FIIA Briefing Papers
Diarmuid Torney, European Climate Diplomacy: Building capacity for external action
Climate change policy-making has traditionally been the remit of environment ministries, but foreign ministries can play a valuable role in climate diplomacy by signalling high-level political commitment, contributing a better understanding of the interests and domestic drivers of climate policy in partner countries, and adding a more significant strategic dimension to climate diplomacy. The creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in 2010 provided the European Union with an opportunity to build a European diplomacy that could place greater emphasis on climate change and other contemporary global issues. In its current form, however, the EEAS has limited capacity for climate diplomacy, and the external capacity of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action is similarly constrained. The current division of responsibilities between the EEAS and the Commission is a delicate compromise that is unlikely to be reopened in the short term, and both institutions face tight budgetary constraints. Against this backdrop, EU climate diplomacy could be strengthened by mainstreaming climate change within the work of the EEAS, and strengthening cohesion between the EEAS and the Commission. This could be aided by greater strategic guidance for climate diplomacy from the Foreign Affairs Council and the European Council.
Johanna Jacobsson & Marikki Stocchetti, The WTO Under Pressure: Tackling the deadlock in multilateral trade
Multilateral trade liberalisation is in crisis. The WTO’s ambitiously named Doha Development Round has been ongoing for more than a decade. Only a few limited issues remain on the negotiation agenda. While the round is being increasingly declared dead even by WTO members themselves, the same countries are concluding deeper trade agreements than ever before. Such progress, however, takes place at the bilateral and regional level. Another major development is the appearance of deep regulatory issues on the trade agenda. The shift from customs tariffs to countries’ internal policies requires a certain like-mindedness from negotiation partners and poses challenges for national decision-making policies. Developing countries have gained less from multilateral trade liberalisation than what they had hoped for. The shift towards more fragmented trade regimes makes them even more prone to remain bystanders in global trade. At the WTO’s next ministerial conference in Bali, progress on agriculture, trade facilitation and the treatment of the poorest countries would give a much-needed signal that the WTO can still benefit all of its members.
The financial and economic crisis has reinforced the two-layer economic integration structure in the EU. Many of the new rules and structures created during the crisis have focused on a solution to the euro crisis and are thus euro area-specific. There is little evidence, however, that the situation would have dramatically changed compared to the Maastricht EMU. All of the changes are still in line with the basic idea that all EU countries will join the euro when they are ready to do so. One of the key questions in the near future is likely to centre on the contours of the euro area-specific decision-making, its relationship to the EU as a whole, and its institutions and procedures. Even if the Eurogroup remains ‘formally informal’, it has managed to transform itself into a de facto institution within the EU, and its role and weight is likely to increase rather than decrease.
Last March the UN Security Council authorised the so-called Intervention Brigade to undertake ‘targeted offensive operations’ against illegal armed groups operating in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Brigade, which undertook its first operations in August, differs from traditional UN peacekeeping in terms of its robust mandate and mobility. The UN has simultaneously adopted a new technology, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), in the DRC, which represents the first-ever use of UAVs as a part of UN peacekeeping. UAVs will be deployed in the DRC at the end of November, and start operating in early December. The Intervention Brigade and UAVs have been hailed as a turning point in UN peacekeeping. However, they should not be perceived as completely new or standalone instruments of UN conflict management. They could instead be best understood as a continuum and extension of the long-held statebuilding doctrine applied by the UN. These new instruments enable the UN to perform one of its key functions of statebuilding and protection of civilians, namely controlling and policing the whole territory of a state where an intervention has been undertaken more effectively than before. The lessons learned from the UN peace operation in the DRC indicate that the UN statebuilding doctrine remains self-contradictory on account of the tendency of UN statebuilding missions to spill over into wars and the mismatch between the ambitious goals set for statebuilding and the chronic lack of resources. The Intervention Brigade and UAVs can potentially help the UN to resolve that mismatch by enhancing the UN’s statebuilding and protection capacities. However, they cannot resolve the other major disadvantage of statebuilding, namely collateral damage inflicted in statebuilding wars, and may even aggravate that problem.
The decision to place security and defence policy on the agenda of the December European Council and the intensive pre-summit preparations have given renewed impetus to this policy area and raised the level of expectations ahead of the meeting. While there is now widespread agreement among the member states on the main challenges facing the EU in the area of security and defence, conflicting political and economic interests still exist and continue to hamper the Union’s efforts. The December summit is unlikely to engage in a major strategic debate, but it will discuss steps to improve the implementation of the Union’s security and defence policy, to enhance cooperation in the area of capabilities, and to support the European defence industry. A major novelty is the European Commission’s stronger involvement, which remains controversial, however. The most crucial task for the EU heads of state and government is to translate the momentum created by the pre-summit process into a lasting commitment on the part of all actors involved, by putting forward binding timelines, specific targets and concrete follow-up projects.
Following Vladimir Putin’s presidential election victory in March 2012, the Russian political system has undergone significant change. The latest changes affect the way regional elections are conducted. However, a number of puzzles remain, not least the intentions of the Putin administration. Alongside liberalising reforms, such as the return of direct elections for regional governors and the easing of party registration requirements, we see new restrictions that close the political field. Nonetheless, the events of the past 20 months do reveal a distinct change in the reform process, as the Putin administration reluctantly adjusts to unfavourable political and economic conditions. In Putin’s first two presidential terms, 2000-2008, reform was ‘progressive’, aimed at extending the Kremlin’s power and authority. The latest changes, in contrast, are ‘reactive’ and involve an inevitable loss of control over political processes. One immediate implication is that political processes will become less predictable, as the Kremlin tries to reorganise its system of governance. But, in the longer-term there is a danger that the use of political reform as a substitute for democratic change will undermine the legitimacy of the entire political system.
The era of the Millennium Development Goals and the Millennium Declaration expires in September 2015. As the largest donor of international development aid and trader with the developing countries, the EU has a key interest in the future outcome. It has also made binding commitments to support developing countries’own efforts to fulfil the present goals, as well as to act as a global partner. In the ongoing consultation process, the UN is pushing ahead with an enabling, universal development paradigm with an enhanced development partnership that goes well beyond traditional development assistance. Whereas the EU and the UN share common ground on human rights, governance and security issues, their preliminary proposals differ significantly on the question of a global partnership. The European Commission has tabled a proposal for the Union that is still based on a very conventional donor-recipient approach, which the UN seeks to reject. The European Commission proposal is problematic because it fails to present a comprehensive analysis of the current Millennium Development Goal on a global partnership, especially regarding trade and debt issues. Instead, it focuses on developing countries’domestic policies. The EU still has time to correct this as the process unfolds. Should it fail to do so, it is highly unlikely that other donors will take up the UN proposal and push it through in the inter-governmental negotiations.
Finnish Foreign Policy Paper
Since joining the European Union in 1995, Finland has both adapted to the EU and its common foreign, security and defence policies as well as tried to influence these policies. In other words, the Finnish foreign and security policy has been Europeanized. Participation in the EU’s foreign, security and defence policies has played a significant role in a number of transformations in the Finnish policy. These include changes in the national position on the use of military force abroad, in the interpretation of non-alignment, and the division of power among the primary national foreign policy decision-makers. In terms of trying to influence the European policies, Finland has invoked its non-alignment. The goal has been to influence the direction of EU defence policy so that Finland would not compromise its status as militarily non-aligned country. The participation in the EU’s foreign, security and defence policies has also come to represent a means of self-identification. Finland’s identity as a small state has been replaced by a small member state identity. Due to this change, a common view has emerged according to which Finland is no longer a “lonesome log” or “a single piece of driftwood shooting alone the rapids of world politics”. Rather, Finland is viewed as tied into a raft of logs – a European raft – and floating more steadily and peacefully, as the mass of the common raft cushions and softens the blows and collisions of world politics.
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is stealing the show before the upcoming presidential elections with his announcement to quit politics. His private plans will increase the instability of the country and may have dramatic consequences for both the domestic and foreign policies of Georgia.
The role of the rotating Council presidency in the EU’s external affairs has diminished considerably. Yet the most visible priority for the Lithuanian presidency is the EU’s Eastern Partnership. Working through the EU institutions, Lithuania is aiming to shape Europe’s geopolitical map for decades to come.
Sweden is viewed as contributing positively to environmental, societal and trade cooperation in the Baltic region, and the destabilizing nature of its security and defence policies is often ignored. In order to play a positive role in regional security, Sweden must ensure that its defence policy and military posture are aligned.
Instead of geopolitics, the EU should concentrate on incremental reform promotion among its willing partners and properly calibrate the “more for more” principle.