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Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons ─ The 'Ban Treaty'

20-01-2021

On 22 January 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the TPNW) enters into force. On that day, nuclear weapons development, testing, production, possession, stockpiling, use and threat of use, as well as the stationing or deployment of another country's nuclear weapons on a state party's national territory will become prohibited under international law. The TPNW has been hailed as historic by supporters of an initiative, which has gained ground in recent years, to rid the world of ...

On 22 January 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the TPNW) enters into force. On that day, nuclear weapons development, testing, production, possession, stockpiling, use and threat of use, as well as the stationing or deployment of another country's nuclear weapons on a state party's national territory will become prohibited under international law. The TPNW has been hailed as historic by supporters of an initiative, which has gained ground in recent years, to rid the world of the most destructive weapon known to humankind. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which spearheaded these efforts, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Supporters hope that the TPNW will strengthen the international legal framework and gradually advance the political norm against nuclear weapons possession and use. Opponents of the Treaty argue that the conditions for disarmament do not currently exist and that promoters of the TPNW fail to recognise this. They also point to the danger of undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), recognised as the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime, including by proponents of the TPNW. The nine states known to have military nuclear programmes have not signed the TPMW. Nor have Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which in 2016 re-confirmed its commitment to nuclear deterrence. This raises doubts about the impact of this new instrument and its ability to create normative values. Most EU Member States, 21 of which are members of NATO, oppose the TPNW, and only three have ratified it. The European Parliament has noted that the TPNW provided evidence of the desire to achieve the objective of a nuclear weapons-free world. This is an updated version of an earlier briefing, from January 2018.

Review of dual-use export controls

15-01-2021

Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for military purposes; so-called 'dual-use' goods are subject to the European Union's export control regime. The regime has just been revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments, increase transparency and create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation will recast the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal explicitly ...

Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for military purposes; so-called 'dual-use' goods are subject to the European Union's export control regime. The regime has just been revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments, increase transparency and create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation will recast the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal explicitly defines cyber-surveillance technology as dual-use technology and introduces human rights violations as an explicit justification for export control. It also includes provisions to control emerging technologies. The proposed regulation introduces greater transparency into dual-use export control by increasing the level of detail Member States will have to provide on exports, licences, licence denials and prohibitions. On 17 January 2018, based on the INTA committee's report on the legislative proposal, the European Parliament adopted its position for trilogue negotiations. For its part, the Council adopted its negotiating mandate on 5 June 2019, and on the basis of this mandate, the Council Presidency began negotiations with the European Parliament's delegation on 21 October 2019. Trilogue negotiations ended on 9 November 2020, with agreement on a final compromise text. Endorsed by the INTA committee on 30 November, the Parliament is expected to vote in plenary on the text in early 2021. Sixth edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

State of play of EU-Iran relations and the future of the JCPOA

30-10-2020

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), spearheaded by the European Union (EU), was a successful multilateral non-proliferation agreement. The hope was that it would also pave the way for dealing with other outstanding issues over which the EU and United States (US) were at loggerheads with Iran. Instead, with the election of President Trump, the main focus has been to save the JCPOA. As Iran has decreased its compliance with the deal and regional friction has intensified, particularly as ...

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), spearheaded by the European Union (EU), was a successful multilateral non-proliferation agreement. The hope was that it would also pave the way for dealing with other outstanding issues over which the EU and United States (US) were at loggerheads with Iran. Instead, with the election of President Trump, the main focus has been to save the JCPOA. As Iran has decreased its compliance with the deal and regional friction has intensified, particularly as a result of the US maximum pressure campaign, the EU has faced increasing challenges to maintain a working relationship with Tehran and to pursue its strategic objectives on Iran – a tall order even in more conducive circumstances. While the outcome of the US presidential elections in November 2020 will affect developments thereafter, the EU should shape its policy independent of a rturn to constructive multilateralism in Washington. It must further develop its strategic autonomy, enhance and expand its interaction with Tehran to ensure the JCPOA’s survival, while also taking a more proactive role in mitigating and mediating conflicts in the region.

Extern avdelning

Rouzbeh PARSI, Aniseh BASSIRI TABRIZI

Russia, arms control and non-proliferation

29-09-2020

Multilateral non-proliferation treaties have curbed the spread of the world's dangerous weapons. The international security order also builds on a series of bilateral agreements between the two leading nuclear powers, the Soviet Union/Russia and the United States (US), mostly concluded towards the end of the Cold War or soon afterwards. Although the multilateral treaties are still in place, the bilateral elements have mostly come unstuck. In 2019, the US pulled out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear ...

Multilateral non-proliferation treaties have curbed the spread of the world's dangerous weapons. The international security order also builds on a series of bilateral agreements between the two leading nuclear powers, the Soviet Union/Russia and the United States (US), mostly concluded towards the end of the Cold War or soon afterwards. Although the multilateral treaties are still in place, the bilateral elements have mostly come unstuck. In 2019, the US pulled out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and it is probable that the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the last remaining major bilateral arms control agreement, will expire in 2021. Russia's systematic violation of its arms control commitments is partly to blame. Other factors include increased US unilateralism and the failure of both sides to adapt the system to changing realities such as China's rise as a military power. Russia is investing heavily in its nuclear forces and developing new and more powerful weapons. Its arsenal is equal to that of the US and in some areas it may even have at least temporary superiority, partially compensating for weaknesses in terms of conventional weapons. As geopolitical tensions rise, arms control has become more necessary than ever. However, it seems unlikely that the US, Russia and possibly China will manage to conclude a new generation of agreements. The implications are not yet clear: neither a major shift in the military balance nor a new arms race are expected, but the lack of formal constraints creates uncertainty.

EU-Iran: The way forward - Can the JCPOA survive the Trump presidency?

07-07-2020

Two issues have dominated relations between the EU and Iran in recent years: the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – including efforts to conclude it, followed by efforts to save it – and human rights concerns. Even though the European Union (EU) and Iran have worked together over the past two years to save the JCPOA, relations between the two have deteriorated. Iran accuses EU Member States of not standing up to pressure from the United States of America ( ...

Two issues have dominated relations between the EU and Iran in recent years: the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – including efforts to conclude it, followed by efforts to save it – and human rights concerns. Even though the European Union (EU) and Iran have worked together over the past two years to save the JCPOA, relations between the two have deteriorated. Iran accuses EU Member States of not standing up to pressure from the United States of America (USA) to isolate Iran and of not doing enough to save the JCPOA. The EU, for its part, is concerned about Iran's enrichment activities; growing tensions in the region and Iran's role in this context, including the provision of military, financial and political support to non-state actors in countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen; and its ballistic missile programme. In 2011, the EU put restrictive measures in place to react to serious human rights violations in Iran. These remain in force. Nevertheless, the EU has continued to engage with Iran, in marked contrast to the USA. Following the US withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018, the Trump administration re-imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Iran and has since then pursued a policy of 'maximum pressure'. The declared goal of the maximum pressure campaign is to push Iran to negotiate a new agreement that would also address Iran's ballistic missile programme, end its support of militant groups in the region, and curb its foreign policy ambitions in western Asia. Instead, the US policy of maximum pressure on Tehran has led to an escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf region, with potentially direct consequences for Europe. With Iran continuing uranium enrichment to levels far exceeding the levels permitted under the JCPOA, and with the USA threatening to trigger the re-imposition of United Nations (UN) sanctions against Iran, further escalation is likely. Security in the EU is linked to the security situation in western Asia. For that reason, Europe should maintain efforts to preserve the JCPOA and seek to reduce tension between Iran and the USA.

Commitments made at the hearing of Josep BORRELL FONTELLES, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President-designate of the European Commission

22-11-2019

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President designate of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, appeared before the European Parliament on 7 October 2019 to answer MEPs’ questions. During the hearing, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document.

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President designate of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, appeared before the European Parliament on 7 October 2019 to answer MEPs’ questions. During the hearing, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document.

The INF Treaty and European defence [What Think Tanks are thinking]

22-02-2019

The United States has announced its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, sparking fears of a fresh nuclear arms race between Russia, the United States and China. The collapse of the 1987 agreement, which bans land-based missiles with a range of between 500 kilometres and 5 500 kilometres, has further exacerbated existing concerns about European security caused by the uncertain commitment of US President Donald Trump to the NATO military alliance. President Trump’s approach ...

The United States has announced its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, sparking fears of a fresh nuclear arms race between Russia, the United States and China. The collapse of the 1987 agreement, which bans land-based missiles with a range of between 500 kilometres and 5 500 kilometres, has further exacerbated existing concerns about European security caused by the uncertain commitment of US President Donald Trump to the NATO military alliance. President Trump’s approach to security, coupled with Russia’s assertive behaviour, have prompted the European Union to put forward initiatives to increase its military capabilities. President Trump started a six-month process of withdring from the Treaty in February 2019, blaming the decision on Russian violations. Hopes are not high that an agreement can be negotiated during this period. Furthermore, during the 2019 Munich Security Conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on China to join the INF Treaty, but China has argued that this would place unfair limits on its military, and refused. This note offers links to commentaries and studies on the collapse of the INF Treaty, and on European defence. Earlier papers on defence can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are Thinking’, published in July 2018.

The end of the INF Treaty? A pillar of European security architecture at risk

04-02-2019

The US administration announced on 1 February 2019 that it was suspending its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, with effect from 2 February 2019, and that it was giving Russia six months' notice of complete withdrawal. Russia reacted by announcing that it was also suspending its obligations under the Treaty. Both parties said they would begin developing new nuclear-capable missiles banned by the treaty. The 1987 INF Treaty is a landmark nuclear-arms-control treaty ...

The US administration announced on 1 February 2019 that it was suspending its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, with effect from 2 February 2019, and that it was giving Russia six months' notice of complete withdrawal. Russia reacted by announcing that it was also suspending its obligations under the Treaty. Both parties said they would begin developing new nuclear-capable missiles banned by the treaty. The 1987 INF Treaty is a landmark nuclear-arms-control treaty between the United States (US) and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) that eliminated and prohibited ground-launched intermediate ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5 500 km. The US announcement follows years of allegations that the Russian Federation has acted in breach of the agreement. Russia, for its part, has also accused the US of violating the treaty. Both deny the allegations. Moreover, both parties consider that the agreement puts their countries at a strategic disadvantage vis-à-vis other nuclear powers, especially China. The parties' announcements undermine a cornerstone of the European security order. The signing of the INF Treaty in 1987 led to the removal and destruction of nearly 3 000 US and Soviet short-, medium- and intermediate-range nuclear-capable missiles stationed in or aimed at Europe. The EU has called on the US to consider the consequences of its possible withdrawal from the INF for its own security, the security of its allies and that of the whole world. The EU has also called on both the US and Russia to remain engaged in constructive dialogue to preserve the INF Treaty, and on Russia to address the serious concerns regarding its compliance with the treaty. NATO considers Russia to be in violation of the INF Treaty, and the alliance has called on Russia to return urgently to full and verifiable compliance with the agreement. Any redeployment of intermediate-range missiles will put Europe once more in the line of fire of strategic nuclear weapons. If the INF Treaty is abrogated, Europeans will be faced with stark choices all carrying inherent security risks, including engaging in a deployment race with Russia, or refusing re-deployment of US missiles on European soil, potentially leaving European countries exposed to Russian intimidation. Efforts over the next six months will focus on preserving the INF Treaty against all odds.

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, November I 2018

16-11-2018

The highlights of the November I plenary session were the debate on the future of Europe with Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, as well as the debate and vote on the interim report on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. Parliament also held debates on floods in Europe; regulating virtual currencies and initial coin offerings; and EU resilience in the face of foreign actors' potential attempts to influence the upcoming EP election campaign. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa ...

The highlights of the November I plenary session were the debate on the future of Europe with Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, as well as the debate and vote on the interim report on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. Parliament also held debates on floods in Europe; regulating virtual currencies and initial coin offerings; and EU resilience in the face of foreign actors' potential attempts to influence the upcoming EP election campaign. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa addressed the Parliament in a formal sitting. Members debated HR/VP Federica Mogherini's statements on the future of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Central American migrants at the Mexican border, and the effects of US sanctions on Iran for European companies. Parliament voted on legislative proposals, inter alia, on energy efficiency; promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources; on the European Electronic Communications Code and BEREC; and on rail passengers' rights and obligations. Members adopted reports on the implementation of the EU Agreements with Georgia and Moldova, and voted on reports on humanitarian visas and on the implementation of the EU Common Position on arms exports. The 2018 Lux Prize, which promotes European cinema, makes promising films accessible to a wider audience and encourages debate on values and social issues across Europe, was awarded to 'Woman at war' (Kona fer í stríð), by Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson.

Special purpose vehicle for trade with Iran

13-11-2018

Following the May 2018 announcement of the United States' withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and of the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran, the EU is continuing to endorse implementation of the agreement, providing Iran fulfils its nuclear-related obligations. The EU is also committed to ensuring that EU-Iran trade and economic relations continue to benefit from the positive impact of lifting the sanctions. The EU has already introduced measures to alleviate the effects of US sanctions ...

Following the May 2018 announcement of the United States' withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and of the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran, the EU is continuing to endorse implementation of the agreement, providing Iran fulfils its nuclear-related obligations. The EU is also committed to ensuring that EU-Iran trade and economic relations continue to benefit from the positive impact of lifting the sanctions. The EU has already introduced measures to alleviate the effects of US sanctions on European firms, and has announced the creation of a new mechanism, a special purpose vehicle (SPV), to facilitate financial transactions with Iran.

Kommande evenemang

25-01-2021
Public Hearing on "Gender aspects of precarious work"
Utfrågning -
FEMM
26-01-2021
Public hearing on Co-management of EU fisheries at local level
Utfrågning -
PECH
27-01-2021
Public hearing on AI and Green Deal
Utfrågning -
AIDA

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