European Neighbourhood

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    Serbia now has a pro-European parliament, but the country’s path to EU accession looks as uncertain as ever

Serbia now has a pro-European parliament, but the country’s path to EU accession looks as uncertain as ever

The pro-European Serbian Progressive Party secured a clear victory in Serbia’s elections on 16 March. Denisa Kostovicova writes that while Serbia now has a pro-European parliament, the country’s path to EU accession is more complex than it appears. The new government will have a notably pragmatic approach to Europe, but the issue of Kosovo is still likely to present […]

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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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The return of immigration quotas could severely challenge Switzerland’s relationship with the European Union

On Sunday, Switzerland will hold a referendum on creating immigration quotas for all foreign nationals, including those from the European Union. Alexandre Afonso assesses the politics behind the proposal, which has been driven largely by the Swiss People’s Party. He writes that if the ‘yes’ campaign is successful, implementing immigration quotas would present a serious problem for Switzerland’s relationship with […]

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Contrary to popular opinion, Eurasian economic integration is not driven solely by Russia

The ongoing protests in Ukraine, which began after the country failed to sign an Association Agreement with the EU, have brought the issue of Eurasian economic integration into the spotlight. Julian Cooper provides an overview of the developments which have led to the creation of the Eurasian Economic Community. He argues that while Russia is the largest and strongest member […]

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The diversity of abortion rights in some Muslim-majority countries are a starting point in encouraging liberalisation in other countries

A lack of access to safe abortions is a major cause of maternal mortality across the world. Looking at Islamic sources and relevant literature, Gilla Shapiro investigates the Islamic discourse and the diversity of laws across Muslim-majority countries. She finds that the remarkable variability is largely dependent on the point of gestational development and the grounds for abortion. For more […]

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Turkey’s protests have stirred debate about democracy and the unchecked power of governments that have an electoral mandate.

What do the protests of the past two weeks mean for democracy in Turkey? Zeynep N. Kaya and Matthew Whiting argue that they represent the clash between the desire of the Prime Minister, Recep Tayip Erdoğan, for a majoritarian politics with few checks on power, and those who wish for government to consult widely in its decision-making. While the current […]

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For the Kremlin, ‘Foglegate’ is another part of its psychological game with Washington.

Last week, a Cold War style spy scandal erupted between the USA and Russia, as an US embassy staffer was caught trying to recruit a Russian counter-terrorism officer for the CIA. Ondrej Ditrych looks at Moscow’s very public exposure of the operation, in the context of recent cooperation between the two countries in the aftermath of the Boston bombings. He […]

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Book Review: The Oxford Handbook of the European Union

The EU is becoming increasingly important and present in the lives of Europeans, at the same time as myths and misunderstandings about the institution and its role are on the rise. With contributions from over sixty specialists, Giulia Pastorella finds the Oxford Handbook of the European Union to be a key survey of scholarly work on the ‘unidentified political object’ […]

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The EU needs to adopt a more pragmatic policy towards Belarus based on cooperation rather than sanctions.

The EU’s sanction regime against Belarus and the government of President Alexander Lukashenka has been in place for more than 16 years.  In an abridged version of a brief originally published by the European Union Institute for Security Studies, Ondrej Ditrych writes that while the sanctions illustrate the EU’s objections to the regime in Belarus, all the available evidence has shown that they have […]

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Efforts to isolate the opposition in Russia have left Vladimir Putin’s regime with little margin for error.

Last year saw extensive protests in Russia, and efforts by President Vladimir Putin’s government to isolate its opposition. Sean Roberts writes that while these efforts have been moderately successful, they may undermine the pro-Putin consensus, and require reworking in the future. Putin now has little room to make further mistakes if his government wants to avoid a resurgent protest movement. […]

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The EU’s efforts to promote democracy in its post-Soviet Eastern neighbours would benefit from greater engagement with civil society.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the EU has attempted to promote democracy in the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe. Natalia Shapovalova and Richard Youngs assess the success of these policies and suggest some key areas for improvement. They argue that while the EU deserves some credit for the progress which has been made over the last two […]

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The increasingly polarised and fragmented party system in Israel will make it difficult for a stable government to emerge from this month’s elections.

Israel’s next parliamentary elections are due to be held on 22 January. As part of EUROPP’s coverage of the European neighbourhood, André Krouwel and Daniel Rajmil give an overview of the country’s highly fragmented party system, noting that the results are likely to be significantly different from those in the last election in 2009. New parties have emerged in the […]

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Regional fragmentation of the European Rim means that the EU must pursue policies to promote greater regional integration and cooperation.

How can the European Union encourage trade with its immediate neighbours? Peter Havlik explores the EU’s relationship with the ‘European Rim’, an area with a population nearly as great as that of the EU.  He writes that in order to increase growth by taking advantage of EU markets, Europe’s neighbours must expand their export capacities and increase their competitiveness. The […]

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EU support for NGOs in Turkey is not a short-cut to democratic change.

EU funding for NGOs in Turkey is part of a long-term strategy aimed at strengthening democracy in the country, with funded organisations seen as a ‘bulwark’ against the excesses of state power. Markus Ketola argues, however, that Turkish NGOs do not operate in a vacuum – they are affected by the socio-political dynamics of Turkish society. While they play an […]

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The civil war in Syria shows that to prevent and manage conflicts, the EU needs a more proactive approach with greater regional focus.

Since its beginning the European Union has struggled to play a meaningful role in Syria’s civil war, illustrating that there is now a clear need for the EU to pursue a faster, more proactive approach in preventing violent conflicts. Tanja Tamminen writes that the Lisbon Treaty has created structures for a more coherent foreign policy and that the EU should […]

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EU wins Nobel Peace Prize- reactions from EUROPP experts

Today it was announced that the European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”. We asked EUROPP’s expert contributors for their immediate reactions.  South East Europe poses a continuing challenge to the Union and its widely lauded model of conflict transformation […]

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Despite souring relations, the EU should avoid the temptation to further disengage with Belarus and enhance its policy of critical engagement.

Considered by many to be Europe’s ‘last dictatorship’ under President Alexander Lukashenka, Belarus’s relations with the EU have been in decline for several years, despite initiatives such as the Eastern Partnership. Giselle Bosse warns that instead of disengaging, the EU should continue its policy of critical engagement with the country by building the capacity of Belarusian civil society and being […]

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There is virtually no Greek policy towards Turkey outside the framework of the EU

Do Turkey and Greece need the EU to improve their relations? Looking at Athens’ support for the ‘Europeanisation’ of Turkey, Kyriakos Moumoutzis argues that the Turkey/Greece relationship is no longer a bilateral one. He writes that the 1999 Helsinki decision to recognise Turkey as a candidate country, and the rules that the EU has imposed since, have provided the main […]

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Angela Merkel’s recent visit to Moldova illustrates how the country is caught between the interests of Russia and the EU

Moldova is caught between the interests of two of Europe’s most powerful players, Russia and the EU. Russia would like to use Moldova’s troubled region of Transnistria as a foothold of influence into Central Europe, which is the cause of some concern for the EU. Raluca Besliu looks at Moldova’s relationship with the two powers, arguing that the country’s status […]

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Once again, the law in Russia is becoming a tool of political control

Successive Russian leaders have regarded the law as an instrument of the state rather than a constraint on it. Reflecting on the recent trial and imprisonment of Russian band Pussy Riot and moves to oust dissenting politician Gennady Gudkov, Mark Galeotti argues that while further expansion of Russia’s state security apparatus is planned by the Kremlin, opposition, including from legal […]

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