EU external relations

8 May 2016

Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pressures the EU to grant visa exemptions to Turkish citizens before October. The agreement signed by Brussels and Ankara this past March in order to combat the overwhelming influx of refugees entering the European Union included a line that made reference to a visa exemption. Nevertheless, after hearing the statements made by Volkan Bozkir, Turkish Minister of European Affairs, in which he expressed his opposition to change anti-terrorism legislation, Brussels is not convinced. European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, warned the Turkish president that, is his country does not comply with the 72 conditions agreed upon by the EU, there would be no visa exemptions whatsoever.

2 May 2016

Greenpeace Holland has leaked controversial classified documents concerning TTIP, the commercial trade agreement between the United States and the EU. The suspicions held by many are now confirmed by revealing the enormous influence that both European and American lobbies have had over bargaining as well as the European Commission’s opacity casting a shadow over the negotiations. The documents bring to light Washington’s intention of modifying the EU’s legislative process and moderating regulations concerning environmental and health concerns. Among them, the questions causing the most uproar deal with cosmetics, environmental protection and genetically-modified organisms.

Europe’s “Dutch Disease”

by Andreas Marazis, 14 April 2016

No, Europe is not considered a victim of the economic phenomenon known as “Dutch Disease” or “resource curse”, referring to economies of countries that rely heavily on natural resource revenues. But it might suffer from a different kind of “Dutch Disease” brought about by the serious blow from the “NO” outcome of the April 6, 2016 Dutch referendum regarding the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement which has served to fragment the EU and weaken its unified decision-making power.… full article

7 April 2016

The Dutch overwhelmingly vote “NO” to EU-Ukraine trade deal. With turnout hovering just above 30%, the threshold for the vote to be valid, the Dutch rejected the trade pact nearly 2-to-1, the same free-trade agreement and European integration treaty which sparked protests in Kiev nearly two years ago, eventually leading to then-President Viktor Yanukovich’s resignation and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The vote serves to bolster a growing euroscepticism in the country and now complicates the Dutch government’s position given that the vote is not binding and that the other 27 EU member states have already ratified the treaty. Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, condemned the vote and insisted that the result “would not be a strategic obstacle for Ukraine on the path to Europe.”

14 February 2016

Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, warns that the world is slipping into a “new cold war” during a security conference in Munich. His words reflect the lack of cooperation taking place between Russia and the rest of Europe at a time when many claim that Russian airstrikes in Syria are targeting civilians. “There is no evidence of us bombing civilians, even though everyone is accusing us of this,” said Medvedev, “Russia is not trying to achieve some secret goals in Syria. We are simply trying to protect our national interests.” Many are claiming Russia’s rhetoric and actions to be undermining the path to peace that many are seeking for the region as well as posing a threat to Europe, America and the rest of the world. Medvedev asked, “I sometimes wonder: are we in 2016 or 1962?”

Old Ukraine, New Ukraine
Opinion article by Francisco de Borja Lasheras, 25 November 2015

When, like every Monday in the 1990s, the children at her school in Sambir, western Ukraine, sang the national anthem, Anna felt nothing. It was a cold ritual, directed towards an impersonal entity: the state, which did not evoke many positive emotions. Suspicion more like. Just as in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” in the eyes of that corrupt, bureaucratic superstructure, some were more equal than others. The superstructure was able to provide certain public services – and quash any hint of dissidence. The new independent state looked very much like the previous regime, the USSR

Labelling Israeli Settlement Products: Economic vs. Symbolic Pressure
Opinion article by Daniel Tkatch, 18 November 2015

Benjamin Netanyahu might be right— the European Union indeed “singles out” Israel by its recent labelling guidelines. But maybe not exactly the way he thinks. The EU now requires to label products that originate in the territories occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967: the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank including East Jerusalem. However, shouldn’t imports from illegally occupied territories be banned altogether, and that as a general rule? After all, this is precisely what the EU did in June 2014, when the Council prohibited the import of goods from Crimea or Sevastopol as

The Eastern Mediterranean arc of fire and Europe*
Opinion article by Georgios Kostakos, 15 November 2015

Geography and history, modern and older, internal fault lines as well as external interventions, have given rise to a perfect storm in the Eastern Mediterranean. In an arc of fire that stretches from Libya to Syria and can be extrapolated further North, all the way to Russia and Ukraine, a series of conflicts have made this an area of particular instability, for the world as a whole and more immediately for nearby Europe. The flood of refugees, from Syria and other countries, is an apparent but not the only impact that this is having beyond the strict confines of the

TPP and TTIP: new challenges for China and Europe
Highlights article by Viktor Sukup, 22 October 2015

Since 2013, when negotiations began, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact, or TTIP, has been hotly debated by the informed European public. Much less known, logically, is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which, after more than five years of negotiations, was signed on 5 October in Atlanta, Georgia, by the US itself, Japan and ten other countries bordering the Pacific, with the significant absence of China. But this Treaty is also in the interests of the Asian giant, very much so, and should be taken into account by the EU. In the case of China, because this agreement tends to distance

7 October 2015

Turkey and the European Commission have agreed upon an Action Plan to diminish the flow of migrants. Although the details have yet to be solidified, the program establishes economic funds, in addition to the billion euros of assistence already established, to improve conditions in existing refugee camps as a means to encourage refugees to stay put and not begin embark upon their journey to Europe. In addition, the EU will help Turkey by reinforcing its capacity to combat migrant smugglers, for example in the interception of these smugglers by the Turkish Coast Guard. The plan also proposes collaboration with Frontex, the EU’s border agency, in order to exchange ideas and break up trafficking networks.

5 October 2015

Turkey warned that it would take action if Russia flies over the Turkish-Syrian border once again (5 Oct). After a Russian plane violated Turkish airspace and crossed the border during attacks in Syria, Erdogan made an express trip to Brussels to meet with the main representatives of the European Institutions and discuss the migratory crisis and the attacks in Syria. At the same moment, the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, received the Turkish Foreign Relations minister, Feridun Sinirlioglu, and declared that “Russian actions are not contributing to the security and stability of the region”. Russia responded by saying that the incident was not intentional but was due to an “navegation error”.

13 September 2015

Great strides have been made in peace negotiations in Eastern Ukraine. Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with his Russian, Ukrainian and French counterparts in Berlin and said that progress had been made in negotiations surrounding the conflict. The 2-week old ceasefire is encouraging for the eastern part of the country and has given cause to the ministers to urge combatants and mediators to put down their arms, abandon their use of land mines and prepare for local elections in October. The German minister, who expressed cautious optimism, assured that although a solid agreement had not been reached over the putting down of arms nor over the elections in Eastern Ukraine, they were heading in the right direction. Almost 8,000 people have died since the beginning of the conflict in April 2014.

31 August 2015

The 450-seat Ukrainian Parliament, Verkhovna Rada, approved in a preliminary vote of 265 in favour constitutional changes towards greater decentralisation of the country. Violent clashes outside the Parliament between security forces and protesters, who disagree with granting more autonomy to Ukraine’s eastern regions controlled by separatists, led to the death of one National Guard conscript and the injuring of at least 100 other people. The EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, said the vote was “an important step”, which will also facilitate implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

25 August 2015

Kosovo and Serbia arrived to key agreements, allowing both countries to move forward with the normalisation of relations. EU foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, met with prime ministers from Serbia, Aleksander Vucic, and Kosovo, Isa Mustafa, for the implementation of the four landmark agreements in energy, telecommunications, the Association/Community of Serbian majority municipalities, and the freedom of movement across the Mitrovica Bridge. The meeting concluded with the approval on both parts of the four points, with Mogherini calling it “a decisive victory in the process of normalisation and a step towards integration in the EU.”

22 August 2015

The EU praised the release of six political prisoners in Belarus, heralding President Alexander Lukashenko’s pardon as “important progress” in the country’s efforts to normalise relations with the EU and the rest of the Western world. Among those freed is former opposition presidential candidate Mykalai Statkevich, who spent 5 years behind bars for his political views and criticism of what many call an “undemocratic regime” headed by President Lukashenko. Statkevich was given a hero’s welcome after his arrival to Minsk, saying that he will “continue to fight for a free, independent and European Belarus.”

Europe and China: Partners and Rivals
Highlights article by Viktor Sukup, 14 August 2015

Written in conjunction with Jovana Savic Somewhat obscured for the European public by simultaneous other urgent issues, the 17th EU-China summit took place in Brussels on 29 June 2015. It was chaired by the Presidents of the European Council and the Commission—Messrs, Tusk and Juncker, respectively—and the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, marking forty years of bilateral cooperation and diplomatic relations. The “EU-China Strategic Association” should contribute, the summit concluded, to the “promotion of peace, prosperity and sustainable development for the benefit of all”, based on “the principles of mutual respect, confidence, equality and cooperation”. Emblematic initiatives, such as Juncker’s Investment

The five dimensions of the Ukrainian conflict
Featured article, 29 July 2015

The Ukrainian crisis started in 2013, when protests were held in Kiev over the refusal of Ukraine to sign a trade agreement with the EU. It quickly escalated to violence and political struggles for power, culminating with the annexation of Crimea by Russia and clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian forces in the east, where two other provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, declared themselves independent. Although a peace deal was signed in 2014 and ratified in 2015 by Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, neither the pro-Russian rebels nor the Ukrainian forces have withdrawn arms, perpetuating the violence. 1. Arms

Fears and choices in the Baltic states in the face of Russia:

A review of the current geopolitical situation in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
Featured article from EsGlobal EsGlobal, by Ricardo Lenoir, 14 July 2015

Last summer, Madrid hosted the finals of the world basketball championship. This fact completely monopolised the information on Internet coming from the Baltic states, a region which had hitherto abounded in entries on tourism, inviting people to visit its three beautiful capitals. Six months later, and with toughening international politics on the part of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a search now offers completely novel results: news is now about rearmament, given the Russian threat to avoid a repeat of what happened in Ukraine. What has


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