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EU Enlargement: Security Considerations

Claudiu Sonda

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The very recent results of the EU Parliamentary elections should determine us to reflect on the success of the European project so far. A large proportion of the good results  the radical right and left obtained have to do with the frustration and fears that member states’ citizens share in relation to the federalist idea. More than this, the propaganda and mythology associated with the damage that the enlargement waves brought to the Union, especially in security terms are to be ‘blamed’ for the rebellious voting behaviour.

Whenever it comes to discuss about the enlargement process of the EU and the security it brought with it, a strong debate emerges between promoters and skeptics. In this short writing, I will present a few reasons why I consider enlargement to be a policy full of security essence and also why I consider a larger EU as a more stable and safe project. Nevertheless, I am compelled to also share in the view that too much expansion in other political actors’ ‘backyard’ could become a source of bad external relations and regional or international instability.

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Source: President of the European [email protected]

I will begin with what I call the power of example of the EU. This first argument suggests in short that the EU proved how soft power can replace hard, violent power in achieving its goals. The consequence would be that the world could be a bit safer if the need for military is reduced. Why is that? First, because obviously if non-military action is enough, then it means that violent conflict was absent in the first place. Second, because a reduced use of weapons lightens the armament and security dilemma.

But is the EU a good example of soft power success? With regard to enlargement, the common understanding is that the EU did not force Central and Eastern European countries to join. They have been drawn into cooperation schemes by EU’s power of attraction. Accession to the EU represented a seat at the table of decision-making, access to funds, political legitimacy and economic credibility: ‘membership of this most exclusive European club’. This type of ‘civilian’ power politics can be seen as a pragmatic but peaceful foreign policy, one based on political negotiations, regulations, and economic leverage. One that could truly replace force.

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Source: Aleksander [email protected]

The second argument is that enlargement brought security by handling the neighbouring unstable countries. By adopting the aquis communautaire, these ex-Soviet countries became ‘European’ and were absorbed in a post-modern system characterised by security, transparency and interdependence. Enlargement was intended as a civilizing process, and by moving the level of relations between states from external to internal, actors became ‘domesticated’. The way to achieve this leveling among different member states was done through the so-called conditional accession and through a high level of EU intervention in the national affairs of the applicant countries.

Even the official aim of the enlargement was for Western Europe related to security, prosperity and democracy. There are strong reasons to believe in the success of such an objective, at least when thinking of security. For example, local conflicts based on ethnicity or territorial claims never took place in Central and Eastern Europe, which ought to be applauded more, considering its potential. Moreover, it was NATO that securitized the path the EU enlargement by expanding its protection to Central and Eastern Europe beforehand.

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NATO-EU summit Source: President of the European [email protected]

Finally, EU’s Internal Security Strategy projects a future security model centered around judicial and enforcement cooperation, intelligence sharing, border management, integration and solidarity. With countries like Romania and Bulgaria still not part of the border-free Schengen Area, the EU seems to be serious in its intentions to fully integrate members only based on their satisfaction of internal security expectations. Furthermore, the restrictions on the two countries with regard to the free movement of workers are also proof that the EU chose first to create the proper path for a secure final enlargement, and only after 7 years to put together its last piece. Keeping all these in mind, the Internal Security Strategy and the restrictions to new member states, we can notice how the security agenda is being incorporated into the enlargement process to create a safe and prosper Union.

The opposing view is that there is also such a thing as too much enlargement, especially when accompanied or preceded by NATO expansion. As mentioned earlier, the two appear to be going hand in hand. Even if this were not the case, meaning that a military expansion would not occur, the idea that economic power – and its product, an economic sphere of influence-replaces hard power still allows to understand the defensiveness of political actors that could be affected by an enlarged EU. To be more specific I will refer here first to an increase in the military interest of NATO in the Caucasus and the Black Sea Region. Second, I will consider the economic aspects of attracting Ukraine to the EU and issues related to energy diversification that could alter EU-Russia relations.

As stated in the Report on EU’s Security Strategy, under the ENP the EU expresses its strong interests in Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, the Black Sea, and Georgia, as well as famously in Turkey. Furthermore, NATO’ s enlargement policy considers Georgia and Ukraine as future members. Turkey is already part of the organization. This year, Moldova is expected to play an interesting part in NATO’s 10 year celebration of Eastern European expansion. Considering the Cold War history, these movements might appear as NATO-US encirclement to the Russian Federation. There has already been present a strong tension between the US and Russia caused by the placement of the Missile Defense System in Europe, which could go beyond a turning point after the recent events in Ukraine. In this atmosphere sewed with mistrust, any EU enlargement attempt would definitely be perceived as security threat to the Russian Federation, which would ruin security aspirations.

Lastly, Europe is energy dependent and this dependency is increasing steadily. This is a major factor in EU-Russia relations which obviously requires a diversification of sources of supply and transit routes. The alternative to Russian energy could be Azerbaijan’s. The current winning project is the Trans- Adriatic pipeline which replaces the famous Nabucco project. Greater involvement of the EU in the South Caucasus could be seen as an intention to replace Russia as number 1 energy supplier, which could also bring more Russian tough policies on its southern neighbors, thus destabilizing that region. In the case of Ukraine, a free trade agreement is seen by Russia as dangerous to its own market because of a pre-existing free trade regime between the former members of the Soviet Union. Current events in Ukraine show us how the cost for an association agreement with the EU is the grave deterioration of EU-US-Russia relations, which reminds of the Cold War.

To conclude, I would say that achieving international or regional security is the product of good intentions, ideals and prudent calculations. Enlargement of the EU to Central and Eastern Europe is an example of such good intentions and strategic thinking. Stability and order have been brought and maintained so far on the Old Continent. However, European policy-makers and leaders must also keep in mind that other powers in the international system have interests of their own and that history is is still present in the collective memory of nations. Because of this, boundaries to expansion -both geographical and cultural ones – must be put in place. Even if EU’s imperialism is a benign one, as Zielonka puts it in Europe as Empire, the risk to instability and conflict is too great when trying to project too much power, soft one included.

References:

• Cooper R., The new liberal imperialism, Observer Worldview Extra, 7 April 2002;

• Internal Security Strategy for the EU, Council of the European Union, 2010;

• Report on the implementation of the European Security Strategy, 2008;

• Rees W., The US-EU Security Relationship, 2011, Palgrave Macmillan;

• Zielonka I, Europe as Empire. The Nature of the Enlarged European Union, 2006,

Oxford University Press.

• Bbc.com, website: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-25108022

• EU Commission, Memo, End of restrictions on free movement of workers from

Bulgaria and Romania, 2014;

• euractiv.com, website: http://www.euractiv.com/energy/eu-favoured-nabuccoproject-

hist-news-528919;

• NATO, website: http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_49212.htm;

• novinite.com, website: http://www.novinite.com/articles/159230/Capitals+of+US,

+EU,+Moldova+to+Host+NATO%E2%80%99s+Enlargement+Anniversary;

• reuters.com, website: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/21/us-ukrainecrisis-

eu-agreement-idUSBREA2K0JY20140321;

• voiceofrussia.com, website: http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_03_20/US-using-missiledefense-

system-in-Europe-to-make-Russia-change-its-Ukraine-policies-0975

 

Passionate student of IR and European politics with an interest in developing a high-level expertise in International Security and geopolitics.

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Europe

Brexit: Three Logistics Concerns for Businesses

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After the vote on 23rd June 2016, for many businesses, it seemed there was ample time to prepare for Brexit. However, the UK is now one year away from leaving the EU and naturally, many business owners are becoming increasingly concerned about its impact.

A recent study showed that 94% of UK SMEs feel that the government is failing to listen to their Brexit concerns. There are also fears that HMRC’s new customs system will not be ready by the Brexit deadline.

For businesses, it is clear that there remains a lot of uncertainty about Brexit, including what trades deals may be formed and how they will affect British businesses. This is particularly true for logistics, where these three concerns are growing.

Cost Implications

For many companies, their number one concern is cost. In order to offset, businesses facing an increase in operating and logistics costs may have to pass this onto their customers, resulting in higher product prices – this is especially worrying for logistics companies like Tuffnells. This could result in a lower sales volume, making a dent in their bottom line.

This additional spend could come from several areas, including:

  • Taxes and tariffs: after leaving the single market, exporting or importing goods may be subject to new charges and restrictions, which could result in higher logistics costs
  • Fuel: The exchange rate of the pound dropped after the Brexit vote and it could fluctuate further after the deadline, resulting in increased fuel and transport prices

Business Systems

Coming out of the EU’s single market – where British businesses currently trade tax-free – presents more issues than cost alone. This includes implementing new business systems.

While HMRC are putting their own customs systems in place, businesses also face the same challenge. Staff will require training on new tariffs and customs, logistics procedures will have to be revised, and businesses will have to find systems and methods to deal with these new processes. All of this will eat into business hours and cost companies further money.

Border Controls

The introduction of new border controls will have several affects on British businesses, including cost, delays and further administrative processes. But leaving the EU will limit companies in another way: freedom of movement.

Pre-Brexit, EU workers had the freedom to move and work in any member state, but this will no longer apply to the UK. This means hiring workers from within the EU could be more difficult, time-consuming and expensive. With many British companies hiring migrant drivers to cover the UK shortage, this could severely impact transport.

The announcement of Brexit brought about uncertainty among UK businesses. Unfortunately, only speculation is possible until all trade deals have been announced and Brexit takes effect in 2019. However, if businesses prepare in these areas, it could help to minimise impact.

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Business

The Future of the UK Used Car Market

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It is an intriguing time in the UK auto market in 2018 with a range of political, economic and social factors influencing the industry. New car sales continue to fall for the 11th consecutive month with diesel taking the brunt of the slide. It is thought that this decline is due to the uncertainty over the Government’s clean air plans (including the 2040 ban on petrol and diesel), but also the economic climate and uncertainty over Brexit.

Sale of AFVs

Although new car sales continue to fall overall, there is evidence that the 2040 ban is influencing consumers with the sales of alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rising steadily over the last 11 months, including a 7.2% rise in February compared to last year. Although this is unable to offset the free-falling diesel sector, it does show that motorists are beginning to prepare for the green car revolution. Motorists are also aware that there are many incentives for making the switch, plus there is now a wide range of excellent electric cars on the market.

Used Car Market

So, what does all this mean for used car dealerships? Sales have managed to maintain stability amidst the turbulence in the industry with a drop of just 1.1% in 2017 compared to 2016. This was largely thanks to the sale of used electric cars, which saw an increase of a staggering 77.1% in 2017. Hybrids were also up 22.2%. This goes to show that motorists are preparing for the future and still have the need to change automobiles, with the used car market being a much safer place to do this as it is a much smaller investment.

The Future

It is easy to see reputable used car dealerships like Shelbourne Motors performing well in 2018 and beyond as more and more second-hand electric cars become available. An increasing number of cities are imposing their own bans ahead of the 2040 ban, plus it is expected that there will be more clarity on the ban and the electric vehicle infrastructure will continue to grow. Additionally, the landscape of a post-Brexit UK will be clearer soon and this could encourage motorists to shop in the used car market.

The future of the used car market in the UK looks healthy despite the fact that there has been a great deal of uncertainty in the UK over the past year. Provided that dealerships are able to provide motorists with a range of second-hand electric automobiles, it is easy to see motorists opting to buy used as opposed to new as this can allow for big savings which is important in the current economic climate. The green car revolution is fully underway and this is what has managed to keep the used car market afloat during a challenging period.

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Environment

All Steam Ahead as Europe Goes Green

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Red, amber, green: and Europe is off on its big green venture. Yep, it’s true, Europe is finally on the right track in regards to future-proofing against climate change. To see just how it is doing this and what it is doing in regards to this, make sure to read on.

The abolition of fossil fuels by 2050

Some of Europe’s biggest countries are seeking to go fossil fuel free by 2050, and it’s brilliant. Denmark, a country widely regarded as being a leader in the struggle for a green future, is one such country seeking to do this. Yes, it might be ambitious. And yes, Danish officials openly admit that it is an ambitious venture. But, this old Nordic country is going full steam ahead with its ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ enterprise anyway in the hopes that within 32 years the whole country will be completely dependant on things that do not hurt our world. In fact, Denmark is even seeking to go one step further and go completely cashless. Well done, Denmark!

Cities are building green infrastructures

It appears that many European cities have seen the light in regards to what they need to do to save our planet and are now building green infrastructures to hold themselves up in the future. Yep, many cities around this famous old continent are changing the habit of a lifetime and going against a grain that has been in place for thousands upon thousands of years by swapping out their old, harmful infrastructures and ushering in new, safer ones to replace them. Bratislava, Slovakia is one such example: it has had a complete overhaul of its transport system and only runs low-emission buses, tree planting has become a serious occupation, roofs around the city have been made green and rainwater retention facilities have popped up everywhere. Yep, the Slovakian capital really has built a green infrastructure, despite a tight budget, and many other European cities are following suit.

Many big cities are clambering for green funding

Speaking of tight budgets, there seemingly is one across the whole of Europe when it comes to going green because many cities within the continent are having to clamber for funding in regards to it. But, thankfully, having to do all of this isn’t stopping these cities from doing so and going as green as they can. Yep, cities across the European continent are using a combination of EEA grants, municipal funding, crowdfunding and green bonds in order to go green: Copenhagen has done so and used its funding to upgrade is floodwater management and lighting systems to make them more eco-friendly, Paris has done so and used its funding to plant in excess of 20,000 trees and Essen, Germany has done so and used its funding to be named European Green Capital for 2017.

So, as you can see, the historic old continent of Europe is more than willing to embrace the future and, more specifically, the future needs of our planet. Let’s just hope that the rest of the world and its leaders *cough* Trump *cough* follow suit before it’s all too late.

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