The Europe Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies is an academic initiative within the Programme on Science, Technology and International Relations. This is a part of the Institute’s endeavour to build area studies within NIAS.

NIAS Europe Studies aims to monitor, record, and analyze the daily developments across Europe as short briefs, focused commentaries, and critical essays. The scope of NIAS Europe Studies includes reviewing contemporary geopolitics, security, human rights, climate change, as well as science and technology issues across Europe. Internal politics, democratic dividends and protests movements, trans-Atlantic alliances, regional integration, and the role of external actors such as China are a few niche areas of critical focus.

NIAS Europe Studies also aims to build capacity amongst young scholars researching on Europe. It organizes expert lectures on Europe, and regular discussions on Europe for young scholars. In the long run, it aims to build a network of institutions and scholars researching on Europe within India.

As a part of its research output, in collaboration with the India office of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, NIAS Europe Studies publishes a monthly dispatch - Europe Monitor

Europe Monitor

NIAS Monthly on Contemporary Europe
Published by NIAS Europe Studies in collaboration with KAS-India Office

Analysis

NIAS Europe Monitor
France, Algeria, and the politics over an apology

November 2021 | CWA # 605

Vaishnavi Iyer

NIAS Europe Monitor
NATO-Russia relationship: Looking beyond the suspensions and expulsions

November 2021 | CWA # 604

Joeana Cera Matthews

NIAS Europe Monitor
Facebook's Metaverse: Why it matters to Europe

October 2021 | CWA # 596

Padmashree Anandhan

NIAS Europe Monitor
Belarus's strategy to push migrants:  Europe will find it difficult to respond. Four reasons why

October 2021 | CWA # 595

Joeana Cera Matthews 

NIAS Europe Monitor
Poland, EU and PolExit. It is complicated, for three reasons

October 2021 | CWA # 594

Joeana Cera Matthews 

NIAS Europe Monitor
Europe's Energy Crisis and Gazprom 

October 2021 | CWA # 593

Harini Madhusudhan

NIAS Europe Monitor
Recent terror attacks in Europe: Five trends from England to Norway

October 2021 | CWA # 592

Sourina Bej

NIAS Europe Monitor
Europe's Energy Crisis: It could get worse. Five reasons why

October 2021 | CWA # 573

Chetna Vinay Bhora

NIAS Europe Monitor
France: Paris Terror Trial

September 2021 | CWA # 562

Sourina Bej

NIAS Europe Monitor
Belarus: Weaponization of the Migrant Crisis

September 2021 | CWA # 561

Harini Madhusudan

NIAS Europe Monitor
From Crimea to Navalny: Putin's calibrated Europe strategy

September 2021 | CWA # 550

Joeana Cera Matthews 

NIAS Europe Monitor
Nord Stream-2: Why is the region unhappy about the pipeline?

September 2021 | CWA # 548

Joeana Cera Matthews 

NIAS Europe Monitor
Nord Stream 2 is Russia’s geopolitical victory

August 2021 | CWA # 532

Sarthak Jain

NIAS Europe Monitor
The EU Summit 2021: Five Takeaways

July 2021 | CWA # 520

Keerthana Rajesh Nambiar

NIAS Europe Monitor
Spain, Morocco and the rise of rightwing politics in Europe over immigration

June 2021 | CWA # 497

Chetna Vinay Bhora

About the team

Harini Madhusudan

Ms Madhusudan is a doctoral scholar at NIAS. Her doctoral research is on the issue of militarisation in outer space. As part of the Europe Studies at NIAS, her research focuses on Russian geopolitics and diplomacy along with a coverage of the European Islands & Oceans. She particularly researches on issues relating to science and technology such as new innovations, outer space, and cybersecurity. She is currently working on Gazprom and the energy crisis in Europe.

Sourina Bej

Ms Bej is a doctoral candidate and KAS-EIZ scholarship holder at the University of Bonn. Her research for the Europe Studies at NIAS includes studying political populism, protest movements, migration and social inclusion, and religious extremism in Western Europe. Her research interest also includes understanding the socio-political conflicts in post-BREXIT Europe. She is currently working on a commentary on the lone acts of terror and radicalisation in Western Europe.

Joeana Cera Matthews

Ms Matthews is a postgraduate scholar from the Department of International Relations at the University of Mysore. She is currently a Visiting Research Scholar at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. As a part of the Europe Studies programme, she studies internal politics in Eastern Europe with a larger focus on the CEECs. Gender and climate change are her core research interests. She is currently working on the possibility of a Polexit and its impact on the EU.

Vaishnavi Iyer

Ms Iyer is a research scholar at the Science, Technology and International Relations Programme at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Her research area includes the Scandinavian and the Arctic region. She also works on peace and conflict issues, renewable energy debates, and social protests in Europe. Her current research is on diplomacy and conflict in French-Algerian relations.

Padmashree Anandhan

Ms Anandhan is a research scholar at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. As part of the Europe Studies at NIAS, her research is on issues pertaining to green energy, cybersecurity, and cryptocurrency in West Europe. Her larger research interest includes studying political conflict and security implications in Europe-Middle East relations. She is currently working on a commentary on Metaverse.

Daily Briefs

15 January 2022 Saturday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #99

Abortion Rights in Spain: “A Privilege, not a Right"

Valerie Pecresse urges for stronger EU borders; Poland military data leak not a concern; Brussels to back Lithuania over Chinese pressure;

Photo : REUTERS/Kacper Pempel


IN FOCUS

By Joeana Cera Matthews

Abortion Rights in Spain: “A Privilege, not a Right” 

On 04 January, France24 released a FOCUS on how abortions are regarded in Spain. Interviews conducted included those women who got abortions, members from pro-life groups, medical staff, as well as Cortes Generales (Parliament) members.  

Fact-Check 

Spain has 50 provinces; 11 from these carry out abortions. In these 11 provinces, only 15 percent of public clinics perform the deed while 200 private clinics have been subsidized to perform 85 percent of the abortions. Sometimes, women have to even travel across islands to find a clinic that would perform abortions for them.  

“Fundamental freedoms at stake” 

If the actual availability of clinics that perform abortions were not enough of an issue, pro-life groups make the lives of these women a living hell. The amount of stigma they are subjected to is traumatizing. Surprisingly, those protesting abortion are primarily constituent of women; even doctors are significant supporters. Critics to abortion argue that fundamental rights are at stake when women choose to kill their foetuses. Activist groups such as ‘40 Dias por la vida’ (40 Days for life), a Catholic entity, claim that they go against the fundamental right of respecting religious belief. 

Some of these groups protest outside clinics that carry out abortions, indirectly harassing women arriving at these clinics. One of such a demonstrator said: “We just come to pray. That’s the most powerful weapon we have.” Another widely used argument is that of a conscience clause which rejects the termination of pregnancies.  

A Stigmatized Health Sector 

Even with the medical community, abortions are stigmatized and the conscience clause is largely used. However, the medical training in Spain lacks the basic education provided in terms of carrying out abortions, which is obligatory elsewhere. Dator Clinic was the first clinic in the country to carry out abortions. The clinic’s Psychologist Sonia Lamas Millan states: “No Spanish region is training health professionals. The new generation isn’t trained to take over duties.”  

Stigmatization, however, is not limited the women undergoing abortions; it extends to those health personnel carrying it out. If a doctor or a resident expects to change their specialization after having worked in an abortion clinic, they would find it a dreadful experience. Once an “accomplice” to abortion, their resumes are tainted and so are they reputations. 

Government Measures 

The ruling Socialist (PSOE) government plans to list out ‘conscientious objectors’ that would ensure enough doctors were available across the country to guarantee the realization of a right. It also plans to ban or put an end to the tactics of those pro-life groups that demonstrate outside clinics. In fact, a bill has been tabled which would consider such acts as harassment. The violation of this would lead to three months to a year in prison. Proposed by PSOE Deputy for Jaen (Andalusia), Laura Berja, the bill led to heated discussions between the left and the right entities in the Parliament.  

Critics, including pro-life demonstrators, state that passing the bill threatens the freedom of assembly, of expression, and for the right to worship. One of the activists claim: “You can’t be sent to prison or fined for praying.” Berja responds to this with her Cortes Generales statement: “Pray as much as you want but let women exercise their rights!” The Socialists intend to pass the bill in 2023, hopefully eradicating one obstacle for those women choosing abortion.  

A Privilege, not a Right 

Those women who do manage to terminate their pregnancies, are essentially shunned from the community. The stigma that exists around the idea, let alone the act of abortion, is huge in Spain. Therefore, those that do get abortions guard this information to great lengths. One woman, who did terminate her pregnancy stated: “If someone finds it difficult to access a right, it’s not a right; it’s a privilege.”  

References: 

Sarah Morris, “Abortion in Spain: Women struggle to access treatment despite it being legal - Focus,” France24, 04 January 2022. 

IN BRIEF  

By Padmashree Anandhan and Ashwin Dhanabalan

FRANCE

Presidential candidate Valerie Pecresse urges for stronger EU borders

On 14 January, French Presidential candidate Valerie Pecresse visited Greece. During the visit, she stated that the EU would need stronger borders to deter migration into the bloc. She said: "There is no Europe without borders, and the question of borders is absolutely key today to building European power." Pecresse is the presidential candidate for the conservative Republicans party and has been seen as a challenger to the incumbent President Emmanuel Macron in the elections that are to be held in April. Pecresse has often made her tough stance on migration clear; she stated: "It is not at all fortress Europe, but it is not a supermarket Europe either. When we have required entry points, that means there are doors. There are doors, and you must go through the door, and for me, that is my European model." She further praised Greece for its methods and measures to reduce the number of asylum seekers coming through the Aegean sea. ("French presidential candidate says strong EU borders needed," Euronews, 14 January 2022)

RUSSIA  

Russia's Federal Security Service arrestshackers of REvil for launching cyber-attack on Colonial Pipline

On 14 January, the US “welcomed” the Russian arrest of Revil from Ransomware group who were responsible for the attack on the colonial pipeline last spring. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) also found that REvil was behind the cyber-attack in Kaseya which affected close to 1,000 businesses including Swedish supermarket chain. The arrest was possible due to FSB’s search raids, where it recovered more than EUR 4.9 million worth cash, cryptocurrency and cars. According to the officials, the operation took place upon the order of US authorities who urged for the arrest of the group’s leader. (“US 'welcomes' Russian arrests of REvil ransomware gang,” Deutsche Welle, 15 January 2022)

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Poland: Defense Ministry says military data leak not a concern 

On 14 January, Poland's Defense Ministry stated that the massive military leak was not harmful as the database only contained publicly available information. The Ministry released a statement, saying: "We want to stress that the publication of the data does not mean any danger to the state's security or to the functioning of Poland's Armed Forces." The Ministry also mentioned that there was no IT system security breach and blamed it on the negligence of an employee. However, as cited by Deutsche Welle: "Opposition parties… weren't convinced and demanded Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak's resignation." Furthermore, according to a Polish web portal Onet.pl, the Russians and the Chinese had downloaded the information as the data mentioned details on equipment purchased by Poland from countries like Germany, Israel, and the US. ("Poland: huge military data leak has only public information," The Washington Post, 14 January 2022; "Poland's military not concerned about database leak," Deutsche Welle, 14 January 2022)

Ukraine: The US and NATO accuses Russia on the recent cyber-attack

On 14 January, 70 government websites in Ukraine were hit by a massive cyber-attack with the hacked sites displaying a warning message that read: "Ukrainian! All your personal data has been uploaded onto the public internet… This is for your past, your present and your future…prepare for the worst.” The Ukraine government has suspected Russia to be behind the attack due to two reasons. The Russian media reporting it ahead of Ukraine and the serious errors in the Polish language message as reported by the Poland government. So far, NATO and the US have criticized the attack and offered to support Ukraine in its recovery. Apart from this, NATO has proposed an agreement to augment cyber cooperation with Ukraine, where the latter will get access to NATO’s malware information sharing platform. According to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby: “It has pre-positioned a group of operatives to conduct what we call a false-flag operation, an operation designed to look like an attack on them or Russian speaking people in Ukraine as an excuse to go in.” (“Ukraine cyber-attack: Russia to blame for hack, says Kyiv,” BBC, 14 January 2022)

Meta to face lawsuit in the UK for exploiting personal data of user

On 14 January, Facebook, now known as Meta, faces a EUR 2.7 multi-billion case for imposing terms and conditions which exploit personal data of users, filed by the UK government. According to Competition Expert Dr Liza Lovdahl Gormsen: “Facebook is dominant in the market, the social network, so they have a special responsibility, I don't think exploiting users is having a special responsibility to behave in a way as if you are not dominant. They do it because they can, and somebody's got to stop that.” Meta has responded by saying that the services offered are chosen by people because of the value and meaningful control offered via the platform. (Pascale Davies, “Meta faces €2.7bn civil lawsuit over allegations it exploited UK Facebook users’ data for profit,” Euronews, 14 January 2022)

INTERNATIONAL

Lithuania: Brussels to back Vilnius in its trade altercations with Beijing

On 14 January, the EU announced its decision to back Lithuania over its escalating trade clashes with China. EU's High Representative Josep Borrell said: "Notably in the meeting we talked about Chinese activities in Lithuania and the impact of these activities in terms of the EU as a whole. Member states expressed clear solidarity with Lithuania, and we discussed how we can actively press on with de-escalation in terms of this crisis." Lithuanian and Chinese tensions began when Vilnius, in May 2021, left the 17+1 group that China used as a medium to negotiate with the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs). In November 2021, Lithuania approved the opening of a Taiwan representative office that further led to clashes between the two countries. China responded by restricting Lithuanian goods from entering the country and further escalated the trade war between the two. (Christopher Pitchers, "Brussels backs Lithuania in row with China over Taiwan," Euronews, 14 January 2022)


Other Daily Briefs

14 January 2022, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #98

Geneva Talks: Three Takeaways


13 January 2022, Thursday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #97

P5 statement to prevent nuclear wars: Four takeaways


12 January 2022, Wednesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #96

Poland’s Pegasus Row: A Polish Watergate?


11 January 2022, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #95

Pan-European ink ban: what does it mean for the tattoo industry?


08 January 2022, Saturday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #93

France: Celebrating 60 years of Yves Saint Laurent


07 January 2022, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #92

Italy: The race for presidency


06 January 2022, Thursday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #91

Impact of BREXIT and COVID-19 on educational visits to the UK


05 January 2022, Wednesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #90

Mapping COVID-19 protests in Europe: Who, Why and How?


04 January 2022, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #89

France's EU presidency: What it means for Europe?


03 January 2022, Monday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #88

Geneva: What to expect in the January US-Russia security talks?


01 January 2022, Saturday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #87

One year of Brexit: What does it mean for European exporters to the UK?


31 December 2021, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #86

Marking 30 years since the dissolution of the USSR


29 December 2021, Wednesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #84

The EU's "taxonomy for sustainable activities”


28 December 2021, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #83

Gender: The Pope’s comments on Gender Violence


27 December 2021, Monday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #82

Germany’s nuclear waste problem


24 December 2021, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #81

Russia's draft treaty with the US and NATO


23 December 2021, Thursday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #80

Moscow: Putin’s Annual Press Conference


22 December 2021, Wednesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #79

Poland: Infringement procedure initiated against Poland over rule of law violations


21 December 2021, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #78

IMF: Belarus economy severely impacted under Western sanctions


20 December 2021, Monday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #77

Poland: Protests erupt post demands to veto controversial media law


18 December 2021, Saturday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #76

The G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Summit


17 December 2021, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #75

Regulations for Artificial Intelligence and the Council of Europe (CAHAI)


16 December 2021, Thursday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #74

Modi-Putin, reinvigorating bilateral ties and defence relations.


15 December 2021, Wednesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #73

Protests against lithium mining projects in Serbia


14 December 2021, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #72

100 years of the Anglo-Irish Treaty


13 December 2021, Monday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #71

Continued protests against vaccine mandates and lockdowns in Europe


11 December 2021, Saturday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #70

The Ukrainian History: Relations with Russia and the EU


10 December 2021, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #69

Russia and Ukraine: Options for NATO, the EU, and the US


09 December 2021, Thursday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #68

Eric Zemmour and the launch of his presidential campaign


08 December 2021, Wednesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #67

Greece: Pope Francis’ visit focuses on democracy, migration and Christian unity


07 December 2021, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #66

Omicron - The New Virus Taking over Europe


06 December 2021, Monday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #65

Putin’s Agenda in Ukraine


04 December 2021, Saturday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #64

The NATO Summit: Key Takeaways


03 December 2021, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #63

Ukraine: Emanating military confrontations and escalating tensions with Russia


02 December 2021, Thursday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #62

Nord Stream 2 and Europe’s Energy Supplies


01 December 2021, Wednesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #61

Lithuania, Taiwan, and China


30 November 2021, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #56

The English Channel migrant disaster


29 November 2021, Monday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #55

Profile of the Digital Markets Act


27 November 2021, Saturday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #54 

Ukraine: Russia's military mobilisation raise concerns 


26 November 2021, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #53 

Austria: Protests against fresh COVID-19 restrictions 


25 November 2021, Thursday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #52

Belgium: Protests against fresh COVID-19 restrictions


24 November 2021, Monday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #51

The Netherlands: Three factors in COVID protests


22 November 2021, Monday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #49

Belarus, Migrants and the EU sanctions on airlines


20 November 2021, Saturday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #48

UK and France sign agreement to prevent migration


19 November 2021, Friday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #47

Austria: Anti-lockdown protests 


18 November 2021, Thursday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #46

Bulgaria: Despite three elections in 2021, more instability in store? 


16 November 2021, Tuesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #44

The European Union, Google, and the antitrust bill


15 November 2021, Monday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #43

France to build new nuclear energy reactors: what does this mean?


13 November 2021, Saturday I NIAS Europe Daily Brief #42

Portugal: Looming Political Crisis


12 November 2021, Friday I NIAS Europe Daily Brief #41

Europe's Wine Industry: Impacts of Climate Change


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #08, 10 November 2021, Wednesday

EU-US Steel and Aluminium trade deal: Five reasons why


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #07, 09 November 2021, Tuesday

"Her heart beats too": Poland's anti-abortion protests continue


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #06, 08 November 2021, Monday

The resurgence of COVID-19 in Europe: Three issues


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #03, 05 November 2021, Friday

The UK-France fishing rights row


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #29, 03 November 2021, Wednesday

France and Australia: Continuing AUKUS echo 


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #28, 02 November 2021, Tuesday

North Macedonia: Four reasons why the PM stepped down after a local election


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #24, 29 October 2021, Friday

Spain: One month after the La Palma volcanic eruption


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #23, 28 October 2021, Thursday

The European Council Summit 2021: Key Highlights


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #22, 27 October 2021, Wednesday

Turkey: President Erdogan's Osman Kavala drama 


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #21, 26 October 2021, Tuesday

Italy: The Matteo Salvini trial 


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #20, 25 October 2021, Monday

EU-Taiwan bilateral relations intensify amid Chinese opposition


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #19, 23 October 2021, Saturday

EU’s farewell to Chancellor Angela Merkel


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #17, 21 October 2021, Thursday

​​​​​​​France’s New Face: Eric Zemmour 


​​​​​​​NIAS Europe Daily Brief #16, 20 October 2021, Wednesday

​​​​​​​The Future of NATO-Russia relations


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #15, 19 October 2021, Tuesday

FIFA versus EA: It is more than Football


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #14, 18 October 2021, Monday

Metaverse: Facebook unveils virtual five-year plan for the EU


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #13, 16 October 2021, Saturday

Norway: The bow-and-arrow attack


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #12, 15 October 2021, Friday

Addressing the Energy prices in Europe: The new EU proposal 


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #11, 14 October 2021, Thursday

Czech elections: Andrej Babis' defeat emboldens anti-populism


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #10, 13 October 2021, Wednesday

The G20 Extraordinary Leaders' meeting on Afghanistan 


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #09, 12 October 2021, Tuesday

The French-Algerian bilateral tensions


NIAS Europe Daily Brief #08, 11 October 2021, Monday

Austria: The Sebastian Kurz Scandal


09 October 2021, Saturday

'Polexit' now?


07 October 2021, Thursday

The Balkans and the EU Summit


06 October 2021, Wednesday

Europe's Energy Crisis


27 September 2021, Monday

Elections in Iceland


22 September 2021, Wednesday

Erdogan's UNGA address


21 September 2021,

Russian Elections 2021