Reasons Behind the European Union’s Inadequacy to Create a European Army

This paper will shed light on the historical evolution of the conceptualization of a European Army, and will then analyse institutions and policies in place, as well as ways in which NATO and the EU can cooperate in the defence sector. Finally, the obstacles to the creation of a European Army are assessed against the backdrop of the current Russian war with Ukraine and the recent adoption of the EU Strategic Compass.

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Rare Earth Metals and F-35 Supply Chain

Rare earth elements (REEs) are a collection of 17 elements composed of cerium, dysprosium, erbium, europium, gadolinium, holmium, lanthanum, lutetium, neodymium, praseodymium, promethium, samarium, scandium, terbium, thulium, ytterbium, and yttrium. These elements are highly valued for their “conductive and magnetic properties” (Chang 2022). REEs are of vital importance to high-tech devices and their ability to function, including computer hard drives, telephones, televisions, and hybrid or electronic vehicles. Furthermore, rare earth metals (REM) are heavily used in the defence industry to integrate electronic displays, sonar, laser, and guiding systems into modern weaponry. Therefore, REM quickly became a strategic component for the defence industry’s supply chains, and, at the same time, embodied a geopolitical challenge to secure countries’ strategic autonomy regarding these precious materials. When looking at the main global suppliers of REEs, China finds itself in the first position, controlling around 80% of REE production (Kelemen & Stonor 2022). The recent tensions in the Taiwan Strait re-introduced the reality of Western REE dependency on China to the agenda. Washington finds itself in a difficult position regarding its industry’s reliance on China’s REEs. Therefore, Beijing’s dominance over such a strategic resource seriously undermines the West’s ability to impose economic sanctions on China. In the scenario of a confrontation between Washington and Beijing, China could decide to cut its REE supply to the US, which as a consequence could exhaust its stocks in “less than 90 days” (Kelemen & Stonor 2022).

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Assessing Africa-EU Relations vis-à-vis Russian Influence in Africa

This paper will analyse to what extent Africa past relations with Russia and the West have affected present African geopolitics. To reach this goal an historical overview of the legacy of the USSR will be provided, complementing this theoretical part with the effects that the colonial legacy still produces, hampering EU-Africa relations. Following this, in order to assess future developments in Russia-Africa relations, it is fundamental to evaluate the implications of the food and economic crisis in Africa as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as evaluating the effects of the recovery of many European countries with energetic ties with Africa after Russia’s weaponization of the energy policies. Finally, this research paper aims to provide some recommendations to strengthen Africa-EU relations in the near future as a result of the window of opportunity opened by the Russia-Ukraine war.  

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Systematic Errors in Kabul: What did Brussels Learn from the Afghan Failure?

Twenty-one years ago, Western powers led by the US started to engage in Afghanistan militarily and politically to reform the country according to "Westernised" ideals. After the Bonn Agreement, two realities were created: whereas on the one hand Afghan society received aid from third countries which were actively working on the ground, on the other hand, the Taliban formed a parallel structure that matured over the years and eventually ended up regaining control of the country. Whilst one could think that systematic errors were the result of inefficiencies perpetrated over time, they were already present from the beginning and grew larger. In fact, the failure of nation-building started much earlier than the summer of 2021. As for the EU, it has never been the protagonist behind the short-lived democratisation of Afghanistan, but it targeted the country mainly with humanitarian missions. To understand the reasons why these missions were not successful and how they fostered a sequence of miscalculations and mistakes that developed either inside the Union or as a consequence of exogenous hurdles, it is fundamental to learn the social, ethnic, religious, geographical, and political context of Afghanistan.

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The Western Balkans: a Crossroads of Interests of the EU, Russia, and China

Western Balkans is a term that refers to eight countries in the Southern and Eastern Europe: Republic of Albania, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, the Republic of Kosovo, the Republic of North Macedonia, Croatia, and Republic of Serbia (Bugajski, 2019). This report aims to analyse Russian and EU influence on Western European countries, also taking into account China's growing engagement in the region and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Lastly, in light of these considerations, the paper provides some insights into the strategy the EU adopts in the Western Balkans.

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