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Challenges of the EU Foreign Policy in 2015

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2014 was the year for the European Union elections that saw the continuous trend of the increasing popularity of the right and the far rights movements in Europe. Besides the impact of this on the Europe’s internal stability, it will definitely have an impact on EU relations with its neighbours. The elections have resulted in changing the EU leadership with the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker as the President of the European Commission, Donald Tusk as the President of the European Council and Federica Mogherini as High Representative of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. There are still questions looming on the impact of these outcomes of the EU elections on the EU Foreign Policy.
Is the rise of the far right movements and the rise of anti-Europe sentiments in Europe a direct consequence of the failure of the EU Representations in member states in engaging with societies?
On the Eastern borders of the EU, the Russian- Ukraine Crisis is still escalating. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea after a referendum that was not recognised by the EU and the United States due to the military presence of Russia. Escalation has led to the rise of military separatists movement in Eastern Ukraine. In July, a Malaysian Airlines plane, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur,

was shot down in Eastern Ukraine, taking the lives of 283 passengers.
Throughout the year, there has been a continuous exchange of sanctions between the EU and Russia. From the EU perspective, the sanctions on import of EU food to Russia which amounted to around £9billion had considerable impact on the economies of some of its members. Energy security of the Eastern members of the European Union remains a crucial factor in the EU calculations regarding any development in its relations with Russia. Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic are examples of EU countries that buy currently between 70% and 100% of their gas from Russia.
In the southern borders, the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) present the greatest security threat for Europe. ISIL can be described as the most brutal terrorist group in control of an area in Iraq and Syria that is almost the size of Great Britain.
The on-going intervention by the coalition still lacks any declared comprehensive strategy for defeating ISIL as a phenomenon, rather than just minimising its impact temporarily. The participation of some European Citizens joining ISIL opens the terrorist threats to European countries. The spread of Islamic extremism in Europe and the far right fascist ideologies presents the risk of making the European cities as the battle field for different extremist movements.
Despite the fact that Ebola has infected just a handful of individuals in Europe and all of them worked in hospitals treating infected patients, the virus has stirred a wave of alarms. It has been labelled as the biggest health threat to face the world in a generation. The fact that most infected were in Africa, Europe’s response or involvement in tackling the virus was minimal except from the British and the French efforts in Liberia and Guinea. Now that the virus threat proved to be a serious one and that can spread to Europe, “other countries now need to step forward with resources and action because taking action at source in West Africa is the best way to protect all of us here in Europe” as stated by the UK Prime Minster, David Cameron.
2014 was an eventful year for Europe and introduced a set of challenges for the EU’s new leadership.

Re-integration of Iran and Libya to the Global Energy Market

The geopolitical factor in the Middle East and North Africa region certainly has a significant impact on the global oil market in this decade – and Libya and Iran are at the top of that agenda. The outcome of the Iran-West negotiation for a long-term comprehensive solution regarding Iran’s nuclear programme will define Iran’s role in the oil market.

Iran currently exports around 1.2 million barrels of oil a day whilst its capacity could reach 4 million barrels a day. In the case of an agreement being made, Iran’s capacity would be boosted by 1 million barrels a day over the next 4 – 5 years.

Such a deal would undoubtedly lower the risks of oil export disruption passing through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow artery through which 40% of global sea-borne oil exports pass.

Libya’s transitional government is struggling to keep order within its border and this massively affects its oil production. Production tumbled further recently to around 230,000 barrels a day-compared with 1.4 million barrels only last summer. The country has a structural political issue with the Eastern provinces that is preventing exports from that region.
At the core of the dispute are demands in the East for greater political autonomy and a larger allocation of the state’s oil revenue, but the government is struggling to sustain production in the West of the country due to continuous protests. In addition, its production capacity has shrunk by half a million barrels a day compared to 1.7 million barrels a day before the 2011 civil war.

The pace of re-integration for both these countries into the current global market will vary and will remain unpredictable. The outcome of the current Iranian-West negotiations will define the nature of Iran’s role in the global energy market. For Libya, the situation is similar to Iraq – Post the 2003 war and will need considerable international support to maintain security and rebuild its infrastructure to be able to integrate fully.

Other scenarios related to the geopolitics in the region that could have an impact on the global energy market include: The intensification of instability in Yemen or Bahrain, which could disrupt the oil rich East region in Saudi Arabia and the escalation of violence in Egypt and Libya into full scale civil wars which would threaten security of production and supply of oil and gas to the global market.

All these will be discussed by the world’s leading experts at the Global Energy Security Conference taking place on the 12th and the 13th of May in London.

Click here for more information about the Global Energy Security Conference 2014

Ukraine- Russia Crisis: What could a diplomatic deal look like?

As “Path dependant”, the Russian foreign policy options are framed by the political, economic, military and cultural inheritance from the Soviet Union. And the Ukrainian case touches into two of Russia’s foreign policy priorities which is limiting the expansion of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) eastward and protecting its interests and protecting the Russian ethnic minorities in former Soviet Union countries.

Ukraine has always been an important country for the Russian foreign Policy. And any move towards the EU or NATO was expected to be resisted by Russia as it impacts its interests.  The Ambassador of Ukraine to London stated at the EU Foreign policy conference organised by the Global Diplomatic Forum last May that Ukraine had chosen to associate itself with the EU as a long-term strategic direction for the country while maintaining good relations with Russia to the benefits of the two countries.

However, November last year, the President of Ukraine suspended preparations for a trade deal with the EU and instead put forward plans to strengthen ties with Russia which led to political confrontation with the opposition. Eventually, the opposition have won the struggle in a zero sum game that has led to oust the president and control the Parliament. They have declared that they will pursue the path of association with the EU. Russia claims that new government in Ukraine is heading towards joining NATO while the new prime minister declined that the Ukraine government has this intention.

The Russian intervention in Crimea was triggered by these developments as the sequence of events was not going towards Russia’s interests. The Crimean Parliament had called for a referendum on joining Russia. The 16thof March, the referendum was held and an overwhelming majority of voters confirmed their desire to join Russia. Eastern Ukraine is also under the risk of Russian intervention and can be considered the next in line.  The fact that the referendum was held during the Russian military intervention in Crimea, it was opposed by all the EU countries and the United States. The EU and the United States has imposed travel bans against Russian officials and economic sanctions against Russia.

The consequences of these sanctions can be felt by both Russia and the EU countries. Russia supplies the European Union with more than 25% of their gas and oil imports. Russia also has significant trade interest with the EU that is harmful to compromise. Russia is reliant on the revenue from gas and oil to boost the growth of their emerging economy.  Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are examples of EU countries currently that buy between 70% and 100% of their gas from Russia. The growing Russian economy has provided a lucrative market for products from Germany and the UK. Russia has created a cartel of gas exporting countries, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum which groups countries that hold 70% of the world’s gas reserves. This may mean its influence on the global gas market goes beyond its own resources. Russia is a major player in the Syrian conflict and has established ties with the new Egyptian regime which can have impact on international security of oil supply from the Middle East and North Africa.

However, Russia has regained its statute as an international power in the last decade through the economic boast that was achieved with trade with the western countries. It will certainly be hard to maintain this statute under the economic sanctions. The situation has reached a complex juncture and it is hard to imagine what would be a diplomatic deal that involves all the actors looks like.

The Global Diplomatic Forum will organise on 29th of April in London, a round table to  bring together key stakeholders to put light on the  crisis from different dimensions. It will examine both scenarios for a further escalation of the crisis and scenarios for a possible diplomatic deal.

What are the questions being asked at this Round Table:

  • What are the options for Crimea?  Will it stay Annexed to Russia? Will it become an independence state? Or will it re-join Ukraine?
  • What is the future of eastern Ukraine? Will the Russian intervention extends to Eastern Ukraine?
  • What is future of Ukraine joining NATO?  Could a deal be struck that involves Ukraine never joining the NATO?
  • What are the redlines from the Russian perspective re- NATO expansion eastward?
  • What are the  options for Ukraine in pursuing EU Association?
  • What are the options For Ukraine to serve its debts to Russia

Visit our website to Keep updated on the Round table

Young Diplomats Forum, Querétaro, Mexico

BANNER young diplomats GOBQRO

Following the success of the Young Diplomats Forum 2013 in Ankara -Turkey, we are delighted to host the next event in Mexico.
The Forum will tackle pressing and topical issues related to international affairs from the perspective of young global leaders. It will stimulate and facilitate an advanced exchange of ideas, build trust and become a catalyst for change on a regional and global arena.
Our Forum will present an opportunity for interaction and the development of skills for future senior diplomats and future leaders. The Young Diplomats Forum is set up to recognise, enhance and develop the next generation of diplomats and leaders. This community of exceptionally bright and accomplished leaders will gain further insight, tools and opportunities to engage with key stakeholders at a crucial time in their careers and broaden their connection to influential stakeholders.

Programme

Topics Covered :

  1. Diplomacy in the 21st Century
  2. Regional organisations and their role as diplomatic entities
  3. Public and Cultural Diplomacy
  4. Sport and public diplomacy
  5. Niche Diplomacy
  6. International Cooperation in Global Energy Security
  7. International Conflict Resolution Track 2 and Track 3 Diplomacy
  8.  Post Conflict Colombia
  9. United Nations Reforms
  10. Negotiations Workshop

Click here to download the full Programme

Selection
Candidates will be selected based on their personal statement (500 words Maximum) and their CV. A fair representation of different continents and regions in the world will be taken into consideration in the process.

Fees and Scholarship
The fees for participation are £450 (US $750) which covers the accommodation, food, transportation during the forum, visits and field trips. There will be scholarship for limited numbers of participants. However, scholarships do not cover flights and will be given to candidates who are from and reside in one of the least developed countries.

Visit our website for more information

Contacts :

Ms Gemma Smith

Communications Executive

Global Diplomatic Forum

E-mail: ydf@gdforum.org

Telephone: (44) 208 0969392

 

Impact of Russia- Ukraine crisis on the EU Energy Security

In the light of Russian intervention in Crimea and its annexation to Russia after the referendum, The EU and the United States have imposed travel bans against Russian officials and economic sanctions against Russia. The consequences of these sanctions can be felt by both Russia and the EU countries to different extents.

Russia supplies the European Union with more than 25% of their gas and oil imports. Russia also has significant trade interest with the EU that is harmful to compromise. Russia is reliant on the revenue from gas and oil to boost the growth of their emerging economy.

Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are examples of EU countries that currently import between 70% and 100% of their gas from Russia. The growing Russian economy has provided a lucrative market for products from Germany and the UK. Russia has created a cartel of gas exporting countries, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum which groups countries that hold 70% of the world’s gas reserves.

This may mean its influence on the global gas market goes beyond its own resources. Russia is a major player in the Syrian conflict and has established ties with the new Egyptian regime which can have impact on international security of oil supply from the Middle East and North Africa.

There still can be a diplomatic deal that minimises the impact of the escalation of the crisis. However, regardless of this, the EU countries will be, as they have been in the last decade, working on measures to ensure contingency plans to diversify its supply and its dependency on the Russian gas.

Although the EU is better prepared for a new supply disruption compared to 2009, it has not managed to reduce the share of energy supplies from Russia.

Several options are examined such as Gas export from America, Gas from the East Mediterranean, Shale gas, renewables, and other options. There are many questions related to the feasibility, cost and timeframe of implementation of each option. All these will be discussed by the world’s leading experts at the Global Energy Conference taking place on the 12th and the 13th of May in London.

Click here for more information about the Global Energy Security

Regional Organisations as Diplomatic Entities

The role of national governments in international affairs is affected by the increasing role of regional organisations with growing impact as diplomatic entities. The concept of regional organisations, as entities for integration of policies of countries of certain geographical areas  started to develop after the cold war although the European Union (EU) integration for example started after Wold War II. Before that,  blocs at the international scene were mainly ideological with the western bloc, the eastern bloc and the non-alliance

For regional organisations to act as diplomatic entities there should be some kind of foreign policy framework that serves the collective interest of countries represented by the regional organisation such as The European Common Security and Foreign Policy for the EU countries.

Moreover, there should be an institutional framework for decision making of these matters that serve this collective interest. Another factor that affect regional organisations role  globally is the level of the development of their diplomatic or representations network. For countries, this is represented by the embassies while for the EU, for example, there is the European Union External Action Service.

Other regional organisations, they haven’t developed these networks of representations due to resources constraints and due to the lack of an established foreign policy framework that serves the collective interest of the represented countries.

The Central America Integration System- EU free trade agreement, which was the first region to region free trade agreement, is an importance case of diplomacy of regional organisations. Regional organisations have more leverage when they are negotiating free trade agreements instead of individual countries due the combined size of the economies and the collective political power of the countries they are representing.

In the passing year, we have organised various platforms to discuss the integration of several regional organisations including the European Union, the Maghreb Union and the African Union. In our upcoming Young Diplomats Forum, we will shed light more other regional organisations such as The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Central American Integration System ( SICA) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Visit our website for more Information on Young Diplomats Forum in Mexico

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