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  • Author: Frédéric Grare
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: The fisheries sector has become a central geopolitical issue in the Indo-Pacific. China is a major cause of the problems in the industry, thanks to the size of its fleet and the tonnage of its captures. China also contributes to the erosion of ocean governance through its participation in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Beijing instrumentalises its fishing fleet for geopolitical gain, as evidenced by its policy on the South China Sea. These predatory fishing activities threaten Europe’s geopolitical and geo-economic interests, as well as its attempts to protect marine biodiversity. Europe cannot be a bystander on the issue; it should develop a more proactive policy on fisheries.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Fishing, Strategic Interests , Biodiversity
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Ivan Krastev, Mark Leonard
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: A majority of European citizens believe a new cold war with both China and Russia is under way – but they mostly do not think that their own country is involved. Most believe the US is already taking part in these confrontations, and they consider EU institutions as more likely than their own governments to be in a cold war with China and Russia. An optimistic interpretation sees the outsourcing of such great-power competition to Brussels as the arrival of a true EU foreign policy – but a more pessimistic analysis sees a gap emerging between Brussels on the one hand and member state capitals and EU citizens on the other. This difference in views between whether one’s own country is taking part in the brewing conflict, as opposed to whether America and the EU are, suggests there is no European public consensus that the world of tomorrow will be one of growing competition between democracy and authoritarianism. Given this risk, policymakers should find a different, less ideological, framing to generate public support for a strong transatlantic alliance.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Authoritarianism, European Union, Democracy, Alliance, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Ulrike Franke, José I. Torreblanca
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: New technologies are a major redistributor of power among states and a significant force shaping international relations. The European Union has for too long seen technology primarily through an economic lens, disregarding its implications for its partnerships and for its own geopolitical influence. If the EU wants to be more than a mediator between the two real technological powers, the United States and China, it will need to change its mindset. For the EU and its partners, the vulnerabilities created by battles over technology divide into two types: new dependencies and openness to foreign interference. The EU and its member states need deeper engagement with the geopolitical implications and geopolitical power elements of technology. This engagement has an external element of reaching out to partners and an internal element of ensuring close cooperation between the EU and its member states.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony Dworkin
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: The pandemic has brought forward a new agenda for multilateralism, focused on areas including global health, economic recovery, climate, technology, and trade. In trying to promote global cooperation, the EU must take account of competition with China and other illiberal powers across these areas. The EU should pursue a twin-track strategy, seeking to revitalise institutions that include rival powers while promoting deeper cooperation with like-minded countries. Europe should launch an initiative to build up global vaccine manufacturing and encourage the free movement of medical goods, and set up a ‘preparedness club’ of countries committed to transparency in their health systems. The EU should look for ways to coordinate with China on climate and global debt, while focusing on work with its liberal partners on technology and human rights.
  • Topic: European Union, Multilateralism, Trade, Vaccine, COVID-19, Global Health
  • Political Geography: China, Europe
  • Author: Agatha Kratz, Janka Oertel
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: China’s vast yet protected home market has allowed some of its firms to acquire a scale that provides them with significant advantages when they compete in other markets. These firms are able to undercut European companies both in the EU and around the world, including in sectors key to Europe’s future economy and security, from energy to telecommunications. The EU urgently needs to incorporate the concept and reality of this ‘protected home market advantage’ into its thinking on China. Europe can defend its own industries by adopting an integrated policy approach, working with like-minded partners around the world, and even prising open closed parts of China’s domestic market. The EU should also look to enhance its single market – both as a defensive measure and a way to improve its strategic sovereignty.
  • Topic: Markets, European Union, Economy, Business , Industry
  • Political Geography: China, Europe
  • Author: Matteo Colombo, Federico Solfrini, Arturo Varvelli
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Undersea internet cables are critical infrastructure as important as gas and oil pipelines, and are becoming a focus of growing geopolitical competition. Throughout the EU’s wider neighbourhood, geopolitics influences states’ decisions about who is allowed to build internet infrastructure and where they can do so. China and the US differ in their approaches, but both are racing ahead of the EU in their influence over internet infrastructure and the states that depend on it. The EU has the ambition and potential to become a sovereign digital power, but it lacks an all-encompassing strategy for the sector, in which individual governments are still the key players. The EU should set industry standards, help European telecommunications companies win business abroad, and protect internet infrastructure against hostile powers.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, European Union, Geopolitics, Internet, Digital Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Ivan Krastev, Mark Leonard
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Most Europeans rejoiced at Joe Biden’s victory in the November US presidential election, but they do not think he can help America make a comeback as the pre-eminent global leader. Europeans’ attitudes towards the United States have undergone a massive change. Majorities in key member states now think the US political system is broken, and that Europe cannot just rely on the US to defend it. They evaluate the EU and/or their own countries’ systems much more positively than that of the US – and look to Berlin rather than Washington as the most important partner. There are geopolitical consequences to American weakness. A majority believe that China will be more powerful than the US within a decade and would want their country to stay neutral in a conflict between the two superpowers. Two-thirds of respondents thought the EU should develop its defence capacities. There is a great chance for a revival of Atlanticism, but Washington cannot take European alignment against China for granted. Public opinion will have a bigger effect on the relationship than it once did, and needs to be taken into account.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Public Opinion, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Ulrike Franke
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: Artificial intelligence is a rapidly advancing field that policymakers everywhere are struggling to keep up with. Calls for international, and particularly transatlantic, cooperation are growing. In Europe, interest in strengthening “ethical” AI policy is particularly strong – including as a way of making Europe more attractive than other jurisdictions around the world. Close cooperation between Europe and the US is not a given: Europe sees the US as its main competitor in AI; the US wants to join forces against China on AI, but European interest in such a front is weak. The non-combat military realm may be a good area for transatlantic AI cooperation.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Artificial Intelligence, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Vladimir Shopov
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: China has become the most prominent third actor in the Western Balkans. The country’s activities are spread unevenly across the region, but they follow a common approach. This approach is marked by China’s wide-ranging efforts to establish itself in key economic areas and to gradually position itself as an indispensable actor. China is slowly transforming its interactions with Western Balkans countries in sectors such as culture, media, and politics into long-term and institutionalised relationships. As European and US ambivalence towards the Western Balkans persists, the region will be in increasing danger of falling into an endless spiral of competition between various foreign actors. Western policymakers should address the widening developmental gap between the region and the EU through initiatives such as targeted investment plans in energy and infrastructure, sectoral integration frameworks, and the frontloading of EU law in the accession process.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Infrastructure, European Union, Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Eastern Europe, Balkans, United States of America
  • Author: Carl Bildt
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
  • Abstract: The Biden administration’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance reflects an evolution in US strategic thinking and policy priorities. The document shows how the administration intends to shift away from America Alone and towards America and its Allies. But the optimism and confidence the US expressed in 2015 has been replaced by deep concern over a range of strategic trends. The US will now prioritise strategic competition with China, a new approach to trade, the rise of technology, the defence of democracy, the urgent climate and health crises, and efforts to avoid ‘forever wars’ in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Health, Science and Technology, Democracy, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, North America, United States of America