European Council on Foreign Relations

The EU’s Nobel: but can peace survive the euro crisis?

It is inevitable that many people will react to the EU’s Nobel prize with cynicism, but it feels appropriate that the world’s most impressive “peace project” should be recognised, and poignant that it should be done at a time when the world is in turmoil with war so close to Europe's borders. This is also a powerful – and much needed reminder – of what is at stake in the euro crisis and hopefully encouragement for Europe to get its act together.  

The prize reminds us that the EU is quite simply the most exciting political experiment in history – not just because it has ended war between European countries; because it has supported the transition of its neighbours; or even because it has come to enshrine important values.  

It is exciting because it is the biggest innovation in the exercise of politically power since the creation of the nation state 500 years ago. The EU has

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The Nobel Peace Prize is a wake-up call for Europe


From the moment the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU was made, social media has been buzzing with incredulity and amusement – after all, this was the prize that Mr Obama seemed to pick up so recently just for being Mr Obama.

But the prize is a timely reminder that the EU project – for all its flaws and its current undeniable problems – is a success story that is worth celebrating.  Fundamentally it is a project of peace, founded on the memories of the horrifying first half of the Twentieth Century, when Europe showed what it was capable of when it did not try to work together.

Since then the EU’s of pooling of sovereignty and working together in the name of peace and prosperity has been a model for regional international cooperation. Although it would be crazy to oversell its success – witness the scenes in Athens this week during the visit of Mrs Merkel – it has

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Turkey, Syria and vicious circles


Hardly a day passes without a new development in the Turkey-Syrian saga. Last evening, as I was flying from Istanbul to Sofia, Turkish airforce intercepted a Syrian Air passenger plane over suspicions it was carrying weapons from Moscow to Damascus. This comes after a tense week which saw Turkey’s military shelling Syrian army’s positions across the common border several times in retaliation for mortar fire killing Turkish civilians.

Turkey is in a really tough spot of late. Full-blown military action against Assad’s regime is unthinkable. The German Marshall Fund’s Transatlantic Trends Survey suggests that up to 57% of Turks are opposed to any military action, even if sanctioned by a UN Security Council Resolution. The government’s critics sense a danger that Syria could become Turkey’s Afghanistan should an intervention take place. Turkey would be bogged down, caught in the

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Opera in Algiers: the EU & Algeria Act II


This time last year I was in Algiers as part of research for ECFR policy brief “A reset with Algeria: the Russia to the EU’s South”. At the time, Algerian policymakers seemed to reply fairly uniformly to the question of why Algeria needed to bother with EU relations. Algeria had its own resources, other options for trade, and was following its own path politically which didn’t coincide with the sorts of reforms which the EU would want to put into ENP action plans - or so the argument ran. Though privately officials might have been unsettled by the sounds of the Arab Spring reverberating through all its neighbouring countries, officially they were unconcerned – just by virtue of being in the same region, they reasoned, they didn’t automatically face the same internal pressures as Tunisia and Egypt. The EU was struggling to forge the strong relations that it wanted with Algeria in

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EU referendum in Britain: The end of the EU as we know it?

Today David Cameron gave his backing to a EU referendum and hailed it as the 'cleanest, neatest and simplest way' of giving the public a say on Britain's role in Europe. But there is one detail that will upset many in the Conservative Party: The PM explicitly ruled out an in/out referendum.

So what does that mean for Britain and the EU?

The only alternative to a straight  in/out referendum is a referendum on a 'new settlement for Britain'. New ECFR/yougov polling data suggests that voters would indeed support a new EU deal for Britain. So the question of a referendum would focus on the renegotiation strategy of the government. Various options are possible in such a scenario: (1) Do you support the governments’ 'new EU deal'? - or - (2) Do you want the government to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership? Interestingly, a 'no vote' would not change anything - a 'yes

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