Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

25 January 2020

Trump’s Growing European Base

BY BRUCE STOKES
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Over the last year, European anti-Americanism has ebbed somewhat, thanks in large part to the sentiments of right-wing populists enamored with U.S. President Donald Trump. Their fond feelings have created a surprising opportunity for Washington to repair the trans-Atlantic relationship that it has recently done so much to dismantle.

If there is one unifying sentiment among supporters of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), Italy’s Lega Nord, the Sweden Democrats, the National Rally in France, and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), it is that they all increasingly approve of Trump. That’s rooted in the extreme right’s soft spot for authoritarians and Trump’s own anti-immigrant stance.

To be sure, among the general public, Trump is still extremely unpopular in most of Europe. Just 13 percent of Germans, 18 percent of Swedes, and 20 percent of the French have confidence in him to do the right thing in world affairs, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. These numbers are a fraction of Europeans’ support for U.S. President Barack Obama in his last year. Only in Poland do half of those surveyed back Trump. Overall antipathy to the U.S. president has been prevalent since Trump was elected. As a senior German official told me in 2017: “It took George Bush eight years to become this unpopular. It took Donald Trump four months!”

5 reasons why US-Europe tensions will grow in the 2020s — and how to stop it

BY DAVID WHINERAY

The United States’s strike on an Iranian commander opened another rift with its European allies. Transatlantic relations are at a low. From Iran to trade with China to climate change, the two sides of the Atlantic disagree: the West is split. 

Many in Europe blame President Trump for the situation — and, indeed, the Trump administration clearly bears some responsibility. But transatlantic tensions run much deeper than America's 45th president. Without corrective action, the U.S. and Europe will drift further apart over the 2020s, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.

U.S. tensions with Europe are not new. The Iraq War famously divided the Atlantic partners. But previous fallouts have been over policy. Today, the very concept and value of the transatlantic alliance is questioned. Donald Trump is the first modern U.S. president to undermine, rather than encourage, European integration; to view the European Union as a threat instead of an ally; to inject conditionality and uncertainty into NATO.

24 January 2020

Brexit endgame: Brexit nears, Northern Ireland assembly reconvenes, and Megxit distracts

Amanda Sloat

What a difference a year — and an election — makes. After months of gridlock, the newly elected British Parliament easily approved the Brexit deal last week. Days later, political leaders in Northern Ireland agreed to resume power-sharing after a three-year hiatus. At the end of January, the U.K. will almost certainly leave the European Union and begin negotiations on the future relationship.

IS BREXIT FINALLY HAPPENING?

Yes. Boris Johnson was re-elected prime minister on December 12 with an 80-seat majority. Before the new members of parliament (MPs) left for the holidays, they gave initial approval to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. On January 11, the House of Commons voted 330 to 231 on the bill’s third and final reading. This legislation will implement the Brexit deal in British law; it covers divorce payments to the EU, citizens’ rights, customs arrangements for Northern Ireland, and the transition period.

The 99-vote majority (including all Conservative MPs) for the bill was a stark contrast to the repeated failure of Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, to get her deal ratified. He benefitted from a sizeable parliamentary majority, as well as his success last fall in replacing the unpopular Northern Ireland backstop with other arrangements.

21 January 2020

Brexit could spell the end of globalization, and the global prosperity that came with it

William Hauk
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The U.K. House of Commons has finally voted for Brexit. If the plan passes the House of Lords without much delay, the U.K. will leave the European Union several years after a 2016 referendum set it down this path.

More than merely tossing aside the EU, this vote represents a rejection of globalization and the implicit trade-off of some democratic control over economic policy for prosperity. It’s an exchange that more citizens across the world, including the United States, are unwilling to make – often believing they can earn the same gains without a loss of economic control.

As an economist, I believe this trend of turning away from the institutions that facilitated economic globalization is troubling and may lead to the unraveling of more than a half century of growing global integration – and the economic growth that came with it.

To avert that outcome, we need to answer the seemingly simple question: How can societies reap the economic benefits of globalization while maintaining democratic participation within it?

Traditional trade barriers

20 January 2020

Brexit’s Finish Line Is Only the "End of the Beginning" for Britain and the European Union

by Stewart M. Patrick

In my weekly column for World Politics Review, I examine several major uncertainties that remain unresolved as the United Kingdom prepares to exit the European Union.

Britain’s impending departure from the European Union on Jan. 31 is merely, as Winston Churchill might have said, the end of the beginning. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will herald Brexit as the moment the nation recovers its sovereignty. The truth, however, is far messier. The ultimate terms and costs of the divorce are yet to be determined. The nature of Britain’s future relationship with the continent, whether the United Kingdom will stay united in Brexit’s wake, and what global role Britain will play after regaining its “splendid isolation” all remain to be seen.

Brexit’s Finish Line Is Only the ‘End of the Beginning’ for Britain and the EU

Stewart M. Patrick 
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Britain’s impending departure from the European Union on Jan. 31 is merely, as Winston Churchill might have said, the end of the beginning. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will herald Brexit as the moment the nation recovers its sovereignty. The truth, however, is far messier. The ultimate terms and costs of the divorce are yet to be determined. The nature of Britain’s future relationship with the continent, whether the United Kingdom will stay united in Brexit’s wake, and what global role Britain will play after regaining its “splendid isolation” all remain to be seen.

The U.K. was always an awkward partner in the EU, given its historic ambivalence toward the continent, sense of exceptionalism and global aspirations. Britain was “with Europe, but not of it,” Churchill wrote in 1930. After World War II, it championed European integration but refrained from joining the European Economic Community until 1973. Ever after that, British leaders remained jealous of national prerogatives and vigilant about overreach from Brussels, culminating in the Brexit referendum of June 2016, when a narrow majority of Britons voted to leave the EU altogether.

19 January 2020

Europe’s Dangerous Irrelevance in Washington and the Middle East

JUDY DEMPSEY

The decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to assassinate Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s ruthless Quds Force, has shaken the leaders of the biggest European countries.

Their attempts to salvage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 landmark nuclear deal, are in tatters after Iran said on January 5 it was abandoning all limitations on uranium enrichment. It’s unlikely the accord could have survived once Trump pulled out of it in 2018. Soleimani’s death has strengthened the hand of hardliners in Tehran. They disliked the nuclear deal.

As for the Europeans’ reaction to the decision by Iraq’s parliament to order American troops out of the country, coupled with Iran’s growing influence in Baghdad, they amounted to handwringing and the ritual rhetorical statements.

Britain, France, and Germany, signatories to the JCPOA, called for a special meeting of EU foreign ministers, stressing the need to “de-escalate” and emphasizing their “deep concern”—an expression that has zero meaning.

But the potential conflagration unfolding in front of their eyes is symptomatic of a much more profound malaise, and its consequences will either shake Europe out of its strategic helplessness or reduce it to a mere object of external influences, benign or destructive.

Five Challenges for the European Union

by Joergen Oerstroem Moeller
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The European Union finds itself in the most perilous quandary sine the immediate post–World War II period. The risk is a split between the Central European and Eastern European member states and the majority of the others over a diverging interest. The changing U.S. world outlook, in particular, its European policy, may play a decisive role. To weather the storm five major challenges, calling for determined leadership, clear visions and statecraft must be overcome.

The first one is to negotiate the future relationship between Britain and the EU. The EU will reject a deal with a neighboring country using low taxes, low labor standards, lavish state aids and subsidies and a “soft” regulatory framework for the environment, safety, etc., to enhance its competitive position. In reality, access to the single market with seven of its ten top export markets requires Britain to shadow EU rules without participating in decisionmaking. That will be hard to swallow as the obvious question is “why did we leave if we have to apply the EU ruleset anyway?”

18 January 2020

Can AMLO’s Vision for Mexico’s Future Survive Trump?


The election of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, in July 2018 was supposed to result in a radical transformation for Mexico. But since taking office that December, AMLO has struggled to deliver on his campaign promises, including tackling corruption and reforming the country’s drug war. Meanwhile, he has often found himself playing catchup to U.S. President Donald Trump, whose quixotic threats linking trade and immigration have forced AMLO’s hand when it comes to Mexico’s efforts to block immigrants from crossing into the United States.

The most recent crisis came when Trump unexpectedly announced he was imposing a series of increasing trade sanctions unless Mexico managed to stop all migrant flow across the border—a virtual impossibility. Trump ultimately granted a reprieve, but only after Mexico apparently reaffirmed earlier pledges to try to stem migration, including deploying security forces to the country’s southern border. This is not a permanent solution, though, and the migration issue will continue to dog AMLO’s presidency so long as Trump remains in office.

17 January 2020

'The Brexit Drama Is a Bitter Lesson for Populists'

Markus Becker , Peter Müller und Martin Knobbe

Von der Leyen: The "United States of Europe" is a project for my children. The path to that goal is a long one. All member states will have to be ready to contribute to deeper integration. In my generation, the priority is that of putting Europe in a strong position. I want to further develop the leadership role in areas like climate policy and digitalization, for example.

DER SPIEGEL: You have said that Europe must be more self-confident on the world stage and have referred to the EU executive under your leadership as the "geopolitical Commission." What would you like to achieve?

Von der Leyen: Europe is in a strong position as an economic power, and we are seen around the world as a defender of the rule of law. But there are also moments when Europe must take strong, rapid action. We have to better prepare ourselves for those moments. Six years ago, Mali faced collapse in the face of terror, and there was a political will in Europe to do something to help. But we didn't have the necessary structures. If the French hadn't forcefully intervened, Mali would have ceased playing its role as a stabilizing element in the Sahel region.

16 January 2020

Charles Michel admits: EU’s not in the Middle East ‘game’


European Council President Charles Michel appeared to admit as much anyway, in a series of comments on Thursday about the recent crisis in the Middle East in which he insisted the EU would seize a bigger role on the world stage. He just didn't say how.

"It's very important for the European Union not only to observe what the others would decide for us but it's important for the European Union to be an actor, to be a player," Michel said, standing alongside Andrej Plenković, the prime minister of Croatia, which took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU at the start of this month.

"I want Europe [to be] part of the game," Michel, who took office at the start of December, told reporters in the Croatian capital, Zagreb. "I want Europe to be more involved at external level."

14 January 2020

For Trump, Venezuela Will Remain a Foreign Policy Priority Until Election Day

Frida Ghitis 

Among the many glaring pieces of unfinished business on President Donald Trump’s foreign policy ledger is Venezuela, where his campaign of “maximum pressure” on President Nicolas Maduro has failed. Venezuelans are preparing to mark the anniversary this month of a policy to oust Maduro that Trump launched with great fanfare and to high expectations nearly a year ago, when he declared Maduro’s presidency “illegitimate” and recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate, interim president. At the time, Trump vowed to restore Venezuelan democracy, declaring that “all options are on the table.”

Yet in a sign of where things now stand in Venezuela, Maduro this week tried to seize the last remaining democratic institution in the country. Security forces and his supporters blocked opposition legislators from entering the National Assembly building, where they were set to reelect Guaido as the head of the legislature. The dramatic standoff led to a rival lawmaker, dissident opposition member Luis Parra, declaring himself head of the National Assembly, with the backing of Maduro and his party. ...

13 January 2020

Is the Cold Peace Between Jordan and Israel at Risk?

Curtis R. Ryan

The 25th anniversary of the landmark peace treaty between Jordan and Israel came and went without celebration among Jordanians last fall. They did cheer, however, when the Jordanian government refused to renew annexes to the treaty that allowed Israel to lease and farm fertile lands in the Jordan Valley. While Israelis were disappointed by the move, which followed through on a previous announcement, Jordanians welcomed the return of their country’s flag and sovereignty to the territories of Baqura and al-Ghamr. A cold peace, as King Abdullah II has often put it, is getting colder.

Relations between Jordan and Israel have sunk to their lowest point since the day the peace treaty was signed in 1994. This rift is the result of a series of incidents that have further soured Jordanians on an already unpopular peace treaty. In 2014, a Jordanian judge was killed by Israeli soldiers during a dispute at the Allenby Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank. In 2017, an Israeli security officer shot and killed two Jordanians during a confrontation at the Israeli Embassy in Amman. Israel claimed diplomatic immunity over the incident, and the officer was shuttled back to Israel for a hero’s welcome by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. More recently, two Jordanian citizens were released from Israeli detention after lengthy hunger strikes, but only after Jordan’s government intervened on their behalf. ...

12 January 2020

Britain Stumbles Toward an Exit From the EU


Three years after British voters narrowly voted to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum, Boris Johnson assumed the office of prime minister amid a political environment characterized by anger, turmoil and confusion. But despite initial stumbles that led some observers to predict he would suffer the same dismal fate as his predecessor, Theresa May, Johnson managed to deliver on his promise to renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal agreement with the European Union. His subsequent decisive victory in December’s parliamentary elections, built in part on successfully wooing traditional Labour party voters, gave Johnson the ample majority he needed to see his deal through.

Despite Johnson’s December triumph, Brexit has been a disaster for the country’s two main political parties. The referendum outcome immediately brought down the Conservative government of former Prime Minister David Cameron, who had called for the vote in the first place. His successor, May, was felled by her inability to get the withdrawal agreement she negotiated with Brussels through Parliament, mainly due to opposition by extremist Brexiteers within her own Tory ranks. For his part, Johnson achieved what May couldn’t, arriving at a Brexit deal that a majority of Parliament could agree on—and then building on that majority in December. But now he will own the consequences of having delivered Brexit.

10 January 2020

Don’t Hold Your Breath for Democratic Change in the Middle East

BY STEVEN A. COOK
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There were a number of major developments in the Middle East over the last 12 months: the bombing of Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil facility, Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria, the election of a new Tunisian president, the United Arab Emirates’ decision to withdraw from Yemen, and the U.S. affirmation that Israeli settlements are not “inherently illegal.” But something more important happened in the Middle East in 2019. Just as everyone was getting used to the idea that the so-called Arab Spring was dead, street demonstrations swept through the region. The fact that protests erupted is not as interesting as whether people power will shape politics in the Arab world into 2020. That seems likely, but not necessarily in ways that some analysts expect and many Arabs hope.

With so much international media focused on the demonstrations in Hong Kong, one might be excused for forgetting that people in Sudan, Algeria, and Morocco were out in the streets months before Hong Kongers began venting their anger at Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Beijing. There were also protests in Egypt, though they were quite small, and larger demonstrations that are ongoing in Iraq and Lebanon.

6 January 2020

Trouble in the Middle East Prompts Pompeo to Postpone Eastern Europe, Central Asia Trip

By Catherine Putz
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On January 1, the U.S. State Department announced that Secretary Mike Pompeo’s upcoming trip to Eastern Europe and Central Asia would be postponed.

The postponement, which came just two days after State officials previewed the trip for the press, was in response to a spike in tensions in the Middle East.

The announcement noted that the trip, originally scheduled for January 3-7, has to be postponed “due to the need for the Secretary to be in Washington, D.C., to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East.”

It’s a most unsurprising turn: U.S. foreign policy engagements elsewhere in the world truncated because of trouble in the Middle East. 

On Tuesday, violent protests that had been ongoing in Baghdad shifted attention from the Iraqi government to the United States. NPR has a good summary of the turn of events:

3 January 2020

How to Succeed at Seceding

BY MARK NAYLER
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In the British general election on Dec. 12, Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson won 43.6 percent of the national vote and increased his party’s seats in Parliament from 317 to 365. To put that in historical context, no party has won more emphatically since 1979, when Margaret Thatcher ousted Labour leader James Callaghan with 43.9 percent of the vote.

The pro-Brexit Johnson is now under renewed pressure from Nicola Sturgeon, head of the Scottish National Party (SNP), to grant Scotland a second referendum on splitting from the rest of the United Kingdom. (Sturgeon argues that circumstances have fundamentally changed since the independence referendum in 2014, when Scottish voters chose to remain in the U.K. by a 55 to 45 percent margin.) The SNP, which wants to see an independent Scotland as a member of the EU rather than be forced out of the EU against its will, also triumphed in December and is now the third-most powerful party in the U.K., occupying 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in Westminster. 

Don’t Hold Your Breath for Democratic Change in the Middle East

BY STEVEN A. COOK
Source Link

There were a number of major developments in the Middle East over the last 12 months: the bombing of Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil facility, Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria, the election of a new Tunisian president, the United Arab Emirates’ decision to withdraw from Yemen, and the U.S. affirmation that Israeli settlements are not “inherently illegal.” But something more important happened in the Middle East in 2019. Just as everyone was getting used to the idea that the so-called Arab Spring was dead, street demonstrations swept through the region. The fact that protests erupted is not as interesting as whether people power will shape politics in the Arab world into 2020. That seems likely, but not necessarily in ways that some analysts expect and many Arabs hope.

With so much international media focused on the demonstrations in Hong Kong, one might be excused for forgetting that people in Sudan, Algeria, and Morocco were out in the streets months before Hong Kongers began venting their anger at Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Beijing. There were also protests in Egypt, though they were quite small, and larger demonstrations that are ongoing in Iraq and Lebanon.

The response in Washington has been generally low-key, indicating that U.S. policymakers have learned a lesson since they romanced the barricades during the Arab Spring of 2011 to 2012. With the exception of Tunisia, the much-anticipated transitions to democracy in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria never materialized. Yet that does not mean that the contradictions of political systems have been resolved. Instead, leaders have used force to silence those who have drawn attention to these problems.

Europe’s Third Way in Cyberspace


Cybersecurity has become a key issue for Europe in the global digital transformation. The EU Cybersecurity Act lays down a legal framework whose aim is to achieve global reach. Embedded in a policy that combines digital sovereignty with strategic inter­dependence, the Act could represent the gateway to a third European pathway in cyber­space, something in between the US model of a liberal market economy and the Chinese model of authoritarian state capitalism. The Cybersecurity Act will be a bind­ing framework for action and provide a tailwind for German cybersecurity policy.

Cyber threats are a component of and, at the same time, the spearhead of global competition between liberal democracies and authoritarian systems. The different understanding of cybersecurity and infor­mation security between Western coun­tries, on the one hand, and states such as China and Russia, on the other, remains a key area of conflict in international politics. After more than ten years of unsuccessful negotiations against a backdrop of growing rivalry between the US and China, an agree­ment on global standards and regulations is still a long way off. The EU is trying to find a third way which circumvents this rivalry. This has become apparent in, among other things, the 5G debate. The Commission is inclined to allow the Chinese company, Huawei, to be involved in building Euro­pean 5G infrastructure, subject to tight controls and only if all market participants meet strict hardware and software certifi­cation criteria. The question of the trust­worthiness of Chinese telecommunications components is being shelved in favour of a market regulation solution. With its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which Member States have been required to apply since May 2018, and its consistent approach to competition policy, the EU has taken on an effective and globally respected role as a regulatory power, achieving a balance between consumer protection and the competitiveness of the industry. The EU Cybersecurity Act further strengthens Europe’s regulatory power. However, the European cybersecurity certificate, defined with the entry into force of the Act in June 2019, will only be able to develop into a global model if it is flanked by a European strategy for the digital space. Regulation, competition and industrial policy, as well as support for innovation must relate to security and cyber foreign policy. The key question will be whether and how the EU can successfully strengthen European digi­tal sovereignty whilst preserving its liberal democratic traditions in the digital space and ensure the necessary strategic interde­pendence with other regions of the world.

Cybersecurity at the heart of global conflicts

EU-Trends in 2020


The European Union (EU) and its member states are expected to face a series of turbulent developments and challenges in the coming year. The stability on the European continent will likely be impacted by various ongoing and emerging crises – on an institutional level as well as on the member state level. Worsening socioeconomic indicators due to recession trends, general economic slowdown and trade stagnation worldwide will have a negative impact on Europe. However, the integration process in both dimensions – the further institutional consolidation of the EU as well as the geographical enlargement – will witness positive impulses for further development. 

Following the general election in Great Britain and the overwhelming majority win for the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a known advocate for a rather swift exit from the European Union (Brexit), it is to be expected that the EU will intensify the efforts and introduce further steps towards strategic autonomy in the field of its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) as well as Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). This will also result in a deepening institutional cooperation between the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as well as in diverse new initiatives in this field.