European Council on Foreign Relations

ECFR this week: 19 September 2014

Scotland has voted no to independence but ECFR Director Mark Leonard says the political trends in Scotland are also reshaping many nations that do not face imminent break-up. In his commentary “Why Scotland looks like the canary in the independence coal mine”, he points out the changing nature of self-government and nationalism and notes that the dynamics of the Scottish campaign are increasingly true of many other democracies where established parties huddle together to defend the current order from insurgent political forces that paint themselves as popular tribunes in the face of entrenched elites. 
 
Edouard Tétreau, Senior Policy Fellow and Head of ECFR’S Paris office, writes that EU member states trying to protect their own economic and strategic interests have “rendered Europe neglected and negligible”. He argues that for the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall

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Dissecting Juncker’s Commission: view from the Netherlands

One of Holland's brightest diplomats is moving to the heart of Brussels’ bureaucracy. Known for his energy, language skills and social media addiction (the first pictures from a European Commission meeting have already been posted on Facebook), former diplomat Frans Timmermans quickly gained popularity as the Dutch foreign minister after years as social-democratic MP. A more vital and visible minister than his predecessors, Timmermans is seen as having put the Netherlands back on the map in international relations with his constant travels and good personal relations with other leaders. He especially received a lot of praise for his moving speech at the UN Security Council after the crash of flight MH17 over Ukraine. It came as no surprise when he was nominated for a European commissariat, although the exact responsibilities of the newly invented position were unexpected: As EC

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EU Strategic Partnerships: Shallow political summits, active technical dialogues?

This paper provides a global picture of the structured dialogues that underpin the ten strategic partnerships of the EU. It goes, for each partner, into the details of the bilateral relation, disclosing the list of technical meetings that take place on a regular basis between the European External Action Service (EEAS) or the Commission Directorates, and each individual partner. These official meetings have been established over time.

Individual snapshots are provided for in annex, disclosing the “internal structure” of the ten strategic partnerships. They show, for each partner, how many of these technical dialogues are at work behind the scene, and on what specific issues.

From agriculture to human rights to customs or intellectual property rights, the list of dialogues reveals large differences in quantity, frequency, and quality between the partners.

After presenting the

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Dissecting Juncker’s Commission: View from Ireland

Phil Hogan, who has been appointed to the agriculture portfolio, is a former Irish minister for Environment and Local Government. He has a reputation in Ireland as a clever political strategist and campaigner who was fiercely loyal to his party leader, Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny. While the 54 year old Hogan represented a rural constituency, he has never held an agricultural portfolio.

Agriculture and food exports play a significant role in Ireland’s economic recovery and Enda Kenny had strenuously lobbied Jean-Claude Juncker for the portfolio. Mr. Hogan’s appointment had been widely expected in Dublin where one government minister said it was a recognition of the role Ireland’s EU presidency played in securing a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agreement last year.

With a total budget for 2014 to 2020 of more than 360 billion euro, agriculture represents more

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Dissecting Juncker’s Commission: Spain’s Commissioner

This is a part of a translation of an article first published by Contexte.

Juncker Entrusts Energy and Climate to Spanish Conservative

The former Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Canete is an expert on European politics. His close ties to the oil industry have earned him the scorn of ecologists, who do not deem him progressive enough. The Spanish government, however, is satisfied with his portfolio. The former Agriculture Minister under the Rajoy administration will be in charge of energy and climate. Spanish conservatives are obviously delighted by the news. The decision was announced on the 10th of September by the president elect of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, and must still be approved by the European Parliament. The candidates will be evaluated by the European Parliament on the 29th of September.

A choice criticized by ecologists

The decision has

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