EU foreign affairs (including defence, development aid and trade) and the European neighbourhood

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    Despite Ukraine and legal disputes, the EU is unlikely to break from its reliance on Russian gas imports

Despite Ukraine and legal disputes, the EU is unlikely to break from its reliance on Russian gas imports

EU-Russia gas relations face a number of challenges, most notably the fallout from the Ukraine crisis, the impact of plans for new Russian pipelines, and recent legal disputes between Gazprom and the European Commission. Marco Siddi writes that despite protracted disagreement on these three issues, the two sides’ interdependence makes it likely that gas trade will continue without major […]

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    The refugee crisis underlines the absurdity of Western Balkans states being outside of the EU

The refugee crisis underlines the absurdity of Western Balkans states being outside of the EU

Representatives of governments from the Western Balkans held their second annual Western Balkans summit in Vienna on 27 August. Florian Bieber provides an overview of the summit, noting that the talks were dominated by the ongoing refugee crisis and could not address creeping authoritarianism in the region.

The Viennese Hofburg makes for a grand setting for any summit. When […]

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Finding an interim solution in Crimea should be a priority before any long-term decision is made about the region’s future

The Crimean parliament has voted in favour of the region seceding from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation. If Russia agrees to this request, it is expected that a referendum will be held in Crimea on 16 March. Tatyana Malyarenko and Stefan Wolff assess opinion polling data in Crimea and write on the potential options for the region’s future. They […]

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The events of recent days mean that Russia now holds all the cards over the secession of Crimea from Ukraine

On Saturday, Russia’s parliament approved the deployment of Russian troops to Ukraine, while a referendum has been called in Crimea to determine the territory’s future. Jim Hughes traces the history behind the current crisis, noting that the situation has its roots in the international management of secession during the 1990s. He argues that while much will depend on the wording […]

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The EU should abandon ‘soft power’ in Ukraine and adopt a new approach focused on geostrategic concerns

Ukraine’s refusal to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union has been seen as a significant blow for the EU’s neighbourhood strategy. André Härtel writes that this failure stems from the EU’s misunderstanding of Ukrainian politics, its inability to act coherently on foreign policy, and its preoccupation with normative aims such as democratisation. He argues that the EU requires […]

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Relaxing the EU’s Common Position on Cuba would allow Europe to play a more active role in shaping the country’s development

Since 1996, the EU’s Common Position on Cuba has made relations with the country contingent on democratic reforms. William M. LeoGrande assesses whether the EU’s current approach requires updating in light of recent developments within Cuba. He writes that with the United States’ influence undermined by years of hostile policies toward the country, a more conciliatory approach could allow Europe […]

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Disagreements over animal rights issues have prevented the EU from gaining full observer status at the Arctic Council

Although analyses of the EU’s external relations have typically focused on regions to the east or south of the continent, the EU has also developed a growing interest in the Arctic. Clive Archer provides an overview of the EU’s involvement in the Arctic, including the recent failure of the EU to gain full observer status at the Arctic Council in […]

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It is far from certain that joining the Eurasian Customs Union would offer Ukraine the kind of benefits being predicted by Russia

Last month, Ukraine opted against signing an Association Agreement with the EU at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius. As Rilka Dragneva and Kataryna Wolczuk write, Ukraine’s decision has raised the possibility of the country joining the Customs Union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus as an alternative to closer ties with the EU. Assessing the potential benefits the Customs Union […]

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Trust, not sanctions, was the key to the nuclear deal with Iran

On 24 November, the five members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany reached a deal with Iran that would see limits placed on the country’s nuclear programme, in exchange for a reduction in sanctions towards the country. Christian Emery takes a close look at the background to the historic deal, arguing that it was only made possible because […]

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The EU must rethink its eastern neighbourhood strategy following its failures at the Eastern Partnership summit

In recent years, the EU has made efforts to promote stability and shared values with the countries to its east through the Eastern Partnership. However, as David Rinnert writes, the process of ‘light integration’ of these ex-Soviet states has been plagued by political failings and the influence of Russia. He calls for a rethink of Europe’s eastern strategy to ensure […]

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The gap between policy and practice in EU arms exports limits the normative power of the EU

The issue of arms exports has caused significant controversy in a number of European countries. Jennifer L. Erickson looks at EU arms transfers and the human rights status of arms recipients between 1990 and 2010, finding that there is often a disconnect between arms trade policy and practice. She argues that in cases where EU foreign policy relies on member […]

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Europe’s response to the NSA spying scandal has been a substantial overreaction

Allegations surrounding the activities of the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) have provoked controversy in several European countries. Anthony Glees argues that the European response to the scandal has been largely overstated, in part because it overlooks the existing limits within which intelligence agencies operate. He writes that good intelligence gathering has generally produced positive effects in western countries, […]

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Europe must adapt to the reality that we are living in a world increasingly dominated by Asia

Economic development in China and other Asian countries has an impact on the role of European states in global affairs. Craig J. Willy argues that with the rise of Asian economies, the world is increasingly moving away from the model of free trade championed by Europe and other states in the West. Unless Europe becomes a more cohesive actor which […]

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Moldova is at the crossroads between Russia and the EU ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius

The Eastern Partnership is an initiative aimed at strengthening the EU’s relations with neighbouring states in Eastern Europe. Ahead of the next Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November, Ellie Knott assesses the factors influencing Moldova’s relationship with the EU. She notes that although Moldova has been governed by pro-EU governments since 2009, the country has come under significant pressure […]

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François Hollande’s policy on Syria offers a perfect example of how not to conduct international politics

While the British parliament has effectively ruled out UK intervention in the Syrian conflict, French President François Hollande has been adamant that France will take part in any US-led military strikes against the country. John Gaffney writes that in contrast to the UK and the United States, who have sought parliamentary and congressional approval for their policy on Syria, Hollande […]

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The reluctance of German politicians to take a strong line on defence policy poses a security risk for Europe.

Defence policy has generally played a much smaller role in German election campaigns than it has in other countries. As Tom Dyson writes, this is largely because German politicians view the issue as a ‘vote loser’, with little potential to improve a party’s electoral success. Nevertheless, he argues that this approach is highly misguided in the context of modern security […]

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The UK’s vote against military action in Syria leaves EU foreign policy more divided than ever.

Last week, the British parliament voted against UK involvement in any military intervention in Syria. Mark Shaw writes on the impact the vote has had elsewhere in the EU. He notes that with France still firmly committed to taking part, Europe remains deeply divided over the issue. This ensures that while the EU took a leading role in imposing sanctions […]

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David Cameron’s Syria defeat was unexpected, but Prime Ministers are regularly forced to bow to Parliament’s will

On Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote on the UK’s participation in a military intervention in Syria. As Meg Russell writes, the vote has been met with shock, and seen as a very visible assertion of parliamentary power. She argues, however, that while such confrontations are unusual, it would be wrong to assume that parliamentary checks on […]

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Spain’s Partido Popular government is reverting to Francoist type over Gibraltar, to the detriment of all.

Tensions have risen between Spain and Gibraltar following the implementation of additional border checks between the two territories by the Spanish government. Gareth Stockey notes that border restrictions are likely to have a damaging effect on both Gibraltar and neighbouring Spanish communities. He argues that the Spanish government’s actions represent a break from the conciliatory stance pursued by the previous […]

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The EU’s designation of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group is a critical step toward preventing its illicit activities in Europe.

Last month the EU added Hezbollah’s military wing to its ‘blacklist’ of terrorist organisations. Matthew Levitt gives an overview of the developments that have led to the EU’s decision, and assesses its likely impact on Hezbollah’s operations. He argues that in addition to giving EU member states the legal basis to investigate Hezbollah’s actions, the decision also sends a clear […]

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