Месечни архиви: May 2018

Surfers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for surfers.

The EU makes it easier for you to enjoy riding the waves in several ways.

Most importantly, you can enjoy improved water quality at many EU surfing spots, thanks to EU rules that protect the environment, including against sewage and industrial waste. This reduces your chances of getting sick. The EU also publishes information on bathing water quality online, so that you can easily check the water quality at your favourite surfing spots.

Group of friends going to surf at the beach

© oneinchpunch / Fotolia

As a surfer, you know how hard it can be to find the best surfing spots. If you love surfing but live inland, there’s nothing to stop you trying out the surf in another EU country, as there are no borders within the EU Schengen Area. The EU has provided financial support to several projects that can help you explore new destinations. One example is ‘SURFINGEUROPE‘, which enables you to discover an entire surfing route, from Bundoran in Ireland to Viana do Castelo in Portugal. Another example of EU funding is ‘Green Room‘, which helps you plan a sustainable surfing experience in six Surf Camps, including in Bornholm in Denmark and Gran Canaria in Spain. Such projects promote local tourism and increase employment, from which you might also benefit.

Finally, a special free app called ‘MeteoSurf‘ uses data from the EU-managed Copernicus earth observation programme to provide surfers with information on sea conditions in the Mediterranean Sea. Once you select a surfing spot, MeteoSurf produces a table with the forecast for wave height, wave direction, wind speed and wind direction. All you need to do is catch the perfect wave!

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/05/27/surfers-what-europe-does-for-you/

Rail passengers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for rail passengers.

Considerable growth in passenger transport in the EU and a wider choice of transport operators has led the EU to consider that passengers should benefit from the same standards of treatment, regardless of how and where they travel. It has therefore adopted a common set of 10 basic rights for rail, air, road and waterborne passengers, to provide them with information and assistance and forbid discrimination.

If you are a train passenger, you may know that additional specific rights and obligations have been in force since December 2009. As a passenger, you must be kept informed before and during your journey, for instance on the lowest fares, delays, access conditions and facilities for people with disabilities.

Young woman traveling by train, train conductor

© kasto / Fotolia

In the event of a foreseeable delay of more than one hour you can choose between a refund (full or partial) of your ticket, continuation, or rerouting to your final destination. You can also get assistance: meals, refreshments and, under certain conditions, accommodation. If you continue your journey, you can get 25 % to 50 % delay compensation.

Involvement in a train accident, entitles you to compensation and to advance payment for immediate needs. You are also entitled to compensation if a registered piece of luggage is lost or damaged. Disabled people have the right to assistance in stations and on board trains; and passengers can bring easy-to-handle bicycles onto the train. If you are dissatisfied with the service you receive, you can complain to the railway company. The Commission published a fresh proposal on rail passenger rights in September 2017.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/05/27/rail-passengers-what-europe-does-for-you/

Teachers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for teachers.

Most people have heard of Erasmus, the EU’s successful student exchange programme, which has enabled millions to study abroad. Less well known is that teachers – from universities, schools, vocational colleges and adult education – can also take part. In 2015, over 100,000 teachers travelled abroad with the help of EU grants.

Erasmus offers teachers opportunities to travel to 33 countries for up to two months. During their trips, some teachers take part in training courses, others join the staff of schools and universities to experience working in a different educational system. Another option is job shadowing to learn how teachers from other countries deal with day-to-day challenges. All of these activities are a great way for teachers to develop professionally, get new ideas and make new contacts.

Children in elementary school posing with their teacher in front of chalkboard

© johoo / Fotolia

As well as Erasmus, the EU brings together teachers from different countries through networks and online communities. For example, on eTwinning, there are nearly half a million teachers from 180 000 schools all over Europe exchanging ideas on subjects as varied as awareness-raising of smoking health risks to craft activities for school libraries. School Education Gateway offers access to free online training courses and teaching materials.

For teachers who would like to spend more than a few months abroad, the EU has removed some of the barriers to working abroad through mutual recognition of teaching qualifications; this means that, for example, a teacher who qualified in one EU country can teach in another without having to take additional exams.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/05/26/teachers-what-europe-does-for-you/

Early school leavers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for early school leavers.

Did you leave school early? Or do you know someone who might? Leaving school without qualifications may seem a personal choice, yet around 6.4 million young people in Europe are in the same situation. School can seem too difficult or irrelevant and other problems may make walking out seem like the thing to do. Yet young people who leave school early are less likely to find a job, will probably earn less, might miss out on some benefits of technology, and can have more health problems later on.

Group Of Young People In Playground

© Monkey Business / Fotolia

This is not always the case, but as the risks are high, the EU has made it its business to work on the situation. It brought education ministers together to agree to bring down the share of early school leavers in the EU to less than 10 % by 2020. Member States will need to try different solutions to achieve this result, so the EU offers support by helping them exchange experiences. In this way they can learn from each other which changes are more likely to produce good results. It is also monitoring results so Member States can understand how well they are doing.

You may feel all this is too late for you now, but if you regret not having much to show for your skills, and if you wish to improve them further, it’s never too late to go to your local job office or education authority. The EU developed the Youth Guarantee to help Member States give people a second chance, not necessarily in a classroom, but possibly even in a workplace setting. Tools are also being developed to recognise the skills you might have developed outside school in a way future employers are likely to appreciate.

Further information

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/05/26/early-school-leavers-what-europe-does-for-you/

EU sanctions, A key foreign and security policy instrument [Policy podcast]

Written by Martin Russell,

sanctions red stamp on white background

© cone88 / Fotolia

Sanctions have become an increasingly central element of the EU’s common and foreign security policy. At present, the EU has 42 sanctions programmes in place, making it the world’s second-most active user of restrictive measures, after the US.

Unlike the comprehensive trade embargoes used in the past, the EU has moved towards asset freezes and visa bans targeted at individual persons and companies, aiming to influence foreign governments while avoiding humanitarian costs for the general population. Other measures in the sanctions toolkit include arms embargoes, sectoral trade and investment restrictions, as well as suspensions of development aid and trade preferences.


Listen to podcast ‘EU sanctions, A key foreign and security policy instrument


The declared purpose of EU sanctions is to uphold the international security order as well as defending human rights and democracy standards, by encouraging targeted countries to change their behaviour. Measuring their effectiveness is difficult, as sanctions rarely achieve all their aims, and usually there are other causes to which changes can be attributed. However, even when this primary purpose is not achieved, sanctions may have useful secondary effects, for example by deterring other actors from similar behaviour.

The broader the international support for EU sanctions and the closer the relationship between the EU and the targeted country are, the stronger the prospects for success will be. On the other hand, effectiveness can be undermined by inconsistent application of sanctions standards and by the difficulty of coordinating implementation between multiple stakeholders.


Read this briefing on ‘EU sanctions, A key foreign and security policy instrument‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/05/25/eu-sanctions-a-key-foreign-and-security-policy-instrument-policy-podcast/

European app economy, State of play, challenges and EU policy [Policy podcast]

Written by Marcin Szczepański,

Smartphone Apps

© spql / Fotolia

Ten years have passed since the app economy was launched. Since then apps have evolved to play an increasingly important role in the life of citizens and became crucial to the success of many industries. Growing connectivity and availability of portable devices ensure that this trend will continue.

The European app economy is rather successful and accounts for just under a third of revenues in the global market. Clusters of app developers exist in a few western European and Nordic Member States creating well-paid jobs, value and innovation in the digital economy. However, some bottlenecks still exist and hamper the growth of the sector. These include limited availability of finance, shortage of digital skills, the need to constantly upgrade infrastructure, and improving access to data.


Listen to podcast ‘European app economy, State of play, challenges and EU policy


The EU strives to address these issues by creating an environment conducive to growth of the app economy. The main policy actions include strengthening the digital single market, funding research and innovation, creating fair taxation rules, developing standards and interoperability, fostering consumer protection and confidence, reforming training and education systems and supporting the development of a data economy and the internet of things.


Read this briefing on ‘European app economy, State of play, challenges and EU policy‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.


Figure 1 – Estimated global app economy and number of Apple apps

Estimated global app economy and number of Apple apps

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/05/25/european-app-economy-state-of-play-challenges-and-eu-policy-policy-podcast/

What if social media were open and connected? [Science and Technology Podcast]

Written by Philip Boucher,

The connection between the two networks. in paper linked together by cotton with a black yarn

© NaMaKuKi / Shutterstock.com

Social media platforms are often thought of as open and connected spaces, since they allow users to communicate with a wide range of people and organisations. It seems obvious that to have access to a social network it should be necessary to open an account with the platform, and that on closing the account that access would be lost. However, telephone and email networks do not restrict access to their networks depending on which provider or platform is being used, and there are ways in which social media too could be more open and connected, providing greater connectivity and allowing users to change platform without losing access to the network. This could help foster a more competitive market that is more responsive to challenges such as privacy and disinformation.

The implications of changing provider for telephone, email and social media, three transformative communication services, vary. First, telephones. With both landlines and mobile phones, regardless of the service provider used, it is possible to call friends and family on other networks competing in the market. Any phone, using any service provider, can call any other phone. This means that customers can change provider if they become unhappy with their current provider or want to test the services of a new market entrant. They can even keep the same phone number, so they do not have to tell their contacts to update their phone books. Indeed, their contacts will probably not even notice.

Just like with phone calls, emails pass freely between accounts managed by different providers. Many people have several accounts, perhaps including a personal account from a commercial provider and a professional account maintained by an employer. Here, a customer who wants to change provider can open a new account elsewhere without losing the ability to email friends and colleagues who still use the original provider. Advanced users who are dissatisfied with what the market has to offer, for whatever reason, can even set up their own domain names and servers and control the whole account themselves. They can still send and receive emails to and from anyone else, with any email address. A change of provider, however, means a change of address, requiring contacts to update their directories.


Listen to podcast ‘What if social media were open and connected?


When it comes to social media profiles, there are many options available, and some people manage several profiles for different aspects of their personal and professional lives. However, social media platforms do not usually offer interconnectivity, so users cannot interact with accounts on a particular social media platform without having an account on it. This also means that the price is high for any customer who decides to leave a platform. They lose access to the network and their contacts and so might no longer receive invitations to events, and might not even realise what they have missed because they cannot see the pictures posted by their erstwhile contacts.

On the markets for telephone, email, internet or electricity services, customers can choose between several companies that provide access to the same open and connected network. There might be a small fee or minor inconvenience involved in changing provider, but the customer is not penalised by losing access to the whole network. Social media platforms, on the other hand, not only provide access to a network but, rather, they are the network. So the only way to participate in a particular social media network is through an account with the platform itself. Leaving the platform means losing access to that space.

In this sense, social media platforms are less open and less connected than old-fashioned telephone and email networks. As a result, their market is also less competitive. While new entrants to the telephone and email markets can immediately connect their new customers with all other telephone and email users, a new entrant to the social media market does not have the same luxury. Only platforms that are already large can offer a large network and, since they have full control over access to their network, they continue to attract more users. As large networks grow even larger, the cost of leaving them grows accordingly, and so do the barriers to new market entrants.

With high penalties for leaving platforms and little competition in the market, life is difficult for the discerning customer. Yet, there is a long and growing list of reasons to be judicious when it comes to social media providers. Citizens are increasingly concerned about immediate personal risks related to privacy, cyberbullying, depression and addiction, as well as wider social issues such as taxation, fake news and political interference. Perhaps a more competitive market would foster more robust responses to these problems. One way of fostering a healthier ecosystem of social media platforms might be to encourage the emergence of an open model for social media.

Potential impacts and developments

An open model for social media would have two separate features, open accounts and open platforms. Open accounts are just like standalone social media profiles, so they would include basic personal details as well as contacts with other accounts – using their email, phone number or other identifiers – and familiar content such as status updates, events, photos and videos. They would also specify the user’s preferences for how content could be shared with other accounts and how information from the network should be presented and communicated to them. These open accounts could be used with any open platform.

Open platforms would host and maintain these accounts. They would be responsible for managing communications with other platforms and accounts, protecting the user’s privacy, and presenting the user with information from the whole network – including contacts from all of the open accounts on all of the other open platforms – according to the user’s preferences. Open platforms could be funded by advertising revenue, subscriptions, donations, endowments, the state or some mixture of sources. They could offer specialist features and services catering for different users’ needs and preferences. Advanced users could set up their own servers and manage their own accounts and their relationships with the network. They could pay for this themselves, and offset the cost by charging advertisers to use their data. With such an open model, there would be no contradiction in a social media platform that has only one user, because it could still connect with any other open account on any other open platform.

The key to this is developing open standards that describe how open accounts and open platforms should communicate with each other, such as W3C‘s social web. The open standard should have full connectivity and portability so that any account on any platform that complies with the standard can connect with any other account on any other open platform. This means that users could change platforms without losing access to the network. In this way, if they felt that their current social media platform was untrustworthy or unethical, they could leave it and join another without missing invitations to events. En masse, such behaviour could help foster a competitive market that could respond to the immediate personal risks and wider social problems posed by social media. Users who already had accounts on closed social media platforms that did not comply with the open model could download a readable copy of all their data and convert it into an open account format, which they could then use with any open platform.

Anticipatory policy making

Several EU policies are already encouraging the portability of social media accounts, as well as the development of open standards. For example, Article 20 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gives citizens the right to obtain readable, portable copies of data about them that is held by their social media platforms. This could help discerning users to change platform if they are dissatisfied. EU procurement strategy also supports open source and open standards. Further initiatives supporting user control and open standards, combined with consumer demand for a new approach, could lead to the emergence of a genuinely open and connected model for social media.


Read this At a glance on ‘What if social media were open and connected?’ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/05/24/what-if-social-media-were-open-and-connected-science-and-technology-podcast/

Roadmap for the Future of Europe: shaping EU Security and Defence Policy

Written by Elena Lazarou,

The event was part of the series on the future of EU.

EPRS round table discussion - Roadmap for the Future of Europe: Security and DefenceSpeakers including David McAllister (EPP, Germany), Chair of the AFET Committee, Julia de Clerck-Sachsse (Adviser, Strategic Planning Division, EEAS), Tomáš Valášek (Director, Carnegie Europe) and Elena Lazarou (Policy Analyst, EPRS), as well as moderator Alexandre Stutzmann, Director of Committees, DG EXPO, joined the EPRS on 15 May 2018 for a roundtable event entitled ‘Roadmap for the Future of Europe: shaping EU Security and Defence Policy’. The event was held in the European Parliament’s Library and was the occasion for the launch of a new EPRS publication on ‘Peace and Security in 2018 – Overview of EU action and outlook for the future‘, which will be updated annually and which complements the existing annual publications on the Economic Outlook for the EU and the Demographic Outlook for the EU.

In his introductory keynote, David McAllister referred to the topic as a very timely one. In the past two years, the EU’s Member States have begun for the first time to put words into action in the area of security and defence. Looking back to the Bratislava Summit of 2016, which followed the Brexit vote and aimed at breathing new life into the EU integration process; one area of priority EU action was Security and Defence. This meant moving to the implementation of the Global Strategy and of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration. David Mc Allister identified three decisive factors in the EU’s decision to move ahead in the area of defence: the EU’s defence efficiency problem; improving EU-NATO relations to an unprecedented degree; and external factors such as the growing pressure on the international rules-based system and the shifting of economic and political power globally. He discussed ongoing challenges, such as Russian aggression, cyber threats and interference with elections, as well as the changes in United States’ foreign policy, and perceived those challenges as ‘push’ factors for European integration in defence. Permanent Structured Cooperation in defence (PESCO), implemented through projects such as Military Mobility, is perhaps the most illustrative example of this move towards integration. He also highlighted that the next challenges for PESCO will be arrangements on financing and governance, which will be discussed in the European Council in June 2018. The developments we have witnessed, such as PESCO and the European Defence Fund, led David McAllister to express optimism about the future, based on the fact that, contrary to the situation in the past, political will has emerged that could give rise to a new momentum. He ended his speech by reiterating the European Parliament’s call for an EU Security and Defence White Book, with more details and specifications on the implementation of the Global Strategy.

EPRS round table discussion - Roadmap for the Future of Europe: Security and Defence

In the subsequent roundtable, experts discussed the challenges ahead for the EU’s security and defence policy, such as relations with NATO, implementing decisions and managing to keep up with the pace of events. The discussion also focused on the Global Strategy and how it translates into action, including in terms of the objectives set in Bratislava, but also with regard to the identity of the EU as a global peace and security actor. It was highlighted that security and defence is one of five priorities in the Global Strategy that include resilience, an integrated approach, a focus on prevention, regional orders and strengthening the multilateral order and global governance making it more inclusive and sustainable. That the multilateral rules-based order is being challenged today was a recurrent theme of discussion, and the EU’s need to work with partners on this was highlighted. The role of media and public perceptions of peace, security and the global environment was also emphasised as a source of anxiety about the future of the international system.

On the particular issue of PESCO, experts agreed that the combination of political will and the specific process that it represents, coupled with external factors (fragility, crises, a confrontational global environment), are encouraging. PESCO is also putting pressure on governments to spend more on defence and defence innovation, something which is needed in the EU. However, finding a compromise in the ambitions, interests, threat perceptions and capacities of Member States, is bound to be the major challenge ahead. Nevertheless, within an environment which is becoming increasingly unstable, this is a challenge – experts agreed – to be dynamically tackled.


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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/05/24/roadmap-for-the-future-of-europe-shaping-eu-security-and-defence-policy/

EPRS publications for the European Youth Event 2018

EYE 2018In preparation for the European Youth Event (EYE 2018), taking place in the European Parliament’s seat in Strasbourg on 1 and 2 June 2018, the European Parliamentary Research Service has prepared 18 short and punchy ‘At a glance’ notes on a range of themes from EYE 2018.

The papers cover topics ranging from health apps to protecting our water and oceans, and from the urban-rural divide to dealing with cyber-attacks. The topics chosen are close to young people’s hearts and lives: they touch on key themes including youth unemployment, sport and equal opportunities.

The European Youth Event is for young people aged 16-30. They will exchange ideas and perspectives on youth-related issues, develop innovative solutions to crucial questions for the future and meet with European decision-makers and speakers with a wide range of professional experience.

As a follow-up to EYE, in July 2018 a report with the main ideas discussed will be made available to all 751 Members of the European Parliament. Furthermore, some of those participating at EYE will have the chance to present the most concrete ideas to a number of European parliamentary committees and receive feedback from MEPs.

The topics covered in this compendium are divided into the five main themes of the programme of EYE 2018, namely:

  • Keeping up with the digital revolution
  • Calling for a fair share
  • Working out for a stronger Europe
  • Staying alive in turbulent times
  • Protecting our planet

Young and old

Youth unemployment: The race to zero

Quantum leaps: This time it’s the EU!

I am Doctor Robot. What can I do for you?

Schools of tomorrow: Learning for ever-changing times

Rich and poor

Equal opportunities: Forever poor or born to be free?

Urban-rural divide: Blame it all on my roots…

Globalisation: In the twilight zone

Trade for all: Please fasten your seat belt

Apart and together

Free speech in the digital era

Safe and Dangerous

Sport without corruption

Sakharov Prize: Voices of humanity

Europe’s fight against terror

Cyber-attacks: Not just a phantom menace

The DNA revolution: We better talk this over

Local and global

Ocean protection: Hooked on heavenly habitat

Sustainable city: Global picture, local colour

Water for all: Born to run…

Biodiversity and wildlife crime

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/05/23/eprs-publications-for-the-european-youth-event-2018/

EU sanctions against Russia : What’s next?

Written by Martin Russell,

DG EPRS Policy round table - ' EU sanctions against Russia : What's next? '

DG EPRS Policy round table – ‘ EU sanctions against Russia : What’s next? ‘

Four years after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, the issue of sanctions against Moscow is more topical than ever. Relations between Russia and the West have continued to deteriorate to a level not seen since the end of the Cold War, with revelations of the Kremlin’s interference in the United States elections and elsewhere – for example, in the United Kingdom’s EU referendum. Then in March 2018 came the attempted assassination on UK territory of former Russian spy Sergey Skripal, with the likely involvement of Russian security services. Against this tense backdrop, the European Union is expected during the next few weeks to reach a decision on whether or not to extend its economic sanctions against Russia, due to expire in July 2018, for another six months. On the other side of the Atlantic, the US adopted its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act in August 2017, and on the basis of this new legislation, has adopted a range of new sanctions. Among other things, these strengthen existing restrictions on cooperation with Russian defence and energy companies, and penalise individuals and businesses not previously targeted, such as oligarch Oleg Deripaska and aluminium producer Rusal. Further US sanctions are expected over the coming months.

DG EPRS Policy round table - ' EU sanctions against Russia : What's next? '

KALNIETE, Sandra (EPP, LV)

With sanctions very much in the news, there was particularly strong attendance at the EPRS roundtable discussion on the topic of ‘EU sanctions against Russia: What next’, held in the European Parliament library on 16 May 2016. EPRS Director General Anthony Teasdale delivered a welcoming speech, while the event was moderated by Monika Nogaj, acting head of the EPRS External Policies unit. First to speak was Sandra Kalniete (European People’s Party, Latvia), a prominent Member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee with a long-standing interest in Russia that goes back to her time as Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister. Sandra Kalniete pointed out that Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, as well as its support for the Syrian regime, highlighted the need for the EU to have a policy of credible deterrence vis-à-vis Russia. She felt that sanctions targeted at Russia’s political leaders and allied oligarchs were particularly important, as they raised the personal cost of Russia’s unacceptable foreign policy actions for members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. She also called for the EU to follow the example of the United States and some EU Member States in adopting Magnitsky-type sanctions against individuals involved in human rights violations in Russia.

The next two panellists outlined the economic impacts of EU sanctions against Russia. EPRS policy analyst Martin Russell began with an overview of the various sanctions regimes currently in place against Russia, before going on to describe the effects of EU and US measures targeted at the Russian defence, energy and financial sectors. In the longer term, restrictions on cooperation between EU and Russian companies on projects to develop new oil reserves were expected to seriously undermine Russia’s capacity to maintain production of oil, its number one export; however, in the short term the most immediate impact had come from financial sector sanctions cutting off Russian banks and businesses from access to western finance. Sanctions were not the only cause of Russia’s 2015-2016 economic recession, but they had significantly aggravated it, and were continuing to dampen growth. A muted economic recovery meant that Russia was increasingly falling behind the rest of the world as its share of the global economy continued to decline.

DG EPRS Policy round table - ' EU sanctions against Russia : What's next ? '

PETERS, Eric

By contrast, Eric Peters, Fulbright Scholar at the Hungarian think tank Antall József Knowledge Centre, focused on the economic effects of sanctions on the EU, above all on the four Visegrád countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia). Agrifood exports to Russia had been particularly hard hit, with Poland and Slovakia the worst affected. Nevertheless, the agrifood sector had successfully adapted, thanks to EU payments compensating farmers for lost exports, and to efforts to diversify into new markets. With three of the four countries relying on Russia for over half of their gas supplies, energy sanctions also had a potential impact; at the same time, several initiatives had been taken at both EU and Visegrád country level to reduce dependence on Russian gas. In the defence sector, even before sanctions, Russia had only had a very small share in weapons supplies to Visegrád countries, which were increasingly turning to fellow NATO countries for their armament needs. Peters therefore concluded that the economic costs for EU countries had been limited, and recommended that sanctions be continued.

Professor Irina Busygina from the Higher School of Economics discussed the political effects of sanctions in Russia. According to her, Russia’s leadership had initially miscalculated that EU countries would not be able to reach consensus on restrictive measures. After the adoption of sanctions, expectations that they would soon be lifted again had given way to acceptance of the situation as the ‘new normal’. Russia’s leaders had attempted to present sanctions to the public in a positive light, arguing that they reflected western fears of a strong Russia, and that they could stimulate economic reforms. In reality though, far from encouraging beneficial reforms, sanctions were widening inequalities between Russia’s regions, leading to more state intervention in the economy, and isolating Russia from global markets. Meanwhile there had been a ‘rally round the flag’ effect, illustrated by Vladimir Putin’s overwhelming victory in the March 2018 presidential election.

Fernando Andresen Guimarães, Head of Division for Russia in the European External Action Service emphasised that the sanctions had been adopted in response to Russian actions in violation of international law and the European security order: its illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula, and its destabilisation of eastern Ukraine. Regarding the latter, the duration of the EU’s restrictive measures had been linked by the European Council to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements, and although this had not yet happened, it could be argued that sanctions had helped to avoid further escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Furthermore, EU sanctions were carefully targeted not to cause damage to the broader economy and the Russian people. Due to the way in which sanctions worked and in light of the pressure that they evidently created, it was important to show patience and keep them in place until the desired outcome was achieved. Sanctions were a tool in support of a broader EU policy towards Russia, based on the five principles expressed unanimously by EU foreign ministers in March 2016, and recently reaffirmed in the April 2018 Foreign Affairs Council, which stressed firmness on Ukraine and principles of international law, such as sovereignty and territorial integrity, while keeping communication channels open, engaging on foreign and security policy and global issues, and continuing to strengthen bridges between Russian and EU citizens. An example of the latter was the EU’s Erasmus Plus programme of educational exchanges, with Russian students and teachers the largest non-EU group of participants.

The roundtable discussion was followed by a lively Q&A session.


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Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2018/05/22/eu-sanctions-against-russia-whats-next/