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

16 February 2019

How Venezuela Aligned the Western Hemisphere

By Allison Fedirka 

The U.S. finds itself aligned with the region. Can it capitalize on the opportunity? 

In the Western Hemisphere, it’s Venezuela versus just about everybody. The fallout from the country’s crisis has evolved beyond a confrontation with the United States over sanctions to a hemispheric – even global – melee. The most notable result has been the emerging political and diplomatic alignment against Caracas among states throughout the Americas, including the U.S. Washington has historically strong-armed its policies into practice across the region, fostering resentment toward the U.S. throughout Latin America. But in Venezuela’s demise, the U.S. and other American countries have found common ground, and it has resulted in a remarkable shift in how the U.S. relates to Latin America, at least for the time being. Alignment on Venezuela may open the door for further U.S. alignment with the region – as long as Washington can avoid alienating itself once again.

EU: Mergers To Create Megacompanies Will Have To Wait


Germany and France are looking to protect European companies from the competition — particularly from global superpowers such as China and the United States — and prevent foreign companies from gaining access to critical sectors of their economies. As a result, the two countries are pushing for greater state protections against foreign takeovers and the creation of large European "champions" in key economic sectors. However, these plans will have to wait until the European Union selects new members for its main policymaking institutions.

What Happened

France and Germany's push to create large European companies that can go toe-to-toe with global competitors has hit a wall. On Feb. 6, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that Brussels would block a planned French-German merger between rail companies Alstom and Siemens, arguing that the plan is incompatible with the bloc's antitrust rules and could lead to higher prices for European consumers. In response, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier called for Europe to better defend its interests against global competition. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Vestager's decision was an economic mistake that would benefit China, where companies often have deep links with the state and regularly receive significant state backing.

14 February 2019

Europe, Please Wake Up

GEORGE SOROS

The first step to defending Europe from its enemies, both internal and external, is to recognize the magnitude of the threat they present. The second is to awaken the sleeping pro-European majority and mobilize it to defend the values on which the EU was founded.

MUNICH – Europe is sleepwalking into oblivion, and the people of Europe need to wake up before it is too late. If they don’t, the European Union will go the way of the Soviet Union in 1991. Neither our leaders nor ordinary citizens seem to understand that we are experiencing a revolutionary moment, that the range of possibilities is very broad, and that the eventual outcome is thus highly uncertain.

Most of us assume that the future will more or less resemble the present, but this is not necessarily so. In a long and eventful life, I have witnessed many periods of what I call radical disequilibrium. We are living in such a period today.

France and Germany Face Off Over Russian Pipeline

BY KEITH JOHNSON

The United States has spent years trying to derail a controversial Russian gas pipeline in Europe. France may have just found a way to kill it—and possibly strangle Paris’s newfound rapprochement with Berlin at the same time.

This Friday in Brussels, the Council of the European Union will vote on a seemingly arcane directive meant to apply European Union market rules to energy projects that start in a third country—like the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia. In a surprising about-face, firstreported in the German press, France has now decided to back the directive. That risks angering Germany—which really wanted to build the pipeline with Russia—and potentially dooming the $11 billion energy project, a priority for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

13 February 2019

Beginning the Endgame in Venezuela


As the crisis in Venezuela has deepened over the past week, a mysterious transformation has occurred. What started out as U.S. diplomatic support for the new, constitutionally legitimate government of Juan Guaidó has come to be treated in the international media as a possible U.S. military intervention.

The unfolding drama playing out in the media includes adventure-movie-style details such as the arrival of Russian mercenaries to protect the dictator Nicholas Maduro and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton’s ledger, which was photographed in the White House Situation Room with the ominous words “5,000 troops to Colombia.”

While the United States could merely lament over the damage caused to the country and its people by the criminal regime of Nicholas Maduro, which refuses to relinquish power, it has instead embarked on a “high payoff, high risk” strategy. In joining the international community to back Guaidó’s strong constitutional claim, the United States has put its strategic position in the region at risk and given themselves little margin for error. Adversaries such as China and Russia stand ready to exploit the worst historically-rooted perceptions of the United States to advance their own interests in the hemisphere.

12 February 2019

Europe in 2019: A Critical and Transitional Year


THE ISSUE

For European countries and institutions as well as for transatlantic relations, 2019 will be a pivotal year. With several important leadership, policy, and structural transitions taking place in capitals and Brussels, there will be instability and uncertainty but from this could stem more positive dynamics. While the twists and turns of events remain unpredictable, what follows is a quick take on some of the most significant events on the European and transatlantic security and defense calendar for 2019 and the important stakes that are at play.

The Irish Border Question

What will Ireland look like after Brexit? 

With less than two months to go before the United Kingdom is supposed to leave the European Union, the Irish border issue remains unresolved. The Republic of Ireland and the EU have been adamant that there cannot be a border separating the Irish Republic from Northern Ireland. Instead, they have proposed the so-called backstop, which would effectively keep Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market, while both Northern Ireland and Britain would remain in a customs union with the EU “unless and until” they reach a deal that removes the need for the backstop. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party has fiercely opposed the idea and any other solution that would treat Northern Ireland differently from Britain.

Calls to hold a vote over what to do with the Irish border have gained momentum. Last weekend, Mary Lou McDonald, head of the Republic of Ireland’s nationalist Sinn Fein party, called for Northern Ireland to begin preparing for a border poll. The DUP has rejected the idea, referring to McDonald’s suggestion as “nothing but stunt politics.” It remains to be seen whether the politicians or the people will be the ones to make the final decision. 

11 February 2019

How Brexit ‘Backstop’ May Scotch May’s Withdrawal Deal

By Andrew Hammond

Albert Einstein is sometimes credited with having said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Brexit process may provide vindication of this over the Irish border issue.

Theresa May visited Belfast on Tuesday and Wednesday to stress her commitment, again, to ensuring there is no post-Brexit “hard border” in Ireland.

With the odds stacked against her bid to save her EU exit withdrawal deal, and possibly also her prime ministership, she is desperately seeking a breakthrough alternative to the “Irish backstop.”

The key challenge, which she will discuss with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Thursday, stems from the future status of the border between the Republic of Ireland (which will remain in the EU) and Northern Ireland (which is scheduled to leave the Brussels-based club along with England, Scotland and Wales at the end of next month).

NATO’s Make-Or-Break Moment

By Armen V. Sahakyan and Erik Khzmalyan

The recent meeting and subsequent signing of the Treaty of Aachen by President Macron and Chancellor Merkel is indicative of a growing rift within the Western collective defense system, as if the political fracturing was not enough. In their meeting, the two leaders gave further steam to the idea of establishing an EU army, which in the words of President Macron would defend the Old Continent, “with respect to China, Russia, and even the United States of America.”

This development comes at a time when the West is gearing up to mark the 70th anniversary since the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO – one of the most enduring, cohesive, and sophisticated collective defense formations in history. With the original intent to serve as a bulwark against the threat of communism, the core national interests of some NATO members began shifting with the dissipating threat emanating from the USSR. The collapse of the Soviet Union deprived the member states of their overarching uniting purpose. Since the early 1990s, NATO’s mission evolved beyond military cooperation, taking on a new set of responsibilities including upholding human rights, democracy, and freedom globally. Ironically, this newfound noble quest has become a double-edged sword as it has ensured the continuity of the alliance, but in the meantime has not proven to be strong enough of an incentive to keep the organization bound.

8 February 2019

The Instability of Britain

By George Friedman 

Brexit is less important than the increasing fragility of Britain and the British Isles. 

The Brexit referendum bisected Britain. The vote was designed to demonstrate that Britain did not want to leave the European Union. In fact, had Britain’s political and business elite doubted that the referendum would result in a “remain” verdict, it’s unlikely the vote would ever have been called. But 52 percent of voters wanted to leave the EU; 48 percent wanted to stay. If 2 percent of voters had switched positions, the referendum could just as easily have gone the other way. 



7 February 2019

Europe Tests the Boundaries on Iran

By Naysan Rafati and Ali Vaez

On January 31, 2019, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom announced their most substantive move yet to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, to which they are signatories, from collapse. With the European Union’s blessing, the three states established a special channel that shields trade with Iran from U.S. sanctions. The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, or INSTEX, as the channel is called, holds out the possibility that Europe can yet salvage the nuclear agreement’s core bargain: that Iran was to limit its nuclear activities in return for the normalization of economic relations. The preservation of this arrangement will depend not only on the modicum of European-Iranian trade that INSTEX might help preserve but on whether Europe can navigate a narrow path between what Iran expects and what the United States can tolerate.

6 February 2019

Exclusive: EU considers proposals to exclude Chinese firms from 5G networks

Robin Emmott, Foo Yun Chee, Joanna Plucinska

BRUSSELS/WARSAW (Reuters) - The European Union is considering proposals that would effectively amount to a de-facto ban on Huawei Technologies Co. equipment for next-generation mobile networks, four senior EU officials said, adding to mounting international pressure on the world’s largest maker of telecom gear.

While efforts by the EU’s executive are still at the very early stages, and could prove complicated to implement, the move marks a shift in the EU’s stance amid growing security concerns in the West about China.

A move to exclude Chinese firms such as Huawei would likely be welcomed by the United States, which has been trying to prevent American companies from buying Huawei infrastructure equipment and has been pressing allies to do the same. U.S. security experts are concerned the gear could be used by China’s government for espionage - a concern Huawei calls unfounded.

4 February 2019

Brexit Sweat and Tears

CHRIS PATTEN

For years after World War II, Britons were aware of the palpable shift in the country’s fortunes. But there was a deep aversion to accepting the UK’s diminished status, and the failure – beginning with Winston Churchill – of successive generations of politicians to address it is what has led to the current impasse.

LONDON – I recently saw an American play in London called “Sweat,” written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist Lynn Nottage. It was performed previously on and off Broadway and was described by the Wall Street Journal as a play that helped to explain Donald Trump’s election as president.

Nottage had spent some time talking to the residents of a poor city in Pennsylvania which was losing jobs and its modest prosperity because of the contraction of the steel industry. Competition from cheaper manufacturers and lower-paid workers around the world had devastated an already-weak economy and provoked conflict between friends, relatives, and races.

1 February 2019

WHAT IF....? SCANNING THE HORIZON: 12 SCENARIOS FOR 2021

Florence Gaub

Foresight is about choice, decision and action – and not, as is repeated time and again, predicting the future and getting it wrong.

This Chaillot Paper aims to alert decision-makers to potential developments with significant strategic impact while they can still prepare for, or even avoid them. This is done using two methods combined: horizon-scanning as well as single scenario-building. Taken together, they produce plausible events set in 2021 – with strategic ramifications well beyond that. All 12 scenarios in this Chaillot Paper reflect the expertise and imagination of the researchers who wrote them: some explore potential conflicts, while others look at disruptive political developments, or indeed at crises with significant ramifications.
That said, all are designed in the hope of drawing attention to foreign and security policy aspects which are potentially overlooked, and all are extrapolated from ongoing and recent developments. Download document

31 January 2019

Europe’s Future Is as China’s Enemy

By Stephen M. Walt

If NATO were a listed stock, would now be a good time to short it? According to the New York Times, U.S. President Donald Trump has told his aides repeatedly that he would like to withdraw the United States from the alliance. The U.S. foreign-policy establishment promptly got the vapors at this news, with former Undersecretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy declaring that such a step “would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history.” Even though NATO’s original rationale evaporated when the Soviet Union imploded, it continues to be the most sacred of cows inside America’s policy elite.

But Trump isn’t the real problem, even though his vulgar, vain, erratic, and needlessly offensive behavior has made a difficult situation worse and to no apparent benefit. Rather, the real problem began as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed because it removed the principle rationale for a deep U.S. commitment to European security.

Turkey and the West: What to Expect in 2019?

MARC PIERINI

Four big issues will dominate Turkey’s policy agenda this year. The net result is growing uncertainty about the country’s reliability among its Western allies.

Beyond Trumpian tweets and Turkish chest-beating reactions, a dispassionate look at the relationship between Turkey and its traditional Western allies reveals that economic, defense, and counterterrorism issues will dominate their mutual agenda in 2019.

In the end, much will depend on what will be left of liberties and democracy in Turkey and whether Ankara’s leadership will feel comfortable permanently balancing its newly acquired illiberal friendships with its traditional Western affiliations.

30 January 2019

Europe’s Future Is as China’s Enemy

By Stephen M. Walt

If NATO were a listed stock, would now be a good time to short it? According to the New York Times, U.S. President Donald Trump has told his aides repeatedly that he would like to withdraw the United States from the alliance. The U.S. foreign-policy establishment promptly got the vapors at this news, with former Undersecretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy declaring that such a step “would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history.” Even though NATO’s original rationale evaporated when the Soviet Union imploded, it continues to be the most sacred of cows inside America’s policy elite.

But Trump isn’t the real problem, even though his vulgar, vain, erratic, and needlessly offensive behavior has made a difficult situation worse and to no apparent benefit. Rather, the real problem began as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed because it removed the principle rationale for a deep U.S. commitment to European security.

29 January 2019

Sorry, Britain, You’re Just Not That Important for Europe

BY SIMON TILFORD

Most Continental Europeans are deeply bored by the endless theater of British politics and just want the Brexit issue resolved one way or another. A small minority in Europe, however, is deeply invested in the outcome—though its preferred outcomes are diametrically opposed. Many business leaders and liberals worry that Brexit will leave the European Union poorer, less open economically, and less likely to develop the kind of strategic mindset required for Europe to start taking care of itself. Conversely, for many federalists and other supporters of a “ever closer union,” Brexit will free the EU of a vexing member state that has thwarted the closer integration essential to meeting the challenges facing the bloc.

These Europeans’ views obviously reflect differing visions for the future of the EU. But they have one thing in common: They greatly exaggerate the implications of a Britain-free EU.

Animosity Between Iran and Europe Could Derail Efforts to Save the Nuclear Deal

Frida Ghitis

Relations between Iran and the European Union seemed to enjoy something of a honeymoon just after President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of the 2015 agreement limiting Tehran’s nuclear program. But it is becoming increasingly evident that any warm feelings engendered by a joint commitment to preserve the Iran deal and stand against Trump have cooled significantly. Europe and Iran are now growing farther apart amid accusations that the Islamic Republic is engaging in behavior that Europe cannot countenance. The nuclear deal itself could ultimately collapse in the acrimony.

Last May, when Trump announced the U.S. was unilaterally withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA—the awkwardly named agreement that was the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy—Europe, along with Russia and China, vowed that they remained determined to prevent the deal from unraveling. A few months later, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, leaders gathered with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and issued a statement reaffirming their vow

Populists Keep Winning the Messaging War in Europe Over Migration

Laura Kupe

European leaders gathered twice last year to try and develop an EU-wide approach to the still-divisive issues of migration and the integration of refugees, and both times they failed to reach any consensus, yet again. Building on public anxieties around migration, far-right populist parties succeeded in sowing more discord across the continent, with many centrist and liberal politicians having difficulty formulating a response. 

The effectiveness of these anti-migrant and even nativist campaigns was evident with the controversy over the adoption of the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration last month in Morocco. The compact initially enjoyed support from all U.N. members, including the United States, when its drafting process was launched in 2016. But the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the compact more than a year ago, claiming that numerous provisions in the agreement were “inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies.”