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Europe Politics

French Cultural Pass Encourages Youth to Spend on the Arts

On May 21st 2021, French president Emmanuel Macron announced the Culture Pass. This program  provides €300 to all 18 year olds with the provision that it must be spent on French culture. This money will promote French culture among the nation’s youth and support an industry hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Africa Economics

End of the CFA franc: A possible turning point in Francafrique?

The CFA franc has long been cited as the representation of France’s economic “grip” on Africa and forms a central pillar of Françafrique – France’s relationship with its former African colonies. However, in an effort to move away from the controversial aspects of the region’s common currency, France and the CFA countries have initiated a number of reforms – with the former also pushing for the adoption of the “Eco” by the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). This move would help remove the most visible elements of French influence; however, it is unlikely to assuage the allegations of French neo-colonialism that hamper Paris’ foreign policy objectives. 

Africa Security

What do Divergent Security Interests between the Malian and French Governments mean for the Future of French Operations in the Sahel

Growing divides in security approaches between the Malian and French governments are making security objectives harder to achieve in the Sahel. Recent developments are likely to complicate the issues further, as the new prime minister Moctar Ouane calls for more negotiations with armed groups in the north. 

Africa Security

Counter-terrorism in the Sahel: Can Task Force Takuba be a Game Changer for France

In 2021, Task Force Takuba, bringing together the special forces of 7 European countries to fight terrorism in the Sahel, will become fully operational with an initial mandate of 3 years. France, stuck in what looks like an unwinnable war despite the mobilisation of 5,100 troops as part of Operation Barkhane since 2014, has been advocating for a “Europeanisation” of the military intervention in the region for quite some time. While Takuba will enable more tactical wins against terrorist groups and enable France to break with its diplomatic and military isolation, it is unlikely to change the direction of the conflict. In this context, what is the future of operation Barkhane?

Europe Security

Absence of an EU-Turkey strategic partnership undermines regional security

The European Council summit in December 2020 presented an opportunity for Brussels to formalise a strategic partnership with Turkey to manage the crises in the Eastern Mediterranean, Syria and Libya. Instead, it exposed divergence between France and Germany over how the EU should confront Ankara’s assertive foreign policy. Whilst French President Macron is in favour of putting strong pressure on Turkey’s President Erdogan, German Chancellor Merkel believes that it is vital to remain open to dialogue. This lack of strategic clarity puts regional security at risk given the importance of Turkish cooperation with Brussels over handling common issues in irregular migration and local conflict.

Europe Under The Radar

Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence: the case of Europe

Nuclear disarmament has always been a very sensitive and divisive issue among the EU Member States. But in a world with less credible US security guarantees and a more assertive Russia in the East, a revived debate on a EU nuclear deterrent, which would either rely on the British or French nuclear arsenals, cannot be avoided, as it could potentially equal to the final stage of a well-structured European defence arrangement. 

Europe Politics

Macron’s fight for Freedom of Speech

President Emmanuel Macron used a warlike tone following the recent terrorist attacks that have hit France. Assuring that fear would change sides, the President’s position has sparked a strong response with a call to boycott in several Muslim countries, and several communities have led ‘anti-France’ movements. 

International Security

300,000 Sailors Stranded at Sea Amid Global Pandemic

The UN has recently called for the international community to rescue the crews of commercial ships, gas and oil platforms, and other workers out at sea who have been instructed to keep working, without relief, due to Covid-19.

Middle East/North Africa Politics

Rebuilding the Port of Beirut: a competition for geopolitical influence

In the wake of the explosion that devastated the Lebanese capital on 4 August 2020, multiple countries made offers to participate in the reconstruction of the Port of Beirut alongside sending their condolences. Far from being disinterested acts of solidarity, these propositions constitute strategic moves in a geopolitical game for greater influence over the Eastern Mediterranean. France is likely to stand out from the rest of the competition due to its historical and cultural ties to Lebanon, its current involvement in pushing for reforms in the country and its geopolitical position.

Europe Security

Russia and Ukraine: Nothing good lies ahead?

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s decision to sign the Steinmeier formula has allowed peace talks between Russia and Ukraine to resume. However, a few months after the Normandy Four summit, the chances of reaching a solution for the protracted conflict in eastern Ukraine remains unlikely.