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  • Author: Karolina Borońska-Hryniewiecka
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: During his first visit to Warsaw after re-election as prime minister of the UK, David Cameron found an ally in support of one of his ideas to reform the EU. Rafał Trzaskowski, the Polish minister for Europe, speaking on behalf of the Polish government, officially endorsed the British position to strengthen national parliaments in EU policymaking. Yet, the proposals to date either require treaty changes or are merely technical adjustments. In fact, much more could be achieved by enhancing the mechanisms of inter-parliamentary cooperation within the existing scope of the treaties. Although this would play very well with the current institutional climate of better regulation and more transparency, it also requires a genuine political will on the side of EU institutions and Member States, which seem to be the missing link.
  • Topic: Politics, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, European Union
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Viral V. Acharya, Sascha Steffen
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The eurozone is mired in a recession. In 2013, the GDP of all 17 eurozone countries fell by 0.5% and the outlook for 2014 shows considerable risks across the region. To stabilise the common currency area and its (partly insolvent) financial system, a eurozone banking union is being established. An important part of the banking union is the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), which will transfer the oversight of Europe's largest banks to the European Central Bank (ECB). Before the ECB takes over this responsibility, it plans to conduct an Asset Quality Review (AQR) in 2014, which will identify the capital shortfalls of these banks.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Steven Blockmans
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Concerns about the deterioration of democracy in Turkey are not new: the trials over the 2003 „ Sledgehammer ‟ alleged coup plan (2010-12) and over the ‟ Ergenekon ‟ secret organisation (2008-13) broke the military‟s influence over politics, but were widely criticised because of their reliance on secret witnesses and disputes over evidence. Ironically, their outcome has recently been challenged by Prime Minister Erdoğan himself, who has disowned the trials now that the judiciary has the AK Party in its sights. International concern was also stirred by the violent crackdown on the countrywide protests of May/June 2013. Unrest then was triggered by the planned redevelopment of Istanbul‟s Gezi Park in May 2013, but developed into a wider movement critical of government corruption, increasing restrictions on freedom of speech and concerns about the erosion of secularism. Protests simmered on through September, winding down in autumn and winter only to reignite in March of this year.
  • Topic: Government, International Cooperation, Politics, Regional Cooperation, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey
  • Author: Patryk Pawlak, Catherine Sheahan
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: The benefits of an open and accessible internet for growth and development have been acknowledged on numerous occasions. But as the potential of the digital economy for fostering innovation and creating new business opportunities grows, so too do the difficulties with protecting it. In February 2014, the European External Action Service presented the Friends of the Presidency on Cyber Issues with a Food for Thought Paper ('Further Strengthening European Cyber Diplomacy'). According to the document, 'the EU and its Member States should be in a position to present a coherent and comprehensive suite of policies which keep pace with the ever shifting international landscape, taking into account the strategic policy goals of other actors in the field'.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Science and Technology, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Neil Robinson
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: The EU's cyber defence agenda provides an opportunity to ask questions about what the EU could do in terms of setting security priorities. Furthermore, as a possible area for cooperation, cyber defence shares with military air logistics the peculiarity of being a common capability which does not require explicit war-like conditions to demonstrate its utility. Indeed, the diversity and complexity of the threat environment – coupled with challenges of attribution – suggests the opposite: military cyber defence capabilities might offer better value for money in peacetime rather than in times of war.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Regional Cooperation, Science and Technology, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Eneko Landaburu
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Despite the hopes raised by the most recent Treaties, the Lisbon Treaty in particular, the European Union has been unable to strengthen, let alone develop its role on the international stage. A couple of weeks away from the European Parliament elections, we need to ask ourselves what can reasonably be done by the upcoming Parliament to ensure that significant progress is made with respect to the EU's foreign policy.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Philippe de Schoutheete
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: This Policy Brief discusses the potential reforms of the EU institutions that can take place during the 2014 - 2019 legislative term. It argues that negotiations on Treaty change are a possibility, but they should only start in the second part of the legislature. In the meantime, several institutional reforms that can improve the functioning of the EU – and hence increase its legitimacy – should already be considered.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Frank Vandenbroucke
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: This Policy Brief discusses the notion of a 'European Social Union', in which European countries would cooperate with an explicit social purpose. A European Social Union should not be seen as an idealistic bridge too far. Instead, a Social Union is both desirable and necessary for the eurozone and wider European integration.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Xavier Vanden Bosch
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Given their limited involvement in EU affairs, the Belgian parliaments at the different levels of the Belgian federation barely contribute to the legitimation process of the EU's actions. In order to strengthen their role, not only should governmental communication towards parliaments be improved but parliamentary activities should also adapt to the confederal features of Belgium. The latter poses a unique challenge in Europe.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe, Singapore
  • Author: Charles Secondat, Daisy Roterod, P.J. Goossens
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: The German Constitutional Court (BVG) recently referred different questions to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling. They concern the legality of the European Central Bank's Outright Monetary Transaction mechanism created in 2012. Simultaneously, the German Court has threatened to disrupt the implementation of OTM in Germany if its very restrictive analysis is not validated by the European Court of Justice.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Stijn Verhelst
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: The task of ensuring the democratic legitimacy of the euro has been placed high on the agenda. A eurozone subcommittee in the European Parliament is one of the rare concrete proposals to secure this, creating high hopes. Due to legal and political hurdles the idea might nonetheless have minimal results, which might result in suboptimal parliamentary scrutiny of the eurozone. This Policy Brief argues that if a eurozone subcommittee is to be both meaningful and politically feasible, it should combine substantial competences with innovative decision-making.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jacques Pelkmans, Weinian Hu
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This CEPS Policy Brief is based on a larger study for the EEAS and European Commission, written by the same authors in the run-up of the Milan ASEM summit of 16-17 October 2014. The main idea of the study is to assess whether ASEM works and how, by verifying the factual evidence in detail. After all, ASEM has no institutions, no budget and no treaty, whilst dialogues and a loose improvement over time in Asia-Europe relations refer to process much more than genuine 'results'. The stocktaking covers all ASEM activities since the 2006 Helsinki summit. Summit and foreign ministers' declarations and ASEM calendar of activities (and interviews) are used to trace ASEM activities in the three ASEM pillars (political, economic, and peoples-to-peoples/cultural). All the 'regular' ASEM meetings at ministerial and other levels (many of which are only known to relatively few) have been mapped. Also the ASEM working methods, based on the 2000AECF framework and many subsequent initiatives, have been scrutinised, including whether they are actually implemented or not or partially. Such methods refer to how to work together in areas of cooperation (beyond the typical ASEM dialogue), organisation, coordination and ASEM visibility.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Singapore
  • Author: Christopher Musselman
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Ukraine crisis demonstrates that European security can no longer be taken for granted and that NATO and the broader transatlantic community are struggling to address emerging security challenges. Whether Russia is classified revanchist, expanding its sphere of influence, or seeking to create regional hegemony, Putin's actions in both Crimea and eastern Ukraine are a stark reminder that the era of geopolitical competition in Europe is far from over. The transatlantic community must be ready to deal with similar challenges in the decades ahead.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The European council's decisions on the common Security and Defence policy (CSDP) in December 2013 and the process that now follows should be used by EU member states as a means to progressively empower the CSDP within a short-term future.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Maria Raquel Freire
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: TThis policy brief focuses on the interplay of external actors in the South Caucasus, i.e. the EU, NATO and Russia, looking specifically at how political and security relations have been shaped. Three main issues are highlighted: firstly, that the South Caucasus is a heterogeneous area and that the concept of being a region in its own right is underdeveloped; secondly, that despite the enlarged involvement of international players in the area, the South Caucasian countries retain agency and are not mere agents of foreign role-players; and, thirdly, that the area is characterised by processes of competition and collaboration that do not necessarily meet common agendas, despite shared interests regarding regional stability. The paths of the three South Caucasian republics has been different, with Armenia being dependent on Russia, Azerbaijan pursuing a policy of independence regarding external players, and Georgia assuming a pro-Western, anti-Russian position. The lack of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, EU involvement in crisis management in the wake of Georgia's 2008 war with Russia, a diminished NATO presence and increased Russian assertiveness in the area are central elements to understanding ongoing policies and practices. This complex framework suggests the need to address challenges and opportunities in the South Caucasus in terms of the complexity of the actors and factors at play.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Caucasus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
  • Author: Baldur Thorhallsso, Alyson J. K. Bailes
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Iceland applied for EU membership in 2009 at the height of the economic crisis. Four years later, a new government has put the application on hold: the majority of Icelanders are opposed to entry, but want to continue the accession process and put the results to a vote. Iceland's longer-standing problems with European integration stem from the issue of sovereignty in general, and maintaining control over fisheries and agriculture in particular. Since 2009, anti-European feelings have been stoked by the 'Icesave' dispute, while the prospective benefits of entry (including use of the euro) have been tarnished by witnessing the fate of other small states during the euro crisis. The new government proposes remaining a member of the EEA and developing relations with other world powers. But the US commitment to Iceland has weakened over the years, and 'rising' powers like China are unable, as yet, to solve the country's core problems. In terms of both its security and its standing within the global economy, Iceland is becoming more rather than less dependent on Europe over time. The question raised by the latest political turn is whether it will have to maintain that relationship from a distance, with limited control and with no guaranteed goodwill.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Teija Tiilikainen
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Safeguarding the EU's unity in the long-term development of the EMU is currently one of the major challenges for the Union. The de facto adjustments made to the EU's economic and fiscal powers due to the economic and financial crisis, including the completion of the Banking Union, create pressures to address the treaty-based division of powers and to strengthen the democratic control of the powers executed by the Union. The need to back the EU's macroeconomic goals with fiscal instruments has been made evident by the economic crisis; the position of these instruments outside the common budget might become increasingly controversial. A further increase in economic solidarity (jointly guaranteed debt, taxation power) might jeopardize the EU's stability and democratic legitimacy if carried out in the current political and institutional framework. A system of constitutional and fiscal federalism would produce a more stable outcome, but would require major changes in the EU's democratic system and system of policy implementation, in its external policies and the way its constitutional powers are arranged.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Ángel Ubide
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The euro area has made significant strides in the last six months in designing a banking union. The goal has been to centralize supervisory decision making and improve the management of failing banks while protecting European taxpayers and imposing costs on creditors through so-called bail-ins to reduce moral hazard. Euro area leaders have reached some political agreements, and legislation is being prepared for eventual adoption by the European Parliament and then the various member states. This progress has been hailed as a step in the right direction, with particular praise for the euro area leaders' plan to endow the European Central Bank (ECB) with supervisory powers and create new rules for managing troubled banks.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Bernard Delbecque
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This paper argues that it should be possible to complement Europe's Economic and Monetary Union with an insurance-type shock absorption mechanism to increase the resilience of member countries to economic shocks and reduce output volatility. Such a mechanism would neither require the establishment of a central authority, nor would it lead to permanent transfers between countries. For this mechanism to become a reality, however, it would be necessary to overcome certain technical problems linked to the difficulty of anticipating correctly the position of an economy in the business cycle.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Hadewych Hazelzet
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Over the past two years, many high-level discussions within the EU have centred around the question of the 'added value' of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). In times of fiscal austerity, member states want to make sure they invest their resources where their impact is strongest. In the current climate of financial crisis and retrenchment, there are no resources or time to waste on a 'beauty contest' between organisations or instruments. In order to prepare for the next decade of deployments, the question to ask is therefore not whether but under what conditions CSDP has brought added value, to date, in responding to given contingencies.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe