European Council on Foreign Relations

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Germany’s summer of discontent on foreign policy

In a different era, Robert Kagan provoked the transatlantic policy community by using the analogy of Venus and Mars to describe the mental split across the Atlantic on attitudes to conflict. A similar divide appears to exist on dealing with opportunity and risk in foreign policy. Some actors grow stronger when they perceive risk. Others depend on a positive-sum environment to exercise power and seem to be almost paralysed in the face of adverse conditions.

Among the major players in Western foreign policy, Germany is perhaps the one that best fits the latter category of a “sunshine state”. Berlin’s foreign policy machine works best when it can support, encourage, help, or reward. It struggles when it has to employ dissuasion, sanctions, or red lines. Public attitudes in Germany, as well as the country’s foreign policy resources and tools, lend themselves to co-operation, not

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Banking Union discussion in Brussels: testing willingness for further reforms

About ten days ago, 80 participants from the European Union community took part in a very interesting pre-launch event to discuss ECFR’s new policy brief, “How to complete Europe’s banking union” at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels.

The brief describes the progress that the euro area is making through the EU banking union framework, which has now been agreed. Banking union, along with related legislation such as that setting out higher capital requirements for banks through the capital requirements directive IV (CRD IV), will make the euro area banking system much more stable. The union will also make supervision much more uniform and coherent. Moreover, it will limit the toxic link between member states’ banking systems and their sovereign debts. It will make a banking crisis less likely and restrict bail-outs by the member states by prescribing that

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What does Italy want from Europe?

Italy takes over the Presidency of the European Union today, its eleventh since 1959, with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi facing weeks of business delayed by the allocation of top EU jobs. The European Parliament, the Commission and the Council are all busy with appointments to new posts before they go off for their summer break. Prime Minister Renzi will probably try to use this time to push ahead with Italy’s presidency agenda. He’s in a strong position to build on his 41 percent share of the vote in the recent European elections in which Italian turnout - at 59 percent - was one of the highest in Europe.

Elections across Europe produced the most Eurosceptic Parliament ever but in Italy Renzi managed to contain much of that populism with Italian Socialist MEPs topping the poll. It has given him a legitimacy in Europe he had previously lacked. Mr. Renzi and Germany’s Angela Merkel

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#HighRepCasting – join the campaign

The European Union is set to appoint a new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – at a moment when the importance of a strong EU foreign policy couldn’t be clearer. Instead of the horse-trading and political calculations that will likely result in someone taking on the High Rep mantle – imagine if qualifications and strategic thinking drove the EU’s selection process. And imagine if the post to steer EU foreign policy was so coveted and high-profile, that the process received widespread enthusiastic attention.

ECFR is imagining such a world. We want to draw attention to the High Representative position and, by extension, EU foreign policy by exciting some debate around the position – and we want to have a little fun with it.

Join our campaign on twitter to shine some light on the future face of EU foreign policy. We have started a small twitter campaign

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The Next High Rep needs look beyond soft power

This piece is part of a series on the casting of a new High Representative. For the full series, click here. Read Josef Janning's introductory piece here

One should hope that the next High Rep will help Europe shed its illusions about the impact of soft power. Europe’s security, interests, and values depend on it.

With the world drawn to the rise of China’s state capitalism and with the increasing focus of emerging democracies like Brazil and India on national sovereignty and non-interference, Europe must be able to assert its influence and values - and that requires military power. While the United States sees security concerns in Asia, Europeans see only an enormous market.

The crisis in Ukraine should constitute a long-overdue wake-up call. But Europe’s leaders have not rushed to respond to America’s calls for increased defence spending. They would rather confront Russia

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