EU

Just over a decade ago, in the wake of the bloody Yugolsav Wars, Serbia was regarded as a pariah by many European countries. Next month, it will start negotiations for membership of the European Union.

A rogue state no more, the beginning of formal talks on a wide range of policy areas (“chapters”) indicates how far the country has come. But the way ahead is not an easy one, entailing many years of difficult reforms. Continue reading »

With protesters in Kiev apparently settling in for a long haul, the question that looms increasingly large is: what happens next? The status quo is looking increasingly unviable but, so far, Ukraine’s government appears to have no plan B.

Or rather, it appears to have three plan Bs, none of which stands much chance of success. Continue reading »

By Brian Marrs and Agata Hinc

Can the European Union regain the global lead on climate policy? Yes, but not without natural gas. The EU’s credibility as an international leader on climate change hinges on successfully realising its grand visions of a renewables-centric society beyond coal. This vision is simply Euro-dreaming without natural gas, a critical fuel for challenging coal today and supporting renewables tomorrow. Those who are sceptical should just look across the Atlantic, where a natural gas boom has boosted the US economy, bypassed coal-fired generation, and allowed states like California to more cost-effectively assimilate renewables. Continue reading »

In the approach to Thursday and Friday’s EU Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, all eyes have been on Ukraine as its officials struggle to balance the opposing forces of the EU and Russia. But what about two other post-Soviet countries, Moldova and Georgia, which have signed up to the EU’s partnership programme? Do they risk punishment by Moscow?

Ministers appeared not to rule out such at turn at the summit, though they have hopes of avoiding the worst. Continue reading »

Masked men storming polling stations, assaulting officials and voters and throwing gas bombs; ballot boxes disappearing; international observers fleeing for their safety; an atmosphere of intimidation. Sunday’s local elections in Kosovo were not quite the affirmation of new-found inter-ethnic cooperation and free and fair democracy the European Union had hoped for. Serbia will wish to disassociate itself from the violence swiftly, lest it prove a setback to its budding hopes of EU accession, and the investment related to it. Continue reading »

By Piotr Koscinski and Maya Rostowska of PISM

Why is Poland so keen to draw Ukraine closer to the European Union? One answer might invoke lofty ideals such as Ukrainian-Polish friendship and Slavic brotherhood. But it would be wrong.

Poland’s support for Ukraine’s European ambition is actually based on a simple conviction: that it would be good for Ukrainians, for Poles and for the EU as a whole. Continue reading »

Onishchenko: he say no

Yet another conflict is brewing between Russia and one of its post-Soviet neighbours.

On Monday Russia’s consumer protection agency announced it had halted dairy imports from Lithuania, citing excessive quantities of yeast and mould in certain Lithuanian dairy products after weeks of holding up Lithuanian transport trucks for longer than normal periods at border control. Continue reading »

By Vasyl Filipchuk of the ICPS and Amanda Paul of the EPC

The Yalta conference in Crimea, Ukraine, left a clear feeling of a geopolitical shift in Europe. Not the one 68 years ago at this Black Sea resort but the annual Yalta European Strategy conference organised last weekend by Ukrainian philanthropist Victor Pinchuk with the participation of Tony Blair, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Karl Bildt, Stefan Fule and many other European and global leaders and opinion makers.

Movers and shakers from both the EU and Ukraine left Yalta confident that the EU’s third Eastern Partnership summit to be held in Vilnius in November will see the signature of an EU/Ukraine association agreement. Continue reading »

Help!

It is what Ukraine least wants. Just as the country gets closer to signing an economic and political pact with the EU, investors have got the jitters about its creditworthiness.

The cost of insuring Ukrainian debt – as shown by the price of credit default swaps – has hit a three-year high after Moody’s downgraded the country to Caa1 on Friday. The cost of a five-year CDS jumped for a third day in a row on Thursday, to 1037 basis points. Continue reading »

Or not.

The European Commission has upped the stakes in its ongoing face-off with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. On Wednesday it told Russian border guards to stop “punitive” searches of cars and lorries crossing the Lithuanian border. An EU customs official said that if Russia did not give a satisfactory answer, the EU would go to the World Trade Organisation. Continue reading »

By Ivica Dačić, Prime Minister of Serbia

There are some lines by Albert Camus that apply perfectly to Serbia over the past two decades. They also help to explain why I decided, without fear, to accept the position of prime minister of a country with a dark and difficult historical heritage.

The lines are: “I shall tell you a great secret my friend. Do not wait for the last judgement. It takes place every day…” Continue reading »

In a bid to jump-start its struggling auto assembly industry, Ukraine has introduced yet another tax on auto imports, infuriating officials at the European Union and further jeopardising any chance of signing planned association and free trade agreements with the EU in the autumn. Continue reading »

By Enikő Győri of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

As a minister of state responsible for European affairs it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to read articles about Hungary without thinking of possible conspiracies aimed against my country, or suspecting the authors and the foreign politicians they quote of complete ignorance.

This is not because I am too sensitive to criticism but because of the gross distortions which I see in so many critical statements about Hungary. Continue reading »

By Erik Berglof and Peter Sanfey of the EBRD

Croatia’s accession to the European Union on Monday is a triumph – for the country and for the EU. For Zagreb, it is a triumph of perseverance – the completion of a process that began hesitantly in the 1990s and that faced many obstacles.

The European Commission, perhaps mindful of the accusation that some previous entrants were not fully prepared for membership, has subjected Croatia to greater scrutiny than any existing member. For the EU, the accession of Croatia is a demonstration of its “soft power” – its ability to persuade countries to implement difficult and unpopular reforms. Continue reading »

By Romano Prodi, former president of the European Commission

It is rare that world leaders have a chance to pragmatically achieve an idealistic goal, to unite bold dreams and careful statesmanship at the same time. Yet such an opportunity is now upon us, as the time for the European Union and Ukraine to come closer together, to create a bridge between east and west, is at hand. Continue reading »