Stay in the loop.


Adam Hug


Adam Hug became Director of the Foreign Policy Centre in November 2017. He had previously been the Policy Director at the Foreign Policy Centre from 2008-2017. His research focuses on human rights and governance issues particularly in the former Soviet Union. He also writes on UK foreign policy and EU issues. His previous roles included work as a consultant on EU consumer protection issues and working with Israeli and Palestinian trade unions and civil society groups.

Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 800 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2011-01-04 17:07:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-01-04 17:07:16 [post_content] => This third paper in the Kazakhstan at a Crossroads series explores some of Kazakhstan's international relationships with the EU, Russia and China. [post_title] => Kazakhstan at a Crossroads: Kazakhstan and the world [post_excerpt] => This third paper in the Kazakhstan at a Crossroads series explores some of Kazakhstan's international relationships with the EU, Russia and China. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => kazakhstan-at-a-crossroads-kazakhstan-and-the-world [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 15:18:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 15:18:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 600 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2010-12-16 10:52:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-12-16 10:52:48 [post_content] => First, it is imperative to bridge the planning divide that sees so many Arab majority areas either unrecognized or with obsolete official plans. Ensuring that every community has current and accurate plans would help ease the dramatic shortage of housing available to the Arab community, and end the impasse whereby unapproved building takes place to meet local demand at the risk of prosecution and demolition. It would also help encourage business development by making investment more secure and facilitate government funding. Previous government initiatives to rectify this problem have stalled, so it is to be hoped new initiatives by the Authority for Economic Development of the Arab Sector have more success and are the start of much more work in this area. If needed, the EU or European Investment Bank could provide financial support, while extra capacity could be mobilized among planners internationally to help boost local capacity and support the work of local NGOs already active in this area. The government’s rejection of the 39 rabbis’ recent missive is to be welcomed, but words alone are not enough. It must take concerted action to ensure equal access to housing and land. This would involve a major housebuilding program in Arab-majority areas, and further reform of the allocation practices of the Israel Lands Administration, Jewish National Fund and housing providers. Tackling the inequality in the provision of discretionary state development funding, where Arab municipalities receive less than 5 percent of the total, and ending the 32% gap in social welfare spending will be essential components of a strategy to reduce deprivation among Arab communities, whose members are more than three times more likely than Jews to live below the poverty line. IN THE workplace, having missed its 2008 target of achieving 10% representation by the Arab community in the civil service by a 4% margin, it is imperative that the government redouble its efforts to achieve this proportion by the new 2012 deadline. In the private sector, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission can play an important role, but it needs to be able to expand its capacity and become more independent. The case remains for an official equality commission with a wider remit to promote equality across society through education and advocacy. Although such bodies are common in other democracies, an Israeli version seems a long way off. Nevertheless, partnership work across society with equality bodies in other countries can still make a positive contribution, as is already the case between the EEOC and the Northern Ireland Equality Commission. In the Knesset, recent attempts at discriminatory legislation have further undermined trust in the political system among members of the Arab community. The extremely low percentage of Arab-Palestinian and Beduin citizens voting for mainstream parties in 2009 should have been a warning to the political class about the polarization of its politics, but the current coalition has been taking forward issues that were once at the fringes. Moderate forces in political life must firmly reject measures that inflame community tensions, limiting free speech and legitimate debate about the country’s future. The EU and other international partners must be similarly robust in their opposition to attempts to restrict their financial support for NGOs in this sector that would be in breach of the commitments made in the EU-Israel Association Agreement and Action Plan. The need for robust debate about how to deliver equality for the Arab community must not be abused to provide fuel for extremist attempts to undermine either the country or any of its citizens. Many of these important issues have been relevant for decades, and it is deeply unfortunate that Israel did not take the opportunity provided by the Or Commission more than seven years ago to address them. Israel is not alone in facing challenges between majority and minority communities, so it is essential that progressive forces both here and beyond work together, sharing best ideas about how to move forward. The work of the US and UK Jewish community task forces on Arab issues can help the international community engage in an informed and supportive manner. In partnership, we must redouble our efforts to bring about a future where the pledge of Israel’s founders to give its Arab community the rights of “full and equal citizens” can be fulfilled. This was an Op-Ed article in the Jerusalem Post on Thursday 16th December [post_title] => Full and Equal? [post_excerpt] => For too long, the challenges facing Israel’s Arab citizens have been obscured for international observers by the all-too-pressing concerns of the conflict. But this is gradually changing due to recognition of the growing tensions between the country’s Jewish and Arab communities. It is against this backdrop that the Foreign Policy Center has published its new report, “Full and Equal Citizens: How to deliver equality for Israel’s Arab community,” as part of our work on minority rights across the world. It makes a number of recommendations. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => full-and-equal [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 15:34:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 15:34:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 592 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2010-02-01 08:27:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2010-02-01 08:27:24 [post_content] => In the slightly warmer climes of the Balkans the two pillars of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia and Croatia, are making their own unsteady paths towards EU membership. Just before Christmas Serbia’s pro-European President Boris Tadic formally requested membership, that once signed off by the council will give the green light for the accession process to rumble into action. Alongside the usual requirements for regulatory convergence to meet Serbia has to make progress on two major outstanding issues before it can join the club. Belgrade is still, somewhat unenthusiastically, hunting for two war criminals the former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, former President of the civil war era Republic of Serbian Krajina. Furthermore it has still to reconcile itself to Kosovo’s independence, with Tadic reiterating Belgrade’s position that the country remains an integral part of his nation while celebrating Orthodox Christmas in a church in an area of Western Kosovo dominated by the Serb minority. Nevertheless Belgrade now seems to be in an informal race with Ankara to see which of these challenging but critically important accessions can be completed first. Plainer sailing can now be expected for its northern neighbour Croatia after Slovenia lifted objections last year relating to a still on-going border dispute over the Bay of Piran. Back in Brussels, as work is underway putting together the new Commission and readjusting the institutional architecture following the creation of Cathy Ashton’s new position of High Rep, Barosso’s new Commission has put together the responsibilities for the neighbourhood away from the Baroness and into the remit of Enlargement Commissioner designate Stefan Füle. As an enthusiastic supporter of both enlargement and greater engagement with the neighbourhood I should welcome this initiative with open arms. Yet it runs the risk of creating new divided loyalties and responsibilities, with staff taking direction from Füle, yet likely to be part of the future European Action Service run by Ashton, when the whole process was supposed to reduce institutional clutter and overlap. Furthermore while there is considerable merit in strengthening neighbourhood policy to a point where participation in the longer term can act as either a staging ground for, or indeed an alternative to, membership for countries whose membership aspirations remain a distant dream such Ukraine and Georgia, it creates a risk. If not managed carefully, creating a direct continuum between neighbourhood and enlargement policy runs the risk of creating a dumping ground where Turkey’s membership aspirations could yet be parked. [post_title] => Joining the club [post_excerpt] => (First published in BN Magazine ) Joining the EU can be a tricky business, even if you are not a large and Islamic country straddling the continent’s old geographic divide. Brussels is at serious risk of getting mud on the red carpet it rolled out to welcome Iceland, the once fiercely independent banking black hole, into the club, as President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson jeopardized the country’s repayment deal with the UK and Netherlands over the collapse of the Icesave bank by putting it to a public vote in February. With the public less fearful of total economic collapse, the need to appease European member states seems less pressing, with polls showing that voters are likely to reject the deal and are not currently sold on joining the EU, if even if they are happy for negotiations to proceed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => joining-the-club [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 16:08:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 16:08:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 756 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2009-09-02 12:38:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2009-09-02 12:38:22 [post_content] => The Foreign Policy Centre made a submission to the UN UPR of Iran on the basis of its two most recent Iran publications 'From Cradle to Coffin: A Report on Child Executions in Iran' and 'A Revolution without Rights: Women, Kurds and Baha'is Searching For Equality in Iran'. The FPC's information featured significantly in the UN Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights summary of stakeholder submissions. Click here to see the UN OHCHR report. [post_title] => The Foreign Policy Centre Submission for the United Nations Universal Periodic Review: Iran [post_excerpt] => The Foreign Policy Centre made a submission to the UN UPR of Iran on the basis of its two most recent Iran publications 'From Cradle to Coffin: A Report on Child Executions in Iran' and 'A Revolution without Rights: Women, Kurds and Baha'is Searching For Equality in Iran'. The FPC's information featured significantly in the UN Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights summary of stakeholder submissions. To see the UN OHCHR report visit: [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-foreign-policy-centre-submission-for-the-united-nations-universal-periodic-review-iran [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 16:14:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 16:14:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 580 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2009-08-12 21:25:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2009-08-12 21:25:45 [post_content] => Following US Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit and this month’s anniversary of the war with Russia, the international spotlight is briefly back onto Georgia. The country faces an uncertain future. The optimism and excitement generated by the 2003 Rose revolution and the first few years of rapid reform has dissipated. The events of November 2007 on the streets of Tbilisi and August 2008 in Tskhinvali have shaken the West’s previously almost reflexive support for President Mikheil Saakashvili, prompting international soul-searching about the road ahead. Georgia’s decline in the eyes of the international human rights community has been marked by falling rankings in several key areas. According to the 2009 Freedom House “Nations in Transition” report, Georgia today is less democratic than in any period in the last ten years, with rankings for democratic governance, electoral process and civil society all slipping since 2008. The decline in press freedom has been a particularly worrying trend. Reporters without Borders ranked Georgia 120th in its 2008 Press Freedom Index, a significant fall from its 2007 ranking of 66th. Rising international disquiet has mirrored growing domestic discontent, particularly following a severe crackdown on demonstrators in November 2007 when the government used excessive force to disperse largely peaceful demonstrations. The country has been wracked by street protests ever since, most notably again in April 2009. It is important to see Georgia for the country it is rather than the one we would like it to be. Since Saakashvili took over in 2003, Georgia has been one of the better performing transition countries rather than a new fully fledged democracy. With that in mind, the EU’s new Eastern Partnership provides an important opportunity to help Georgia recommit to reform and the transition to full democracy by developing clear human rights benchmarks and conditionality. Under the Eastern Partnership, the EU should develop a more detailed set of benchmarks than currently exist. To assess compliance with these benchmarks, the EU should establish a permanent governance and human rights monitoring team attached to its existing presence in Georgia. This should act as the core around which additional personnel and resources can be attached for election, media and other monitoring purposes during key periods. Ultimately, improvements in the EU’s human rights and governance benchmarks and monitoring should not only deliver increased moral and political pressure for reform, they should also be clearly linked to the economic aid and trading relationships that the EU develops with Georgia. The Eastern Partnership offers countries the opportunity to upgrade their Partnership and Cooperation Agreements to full EU Association Agreements that include “deep and comprehensive free trade agreements”. Such free trade agreements should be contingent on meeting a set level of performance against the human rights and governance benchmarks. Georgia’s need for funds to weather the economic crisis gives the EU another important lever to help ensure significant reform takes place by linking support to improvements in human rights. To supplement the aid and trade incentives and penalties, the EU should re-examine and develop the existing governance facility of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The facility, which provides extra funding to top reforming countries, is a good idea in principle but the size of the “carrot” is just €50 million per year across all ENP countries. For it to have a significant effect, the size of the pot needs to grow substantially. The EU’s role in Georgia goes beyond conditionality and monitoring. It has a vital role in providing technical assistance and political engagement. Both the EU and the US need to work pragmatically with the current government while trying to bridge the divide between Saakashvili and his opponents. The international community must make clear to the opposition that it recognises that the human rights situation in Georgia has deteriorated and that urgent action is being taken to address these issues. At the same time the opposition needs to be told that repeated street protests must not be seen as the means of achieving political change in Georgia. Political engagement must be matched by technical support. The international community should work to strengthen the independence of the media regulator, the Georgian National Communications Commission, by calling for an end to the president’s final approval of commissioners, strengthened parliamentary scrutiny and the addition of international representatives to the commission. In the wake of the withdrawal of the OSCE mission and its role in supporting police reform, the EU needs to step in to fill the gap. There is scope for improvement in police training and oversight, and an independent police complaints authority should be created. Similarly in the legal sphere, representatives of the bar and NGOs should be brought onto the High Council of Justice to enhance judicial independence. The EU has the opportunity to take the lead in supporting reform in Georgia, underpinning its commitment to European values through a monitored mix of incentives and penalties. By doing this it can set the template for the new Eastern Partnership – and become a more effective player in its neighbourhood. “Spotlight on Georgia”, a new pamphlet edited by Adam Hug, was recently published by the Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Keeping Georgia on Europe's mind [post_excerpt] => The EU has the tools to nurture democracy in Tbilisi, argues Adam Hug, FPC Policy Director, in an article for E!Sharp: [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => keeping-georgia-on-europes-mind [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 16:16:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 16:16:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 553 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2009-01-09 11:07:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2009-01-09 11:07:37 [post_content] => Central to improving the situation in Gaza and across Palestine is the need for an agreement that enables Fatah and Hamas to find a working relationship. For while undoubtedly Hamas has been damaged as a military force in this operation, it remains a political organisation with the support of a significant minority of the Palestinian people with a legacy of its 2006 parliamentary election victory. An agreement would not only bring greater stability to Palestinian society, it would provide the basis for a return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, an essential requirement for long-term peace and security between Israel and the strip. The bitter infighting in the wake of Hamas’ 2006 victory that lead to the schism between Gaza and the West Bank in 2007 was not only the result of inflexible positions of Hamas, Israel and Fatah combined with the clumsy nature of international community’s response which damaged Palestinians economically without undermining Hamas politically, it was also the result of a wider systemic problem within the Palestinian Authority. The PA’s strongly presidential system created for President Arafat, watered down at the height of Second Intifada under intense international pressure to enable Mahmoud Abbas to take up the newly created post of Prime Minister, which in turn provided a platform for Hamas to form a government lacks the necessary separation of powers to operate with competing parties controlling differing institutions. The situation is further complicated by the international negotiating role on behalf of the Palestinian people everywhere being operated through the PLO. There is a pressing need to come up with a successor to the Mecca Agreement that briefly offered hope of reconciliation between the two parties in 2007. The agreement called for the creation of a national unity government and would have allowed Hamas to join the PLO while allowing President Abbas, as Chairman of the PLO to continue negotiating a long-term settlement with Israel on the basis of previous agreements. A new deal might enable fresh presidential and parliamentary elections to be held, a significant bone of contention between the two parties, with Hamas arguing that President Abbas’s term expires at the end of January. It may ultimately lead to Hamas being able to join the PLO, enabling final status negotiations to move forward on behalf of a unified Palestinian platform. An agreement could also limit the level of friction in future situations where the presidency and legislative council are split between the parties. Not only is a new deal an important step to enable an eventual final status agreement, progress is needed now to enable the PA’s return to Gaza in some form which may well be a requirement of any ceasefire agreement. PA control of the border crossings, potentially alongside the return of EU monitors or a new international force if Egyptian and Hamas objections can be somehow be over come, is seen as an essential step to enable the regular opening of Gaza’s borders in the long-term. Furthermore as Israel understandably will not tolerate continued weapons smuggling at Rafah so the PA or international force in coordination with Egypt must have the necessary power to identify and destroy tunnels, which may only achievable in the context of a wider agreement. There is an element of wishful thinking that the incoming Obama administration will completely transform US Middle East policy from its current chilling detachment. However expectations are high that the new administration will be significantly more engaged in pushing for a peace agreement and ensuring Israel pays greater attention to the humanitarian situation facing the Palestinians over the longer-term. Increased diplomatic pressure will be required to shape a political environment where the Israeli public is willing to accept the necessary steps on settlements and Jerusalem. Until the recent conflict Israel seemed destined to elect a hard-line rejectionist block in elections due on February 10th headed by a rejuvenated Likud Party, led by former PM Benyamin Netanyahu one of the key contributors to the failure of the Oslo Process. The current conflict has boosted the chances of the Kadima-Labor coalition although a Likud victory remains the most likely outcome given the continued strength of the religious and ultra-nationalist parties. Obama’s team will have to move hard and fast to make clear that the US will not welcome an Israeli Government that rejects or seeks to indefinitely postpone the creation of a Palestinian State. It must make clear it will not placidly accept further delay in reaching a final status agreement based on the ‘Clinton Parameters’ established in the final days of the last Democratic administration. Although the Israeli public does not take direction from the White House it would help shape the political environment in the 21 days from the inauguration to the Israeli elections. While a fresh Kadima-Labor victory would give the new administration hope that progress could be made on final status issues, a hard-right coalition would require a more radical shift in US policy to achieve any discernible progress in the coming years. Whether the Obama administration would be willing to use US economic and military assistance as leverage to bring a rejectionist Israeli government to the table, a tactic last used meaningfully by George Bush senior in 1991, may prove one of the most important foreign policy challenges facing the new administration come February. [post_title] => When the dust settles in Gaza [post_excerpt] => With an aerial bombardment, Israeli troops on the streets of Gaza, a humanitarian crisis and frustrated diplomats, the parallels between the current crisis and the events of summer 2006 are pretty clear. That history has repeated itself with added ferocity and loss of life is testament to the diplomatic and political failure to which Israel, the Palestinians, the US, EU and neighbouring states have all been party. The bitter cycle of rocket attacks and economic blockade set against a backdrop of warring factions and glacial progress towards a final status agreement gives little credit all round. The pressure from within the Israeli Government for mission creep to achieve the complete obliteration of Hamas appears to be subsiding as Egyptian and French diplomacy begins to make some progress, the scale of the humanitarian crisis and its global political impact becomes clearer to the Israelis and the task of finding suitable Hamas targets becomes progressively more difficult. As hopes of a possible resolution begin to flicker into view, thoughts are turning to what must be done to prevent this happening again. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => when-the-dust-settles-in-gaza [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 16:18:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 16:18:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 549 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2008-11-28 14:24:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2008-11-28 14:24:53 [post_content] => After years when even committed Atlanticists have nervously tried to keep their distance from a politically toxic Bush Administration, with British ministers such as Lord Malloch Brown announced that the incoming Brown Government would be ‘no longer joined at the hip’ to the Americans, politicians from around the world are now jostling to stand as close as possible to the President-elect. One of Obama’s first challenges is to translate his political capital into European troops on the ground in Afghanistan where he is committed to a ‘surge’-like policy of increased troop deployment and political engagement of Pashtun groups previously sympathetic to the Taliban. This at a time when there are growing calls for the deployment of an EU force in the DRC and with the countries who have already made significant deployments such as Britain are facing overstretch. Similarly, following the inconclusive G20 talks, there will be the need for the new US administration to take a leading role in coordinating the fiscal stimulus packages and overhaul the global financial architecture. This will involve swiftly building a strong working relationship with Gordon Brown who has taken unofficial leadership of the global response to the crisis as Bush fades away. Promisingly, Obama and Brown share favourite tools. Obama’s pledge to cut taxes for 95% of Americans by reversing Bush’s tax cuts, likely to form the major plank of any Obama fiscal stimulus, will in fact largely be driven by tax credits, the Clintonian mechanism heavily favoured by the Prime Minister. The choices Obama makes on his economic team will be critical not only to the response to the economic and financial crises. The protectionist language used on the campaign trail by Obama and his fellow Democrats have given some cause for concern that the US may seek to pull up the drawbridge in an attempt to save US jobs. While there is likely to be a cooling of support for free trade, particularly in light of the current economic situation, the centrist track records of all names floating for senior roles at Treasury or on the Council of Economic Advisors such as Tim Geithner, Jamie Dimon, Larry Summers, Robert Rubin and Paul Volker would suggest that a radical retrenchment is unlikely. Similarly the international community will hope that the Poznan Climate Change Conference in December marks the swan song of an obstructionist US position on climate change and that the incoming administration will join the race to a final deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol at next winter’s Copenhagen Summit. It has yet to be seen if the economic crisis will limit some of Obama’s ambitions for tackling climate change but there are encouraging signs in some of the strangest places. The proposed $50 billion bailout for the motor industry would be tied by Democrats to helping the US car giants to develop new fuel efficient vehicles, looks like an example of how Obama will try to use fiscal stimuli to support the development of green technology as well as kick start the economy. Given the bailouts for the financial services sector and Detroit, commentators have been questioning the ability of the new administration to deliver the comprehensive package of healthcare reforms it campaigned for. Many of the proposed mechanisms in the Obama healthcare plan are familiar to British observers: an overhaul of IT systems including the transfer of medical records from paper to computer, publishing performance data and encouraging competition between providers. However the more radical element of the plan is to enable universal coverage through the creation on a National Health Insurance Exchange, offering a new state backed insurance scheme based on the Federal Employees Benefits Programme used by members of congress alongside existing insurance packages. This would be supported with a range of tax credits for families and small businesses and requirement on larger firms to provide insurance or contribute to the costs of the national plan. DC chatter sees campaign co-chair and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle as the front runner for the position as the new administration’s Secretary for Health and Human Services. It will need an experienced hand such as Daschle to manage the legislative obstacles likely to be thrown in the path of reform by the health insurance industry and manage expectations with the likely delays to elements of the package enforced by the economic crisis. The challenges Obama faces are grave but the combination of international goodwill, a promising team of built from Obama’s savvy campaign operatives and experienced Clinton hands and a sense of purpose borne from adversity gives hope that these challenges can be met. This article was first published at < Public Servant>. [post_title] => Obama faces the toughest challenges since FDR [post_excerpt] => As the celebrations die down, and the ticker tape is cleared away, the political reality of Barak Obama’s transition is becoming clearer. Pundits argue with some accuracy that President-elect Obama will enter office with a daunting in-tray, perhaps as tough a set of problems as any new leader has faced since FDR. Two unresolved wars, a financial crisis, an economic slump, an unstable trade deficit and large portions of US debt owned by China and other countries, not exactly top of the US’s Christmas list, are just some of the challenges the new administration has to look forward to. However, he faces these challenges with a level of goodwill internationally that has no recent comparison. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => obama-faces-the-toughest-challenges-since-fdr [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 16:19:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 16:19:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 536 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2008-07-31 15:40:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2008-07-31 15:40:44 [post_content] => Since Laken in 2001, the EU has been trying to balance the perceived need for institutional reform that streamlines operations, enabling it to cope with further enlargement and future challenges, with a growing scepticism towards the reform process amongst the EU public for many different, and often conflicting, reasons. The Irish no vote, following on from the collapse of the Constitution in 2005 in France and the Netherlands, shows that even the most overtly pro-European publics are deeply disengaged by perpetual institutional reform. A sign of the growing disillusionment across the EU, the Commission’s June Eurobarometer survey shows a decline in public support for the EU amongst the 27 member states. Only 52% of Europeans believe their country’s membership of the EU is a good thing. This is down 6% from last autumn and over 75% from a generation ago. However a small majority, 32% to 30%, of Britons now believe membership to be bad for the UK. In Ireland the treaty was pulled apart by a ragtag coalition of the far left and right, Sinn Fein and Libertas. Particularly galling for politicians both in Ireland and across the EU was the lack of a clear issue around which the no voters clearly coalesced, a single problem which they could try to solve. However, this confusion has not prevented recriminations. If Europe was able to choose a leader to mop the EU’s troubled brow in the wake of the Irish vote, it is unlikely that it would have chosen the less than emollient figure of President Sarkozy for the task. However, thanks to a system Lisbon sought to change, it is the French President, as holder of the rotating Presidency, who has the unenviable task of trying to find a way forward. His start has not been encouraging. Sarkozy has responded in two main ways. First, he seized on complaints from Irish farmers over Peter Mandelson’s approach to WTO negotiations on agriculture and CAP reform, and attempted to place it within a wider argument for protectionism in the face of rising food prices and global economic malaise. Although clearly influenced by his domestic concerns, this poses a real challenge for those, such as the British Government, who have supported the liberalising agenda Brussels has pursued since another controversial product of the Portuguese capital, the 2000 Lisbon Agenda. Although Mandelson has been fighting back hard, if Sarkozy is successful in gaining support for a return to protectionism, there may be ramifications for the liberalisation of public services in areas such as the implementation of the 2006 ‘Bolkestein’ Directive on services in the internal market that is due to come into force by December 2009, or the opening up of postal markets. While protectionism, particularly in farming, may play well in France, it is likely to fuel further scepticism toward the EU in Britain where reform of the CAP is so critical to restoring British faith in the project. Although formal discussions on the Treaty are in purdah until the October 15th summit, it is clear the second strand of the Sarkozy strategy is to push the Irish government into re-voting. He has publically stated that ‘if the prospect of a second vote in Ireland has been raised, it is because it has happened before. We need some kind of vote to get out of the situation in Parliament or in a referendum.’ Furthermore, he has threatened that further enlargement could not happen without the Treaty. While this may not be the case in every member state, for a sceptical British public, and in many of the smaller and newer member states, it is difficult to see that the institutional benefits delivered by the Treaty would outweigh the anger and disillusionment generated by an Irish re-vote delivered at the diplomatic equivalent of a gun point. Giving the Irish government time and space to see if they can resolve enough of the Irish public’s concerns, for example by retaining the current size of the Commission, to Eurosceptic chagrin in the UK, and clarifying the tax, neutrality and abortion issues, might enable ratification. However while Ireland may be the only country to have voted the treaty down, it is far from the only public to hold deep reservations about the both the Treaty and the way the EU operates, as the opinion polls starkly show. French sabre-rattling, deeply hypocritical given their failure to hold a second referendum on the Constitution, is likely to be nothing but counter-productive as recent spats with the Czech and Polish Presidents show. It does nothing to dispel the core concern, that is, the perception of the EU as an elite project which is out of touch with the public. The drafters of the Lisbon Treaty argued that it would give a greater democratic accountability by strengthening the elected pillars of the EU, the Council and Parliament. However, if the Irish are unable to resolve their disagreements, the EU must be prepared to move on without Lisbon. [post_title] => Sarkozy stumbles as the EU tries to find a way forward after Ireland [post_excerpt] => The EU has spent the last month navel-gazing; trying to figure out a way out of the bind it has found itself in after the Irish no vote on the Lisbon ‘Reform’ Treaty, and pondering how to re-engage its citizenry. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sarkozy-stumbles-as-the-eu-tries-to-find-a-way-forward-after-ireland [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 16:51:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 16:51:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )

Full and Equal?

First, it is imperative to bridge the planning divide that sees so many Arab majority areas either unrecognized or with obsolete official plans. Ensuring that every community has current and…

Article by Adam Hug

Joining the club

In the slightly warmer climes of the Balkans the two pillars of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia and Croatia, are making their own unsteady paths towards EU membership. Just before Christmas…

Article by Adam Hug

When the dust settles in Gaza

Central to improving the situation in Gaza and across Palestine is the need for an agreement that enables Fatah and Hamas to find a working relationship. For while undoubtedly Hamas…

Article by Adam Hug and Stephen Twigg

Full and Equal Citizens? How to deliver equality for Israel’s Arab community

Full and Equal Citizens? How to deliver equality for Israel’s Arab community is a major…


Iran Human Rights Review: Religion

The inaugural Iran Human Rights Review focuses on religion in relation to human rights in…


Reconnecting the European Parliament and its people

It sets out a radical agenda for reforming the European Parliament’s relationship with the public.


Spotlight on Georgia

The FPC's Spotlight on Georgia pamphlet examines the growing human rights and governance challenges facing…


Turkey in Europe: The economic case for Turkish membership of the European Union

This FPC pamphlet supported by Business for New Europe makes the economic and business case…


 Join our mailing list 

Keep informed about events, articles & latest publications from Foreign Policy Centre