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[Robert Kaplan, The Return of framework Polo's World. War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-first Century. Random House. New York, 2017. 280 pp.]

 

review / Emili J. Blasco

The Return of framework Polo's World

The signs of "imperial fatigue" that the United States is giving—a less willingness to provide world order—contrast with the destiny of projection on the globe that its nature and size imprint on it. "The United States is doomed to lead. It's the sentence of geography," writes Robert Kaplan. "No. The United States is not a normal country (...), but it has the obligations of an empire."

Between the reality of a great power whose foreign policy has entered a new phase – a certain withdrawal on the international scene, begun by Barack Obama and continued by Donald Trump – and the demands of its national interest, which in Kaplan's opinion requires an assertive presence in the world, moves the new book by this well-known American geopolitical author.

Unlike his previous works – the most recent is Earning the Rockies. How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World (2017) – this time it is a volume that collects his essays and articles published in different media over the last few years. The longest, which gives degree scroll to the compilation, was commissioned by the Pentagon; The headline of another of the texts, also from 2016, heads these lines.

Eurasia

When Kaplan talks about returning to the world of framework Polo is meaning two things. The main one is the new link that is emerging between China and Europe thanks to the increased trade, symbolized by the new Silk Road, which gives rise to a long essay about the materialization of what until now was only an idea: Eurasia. The other meaning, which he develops further elsewhere in the book, has to do with the new international order we are moving towards, which he calls "competitive anarchy": an era of greater anarchy compared to the time of the Cold War and the one we have known since then (the Cold Age). average of framework Polo was also a time of multiple powers.)

Kaplan is one of the authors who is most concerned about the emergence of Eurasia. The arrival of Syrian migrants in Europe has made it dependent on the vicissitudes in the Middle East, showing that the internal borders of the supercontinent are fading. "As Europe disappears, Eurasia becomes cohesive. The supercontinent has become a fluid and comprehensive unit of trade and conflict," he writes. And with the cohesion of Eurasia, the specific weight of the world shifts from the Asia-Pacific to the Indo-Pacific or, as Kaplan also calls it, the Great Indian Ocean.

Realism, Morals and Values

Among the many strategic aspects that Kaplan considers in relation to Eurasia, perhaps one important caveat can go unnoticed: much of China's success in its Belt and Road course depends on Pakistan acting as the leader of the Belt. core topic which, in the middle of the arch, gives it completion and at the same time sustains it. "Pakistan will be the main recorder of China's ability to link its [land] Silk Road through Eurasia with its [maritime] Silk Road through the Indian Ocean," Kaplan said. In his view, Pakistan's instability, even if it does not end up causing the country's collapse, could well limit the effectiveness of the great project Chinese.

Outside of that Eurasian chapter, the book is an argument, sober and calm, with Kaplan's always elegant prose, of the principles of realism, understood as "a sensibility rooted in a mature sense of the tragic, of all the things that can go wrong in foreign policy, so that caution and caution knowledge of history are embedded in the realistic way of thinking." For a realist, "order comes before freedom and interests before values," because "without order there is no freedom for anyone, and without interests a state has no incentive to project values."

Kaplan discusses these considerations in articles dedicated to the thought of Henry Kissinger, Samuel Huntington, and John Mearsheimer, all of them realists of different stripes, of which he is close, especially the first: Kissinger's reputation will only increase over the years, he says. On the other hand, he rejects that Trump's foreign policy can be framed in the realist doctrine, because the American president lacks a sense of history, and that is because he does not read.

Kaplan presents realism as a sensibility, rather than a guide with recipes for acting in crisis situations, and certainly on various pages he enters into the discussion on whether the external actions of a State should be guided by morality and the defence of values. "The United States, like any nation – but especially because it is a great power – simply has interests that are not always consistent with its values. This is tragic, but it is a tragedy that has to be embraced and accepted." "Because the United States is a liberal power, its interests – even when they are not directly concerned with human rights – are generally moral. But they are only secondarily moral."

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews Global

Limiting attention with China and controlling the arrival of Venezuelan refugees, among the measures promoted by the winner in the first round.

With a support of more than 46% of the voters, the right-wing Jair Bolsonaro won a wide victory in the presidential elections of October 7, which will nevertheless require a second round at the end of the month. His direct opponent, Fernando Haddad, of the Workers' Party, barely reached 29% of the votes, which complicates that in three weeks the correlation of forces could be turned around. A Bolsonaro presidency, therefore, is possible, and this makes it advisable to examine what foreign policy the new stage will bring.

Jair Bolsonaro, at an election campaign rally.

▲ Jair Bolsonaro, at an electoral campaign rally [PSL].

article / Túlio Dias de Assis

One of the best known sayings Brazilians have about their own country is that "O Brasil não é um país para principiantes" (Brazil is not a country for beginners ). Of course, such a saying would be very apt when describing the country's current status . The Latin American giant is reeling from the instability caused by a truly unprecedented electoral campaign and the possibility of the victory of a divisive candidate .

The electoral campaign has been anything but "conventional", with one candidate trying to promote the vote from his cell in the federal prison of Curitiba, in Paraná, and another being stabbed in plenary session of the Executive Council political act in the streets of Juíz de Fora, in Minas Gerais. The first, former president Luís Inácio "Lula" da Silva, finally had to cede the post to another leader of his party, Fernando Haddad, due to his criminal status ; the second, Jair Bolsonaro, was favored electorally by the stabbing and the greater dispersion of the vote due to the forced withdrawal of Lula.

The elections had a motley group of candidates representing the most disparate types of ideologies. In this Sunday's vote, as predicted by the polls, the race was reduced to two presidential candidates, located at the antipodes of the political spectrum: Bolsonaro and Haddad, candidates of the Social Liberal Party (PSL) and the Workers' Party (PT), respectively.

Thus, Bolsonaro obtained more than 46% of the votes, far exceeding the polls' forecasts, while Haddad received the support of 29% of the voters. As neither candidate surpassed 50% of the votes on October 7, the two most voted presidential candidates will go to a second round, which will take place on October 28.

Jair Messias Bolsonaro, the "Brazilian Trump".

Bolsonaro is undoubtedly the biggest surprise of these elections, since his positions, very reactionary in some issues, are completely out of the mostly socialist political spectrum to which Brazil had become accustomed since the beginning of the century. He is a military man in the reservation who for the last decades served as federal deputy for the state of Rio de Janeiro. During his work in the Chamber leave, many of his statements, often homophobic, racist and sexist, went viral. Much of the Brazilian press has labeled him as extreme right-wing and has carried out a harsh campaign against him, similar to what happened with Donald Trump in the USA.

The controversy has benefited Bolsonaro, expanding his electoral base. After the attack in Minas Gerais, he saw his popularity increase(rising in the polls from 22% to 32%) and somewhat mitigating the rejection he provokes among part of the population.

On domestic political issues, the PSL's candidate is characterized by controversial statements in favor of the revocation of the disarmament statute (issued during the Lula administration), a reduction of the state bureaucratic apparatus, the liberalization of the Economics, the privatization of public companies and agencies, the reduction of the age of criminal majority, the establishment of higher and harsher penalties for serious crimes and the militarization of the police in their confrontations against the criminal gangs dominant in the favelas. In addition, it flatly rejects, among other issues, gender ideology, gender and racial quotas -in all subject of public agencies- and political movements of Marxist ideology.

Foreign policy. In terms of international policy, Bolsonaro has mentioned that he intends to strengthen Brazil's relations with the US -given his sympathy towards President Trump's policies-, the EU and democratic countries in Latin America; while he has radically positioned himself against rapprochement with countries with dictatorial regimes, among which he has included China, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba. He defends Israel's policies and has promised to move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem, as President Trump did almost a year ago. Finally, he rejects the uncontrolled flow of Venezuelan immigrants entering Brazil through the state of Roraima, and has warned that he would take drastic measures to control it, since the number of migrants from Venezuela already exceeds 50,000.

Fernando Haddad, the heir of Lula's bequest

Haddad has been mayor of the city of São Paulo and minister of Education during Lula's government. He initially opted for the post of vice-president, accompanying Lula in the PT candidacy. But when Lula saw his options closed final by the Supreme Electoral Court, as he was imprisoned under a 12-year sentence for corruption, he designated Haddad as presidential candidate, well into the electoral campaign.

Before the annulment of his candidacy, Lula was clearly leading in the polls and could even win in the first ballot. This support was mainly among the population that benefited from his highly successful socialist policies during his two terms in office (2003-2006 and 2007-2010), including the Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) program, which aimed to end hunger in Brazil; Primeiro Emprego (First employment), a program focused on eliminating youth unemployment; and the better known Bolsa Família, a continuation of Fome Zero in the form of family benefits, which successfully lifted several million Brazilians out of poverty.

This social success, which mainly affected the North and Northeast regions of Brazil, where there is a larger population below the poverty line, gave the PT a solid electoral base, although linked to Lula's leadership. With the change of candidate, the PT's popularity declined and its voting intentions were distributed among the other presidential candidates. As candidate, Lula surpassed 37% in the first polls; however, Haddad did not reach 30% in the first round.

Foreign policy. The PT is a left-wing party that is quite aligned with the Latin American political doctrine of the so-called Socialism of the 21st Century. Its program in international politics is to maintain good relations with the members of the BRICS -especially the cooperation with China- and MERCOSUR, and to continue actively participating in the UN, specifically in bodies such as the committee of Human Rights (HRC) or the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), today presided over by Lula's former minister manager of the Fome Zero program, José Graziano da Silva. Haddad has not taken a specific position on the Venezuelan regime, unlike Bolsonaro; however, he has mentioned the need to help in the mediation for the resolution of internal conflicts in the neighboring country, without condemning the Chavista government at any time.

Second round

The Brazilian scenario is undoubtedly very peculiar and there is an awareness that these elections could define the course of the tropical giant for some time to come. Bolsonaro starts with a decisive advantage for the second round on October 28. Haddad will probably be able to count on the support of several of the trailing candidates, such as Ciro Gomes, from PDT, or Marina Silva, from REDE (both former ministers of Lula's government), due to the radical difference of Bolsonaro's policies with the "conventional" candidates.

The possibility of a final victory of the military man in the reservation may mobilize part of the electorate, increasing the participation among those who want to prevent his entrance in Brasília. The vote of fear of Bolsonaro that the PT will promote and the "normality" with which the controversial candidate will want to accentuate his candidacy will decide this final stretch.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America

WORKING PAPER / Marianna McMillan

ABSTRACT

In appearance the internet is open and belongs to no one, yet in reality it is subject to concentrated tech firms that continue to dominate content, platform and hardware. This paper intends to highlight the importance in preventing any one firm from deciding the future, however this is no easy feat considering both: (i) the nature of the industry as ambiguous and uncertain and (ii) the subsequent legal complexities in defining the relevant market to assess and address their dominance without running the risk of hindering it. Thus, the following paper tries to fill the gap by attempting to provide a theoretical and practical examination of: (1) the nature of the internet; (2) the nature of monopolies and their emergence in the Internet industry; and (3) the position of the US in contrast to the EU in dealing with this issue. In doing so, this narrow examination illustrates that differences exist between these two regimes. Why they exist and how they matter in the Internet industry is the central focus.

 

Who Owns the Internet? A Brief Overview of the US Antitrust Law and EU Competition Law in the Internet IndustryDownload the document [pdf. 387K]

Categories Global Affairs: European Union North America World Order, Diplomacy and Governance Documents of work

area of the Indo-Pacific and adjacent territories

▲area Indo-Pacific and adjacent territories [Wikimedia-Commons]

ANALYSIS / Emili J. Blasco

We are witnessing the effective birth of Eurasia. If that word arose as an artifice, to bring together two adjacent, unrelated geographies, today Eurasia is emerging as a reality, in a single geography. The catalyst has been above all China's westward opening: as China has begun to take care of its rear end – Central Asia – and has drawn new land routes to Europe, the distances between the margins of Eurasia have also been narrowing. The maps of the Belt and Road Initiative have the effect of first presenting a single continent, from Shanghai to Paris or Madrid. The trade war between Beijing and Washington and the European helplessness of the former American umbrella contribute to China and Europe seeking each other.

A consequence of the gaze crossed from the two extremes of the supercontinent, whose meeting It builds this new mental map of continuous territory, is that the world axis moves to the Indian Ocean. It is no longer in the Atlantic, as when the United States took up the banner of the West from Europe, nor in the Pacific, where it had moved with the emerging phenomenon of East Asia. What seemed to be the location of the future, the Asia-Pacific, is giving way to the Indo-Pacific, where China certainly does not lose prominence, but remains more subject to the Eurasian balance of power. The irony for China is that in order to regain its former position as the Middle Kingdom, its expansive plans will end up giving centrality to India, its veiled nemesis.

Eurasia shrinks

The idea of a shrinking of Eurasia, which reduces its vast geography to the size of our visual field, gaining in its own entity, was expressed two years ago by Robert Kaplan in a essay which he then collected in his book The Return of framework Polo's World (2018)[1]. It is precisely the revival of the Silk Road, with its historical reminiscences, that has ended up putting Europe and the East on the same plane in our minds, as in a few centuries in which, unknown America, there was nothing beyond the surrounding oceans. "As Europe disappears," Kaplan says in reference letter to Europe's increasingly vaporous borders, "Eurasia is cohesive." "The supercontinent is becoming a fluid, global unit of trade and conflict," he says.

For Bruno Maçães, author of The Down of Eurasia (2018)[2], we have entered a Eurasian era. Despite what might have been predicted just a couple of decades ago, "this century will not be Asian," says Maçães. Nor will it be European or American, but we are as we were at that time, at the end of the First World War, when we went from talking about Europe to talking about the West. Now Europe, detached from the United States, as this Portuguese author argues, is also being integrated into something bigger: Eurasia.

Given this movement, both Kaplan and Maçães predict a dissolution of the West. The American emphasises Europe's shortcomings: "Europe, at least as we have known it, has begun to disappear. And with it the West itself"; while the European rather points out the disinterest of the United States: "One gets the sense that the American universalist vocation is not to guarantee the global pre-eminence of Western civilization, but to remain the sole global superpower."

Change the axis of the world

In the wake of the finding The sixteenth century saw the culmination of a gradual transfer of hegemony and civilization in the world to the West. "The empires of the Persians and the Chaldeans had been replaced by those of Egypt, Greece, Italy, and France, and now by that of Spain. Here would remain the center of the world," writes John Elliott, quoting a writing of the time, by the humanist Pérez de Oliva[3]. The idea of an end station was also had when the specific weight of the world was placed in the Atlantic, and then in the Pacific. Today we continue again this turn to the west, to the Indian Ocean, perhaps without much desire to consider it definitive, even if the return of the beginnings theorized by the Renaissance is completed.

After all, there have also been shifts of the centre of gravity in the opposite direction, if we look at other parameters. In the decades after 1945, the average of economic activity between different geographies was located in the center of the Atlantic. At the turn of the century, however, the centre of gravity of economic transactions has been located east of the borders of the European Union, according to Maçães, who predicts that in ten years the midpoint will be on the border between Europe and Asia, and in the middle of the 21st century between India and China. countries that are "committed to developing the largest trade relationship in the world". With this, India "can become the central knot between the extremes of the new supercontinent." Moving to one side of the planet we have reached the same point – the Indian Ocean – as on the journey in the opposite direction.

The island world

Unlike the Atlantic and the Pacific, oceans that extend vertically from pole to pole, the Indian Ocean unfolds horizontally and instead of meeting two shores, it has three. This means that Africa, at least its eastern area, is also part of this new centrality: if the speed of navigation brought about by the monsoons has historically facilitated a narrow strait of life. contact From the Indian subcontinent to the east coast of Africa, new maritime silk roads can further increase trade. This, and the growing arrival of sub-Saharan migrants in Europe, reflects a centripetal phenomenon that even gives rise to talk of Afro-Eurasia. So, as Kaplan points out, referring to the island world as Halford Mackinder once did "is no longer premature." Maçães recalls that Mackinder saw the fact that it was not possible to circumnavigate it completely as a difficulty in perceiving the reality of this island world . Today that perception should be easier, when the Arctic route is being opened.

In the framework From Halford Mackinder's and Nicholas Spykman's complementary theories of the Heartland and the Rimland, respectively, any centrality of India has to be reflected in maritime power. With its access to the interior of Asia closed by the Himalayas and by an antagonistic Pakistan (it has the only and complex passage of Kashmir left), it is in the sea that India can project its influence. Like India, China and Europe are also in the Eurasian Rimland , from where all these powers will dispute the balance of power among themselves and also with the Heartland, which basically occupies Russia, although not exclusively: in the Heartland there are also the Central Asian republics, which take on a special value in the Eurasian region. skill for the space and resources of a shrunken supercontinent.

Pivot to Eurasia

In this region of the Indo-Pacific, or the Greater Indian Ocean, which stretches from the Persian Gulf and the coasts of East Africa to the second island chain of Asia-Pacific, the United States has an external role. To the extent that the island world becomes more cohesive, the American satellite character is more emphasized. The grand strategy of the United States then becomes what has been the traditional imperative of the United Kingdom with respect to Europe: to prevent one power from dominating the continent, something that is more easily achieved by supporting one or another continental power in order to weaken the one that is stronger at any given time (France or Germany, Germany, France according to the historical period; today Russia or China). Already in the Cold War, the United States strove to prevent the USSR from becoming a hegemon by also controlling Western Europe. Eurasia enters a presumably intense balance of power game, as was the European scenario between the 19th and 20th centuries.

That's why Kaplan says Russia can be contained much more by China than by the United States, just as Washington should take advantage of Russia to limit China's power, at Henry Kissinger's suggestion. To this end, the Pentagon should expand its strategic presence in the Western Pacific to the west: if as an external and maritime power it cannot access the continental center of Eurasia, it can take a position in the very bowels of that great region, which is the Indian Ocean itself.

"If Obama pivoted to Asia, then Trump has pivoted to Eurasia. Decision-makers in the United States seem increasingly aware that the new center of gravity in world politics is not the Pacific or the Atlantic, but the Old World between the two," Maçães wrote in a blog post. essay after his book[4].

 

Image of the presentation of Japan's Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy

Image of the presentation Official of the Japanese Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy [Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan]

 

Partnerships with India

The U.S. shift in focus from Asia-Pacific to the Indo-Pacific was formally expressed in the National Security Strategy published in December 2017, the first of its kind. subject of documents prepared by the Trump Administration. Consequently, the United States has renamed its Pacific Command Indo-Pacific Command.

Washington's strategy, like that of other leading Western countries in the region, especially Japan and Australia, involves a coalition of some subject with India, because of the centrality of this country and as the best way to contain China and Russia.

The desirability of a stronger relationship with New Delhi was already outlined by Trump during the visit Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington in June 2017, and then by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in October 2017. His successor, Mike Pompeo, addressed a framework It was more defined in July 2018, when it announced $113 million in grants for projects aimed at achieving greater connectivity in the region, from digital technologies to infrastructure. The advertisement it was understood as the U.S. desire to confront the Belt and Road Initiative launched by China.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy is sometimes presented in conjunction with the Strategy for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), which is the name given by Japan for its own cooperation initiative for the region, already laid out ten years ago by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Both coincide in having India, Japan, Australia and the United States as the main guarantors of regional security, but they have two main divergences. One is that for Washington the Indo-Pacific goes from the eastern seaboard of India to the west coast of the United States, while in the Japanese initiative the map goes from the Persian Gulf and the African coast to the Philippines and New Zealand. The other has to do with the way China is perceived: proposal seeks Chinese cooperation, at least at the declarative level, while the purpose The U.S. government is to address the "risks of Chinese dominance," as stated in the National Security Strategy.

India has also developed an initiative of its own, introduced in 2014 as the Act East Policy (AEP), to enhance cooperation between India and Asia-Pacific countries, especially ASEAN. For its part, Australia presented its Policy Roadmap for the region in 2017, which builds on the security already provided by the United States and advocates continued understanding with the "Indo-Pacific democracies" (Japan, South Korea, India and Indonesia).

Other consequences

Some other consequences of the birth of Eurasia, of different order and importance, are:

–The European Union is not only ceasing to be attractive as a project Not only does the reality of Eurasia reduce it to being a peninsula on the margins of the supercontinent. For example, the old question of whether or not Turkey is part of Europe loses any interest: Turkey is going to have a better position on the chessboard.

–The corridors that China wants to open to the Indian Ocean (Myanmar and, above all, Pakistan) are becoming very important. Without being able to regain the thousand-year-old status of Middle Kingdom, China will value even more having the province of Xinjiang as a way to be less tilted on one side of the supercontinent and as a platform for a greater projection into the interior of it.

The U.S. pivot to Eurasia will force Washington to distribute its forces over a larger expanse of sea and its shores, with the risk of losing deterrent or intervention power in certain places. Taking care of the Indian Ocean can unintentionally lead you to neglect the South China Sea. One way to gain influence in the Indian Ocean without much effort could be to move the headquarters of the Fifth Fleet from Bahrain to Oman, also a stone's throw from the Strait of Hormuz, but outside the Persian Gulf.

Russia has traditionally been seen as a bridge between Europe and Asia, and has had some currents advocating a Eurasianism that presented Eurasia as a third continent (Russia), with Europe and Asia on either side, and that reserved the name of Greater Eurasia for the supercontinent. To the extent that this shrinks, Russia will benefit from the greater connectivity between one end and the other and will be more on top of its former Central Asian republics, although they will have to be more connected to the other. contact with a higher issue of neighbors.

 

(1) Kaplan, R. (2018) The Return fo framework Polo's World. War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Random House

(2) Maçães, B. (2018) The Dawn of Eurasia. On the Trail of the New World Order. Milton Keynes: Allen Lane

(3) Elliott, J. (2015) The Old World and the New (1492-165). Madrid: Alianza publishing house

(4) Maçães, B. (2018). Trump's Pivot to Eurasia. The American Interest. August 21, 2018

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Analysis

ESSAY / Blake Bierman

The Common Foreign, Security, and Defence Policy (CFSDP) of the European Union today acts a chameleonic hybrid of objectives and policies that attempt to resolve a plethora of threats faced by the EU. In a post 9/11 security framework, any acting policy measure must simultaneously answer to a wide array of political demands from member states and bureaucratic constraints from Brussels. As a result, the urgent need for consolidation and coherency in a common, digestible narrative has evolved into a single EU Global Strategy that boldly attempts to address today's most pressing security whilst proactively deterring those of tomorrow. In this analysis, I will first present a foundational perspective on the external context of the policy areas. Next, I will interpret the self-perception of the EU within such a context and its role(s) within. Thirdly, I will identify the key interests, goals, and values of the EU and assess their incorporation into policy. I will then weigh potential resources and strategies the EU may utilize in enacting and enforcing said policies. After examining the aforementioned variables, I will end my assessment by weighing the strengths and weaknesses of both the EU's Strategic Vision and Reflection Paper while identifying preferences within the two narratives.

EU in an External Context: A SWOT Analysis

When it comes to examining the two perspectives presented, the documents must be viewed from their correlative timelines. The first document, "From Shared Vision to Common Action: Implementing the EU Global Strategy Year 1," (I will refer to this as the Implementation paper) serves as a realist review of ongoing action within the EU's three policy clusters in detailing the beginning stages of integrated approach and outlook towards the internal-external nexus along with an emphasized role of public diplomacy in the mix. On the other hand, the second document, "Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence," (I will refer to this as the Reflection paper) acts more so as a planning guide to define the potential frameworks for policies going forward into 2025. Once these documents are viewed within their respective timelines, a balanced "SWOT" analysis can assess the similarities and divergences of the options they present. Overwhelmingly, the theme of cooperation acts as a fundamental staple in both documents. In my opinion, this acts a force for unification and solidarity amongst member states from not only the point of view of common interest in all three policy areas, but also as a reminder of the benefits in the impact and cost of action as prescribed in the UN and NATO cases. Both documents seem to expand the EU's context in terms of scope as embracing the means and demands for security in a global lens. The documents reinforce that in a globalized world, threats and their responses require an approach that extends beyond EU borders, and therefore a strong, coherent policy voice is needed to bring together member states and allies alike to defeat them.

Examining the divergences, much is left to be desired as far as the risks and opportunities are presented. In my perspective, I believe this was constructed purposefully as an attempt to leave the both areas as open as possible to allow for member states to interpret them in the context of their own narratives. In short, member state cohesion at literally every policy inroad proves to be the proverbial double-edged sword as the single largest risk and opportunity tasked by the organisation. I think that the incessant rehashing of the need to stress state sovereignty at every turn while glamorizing the benefits of a single market and economies of scale identifies a bipolar divide in both documents that seems yet to be bridged by national sentiments even in the most agreeable of policy areas like diplomacy. The discord remains all but dependent on the tide of political discourse at the national level for years to come as the pace maker to materialize sufficient commitments in everything from budgets to bombs in order to achieve true policy success.

Who is the EU? Self-Perception and Potential Scenarios

After understanding the external context of the EU policy areas, we now turn to the element of self-perception and the roles of the EU as an international actor. Examining the relationship between the two stands as a crucial understanding of policy formulation as central to the core identity to the EU and vice versa. In this case, both documents provide key insight as to the position of the EU in a medium-term perspective. From the Implementation Paper, we see a humbled approach that pushes the EU to evolve from a regional, reactionary actor to a proactive, world power. The paper hones in on the legal roots and past successes of an integrated approach outside EU borders as a calling to solidify the Union's mark as a vital organ for peace and defence. The paper then broadens such an identity to incorporate the elements of NATO and the UN cooperation as a segmenting role for member states contributions, such as intelligence collection and military technology/cyber warfare. In the Reflection Paper, I think the tone and phrasing speak more to the self-perceptions of individual citizens. The emotive language for the promotion of a just cause attitude stands reinforced by the onslaught of harmonizing buzzwords throughout the paper and the three scenarios such as "joint, collaborative, solidarity, shared, common, etc.". In my perspective, such attempts draw in the need to reinforce, protect, and preserve a common identity both at home and abroad. This formation speaks to the development of both military and civilian capabilities as a means of securing and maintaining a strong EU position in the global order while supplementing the protection of what is near and dear at home.

Policy Today: Interests, Goals, and Values

When developing a coherent line of key interests, goals, and values across three focal policy structures, the EU makes strategic use of public perception as a litmus test to guide policy narratives. In the Reflection Paper, indications clearly point to a heightened citizen concern over immigration and terrorism from 2014-2016 taking clear priority over economic issues as the continent recovers. Such a reshuffling may pave the way for once-apprehensive politicians to re-examine budgeting priorities. Such a mandate could very well be the calling national governments need to allocate more of their defence spending to the EU while also ramping up domestic civilian and military infrastructure to contribute to common policy goals. Extending this notion of interest-based contributions over to the goals themselves, I think that member states are slowly developing the political will to see that a single market for defence ultimately becomes more attractive to the individual tax payer when all play a part. As the Reflection Paper explains, this can be translated as free/common market values with the development of economies of scale, boosted production, and increased competition. In each of the three scenarios outlined, the values act as matched components to these goals and interests. Therefore, readers retain a guiding set of "principles" as the basis for the plan's "actions" and "capabilities." The alignment of interests, goals, and values remains a difficult but necessary target in all policy areas, as the final results have significant influence over the perception of publics that indirectly vote the policies into place. In my perspective, a lack of coherence between the three and the policies could be a potential pitfall for policy objectives as lost faith by the public may sink the voter appetite for future defense spending and action.

Making it Happen: Resources and Strategies

As the balance between the EU's ways and means become a focal point for any CFSDP discussion, I wanted to enhance the focus between the resources and strategies to examine the distribution between EU and member state competencies. When it comes to resources in all three policy areas, individual member states' own infrastructures become front and centre. Even in the "collaborative" lens of a 21st century EU, foreign affairs, defence, and security mainly revolve as apparatuses of a state. Therefore, in order to achieve a common strategy, policy must make a concerted effort to maximize collective utilization of state assets while respecting state sovereignty. In the Reflection paper, an attempt to consolidate the two by bolstering the EU's own defence budget acts as a middle ground. In this regard, I think the biggest opportunity for the EU to retain its own resources remains in technology. States are simply more eager to share their military tech than they are their own boots on the ground. Similarly, technology and its benefits are more easily transferrable between member states and the EU. Just as well, selling the idea of technology research to taxpayers that may one day see the fruits of such labor in civilian applications is an easier pill to swallow for politicians than having to justify the use of a state's limited and precious human military capital for an EU assignment not all may agree with. A type of "technological independence" the third scenario implies would optimally direct funding in a manner that balances state military capacity where it acts best while joining the common strategy for EU technological superiority that all member states can equally benefit from.

Narratives and Norms: A Final Comparison

After reviewing the progress made in the Implementation Paper and balancing it with the goals set forth in the Reflection paper, it remains clear that serious decisions towards the future of EU CFSDP still need to be made. The EU Global Strategy treads lightly on the most important topics for voters like immigration and terrorism that remain works in progress under the program's steps for "resilience" and the beginnings of an integrated approach. That being said, my perspective in this program lens remains that the role and funding of public diplomacy unfortunately remains undercut by the giant umbrella of security and defense. To delve into the assessment of counterterrorism policy as a solely defensive measure does a disservice to the massive, existing network of EU diplomatic missions serving abroad that effectively act as proactive anti-terrorism measures in themselves. At the same time, supplementing funding to public diplomacy programs would take some of the pressure off member states to release their military capabilities for joint use. In this facet, I empathize with the member state politician and voter in their apprehensiveness to serve as the use of force in even the most justifiable situations. A refocus on funding in the diplomacy side is a cost effective alternative and investment that member states can make to reduce the likelihood that their troops will need to serve abroad on behalf of the EU. The success of diplomacy can be seen in areas like immigration, where the Partnership Framework on Migration has attempted to work with countries of origin to stabilize governments and assist civilians.

Turning the page to the Reflection Paper, I think much is left to be desired in terms of the development of the three scenarios. Once again, the scenario parameters are purposefully vague to effectively sell the plan to a wide variety of narratives. At the same time, I found it reprehensible that despite the massive rhetoric to budgetary concerns, none of the three scenarios incorporated any type of estimate fiscal dimension to compare and contrast the visions. Obviously, the contributions of member states will vary widely but I think that a concerted campaign to incentivize a transparent contribution table in terms financing, military assets, diplomatic assets, or (ideally) a combination of the three would see a more realpolitik approach to what the EU does and does not possess in the capacity to achieve in these policy areas. Ultimately, I believe that Scenario C "Common Defense and Security" retains the most to offer member states while effectively balancing the contributions and competencies equally. I think that the scenario utiles the commitments to NATO and reinforces the importance of technological independence. As such, the importance of a well-defined plan to develop and maintain cutting-edge technology in all three policy areas cannot be overstated and, in my opinion, will become not only the most common battlefield, but also the critical one as the world enters into a 21st century of cyber warfare.

 

WORKS CITED

European Union (2016). From Shared Vision to Common Action: The EU's Global Strategic Vision: Year 1.

European Union (2016). Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defence European Union Trials

[Bruce Riedel, Kings and Presidents. Saudi Arabia and the United States since FDR. Brookings Institution Press. Washington, 2018. 251 p.]

 

review / Emili J. Blasco

Oil in exchange for protection is the pact sealed in early 1945 between Franklin D. Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz bin Saud on board the USS Quincy, in the waters off Cairo, when the American president was returning from the Yalta lecture . Since then, the special relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia has been one of the key elements of international politics. Today, fracking makes Arabian oil less necessary for Washington, but cultivating Saudi friendship continues to be of interest to the White House, even in an unorthodox presidency in diplomatic matters: the first country that Donald Trump visited as president was precisely Saudi Arabia.

The ups and downs in this relationship, due to the vicissitudes of the world, especially in the Middle East, have marked the tenor of the contacts between the various presidents of the United States and the corresponding monarchs of the House of Saud. This book by Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and member of the U.S. National Security committee as a specialist on the region, now directs project Intelligence at the Brookings Institution think tank, is dedicated to analyzing the content of these relations, following the successive pairs of interlocutors between Washington and Riyadh.

In this relationship, the central position occupied by the Palestinian question is surprising. One might sometimes think that many Arab countries' invocation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rhetorical, but Riedel notes that in the case of Saudi Arabia the issue is fundamental. It was part of the initial pact between Roosevelt and Abdulaziz bin Saud (the U.S. president pledged not to support the partition of Palestine to create the State of Israel without Arab consent, something that Truman did not respect, aware that Riyadh could not break with Washington because it needed U.S. oil companies) and since then it has appeared on every occasion.

Kings and Presidents. Saudi Arabia and the United States since FDR

Progress or stalemates in the Arab-Israeli peace process, and the differing passion of Saudi kings on this issue, have directly shaped the relationship between U.S. administrations and the Saudi Monarchy. For example, Washington's support for Israel in the 1967 war resulted in the 1973 oil embargo; George Bush senior and Bill Clinton's efforts for a peace agreement helped a close relationship with King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah; the latter, on the other hand, led to a cooling off in the face of the disinterest shown by George Bush junior. "A vibrant and effective peace process will help cement a strong relationship between king and president; a stalled and exhausted process will damage their connection."

Will this issue continue to be a defining one for the new generations of Saudi princes? "The Palestinian cause is deeply popular in Saudi society, especially in the clerical establishment. The House of Saud has made the creation of a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, emblematic of its policy since the 1960s. A generational change is unlikely to alter that fundamental stance."

In addition to this, there are two other aspects that have proven to be disruptive in the Washington-Riyadh entente: Wahhabism promoted by Saudi Arabia and the US demand for political reforms in the Arab world. Riedel asserts that, given the foundational alliance between the House of Saud and this strict Sunni variant of Islam, which Riyadh has promoted in the world to ingratiate itself with its clerics, as compensation each time it has had to bow to the demands of the impious United States, there is no room for a rupture between the two bodies. "Saudi Arabia cannot abandon Wahhabism and survive in its present form," he warns.

Thus, the book ends with a rather pessimistic outlook on the change -democratization, respect for human rights- that Saudi Arabia is facing from the international community (certainly without much insistence, in the case of the United States). Not only was Riyadh the "major player" in the counter-revolution at the time of the Arab Spring, but it may be a factor going against a positive evolution of the Middle East. "Superficially it appears that Saudi Arabia is a force for order in the region, someone who is trying to prevent chaos and disorder. But in the long run deadline, by trying to maintain an unsustainable order, forcibly enforced by a police state, the kingdom could, in fact, be a force for chaos."

Riedel has personally dealt with prominent members of the Saudi royal family. Despite a close relationship with some of them, especially Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who served as ambassador to the United States for more than twenty years, the book does not patronize Saudi Arabia in the disputes between Washington and Riyadh. More critical of George W. Bush than of Barack Obama, Riedel also points out the latter's inconsistencies in his Middle East policies.

Categories Global Affairs: North America Middle East World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf

essay / Alejandro Palacios

The Republic of Mauritius, an island state of 1.2 million inhabitants in the southwest Indian Ocean, 900 kilometers off the coast of Madagascar, can be seen as a good example of the progress that various African governments are making on subject in the area of human rights. This is not to say that this archipelago is an exemplary country in the application of human rights, as it certainly still has a long way to go in their correct application. But its case is interesting as a country that, despite still being on the way to development, has been able to build a legal system in which respect for fundamental rights plays an essential role.

In this document, accredited specialization will be made on the state of Human Rights in some of the most important areas of political and social life in Mauritius, such as the democratic internship , labor activity or access to drinking water, among others. At the same time, an attempt will be made to answer the question of whether or not the Mauritian legal system is adequate to deal with the fight against abuses and violations of such rights and, above all, whether the Government, in view of the resources available, is capable of doing so. In other words, it will be assessed whether the legal will corresponds to a real will to attack injustices related to fundamental rights.

framework legal

Despite the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights in 1981 and the creation of the African Commission on Human Rights in 1986, respect for this value system remains the exception in the life of many countries on the African continent. This is due not to an absence of recognition of these rights in the respective national constitutions, but to the lack of both legal mechanisms and political will to effectively implement the law.

Mauritius does not escape this reality. Recently, the Human Rights committee of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) presented the fifth periodic report of Mauritius on the implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In its report, the committee highlighted the Mauritian government's lack of political will to develop the principles of democracy, rule of law, human and political rights and individual freedoms.

However, committee noted progress since its previous report, such as the creation of a Human Rights division within the Mauritian government structure and the adoption of theEqual Opportunities Act. Other measures taken forward in Mauritius include certain amendments made to the Civil Code and the adoption of both theCriminal Appeal Act and thePolice Complaints Act. These actions are intended to achieve in the long term deadline a development consistent with respect for human rights and individual freedoms in order to conform to quality of life standards based on dignity, social justice, economic empowerment and equality attention. According to the Government, this will help create a cohesive and tolerant community based on a set of shared values such as respect, unity, inclusion and solidarity.

In addition, Mauritius claims to have implemented in its laws many of the instruments agreed upon at the international level with a view to guaranteeing human rights. Among other actions, the Government highlights the reclamation of the Chagos Archipelago from the United Kingdom. In the opinion of the Mauritian Government, the archipelago was forcibly evicted by the United Kingdom, showing a "clear indifference" towards the rights of the islanders. Since then, the Republic has maintained an unalterable attitude in favor of the decolonization process. The international support that Mauritius has received has already been reflected in the adoption of resolution 71/292 of the United Nations General Assembly on the request to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965.

Social and political life

Both the Mauritian Constitution of 1968 and the legislation adopted subsequently incorporate formulations of respect for human rights. However, as in many other countries, the institutional system lacks the tools and the will to effectively enforce punishments for human rights violations or negligence. In addition, there is a lack of an adequate system of protection for victims of various crimes, such as sexual offenses or discrimination against homosexuals.

It should be emphasized that not all areas are governed by patron saint . There are other areas in which legislation protects and respects fundamental rights. Therefore, it is convenient to analyze the cases individually rather than to provide a general evaluation of the state of Human Rights immediately.

We will start by making accredited specialization to the state of democracy in the island country. According to the 2017 Democracy Index, Mauritius is within what is considered a "full democracy", with scores higher than Spain, the United States or France, among others[1]. This ranking means that in Mauritius: 1) truly free and fair elections are held; 2) voters are guaranteed security staff ; 3) there is little influence by foreign powers on the government; and 4) civil servants are capable of implementing policies. All this at Degree higher than the 178 countries below Mauritius.

However, there are some internal criticisms of the country's democratic functioning. Although the 2014 elections were characterized by international observers as fair and free, some voices have criticized the system of representation, citing the modification of certain electoral constituencies in order to benefit certain social groups, a technique known in political science as gerrymandering. Other complaints have referred to the low issue of women candidates, the lack of transparency in the counting of votes due to the fact that this process takes longer than it should and the lack of equity in the access to the media to promote the electoral campaigns by the civil service examination. In this sense, the civil service examination alleges that the public television MBC TV favors the ruling party.

Finally, thanks to a 2012 resolution by the United Nations Human Rights committee , the Mauritian government amended the Constitution in 2014 to prevent voters from having to identify their ethnicity when voting. This behavior was reported by the committee as a clear violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Despite these criticisms, it is relevant to highlight the fact that Mauritius ranks 54th out of the 176 countries analyzed in terms of the Corruption Perceptions Index. Indeed, Mauritius is the African country with the lowest reported levels of corruption, surpassed only by Namibia, Rwanda and Botswana[2]. However, the existing levels of corruption have not come without consequences. In 2015 the President of Mauritius, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the only female president in Africa at the time, was forced to resign after being embroiled in a political scandal also involving the NGO Planet Earth Institute[3].

The death penalty was officially abolished in 1995, the last execution having taken place in 1987[4]. Despite being a relatively recent date, Mauritius is one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to have abolished it. Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Lesotho and Swaziland are some of the neighboring countries that still apply the death penalty in one way or another[5].

partnerMauritius prohibits abortion except in case of serious risk to the mother's life, and therefore abortion is not allowed in case of fetal defects, non-serious risk to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman, economic factors, or in case of rape[6].

Although there are situations of human rights abuses, the government's attitude is to accept mechanisms to monitor its work, some of them external. Mauritius has an ombudsman or ombudsman elected by the country's president, whose job is to investigate complaints against public servants, such as police and prison officials. The 2017 report on Human Rights in Mauritius considers the ombudsman to be independent, effective, and adequately resourced to carry out his or her work.

In addition, the Government has the Equal Opportunities Commission, which is tasked with investigating allegations of discrimination and promote equal opportunities in the public and private sector. According to the 2017 report , the Commission proves to be effective, independent and adequately resourced to carry out its duties.

All these controls, however, do not prevent discrimination among Mauritian citizens on the basis, among others, of gender and belonging to a specific community. This is the scenario in which the Creoles, i.e. Mauritians of Mauritian origin of African descent, find themselves. In this regard, the newspaper L'Express recently announced that it was in possession of a recording in which the former Vice-President and Minister of Housing and Land could be heard saying that, within the new urban planning project that the Government was going to develop, 90% of the housing would go to Hindus and 10% to Muslims. Consequently, the Creoles would not receive "any housing" in order to prevent "prostitution from spreading in the neighborhood". It should be noted that the Hindu ethnic group constitutes 48% of the Mauritian population and has been politically dominant since the country's independence.

In addition, women and children continue to be the groups most affected by discrimination. There are laws that prohibit and criminalize both rape and domestic violence, but neither the police nor the judicial system provide adequate coverage for these cases. The same is true for cases of sexual harassment. Cases of sex trafficking of minors have been reported (the minimum age for consensual sex is 16 years old).

People with disabilities also suffer from a certain Degree of discrimination. Despite the fact that Mauritian law requires that people with disabilities constitute a specific percentage of the workforce of work within a business, the authorities ignore this requirement. However, the Executive is responsible for financing programs for these people at financial aid , in order to facilitate their access to information and communication. For example, by adding subtitles to television programs or by creating a news program adapted to their communication difficulties. Finally, despite equal rights in terms of political participation, there are practical problems related to transportation and access to polling stations.

Likewise, the LGTBI collective suffers a high level of discrimination attention . For example, in practical terms, those who have had sex with other people of the same sex are prevented from donating blood, even though the law allows it. In addition, in 2015 there was a reported arbitrary arrest of a man for being transgender and externalizing it by wearing women's clothing. He was released without charge after being slapped, terrorized and forced to undress. One of the latest reported incidents was stone throwing during the annual LGTBI march. Despite these cases, the law does not criminalize same-sex sexual activity, but sodomy between people of the same and different sexes.

All these types of discrimination also carry over into the workplace where, despite being prohibited by law, discrimination on the basis of sex, race, HIV and disability exists. For example, Creoles and Muslims have difficult access to work positions in the public sector. In addition, women are paid less than men for a similar work and it is uncommon for them to occupy high positions. On the contrary, they tend to occupy positions where lesser training is required. The high Degree unemployment rate among the disabled is due to the lack of physically accessible work positions. Finally, minors are prohibited by law from working until the age of 16, and until the age of 18 in jobs classified as dangerous and with poor sanitary conditions. Nevertheless, there are cases of minors working on the streets, in small businesses and restaurants, as well as in the agricultural sector.

The minimum wage, which tends to rise in relation to the inflation rate, varies according to the sector. For example, for a domestic worker the minimum wage is 607 rupees (€15) per week, while for a factory worker it is 794 rupees (€20). The working week is stipulated at 45 hours. Despite these regulations, cases have been reported in which cleaning workers were not always paid the minimum wage for the entire conference work , as they only received 1,500 rupees (38 €) per month, which is equivalent to 375 rupees (9 €) per week.

On the other hand, the law recognizes the right to strike, although it is necessary to follow a mandatory process considered by the conveners of the strike as "long, complex and excessively long" in order to declare it. Even if the workers have complied with this process, the Executive reservation has the right to prohibit the strike and transfer the dispute to arbitration if it considers that the strike may seriously affect a specific sector or service. In addition, it is necessary that workers comply with a minimum of their services during the strike days. Strikes at the national level, referring to "general economic policy issues" and/or during sessions of the General Assembly, are prohibited. Labor is one of the few areas where the Government enforces the law more effectively. However, delays in procedures and appeals have been reported.

In relation to access to drinking water, no major problems have been reported. Although it is always advisable, not only in Mauritius, but also in Africa in general, to use bottled water for human consumption. In this regard, only in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea have serious problems with drinking water supply been observed. However, there is concern about the contamination of the aquifer in northern Mauritius, which is one of the five major groundwater reserves and provides 50-60% of the water needed for domestic purposes.

Good prospects

In conclusion, the efforts that the island government is making to put an end to situations that run counter to respect for fundamental rights should be emphasized. There is no doubt that, despite these efforts, Mauritius still faces many challenges. Many of them are caused by the lack of rigor in the application of Mauritian laws, which are, as noted above, exemplary in the respect and promotion of these rights.

In fact, Mauritius has legislation that, as we have seen, closely resembles that of developed Western countries at subject of respect for individual fundamental rights. One of the most serious problems facing the country in this regard is the lack of political will to implement the precepts of the law.

Despite the shortcomings pointed out by the above-mentioned reports, they also highlight the structural reform carried out and the assertive attitude of the Mauritian government in favor of the implementation of policies that are more respectful of fundamental rights. This is clearly seen in the honesty with which the Government allows third party institutions to exercise some monitoring activity.

development We are also talking about the fact that Mauritius is the African country with the highest Human Development Index (HDI), 0.781, classified as "high"[8]. This status places it as the issue 68th country in the world, above countries such as Ecuador, China or Turkey. Therefore, we can consider that Mauritius meets more than acceptable standards in subject of Education, health, life expectancy or GDP per capita.[9].

On the other hand, this island state is one of the few to provide teaching up to university level, free school transport and free health care. In addition, 87% of its inhabitants own their own homes, without having experienced a real estate bubble like the one that hit Western countries more than 10 years ago, the consequences of which are still being felt. Mauritius has achieved all this without being among the richest countries in the world (129th out of 189 analyzed by nominal GDP)[10]. This has been achieved through a diversification of its Economics, large cuts in defense and a very well structured social security system.[11] The Mauritius government has also been able to achieve this through the diversification of its social security system.

This leads to the conclusion that, despite the efforts that remain to be made at subject to promote and respect human rights, Mauritius is today one of the most economically prosperous African countries and therefore the most likely to see the early institutionalization and entrenchment of fundamental rights and freedoms. Indeed, Mauritius currently enjoys an annual growth rate of close to 4% and one of the highest GDP per Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) indices on the African continent, second only to the Seychelles[12]. This is significant, as one of the most important steps towards the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms is the economic empowerment of the population in order to put an end to cases of servitude and dependency, which undoubtedly encourage cases of abuses and violations of these rights.

 


[1] In this regard, see

[4] For more information, see

[5] It is fair to mention that Zambia and Tanzania are currently in the process of abolishing the death penalty.

[7] In this regard, see

development [9] The Human Development Index (HDI) is an indicator developed annually by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) development and is one of the most important in assessing whether government wealth has translated into higher living standards for its inhabitants.

Categories Global Affairs: Africa World order, diplomacy and governance Essays

essay / Lucía Serrano Royo

Currently, some 60 million people are forcibly displaced in the world (Arenas-Hidalgo, 2017). [1] The figures become more significant if it is observed that more than 80% of migratory flows are directed to developing countries development, while only 20% have as goal developed countries, which in turn have more means and wealth, and would be more suitable to receive these migratory flows.

In 2015, Europe welcomed 1.2 million people, which was an unprecedented magnitude since the Second World War. This status has led to an intense discussion on solidarity and responsibility among Member States.

The way in which this subject has been legislated in the European Union has given rise to irregularities in its application among the different States. This subject within the European Union system is a shared skill of the area of freedom, security and justice. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in its article 2.2 and 3 establishes that in these competences, it is the States that must legislate insofar as the Union does not exercise its skill. This has given rise to a partial development and inequalities.

development legislative

The figure of refugees is reflected for the first time in an international document in the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) and its 1967 protocol . (UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency, 2017)[2]. Despite this breakthrough, the treatment of refugees was different in each Member State, as their national policy was dealt with. Therefore, in an attempt to harmonize national policies, the Dublin agreement was signed in 1990. However, it was not until the Treaty of Amsterdam in May 1999, when it was established as goal to create an area of freedom, security and justice, treating the subject immigration and asylum as a shared skill . Already in October 1999, the European committee held a special session for the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice in the European Union, concluding with the need to create a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) (CIDOB, 2017)[3]. Finally, these policies in subject of asylum become subject common with the Lisbon Treaty and its development in the TFEU.

Currently, its raison d'être is set out in Article 67 et seq. of the TFEU, which states that the Union shall constitute an area of freedom, security and justice with respect for fundamental rights and the different legal systems and traditions of the Member States. This area shall also guarantee the absence of controls on persons at internal borders. Furthermore, it is established that the EU will develop a common policy on asylum, immigration and external border control (art 67.2 TFEU) based on solidarity between Member States, which is fair towards third-country nationals. But the area of freedom, security and justice is not a watertight compartment in the treaties, but has to be interpreted in the light of other sections.

This skill should be analyzed, on the one hand, under the framework of free movement of persons within the European Union, and on the other hand, taking into account the financial field. As regards the free movement of persons, article 77 TFEU must be applied, which calls on the Union to develop a policy ensuring the total absence of checks on persons at internal borders, while guaranteeing checks at external borders. To this end, the European Parliament and the committee, in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure , must establish a common policy on visas and other short-stay permits residency program , controls and conditions under which third-country nationals may move freely within the Union. As regards the financial sphere, account must be taken of article 80 TFEU, which establishes the principle of solidarity in asylum, immigration and control policies, taking into account the fair sharing of responsibility among Member States.

Furthermore, a fundamental aspect for the development of this subject has been the harmonization of the term refugee by the Union, defining it as third-country nationals or stateless persons who are outside their home country and are unwilling or unable to return to it due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality or opinion (Eur-ex.europa.eu, 2017)[4]. This is of particular importance because these are the characteristics necessary to acquire refugee status, which in turn is necessary to obtain asylum in the European Union.

status in Europe

Despite the legislative development , the response in Europe to the humanitarian crisis following the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, together with the upsurge of conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea or Somalia, has been very ineffective, which has shaken the system.

The decision to grant or withdraw refugee status belongs to each State's internal authorities and may therefore differ from one State to another. What the European Union does is to guarantee common protection and ensure that asylum seekers have access to fair and efficient asylum procedures. This is why the EU is trying to establish a coherent system for decision making in this regard by the Member States, developing rules on the whole process of application asylum. In addition, in the event that the person does not meet the requirements criteria for refugee status, but is in a status sensitive situation due to risk of serious harm in case of return to his or her country, he or she is entitled to subsidiary protection. The principle of non-refoulement applies to these persons, i.e. they have the right first and foremost not to be taken to a country where there is a risk to their lives.

The problem with this system is that Turkey and Lebanon alone host 10 times more refugees than the whole of Europe, which up to 2016 only processed 813,599 asylum applications. Specifically, Spain granted protection to 6,855 applicants, of which 6,215 were Syrians[5]; despite the increase compared to previous years, the figures were still the lowest in the European environment.

Many of the people who disembark in Greece or Italy, set off again towards the Balkans through Yugoslavia and Serbia to Hungary, in view of the deficiencies of management and the precarious conditions they found in these host countries.

In an attempt to implement the principle of solidarity and cooperation, a series of quotas were established in 2015 to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and the pressure established in Greece and Italy. Member states were to share 120,000 asylum seekers, and all countries were to abide by it. The main stakeholder was Germany. Another mechanism that was set up was a fund with position to the Refugee Mechanism in Turkey, to meet the needs of refugees hosted in that country. The Commission allocated a total amount of €2.2 billion, and budgeted €3 billion in 2016-2017[6].

Faced with this status countries have reacted differently within the Union. In contrast to countries such as Germany, which is looking for a way to combat aging and population reduction in its state through the entrance of refugees, other Member States are reluctant to implement the policies. Even in some EU countries, nationalist parties are gaining strength and support: in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders (Freedom Party); in France, Marine Le Pen (National Front); and in Germany, Frauke Petry (Alternative for Germany party). Although these parties are not the main political force in these countries, this reflects the dissatisfaction of part of the population with the entrance of refugees in the States. The case of the United Kingdom is also noteworthy, since one of the causes of Brexit was the desire to regain control over the entrance of immigrants in the country. In addition, the United Kingdom initially opted out of the quota system applied in the other Member States. As confirmed in her negotiations, Prime Minister Theresa May prioritizes the rejection of immigration over free trade in the EU.

Specific mechanisms for development of the ESLJ

The borders between the different countries of the Union have become blurred. With the Schengen border code and the Community code on visas, borders have been opened and integrated, thus allowing the free movement of people. The operation of these systems has required the establishment of common rules on the entrance of persons and the control of visas, since once the external border of the EU has been crossed, controls are minimal. Therefore, documentation checks vary depending on the places of origin of the recipients, with a more detailed control for non-EU citizens. Only exceptionally is there provision for the reintroduction of internal border controls (for a maximum period of thirty days), in the event of a serious threat to public order and internal security.

Since the control of external borders depends on the States where they are located, systems such as Frontex 2004 have been created, from the ad hoc Border Control Centers established in 1999, which provides financial aid to the States in the control of the external borders of the EU, mainly to those countries that suffer great migratory pressures (Frontex.europa.eu, 2017) [7]. The Internal Security Fund, a financial support system emerged in 2014 and aimed at strengthening external borders and visas, has also been created.

Another active mechanism is the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), to strengthen the cooperation of EU countries, where theoretically Member States should allocate 20% of the available resources[8]. For its implementation, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) (2014-2020) was established necessary for promote the effectiveness of the management of migration flows. In addition, an asylum policy for the European Union has been established in the CEAS, which includes a directive on asylum procedures and a directive on reception conditions. The Dublin Regulation, from agreement with the Geneva Convention, is integrated into this system. It is a fundamental mechanism and although this system has been simplified, unified and clarified, it has caused more controversy at subject of refugees. It was established to streamline asylum application processes in the 32 countries that apply the Regulation. Under this law, only one country is manager of the examination of its application: the country that takes the refugee's fingerprints, i.e., the first one he or she arrived in and applied for international protection. This works regardless of whether the person travels to or seeks asylum in another country; the competent country is the one in which the refugee was first fingerprinted. This system relies on EURODAC, as it is a central system that financial aid EU Member States to determine the country manager to examine an asylum application by comparing fingerprints.

The committee European Refugees and Exiles has highlighted the two main problems of this system: on the one hand, it leads refugees to travel clandestinely and dangerously until they reach their destination country, in order to avoid being fingerprinted by a country other than the one in which they want to settle. On the other hand, Greece and Italy, which are the main destinations of migrant flows, cannot cope with the burden this system imposes on them to process the masses of people arriving on their territory in search of protection.

Cases before the EU Court of Justice

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled on various aspects relating to immigration and the treatment of refugees by the Member States. On some occasions the Court has remained steadfast in the application of the homogeneous rules and regulations of the Union, while in other cases the Court has left the matter to the discretion of the different Member States. 

The court ruled in favor of a joint action in the case of a third country national (Mr. El Dridi) who illegally entered Italy without permission from residency program. On May 8, 2004 the Prefect of Turin issued against him a decree of expulsion. The CJEU (CJEU, 28 April 2011)[9] ruled that despite the fact that an immigrant is in status illegally and remains in the territory of the referred Member State without just cause, even with the concurrence of an infringement of an order to leave the said territory in a given deadline , the State cannot impose a prison sentence, since following Directive 2008/115, they exclude the criminal skill of the Member States in the field of illegal immigration and irregular status . Thus, the States must adjust their legislation to ensure compliance with EU law.

On the other hand, the court leaves it up to the States to decide to send back to a third country an immigrant who has applied for international protection on its territory, if it considers that this country meets the criteria of a "safe third country". Even the court ruled (CJEU, December 10, 2013) [10]that, in order to streamline the processing of asylum applications and to avoid obstruction of the system, the Member State retains its prerogative in exercising the right to grant asylum regardless of which Member State manager of the examination of a application. This School leaves a large margin of appreciation to the States. Homogeneity in this case can only be seen in the case of systematic shortcomings of the asylum procedure and of the conditions of reception of asylum seekers in that State, or degrading treatment.

For a more active attitude

The European Union has established a multitude of mechanisms, and has skill to set them in motion, but its passivity and the reluctant attitude of the Member States in welcoming refugees call into question the unity of the European Union system and the freedom of movement that characterizes the EU itself. The status it faces is complex, as there is a humanitarian crisis arising from the flow of migrants in need of financial aid at its borders. Meanwhile, States are passive and even against improving the system, to the point that some States have proposed the restoration of internal border controls (El Español, 2017).[11] This status has been caused mainly by a lack of effective control over their borders within the Union, and on the other hand by a society that sample wary of open borders because of insecurity.

The refugee crisis is a real problem and closing the borders will not make the problem go away. This is why European countries should adopt a common and active perspective. The earmarking of funds serves as financial aid in this humanitarian crisis, but it is not the only solution. One of the main unresolved problems is the status of people in refugee camps, who are in precarious conditions and should be received in a dignified manner. The Union should react more actively to these situations, making use of its skill in subject of asylum and immigration arrivals with massive influx, as stated in art 78 TFEU c).

This status remains one of the main objectives for the diary of the European Union since the White Paper establishes the reinforcement of the diary Migration, actions on the refugee crisis and aspects on the population crisis in Europe. It advocates for an increase in immigration policies and protection of legal immigration, while combating illegal immigration, helping both immigrants and the European population (European Commission, 2014) [12]. Despite these positive plans and perspectives, it is necessary to take into account the delicate status that the EU is facing internally, with cases such as the withdrawal of a State with power within the Union (the Brexit), which could lead to a diversion in the efforts of community policies, leaving aside crucial issues, such as the status of refugees.

 


[1] Arenas-Hidalgo, N. (2017). Massive population flows and security. The refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. [online] Redalyc.org [Accessed 9 Jul. 2017].

[2] UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency (2017) Who is a Refugee? [online] [Accessed 10 Jul. 2017]

[3] CIDOB. (2017). CIDOB - Refugee policy in the European Union. [online] [Accessed 10 Jul. 2017].

[4] Eur-lex.europa.eu. (2017). EUR-Lex - l33176 - EN - EUR-Lex. [online] Available [Accessed 10 Jul. 2017].

[6] Anon, (2017). [online] [Accessed 11 Jul. 2017].

[7] Frontex.europa.eu (2017). Frontex | Origin. [online] [Accessed 12 Jul. 2017].

[8] https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/e-library/docs/ceas-fact-sheets/ceas_factsheet_es.pdf [Accessed 12 Jul. 2017].

[9] Court of Justice of the European Union [online]. ECLI:EU:C:2011:268, dated 28 April 2011 [accessed 10 June 2017].

[10] Court of Justice of the European Union [online].ECLI:EU:C:2013:813, of10 December 2013 [accessed 10 June 2017].

[11] El Español (2017). European border controls may squander a third of growth. [online] [Accessed 11 Jul. 2017].

[12] European Commission (2014). Migration and asylum.

Categories Global Affairs: European Union World order, diplomacy and governance Essays

Warsaw downtown towers [Pixabay].

▲ Warsaw downtown towers [Pixabay].

COMMENT / Anna K. Dulska

Often when we think of Central Europe the country that comes to mind is Germany. This association seems to be a very distant echo of the nineteenth-century term Mitteleuropa (literally " Middle Europe") that encompassed the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Second German Reich and was turned into an expansionist geopolitical conception by Germany during World War I. However, subsequent peace treaties reflected in the new political map a formal recognition of the great diversity that already existed in Central Europe. However, the subsequent peace treaties reflected in the new political map a formal recognition of the great diversity that had existed in the region since ancient times. The subjection of newly created or recreated states such as Poland, Hungary or Czechoslovakia to Soviet domination under the Yalta and Potsdam agreements did not put an end to this diversity and since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 these countries have been searching for their place in today's world and Europe.

There is no clear definition of what Central Europe is today and to understand it in a simpler and more intuitive way, it could be said that for geopolitical, historical and cultural reasons it is neither strictly Western Europe nor Eastern Europe, but an intermediate area that for centuries has acted as a bridge between the two (one of those bridges that during the ups and downs of history sometimes get burned). Nor is there a consensus on the countries that make it up. According to the narrower definition, they are Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, while according to the broader definition, in addition to these four, they are Austria, southeastern Germany, the Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia), Slovenia, western Ukraine and northern Italy. Some also add Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the rest of Germany, but thus their delimitation seems to be too diluted and confused.

The current history of the region tips the balance in favor of the narrow view. The trajectories of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary since 1945, on the one hand, and their transitions to democracy after 1989, on the other, mean that within the geographic region and despite some considerable differences among them, these four countries constitute a distinct political, socioeconomic and cultural bloc. In the early 1990s this sort of imagined community was transformed into an intergovernmental organization known as the Visegrad group (the name of a Hungarian castle where in the 14th century the kings of Poland, Hungary and Bohemia had met and where in 1991 the founding agreement was signed), sometimes abbreviated to V4. Among its objectives were close economic cooperation (agreement Central European Free Trade Agreement, CEFTA), integration with the European Union (completed in 2004, after which all four left CEFTA) and integration with NATO (formalized in 1999; in 2004 in the case of Slovakia). Once these goals were achieved, the initiative lost momentum and seemed to become obsolete.

However, over the past three years, a shift in this aspect can be observed due to the phenomena that are challenging the European Union from outside and from within: migration from the Middle East, growing international tensions and terrorism. It is undeniable that all three are to a greater or lesser extent interrelated and for Europeans, whether Western, Central or Eastern, have a common denominator: security. While the lack of a deliberate and consensual strategy at the level of the European institutions to deal with this issue was evident until very recently challenge, the Central European states, especially Poland and Hungary, want to or have been forced to take matters, at least those that directly affect them, into their own hands. During the course of recent history their neighbors and partners did not have many occasions to hear them speak with their own voice and now it seems to be causing them some consternation.

A good example of this is the concern raised in Brussels and Berlin by the policies carried out by the Polish Government, both in relation to the domestic and international status . Paradoxically, these policies seem to be proving beneficial both for the State and for its society (which, after the halfway point of the term of office, still mostly supports the Government). However, the measures being taken to curb Warsaw's "authoritarian drift", as some media are describing it, especially the interference of EU high officials in the country's internal legislation, over which they have no competence, hinder the dialogue between the Polish Government and the Union's institutions. The threat of activating article 7 of the Treaty on European Union on the suspension of voting rights in the case of non-compliance with the demands of Brussels makes it impossible to rule out that such tensions could provoke other (after Brexit) irreparable fractures within the EU.

In the current geopolitical status , the voices about the need for a profound discussion on the future of the European Union are getting louder and louder, and Central Europe may once again have to play the role of a bridge. For the time being, as far as migration policy is concerned, it seems that the EU has proved V4 right. With the river in turmoil, the question arises as to whether the EU can afford an unnecessary and damaging internal weakening at a time when it needs unity the most.

Categories Global Affairs: Central Europe and Russia World Order, Diplomacy and Governance Comments

Miloš Zeman and Andrej Babiš share the limelight in a political system not designed for two personalities

The Czech Republic has a president (Miloš Zeman), reelected in January for a second term, whose party has no presence in Parliament, and a prime minister (Andrej Babiš) who was out of position between January and May due to lack of sufficient support among legislators. Zeman and Babiš have backed each other and share criticisms of Brussels - for example, they reject the European Union's refugee quotas - but their strong personalism and fickle positions are causing friction.

Andrej Babiš (left) and Miloš Zeman (right) during the inauguration of the former as prime minister, January 2018 [Czech Gov.]

▲ Andrej Babiš (left) and Miloš Zeman (right) during the inauguration of the former as prime minister, January 2018 [Czech Gov.]

article / Jokin de Carlos Sola

The political climate in the Czech Republic has not sedimented after the last electoral cycle. The legislative elections of October 20 and 21, 2017, called after a government crisis, saw a breakdown of the traditional parties and the arrival of many new faces in Parliament, giving rise to a political fractioning that has taken its toll.

Amid a hung Parliament, Andrej Babiš, leader of the best-performing party, ANO 2011, moved in December to form a minority Executive, becoming the first head of government in the history of the Czech Republic to come from neither the Civic Democrats nor the Social Democrats. In January, however, Babiš had to resign after losing a question of confidence; in May he succeeded in forming a new government, this time in coalition with the Social Democrats and, for the first time since the fall of the Iron Curtain, with the support of the Communists.

Against this backdrop of political disputes, presidential elections took place on January 12 and 13, 2018. The second round was contested by outgoing President Miloš Zeman, who was reelected, and Jirí Drahoš, in a contest that polarized the electorate between traditional economic protectionism and a critical stance towards the European Union (Zeman) and more open positions towards NATO and the EU (Drahoš).

In the end, Babiš and Zeman - former participants in the Velvet Revolution that put an end to the communist regime, after which both have had several ideological ups and downs, becoming controversial figures - have to share an institutional and political protagonism that is certainly complex. The Czech Republic has a parliamentary system, in which the president of the country is directly elected by the citizens and has the power to appoint and dismiss the prime minister, as well as to dissolve the bicameral parliament.

Legislative elections

In the 2017 Czech parliamentary elections, the ANO 2011 party won, whose name includes the year it was created and the acronym for Action of Dissatisfied Citizens, which together give rise in Czech to the word Yes. The election marked a parliamentary collapse of many of the old parties, including the Social Democrats of the ČSSD (from being the ruling party it dropped to sixth place), the Communists of the KSČM (they came in fifth place), the Christian Democrats of the KDU-ČSL (they were seventh) and the Liberals of TOP 09 (they finished eighth). The only old party to survive with relative strength were the conservatives of Civic Democracy (ODS), who finished second. Several new parties, on the other hand, gained relevance: this was the case, in addition to ANO itself, of the Pirate Party and the conservative and strongly nationalist Liberty and Direct Democracy (SPD), led by Tomio Okamura.

Andrej Babiš is called the Czech Donald Trump, not so much because of his ideology, but because of his flamboyant personality and his great fortune (he is the second richest man in the country). His statement of core values has been very fickle. Of communist origin, he founded his own political party in 2011, which he christened ANO 2011. It is a party with generally centrist views and a certain syncretism. It is also described as "populist" for its changes of speech, especially in relation to the European Union: before the general elections the party held Eurosceptic positions, to then develop a rather pro-EU policy from the Government.

Babiš was deputy prime minister and finance minister in the previous government led by Buhoslav Sobotka's Social Democrats. He is the owner of group media MFRA, which publishes two of the country's leading newspapers, Lidové noviny and Mladá fronta DNES, and operates the Óčko television company.

He is a controversial figure, not only because of some of his political stances, such as the rejection of the immigrant quotas established by the EU, but also because of several past scandals. He was accused of having collaborated with the secret police of the communist regime, of having fraudulently used EU subsidies and of participating in bribes for the sale of the state company Unipetrol, whose privatization was managed by Miloš Zeman, someone close to Babiš himself, when he was prime minister.

 

Apportionment of seats in the Chamber leave of the Czech Parliament [Wilkipedia].

Apportionment of seats in the Chamber leave of the Czech Parliament [Wilkipedia].

 

Presidential elections

The presidential election was held in January 2018. It was the second time that the president was elected by direct universal suffrage. Miloš Zeman, who was seeking reelection, and Jiri Drahoš, president of the Academy of Sciences, went to the second round. There were those who compared this electoral battle with the one between Macron and Le Pen in France, but the ideological comparison is not complete. Drahoš described himself as pro-European and pro-NATO, and advocated that the Czech Republic should assume a greater role in the European Union, but he was critical of the EU's policy of welcoming immigrants, both Muslim and African, and rejected refugee quotas.

In the end, Zeman won with 52% support, while Drahoš got 48%, a somewhat tighter result than in the previous presidential election. ANO 2011's support in the runoff was decisive for Zeman's victory. The districts of Prague, Brno and other liberal areas with larger urban populations voted for Drahoš, while the countryside and border areas voted for Zeman.

Miloš Zeman was a member of the Communist Party until 1970 and switched to the Social Democratic Party in 1992, whose leadership he held between 1993 and 2001, years in which he served as Czech prime minister. He left that party in 2007 and two years later created his own, baptized as the Civil Rights Party: an electoral platform for his presidential candidacies, which does not have deputies or senators. In this personalist training , traditional right-wing and left-wing positions are mixed. On the one hand, the party believes in a mixed Economics , with a preference for public services and a high state expense , in a protectionist conception of the Economics. On the other hand, it promotes a cultural conservatism that avoids multiculturalism and the arrival of immigrants. This has made the party very popular in rural areas close to the borders.

Zeman became president of the Czech Republic in 2013. Zeman's first presidential term was highly controversial inside and outside the country. With him in Prague Castle came the entrance in the European Union, but he has subsequently been one of the main opponents of EU quotas for immigrants and has supported both Poland and Russia in their disputes with the authorities in Brussels. Zeman's closeness to Putin sets him apart from most leaders of the Visegrad countries, who take an anti-Russian stance.

Two leaderships

From the presidency, Miloš Zeman has maintained the lines already marked in his first term. If in European affairs his rejection of refugee quotas has put him at odds with the EU leadership, his closeness to Israel, Russia and China in international politics has also result annoyed Brussels.

Zeman was the only European leader to support Trump when he decided to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the latter city as the capital of Israel. This was not a surprise, as Zeman has always shown his support for the Jewish state: on April 25 he celebrated Israel's Independence Day at his residency program . However, the Czech Republic has not moved its embassy to Jerusalem since the decision must be made by the government, and the government has not agreed to do so. On other Middle East issues, Zeman has given support to Russia, condemning the actions of the United States and its allies in Syria.

Zeman has also aligned himself with Beijing, opening the country to important Chinese investments, such as that of the energy company CEFC, whose headquarters in Shanghai were visited in March by several of his advisors. The opening to foreign investment has caused some concern in Brussels about the lack of control mechanisms to monitor the takeover of strategic sectors. In the framework of his promised "economic diplomacy" Zeman has defended China's project New Silk Road.

If Zeman and Babiš started from good relations, the last few months have led to several frictions. In the last weeks of his first term, Zeman put Babiš in charge of forming a government after his party became the most voted party in a very divided Parliament. Having just assumed the position as prime minister, Babiš offered Zeman the support of his ANO 2011 in the second round of the presidential election. Zeman has then made efforts to consolidate Babiš' position in Parliament. However, the latter's difficulties in having a stable majority have led to disagreements between the president and the prime minister over which parties should build the government majority. The open anti-Europeanism or anti-NATO stance of some of the potential partners made it difficult for Babiš, who in May formed the government again after having had to resign in January for lack of parliamentary support.

Events have shown that both Zeman and Babiš have strong personalities and that both seem determined to assert their political position, which may generate tension in the Czech Republic's institutional development . At the same time, both have shown an ease in changing speech according to what they think is the majority sentiment of Czechs, which has contributed to giving them a populist profile .

The days of the Velvet Revolution, when Zeman and Babiš shared a foxhole, are too far away, but it is worth remembering the words of Vaclav Havel, the main leader of that revolt and later president of the country: "Ideology is a deceptive way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of identity, dignity and morality, while at the same time making it easier for them to detach themselves from these principles".

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