Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

22 October 2021

Nato to expand focus to counter rising China

Roula Khalaf

Countering the security threat from the rise of China will be an important part of Nato’s future rationale, the alliance’s chief has said, marking a significant rethink of the western alliance’s objectives that reflects the US’s geostrategic pivot to Asia.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said China was already having an impact on European security through its cyber capabilities, new technologies and long-range missiles. How to defend Nato allies from those threats will be “thoroughly” addressed in the alliance’s new doctrine for the coming decade, he said.

The military alliance has spent decades focused on countering Russia and, since 2001, terrorism. The new focus on China comes amid a determined shift in the US’s geopolitical orientation away from Europe to a hegemonic conflict with Beijing.

“Nato is an alliance of North America and Europe. But this region faces global challenges: terrorism, cyber but also the rise of China. So when it comes to strengthening our collective defence, that’s also about how to address the rise of China,” Stoltenberg said. “What we can predict is that the rise of China will impact our security. It already has.”

NATO Has A Problem: Belarus Is Slowly Being Reabsorbed Into Russia

Sarah White

On October 7, Polish border troops reported being fired upon by their counterparts from Belarus. Though no one was hurt and the Belarusian soldiers were most likely firing blank ammunition, the incident is illustrative of the tension that has been building in that area since Moscow effectively assumed control over the government in Minsk to prop up Belarus’ authoritarian president, Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Anna Michalska, a spokesperson for the Polish Border Guards, said that there had also been an uptick in the number of objects thrown at Polish troops from the Belarusian side.

Tensions have also been rising on the border between the two countries as a surge of migrants has created a building humanitarian crisis simultaneously with the sensitive security situation. Migrants are largely heading toward Poland, as well as Latvia and Lithuania. Poland has accused Belarus of weaponizing migration against it, and accused Lukashenko himself of offering payments for migrants to move into the area. The Polish Council of Ministers has just passed a bill to construct a barrier along its border with Belarus.

What the German Election Taught America About Democracy

Stephen F. Szabo

Last month’s German national election stood in stark contrast to the most recent U.S. presidential and congressional vote. One favored rationality, centrist parties, adult leadership, and the rejection of an extreme nationalist alternative. The other narrowly averted reelecting a right-wing nationalist authoritarian who roused his supporters into a violent attempt to overthrow the results by force—and who retains the support of over 30 percent of the electorate. The former was, of course, Germany, and the latter was one of the world’s oldest democracies, the United States.

This past year has witnessed a remarkable role reversal. After all, it was the United States that tutored and installed democracy in a devastated and divided Germany following the defeat of Adolf Hitler. The United States provided expertise, including that of German expatriates such as Carl Friedrich and others who helped draft the West German Constitution, the Grundgesetz. They laid the foundation for a successful democracy at a time when Germany had very few democrats and many had collaborated or actively supported the Nazi regime. The prospects for success seemed dim, but, unlike the failed Weimar Republic, the new republic had time to consolidate—not least because of the market-based economic recovery known as the Wirtschaftswunder. With the Cold War freezing Germany’s division into place, the country had 40 years to prepare for national reunification, a long, difficult, and still incomplete process of integrating 17 million East Germans who had not experienced democracy for almost 60 years.

21 October 2021

French Ambassador on AUKUS: ‘Every Crisis Is an Opportunity’

Elise Labott

There has perhaps been no greater diplomatic crisis between the United States and France in modern history than last month’s so-called AUKUS deal. Washington announced a strategic partnership with the United Kingdom and Australia to provide Canberra with a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as a bulwark against China.

The deal upstaged France, which had its own multibillion-dollar submarine contract with Australia, and also upended France’s own strategy to deepen its role in the Indo-Pacific. Furious French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the move something U.S. President Joe Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, would have done—a comparison on the minds of many of France’s European Union partners who had great hopes for a Biden presidency. For the first time in France’s nearly 250-year relationship with the United States, Paris recalled its ambassador from Washington; Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron later mended fences.

On Tuesday, Foreign Policy spoke with French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Etienne at his residence in Washington, as Biden and Macron prepare to meet later this month in Rome. Etienne didn’t pull any punches about his country’s umbrage—and indeed, confusion—over the submarine announcement. At the same time, he spoke of France’s desire to turn the latest crisis into an opportunity: to chart a future U.S.-Franco relationship that considers today’s challenges, advances Macron’s ideas for a greater degree of European strategic autonomy in defense and security, and above all, prioritizes consultation—and honesty.

The West Still Needs Russia’s Energy

Eugene Chausovsky

As natural gas prices have surged throughout Europe and as the United Kingdom has faced fuel shortages, there has been an increasingly heated battle between Russia and the West over energy supply. Officials in the European Union and United States have blamed Russia for purposefully holding back natural gas exports to Europe for political purposes, while Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of sowing “hysteria and confusion” with its drive toward energy decarbonization. Only in recent days has Moscow hinted at a willingness to raise export volumes to Europe, albeit with strings attached.

There is a long and bumpy road ahead for the global energy transition from existing fossil fuels to alternative energy and suppliers sought by the United States and EU—one that is likely to benefit traditional suppliers like Russia in the interim. This reality will require the West to be both innovative and pragmatic in its policies toward Russia to meet the energy challenges that lie ahead.

Moscow has long used energy as a geopolitical tool. From selective natural gas cutoffs to negotiating long-term contracts with advantageous take-or-pay clauses, Russia has spent much of the past decade making use of its energy resources in its ambitions to divide the West and carve out a sphere of influence throughout the former Soviet periphery and well beyond. Russia has in the past cut off natural gas supplies to pro-Western countries like Ukraine and offered generous price discounts to allied states like Belarus.

20 October 2021

Will Europe Ever Really Confront China?

Stephen M. Walt

The Biden administration has made no secret of its desire to enlist America’s extensive array of allies in the “strategic competition” against China. This approach makes good sense in Asia: Most Asian countries have ample reason to worry about a Chinese drive for regional hegemony, and the United States cannot counter such an attempt without extensive cooperation from Japan, Australia, South Korea, India, and others. Managing these relationships effectively will require attentive U.S. diplomacy, but in the Asian context the common interest in balancing China is obvious.

U.S. President Joe Biden & Co. would also like America’s European partners to be part of this effort, however, and that’s a rather different kettle of herring. I’m not referring to the recent defense agreement among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, known as AUKUS, which has little to do with a European effort to balance China and everything to do with Britain’s desire to preserve its so-called special relationship with America and Canberra’s interest in deepening its own ties to Washington. Following America’s lead has been a knee-jerk response for every British prime minister since Winston Churchill, but it remains to be seen if London will put more than a token effort into the new partnership.

19 October 2021

Judy Asks: Has the EU Lost the Western Balkans?

JUDY DEMPSEY

The EU has not lost the Western Balkans.

It remains the principal economic player in the region and wields considerable diplomatic clout. The hype about China and Russia aside, it is the EU which provided the bulk of coronavirus assistance and is now funding the post-pandemic recovery.

The union has largely itself to blame for coming across as lacking influence. Its greatest asset—the promise of membership—is also its Achilles’ heel.

If accession is no longer a credible prospect, Balkan power players are likely to shun Brussels’ demands, look elsewhere for political support and economic rewards, and take the European Union for granted.

Worse still, local leaders casually bash the EU to score domestic political points while benefitting from the perks European integration offers to populations—including trade access, investment, and visa-free travel.

18 October 2021

Will Europe Ever Really Confront China?

Stephen M. Walt

The Biden administration has made no secret of its desire to enlist America’s extensive array of allies in the “strategic competition” against China. This approach makes good sense in Asia: Most Asian countries have ample reason to worry about a Chinese drive for regional hegemony, and the United States cannot counter such an attempt without extensive cooperation from Japan, Australia, South Korea, India, and others. Managing these relationships effectively will require attentive U.S. diplomacy, but in the Asian context the common interest in balancing China is obvious.

U.S. President Joe Biden & Co. would also like America’s European partners to be part of this effort, however, and that’s a rather different kettle of herring. I’m not referring to the recent defense agreement among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, known as AUKUS, which has little to do with a European effort to balance China and everything to do with Britain’s desire to preserve its so-called special relationship with America and Canberra’s interest in deepening its own ties to Washington. Following America’s lead has been a knee-jerk response for every British prime minister since Winston Churchill, but it remains to be seen if London will put more than a token effort into the new partnership.

Poland Tests the EU’s Future

JUDY DEMPSEY

This past week, Poland, whose successive governments since 1989 have been staunch supporters of the EU, turned its back on the EU treaty by rejecting several of its articles.

This decision will make or break the EU’s ability to become more integrated, defend its values, and provide a beacon to other countries that aspire to join the bloc. It is decision time for the EU—and Poland.

POLAND’S LEGAL CHALLENGE TO THE EU

The EU is founded on a treaty that is based, among other things, on creating “an ever closer union”; defending the rule of law; solidarity during financial, security and health crises; and upholding human rights. Member states like Poland agree, as a condition of EU membership, to uphold these basic principles.

But Poland—with support from Hungary—is testing the legal and political integrity of the EU by ruling that its own constitution supersedes the EU articles.

Central Europe’s Populists Took a Hit This Week

Frida Ghitis

For those who have worried about the illiberal, populist drift in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, events of the past few days have brought some rare good news. Recent political tremors have shaken several governments in the European region that led the populist wave now gaining ground across much of the world.

Despite the series of setbacks, there’s still a chance—in every instance—that when the current convulsions stop, the populist right could remain in place. But it does seem that the region is now in play.

What’s remarkable is that these developments have occurred almost simultaneously. It could be a coincidence, but perhaps it’s an early indicator, the leading edge of a coming shift.

In the Czech Republic, Austria and even in Poland, liberal forces may not be ready to declare themselves optimistic, much less victorious, but there’s an air of renewed possibility.

17 October 2021

Poles apart: is there any chance of another EU exit?

Robert Tyler

When David Cameron announced his intention to renegotiate the UK’s position inside the European Union, Poland was one of the first countries to express its support.

While those negotiations didn’t go as planned, the calls for EU reform haven’t gone away. Today, Poland continues to be at the front of the debate over national sovereignty and has taken an active role in the Conference on the Future of Europe. However, unlike in the UK, no serious political forces are proposing that Poland leave the European Union.

The governing conservative Law and Justice Party has remained a leading voice for reform, often working with other central-eastern European member states who have begun to share their scepticism when it comes to the increased centralisation of power in Brussels. In particular, Poland has taken an active lead in supporting European energy independence, opposing Russian interference, and updating infrastructure in the region.

16 October 2021

The Joint Expeditionary Force: Toward a Stronger and More Capable European Defense?

Sean Monaghan

In recent weeks, military-exercise watchers in Europe have focused on Russia’s annual “Zapad” affair. But another significant exercise in nearby Älvdalen, Sweden, has flown largely under the radar: the Joint Protector exercise, featuring the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). What is the JEF, and what does it mean for transatlantic security? If it offers a route to—in the words of the White House—a stronger and more capable European defense, what role can the United States play in support?

What Is the JEF?

The JEF is a UK-led multinational force. It is based on a political-military agreement between 10 northern European nations: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It can act independently, with allies or as part of a UN or NATO operation to prevent or respond to crises. While naturally focused on northern Europe—including the High North, North Atlantic, and Baltic region—as its name suggests, the JEF can conduct expeditionary operations farther afield. It is capable of a wide range of missions, from humanitarian crises to high-end combat operations.

15 October 2021

Europe’s Strategic Autonomy Fallacy

Stefano Graziosi & James Jay Carafano

Growing concerns about American leadership have triggered renewed calls for an autonomous, pan-European military dedicated and able to serve a European agenda. The prospects for European strategic autonomy are no more realistic. Yet, the persistence of this proposal strains the transatlantic relationship, which has not improved under the Biden presidency despite all expectations.

European leaders were angered that Biden rejected their request to extend the deadline for the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and then directed an uncoordinated retreat that put their in-country forces and citizens at risk. Relationships further deteriorated when, in an effort to recover from the criticism of not engaging allies, the U.S. abruptly announced a new security pact (AUKUS) with the United Kingdom and Australia without either consulting or informing Brussels (let alone Paris).

Quicker than a returning boomerang, European leaders were back to arguing, as they had when Trump was around, that America isn’t dependable.

13 October 2021

Taming Techno-Nationalism: A Policy Agenda


This is creating incentives for states to treat access to sensitive technologies as a zero-sum game and to pursue policies to expand national control over and international influence through sensitive technologies. The “geopoliticization” of sensitive technologies – even those which, on first sight, appear banal and/or consumer-focused in nature – are on clear display in debates surrounding European telecom providers’ use of Huawei technologies within their 5G networks, fresh discussions regarding Johnson & Johnson’s purchase of Crucell, and the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) response to NVIDIA’s proposed acquisition of ARM.

Sensitive technologies are, in other words, growing to be more and more closely associated with “European strategic autonomy,” the notion that European Member States should be able to make consequential decisions without being constrained by their relationships with countries like the US or China.

THREE SCENARIOS FOR EUROPE’S CONFLICT LANDSCAPE IN 2030

Florence Schimmel

The aim and purpose of this undertaking was to test a foresight methodology for developing an EU Civilian Capability Profile for EU crisis management. An important first step for this exercise was to sketch out a panorama of conflicts that the EU could be confronted with in and around 2030. Subsequently, the scenarios provided the foundation for an exercise in strategic planning. During follow-up sessions in October 2020, we established capability areas for possible civilian CSDP missions for the scenarios. Details and lessons learned can be found in the accompanying Policy Brief.

The foresight methodology that was used does not claim to predict the future, but rather to develop a probable version of the future. Exploring a well-thought-out possible future is an opportunity to improve early warning, more efficiently allocate resources, and future-proof overall decision-making. Therefore, this methodology can help the EU and its member states make long-term decisions about the future of EU civilian crisis management and its role in the EU’s external action toolbox. For this purpose, we tweaked a classic foresight methodology to accommodate our field of interest, and transferred it online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

12 October 2021

Asian countries are at last abandoning zero-covid strategies


FOR MUCH of the pandemic, many of the wealthier countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region have pursued a “zero-covid” strategy, whether explicit or not. The success of the approach, involving closed borders, quarantine hotels and severe lockdowns, has generally been spectacular. Hong Kong has had no locally transmitted infections since mid-August. In the pandemic’s first year, Taiwan officially counted about a dozen deaths from covid-19. New Zealand is the standout zero-covid state, with just 27 deaths. Indeed, because fewer people died of things like flu or road accidents in lockdown, both countries recorded fewer overall deaths than in a normal year, according to The Economist’s excess-deaths tracker.

Yet those with a good first act are struggling in the second. The coronavirus, especially the highly infectious Delta variant, usually has the last word. In Taiwan cases leapt in May, and the official death toll has risen to nearly 850. In Singapore daily infections have risen from low double digits in early July to more than 3,000 now. Australia, with some 2,000-odd daily cases, is following a similar trajectory. Even in New Zealand, now with double-digit daily cases, the dam has broken.

8 October 2021

Is Europe’s Energy Crisis a Preview of America’s?

Brenda Shaffer

An energy crisis is affecting almost every part of the globe, marked by record-high energy prices, tight supplies, and power blackouts. Some of the world’s richest countries and U.S. states such as California have been struggling to keep their electricity systems stable.

The first energy crisis in decades has come as a shock to many, who seem to have forgotten how energy insecurity reverberates onto every major sphere of public life: the economy, national security, the environment, and public health. As the world’s most traded good, energy is involved in everything we buy and consume, so energy prices and shortages significantly impact economic growth. Because energy is the most important input in manufacturing, stable prices and supplies are key to economic competitiveness. Electricity and fuels for heating, cooking, and transport are major items in every household budget, and price increases disproportionally affect the poor. Similarly, government institutions and infrastructure need stable and affordable energy supplies to function, putting public safety and health at risk when electricity supplies aren’t steady. Energy security has to be treated like national security, and governments need to ensure it.

The current energy crisis is particularly acute in Europe. Prices for natural gas, coal, and electricity have exploded, leading to protests over household power bills in Spain, 1970s-style gasoline shortages in Britain, and worryingly low supplies of natural gas across much of the continent as a possibly very cold winter is fast approaching.

In Search of an Indo-Pacific Role


The European Union has been very active in recent years in its engagement with Asia and the Indo-Pacific region. In line with where the bloc’s competencies lie, the form this engagement takes is mostly that of building or extending economic relations. Over the past decade the EU has concluded bilateral trade agreements with several countries, including Japan and Vietnam, and it is currently negotiating further ones with, among others, Indonesia and Australia. Beyond these there is a web of economic partnership agreements with Asian countries and other forms of formal cooperation.

Although mainly driven by economic considerations, these efforts to deepen relations with the region also need to be understood in the context of the EU’s ambitions to be a geopolitical player. Very early on in her term as European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen made it clear that she wanted to lead a “geopolitical Commission.” The rise of China moving the focus of geopolitical competition to Asia has also pulled the EU’s attention to the Far East.

Part of this effort is the bloc’s pursuit of what it calls “strategic autonomy.” It defines this as the capacity of the bloc to act independently on the world stage when and where necessary and with partners wherever possible. In other words, to reduce dependencies on others, mainly the United States, in the area of security and on both the US and Asia in the economic sphere. Reaching this long-held and lofty ambition is still far off for the EU, though, and deep interdependencies remain, often constraining choices.

7 October 2021

EU-India trade relations: assessment and perspectives

SUMAN BERY, SONALI CHOWDHRY,  AND NICLAS POITIERS

Following the EU-India summit in May 2021, talks on both an EU-India trade and an investment agreement have resumed. This analysis provides background on where EU India economic relations stand and why it is important to maintain momentum following this breakthrough, despite a somewhat unpromising domestic political environment in India.

This new impetus largely reflects a transformed geopolitical landscape since the last round of EU-India talks were abandoned in 2013. The increased tension between India and China, as well as the EU’s intent to reduce its reliance on Chinese manufacturing have created the conditions for changes in policy by both parties. However, many of the issues that bedeviled the 2007-2013 negotiations remain unresolved. In this analysis, we provide an overview of EU-India trade and investment relations as well as the major topics in these negotiations. The impact of key global initiatives on climate change and WTO reform that will shape the negotiations is also briefly discussed.

Based on this analysis, we discuss three potential ways forward for EU-India trade and investment negotiations: a comprehensive agreement similar to that reached between the EU and Vietnam; a limited investment deal primarily focused on manufacturing; and a reinforced status quo with trade and investment relations growing organically under the existing multilateral umbrella.

Europe is under attack from Putin’s energy weapon

Sergiy Makogon

Nord Stream 2 is not yet operational, but the Kremlin’s tightening grip on energy supplies is already being felt across Europe. The price of gas futures continues to hit record highs and has increased by over 600% in a matter of twelve months.

What we are currently witnessing in Europe is a rerun of the oil shocks America experienced in the 1970s. The commodity is different, the safeguards are stronger, but the underlying dynamics are the same. It was not a lack of oil tankers that pushed up prices of crude and triggered an economic recession in the US almost 50 years ago, but politically motivated decisions by the dominant oil producers to withhold supplies.

As Ukraine’s gas transmission operator and a reliable partner for Europe, GTSOU has offered transit capacities at every auction, but Russia has repeatedly failed to book them. On September 15, Gazprom announced that its gas production has increased 19% this year, but Europe has seen no increase in supplies.