European Council on Foreign Relations

Real referenda: Putin’s worst nightmare

Some of the Russian comments on the Scottish referendum result have been unintentionally hilarious. Observers basically complained that the count was conducted in the open, in one case in an “aircraft hangar”, rather than safe behind closed doors. Experts from the Donetsk People’s Republic spotted obvious falsification.

Apart from providing some welcome light relief after such a fraught campaign, this tells us three important things.

First, the Kremlin was locked into expecting a ‘yes’. Russia’s view of Europe sees only a dysfunctional EU and sick nation-states being overthrown from below. Russia claims to be a conservative power, but not in the nineteenth century Concert of Europe-sense with the Tsar standing firm with other rulers. Modern Russia stands for the opposite – the Kremlin hides behind the Russia Today logo of ‘Question More’ to promote any minority force that

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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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