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  • Author: Tony van der Togt
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: A global multilateral rules-based order, supported by a pro-active and interventionist United States, is gradually being replaced by a more fragmented world, in which geopolitics and geo-economics are becoming the dominant factors and universal rules, norms, and values are increasingly questioned. For the EU such developments are particularly challenging, as it has long perceived itself as a post-Westphalian soft power, mainly projecting its norms and values in its relations with both its direct neighbors and the world at large. A more isolationist US, a more assertive Russia, and the growing global influence of China have raised questions about the EU’s place and role in the world, which become even more pertinent after Brexit. Therefore, Commission President Von der Leyen intends to lead a “geopolitical Commission” and we are hearing calls for European strategic autonomy or even strategic sovereignty.
  • Topic: International Relations, European Union, Geopolitics, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Haizam Amirah-Fernandez
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: There is something deeply and comprehensively flawed in the EU’s relations with its Mediterranean neighbourhood. After more than 50 years of European cooperation, agreements, declarations and plans with the southern Mediterranean and the Arab countries, only one new democratic state (Tunisia) has emerged. A benevolent observer would say this democratisation process was not initiated as a result of the EU’s resolute support for a population demanding freedom from an authoritarian regime. A blunter observer, however, would argue that Tunisians managed to topple their former autocrat despite the support he received from certain European quarters until the very last minute. So much for decades of European pro-democracy rhetoric.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, European Union, Crisis Management, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, Mediterranean
  • Author: Gentiola Madhi
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: On Wednesday the 5th of February the European Commission proposed a revised methodology for the accession process for candidate and potential candidate countries. This methodology will be applied to Albania and North Macedonia, although for Montenegro and Serbia there has also been foreseen an opt-in in case they want to join. The document strives to inject new dynamism into the enlargement process in the Western Balkans, while attempting to introduce more clarity and predictability, stricter monitoring as well as improved incentives for the soon-to-be negotiating countries to deliver on EU reforms. The negotiating chapters have been divided into six clusters, where the fundamentals cluster will be the first to open and the last to be closed.
  • Topic: European Union, Democracy, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans, Albania, North Macedonia
  • Author: Katerina Davidova, Vít Havelka, Jana Juzová, Christian Kvorning Lassen, Danielle Piatkiewicz, Zuzana Stuchlíková
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Experts from EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy comment on the State of the Union address (SOTEU) given by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on 16 September 2020. Topics of the commentaries: Christian Kvorning Lassen: General Impressions – A Visionary Speech Challenged by Political Reality; Christian Kvorning Lassen: A Stronger European Health Union is Needed; Christian Kvorning Lassen: Migration – Ambitious rhetoric, dubious feasibility; Danielle Piatkiewicz: Multilateralism: Europe’s Call to Global Action – Taking the Lead; Kateřina Davidová: EU’s climate momentum not quashed by the pandemic as new target is presented; Jana Juzová: European Neighbourhoods – Vague Reassurances, Economy First; Zuzana Stuchlíková: Next Generation EU, Rule of Law and Conference on the Future of Europe; Vít Havelka: The EU and the UK fights over blame for Brexit fiasco
  • Topic: Climate Change, Health, Migration, European Union, Multilateralism, Rule of Law
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jana Juzová
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Wednesday’s Summit of EU and Western Balkans leaders was long-anticipated following the efforts aimed at reviving the EU enlargement process. The Summit was originally planned to be organized in Zagreb, under the Croatian EU presidency, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was held as a videoconference. Nevertheless, the fact that the Summit was realized despite the current global situation, even on the scheduled date, demonstrates that the Western Balkan region represents a priority for Croatia as well as the rest of the EU, and that the EU genuinely wants to revitalize the enlargement process. It was expected that the Summit in Zagreb would follow up on the positive developments in the past months, those being the positive decision of the European Council on opening the accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, and the adoption of a new enlargement methodology (i.e. set of rules leading the accession process). However, the Summit’s agenda was naturally influenced by the current COVID-19 pandemic and the central topic was eventually the assistance provided by the EU to the Western Balkan countries and a larger plan for their economic recovery.
  • Topic: Reform, European Union, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Vít Havelka
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: On Friday, EU leaders met online to discuss the newest proposal by the European Commission on the future MFF and Next Generation EU recovery fund. As expected, the meeting was devoted to a mere assessment of Member States’ starting negotiation positions, meaning no significant progress has been made. The leaders only agreed to finalize the negotiations as soon as possible, targeting at mid-July during the German presidency. The introduction of Next Generation EU fund rewrote the dividing lines in the EU manifesting during the previous MFF negotiations. Some groupings, such as Frugal Four remain more or less intact, whereas the group of “Friends of Cohesion” disintegrated into several blocks, which makes the negotiations less lucid. Southern Europe supports the new Commission proposals; Czech Republic, Hungary and several Baltic State express reservations. Nevertheless, the good news is that no country vetoed the Commissions proposal and there is a good chance to reach an agreement. Whether this will happen before the summer break remains to be seen. The member states positions are now far away from each other, and the leaders will have to manifest good negotiation skills in order to conclude the negotiations within one month.
  • Topic: Governance, European Union, Economy, Recovery, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Christian Kvorning Lassen
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Christian Kvorning Lassen from EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy together with Jan Kovář from Institute of International Relations Prague wrote a commentary "Czechia: This Covid-19 environment is not conducive to external solidarity" for the EPIN Report publication, concerned with EU external solidarity at the time of Covid-19. EU member states have been discussing how to collectively deal with the socioeconomic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. As major debates continue to take place about internal solidarity, the question arises how the EU and its member states wish to support third countries, outside the EU, in tackling their health and economic emergencies. On the one and, the EU wishes to become a geopolitical power, which requires that the Union and its member states step up their role and support on the global scene. On the other hand, there are signs of ‘coronationalism’ with some national political parties questioning EU external aid at a time when member states themselves are struggling. Based on expert contributions from a representative cross-section of thirteen member states, this report delves into the question of whether and how external solidarity has been part of the political or public debates in Covid-struck Europe. It finds that, for now, neither ‘coronationalist’ nor geopolitical ambitions dominate the relatively little politicized debates about international cooperation and development aid.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Foreign Aid, European Union, Geopolitics, Economy, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Christian Kvorning Lassen
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: As Germany assumes the presidency of the Council of the EU, the Union is facing the “biggest test of its history” according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and a severe economic recession could not be more extraordinary. The weight of expectations on Berlin to assume a European leadership role during the presidency are as extraordinary as those challenges. What exactly do other member states expect from Germany and how do they set their policy priorities? To answer this, the European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN) has compiled an analysis of 15 different national perspectives. Czechia hopes that Germany will forge a compromise that ensures more funding for the cohesion policy and more flexibility to use those funds, including those allocated to the European Green Deal. Czechs look towards the German presidency in hope that the salience of the Green Deal will fall, arguing instead that the pandemic requires a delay – or even abandonment – of a principally green-based restructuring of the economy. The fact that studies based on the previous financial crisis indicate that green investments are ideally positioned to spur economic recovery is ignored; the resistance towards climate neutrality in Czechia is ideological rather than empirical.
  • Topic: Climate Change, European Union, Economy, Recovery, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: András Rácz
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Political leaders could abuse the coronavirus crisis to undermine democracy. Europe’s biggest risk is Hungary. In late March, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán could use his two-thirds majority in parliament to push through a law that would empower him to rule by decrees with no specified time limit. If he succeeds, it will undermine the European Union’s core principles, making the EU even more fragmented and difficult to manage once the pandemic is over.
  • Topic: Government, Authoritarianism, European Union, Democracy, Coronavirus, Pandemic
  • Political Geography: Europe, Hungary
  • Author: Tobia Zevi
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: As we all know, urbanisation is a crucial ingredient of our century and of globalisation. In this perspective, examining the features of European cities can be very useful. As a region of ancient city-dwelling, the Old Continent can provide a paradigm that, far from having to be reproduced as it is, can be the source of precious starting points for those areas of the world that deal with this challenge today, and in a much stronger way. Moreover, this issue is particularly significant today, just a few months after the European election round. The EU’s future appears uncertain, as the difficulties of the appointed Commission show: in this sense, being able to immediately set up a concrete and efficient working plan for the next five years will be crucial. Such an effort should aim to reduce as much as possible the gap between European institutions and citizens - who, the last few years, have been subjected to the economic crisis, migration flows and terrorist attacks – and to improve concretely their quality of life. Therefore, talking about the future of European cities is absolutely useful.
  • Topic: Urbanization, European Union, Cities
  • Political Geography: Europe