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

10 December 2018

Brexit: How We Got Here

By George Friedman

The referendum happened over two years ago, but there’s still debate over how to implement the result.

The British Parliament is set to vote next week on the exit deal Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the European Union. The prime minister has faced much criticism from members of parliament who don’t like the terms of the deal or who don’t want Britain to leave the EU at all. Indeed, many MPs, as well as David Cameron, the prime minister who agreed to hold the referendum in the first place, were shocked by the outcome of the vote in 2016. Though they had authorized the referendum, they expected that it would be soundly defeated. But their expectation proved false, putting an end to the nonsensical claim that only a small minority of the British public wanted to leave. Nearly 52 percent, in fact, voted in favor of Brexit.

Brexit Is Falling Apart — Slowly

BY OWEN MATTHEWS

Could this week mark the moment when Britain turned against Brexit? Two developments in a day of high parliamentary drama seemed to mark a sea change in the political landscape as the U.K.’s Parliament embarked on five days of debate over the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

First came the news that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is likely to rule that Britain may unilaterally suspend the exit process from the EU without consulting other members—or the ECJ itself. That undermines Prime Minister Theresa May’s argument that members of Parliament face a choice between the deal she had negotiated with Brussels or an economically disastrous no-deal exit. Soon, lawmakers will probably have a third option: to push back the March 29 deadline for Britain’s departure to allow time for more talks, or a second referendum.

9 December 2018

A Standing Army for the EU?

By RICHARD M. REINSCH II

French President Emmanuel Macron reviews an honor guard at the French Navy base in Toulon, January 19, 2018. (Claude Paris/Pool/via Reuters)Emmanuel Macron envisions a military force that would fight for peace and against ignorance and climate change.

With German chancellor Angela Merkel yielding her grip on the reins of European leadership, French president Emmanuel Macron knows his moment has come and aims to take advantage of it. Two recent interventions by the French president illustrate his desire to further the European project of “more Union.” The one that has received much positive notice was the speech he gave in Paris on the centenary of Armistice Day, in which he portrayed nationalism as “a betrayal” of patriotism. The nationalist says “our interests first and who cares about the rest!” And there goes the European neighborhood, because to the extent that we can love our own country, it must be on the basis of its “moral values.” But those are universal, shared, a self-fulfilling project of values, according to Macron.

These 5 Numbers Explain Why the French Are in the Streets

By Liz Alderman

PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron of France is facing the toughest crisis of his leadership after three weeks of violent protestsacross the country. “Yellow Vest” demonstrators have demanded that the government give financial relief to large parts of the population that are struggling to make ends meet.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe sought to calm the furor on Tuesday by suspending a planned fuel tax increase for six months, reversing a policy that had set off the revolt.

But it’s not apparent that this single concession can clear the streets.

The Yellow Vest movement — whose followers wear or display high-visibility vests used in emergencies — has morphed into a collective outcry over deeper problems that have plagued France for years: declining living standards and eroding purchasing power. Both of which have worsened in the aftermath of Europe’s long-running financial crisis.

8 December 2018

What France's Unrest Means

by Scott B. MacDonald

The ongoing Yellow Vest movement is significant and could have long-lasting repercussions for France and the rest of Europe.

France is suffering from a round of public discontent in the form of the “Yellow Vests” ( gilets jaunes ), a spontaneous and generally leaderless wave of demonstrations and riots springing from the country’s rural areas and small-towns. Beginning in November, people showed up in large numbers to protest a green-friendly tax on gas and diesel fuels to discourage the use of automobiles and trucks. It was estimated by the Interior Ministry that on December 2 nd close to 136,000 people took to the streets, up from the previous weekend’s showing of 105,000. Although the Macron government on December 3 rd announced it was postponing the fuel tax rises for six months, the Yellow Vests are not done. Indeed, there are growing concerns that the movement can bring the economy to a halt, force political changes and factor in the European Union’s May 2019 European Union parliamentary elections. 

7 December 2018

Europe hasn’t won the war on terror

By PETTER NESSER

OSLO — A recent lull in the number and severity of jihadist attacks in Europe might lead one to conclude the worst is over. But it’s far too early to declare victory in the fight against terror.

The shock of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris jolted Europe into a new reality. Paris was hit again later that year, in attacks that killed more than 130. High-profile assaults in Brussels, Berlin and Barcelona soon followed, while a series of smaller-scale incidents in London and France killed dozens and created an atmosphere of fear that kept threat levels high.

But more recently — with no major attack causing more than 10 deaths since the summer of 2017 — terror has slipped from the headlines and the minds of most ordinary European citizens. Indeed, jihadist attacks in Europe are down just over 60 percent since their peak last year, suggesting Europe has fought back against the onslaught of attacks inspired by Islamic State.

What's Next for the U.K. If Parliament Shoots Down the Brexit Deal?


The United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union in March, but the terms of its departure are still under discussion. The government in London has reached an agreement with the bloc, but the ideologically fragmented British Parliament will be hard to sell on the deal. Though London's first choice is an orderly Brexit, political events in the United Kingdom could still lead to a no-deal exit.

Another critical vote on the Brexit deal is fast approaching. On Dec. 11, the British House of Commons will vote on the agreement that the United Kingdom and the European Union reached in mid-November. According to the deal, the British exit from the union on March 29 will be followed by a 21-month transition period, during which the United Kingdom will remain in the EU single market. (If both sides agree, they can extend this period by two more years.) If the United Kingdom and the European Union fail to find a way to keep the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland open by the end of the transition, the United Kingdom will stay in a customs arrangement with the European Union until they achieve a solution as part of a provision known as the Irish backstop. Effectively, the deal stipulates that the United Kingdom cannot unilaterally withdraw from the customs arrangement. 

6 December 2018

How Europe Could Blunt U.S. Iran Sanctions Without Washington Lifting A Finger

BY ESFANDYAR BATMANGHELIDJ, AXEL HELLMAN

It has been nearly seven months since the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. As sanctions begin to bite, Iranian companies are laying off employees, and Iranian households are facing renewed hardships. Iran has exercised remarkable patience while it waits for Europe to devise its special purpose vehicle (SPV), a new entity intended to help Iran blunt the impact of U.S. secondary sanctions by making it possible for companies to trade with Iran, despite the fact that most international banks refuse to process payments to and from the country.

The SPV will do so by offering a “compensation” service. By overseeing a ledger of payments related to exports and imports between Europe and Iran, the SPV will be able to coordinate payments so that a European exporter of goods to Iran can get paid by a European importer of goods from Iran, eliminating the need for cross-border transactions. The SPV simply coordinates payments so that exporters can be paid from funds outside of Iran while importers can be paid by funds within Iran.

Here's How Europe Plans to Challenge the Dollar's Dominance

By Viktoria Dendrinou and Nikos Chrysoloras

The European Union is set to unveil plans for challenging the dollar’s dominance in global markets, including energy, as it seeks to strengthen the international role of its currency and become more independent from the U.S. amid a widening rift in transatlantic ties.

The EU must develop “a full range of trustworthy interest rate benchmarks” in financial markets, and a fully integrated instant payment system, according to a draft set of initiatives due to be released later this week by the European Commission. The bloc’s executive arm will also explore the possibility to further develop the role of the euro in foreign exchange markets.

The commission’s plans are aimed at mitigating the so-called “exorbitant privilege” of the U.S. dollar, which allows Washington to force global compliance with its foreign policy goals, including by the EU.

4 December 2018

Infographic Of The Day: Map: A Visual Guide To Europe's Member States


Europe has members in at least four major treaty groups, each of which governs a different aspect of the region's infrastructure.

3 December 2018

EU Unveils Plan to Cut Emissions to Zero, in Bid to Save Planet

By Marine Strauss

The European Union unveiled its long-term vision on combating climate change in a push for more ambitious action on the environment just days after U.S. President Donald Trump rejected his government’s warning on the economic costs of global warming.

The 28-nation bloc, responsible for 10 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, set a 2050 perspective to help give direction to member states, companies and citizens to anticipate costs in fighting temperature increases. The EU’s updated strategy comes a week before representatives from almost 200 countries are due to meet in Poland for an annual conference on addressing climate change.

1 December 2018

U.K. Relationship With U.S., Role in Global Defense Unlikely to Change After Brexit


By: John Grady

Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) watch as the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth II (R 08) pulls into Naval Station Norfolk, Va. Oct 27, 2018.

The United Kingdom’s security relationship with the United States will remain “exceptional, uniquely wide and deep” even as the U.K. prepares to depart from the European Union next year, Britain’s top envoy to the United States said.

That relationship, Kim Darroch said Monday at the Hudson Institute in Washington, is built on trade, security, culture and more.

Zeroing in on security, Darroch said the two are tied to $150 billion in trade agreements for the next 10 years covering weapons and systems from F-35s, P-8A Poseidon aircrafts, ballistic-missile submarines and nuclear modernization programs.

28 November 2018

Europe's new regional defense

By Douglas Macgregor 

It’s official. Europe will soon have its own army and, presumably, its own regional defense. At least that is the stated goal of French President Emmanuel Macron. Mr. Macron is restating a position that German Chancellor Angela Merkel adopted some time ago that, “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”

Mr. Macron and Ms. Merkel have a point. The time to Europeanize NATO is long overdue. After all, the European Union’s economy is more than five times as large as Russia’s.

Privately, NATO’s European military elites are unenthusiastic. They refer to the dangers of “Macron’s disease.” In the minds of European military elites, Mr. Macron and Ms. Merkel are engaged in a dangerous game of self-deception because NATO’s command, control, communications, computers and overhead intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, (C4ISR), are entirely American.

What to expect from a no-deal Brexit


To stand on the white cliffs of Dover is not merely to reflect on British isolation, splendid or otherwise, or on the remarkable Cretaceous geology beneath your feet, or even to wonder at the perennial lack of bluebirds. It is to look down at a marvel of frictionless trade in action. Dover is Britain’s ninth-busiest port in gross tonnage, but in terms of roll-on-roll-off traffic, the sort that keeps the country’s economy tightly coupled to its neighbours beyond the narrow sea, it is far and away the biggest (see chart). Ships like the Pride of Kent and the Calais Seaway pass through its seawalls ten times a day; as many as 10,000 lorries snake slowly but uninterruptedly in and out of the port. About £120bn ($150bn) of traded goods pass up and down Jubilee Way to and from the port each year, 17% of Britain’s total. A lot of it is needed urgently.

27 November 2018

Is a “No Deal” Brexit Still Avoidable?

By Henry Farrell

W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman’s comic history of England, 1066 and All That, talks about nineteenth-century British Prime Minister W. E. Gladstone’s efforts to solve the Irish Question—the puzzle of what to do with rebellious Ireland, which was then part of the United Kingdom. According to Sellar and Yeatman, every time that Gladstone got close to an answer the Irish changed the question. Over the last couple of days, a new Irish question has stymied Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU: how to deal with the border between the Republic of Ireland, which will remain part of the EU, and Northern Ireland, which will not. This time it’s EU negotiators who keep on trying to come up with answers, while British politicians keep on changing the question.

At one point last week, it looked as though the EU and the United Kingdom had reached a provisional deal. British Prime Minister Theresa May brought the deal to her cabinet, which accepted it. But then, a few hours later, British ministers started to resign over the deal—including Dominic Raab, the secretary of state for exiting the European Union, who had helped negotiate it, only to later apparently decide that it wasn’t nearly good enough. British politics is now in chaos. Most dread the prospect of a “no deal” Brexit, where the United Kingdom crashes out of the EU without any cushion, leading to massive economic and political instability. Yet no one has any good proposal for how to avoid it. There is no obvious deal that is both acceptable to the EU and likely to pass in the House of Commons.

25 November 2018

European Security Post-Merkel

By Fabrizio Tassinari

This article was originally published by the Danish Institue for International Studies (DIIS) on 14 November 2018.

EU defence cooperation suffers from a lack of strategic purpose. This challenge offers an opportunity for smaller members such as Denmark to stress that PESCO supported by Germany and the French EI2 initiative are not and should not be competitive models.

Modern German defence policy is mired in a paradox. While international partners expect more activism from Germany, a majority of its citizens believes that international organizations are more competent than the government in the field of defence and armament policy. To address this dilemma, the notion of a European Army has repeatedly been stated to be a central long-term goal of German defence policy.

24 November 2018

European Security Post-Merkel

By Fabrizio Tassinari

EU defence cooperation suffers from a lack of strategic purpose. This challenge offers an opportunity for smaller members such as Denmark to stress that PESCO supported by Germany and the French EI2 initiative are not and should not be competitive models.

Modern German defence policy is mired in a paradox. While international partners expect more activism from Germany, a majority of its citizens believes that international organizations are more competent than the government in the field of defence and armament policy. To address this dilemma, the notion of a European Army has repeatedly been stated to be a central long-term goal of German defence policy.

23 November 2018

Is a “No Deal” Brexit Still Avoidable?

By Henry Farrell

W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman’s comic history of England, 1066 and All That, talks about nineteenth-century British Prime Minister W. E. Gladstone’s efforts to solve the Irish Question—the puzzle of what to do with rebellious Ireland, which was then part of the United Kingdom. According to Sellar and Yeatman, every time that Gladstone got close to an answer the Irish changed the question. Over the last couple of days, a new Irish question has stymied Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU: how to deal with the border between the Republic of Ireland, which will remain part of the EU, and Northern Ireland, which will not. This time it’s EU negotiators who keep on trying to come up with answers, while British politicians keep on changing the question.

22 November 2018

Shattering Europe? Why Trump’s Paris Fiasco Really Matters

By Rajan Menon

You’ve probably had your fill of the media coverage, punditry, tweets, and wisecracks surrounding President Trump’s controversial trip to Paris, officially undertaken to honor the Allied soldiers, especially the Americans, who perished in France during World War I. By now, we’re used to the president’s words and deeds prompting eye-rolling and jokes. But on this occasion, as on others, Trump’s behavior reflects deeper and dangerous political trends -- ones he both exemplifies and fosters. This makes the Paris drama worth revisiting.

Getting Away From It All

Maybe it wasn’t quite a “blue wave” in the House of Representatives (though it certainly qualified as a “pink wave”). Still, the Democrats did remarkably well in this month’s congressional elections, better than in any midterms since 1974. They seem set to gain between 35 and 40 seats (a few contestsremain undecided), including in places Trump carried decisively in 2016.

21 November 2018

The Brexit Deal Won’t Destroy Britain

BY VERNON BOGDANOR
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Brexit poses the most serious constitutional and political problems that Britain has had to face since the end of World War II. Nevertheless, the more lurid prophecies about its outcome can be discounted. Even if the deal to leave the European Union is rejected by Parliament, there will not be stockpiling of vital foods and medicines. There will not be 20-mile lines of trucks at Dover and Folkestone. Nor will the United Kingdom fall apart. Indeed, whether or not there is a deal, Brexit makes Scottish independence less, not more, likely.

A majority of voters in Scotland, like Northern Ireland, opted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum. The Scottish nationalists say that an independent Scotland would seek to remain in the EU in the event that the U.K. leaves. But it would have to rejoin by invoking Article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty, which lays down conditions of eligibility for joining the EU. If Brexit eventually leads, as is likely, to different regulations in Britain from those in the EU, then a Scotland in the EU would be confronted with serious non-tariff barriers with England, which is by far its largest market.