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EU Council Library Think Tank Review — Issue 22

March 26, 2015 Comments off

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — Issue 22
Source: General Secretariat of the Council of the EU (Central Library)

Welcome to issue 22 of the Think Tank Review compiled by the EU Council Library. It gives a short abstract of papers published in February 2015, with a link to the full text.

This month’s Review has a focus on external action and includes the CEPS/ Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung report on More Union in European defence, presented in Brussels on 9 March. Other relevant resources from the library were listed in our blog post on the event.

On economics, we harvested the habitual range of papers on the banking union, capital markets, pros and cons of the ECB’s quantitative easing, debt targets and the balanced budget rule, and more. Thomas Piketty’s book continues to trigger debate. See the collection of (mostly critical) essays on the book by the UK think tank Policy Network. On inequality, the notion at the heart of Piketty’s book, we also feature an article by Caritas Europa and one by Friends of Europe.

CRS — Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses (March 18, 2015)

March 25, 2015 Comments off

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, a priority of U.S. policy has been to reduce the perceived threat posed by Iran to a broad range of U.S. interests. In 2014, a common enemy emerged in the form of the Islamic State organization, reducing gaps in U.S. and Iranian interests, although the two countries have somewhat differing approaches over how to try to defeat the Islamic State.

See also: Iran Sanctions (March 9, 2015) (PDF)

CRS — International Drug Control Policy: Background and U.S. Responses (March 16, 2015)

March 25, 2015 Comments off

International Drug Control Policy: Background and U.S. Responses (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The global illegal drug trade represents a multi-dimensional challenge that has implications for U.S. national interests as well as the international community. Common illegal drugs trafficked internationally include cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. According to the U.S. intelligence community, international drug trafficking can undermine political and regional stability and bolster the role and capabilities of transnational criminal organizations in the drug trade. Key regions of concern include Latin America and Afghanistan, which are focal points in U.S. efforts to combat the production and transit of cocaine and heroin, respectively. Drug use and addiction have the potential to negatively affect the social fabric of communities, hinder economic development, and place an additional burden on national public health infrastructures.

EU — The Cost of Non-Europe in Transport

March 24, 2015 Comments off

The Cost of Non-Europe in Transport
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Transport is a vital component of the EU economy with huge untapped potential. The sector suffers however from remaining barriers, gaps and market inefficiencies that create substantial costs and that could be addressed through further action at EU level. The gains that could be achieved from addressing the identified issues in the four modes of transport – rail, road, air and maritime – are estimated to amount to at least 8.6 billion euros annually. While the four sectors show similarities in terms of market fragmentation and lack of competitiveness, each sector requires its own approach to reform. This document summarises the main elements that build up the Cost of Non-Europe in the transport sector. This is an updated version of a briefing published in January 2015.

China’s Economic Ties with ASEAN: A Country-By-Country Analysis

March 23, 2015 Comments off

China’s Economic Ties with ASEAN: A Country-By-Country Analysis
Source: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC)

This paper assesses China’s relative significance for individual ASEAN economies. It starts with an overview of China’s trade and investment relations with ASEAN as a whole. The paper then provides descriptive statistics on each ASEAN country’s composition of foreign trade by product and top trade partner, as well as foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. It also provides a brief analysis of commercial disputes and bilateral cooperation with China.

2014 North American Freight Numbers

March 20, 2015 Comments off

2014 North American Freight Numbers
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Four of five transportation modes – truck, rail, pipeline, and vessel – carried more U.S. freight with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico by value in 2014 than in 2013 as the overall value of freight on all modes rose 4.5 percent in current dollars to $1.2 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1 and Table 1).

In 2014 compared to 2013, the value of commodities moving by pipeline grew the most, 12.5 percent, despite a decline in cost per unit of petroleum products, due to the increased volume of freight. Truck increased 4.5 percent, rail increased 1.5 percent, vessel increased 0.2 percent, and air decreased 0.2 percent.

The Development of EU Policy on Immigration and Asylum: Rethinking Coordination and Leadership

March 20, 2015 Comments off

The Development of EU Policy on Immigration and Asylum: Rethinking Coordination and Leadership
Source: Migration Policy Institute

While policymakers in the European Union are working on a European Agenda on Migration to address the short- and long-term migration and asylum challenges facing the region, it has become clear that the modus operandi of the European institutions is ill equipped to respond in either a timely or comprehensive manner. The process for developing, implementing, and reviewing legislation has failed to ensure coherent, robust outcomes. Furthermore, immigration as a topic has outgrown the Home Affairs portfolio, and as such needs to be addressed in a more cross-cutting fashion, involving multiple spheres of government.

During the reorganization of the European Commission in late 2014, the Home Affairs portfolio was renamed and restructured as the new Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME), reflecting the high priority of the topic for the new president and other leaders. However, the change has yet to be substantiated with deeper reconfiguration to the supporting framework on coordination, which must be strengthened for existing policy to be sustained and effective new policy created.

This policy brief addresses the underlying mechanisms of policymaking around migration and asylum at the European Union level and identifies areas in which the EU institutions must reform if they are to ensure that the policy solutions designed in Brussels have the desired effect on the ground. The brief highlights the need for stronger leadership and coordination on immigration policy—which still lacks a coherent, comprehensive approach beyond the Home Affairs domain—as well as for the allocation of resources, political and otherwise, to effect real change, both within the European Union and with third countries.

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