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  • Author: Filippa Chatzistavrou
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In the post-Lisbon era and especially since the outburst of the financial and European sovereign debt crisis, the EU has been changing significantly, to the extent that the meaning and the process of integration are being affected. While constitutional asymmetry is a longstanding feature of the EU polity, the real challenge today is the expanding scope and fragmented character of newly established forms of flexibility, and how they are being used politically. The flexible configuration of integration reinforces a trend toward fragmented integration. Flexibility within the EU could become an end in itself, a device to serve a wide range of strategic visions and preferences in sectoral politics.
  • Topic: Politics, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Europe, Lisbon
  • Author: Isabelle Ioannides
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The EU has increasingly intensified the link between its internal and external security concerns and needs, particularly in relation to its neighbours (the Western Balkans and the southern Mediterranean). This adaptation at legal, institutional, strategic and operational levels has sought to improve the coherence and effectiveness of EU external action. Yet, for the Union to tackle ongoing and new challenges in the immediate neighbourhood with today's financial and political constraints, it must be resourceful. The EU should make 'smart' use of its tools and capitalise on existing assets (reinforce the comprehensive approach, strengthen broad-based dialogue on security in the EU members states, and build relations of trust with third countries) to ensure that reforms in the immediate neighbourhood are sustainable, also for the benefit of long-term EU interests.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Simone Tholens
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The European Commission has spelled out its policy ambition for EU energy cooperation with the southern neighbourhood with plans for the establishment of an 'Energy Community'. Its communications make clear that an Energy Community should be based on regulatory convergence with the EU acquis communautaire, much in the same vein as the existing institution carrying the same name; the Energy Community with Southeast Europe. It is puzzling that the Commission insists on repackaging this enlargement concept in a region with very different types of relationships vis-à-vis the EU, especially when considering the lukewarm position of key stakeholders in the field. According to them, any attempt to introduce a political integration model in this highly sensitive issue area in the politically fragmented MENA region might run the risk of hurting the incremental technical integration process that has slowly emerged over the past few years.
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anthony Patt, Nadejda Komendantova, Stefan Pfenninger
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Solar power in the North African region has the potential to provide electricity for local energy needs and export to Europe. Nevertheless, despite the technical feasibility of solar energy projects, stakeholders still perceive projects in the region as risky because of existing governance issues. Certain areas of solar projects, such as construction, operation and management, are the most prone to governance risks, including lack of transparency and accountability, perceived as barriers for deployment of the projects. It is likely that large-scale foreign direct investment into solar energy will not eliminate existing risks, but might even increase them. Furthermore, the recent political changes in the region have addressed some governance risks but not all of them, especially bureaucratic corruption. Stakeholders recommend a broad set of measures to facilitate development of solar projects in the region, ranging from auditing of individual projects to simplification and unification of bureaucratic procedures.
  • Topic: Development, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Africa
  • Author: Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Fifteen years ago, the European Union (EU) launched a Common European Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Since then, the CSDP has been the focus of a growing body of political and scholarly evaluations. While most commentators have acknowledged shortfalls in European military capabilities, many remain cautiously optimistic about the CSDP's future. This article uses economic alliance theory to explain why EU member states have failed, so far, to create a potent common defence policy and to evaluate the policy's future prospects. It demonstrates, through theoretical, case study-based and statistical analysis, that CSDP is more prone to collective action problems than relevant institutional alternatives, and concludes that the best option for Europeans is to refocus attention fully on cooperation within a NATO framework.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Riccardo Alcaro, Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: At the time of writing, representatives from Iran and the E3/EU+3 are trying to work out an agreement that will guarantee that Iran's controversial nuclear programme, widely suspected of having a military purpose, serves only peaceful ends. As the negotiations enter their most crucial phase, the time is ripe to attempt an assessment of the role played by the only actor, besides Iran, that has been on stage since it all began over ten years ago: Europe. Throughout this long drama, Europe's performance has had some brilliant moments. Yet the quality of its acting has decreased as a new protagonist, the US, has come on stage. Overall, the Europeans' record is positive, albeit not entirely spotless.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran
  • Author: Lorenzo Trombetta
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Seen through the eyes of Syrian activists and other observers based in the Middle East, EU policy towards Syria could in some ways appear inconsistent and ambiguous. In Brussels, EU representatives remind us that the Syrian crisis is the most difficult one the European Union has had to face so far, for the unprecedented scope of the humanitarian catastrophe, its geographic proximity to the Union's borders, and the difficulties in deciphering a fluid and multi-dimensional conflict. After more than three years since the eruption of violence, the EU is trying hard to play a pivotal role in the Syrian issue, despite the complexity of balancing its institutions, the different political sensibilities of its 28 member states, and the pressures exerted by influent external actors.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Syria, Brussels
  • Author: Fabrizio Tassinari
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The European Union's sovereign debt and banking crisis has made apparent a gnawing gap between the northern and southern parts of Europe. Over the course of this past half decade, this divide has been brought into the public debate through a myriad of perspectives, from social trust to competitiveness. Yet, the governance sources of the divide are underestimated in policy practices and misrepresented in the political discourse. A governance approach can help clarify why the pursuit of convergence underpinning EU crisis-resolution mechanisms has become a contributing factor, rather than a prospective solution to the North-South gap. In doing so, governance also forms the basis for recommendations to policymakers in both halves of the continent, especially when confronted with the challenge of populist Euroscepticism.
  • Topic: Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Federico Casolari
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Review of: Competition Damages Actions in the EU: Law and Practice, by David Ashton and David Henry, Edward Elgar, 2013
  • Topic: Law
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Timo Behr
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The rise of political Islam in the EU's southern neighbourhood represents a political as well as conceptual challenge to the EU as a foreign policy actor. In the past, the EU reacted to this challenge based on its essentialist perception of political Islam and its overarching interest in regional stability and security. However, the growing salience of 'contingencist' interpretations of political Islam and the resolution of the EU's democratisation-stabilisation dilemma in the wake of the Arab Spring have recently provided an opportunity for greater engagement and cooperation. This has enabled a switch in EU policies from a strategy of containment to a strategy of engagement. Despite this, problems remain as the EU continues to expect Islamist actors to adjust to its own discursive framework and as intra-European divisions revive as a result of the renewal of secular-religious divisions in the neighbourhood. This will complicate EU attempts to build a new partnership with Islamist democracies and will fuel old stereotypes and animosities.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: Europe, Arabia