The December edition of the Romanian Journal of European Affairs proposes to its readers topics such as: European internal security interests and Brexit, EU-NATO relations, the European Union Hydrogen Strategy, disinformation campaigns in the European Union, patterns of digital behaviour on instant messaging platforms, the EU’s role as a global actor in the digital space, the case of intra-regional disparities in Bulgaria, Chinese backed energy projects in the Western Balkans, the European Union Strategy on Central Asia, theoretical basis explaining the turn in the process of defining the future of the European Union.
European internal security interests and Brexit. Legal and operational aspects of the post–Brexit cooperation model
The impact of Brexit is strategic. Several governmental institutions must redefine and revise their relations with the European Union (EU); and consider some critical resolutions to avoid prejudicial fragmentation in the post-Brexit security cooperation model. Focusing on internal security and law-enforcement co-ordination with the EU, the paper argues that the EU’s approach to future security partnerships reflects common concerns, such as the fight against terrorism and other types of trans-national organised crime. On the other hand, the United Kingdom (UK) will no longer be bound by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR) after the Brexit transition period. This poses substantial challenges for the EU and the UK, concerning future agreements on judicial co-operation in cross-border policing and trans-national criminal investigations. From this perspective, it is vital to decide how the data exchange regime and operational collaboration between the British authorities and respective EU agencies are organised. It would be rational to expect that the UK will actively search for closer bilateral ties with several EU member states and potential new partners, to maintain its international position and cross-border security interests.
Keywords: EU, internal security, judicial co-operation, post-Brexit
EU-NATO relations through the lens of strategic documents
Michal Piechowicz, Justyna Maliszewska-Nienartowicz
The main goal of this study is to contribute to the academic debate concerning EU-NATO relations and to consider the main sources of difficulties in their relationship. In particular, this analysis takes into account the possible role of the strategic documents of both organisations in future cooperation. Consequently, the first part of the article concentrates on dilemmas related to EU-NATO relations referred to in the existing literature. The second part contains an analysis of the development of these relations, while the third describes the presumptive impact of the NATO Strategic Concept and the Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy on cooperation between the two organisations. The conclusion underlines that the process of implementing the strategic documents should have positive effects on EU-NATO relations. However, the question arises whether and how this process is continued.
Keywords: EU-NATO relations, strategic partnership, NATO Strategic Concept, Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy, European security, transatlantic relationship
The European Union Hydrogen Strategy as a significant step towards a circular economy
The paper is structured in three parts: the first contains some reflections on the essence of the circular economy concept; the second reviews the European Union positions vis-à-vis the circular economy and the large scale utilization of hydrogen, with reference in particular to the most recent strategic documents (European Green Deal, EU New Industrial Strategy for Europe, EU Strategy for Energy System Integration, EU Hydrogen Strategy, European Clean Hydrogen Alliance); the third part evaluates the feasibility and implications of the transition to a hydrogen based economy and the relation of this transition to the circular economy. The conclusions state that the adoption by the European Union of a hydrogen strategy represents a significant step towards a true circular economy.
Keywords: circular economy, hydrogen economy, transition to a hydrogen economy, European Green Deal, EU hydrogen strategy
JEL classification: O13, O14, P18, P48, Q42
Disinformation campaigns in the European Union: Lessons learned from the 2019 European Elections and 2020 Covid-19 infodemic in Romania
Against the backdrop of the current Covid-19 challenges and their long-tailed effects, the article uses lessons learned from Russian disinformation in the period 2014-2020, including the European Parliament 2019 campaign in Romania and the Covid-19 infodemic, to discuss possible future Russian disinformation approaches and narratives against the European Union (EU). The accent of the analysis and recommendations falls on the instrumentalization by Russian disinformation of the EU’s internal strivings for sovereignty against the backdrop of the economic fallout due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and how European leaders are pushed in directions contrary to continental strategic interests. Early opinion surveys seem to indicate an increased favourability of Europeans towards Russia as a result of soft power campaigns during the Covid-19 outbreak in Spring 2020 – in what we reveal was, in fact, a staged media show orchestrated by including lessons learned from the Chinese ways of strategic communication.
Keywords: Disinformation, Infodemic, Sovereignty, EU-Russia relations, political cohesion
Patterns of digital behaviour on instant messaging platforms. WhatsApp uses among young people from Romania
Nicoleta Corbu, Mădălina Boțan, Raluca Buturoiu, Alexandru Dumitrache
This paper examines the digital behaviour on one widely used instant messaging (IM) platform, namely WhatsApp, of young people in Romania, with a focus on the reasons for sharing information on the platform and dependency of using it. Within the broad framework of the digital single market, little is known about the motivations and behavioural patterns of young Europeans while using the increasingly popular IM platforms, nor is it clear whether country characteristics are relevant or not when evaluating the impact of such technological platforms on the life of young audiences. Rooted in the uses and gratifications perspective, this study uses media diaries (N = 229), filled in by young people in an ordinary day of the week and self-administered questionnaires in order to assess what might be the main gratifications that lead young and educated people to share information on WhatsApp and what makes them spend more time and be dependent on the platform on a daily basis. Main results show that the most frequent reasons why young Romanians use WhatsApp are social, professional, and instrumental. Moreover, the tendency to share content on the platform is higher for people who use it for instrumental and informative purposes. Dependency on the platform is significantly higher for young people who use it to fulfil affective needs (i.e., to express or receive affection or emotional support and avoid loneliness).
Keywords: digital single market, digital behaviour, uses and gratifications, media diaries, WhatsApp
Evaluating the EU’s role as a global actor in the digital space
The new Digital Strategy of the European Union (EU) emphasizes the need for a more assertive Union as regards digital leadership, claiming a role of a global actor in terms of digital policies. Moreover, the new policy documents on digital transformation promote the idea European technological sovereignty, thus pointing to a crystallization of a European approach towards digital policies that would be projected on the international stage. The purpose of this article is to investigate the sources of the proclaimed assertiveness of Digital Europe in international affairs. The hypothesis is that it stems from harmonization of legislation claimed by the Digital Single Market. However, the article aims to identify and assess the EU’s recognition, authority, autonomy, markers proposed by Jupille and Caporaso (1998), in an approach meant to provide an overview of the EU’s actorness in the digital space.
Keywords: European Union, actorness, digital space, digital policy
Achieving the objectives of EU Cohesion Policy – the case of intra-regional disparities in Bulgaria
This paper provides an analysis of intra-regional disparities in Bulgaria for the EU post-accession period. Bulgaria joined the EU together with Romania on 1 January 2007. In accordance with the EU legislation, six NACE 2 planning regions have been established – three in the southern part and three in the northern part of the country. All of them meet the requirements for receiving EU funding under the Cohesion Policy rules. The expectation was that EU founds would create a more favourable environment for pursuing an active and efficient Regional policy in Bulgaria. One of the goals of such a Regional policy should be the reduction of intra-regional disparities, particularly between the regions in the northern and in the southern part of the country. In order to determine whether this objective of the Regional policy has been achieved, changes in Mean Absolute Deviation (MAD) and in the Coefficient of Variation (CV) have been estimated. According to the findings in the paper, intra-regional differences in Bulgaria did not decline in the post-accession period, on the contrary they have in general increased. This is partly due to the concentration of EU funds in the more developed southern part of the country, especially in the capital Sofia. The concentration of funds can be illustrated by the development of the highway network in the southern part of Bulgaria. Intra-regional disparities have resulted in depopulation of the lagging regions.
Keywords: Bulgaria, European Union, Cohesion policy, Regional policy, Intraregional disparities
JEL: F15, F36, R12
Chinese backed energy projects in the Western Balkans: where supply and demand could meet
Dániel Gábor Csapó
Although China attempts to present itself as a leader of the fight against climate change – and, in some aspects, is taking initiative in this respect – through the Belt and Road Initiative the country has lent support to many ‘dirty’ projects in the energy infrastructure sector. This is also the case in the Western Balkans, where Chinese banks and energy companies have invested in coal power plants. Western Balkan countries need to improve their energy infrastructure and build new capacities. An obvious solution to this issue is the extension of their coal mines and plants, but this comes with complications. They do not have the capital to invest in these projects themselves, and international monetary institutions do not support these types of investments. In contrast to this, China can offer soft loans and expertise to realise the projects. Although many of the projects that Chinese banks have invested (or intend to invest) in are delayed or only in the planning phase, it seems that some of them can be realised despite the resistance of the Energy Community and various environmentalist groups.
Keywords: Western Balkans, China, Belt and Road Initiative, Energy Infrastructure, Dirty Energy
The European Union Strategy on Central Asia: out of game?
The Council of the European Union adopted in June 2019 its new EU Strategy on Central Asia. Besides the Eastern Partnership, the Central-Asian region is one of the most relevant areas for the EU, so determining and shaping its development priorities were of paramount importance. In this study, based on the developments and feedbacks in recent months, I would like to demonstrate how the weak EU image due to this document will be strengthened and why it is not suitable for reaching the goals which are probably even not existing. My hypotheses are: 1) in fact, the EU does not have any clear and real strategy focusing on Central Asia, 2) the EU is losing out on the game of big and middle powers interested in the region, 3) the EU cannot exploit the economic potentials of the region.
Keywords: Central Asia, strategy, foreign policy, soft power
From finalité politique to multifinalité. Theoretical basis explaining the turn in the process of defining the future of the European Union
The aim of the research is to find the theoretical basis for the turn from finalité politique towards multifinalité in the paradigm of knowing the future European Union. These theoretical bases for reimbursement will be supported by empirical evidence and practical solutions, which in this case constitute a point of reference for potential final solutions. This objective is important in that not only researchers and theorists are involved in the search for the EU’s future, but also practitioners, including EU technocrats. The research found that: first of all, it is extremely important to define the essence of the (non-adjective) finalité with its internal components (transcendence, equilibrium, destiny), secondly to determine the state at the moment which will be extremely important reference point (référentiel), although contextual, initial condition of research on the finalité.
Keywords: finalité politique, multifinalité, référentiel, European Union