to restore a rules-based international order, which has been badly shaken by his predecessor, Donald Trump. Although pundits warn against expecting miracles from the new President in international policy, as the national agenda is likely to be his top priority initially – notably the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, efforts to restore economic growth and the need to try to heal deep divisions in American society – there are still high hopes that Biden will bring the US back into the international community’s pursuit of peace and security, development goals and fighting climate change. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on issues related to US elections and President Biden’s expected policies in a number of areas.

US Presidential election [What Think Tanks are thinking]

19-11-2020

Joseph Biden, a former US Vice-President and long-time Senator with a strong interest in foreign affairs, won the US Presidential election for the Democrats, defeating the incumbent Republican President, Donald Trump. Over the past four years, Trump shook the established rules-based international order, notably by withdrawing US funding from various multilateral organisations and pulling out of various international agreements, by renegotiating trade deals, imposing provocative customs duties, and ...

Joseph Biden, a former US Vice-President and long-time Senator with a strong interest in foreign affairs, won the US Presidential election for the Democrats, defeating the incumbent Republican President, Donald Trump. Over the past four years, Trump shook the established rules-based international order, notably by withdrawing US funding from various multilateral organisations and pulling out of various international agreements, by renegotiating trade deals, imposing provocative customs duties, and progressively reducing America’s foreign military presence. Although Trump has not yet conceded defeat, his allegations of election fraud and related attempts at litigation are widely seen as frivolous. Once Biden becomes President, the US is expected to seek to strengthen the transatlantic alliance and revive the multilateral system, without necessarily being able to pursue any significant liberalisation of trade, given domestic political pressures and the ambiguous situation in the US Congress. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on issues related to US elections and President Biden’s expected policies in a number of areas.

Brexit: Towards the end-game [What Think Tanks are thinking]

18-09-2020

There is now growing doubt about possible progress on future relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has tabled a bill on the internal market within the country, which contains provisions relating to the border between Northen Ireland and the rest of the UK that violate the agreement on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, and would thus constitute a breach of international law. The European Parliament has already indicated that it would ...

There is now growing doubt about possible progress on future relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has tabled a bill on the internal market within the country, which contains provisions relating to the border between Northen Ireland and the rest of the UK that violate the agreement on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, and would thus constitute a breach of international law. The European Parliament has already indicated that it would not be able to ratify any post-Brexit EU-UK trade agreement, if such arrengements were to be adopted. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on numerous challenges facing the UK, EU and their future ties after their divorce.

The State of the Union 2020 [What Think Tanks are thinking]

11-09-2020

In what has now become a tradition, every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers a State of the Union address before the European Parliament, taking stock of achievements over the past year and presenting priorities for the year ahead. Ursula von der Leyen will deliver her first State of the Union address on 16 September 2020, followed by a debate in plenary. In essence, the Commission’s position is that the priorities that it set out at the beginning of its current ...

In what has now become a tradition, every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers a State of the Union address before the European Parliament, taking stock of achievements over the past year and presenting priorities for the year ahead. Ursula von der Leyen will deliver her first State of the Union address on 16 September 2020, followed by a debate in plenary. In essence, the Commission’s position is that the priorities that it set out at the beginning of its current mandate remain valid, but with both major challenges and opportunities arising from the coronavirus pandemic. After some initial criticism of ‘too little action, too late’, EU institutions are now working flat out to help to address various aspects of the crisis. Notably, the European Council has agreed on a major financial boost to fight the economic effects of the pandemic, including a measure of common debt. The Commission is also actively pursuing, in parallel, the European Green Deal, the digital agenda, making Europe stronger in the world, a new push for European democracy and efforts to make the economy work for people. This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports from international think tanks on the state of the union and related issues.

EU budget and recovery fund: Is it a done deal? [What Think Tanks are thinking]

29-07-2020

After nearly five days of tough negotiations, the European Council agreed on the EU’s next seven-year budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), worth more than one trillion euros from 2021 to 2027, and crucially, on an additional 750-billion euro fund to help countries recover from the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Many politicians and analysts have hailed the agreement on the recovery fund in particular as an ‘historic moment’. For the first time, some EU debt will ...

After nearly five days of tough negotiations, the European Council agreed on the EU’s next seven-year budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), worth more than one trillion euros from 2021 to 2027, and crucially, on an additional 750-billion euro fund to help countries recover from the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Many politicians and analysts have hailed the agreement on the recovery fund in particular as an ‘historic moment’. For the first time, some EU debt will be mutualised and the EU will tap financial markets on a significant scale to secure funds, which will be disbursed in the form of grants and loans. The European Parliament - which must approve these spending plans - welcomed the fund but criticised the lack of parliamentary scrutiny in its implementation as well as some of the cuts leaders made in spending on innovation and the climate as compared to the European Commission’s MFF proposals and the Parliament’s own demands, and regretted the weakened link between budget spending and the rule of law. This note offers links to first reactions from international think tanks on the budget deal. Earlier publications on financing the EU can be found in a previous item in this series, published by EPRS on 8 June 2020.

Scenarios for geo-politics after coronavirus: A recent Atlantic Council analysis

16-07-2020

The Atlantic Council report, 'What World Post-Covid-19? Three Scenarios', has two main takeaways: first, Chinese-US rivalry could get worse and go global, destabilising an increasingly divided EU and endangering the United States' alliances system in Asia. Second, there is no way around the US, Europe and China cooperating to develop a positive, global 'new normal'.

The Atlantic Council report, 'What World Post-Covid-19? Three Scenarios', has two main takeaways: first, Chinese-US rivalry could get worse and go global, destabilising an increasingly divided EU and endangering the United States' alliances system in Asia. Second, there is no way around the US, Europe and China cooperating to develop a positive, global 'new normal'.

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