Strengthening the EU’s External Borders
The Schengen Borders Code sets out the rules that govern the borders of the EU. Member states make investments to protect their common external borders in the interest of the entire Schengen Area. For some states, notably those who make up the external boundaries of the EU, these investments can be extremely disproportionate due to migratory pressures. This has become even more accentuated by the most recent refugee crisis, which has pointed out several flaws in the way that EU borders are protected and regulated. Amongst others, the European framework in practice does not differentiate between immigrants and refugees, instead treating both groups as one and the same. Despite having responded to the situation by implementing several policies, the pressure continues. In order to strengthen the EU’s borders, delegates will have to address numerous factors and reexamine the current strategies and policies of the EU.
Reassessing EU-Iran Relations
Interaction between the EU and Iran has decreased significantly ever since the European Council announced that it would levy an embargo on Iranian oil exports in 2012. Along with other sanctions, this strained the economic and diplomatic ties the EU once had with Iran. The recent lifting of the sanctions as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran Deal, to which the EU was a signatory, has presented an opportunity to reevaluate this relationship.
Iran could potentially play an important role in the EU’s foreign policy with regards to a variety of factors. Amongst others, Iran is home to approximately 10 % of the world petroleum reserves and it is set to remain a major player in the oil industry for many years. Simultaneously, a strengthening of EU–Iran relations could also help stabilize Iran’s economy. During the sessions delegates will address a variety of questions, such as whether or not the current condition of Iran’s nuclear program is acceptable, to what extent the EU values the access to oil and would like to affirm its access by means of a trade deal with Iran, and to what extent other (Iranian) policies and customs comply with European standards.
The European Council consists of the heads of state or government of the 28 member states, as well as the President of the European Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the President of the European Council. It usually convenes four times per year, but additional meetings can be requested to address urgent issues. Decisions are generally taken on the basis of consensus, even though the treaties also provide for unanimity or qualified majority voting in certain cases. While the European Council does not possess legislative powers, it provides the political direction of the Union, setting the long-term political agenda and common foreign and security policy, as well as reviewing major policy developments. Furthermore, it acts as problem solver, dealing with issues that cannot be resolved at lower levels of intergovernmental cooperation. Lastly, it also nominates and appoints candidates to high profile EU level roles.