EUelections 2019: Elections in Belgium – towards another world record?


Belgium is known over the world for fries, chocolate and the intricacy of its political system. It looks as if the country might be able to secure a new spot in the history books after the elections of May 2019. Belgians voted for the European, general and regional elections on the same day, and some of the electoral results were largely unexpected.

Belgium is a federal state. There is a central government by and large in charge of security and defence, international affairs and social security. There are also three communities and three regions. The three communities (French-speaking, Flanders and German-speaking) are particularly responsible for education. The three regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels) are supervising the economy, employment and energy. Czytaj więcej

Looking back at the Polish Presidency of COP24 in Katowice


For two weeks in December 2018, Poland was the beating heart of multilateral diplomacy. COP24, the annual diplomatic meeting on climate change, took place in Katowice, the capital of Silesia. Stakes were high, especially for the Polish Presidency.

The multilateral framework to fight climate change

Scientifics have established a long-time ago that human activities influence climate. Governments set up an international framework to help the fight against climate change in 1992, called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The 197 signatories meet annually at a Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress and enhance actions. It is within this framework that the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, and now the “Katowice texts” were negotiated.

The COP would generally take place in Bonn, Germany where its secretariat sits, unless a country volunteers to host it. The host country should come from one of the five regions officially recognised by the United Nations, on a rotating basis: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe and Others. Poland has repeatedly been the only country to volunteer to host the COP from Central and Eastern Europe Region. This is why COP14 (Poznań), COP19 (Warsaw) and COP24 (Katowice) took place in Poland.

Not all the COPs have the same agenda or importance. Only some of them made it into history. It is during COP3 in Japan that the Kyoto Protocol was signed and hence the first common framework for limiting global warming emissions agreed. Observers still refer to COP15 in Copenhagen as a massive drawback as the world failed to agree on a new climate change treaty. Finally, COP21 was a landmark meeting as this is where the Paris Agreement was negotiated. At the end of last year, it was clear that COP24 would be an crucial meeting: negotiators were tasked with finalising the “rulebook” (the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement) before turning to 2019, the “ambition” year. Czytaj więcej



On Friday April 22nd, 2016, representatives from 175 parties (the European Commission signed on behalf of the EU) gathered in New-York to sign the Paris Agreement at UN headquarters – making this a very symbolic ‘Earth day’. The Treaty is one of the outcomes of the COP21 meeting held in Paris in December 2015 – probably the most visible one. Parties agreed on the text of a new and legally-binding Treaty regulating the fight against climate change with the objective to keep the increase of the world’s temperature well below 2°C. The signing ceremony was the first test of the political credibility of the deal. Good news: it passed!

Why signing Treaties?

Once a country/a regional organisation signs a Treaty, it commits not to take any action that would hinder the purpose of the agreement even though the Treaty is not yet legally binding in its internal legal framework. After the signature, parties have to submit their ‘ratification instrument’ to the depositary of the Treaty. The submission of this instruments is the act through which a country agrees to be bound by the content of the Treaty. States do not always ratify a Treaty – the procedure depends on the national constitutional order, that can be  a ratification, but  also an acceptance, an approval or an accession. Czytaj więcej

The Ukrainian lady declined to dance with the European partner: last tango for the EU’s Eastern Partnership?


800px-Flag_of_Ukraine1A few days before the long-awaited Vilnius Summit (29-30 November), Ukraine took everyone short by turning its back to the European Union and moving closer to Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, as The Times wrote. On 21 November, the Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov signed a decree suspending the negotiations with the EU to „ensure the national security of Ukraine” and to „restore lost trade volumes with the Russian Federation”. The EU was warned through its special envoy in Kiev, the former Polish president Kwaśniewski, who said earlier that day “the deal with Ukraine is over”. Some commentators have seen the Vilnius Summit as a “moment of truth” for the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). In the context of Ukraine declining to dance with the European Union, what will be the consequences of the EU’s Eastern Partnership? The political reactions of Ukraine’s partners, the rationale of the Ukrainian decision and the probable consequences for the EU’s ENP will be also discussed. Czytaj więcej

What do we celebrate in Belgium, and why?


Logo-federation-wallonie-bruxellesOn September 27th, (a part of) Belgium will celebrate! Many cultural events (theatre, sports, concerts…) will be organised throughout Brussels and Wallonia for Belgian residents who will enjoy them because of bank holiday. This time, the King will not be the centre of attention, but the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. Since 1993 indeed, Belgium is officially a federation but the so-called linguistic communities were created well before: the French Community (former name of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation) is indeed celebrated since its foundation in 1981. Celebration days, as everything else related to politics in Belgium are not neutral: they encompass a specific story that tells long about the spirit that describes Belgian politics. This short article intends to present some of today’s strong tendencies.

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Is the military wing of Hezbollah terrorist? From “Justius Lupsius” and “Capitals” to the East of the Mediterranean Sea, a diversity of points of view



During its meeting of July 22nd, 2013, the foreign affairs formation of the Council of the European Union (EU) decided to add the military wing of the Hezbollah on the European list of entities, groups and persons involved in terrorist acts. This designation results in the freezing of funds, financial assets and economic resources of the organisation in the EU and in an enhanced monitoring by the police services throughout Europe. The purpose of this contribution is to underline the broader context, issues and weaknesses of the European decision as well as its perception on the Eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. Czytaj więcej

The abdication of King Albert II of Belgium: a worsening factor in an already turbulent political life?


Palais_royal_de_Bruxelles_-_nocturne_25At 6PM on July 3rd, the King of the Belgians, Albert II, announced his will to abdicate on July 21st, 2013 (Belgian national day). This is not a complete surprise as the rumour was in the air since March but no bookmaker would have bet on today. However, and this is symptomatic of his reign, the date was carefully chosen: an agreement was reached Monday on the periodical review of the federal budget between the federal, the regional and the community levels, and we are several months before the 2014 federal elections which already promise much work to commentators of the Belgian heated political life.

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