EUROPEAN THINK-TANK REVIEW – XXX. (September 2014)

Written by | Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
European Values

Great Power Politics and the Ukrainian Crisis: NATO, EU and Russia after 2014
Henrik Boesen Lindbo Larsen (Danish Institute for International Studies)

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine represents the biggest geopolitical shock to the European security arrangement since the end of the Cold War. East-West relations had already suffered serious blows before Russia’s annexation of Crimea, mainly from the Kremlin’s aversion towards the growing influence of the European Union in Eastern Europe. Russia and the EU now have irreconcilable visions about what Eastern Europe should look like. What does the future hold for the relations between these two world powers?

In the new geopolitical arrangement of the region, Russia has control or significant influence over states which aspire to strike closer ties with the EU. Georgia, Moldova and now Ukraine would all risk losing the separatist areas (Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Transnistria in Moldova, and Crimea in Ukraine) should they seek to accede to the EU. Russia can mount pressure on the governments in these states through its gas monopoly, by enacting trade embargoes, or supporting separatist forces. The reactions from Western powers, namely Germany, Poland, France, Britain and the United States, are influenced by their own interests or historical ties in the post-Soviet area. The aforementioned nations’ foreign policies differ significantly, although the future of Russia-EU relations depends largely on the willingness of Western powers to cooperate and synchronise their approach to the Kremlin.

The West’s collective reaction should be three-fold: first, take advantage of the vulnerability of the Russian market to foreign investors and isolate the Kremlin with targeted sanctions that punish specifically individuals and businesses with close ties to President Putin. Second, the EU should pressure Ukraine into enacting much needed reforms of governance. Third, NATO should bolster its eastern frontier and thus motivate Russia to deescalate the conflict in Ukraine. The central objective of these steps is to renew stable security relations with Russia and to create a regional environment where states may freely choose whom to cooperate with.
(The study can be downloaded here: http://en.diis.dk/files/publications/reports2014/rp182014_lindboe_nato_forweb.pdf)

Options for Increasing Europe’s Security Role on the Korean Peninsula
Mason Richey a Daewon Ohn (The Institute for European Studies)

The security implications of continuing instability in the Korean peninsula mandate discussion over potential cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the European Union. Responsibility for the instability lies with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), known for abysmal human rights violations, advanced nuclear weapons programme and international involvement in organised crime. The DPRK’s volatility may spark not only a humanitarian and refugee crisis, but also the regime’s collapse and eventual reunification of the two Koreas.

The EU’s security interests in northeast Asia were hitherto neglected. The key actors in the area thus remain the two Koreas, the United States, and China. This study calls for the EU to put greater focus on northeast Asia. The EU or individual Member States should bolster security in the region via the EU-South Korea partnership. In so doing, the EU will fill the security gap between the four key actors and complement their security cooperation. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control should work closely with the China-Japan-South Korea trilateral summit, which holds periodic tripartite meetings of both health and agriculture ministers to coordinate measures for preventing, monitoring, and responding to infectious disease outbreaks. Cooperation between these two institutions would result in better human security in northeast Asia, with little financial costs and practically no political risks. The EU could also act as a broker between the two Koreas where cooperation on environmental protection is required.

Illegal proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is one of the gravest challenges to global security, and as such, demands attention from all international actors. The prevention of proliferation and eventual elimination of biological and chemical weapons is a complicated process, and the EU can provide trained professionals for the task. For example, Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons were neutralised and destroyed by two European companies, Airbus and Veolia. Last but not least, in the unlikely event of North Korea’s political collapse, the United States would appreciate receiving military support from its European allies in ensuring peace and stability in the region.
(The study can be downloaded here: http://www.ies.be/files/2014_6_PB.pdf)

The Lack of Gender Equality in EU Decision-Making Means EU Citizens are still Suffering from a ‘Double Democratic Deficit’
Joyce Marie Mushaben a Gabriele Abels (LSE EuropeanPolitics and Policy Blog)

The EU is sometimes accused of perpetuating a democratic deficit concerning the political participation of its citizens. Given the gender gap in the EU’s institutions, one may talk of a ‘double democratic deficit’. Insufficient presence of women in top EU positions, especially the European Commission and the European Council, is an ongoing reality tackled by the European Women’s Lobby (EWL). This organisation made headlines before the recent elections into the European Parliament (EP) when it denounced a very sexist campaign video produced in Denmark, a purported bastion of gender equality.

Most feminist scholars have consistently recognised the European Parliament as one of the world’s most gender-friendly legislative bodies, and as a driving force behind many equal treatment, positive action and anti-discrimination policies established by the Union. Ironically, the European Parliament’s positive gender record stands in stark contrast to the relatively high degree of public indifference, as reflected in its electoral turn-out.

Women’s advances within the EP’s own power-structure are modest at best; 14 of 33 committee chairs are female, although men still dominate the ‘big’ ones. Comprising only 16 percent of the Constitutional Committee members, women are overrepresented (54 percent) in its Employment and Social Affairs counterpart. The Committee on Women’s Rights & Gender Equality (FEMM) is the real outlier, with only 10 men (15 percent) among its 76 members.

Even the gender conservative Commission is trying to tackle this issue. A ‘woman-free’ zone until 1989, its current President Jean-Claude Juncker urged national governments to nominate at least 10 women for the 2014-2019 Commission. However, there is really little need for a host of new EU gender-quality provisions. The chief problem always was and remains the failure of national governments to implement and monitor an incredible array of ‘fundamental Community values,’ equality directives, regulations and court verdicts already in place. Or as the French would say, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”.
(The study can be downloaded here: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2014/08/28/the-lack-of-gender-equality-in-eu-decision-making-means-eu-citizens-are-still-suffering-from-a-double-democratic-deficit/)

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