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French MEP: When it comes to the environment, the future CAP is regressive - Fri, 12/07/2019 - 07:14
In an interview with EURACTIV France, French MEP and vice-chair of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group Eric Andrieu spoke about the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and highlighted its lack of environmentally-focused provisions.
Categories: European Union

The Finnish EU presidency should push for a ‘fast lane’ for tech and AI - Fri, 12/07/2019 - 07:01
Boasting one of Europe’s most liberal and innovative economies, Finland's EU presidency has the chance to push for a ‘fast lane’ for tech and AI in Europe, and show Europe a way forward in the age of AI, writes Christian Walther Øyrabø.
Categories: European Union

The Brief – The art of the climate deal - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 16:51
Commission president hopeful Ursula von der Leyen tried her hand at a spot of climate diplomacy on Wednesday (10 July) but her efforts fell flat. Finland’s EU presidency showed her how it’s done today.
Categories: European Union

Let’s hold G7 leaders accountable to their promises on gender equality - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 16:29
We need progress not promises on gender equality. That is why G7 leaders need to establish a mechanism that keep governments to their commitments, argue Friederike Röder, Joe Powell, Aurélie Gal-Régniez and Philippe Lévêque.
Categories: European Union

Job cuts at Deutsche Bank are just the tip of the iceberg - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 16:19
Deutsche Bank will withdraw from its global equity business and cut 18,000 jobs over the next three years. This is part of a bigger trend: investment banks are looking more towards the US, which can sometimes be problematic for Europe. EURACTIV Germany reports.
Categories: European Union

Airbnb bows to EU demands on room fees - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 15:56
Airbnb has bowed to EU pressure and will avoid potentially multi-million euro fines after making changes to the way it advertises the fees for its popular room-booking service.
Categories: European Union

Increasing solidarity between women – a tool against insecurity in Europe - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 15:27
Many women in Europe still live in precarious conditions. To deal with this, solidarity between women is an essential tool, according to participants of the conference "Elles font bouger l'Europe" (Women make Europe move). EURACTIV France reports.
Categories: European Union

Can the EU Do Strategy?

Ideas on Europe Blog - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 14:54

Andrew Cottey argues that the existing literature on EU foreign, security and defence strategy has paid insufficient attention to two basic prior questions: what is strategy? And what constitutes good strategy? Answers to these questions help us to understand why the EU struggles with strategy.

The 2003 European Security Strategy and the 2016 EU Global Strategy are generally viewed as landmark documents in the development of EU foreign, security and defence policy and have triggered much debate on the character of EU external strategy. We should, however, be sceptical of official strategy documents. Strategy has become de rigueur. States, government departments, international organisations, businesses, non-governmental organisations and universities all adopt official strategy documents. Such strategy documents, however, are often long lists of aspirational goals and even longer lists of existing policies and activities – plus some new ones that, in reality, may or may not be implemented. Strategy risks becoming a synonym for policy or even for everything that an organisation does or aspires to do.

In assessing EU foreign policy strategy – and documents like the European Security Strategy and the EU Global Strategy – we should go back to basics and ask what is strategy and what defines good strategy? If one examines the writings of key military and business/management thinkers on strategy, there is a consensus that strategy is – or perhaps ought to be – about the integration of ends, ways and means. Strategy is thus about the identification of objectives or goals, the development of concrete policies or actions to achieve those goals and the allocation of the necessary resources. According to Echevarria, this ends-ways-means formula ‘is as recognizable to modern strategists as Einstein’s equation E=mc2 is to physicists.’

A second question is what constitutes good or successful strategy? According to Eliot Cohen strategy is a ‘theory of victory.’ Strategy is thus an approach – a choice amongst others that might be pursued – that makes a decisive impact, that enables one to achieve one’s objective or, at least, brings one closer to that goal. Critics such as Richard Rumelt argue that bad strategy is the inverse of this: it avoids choice and it incorporates long lists of objectives and actions, rather than identifying a small number of key objectives where one may hope to have a real impact and allocating political attention and resources accordingly.

How does the EU measure up against these definitions? The EU’s central problem is its character as polity. Notwithstanding the creation of institutions such as the foreign policy High Representative post and the European External Action Service (EEAS), EU foreign policy-making remains heavily inter-governmental. Consequently, EU foreign, security and defence policy still depends to a large degree on consensus amongst the member states. In terms of strategy, this pushes the EU and documents such as the European Security Strategy and the EU Global Strategy towards a lowest common denominator and shopping list approach. Rather than identifying a few core objectives where the EU might hope to have the greatest impact, the EU retains a long-list of global objectives. If one was being was being critical, for example, one could argue that the foreign policy goals identified in the European Security Strategy and the EU Global Strategy are the strategic equivalent of motherhood and apple pie: they are perfectly reasonable and (almost) no one could object to them, but they reflect an inability to prioritise.

The EU’s strategy problem is highlighted by the Union’s relations with the world’s three most important great powers, Russia, China and the United States. Many Eastern Europe EU members (especially Poland and the Baltic states) view Russia as a strategic threat that essentially needs to be contained; whereas Western and Southern European states view Russia either as partner to be engaged or a power driven by its own defensive insecurities (- although this has changed to a degree since the 2014 Ukraine conflict). At the same time, in recent years countries such as Italy, Hungary and Greece have pursued their own bilateral side-deals with Moscow. EU strategy towards Russia – to the extent that there can be said to be one – involves constantly balancing the competing perspectives of member states.

With China, the EU has for more than twenty years pursued a strategy of engagement and bilateral institution-building through what the two term their comprehensive strategic partnership. The aim has been to encourage China to play by the rules internationally, further reform its economy and liberalise politically. Since the 2010s, however, China has become more assertive internationally (for example, in its disputes with South East Asian states and Japan in the South and East China Seas), more repressive politically and has done little to open its economy foreign companies. In strategy terms, the EU has lacked the means – policies, leverage, concrete actions – to persuade China to moderate its behaviour. EU member states, again, are divided over how to respond to the new China. France and the UK are now joining the US and other Asian states in undertaking freedom of navigation operations in the South and East China Seas. Many other EU member states, however, would rather benefit from trade and investment ties with China and avoid contentious geo-political issues. The EU lacks the means to shape Chinese behaviour in the way it hopes, but is unable – or unwilling – to develop an alternative strategy.

With regard to the United States, the EU is torn between an Atlanticist strategy of maintaining the closest possible relations with the US and a Europeanist strategy of developing the EU as an actor more independent of the US. Amongst EU members, France leads the Europeanist wing, the UK (currently in the exit door) and Poland lead the Atlanticist wing, and Germany is in the middle. The EU Global Strategy included the objective of strategic autonomy, but there is no consensus about what this means – or even whether it is desirable.

Some observers believe – or hope – that US President Donald Trump’s ‘America first’ policy or Brexit may be the moments that forces the EU to get its act together strategically. Such hopes are likely to be disappointed. EU member states remain divided in their assessments of the external environment they face, the relative priority of different international challenges, the appropriate approaches for addressing these challenges and the extent to which they are willing to pool sovereignty in the interest of developing a common approach. Neither the Trump presidency, nor the removal of the British awkward partner are likely to alter these realities.

If one takes the perspective of emergent strategy, the EU can be viewed as in the process of developing a foreign and security policy strategy through learning and trial and error – but this process can only be viewed as painfully slow. So long as member states remain divided on key questions of strategy and foreign policy decision-making is primarily inter-governmental, the EU is likely to remain an astrategic actor: a Union that struggles to prioritise amongst competing foreign policy goals, to identify the situations where it may have a decisive impact and to focus attention and resources on those situations, that avoids difficult foreign policy choices and that is unable to fully translate its potential into impact.

This piece draws on the article ‘Astrategic Europe‘ published in the Journal of Common Market Studies (JCMS). 

Please note that this article represents the views of the author(s) and not those of  Ideas on Europe, JCMS or UACES.

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Andrew Cottey | @andrewcottey

Andrew Cottey is Senior Lecturer and Jean Monnet Chair in European Political Integration, Department of Government and Politics, University College Cork. His publications include Security in 21st Century Europe (Palgrave Macmillan), Reshaping Defence Diplomacy: New Roles for Military Cooperation and Assistance (with Anthony Forster, Oxford University Press/IISS).


The post Can the EU Do Strategy? appeared first on Ideas on Europe.

Categories: European Union

Digital Brief: The return of the Digital Tax - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 13:45
French Parliamentarians today voted to approve plans that would see a 3% levy imposed on any digital company with revenues of more than €750 million, with €25m of that figure being generated in France. The green light came after some heavy pressure from US counterparts who attempted to sway the French.
Categories: European Union

Cat videos, online porn branded ‘an ecological disaster’ - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 13:20
Clicking through videos on YouTube, watching porn online or binge watching shows like Game of Thrones are growing threats to climate goals, according to a French study published today (11 July).
Categories: European Union

Georgia suggests taking an unconventional path to EU accession - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 13:07
Georgia staked its claim to becoming an EU member on Thursday (11 July), even if it meant an innovative approach and "knocking on every door", its president told an international conference marking the tenth anniversary of the Eastern Partnership in the Georgian Black Sea city of Batumi.
Categories: European Union

European airline chiefs push back against flight shaming, carbon taxes - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 12:50
The heads of some of Europe’s largest airlines hit back on Wednesday (10 July) against efforts to discourage Europeans from flying, arguing the industry was making huge strides in cutting its carbon footprint and that there was no shame in air travel.
Categories: European Union

MEPs shut out nationalists from key posts - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 12:26
MEPs from the nationalist Identity and Democracy (ID) group have been excluded from the last EU key posts left in parliamentary committees. Hungary's Fidesz and Poland's Law and Justice have also been partially subjected to the cordon sanitaire imposed by the pro-European majority.
Categories: European Union

Power of Connections [Promoted content] - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 12:00
At ACCA, we use our unrivalled connections to shape the global accountancy profession. We connect people with fulfilling careers, organisations with the best finance talent and economies with the ingredients for growth.
Categories: European Union

Czech drug policy shifts toward patients with rare diseases - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 11:51
The Czech government has launched a legislative initiative to improve access to most modern medications and rare disease drugs, Health Minister Adam Vojtěch told EURACTIV in an interview, adding that patients are involved in the decision-making process at a very early stage, including in drafting the law.
Categories: European Union

Turkish report ramps up harassment of foreign media - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 10:57
More than 20 human rights and freedom of expression organisations, as well as Turkish opposition, have condemned a report by a Turkish pro-government think tank, which is “blacklisting” journalists working for foreign media.
Categories: European Union

95/2019 : 11 July 2019 - Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-502/18

European Court of Justice (News) - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 10:27
České aerolinie
Connecting flights that are the subject of a single reservation departing from a Member State to a non-Member State via another non-Member State: the air carrier that performed the first flight is obliged to pay compensation to passengers who suffered a long delay in the arrival of the second flight performed by a nonCommunity air carrier

Categories: European Union

94/2019 : 11 July 2019 - Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-91/18

European Court of Justice (News) - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 10:24
Commission v Greece (Tsipouro)
La législation grecque appliquant un taux d’accise réduit au tsipouro et à la tsikoudia fabriqués par les entreprises de distillation et un taux d’accise fortement réduit à ceux fabriqués par les petits distillateurs est contraire au droit de l’Union

Categories: European Union

Let’s step up to the plate [Promoted content] - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 10:15
Our food culture is one of the EU's greatest success stories. However, it is only when we move forward together, that success takes care of itself.
Categories: European Union

Why von der Leyen isn’t the person to watch for Brexit policy (yet)

Ideas on Europe Blog - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 10:09

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis meets with Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s defence minister, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Feb. 10, 2017. (DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr)

Yesterday saw the first public statements from Ursula von der Leyen since her nomination as Commission President.

She swept around Brussels, meeting and greeting various groups in the European Parliament, generally trying to help them accept a deal that appeared – mainly because it actually did – to pull the rug from the Spitzenkandidaten model.

If most of the Brussels bubble attention was on her credentials to take up the role, the UK press has focused more on her lines on Brexit (here and here). On this subject, she various said that she’d like the UK to remain a member, and that she didn’t want to reopen the Article 50 negotiations.

So far, so mundane, but this hasn’t stopped some wondering if new leadership on both sides of the Channel might be a moment to change things more radically, as if the presence of Anne Widdecombe in the new Parliament is going to tip it all over the edge.

To keep that in perspective, we should keep in mind a number of salient points, which Helene von Bismarck beat me to this morning.

Firstly, von der Leyen is not Commission President: she is only the nominee for the job.

We’re still unclear as to whether the European Parliament will give her the necessary support, with the Green group already saying she’s not strong enough on environmental commitments. The S&D effectively hold the balance of power on this one, since there’s no great desire to have to rely on the support of groups beyond the 4-way centrist coalition (EPP-S&D-RE-Green). If the centre-left doesn’t go along with the deal, then we’re back into very uncertain waters for any of the top jobs.

Secondly, even successful in her appointment, von der Leyen won’t take office until the start of November, i.e. just after the current extension.

The reason for this is that as well her own appointment, she also has to navigate member states and the European Parliament through the confirmation of the rest of the Commission, with hearings in October and then a final vote. On the basis of previous exercises, there will be some nominees who don’t pass muster, plus a pile of other considerations that have to be addressed. The current Commission, under Jean-Claude Juncker, remains in office – albeit in a more caretaker fashion – until the new team is set.

Thirdly, it’s not von der Leyen’s (or Juncker’s) job to set Brexit policy, but to enact the intentions of member states.

If you need a reminder of how this works, visit the Commission’s Brexit pages and check out the mandate. The Commission represents the EU and its member states in the negotiations, but it doesn’t make unilateral decisions therein. Instead, it agrees lines with member states, negotiates them and then recommends outcomes for member states’ approval.

At best, the Commission President can suggest a line of action to the member states, but is bound by their decisions – that’s what all those brief Article 50 versions of the European Council are for.

Put together, we might see how von der Leyen is not a central part of the Brexit process at this stage, even if her views will count for something as we move towards her installation in office.

Any new Prime Minister coming into Number 10 will need to keep that in mind this summer as they work out how to advance their cause.

The post Why von der Leyen isn’t the person to watch for Brexit policy (yet) appeared first on Ideas on Europe.

Categories: European Union