After several years of European attempt to locate the three South Caucasian countries, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, within a common framework, policies of these neighbouring states have become more distant to each other. Currently, the strategic region on the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, finds itself in a situation where Official Tbilisi, after signing the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) as part of the Association Agreement (AA) with the EU, is closely aligned with Western structures and European policies; Armenia, after being pressured by Moscow to abandon plans for concluding similar agreements, has become a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). And Azerbaijan, denouncing both the EU and the EEU, remains also outside the World Trade Organization (WTO), seeking strategic partnerships on equal footage. Despite the fragmented nature of the region, all three states have been closely monitoring developments occurring 15-16 July in Turkey. The coup had failed, but the consequences of the attempt could be far reaching not only for Turkey, but also for South Caucasus.
What is next?
Post-industrial areas – particularly in Wales and Northern Ireland – benefit significantly from EU structural funds, and their governments will continue to advocate on their behalf.
But these funds aside, who will speak in the Brexit negotiations for the interests of those people who have just voted to leave? When Britain’s fiscal position deteriorates, will working class voters pay the heaviest price, as economists warned before the referendum? As we become more reliant on the “kindness of strangers” to pay our way in the world, who will argue for investment to flow to Brexit Britain’s heartlands? What does each party say about Brexit? Are they proposing EEA membership, including free movement? Or are they promoting an association agreement in which both single market access and free movement are curtailed, for British and EU citizens?
“Europe has never been so prosperous, so secure nor so free”. It was 2003 and those were the words introducing the self-congratulatory EU Security Strategy that set the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) guidelines for the next 13 years. The former High Representative (HR), Javier Solana, drafted it to tackle indirect and external threats, as almost none existed at home. Now, the current HR, Federica Mogherini, faces very different circumstances and so the strategy does too. Continue reading
Brexit has taken most of the column inches recently throughout Europe, but amongst the ever changing tectonic plates of European geopolitics, day-to-day governance on a range of issues continues at pace. None are more important and potentially critical to the European energy sector than the future of nuclear development – both new build and plant life extension – as over 45% of current nuclear plants are predicted to come offline over the course of the next decade. Last week, in the same venue where COP21 was agreed, Paris held the World Nuclear Exhibition (WNE) where leading companies such as Rosatom, Westinghouse, EDF, and CGN attended to collaborate on the future of the industry, and ensure Europe is leading, not trailing worldwide nuclear energy development.
Today the Netherlands hands over the reins of the EU Council presidency to Slovakia. The challenges at hand could not be more consequential: the EU structures are being undermined by the popular revolt that has moved beyond symbolism and fringes of the society. The next six months will therefore be crucial in setting the tone with which the EU will continue (if at all).
Last week, the British citizens exercised their democratic right and voted, against all expectations, to leave the EU. Similarly, earlier this year voters in the Netherlands delivered a humiliating blow to the country’s Prime Minister by refusing to throw their support for the EU’s association agreement with Ukraine.
The public’s weariness with the EU is palpable. The more the public mistrusts the EU, the more its leaders mistrust the public and the gap between the two widens. It has now reached the breaking point whereby citizens feel they are no longer considered essential for the EU’s legitimacy. Instead, and in a rather condescending way too, citizens are being blamed for the lack of support for the project value of which they do not understand. If only people tried hard enough, surely they would instantly fall head over heels in love with it.
There is no point in denying the obvious: the EU does and always will rest on the support of its people. Pretending otherwise is a sign of weakness and lack of belief in the EU as such, which can only lead to one outcome: the EU’s demise.