Article by the British Ambassador to Germany on the Munich Security Conference

By Simon McDonald

The Munich Security Conference has established itself as the premier fixture on the security policy calendar. This year’s conference – the 47th – is my third, but my first as British Ambassador to Germany. I know from personal experience that the Conference regularly attracts world leaders. It is a tribute to the organisers that this year 16 Heads of State or Government and more than 40 Foreign and Defence Ministers will take part. I am proud that, for the first time ever, the British Prime Minister will lead the UK delegation, which will include Foreign Secretary William Hague, Defence Secretary Liam Fox and Security Minister Pauline Neville-Jones.   READ MORE

EU Strategy for the Danube Region

On 8 December 2010, the European Commission adopted the EU Strategy for the Danube Region following a request from Member States. This is a comprehensive Strategy, covering several Community policies and targeting a 'macro-region'. The Strategy takes the form of a Communication and an Action Plan which will be reviewed regularly. Implementation of the Strategy will start following endorsement by Member States during the Hungarian Presidency of the EU in April 2011. READ MORE

Azerbaijan becomes EU central energy partner against background of instability in Middle East

By U. Sadikhova

Azerbaijan becomes a central energy partner of the European Union (EU) against the background of frequent unrests in the Middle Eastern countries supplying energy resources, Carl Hamilton, chairman for the European Affairs Committee at the Swedish Parliament believes. READ MORE

The Turkey-EU deadlock

The impasse in Turkey's EU accession talks is likely to continue in the medium term, writes Amanda Paul, but there are still areas in which the two parties could seek closer cooperation now to prevent Turkey from "slipping away". READ MORE

EU hunkers down for crunch energy summit

Europe's lagging energy efficiency standards are emerging as a key issue ahead of a February meeting of EU heads of state. READ MORE

Azerbaijan and Eastern Partnership: partnership through empowerment

By Leila Alieva

The Eastern Partnership was only recently given a start, so it would be pre-mature to give prognosis of its future development. However, it seems that to make EaP effective, Azerbaijani civil society should be included into official negotiations at the bilateral level. Otherwise, the Eastern Partnership may transform into a purely Baku-Brussels elites’ interests based enterprise, leaving the needs of the wider population aside. In dealing with Azerbaijan, the EU should also take into account the abundant oil and gas resources which constitute a structural obstacle to democratization in Azerbaijan and contribute to a great alienation of the elite from population. The EU should also get more involved in the resolution of the Karabagh conflict to speed up regional integration in the South Caucasus. READ MORE

Peers' threat to Nick Clegg plan for Alternative Vote referendum

By James Kirkup

Nick Clegg's plan for a May referendum on changing the electoral system is being threatened by a power-struggle in the House of Lords. READ MORE

Ukraine between Russia and the EU

By Stefan Meister

The election of Viktor Yanukovych as president of Ukraine caused a return of the traditional ‘rocking chair’ politics between Russia and the EU in their Ukrainian policies, while the basic problems of the country remain unsolved. The Ukrainian elite is itself to be blamed for their country’s desolate economic standing. Russia is trying to take advantage of Ukraine's structural dependency in its economic and energy policy, in order to let its own businesses take over central areas of the Ukrainian economy. The EU, on the other hand, failed to develop any functional Ukraine policy in the past. In order to avoid further political and economic stagnation in the country, Brussels must finally start working out new neighbourhood policy instruments. READ MORE

Presidency to put flood control on agenda

Water is a central element in the Hungarian Presidency’s programme. As a source of life, it has to be protected, but as a destructive force, it has to be controlled. Flood is one of the most common disaster types in Europe which does not respect borderlines. The flood workshop, to be held in Budapest between 24-26 January, sets out to find a common solution for this problem. READ MORE

Hungary defends controversial media law in EU parliament

By Andreas Illmer

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has defended his country’s controversial media law against hefty criticism from the EU. Governments across Europe have slammed the legislation as a blow to press freedom. READ MORE