European Union Politics, 2500 words (±250 limit), Harvard referencing
The title of the report: European Council Simulation Report: Slovakia
The issue the report focuses on is how Slovakia handles the immigration crisis in Europe.
PLEASE FIND AN EXAMPLE of a REPORT of this format ON PAGE 3.
Please read the guidance carefully, as it summarizes everything the report requires. The example essay will give you an idea about what that report should look like.
The report needs to provide analysis of: 1) the issue under negotiation, differences of opinion amongst national leaders on the issue, and the positions of EU institutions on the issue; 2) the negotiating position of the political leader of the country the student represents in the simulation exercise; and 3) the different negotiating approaches employed during the simulation to reach agreement.
The report should also include an abstract or executive summary and a full bibliography.
Content and structure of the report
In terms of structure and content, it is recommended that the report includes the following:
- An abstract or executive summary setting out the aim of the report
- A main section, which should include the following sub-sections:
- Policy summary based on the issue on the agenda (the agenda is on a separate document):
The policy summary should address the history of the policy area and the current state of the crisis the European Council is dealing with. This section should address the opinions and role of EU institutions and the member states’ interests and views, in terms of their assessment of the crisis and how to address or resolve it. It could also address the interconnectedness of the particular crisis on the agenda with other key issues facing the EU.
- The country’s position on the topic:
- ▪ The background to their country’s position on the policy area on the agenda and the county’s interests in this area. Are there conflicting interests and views within the country on this issue?
- ▪ A justification of the country’s opening negotiating position on the issue on the agenda, linked to the opening statement which needs to be included in the appendix. What are the relevant factors for the political leader in terms of reconciling domestic factors, such as public opinion and the views of their own and other parties, with the need to reach agreement with other member states?
- Policy summary based on the issue on the agenda (the agenda is on a separate document):
- The negotiating approaches employed during the simulation:
- This section needs to be linked with the negotiating approach and
how this was applied during the simulation. For instance, did groups form on different sides of the debate based on the similarities and differences in their positions? What steps were taken to reach agreement? How did they reach a compromise?
- Analyse the outcome of the negotiations that took place in the simulation exercise. Were there winners and losers from what was agreed? Assess the feasibility of what was agreed and reflect on whether it is a short-term or a long-term solution. Also, you can reflect, through research, on how the other countries would most likely negotiate. In other words, do research on how the other countries stand on the issue and what issues must thus arise throughout the session
▪ A clearly-structured and complete bibliography, arranged by source type (e.g. primary sources, secondary sources).
A key requirement of the report is that it should engage with primary source materials. These could include: official governmental or parliamentary documents (national or EU level), reports produced by think-tanks or campaign groups, party manifestos, the speeches of political leaders (national or EU level), statistical data, public opinion surveys, and newspaper articles. You should also use works (e.g. books, chapter and articles) from the relevant scholarly literature.
You may find some of the following websites useful:
EU member states’ permanent representations:
http://europa.eu/whoiswho/public/index.cfm?fuseaction=idea.hierarchy&nodeid=3780 EurActiv: https://www.euractiv.com/
Financial Times, special section on Europe: https://www.ft.com/world/europe
The Economist, special section on Europe: http://www.economist.com/topics/european-union European Commission fact sheet on the migrant crisis http://publications.europa.eu/webpub/com/factsheets/migration-crisis/en/
Some useful news links:
- EurActiv, special section on Euro-finance: http://www.euractiv.com/en/euro-finance • EUObserver, special section on Economics http://euobserver.com/19
• Financial Times, special section on Europe http://www.ft.com/home/europe
• The Economist, special section on Europe http://www.economist.com/world/europe
European Council Simulation Report: Estonia
The European Council (EC) simulation in July 2017 focused on two crisis situations: the Greek sovereign debt crisis and the European Union (EU) migrant crisis. Greek debt had reached an unsustainable level at 250% of its GDP, as the Greek Prime Minister turned to the EC for additional debt relief. Furthermore, the Turkish Prime Minister demanded for further co-operation between the EU and Turkey in return for the EU-Turkey refugee agreement (Nanou 2017). The purpose of this report is to analyse Estonia’s negotiating position on these two agenda items.
Estonia’s aim as the Presidency of the EC is to reach consensus on either issue. Yet, in the complex supranational structure of the EU, Estonia’s domestic population can hold the current government accountable by ‘voting with the boot’ in the next local government council elections in 2017 (Veebel 2015). The Estonian electorate is likely to oppose proposals for further bailouts to Greece because of their own experiences with austerity as a part of the effort to overcome the 2007/08 financial crisis (Moulds 2012). As a small post-Soviet nation with a large Russian-speaking minority, the country lacks the resources to integrate new migrants (Veebel 2015: 33). In the past, the Estonian parliament has relied on coercion tactics to control the domestic population with claims that Estonia needs to show solidarity to their international allies to receive the same treatment in the case of Russian aggression. However, in the light of recent events, the domestic population has started to consider the EU’s proposals to take in more refugees as an even bigger threat to national sovereignty (BNS 2016a).
Therefore, whilst the Estonian representatives will continue with their current line as supporters of European solidarity in the Council, their decision-making also needs to appeal to the domestic population. This report consists of a policy summary, an analysis of Estonia’s profile in the EU and a comprehensive overview of Estonia’s negotiating position in either policy area. The conclusion discusses the outcome of the simulation exercise and reflects on the likely future policies in these areas.
- Policy summary 1.1 Economic crisis
In December 2009, Greek debt amounted to 113% of its GDP, the highest in modern history, revealing the Eurozone’s structural weaknesses (BBC News 2012). Despite initial claims that bailouts would not be necessary, members of the Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provided Greece with a 110bn bailout package in late 2010 (BBC News 2012). Over the next three years, the potential for sovereign debt defaults spread to Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain (Amadeo 2016). In addition to widespread uncertainty on the viability of those economies, the viability of the euro itself became questionable. This led to further bailouts to Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus (Amadeo 2016).
The European debt relief carried the condition of austerity measures for domestic governments, which caused with public unrest in most of the debtor countries, especially Greece (Smith 2017). At the time, most European countries were experiencing serious belt-tightening themselves as some countries recovered sooner than others. Whilst Estonia and Latvia have been crowned as the ‘European champions of austerity’, it is clear that this approach did not work in all the member states (Moulds 2012). As Greek debt has reached 250% of its GDP, the current measures need to be modified to ensure the viability of both, the Greek economy and the Eurozone as a whole.
The austerity measures imposed in Greece have been ‘too harsh’ from the Greek government’s perspective, whilst the rest of Europe would expect to see further efforts to fulfil existing expectations before awarding any additional bailouts (Moulds 2012). Thus far, the EC has rejected the concept of ‘Grexit’ but as the single currency continues to restrict Greece from writing off some of its debt, it is worth considering that Greece might be better off outside the euro (BBC News 2015). Since there is no precedent for such a scenario, its economic implications for both Greece and the Eurozone as a whole are not known. The alternative is an additional bailout to Greece with continued expectations for further austerity and economic restructuring (BBC News 2015). Since the EU is already experiencing rising nationalist sentiment in some member states, it is unlikely that the Commissioners would support further fragmentation of the union unless it was completely inevitable. In addition to the sovereign debt crisis, the Greek economy is also suffering because of the pressures from the migrant crisis.
1.2 Migration crisis
In 2015, more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015 (BBC News 2016). The crisis completely overwhelmed European administrative structures. Frontline countries, such as Greece, Italy and Hungary have relied on the EC for relocation efforts but until now, the EC has been unable to reach consensus on a redistribution mechanism (BBC News 2016b). The recent terrorist attacks have contributed to an increase in anti-refugee sentiments across Europe, which is why control over migration has become one of the most debated topics in national parliaments (Euractiv 2017).
The EU-Turkey agreement formed in March 2016 states that migrants that have reached Greece through Turkey will be sent back and in exchange, the EU will take in another Syrian asylum seeker that has made a legitimate request (European Council of the EU 2016). The agreement carries the purpose of reducing irregular migration and stabilising European borders.
The EC’s main interest in the simulation is to maintain the EU-Turkey agreement. The Council members are likely to back the motion for additional financial and political support. However, it is unlikely that the EC is willing to increase political co-operation since President Erdoğan consolidated power in the latest Turkish referendum (Al 2017). Therefore, the clause for political co-operation is more likely to remain in a nominal form. With regards to the redistribution mechanism, it is extremely unlikely that the Council will reach an agreement during this meeting. The issue is very complex from a legal perspective and considering the vocal opposition of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, the case for a common redistribution mechanism is relatively weak (Euractiv 2017).
2 Estonia’s profile in the simulation exercise
2.1 Prime Minister Jüri Ratas
2.1.1 Personal and political background
Jüri Ratas was elected as the new chairman of the Centre Party (KE) in November 2016. His election meant that the party was now viewed as an acceptable coalition partner (IHS 2017: 1). Involvements in government were previously hindered by corruption investigations related to former Chairman Edgar Savisaar, who was also accused of ties to Russia (Martyn-Hemphill 2016).
Following a vote-of-no-confidence to former Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas in late November, the former junior partners conservative Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) and Estonian Social Democratic Party (SDE) formed a new government with Jüri Ratas as Prime Minister (IHS 2017: 2). Mr Ratas read Economics and Law in university and is a respected member of the Estonian political elite (Republic of Estonia Government 2017).
2.1.2 Their positions on the EU and its policies held by that leader in the past
The Centre Party served as the main opposition party in the Estonian parliament from 2005-2016. As a result, the party’s positions have often diverged from the political mainstream. Its mission is ‘representing the interests of the less well-off population and the national minorities (Parliament of Estonia 2016). Hence, the KE has been the only party in the Estonian parliament that has consistently voted against Greek bailout, as it is not in the interests of the domestic population (Keskerakond 2016a).
Mr Ratas is likely to continue the party’s anti-bailout policies in the EC, since Estonia’s role as a guarantor in previous bailouts means that Greek default would constitute a 400 million euro loss for the Estonian government (Rankin 2015; Keskerakond 2016b). Yhe Prime Minister would like to see sustained efforts to reduce the current deficit before further promises of bailouts have been made. In the long-term, it is unlikely that Mr Ratas will advocate for ‘Grexit’, since Estonia still relies on principles of European solidarity as the keystone to its national security (Keskerakond 2005).
On the refugee crisis, the Centre Party is opposed to a compulsory quota system, but supportive of additional aid to frontline countries, such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon (Keskerakond 2016c). Since Estonia lacks the administrative capacity and resources to take in more than the 500 refugees they committed to in 2015, Estonia is likely to align with other Central and Eastern European states in the Council’s debates (Mihkelson 2015). Public opinion in Estonia is critical of refugees, as 64% of the population claimed that the migrant crisis posed the biggest threat to the population, compared to 24% that feared Russian aggression (BNS 2016a). Hence, the current coalition can no longer rely on posing its positions in the EC as a necessary compromise to ensure Estonia is protected from Russian aggression by the European community.
Estonia has been a member of the EU since 2004, the Schengen Area since 2007 and a member of the Eurozone since 2011 (Europa 2017). Estonia’s population of 1.3 million is just 0.3% of the EU’s total, hence it is one of the smallest countries in the EU (Europa 2017). In 2015, Estonia’s contribution to the EU budget was € 0.185 billion or 0.92% of its GNI. In return, the total EU spending in Estonia attributed € 0.443 billion or 2.21% of Estonia’s GNI (Europa.eu 2017). Hence, Estonia is a significant benefactor from the EU’s structural funds. In the past, Estonia has been ‘one of the most successful countries in making use of those funds’ (Lauri 2012).
2.2.2 Country’s role in the EU
Based on Estonia’s EU Policy for 2015-2019, Estonia’s current role is related to their position as the Presidency in July 2017. Estonia remains a strong supporter of EU, citing the union as ‘a response to potential challenges’ (Republic of Estonia Government Office 2015: 2). Thus far, the country’s loss of sovereignty thanks to the supranational direction of EU policy has been overlooked, since it outweighs the benefit of protection from external threats. However, in terms of further integration, Estonia’s official objective is to remain within the existing treaty framework and focus on better implementation
in current policy areas, rather than their further expansion (Republic of Estonia Government Office: 5- 6). Considering the domestic demand to reject the redistribution system, it is likely that Estonia’s membership is more likely to support intergovernmental decision-making and stay in control of its borders (BNS 2016a).
3 Estonia’s position on the topic 3.1 Economic crisis
Estonia’s position on the Greek debt crisis is related to their own experience with austerity in the aftermath of 2007/08. The Estonian economy showed an impressive ability to adjust following the Great Recession (IHS 2017: 1). The conservative policies of previous years ensured that Estonia had a considerable budget reserve. Nevertheless, the initial impact of the crisis was so severe that despite spending cuts, the budget went into deficit in 2008 (Parts 2013: 269). Decisive action from the government helped to limit the deficit: by 2010, the budget was at a surplus again (Parts 2013: 269). This was a result of significant cuts to public establishments, healthcare and state pensions (Parts 2013: 269-270). The severe austerity measures would not have been possible without the agreement of Estonian citizens. At the beginning of 2009, the government made a major effort to explain why government spending and wages should be cut and taxes raised (Parts 2013: 271).
As Estonia’s own experience suggests, the best way to respond to the current debt crisis is by conservative fiscal policy and economic reform. Considering the sacrifices made by the Estonian public to overcome the crisis, it becomes clear why the current government is opposed to further bailouts. Estonia has taken a tough line with Greece in the past, and strongly condemned to the Greek government for not being willing and able to carry out necessary reforms (Moulds 2012). Estonia is tied to Greece thanks to previous bailouts, which means that a Greek default would carry unknown risks to Estonia’s domestic economy. As such a small economy, some estimates suggest that Greek default could even demand 4.2% of Estonia’s GDP (Nardinelli and Merler 2015; Rankin 2015).
3.2 Migration crisis
Estonia’s current position on the migrant crisis is related to public opinion. Latest polls suggest that 21% of respondents considered migration ‘the biggest problem Estonia is faced with at the moment (BNS 2016b). Estonia’s opposition to the EU-wide permanent relocation system has its roots in the conservative line that the country has followed in the national refugee policy for more than twenty years. According to regulation from 1993, ‘immigrants outside the EU should not exceed 0.1% of the permanent population of Estonia’ (Veebel 2015: 33). Furthermore, in 2015, Estonia had also received the lowest number of asylum claims in the EU (Veebel 2015: 35). The reasons for such small numbers are attributed to insufficient financial resources, as well as a lack of experience and ‘best practices’ in integrating refugees (Veebel 2015: 40). Estonia’s previous experience in integrating immigrants from the Soviet period reflects on that, as 9% of permanent citizens in Estonia have opted to be stateless, rather than adopt Estonian citizenship (Veebel 2015: 41).
In the case of the migrant crisis, Estonia is participating in resolving the crisis voluntarily and proportionally to its weight within the EU (Republic of Estonia Government 2016). Instead of a permanent relocation mechanism, Estonia supports providing more humanitarian and financial aid to frontline countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Estonia will reject proposals to impose financial penalties on EU member states that oppose the resettlement of refugees. As one of the big benefactors from EU structural funds, these motions would harm to Estonia’s position in the EU. Whilst Estonia does not want to remain a bystander in the Mediterranean crisis, the each country should retain the right to decide whether to apply for a permanent crisis system.
3.3 A diplomatic statement on the country’s negotiating position
Estonia is a committed member of the European community. However, the Estonian government also holds responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. Unfortunately, Estonia’s experience with Greek bailouts has only reduced the credibility of the Greek government, and hence Estonia will not be supporting the Greek motion for further financial support through redistribution. As long as the Greek government continues to oppose further austerity, the Estonian population cannot sympathise.
Estonia has made significant efforts to accommodate asylum seekers and will continue to do so, despite having exceeded our existing capabilities to welcome them. With regards to the EU agreement with Turkey, we are willing to support a new agreement with a proportional financial contribution. We would also like to address the issue of the recent criticisms to Central and Eastern European countries on their limited contributions to redistribution. We stand in solidarity with other members but have limited experience in handling as many asylum applications as older member states, a capability that is unlikely to improve in the short-term. We ask the Council to consider this as a part of their decision making.
In the simulation, Estonia successfully defended its positions on the economic crisis and the migration crisis. On the issue of Greek debt, Estonia formed a coalition with neighbouring Finland. As both countries had to impose austerity measures on their own populations in the past, it is their view that Greece should to take individual responsibility for the crisis and stick to the terms of previous bailouts. Estonia’s other coalition partners were Sweden, Germany, Austria and Denmark. At the end of the simulation, no consensus was reached on the EU’s further direction on the Greek issue. However, because of the rising nationalist sentiment across Europe it seems likely that Greece will remain in the Eurozone as European leaders emphasise on European unity.
Estonia’s position on the refugee crisis aligned with the interests of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. These countries rejected compulsory quotas on the basis of cultural differences, as well as insufficient resources. Although all of the member states supported the continuation of the EU-Turkey agreement, there was no consensus on the redistribution system. However, the Central and Eastern European countries explained their reasons for rejecting the proposed redistribution system very effectively and received the support of some members, especially Sweden.
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