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

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    A model for predicting future EU enlargements – and why most candidate states could be waiting some time

A model for predicting future EU enlargements – and why most candidate states could be waiting some time

The last state to join the European Union was Croatia in 2013, but when can current candidate states expect to secure their accession to the EU? Tina Freyburg and Tobias Böhmelt present results from a new study of the capacity of candidate states to meet accession criteria. They find that only one of the current candidate states (Macedonia) would […]

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What the EU could do to help ease the Rohingya crisis

Violence in Myanmar has resulted in more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims leaving the country and seeking refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. Ludovica Marchi argues that the EU should take advantage of its good relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to help ease the crisis. There is potential for the EU, as an advocate of human rights, to […]

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Understanding European Union science diplomacy

In recent decades, a great deal of attention has focused on the EU’s attempts to exert influence on the global stage, but one area which has received relatively little attention is the issue of so called ‘science diplomacy’. Alea López de San Román and Simon Schunz provide a detailed overview of what science diplomacy entails, and how the EU […]

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    Why Europe holds unique normative power in the Israeli-Palestine conflict

Why Europe holds unique normative power in the Israeli-Palestine conflict

The Israel-Palestine conflict has persisted despite decades of talks and attempts at mediation from other regional and global powers. But what role can Europe play in the peace process? Drawing on a recent study, Anders Persson highlights that despite reservations from some scholars about Europe’s influence, the EU has significant normative power to shape the process, particularly in situations […]

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    Foreign and security policy in Germany’s election: Why it matters

Foreign and security policy in Germany’s election: Why it matters

Ahead of the 2017 German federal elections, scheduled for 24 September, we are previewing some of the key issues at stake. Inez von Weitershausen assesses the potential impact of the elections on German foreign and security policy. She argues that although both mainstream parties – Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the social-democratic SPD – have broadly similar agendas, the actions […]

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    How national identity can explain divisions between EU member states over Russia

How national identity can explain divisions between EU member states over Russia

The EU introduced a series of sanctions against Russia following the Ukraine crisis, but divisions persist between EU member states over how to engage with its largest eastern neighbour. Drawing on a recent book, Marco Siddi writes that disagreements between EU member states over Russia stem not only from different national interests, but have their roots in national identity. […]

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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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