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  • Author: Luca Franza
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Dolphins are being spotted in harbours, canals in Venice have never looked so clean and the temporary ban of corridas has spared the lives of a hundred Spanish bulls. Looking at the bright side of things is an admirable quality, but we should not get too carried away with the idea that COVID-19 is good for the planet. Besides the anecdotal phenomena quoted above, the collapse of mobility and economic activity induced by COVID-19 are generating meaningful short-term consequences for the environment. These include a sharp reduction in Hubei’s and Northern Italy’s air pollution levels and a likely reduction in global CO2 emissions in 2020. Rejoicing over such news rests on a short-sighted view. The interlinkages between COVID-19, energy and climate issues are so complex that we are actually looking at a mixed bag of consequences.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Pollution, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Francesca Ghiretti
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The bilateral relationship between Italy and China is back in the spotlight one year after the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on China’s Belt and Road Initiative. To date, Italy is the second hardest hit country by COVID-19 pandemic after China. Despite strict measures in place to limit the crisis, numbers keep rising, placing the national health care system under severe strain.
  • Topic: Health, Bilateral Relations, Foreign Aid, Propaganda
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Italy, European Union
  • Author: Alessandro Marrone
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Italian armed forces need to adjust to a changing operational environment, whereby threat levels are on the rise and the United States is more reluctant to lead military operations than in the past.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO, Armed Forces, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Elisa Murgese
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: China’s 2018 import ban on mixed “recyclable” plastic waste revealed deep-rooted problems in the global recycling system and uncovered the wasteful and harmful nature of the recycling trade. Repercussions have been global. In April 2019, Greenpeace East Asia took a closer look at the top plastic waste importers and exporters globally. This data details the 21 top exporters and 21 top importers of plastic waste from January 2016 to November 2018, measuring the breadth of the plastics crisis and the global industry’s response to import bans. Two core trends emerged from China’s ban and the Greenpeace analysis.
  • Topic: Crime, Environment, Trafficking , Waste
  • Political Geography: Europe, Malaysia, Asia, Italy
  • Author: Nicola Bilotta, Alissa Siara
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: One of the key priorities of the new European Commission is to enhance the EU’s geopolitical credentials and “learn to use the language of power”, as stated by the incoming EU High Representative Josep Borrell. The EU’s ambition is two-fold: to increase the Union’s ability to project power and influence at the global level, including through increased integration and coordination among member states, and secondly to enhance the EU’s strategic autonomy from the US in the political, military and economic domains. Both objectives, ambitious in the best of circumstances, are today under severe strain by the COVID-19 crisis. Implications will be long-lasting and multidimensional, and for Europe, its impact will have a direct bearing on its ambition for strategic autonomy, touching each of the three pillars outlined above.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Economy, Autonomy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Alessandro Marrone
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic will negatively affect the defence field from a budgetary, industrial and politicostrategic point of view, particularly in Europe. Depending on the pandemic’s duration, its economic consequences and national and EU responses, effects may range from contained damages to a much wider European security crisis.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Crisis Management, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Daniele Fattibene
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development stands at a crossroads. While Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have progressively entered the political discourse and agendas of numerous states, without long-term financial investments, building a more just and sustainable future will remain little more than a rhetorical embellishment.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, United Nations, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Elena A. Korosteleva, Irina Petrova
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Resilience has recently emerged as a possible solution to address the increasing dysfunctionality of national and global governance, strengthening its ability to deal with the frequenting crises and the adversity of VUCA – the more vulnerable, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – world around us.
  • Topic: Politics, International Relations Theory, Institutions, Coronavirus, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Tommaso Emiliani
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The killing of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by a US drone strike on 3 January 2020, followed by the Iranian retaliation on US military bases in Iraq, left many Europeans wondering how – if at all – the European Union can foster de-escalation in the Middle East. The EU is presently stuck between a deepening strategic rift with its US ally and its inability to advance its independent interests and policies vis-à-vis Iran. It is now clear that Europe cannot protect its relations with Washington while also salvaging the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iranian nuclear deal. Borrowing from an old Persian proverb, Europe cannot have both God and the sugar dates.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Military Affairs, Trade, Transatlantic Relations, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, United States of America, European Union, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Luca Barana
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The European Commission’s Joint-Communication “Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa”, published on 9 March 2020, envisioned the beginnings of a new and more equal partnership with the African Union (AU).[1] Meanwhile, COVID-19 has had an unprecedented disruptor effect on the world scene. Its impact dramatic and long-lasting, the crisis may also be an opportunity to move beyond policy principles and actually consolidate the EU–AU relationship. The Commission aspires to structure this new course of EU–AU relations around five thematic partnerships and ten actions so as to concretely step up cooperation. A common thread emerging from the Communication is the need to strengthen multilateralism and the rules-based international system.
  • Topic: Migration, United Nations, Multilateralism, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, European Union, African Union
  • Author: Nona Mikhelidze
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: On 25 March, one month after Russia registered its first confirmed case of Coronavirus, President Vladimir Putin announced a week of paid national holiday and invited Russians to stay home in a televised address to the nation. Further measures were subsequently introduced to limit the spread of the virus, while authorities prepared emergency plans to safeguard socio-economic conditions in the country. Initiatives included providing a new support package to businesses hit by the pandemic, a monthly bonus to medical personnel and the construction of new hospitals, following the Chinese model. Meanwhile, the constitutional referendum meant to extend Putin’s term limit as president was postponed. Originally scheduled for 22 April, this delay is due to Putin’s concern for public health and the multidimensional impact of the pandemic, a perfect storm involving quarantine measures, declining living standards, inflation and a weakened exchange rate, rising prices and increased job insecurity. Taken together, these challenges could jeopardise the outcome of the referendum. A recent poll conducted by the Levada Center in March highlighted a very slim majority (45 per cent) in favour of Putin’s constitutional amendments.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Health, Soft Power, Coronavirus, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Italy
  • Author: Nicoletta Pirozzi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Every era has its symbols. In 1984, Mitterrand and Kohl held hands on the battlefield in Verdun, coming to symbolise the importance of peace in the pursuit of European integration. Today, in times of COVID-19, the so-called “Coronabonds” could have emerged as the symbol of a new Europe, one that is ready and able to do what it takes to collectively overcome the present crisis. Yet, what some member states consider an indispensable emblem of European solidarity, namely debt mutualisation to face an unprecedented symmetric crisis brought about by COVID-19, is regarded by others as an ultimate excuse for moral hazard. As a result, Europe could end up with a politically more digestible European Fund, as proposed by Commissioners Paolo Gentiloni and Thierry Breton, designed to issue long-term bonds.[1] Or, as outlined by the Eurogroup, a Recovery Fund that is “temporary, targeted and commensurate” to the extraordinary costs of the current crisis, helping to spread them across time.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis, Governance, Finance, Economy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Manfred Gerstenfeld
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: An important tool in understanding the dynamics of antisemitism is the identification of moments when its boundaries shift. This occurred with the Trump Peace Plan, the antisemitism crisis in the British Labour party, the UN’s first World Conference against Racism, the huge outburst of antisemitism in France in 2000, and the German welcome policy for refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Topic: Politics, Ideology, Peace, Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: As tens of thousands more refugees are shunted by Turkey toward Europe and a new phase of the brutal Syrian war unfolds, Russia, Turkey, the EU, and the international community are being handed the bill for a flawed short-term approach to the nine-year conflict that lacked empathy for the millions of victims and was likely to magnify rather than resolve problems.
  • Topic: War, Refugees, Syrian War, International Community
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Anne Herzberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: UN treaty bodies are increasingly violating their mandates as part of discriminatory anti-Israel campaigns. In March 2020, the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) embraced this disturbing trend by adopting a BDS agenda after being convinced to do so by the NGO Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).
  • Topic: Human Rights, Politics, United Nations, BDS, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Norway, Palestine
  • Author: Emil Avdaliani
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Though analysts tend to portray Russia’s foreign policy as truly global (that is, independent of Europe, the US, and China), the country is plainly tilting toward Asia. The Russian political elite does its best to hide this development, but the country is accumulating more interests and freedom to act in Asia than in Europe or anywhere else.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Geopolitics, Global Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Ferdinando Nelli Feroci
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: A few months after the European Parliament elections, and a few weeks before a new European Commission is fully operational, the European Union is facing old and new challenges, both domestic and international. Internally, the EU will soon be testing these new institutions. In the recently elected European Parliament, nationalist and Eurosceptic political forces are a minority, but pro-European mainstream parties, which have the numbers to control the proceedings of the Parliament, have not been able to consolidate a stable and comfortable majority. The new European Commission has encountered setbacks in the confirmation procedure of three of its members and will therefore fully assume its responsibilities with some delay on 1 December.
  • Topic: Government, Nationalism, Politics, Elections, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Nicoletta Pirozzi, Francesco Musi
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The civilian dimension of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict stabilisation has long been prominent in EU crisis management missions. From 2000 onwards, the EU has developed its monitoring, capacity-building, strategic advice and training tools, deploying a total of 22 civilian missions beyond its borders. Currently, there are 11 active civilian missions, stretching from the Balkans (EULEX Kosovo) to the Middle East (EUBAM Rafah, EUPOL COPPS, EUAM Iraq), from Eastern Europe and Caucasus (EUAM Ukraine, EUMM Georgia) to Africa (EUBAM Libya, EUCAP Sahel Mali, EUCAP Sahel Niger, EUCAP Somalia). Their main tasks include policy reforms on the rule of law, the fight against organised crime and security sector reform.
  • Topic: Politics, Reform, Budget, Crisis Management, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Nicola Casarini
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Should the EU enforce a containment policy towards the People’s Republic of China (PRC – or simply China), joining efforts undertaken by US President Donald Trump, who has unleashed a trade and technological war against Beijing with the aim of permanently subordinating the Asian giant to the West? Or should the EU continue its engagement policy towards Beijing – and even seek to maximise Sino-European ties to put limits on those US unilateral policies that are detrimental to Europe’s interests and fundamental values? What would be the best policy mix of engagement and containment for EU–China relations? And to what extent should the EU align its China policy with that of the US?
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Institutions
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Jiri Valenta
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The revolution that took place in the Czech Republic thirty years ago was not just the work of Vaclav Havel and his Charter 77 followers. The spark was a KGB coup directed by General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. A Kremlin coup also helped spur revolutionary change in Germany. The late 1980s saw unprecedented power struggles within the Soviet elite and Politburo under Gorbachev.
  • Topic: History, Geopolitics, Coup, Revolution
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Czech Republic
  • Author: Katerina Sokou, Aristotle Tziampiris
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The challenging geography of Greece makes it hard for the country to take full advantage of its natural resources and expand its energy grid. Though it has doubled its share of renewables, it needs to redouble those efforts to reach the EU’s ambitious goal of covering a third of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. The Greek islands that have been at the forefront of the migration and refugee crises would particularly benefit from a targeted policy to reach that goal, as the transition would increase their energy security, reduce their energy costs, and diversify their economies. Greece has the potential to be a model of sustainability that would enhance the stability of the entire Eastern Med.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Refugee Crisis, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, Mediterranean
  • Author: Manfred Gerstenfeld
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Berlin has surpassed Malmö as Europe’s antisemitism capital, with a wide variety of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes on display. They include dozens of cases of physical aggression against Jews, including rabbis. Jewish pupils have had to leave public schools. Thirty-five percent of Berliners view Israelis as analogous to Nazis. An Al-Quds Day march takes place annually that calls for the destruction of Israel. Both the municipality and the federal government are two-faced about the problem of antisemitism.
  • Topic: Politics, Judaism, Ideology, Anti-Semitism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Germany
  • Author: Julia Hamann
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: More fragmented than ever, Europe is at a crossroads, making the 2019 European Parliament election an immensely political event. Stakes are high for Emmanuel Macron, Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orbán, all of whom could shake up the balance of power in the EP. Macron has lost much of his initial vigor, and the disruptive potential of Salvini and Orbán is significant. If played well, their combined power could send shock waves across all European institutions
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Europe Union
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Julia Hamann, Sara Jakob
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: For many young people in France, President Macron’s reforms failed to alleviate their social anxieties. Unemployment remains high, employment conditions precarious, and what started as a protest against new fuel taxes quickly spilled over to other reform areas including social policy. Macron will need to gain the youngsters’ trust ahead of the European Parliament election – not least because its outcome will decisively shape his domestic credibility, and consequently, his political fate
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Lee Willett
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Russia’s Syrian campaign has demonstrated the returning challenge the West faces in the underwater domain. Combat operations in Syria have been an opportunity for Russia’s military forces to prove on operations a new generation of capabilities, just as Operation ‘Desert Storm’ in 1991 saw the United States demonstrate its own new generation of military technology. One of the first weapons fired in ‘Desert Storm’ was a Tomahawk sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM), launched on the first day from several surface combatants. Two days later, a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) became the first submarine to fire Tomahawk in combat.[1] The USN’s re-roling of its SSNs as primary power projection platforms in the 1990s/early 2000s underlined the shift in Western focus in the underwater battlespace away from the primary Cold War task of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) to counter Soviet naval activity. Simply, the strategic collapse of the Soviet Union saw what was a significant submarine threat disappear almost overnight, and with it – for that moment, at least – the Western requirement for ASW capability. Today, the underwater threat is back. Since 2008 – which saw both Russian naval forces engaged in the Georgia campaign and the re-emergence of regular deployments by Russian submarines (and surface ships) south of the Greenland-Iceland-UK (GIUK) gap – naval power has been central to Russia’s strategic resurgence.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Weapons , Maritime
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria, Mediterranean
  • Author: Guilhem Penent
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: It is a classic exercise to imagine what today’s world would be like if all satellites were shut down. The exact consequences of such a scenario, which is not unlikely given the inherent vulnerability of space systems to natural, accidental and deliberate interferences, are however difficult to appreciate, even for specialists. In the smartphone age, much of what we take for granted is provided by space technologies. They are so effective at delivering essential, though unseen, services (e.g. positioning, navigation and timing signals, geographic information data, and broadcasting relay and amplification) that many aspects of our modern society have become reliant upon them. As emphasized by Florence Parly, the French minister for the armed forces, in last September: “From rural to urban areas, from the very small to the large companies, every day, more than 10 satellites on average accompany us and help us in our daily lives.”
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Space, Autonomy
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Andrea Aversano Stabile, Paola Sartori
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: On 15 October 2018, the Italian Ministry of Defence released its Plurennial Programmatic document (Documento Programmatico Pluriennale, DPP) outlining Italy’s defence expenditure forecasts until 2020.[1] The DPP was eagerly awaited this year, especially in light of the defence cuts announced by the current government, which is already embroiled in a difficult negotiation with the EU over Italy’s increasing budget deficit. Coming at a time when the EU is devoting increased effort and resources to boost its defence cooperation and the US Trump administration is admonishing its European allies for not paying their share to defend Europe through NATO,[2] Italy’s envisioned defence cuts are likely to cause some concern in Brussels and Washington. Ultimately, these may also increase scepticism as to Rome’s reliability as a key European partner in the defence realm.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Military Affairs, Budget, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, European Union
  • Author: Andrea Maccanico
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The EU is involved in economic diplomacy since the establishment of the Single Market and the ensuing negotiations for trade and economic partnership agreements conducted by the EU’s Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade) for all EU member states (MSs). European economic diplomacy (EED) is a new EU venture that aims to improve the coordination between EU institutions and MSs in an effort to enhance their economic and trade relations and strengthen their ability to compete with major countries such as the US, China and Russia.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Governance, Institutions, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Riccardo Alcaro, Nathalie Tocci
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: A coalition government that is largely, if not entirely, alien to mainstream party politics has run Italy since June 2018. The coalition is made up of the League, a right-wing anti-immigration party, and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle, M5S), which refuses to categorize itself as either left or right wing. While the two parties did not campaign on a joint agenda, and actually competed in the March 2018 election, a number of important commonalities are present, particularly if one looks at party politics not through the horizontal “left-right” prism but through a vertical “open-closed” one.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Political Parties, European Parliament, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, European Union
  • Author: Fritz W Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The performance of EMU member economies is shaped by different and structurally entrenched “growth models” whose success depends on specific macro-regimes – restrictive for export-led growth, accommodating for demand-led growth. These two types of models cannot be equally viable under a uniform macro regime, and their divergence threatens the stability of the EMU. The present attempt to enforce structural convergence in the eurozone appears economically ineffective and lacks democratic legitimacy on the national and the European level. Assuming that complete integration in a democratic federal state is presently unattainable, the paper presents the outline of a more flexible European Currency Community that would include a smaller and more coherent EMU and the member states of a revised “Exchange Rate Mechanism II” (ERM) whose currencies are flexibly linked to the euro. It would restore the external economic viability of autonomous domestic policy choices, and it would protect its members against speculative currency fluctuations.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Daniel Kinderman, Mark Lutter
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Two strands of literature have emerged to explain the rise of a new form of private governance, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). One camp argues that CSR expansion is likely during periods of economic liberalization because CSR tends to substitute for growing institutional voids and a lack of social regulation. The other camp argues that CSR is likely to diffuse within coordinated economies because it mirrors these institutional settings. While both camps find empirical support for their arguments, no one has yet managed to combine both perspectives. In our study, we develop three hypotheses based on two (rationalist and constructivist/sociological) strands of institutional theory. Based on a new dataset comprising the corporate membership in business-led CSR organizations in over thirty countries from 1981 to 2008, we show that economic liberalization has a strong effect on CSR expansion when the legitimacy of CSR is low. However, when the practice has achieved substantial cultural acceptance, economic liberalization no longer drives CSR expansion. In this setting, CSR expansion is most likely to occur within socially regulated economic contexts.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Gabriel Cederberg, Jarno limnéll
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This paper examines the concepts of cyber politics and cyber-enabled hybrid warfare. It pays specific attention to the vulnerabilities of modern Western societies from a strategic-political perspective. The paper concludes that instead of cyber politics as such, a new kind of politics is needed – hybrid politics. Hybrid politics will be presented as a potentially winning concept for European security. Key Points: Issues related to cyberspace and its uses have risen to the highest levels of international politics, creating an area and discipline known as cyber politics. Protecting critical infrastructure and services from cyber threats is a complicated matter. The cyber domain is a central part of modern hybrid warfare, and malicious cyber-technical and cyber-psychological threats have both increased. Hybrid politics is a useful concept to describe both the importance of a holistic approach and the nature of high politics in the modern security reality. Hybrid politics is constantly changing the modern political process. The European Union (EU) should primarily understand hybrid politics as a potentially “winning concept” and take active steps to implement and sustain this understanding.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, War, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Jakub Pieńkowski, Tomasz Żornaczuk
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Initiated at the end of 2017, the Varna Quadrilateral is a forum for cooperation between Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Romania. It is intended to improve coordination of cross-border infrastructure and energy investments between the largest countries in southeastern Europe. Meetings to date also show that collaboration can have clear political elements. However, a half year after the inauguration of the new initiative, its future is in doubt due to the great differences between its members.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anna-Lena Kirch, Daniel Braun
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Germany considers itself a leading European power that utilizes its influence to promote EU cohesion in the face of Brexit and numerous other crises. However, a different picture emerges in European health policy, an area that is not only being discussed as an essential part of the EU’s social dimension but also in the context of its security and development positioning: Far from shaping the discussion, Germany is at times even perceived as the brakeman to an effective European health policy.
  • Topic: Health, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Thomas Gomart, Robin Niblett, Daniela Schwarzer, Nathalie Tocci
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will severely degrade regional and global security. His decision has increased the risk of war and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and beyond. He has undermined attempts to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons through multilateral diplomacy, as unilateral withdrawal equals non-compliance with a legally-binding UN Security Council resolution. This is a rejection of the UN as arbiter of international peace and security, as well as of international law as a lynchpin of international relations. The steps that Europeans now take will have serious consequences for their alliance with the US, for security in the Middle East, as well as for their relations vis-à-vis China, Russia and the wider world.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Elspeth Guild
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The task of finding a solution to the legal status of non-British EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit is exercising the best minds in the European Union at the moment. As the European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations rightly underline, “The United Kingdom's decision to leave the Union creates significant uncertainties that have the potential to cause disruption,…Citizens who have built their lives on the basis of rights flowing from the British membership of the EU face the prospect of losing those rights”. These guidelines also place special emphasis on the priority to ensure reciprocal guarantees in safeguarding the rights derived from EU law of EU and UK citizens and their families affected by Brexit, effective from the date of withdrawal. The latest idea floating in the media is that the UK should naturalise the non-British EU nationals living there (possibly numbering 3 million) as British citizens. This solution has been commonly called “giving them all passports”, but for an individual to qualify for a passport, s/he must hold the nationality of the state of issuance. Is this a serious policy option? It is certainly original and has the benefit of shifting the burden of dealing with this question back onto the UK – enlarge your population and keep good relations with your neighbours. But there are at least four challenging questions that deserve careful consideration.
  • Topic: Citizenship, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Michael Emerson
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: A team of economists at CEPS was commissioned by the Policy Department on Economic and Scientific Policies for the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection to assess the likely economic impact of Brexit on EU27, together with some scenarios for the terms of the UK’s secession. For the EU 27, the losses were found to be virtually insignificant, and hardly noticeable in the aggregate. For the UK, however, the losses could be highly significant, with various estimates running up to ten times greater as a share of GDP. Impacts on some member states – in particular Ireland – and some sectors in the EU27 could be more pronounced than the average for the EU27. Michael Emerson is Associate Senior Research Fellow, Matthias Busse is Researcher, Mattia Di Salvo is Research Assistant, Daniel Gros is Director and Jacques Pelkmans is Senior Research Fellow – all at CEPS.
  • Topic: Economics, Brexit, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Daniel Gros
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: For years, the eurozone has been perceived as a disaster area, with discussions of the monetary union’s future often centred on a possible breakup. When the British voted to leave the European Union last year, they were driven partly by the perception of the eurozone as a dysfunctional and possibly unsalvageable project. Yet, lately, the eurozone has become the darling of financial markets – and for good reason. The discovery of the eurozone’s latent strength was long overdue. Indeed, the eurozone has been recovering from the crisis of 2011-12 for several years. On a per capita basis, its economic growth now outpaces that of the United States. The unemployment rate is also declining – more slowly than in the US, to be sure, but that partly reflects a divergence in labour-force participation trends.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Benjamin Tallis
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The discussion paper by Benjamin Tallis, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations, seeks to examine such competing evaluations of the current state and future prospects of the CGSD.
  • Topic: International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Simon Adams
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: When we think of the Holocaust our mind slips inexorably to dismal images of cattle cars stuffed with people, or to gas chambers, crematoria and the cruel irony of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate. But of the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust over a million were shot with rifles and other small arms. They were not killed in concentration camps, but were murdered in fields or forests and pitched into mass graves outside villages in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. Before Auschwitz, Sobibor or Treblinka, the Holocaust began with bullets. The same is true of most mass atrocities carried out since 1945. From the killing fields of Cambodia to the burnt villages of Darfur, most of the killing was done with rifles and other small arms. It is for this reason that there is an enduring connection between preventing atrocities and confronting the international arms trade. The AK-47, or Kalashnikov, is the most popular weapon in the world today, with an estimated 70 million currently in existence. Numerous countries manufacture local variants of the ubiquitous assault rifle and while a new Chinese-made AK-47 might cost you $500, you can easily purchase one in many former conflict zones for as cheap as $50. When I lived in Johannesburg during the mid-1990s, leftover AK-47s from the civil war in Mozambique were still making their way through the townships and some entrepreneurial gangs were even renting out their AK-47s to other aspiring criminals at an hourly rate.
  • Topic: Violent Extremism, Weapons , Arms Trade, Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Middle East, United Nations, Global Focus
  • Author: Luis Simón, Vivien Pertusot
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Elcano Royal Institute
  • Abstract: Europe’s southern neighbourhood is a diverse but interlinked geopolitical ensemble, whose specificities need to be carefully assessed before Europeans devise dedicated security strategies, divide responsibilities and make policy decisions. This exercise in geopolitical scoping seeks to make sense of the main security challenges present in Europe’s broader European neighbourhood, a space encompassing areas as diverse as the Gulf of Guinea, the Sahel, North Africa, the Levant and the Persian Gulf. It identifies (some of) the main sub-regions that make up the ‘South’, offers an overview of the threat environment in each of them and identifies relevant differences as well as common themes. In doing so we aim to provide a conceptual referent for further policy research on the security of Europe’s ‘South’, and to help inform future strategic and policy discussions within the EU, NATO and their Member States.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Gonzalo Escribano
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Elcano Royal Institute
  • Abstract: This analysis addresses changes in the Euro-Mediterranean strategic context and the erosion of the economic incentives built into Euro-Mediterranean policy to deal with such transformation. It also puts the case for a reformulation of Euro-Mediterranean policies, but argues that, rather than pursuing an incremental continuity, the EU should engineer a more radical overhaul of its mechanisms of governance, its instruments and its discourse.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Alison Hunter
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: Introduced as an ex ante conditionality in the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy, Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) require regions to develop smart priorities and direct investment efforts towards growth-oriented innovation. In the space of only four years, S3 has become widely regarded as a success story across the Cohesion Policy community, as a place-based driver of EU competitiveness. For some regions, it has offered scope to deepen existing practices. For others, S3 has introduced new approaches to achieving innovation-oriented growth. There is, however, quite some distance to cover if S3 is to accelerate its support role in delivering EU growth and investment. This would require redefining the role of S3 and re-positioning this in the post-2020 Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF).
  • Topic: Europe Union, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Andrew Duff
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: Following the start of the Brexit negotiations on 19 June, Andrew Duff reviews the state of play, namely the discussions on EU citizens’ rights, the Irish border, the financial commitments and the future role of the ECJ. He welcomes the Commission’s proposal to create a Joint Committee to manage the actual exiting process. Duff regrets the irresolution on the British side, which hampers the possibility to define the future relationship with the European Union and consequently the transitional arrangements that UK business so badly needs. Given the UK’s state of confusion after the electoral results of 2016 and 2017, he suggests that the EU must make an offer to London on the basis of a wider reflection on the future not just of the smaller European Union but of the wider Europe.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Andrew Duff
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: In this paper, Andrew Duff reviews the intended and unintended consequences of the results of last week’s general election. He argues that: 1. Since both Labour and Conservatives campaigned to complete Brexit, there will be no more talk of the possible revocation of Article 50. Brexit does indeed mean Brexit. 2. Now Brexit is free from the shadow of immediate electioneering. And the new composition of the House of Commons has improved the chances that if there is an Article 50 treaty it will be approved. 3. The unintended consequence of the snap election has been to make a softer Brexit more likely. Mercifully, we should not hear again that “no deal is better than a bad deal” as a bust up of the Article 50 talks would lead to the collapse of the May government and the holding of another general election, much-feared by the Conservative party.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Pierre Vimont
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Painfully and hesitatingly, the EU has managed to stem its migration crisis, regaining control of its borders and ensuring a dramatic drop in the flow of migrants. Yet, the migration issue is not going away, and the political debate around it persists. Europeans need to work together in a field where in the past they have been eager to act on their own; and they must define an integrated policy based on a genuine sense of solidarity.
  • Topic: Migration
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: David O’Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: This may sound like a gloomy time to ponder Europe’s future, particularly in print, but as a veteran of many ups and downs in the EU’s history, I believe it’s important to go beyond the headlines and take stock of what is being done to relaunch the European Union in a way that is both sustainable and better understood by everyday people. It is this gap between the perception and reality of what the European Union is and does that poses perhaps the biggest internal challenge to European integration.
  • Topic: Political stability, Europe Union, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Berfin Nur Osso
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The discussion paper by Berfin Nur Osso, former intern at the Institute of International Relations Prague and a senior undergraduate student at the Koç University in Istanbul majoring in Law and minoring in International Relations, focuses on the assessment of the readmission agreement between the EU and Turkey.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Europe Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey
  • Author: Stefan Meister
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The Germany-Poland-Russia Trialogue Workshop held at the DGAP in December 2015 focused on security. It brought together a group of Russian, Pol- ish, and German experts to discuss their respective national security discourses and the security situation in Europe more generally. The three short papers includ- ed here provide brief analyses of how the security situation is currently perceived in each of the three countries. From the German side, the answer was the refugee crisis. Polish experts pointed to the threat posed by Russia, while the Russian speakers described their worries about color revolutions and regime change in the post-Soviet sphere. Certainly, perceptions of security threats differ greatly among EU member states, to say nothing of the difference between Russia and the EU as a whole. Only real understanding of our counterparts can help in forging a new modus vivendi and overcoming the dangerous situation in which Europe currently nds itself. The Germany-Poland-Russia Trialogues aim to forge better understand- ing of “the other side” through presentations and opportunities for discussion, offering crucial rst steps toward overcoming misperceptions and stereotypes. The Trialogue meets regularly under the aegis of the DGAP (German Council on Foreign Relations), IMEMO (Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations Russian Academy of Sciences), and PISM (Polish Institute of International Affairs) and in cooperation with and nancial support from SDPZ (Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Warsaw office
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: In June 2014, The Soufan Group (TSG) released its initial Foreign Fighters in Syria report, which identified approximately 12,000 foreign fighters from 81 countries. Nearly eighteen months later, despite sustained international effort to contain the Islamic State and stem the flow of militants traveling to Syria, the number of foreign fighters has more than doubled. Based on its own investigation, TSG has calculated that between 27,000 and 31,000 people have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State and other violent Salafist groups from at least 86 countries. This increase is evidence that efforts to contain the flow of foreign recruits to the Islamic State and other extremist groups in Syria have had limited impact.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Luba von Hauff
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The security risks of post-Soviet Central Asia are pronounced and therefore pres- ent on the agendas of most international actors, including the US, Russia, and China. The EU is also concerned, although it has hitherto not been known for political success in the region, especially in terms of security. Indeed, the EU’s approach to the region – oriented toward transformation, liberalization, and de- mocratization – has been largely labeled a failure, with minimal impact and prog- ress. Against this background, this article will review and discuss the nature of the threats to Central Asia’s security, establish the extent of the EU’s actual “failure” by examining the distinct characteristics of the EU’s security approach, and, finally, reflect on how European policy can have an impact on the local security situation in the future.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia