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  • Author: Daniele Ciani, Paolo Finaldi Russo, Valerio Vacca
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: This paper describes the main features of European SMEs’ financial behaviour and the policies recently put in place to support their funding. European SMEs are structurally more leveraged and charged with higher interest rates than large firms. Moreover, the crisis has deeply affected their fund-raising capacity, as banks reduced credit supply while non-bank funding was unavailable to most SMEs. Against this background, EU has focussed its policies on long-term investment and on a more favourable environment for SMEs financing, including through the launch of the Capital Markets Union. At the national level, most governments have provided guarantees and enhanced the role of national development banks. Nevertheless, key issues are still outstanding, such as the funding of innovative firms and the improvement of transparency and of the legal and regulatory frameworks.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-71-2
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Nicola Casarini
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: With the One Belt One Road (OBOR), arguably Beijing’s major diplomatic outreach in decades, a process towards greater Sino-European connectivity has been put in place. The implementation of the OBOR in Europe has focused so far on financing infrastructure projects, in particular railways in Southeast Europe and ports in the Mediterranean Sea. This has been complemented by growing monetary linkages between the People’s Bank of China and European central banks through the establishment of currency swap agreements and yuan bank clearing – so-called “offshore renminbi hubs” – with the aim of lowering transaction costs of Chinese investment and bolstering the use of the Chinese currency. While there are undoubtedly great economic opportunities, China’s OBOR initiative also presents the EU with a major political challenge. There is the risk, in fact, that a scramble for Chinese money could further divide EU member states and make it difficult for Brussels to fashion a common position vis-à-vis Beijing. Furthermore, China’s economic penetration into Europe may lead – if not properly managed – to a populist backlash as well as a strain in relations with Washington. All these elements should be taken into consideration by EU policymakers, as China’s OBOR makes inroads into the Old Continent.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: China, Europe
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-64-4
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Zhao Minghao
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The European Council has mandated the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, to draft a Global Strategy by June 2016. Given Europe’s status as a global power, such a strategy must respond to Europe’s own challenges as well as to the new grand strategies of other major players in world politics, like China. To better understand the central tenets of the Chinese leadership’s strategic thinking, two keywords are most important – the “Four Comprehensives” and the “One Belt and One Road” (OBOR). As an initiative mainly focusing on promoting Eurasian integration and reshaping Chinese geo-economic advantages, the OBOR is highly consequential to China’s interactions with Europe and the rest of the world at large in the decades to come. How to take advantage of the OBOR, create new EU-China synergies, and tackle relevant challenges are questions the EU leaders should be attentive to.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-61-3
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Erkan Erdogdu
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) is a European Commission initiative aimed at facilitating the diversification of the routes and sources of gas imported into Europe. This paper is devoted to the analysis of Turkey's role in this initiative. Following a summary of the current economic and energy situation in Turkey, the paper presents recent developments in the SGC and an analysis of Turkey's role in the EU's SGC vision. It concludes that although the newly-built infrastructure within the SGC framework will probably serve Azerbaijani and Turkish interests first in their future relations with the EU, rather than the other way round, as had been initially hoped by the EU, it still addresses the EU's basic strategic interests, namely, the diversification of gas supply routes and suppliers.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Russia, United Kingdom, Europe, Turkey, Asia, Netherlands
  • Author: Nathalie Tocci, Thanos Dokos, Eleonora Poli, Chiara Rosselli, Eduard Soler i Lech
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Eurozone crisis and the ensuing public disaffection towards what many view as deficient EU institutions and policies have resulted in a surge of euroscepticism across member states. Although euroscepticism is not a new phenomenon, the rise of mass anti- establishment movements notably in southern Europe is. Despite their different political and structural features, Five Star Movement in Italy, Syriza in Greece and several social movements sprung from the Indignados in Spain have recently become key actors in their national political arena by opposing, inter alia, EU-imposed austerity. Yet these movements are not anti-EU in toto; while they criticize what they view as the EU's lack of democracy and rigid economic policies, they are not opposed to the EU integration project as such. While a fine line distinguishes Euro-scepticism from Euro-criticism, provided such distinction is made, the critique of these movements could be galvanized into a constructive force for a more integrated EU political space.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Fabienne Zwagemakers
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Through the inclusion of human rights and democracy clauses in the trade and association agreements of its common external trade policy, the European Union seeks to promote and transmit the values of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law globally. However, trade partners from the developing world often feel that these clauses offend their national sovereignty, and sometimes resort to alternative agreements offered by countries notorious for cutting corners. This working paper offers an assessment of the motives for non-compliance and sketches out how the EU could engender compliance. The paper concludes that there is a pivotal role to be played by education, civil society, business, and political parties in the nexus between economic growth, democracy, and the respect for human rights. The EU must target these factors directly, as they largely determine the domestic enforcement of HR clauses. In addition, the EU should develop a human rights strategy coordinated with global, regional, and local actors.
  • Topic: Democratization, Human Rights, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Europe, India, Sri Lanka
  • Author: Miguel Haubrich Seco
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In its external relations, the EU advances regional cooperation as a successful means of achieving peace and prosperity. In doing so, the EU promotes its own model as the most successful case of regional integration. A wide-reaching set of instruments, spanning from trade to political dialogue and aid, is used to promote regional cooperation and integration. Noneheless, regional organisations supported by the EU are far from accomplishing their set objectives. Using as a test case the Andean Community, the oldest Latin American regional organisation and a prominent case of EU support for regional integration, this paper examines the reasons behind the EU's lack of impact in promoting regional integration. Stemming from this analysis, the paper proposes a recalibration of EU policy by decoupling trade relations from political engagement and by increasing support for physical and visible integration as opposed to formal institutions detached from the perceived needs of the public.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Latin America
  • Author: Michele Comelli
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Once a renowned Euro-enthusiastic country, Italy has experienced a decrease in public support for European integration. Many are the reasons, including the emergence of a less idealistic vision of the EU, a general disaffection vis-à-vis politics, particularly at the domestic level, and the increasingly more vocal Euroscepticism of some political forces within the centre-right ruling coalition. The current Berlusconi government does not show the same degree of interest for European integration as previous centrist and centre-left governments. This is not to say that Italy's love affair with Europe has come to a bitter end. Italians continue to trust European institutions significantly more than national ones and would like the EU to acquire more competences. In addition, the vocal anti-EU rhetoric of some political forces within the governing coalition, and especially the Northern League, is often not matched by deeds, largely because EU policy-making is generally used as a source of leverage to obtain concessions in other policy domains. Tellingly, the Treaty of Lisbon was speedily ratified by the Italian parliament by unanimous vote - something unthinkable in most EU countries.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, Lisbon
  • Author: Nathalie Tocci
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Diehard believers in Turkey's European future had, for a brief moment, hung their hopes on the European Parliament (EP) as the key to unlocking the poisonous stalemate in Turkey's ailing accession process. The glimmer of light had come with the Lisbon Treaty, which could have been used to unblock the stalemate over the Direct Trade Regulation (DTR) between the EU and northern Cyprus by granting a voice to the EP on the matter. Breaking the stalemate would not have magically removed all obstacles to Turkey's protracted accession process. But it would have breathed new life and instilled a dose of much-needed optimism in the troubled relations between Turkey and the Union. Alas, that opportunity has been lost and, with it, the short-term hope of a rosier future for Cyprus, Turkey and the EU as a whole.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Lisbon, Cyprus
  • Author: Roberto Aliboni
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The author examines problems related with the political identity of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), its relations with the EMP's Euro- Mediterranean "acquis" and the functioning of its institutions. While the UfM has been designed to give new momentum to the EU's cooperation with Mediterranean countries, results have hardly met ambitions so far. There is a lot the EU can do to increase the UfM profile: revise its institutional settings; create a parallel, but connected, multilateral dimension in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy; quickly implement large-scale regional projects; expand cooperation to agriculture; and scale back the ambition that the UfM can promote political solidarity in the short- to mediumterm.
  • Topic: International Relations, Agriculture, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe