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GSMA calls for new connectivity regulatory framework to accelerate long-term investment [Advocacy Lab Content] - Wed, 03/04/2024 - 03:22
On 20 March, GSMA – the organisation representing the interests of mobile network operators worldwide – published its latest manifesto, setting out reforms it believes are needed to make Europe’s connectivity ecosystem fit for the future.
Categories: European Union

Massive electrification needed to reach 2050 climate goals, says new EDF report [Advocacy Lab Content] - Wed, 03/04/2024 - 03:06
Mass electrification of light transport, buildings, and support for electrification of industrial processes will be essential, according to a new 2050 scenario.
Categories: European Union

Will Senegal's new president break from the EU? - Tue, 02/04/2024 - 19:59
Elected on a tide of youth and radicalism, Senegal's new president Bassirou Diomaye Faye has promised to take the country out of the West African CFA franc — a currency viewed by many as a relic of French colonialism.
Categories: European Union

NATO mulls safety net plans for Ukraine, concerned about US disengagement - Tue, 02/04/2024 - 19:30
NATO members are considering transitioning coordination of military deliveries to Ukraine as well as a €100 billion fund to secure long-term support and be able to weather any major political shift across the Western military alliance.
Categories: European Union

[Analysis] EU impotent in Lebanon, as Gaza war tests ties - Tue, 02/04/2024 - 18:05
The EU lacks the influence and joint strategy to become a big player in Lebanon, despite its extensive involvement in Lebanese politics and society, recent months have shown.
Categories: European Union

Belarus 'war' comments prompt EU rebuke - Tue, 02/04/2024 - 16:42
The EU is equipping itself to face down threats coming from Belarus and Russia, following fresh comments that Minsk wants no conflict but is still preparing for war.
Categories: European Union

Missions - Mission to Malawi and Zambia, 18-21 December 2023 - 17-12-2023 - Committee on Foreign Affairs

A delegation of AFET Members will travel to Lilongwe in Malawi and Lusaka in Zambia from 17 to 21 December. With this visit, MEPs aim to further strengthening bilateral and EU-Africa partnerships amidst global geopolitical challenges. Members will meet with government and parliament officials as well as with representative of civil society to discuss global and regional peace and security issues of mutual interest.
Mission report
Source : © European Union, 2024 - EP
Categories: European Union

Missions - Mission to Mexico City (Mexico) and San José (Costa Rica), 31 October-2 November 2023 - 31-10-2023 - Committee on Foreign Affairs

A delegation of AFET Members travelled to Mexico and Costa Rica from 31 October to 2 November 2023 to discuss bilateral cooperation and ongoing geopolitical challenges. During their visit Members met with parliamentary counterparts, government representatives of both countries and non-governmental organisations.

In Mexico, they discussed joint efforts to boost the EU-Mexico Strategic Partnership, ongoing work to conclude the modernised Global Agreement between the EU and Mexico and security and migration crises. In Costa Rica the focus of discussions was on the EU-Costa Rica bilateral and multilateral cooperation, geopolitical, security and migration challenges, Costa Rica's region role in Central America, the EU's Global Gateway initiative, and parliamentary ties.

Location : Mexico and Costa Rica
European Parliament News
Mission report
Source : © European Union, 2024 - EP
Categories: European Union

Missions - Mission to the UK (Northern Ireland and London), 18-19 September 2023 - 17-09-2023 - Committee on Foreign Affairs

A delegation of AFET Members traveled to the UK from 18 to 19 September 2023. This was the first time that the committee traveled to the UK since 31 January 2020 when the United Kingdom officially left the EU. The AFET delegation discussed possibilities for strengthened partnership and deepening dialogue on issues of importance in relevant areas of bilateral cooperation, including in foreign and security affairs.
This visit was also be opportunity to exchange views on issues of significance to Northern Ireland, particularly in the context of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol and the Windsor Framework.
Mission report
Source : © European Union, 2024 - EP
Categories: European Union

Missions - Mission to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, 21-25 August 2023 - 21-08-2023 - Committee on Foreign Affairs

A delegation of AFET members traveled to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan from 21 to 25 August 2023. The AFET delegation discussed the regional developments and the potential for closer cooperation in the current challenging geopolitical context, including the impact of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine and the introduction of EU sanctions on Russia.
Location : Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
Press release
Mission report
Source : © European Union, 2024 - EP
Categories: European Union

EU awaits Israeli 'clarification' on killing of seven aid workers in Gaza - Tue, 02/04/2024 - 14:48
On 1 April, an Israeli air strike killed seven aid workers from the US-based charity World Central Kitchen, the organisation said after immediately pausing its operations in the region — while the EU Commission calls Israeli authorities for clarification.
Categories: European Union

[Analysis] New German party BSW looks left and right for voters - Tue, 02/04/2024 - 14:42
The new splinter party BSW could outpoll the leftist Die Linke and the liberal FDP in the European elections. But it is not clear whether they want to join The Left or instead fish for votes on the right.
Categories: European Union

The ideational power of strategic autonomy in EU security and external economic policies

Ideas on Europe Blog - Mon, 01/04/2024 - 13:47

by Ana E. Juncos, Bristol University and Sophie Vanhoonacker, Maastricht University

EU Strategic autonomy: different trajectories in security and external economic relations

Global shifts in power distribution and successive international crises have challenged key ideas and policies underpinning European Union (EU) external action and led to the formulation of a new narrative in which geopolitical considerations have come back to centre stage. One of the main ideas put forward to deal with the increasingly unstable international environment is strategic autonomy (SA), understood as the capacity of the EU to act independently in realizing its strategic objectives and defending its interests and values. Although the SA concept was born in the security domain, it has gathered pace in the field of EU external economic relations. Puzzled by these different trajectories, our recent JCMS contribution  seeks to get a better understanding of why an idea originally born in the area of security and defence has become more embedded in the field of trade and external economic relations. We aim to solve this puzzle by researching the role and power of ideas and how they enable actors to push for policy change in a context of geopolitical uncertainty.

Using the analytical lenses of discursive institutionalism, we examine how policy entrepreneurs took advantage of international developments such as the Presidency of Donald Trump, the Covid-19 pandemic or the war in Ukraine to transform both the cognitive and normative beliefs of actors, and to what extent they have been translated into new EU policies. In a comparative analysis in the domains of EU security and external economic relations, we focus on three dimensions of ideational power: power in, power through and power over to understand the different trajectories of SA in these two policy areas. We argue that the ability of ideational entrepreneurs such as the Commission to push for this idea, supported by the coercive power derived from its exclusive trade competences, facilitated the adoption of this concept in the form of ‘open strategic autonomy’. By contrast, French President Emmanuel Macron was unable to persuade others to move towards a more sovereigntist conception of SA in the area of security and defence. Only in the case of defence capability development, where the Commission enjoys budgetary power and competences in industrial policy, has SA been able to take hold.

Hegemonic discourses – Power in Ideas

As a first step, we look into how the SA concept relates to prevalent hegemonic ideas at the EU level. While our analysis of EU strategic documents shows that the SA discourse indeed has challenged the predominant philosophies on how to best guarantee the Union’s prosperity in a rapidly changing geopolitical and geoeconomic context, it is still too early to speak of a paradigmatic change. The deeply ingrained neoliberal paradigm and the continuing controversies between Atlanticists and Europeanists have proven to be quite resilient. For instance, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been perceived by Atlanticists as clear example of the continued need to rely on NATO for defence and to maintain the close political and security ties with the US. By contrasts, the Europeanist camp has argued that the war in Ukraine has drawn attention to the weaknesses and dependencies of EU member states in matters of defence and the need to address those by strengthening SA. Hence, the ambiguity surrounding the concept remains.

Discursive Entrepreneurs – Power through ideas
The launching of new ideas is always accompanied with discursive interactions and struggles about the definition of problems and their possible solutions. In security and defence, we argue that the French President Macron, who has been the key discursive entrepreneur, did not manage to persuade others to follow a more sovereigntist understanding of SA. In line with French strategic thinking, President Macron has repeatedly emphasized the need for the EU to strengthen its capacity to defend itself and to act independently from others. Yet, other member states, particularly Central and Eastern European countries, have rejected this notion. This is well illustrated in the 2022 Strategic Compass with its emphasis on partnerships, but also explicitly noting that NATO ‘remains the foundation of collective defence for its members’. By contrast, in the area of trade, the European Commission has been more successful. Although the member states were also divided in the field of external economic relations, DG Trade cleverly coined the term Open Strategic Autonomy (OSA). This helped to build a bridge between those favouring a more protective EU approach and the so-called ‘friends of the internal market’.

Authority and Competences – Power over Ideas

As a third step, we examine the coercive capacity of policy entrepreneurs, i.e. the resources and/or competences that those actors have within a particular institutional context. Here our comparative analysis shows that in security and defence, where supranational institutions are relatively weak and every member state is a potential veto player, it has been more difficult to impose new ideas than in external economic relations, where national capitals have delegated competences to the EU. Despite several discussions at the highest political level, the member states did not manage to reach consensus on what to understand under SA in the security field. In the area of external economic relations on the contrary, a well-resourced  DG Trade did not only develop a new Trade Policy Review (2021) but also managed to move ahead with developing a whole range of new trade instruments aimed at promoting sustainable value chains, supporting the EU’s regulatory impact, enforcing trade agreements and ensuring a level playing field.

What have we learned?
Our comparative analysis shows that to understand the different success rates of the SA concept in the area of security and external economic relations, it does not suffice to merely study the external drivers of the EU’s geopolitical turn. We demonstrate that it is also important to pay attention to internal factors, such as the role of ideas. The study of discursive struggles about dominant paradigms, the role of policy entrepreneurs and their authority and competences is indispensable to better understand the EU response to the rapidly changing international context.

We conclude that although the debate about the reformulation of security and external economic policies took place in parallel, over time we have seen a ‘security logic’ being transposed to the EU’s external economic policies. Whilst the convergence of the two debates could positively impact coherence, it also brings risks. If one of the biggest defenders of free trade and multilateralism is increasingly reverting to a sovereigntist discourse and a policy of relative gains, this may negatively impact the openness of the global trade system and the EU’s international influence.

Ana E. Juncos is Professor European Politics at the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies at the University of Bristol. Her primary research interest lies in European foreign and security policy, with a particular focus on EU conflict prevention and peacebuiding.



Sophie Vanhoonacker is Professor in Administrative Governance at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University. Her research focuses on the institutional aspects of EU External Relations and administrative governance in the area of foreign and security policy.

The post The ideational power of strategic autonomy in EU security and external economic policies appeared first on Ideas on Europe.

Categories: European Union

[Analysis] 'A race to the bottom': How the CAP green ambitions unravelled - Mon, 01/04/2024 - 10:00
The EU's easing of green agricultural policy conditions as a response to farmers' protests has sparked controversy. Critics fear that short-term quick fixes are not a solution for the sector, while others cite a CAP-Green Deal gap.
Categories: European Union

[Feature] How elite Russians get off the EU blacklist - Mon, 01/04/2024 - 10:00
Just eight people got off the EU blacklist in the past two years, most of them in out-of-court deals involving friends in high places or EU passports.
Categories: European Union

[Opinion] 'Jaw jaw better than war war' — lessons from the Cold War - Mon, 01/04/2024 - 10:00
Again we heaer cries that Moscow will invade Europe and that Brussels, Paris, Berlin and London are Russian targets. The question is whether fear is a good counsellor — and whether war rhetoric achieves what we want, writes Koert Debeuf.
Categories: European Union

Dutch deportation threat faces thousands who fled Ukraine war - Mon, 01/04/2024 - 09:30
Up to 1,700 individuals who held temporary residence permits in Ukraine before the war started and fled to the Netherlands risk deportation to their country of origin, after a decision by the Dutch government and a court ruling.
Categories: European Union

[Interview] Jourová: Hungary isolated by Orbán's 'double game' - Mon, 01/04/2024 - 08:00
Hungary is more isolated than ever in Europe due to Orbán's close ties to Russia on top of democratic backsliding, EU values commissioner Věra Jourová has said.
Categories: European Union