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Europe Finance

Towards a Digital Euro: What Does It Mean for the Safety of Europe?

The digitalization of the economy and the rapid spread of virtual currencies have created unprecedented opportunities for cross-border illicit activities. The most recent proposal of the European Central Bank for the development of a central bank digital currency is no exception. Known as a digital euro, the project is envisioned to differ from crypto-assets and stable coins in its centralized oversight and control of digital transactions. Hence, by allowing a central banking authority to monitor and verify online transactions, a digital euro could facilitate the fight against organized crime in the EU. Yet, the currently proposed design possibilities of a digital euro reveal vulnerabilities to compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations, as well as pose a significant threat to the safety of children in the digital space. 

Environment Europe Insights

Antitrust fines in the EU signal progress on emissions standards

On the 8th of July 2021 the European Commission announced that it had imposed a €875 million fine on a group of German car manufacturers for conspiring to limit the development of clean emissions technology. This is the 7th largest fine ever imposed by the body and demonstrates the EU’s hard-line response to the car industry’s flagrant disregard of international environmental law. Daimler’s decision to alert the Commission to the cartel in order to avoid fines under the 2006 Leniency Notice suggests that new regulatory frameworks are effectively discouraging cartels.

Eurasia Politics

Hungarians protest encroaching Chinese Influence

Recently, Hungary’s President Orban has faced a wave of protests in response to plans to build a Chinese satellite campus at a Budapest University at the cost of $1.8 billion. The Hungarian public have objected on the grounds that the project could undercut the country’s higher education and increase the influence of China’s communist authorities in Hungary and across Europe. If the project goes ahead, there could be benefits for Sino-Hungarian relations but possibly at the cost of Hungary’s relations with its European neighbours and the stability of Orban’s premiership. 

Europe Politics

United Kingdom – Northern Ireland Protocol Complicates Trade Negotiations

The status of Northern Ireland (NI) has consistently been one of the most contentious aspects of Brexit. The tenuous political quagmire, combined with the fact that it hosts the only land border between the UK and the EU, has caused a plethora of economic and sociopolitical problems. In an attempt to prevent the creation of a hard land border in Ireland, the UK elected to let NI remain part of the EU single market. While this has prevented dividing Ireland, it has strained relations between NI and the rest of the UK.

Europe Natural resources and energy

Energy Transition in the European Union: Great Challenges and Opportunities

Transition towards low carbon energy systems remains to be a challenge for the European Union. Europe is faced with economic, social and environmental costs of having fragmented national energy markets despite the ambitious “European Green Deal” agenda of Von der Leyen’s Commission, which positions the EU as a leader in global climate action through comprehensive decarbonization policies. A net reduction target of minimum 55% from the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions was  agreed on Wednesday 21st of April by European co-legislators under the framework for European Climate Law. Nonetheless, curbing GHG emissions necessitates regional concerted action for transition from fossil fuel economies to renewable energy based systems in order to face the transboundary effects of climate change. 

Europe Politics

The Domino Effect of Normalizing Violence Against Women: Why Turkey’s Withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention Has Become the Norm Rather Than the Exception

Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention has been highly criticized by the European Union and human rights advocates. However, Turkey is not the first and most likely not the last country to opt out of the Convention on preventing and combating gender-based violence. Whereas much of the focus has been on Erdogan’s political motivations behind the decision, the issue of violence against women in Central and Eastern Europe in relation to the Istanbul Convention remains in the shadows and requires further attention.

Eurasia Europe Politics

Were Sanctions by the EU the Right Move?

On 2nd March 2021, the EU announced sanctions on four Russian citizens for human rights violations. The continuing saga of Navalny’s imprisonment and the treatment of protestors by the Russian government has forced the international community to respond but are sanctions the right response? 

Europe Security

The Turkish intervention in Nagorno-Karabakh may favour EU interests

As mediator in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Russia has sought to maintain influence in Azerbaijan and Armenia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In pursuing a strategy based on balancing competing Armenian-Azerbaijani interests over the disputed territory, Moscow is able to wield leverage in the South Caucasus without antagonising either Baku or Yerevan. However, the Turkish intervention on the issue in 2020 in full support of Azerbaijan tilted the power-balance of the conflict and cemented Ankara as a new security actor in the region.

Europe Security

NATO and the EU: What Does Brexit Mean for The UK’s Position in European Security?

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU last year calls into question the security implications that the split will have. The UK has continued to support NATO as the primary security provider on the continent and has acted at the forefront to reform the organisation to better address the changing security environment in Europe. On the other hand, the EU forges on with its efforts to form an autonomous strategic partnership to ensure European security through collective efforts. Without resistance from London, this policy is likely to go ahead creating uncertainty for the future of NATO in Europe and UK’s place in the security of the continent.

Europe Politics

Poland: Heading Towards ‘Polexit’?

Conflicts between the Polish government and the EU have raised concerns over their future relationship. Poland, once a shining example of post-communist recovery, has damaged its international reputation through controversial reforms and political battles with the EU, most recently attempting to block the EU budget. But are we heading towards ‘Polexit’?