The June edition of the Romanian Journal of European Affairs proposes to its readers topics such as: tackling disinformation in the digital space, EU’s position as a global actor in the post-Brexit era, the Europeanisation process in Ukraine and Armenia, the behaviour of the actors involved in the decision-making process at the EU level, free trade agreements between the EU and Southern Mediterranean Countries, Albanian higher education system and findings about the Hungarian labour market.
Tackling Disinformation: EU Regulation of the Digital Space
Flavia Durach, Alina Bârgăoanu, Cătălina Nastasiu
This paper provides an overview of current responses to fake news and digital disinformation inside and outside the EU, and assesses the advantages and disadvantages of each solution. Four approaches emerge: (1) self-regulation (i.e. actions undertaken on a voluntary basis by the digital platforms); (2) co-regulation (i.e. cooperation framework between EU-level and national-level authorities, the internet platform companies, media organisations, researchers, and other stakeholders); (3) direct regulation (i.e. legal measures & sanctions); and (4) audience-centred solutions (i.e. factchecking and media literacy). We argue in favour of the co-regulation approach, while drawing attention to some current challenges in the response against disinformation. Furthermore, we need to go beyond the understanding of disinformation as an information/ truth fraud, and draw additional measures to reflect the particular understanding of disinformation as a form of users’ engagement fraud.
Keywords: online disinformation, fake news, regulation of disinformation
The Post-Brexit EU as a Global Actor: Reconsidering Security
The departure of the UK left the EU not only without its second largest economy, but also without one of its two nuclear powers – with a permanent seat in the Security Council – and without an important member state of NATO – a global security provider. For a long time, the EU has tried to brand itself as a global actor from a ‘normative power’ perspective, able to ‘export’ values and norms without having an army of its own. Nonetheless, shortly after the Brexit referendum of 2016, the EU has announced its Global Strategy, while France and Germany launched the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) initiative in the field of defence, formally adopted by EU in 2017. In the midst of a growing strategic competition for influence, aggravated by the 2020 pandemics of COVID-19, the Great Powers diversify their leverage, resources and instruments. With increasing rifts in its partnership with the US and concerning uncertainties in relation to the UK, against a background characterised by the disintegration of the West as a political concept, having difficult relations with Russia and China, the EU reconsiders the issue of security. This article explores the international context from the perspective of the relations between the global actors, a changing world order and the re-interpretation of the concepts of security and hard power. We shall analyse both the discourses of political leaders on the topic, and the EU decision-making process in the field of security.
Keywords: EU, global actor, post-Brexit, security
Closer to Europe? Domestic Changes and Europeanization Processes in Post-Revolution Ukraine and Armenia
This article explores the challenges and opportunities of the Europeanization processes taking place in post-Maidan Ukraine and post-Velvet Revolution Armenia. It argues that despite the constraining effects of “competing governance provider” Russia, the interests, perceptions and preferences of the domestic elites are critical to the implementation of the EU policies in Ukraine and Armenia. Thus, it offers a more dynamic structure- agency interplay approach to account for the dynamics of Europeanization in the EU-Russia contested neighbourhood. The article concludes that the domestic change in Ukraine has been positively correlated with its Europeanization, while Armenia has been showing positive signs of responsiveness towards the European policies since the 2018 “Velvet Revolution.” The article enquires into integration without membership dynamics between the EU and Eastern neighbours, as well as into the actorness of the EU in post-revolution state-building in Ukraine and Armenia.
Keywords: Europeanization, Ukraine, Armenia, domestic change, Association Agreement, CEPA
From Normative to Idiosyncratic – Negotiation and Leadership in the European Union
Ana Damaschin, Melania-Gabriela Ciot
In the contemporary world, the restructuring of the international system and its effects on European relations is still debated. Today, it is becoming increasingly clear that the international system needs changes; the world order is shaped by major global actors, which are no longer guided by the balance of powers principle, borders’ and governance’s rules. Instead, the psychological factors begin to weigh heavily and become one of the important elements of the basis of the international and European negotiation process. Therefore, the role of leaders could be one of reference in international norms and/ or European arena. The present paper, through its complex content, extensively examines the role of idiosyncrasies in international relations and determines the behaviour of the actors involved in the decision-making process. According to our analysis, we can identify general behavioural patterns and individual decisions that can generate views on the leadership styles and personalities of leaders. It is a contribution to a lesser-known aspect of the field of international relations and European affairs – the role of idiosyncrasies in decision-making process and on European foreign policy, through an essential psychological incursion.
Keywords: negotiation, leadership, decision making process, European foreign policy, idiosyncrasies
Challenges of Deepening EU Free Trade for the Southern Mediterranean Countries
Over the past decade the European Union concluded dozens of free trade agreements. These agreements are aimed at more than removing barriers to trade in goods; in a much broader context they also regulate other trade-related issues. Their purpose is to enhance the competitiveness of the Europe Union and to provide markets and investment opportunities for European companies. The EU offers so-called Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA) to neighbourhood regions, including the Southern Mediterranean area. The agreements would help the countries concerned to transform their legal system along European patterns so that they would essentially be integrated into the single market and become competitive growing economies. The EU would benefit from the resulting decrease in security risk from the concerned countries. Although in an optimal case DCFTAs indeed have a positive effect on the integration of Southern Mediterranean countries into the global economy, for the time being the risks seem to be greater than the benefits.
Keywords: European Union, Southern Mediterranean, free trade agreement, trade policy, DCFTA
Albanian Higher Education Quality Assurance Reforms and Policy Convergence within the European Higher Education Area (2014-2019)
This article focuses on the quality assurance reforms that higher education in Albania has undertaken during the timeframe 2014-2019 in regard to implementing the standards and guidelines of the European Higher Education Area. Albania is a candidate country and it has been making a continuous effort to become a member of the EU; thus, Europeanization is been used as a theoretical framework to analyse policy changes. The research aims to analyse what Europeanization approach the domestic reforms have pursued, based on the mechanisms, veto points and the outcomes of the Europeanization process. Moreover, through empirical findings on the Albanian quality assurance system, it attempts to define the extent to which these reforms comply with European standards and guidelines (ESG). Europeanization of the educational policies is guided by causal mechanisms with non-binding stimuli; thus, socialization, much more in the terms of instrumental learning, is defined as the main mechanism of the Europeanization approach of Albanian quality assurance. The policy convergence is mostly happening as an internalization of the rules regarding changing the policy means, not the policy ends, which produces only a formal absorption of ESG and not a substantial transformation of the system.
Keywords: Europeanization, higher education policy, quality assurance, EHEA, candidate country, Albania
Workfare Society in Action – the Hungarian Labour Market and Social Conditions in European Comparison
This paper aims at investigating the achievements of Hungary’s “workbased society”. Based on statistical data, it examines the characteristics of the Hungarian labour market and the development of social indicators over the past decade in comparison with the European Union and the Central and Eastern European member states. As there are improving tendencies during recent years on a regional level, the relatively good employment situation of Hungary cannot be considered as an outlier. While the Hungarian labour market conditions have been improved to some extent, some characteristics, like the level of wages and productivity are rather lagging behind the regional average. Due to policy changes since 2010, the social protection of the most vulnerable declines and, concerning the increase of income inequalities, Hungary is a regional “leader”. The article concludes that in order for such a social welfare regime to help social inclusion and serve social equality, a reconfiguration of the economic, as well as political governance, is needed.
Keywords: Central and Eastern Europe, Hungary, labour market, welfare, workfare