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

17 November 2019

As Challenges Mount, Can Europe Correct Its Course?


The liberal European order that emerged after World War II and spread after the collapse of the Soviet Union is now under attack from both within and without. The European Union—the ultimate expression of the European project—has become a convenient punching bag for opportunistic politicians in many of its member countries, as anti-EU sentiment has become part of the broader populist platform of protectionism and opposition to immigration. The EU still managed to withstand its latest challenge when the gains made by populist parties in recent European Parliamentary elections fell short of expectations.

Nevertheless, Britain’s withdrawal from the union, known as Brexit, continues to loom over the grouping, and there is no way of knowing whether the populist wave has crested. Illiberal governments hold power in Hungary and Poland, and a far-right party was part of a coalition government in Austria until its recent collapse. Centrist leaders seem unable to come up with a response to immigration that doesn’t alienate more voters than it unites.

16 November 2019

Britain didn’t fight the second world war — the British empire did

William Dalrymple

In 1929, when Edwin Lutyens handed over the newly completed building site of New Delhi to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, many believed he had created a capital for a British empire in India that would last if not 1,000, then at least 100 years. It was, as Lord Stamfordham wrote, ‘a symbol of the might and permanence of the British empire’ that had been commissioned specifically so that ‘the Indian will see for the first time the power of western civilisation’.

The plan of New Delhi was deliberately intended to express the limitless power of the Viceroy. In the words of Sir Herbert Baker: ‘Hurrah for despotism!’ Every detail of New Delhi was meant to echo this thought — from the stone bells on the capitals, which could never ring to announce the end of British rule, to the sheer imperial monumentality of the scheme, which even Lutyens’s greatest champion, Robert Byron, described as ‘an offence against democracy’.

Yet just 18 years later, in 1947, Lord Mountbatten lowered the Union Jack and moved out of Viceroy’s House, and the first president of democratic, independent India, Dr Rajendra Prasad, moved in. At the same time, imperial India was partitioned, creating two independent nation-states, Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. After 300 years in India, the British divided and quit.

Macron Is Right About NATO and the EU, but Will Europe Listen?

Judah Grunstein

It is an enduring mystery how French President Emmanuel Macron can simultaneously be such an insightful and articulate political analyst and such a ham-fisted politician. Whatever the explanation, he never fails to deliver on both counts.

The most recent example is Macron’s interview with The Economist on what is ailing NATO and the European Union, and how Europe got into its current predicament. If Macron were simply a university professor or international affairs analyst, the interview would be an informative read. Because he is the president of France, it has already created one diplomatic incident with a non-EU government and generated anxiety and alarm among his EU partners across the continent. ...

15 November 2019

The Road to Four Months That Changed the World

By George Friedman

Thirty years ago, on Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. This was the beginning of a period that would change the world. When the last remnants of the wall came down in November 1991, it began four months that transformed all that had gone before. On Dec. 31, 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist; then on Feb. 7, 1992, the Maastricht Treaty was signed, creating the European Union. Like 1918 or 1945, this four-month period marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. It is 30 years since the beginning of this transition and its meaning is only now becoming visible.

Turning Points of the 20th Century

Europe in the 20th century had four turning points. The first came in 1918 with the end of World War I. It was also the end of Imperial Europe. The German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires all collapsed after the war, and the British Empire was not far behind. Nations like Poland that had been buried within one or more empires emerged as independent republics, some for the first time in centuries. Some were forged together into multinational states, like Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia. The borders of others, like Hungary, were dramatically changed. Defeated Germany survived. Throughout Europe, the republican form of government took hold and, with it, supposedly liberal democracy. Emperors did not reemerge, but liberal democracy took hold only intermittently.

Europe on a Geopolitical Fault Line

ANA PALACIO

MADRID – Two months ago, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his fear that a “Great Fracture” could split the international order into two “separate and competing worlds,” one dominated by the United States and the other by China. His fear is not only justified; the fissure he dreads has already formed, and it is getting wider.

After Deng Xiaoping launched his “reform and opening up” policy in 1978, the conventional wisdom in the West was that China’s integration into the global economy would naturally bring about domestic social and political change. The end of the Cold War – an apparent victory for the US-led liberal international order – reinforced this belief, and the West largely pursued a policy of engagement with China. After China became a member of the World Trade Organization in 2001, this process accelerated, with Western companies and investment pouring into the country, and cheap manufactured products flowing out of it.

Spain’s Socialists Lose Their Electoral Gamble, as the Far-Right Vox Gains

Alana Moceri

MADRID—Spain returned to the polls Sunday for the fourth time in four years, and just six months since its last election. After giving the center-left Socialist Party, the leftist Podemos party and center-right party Ciudadanos, or Citizens, the opportunity to form a government in April, voters punished them this time around for failing to do so. The Socialists lost three seats in parliament, again falling short of a majority despite winning the most seats. Podemos lost seven seats and Ciudadanos a jaw-dropping 47, the biggest setback yet for the centrist upstarts. While voter turnout was about 5 percent less than in April, those that did vote gave the biggest boosts to the traditionally conservative Popular Party, which gained 22 more parliamentary seats, and the far-right Vox party, which more than doubled its seats from 24 to 52, making it the third-largest party in parliament.

Voters may have given the Socialist Party the most votes and therefore a second chance at governing, but this hollow victory came with an even more fractured and polarized party system and a much more complicated path to forming a government. No one can say that there won’t be another election in six months. ...

13 November 2019

What Brexit supporters can learn from India pulling out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

David Dodwell

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha hold hands at the third Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership summit in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 4. India later decided not to sign the pact. Photo: Reuters

As Britain’s Brexit-obsessed conservatives rally the country’s voters around the vision of new and open trade pastures, with the United Kingdom breaking loose of European Union fetters and building its own dynamic and liberal trade deals with the world, let them think about just one thing: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The proposed 16-economy pact is the brainchild of Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders keen to liberalise trade between themselves and with their key regional trading partners – Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China and India. It was conceived in 2012 and could amount to the world’s largest trade block, embracing almost half the world’s population and a third of global gross domestic product.

The Future Challenges Facing Europe as a Global Actor

TRISTAN THORN

Risk has become the lingua franca of modern life. Since the 16th century governments and companies have increasingly assessed threats in terms of risk (Coker, 2013; Peterson, 2011). During the 20th century, economists like John Maynard Keynes theorised risk as a measurable uncertainty; this approach to risk has been expanded across multiple disciplines and subjects (Peterson, 2011). It has, however, been theorised by Beck (2009; 1992) that modern society is now a ‘risk society’ constantly engaging with unquantifiable self-generated risks. As risks are socially constructed and the consequences of risks unknowable, Western states have been unsuccessfully trying to prevent future risks from materialising through pre-emptive action; for instance the Iraq War in 2003 (Beck, 2009, p. 53). Since the end of the Cold War the US and Western states have focused on the dangers posed by failing states, and their relation to terrorism (Mazarr, 2014a). This has been at the expense of more strategically important and pressing threats. Whilst terrorism and failed states pose a threat to European security, this threat has been greatly exaggerated by politicians, the media and institutions (Walt, 2015). It is for this reason that this essay will argue that over the next decade the threat from geopolitics and the changing international order will pose a greater challenge to Europe as a global actor than terrorism. This essay will first outline and evaluate different approaches to risk and uncertainty. Secondly, the essay will assess the extent to which risk, particularly terrorism, has been altered and complicated by modernity. Thirdly, the future threats posed by geopolitics and the changing international system will be critically analysed.

The Rise of Nationalism After the Fall of the Berlin Wall

GEORGE SOROS

BERLIN – The fall of the Berlin Wall on the night of November 8, 1989 dramatically and suddenly accelerated the collapse of communism in Europe. The end of travel restrictions between East and West Germany dealt a death blow to the closed society of the Soviet Union. By the same token, it marked a high point for the rise of open societies.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, open societies were triumphant and international cooperation became the dominant creed. Thirty years later, however, nationalism has turned out to be much more powerful and disruptive than internationalism.

I had become involved in what I call my political philanthropy a decade earlier. I became an advocate of the concept of open society that had been imbued in me by Karl Popper, my mentor at the London School of Economics. Popper had taught me that perfect knowledge was not attainable, and that totalitarian ideologies, which claimed to be in possession of the ultimate truth, could prevail only by repressive means.

In the 1980s, I supported dissidents throughout the Soviet empire, and in 1984 I was able to set up a foundation in my native Hungary. It provided financial support to any activity that was not initiated by the one-party state. The idea was that by encouraging non-party activities, people would become aware of the falsehood of the official dogma – and it worked like a charm. With an annual budget of $3 million, the foundation became stronger than the Ministry of Culture.

11 November 2019

It’s not just Britain that’s breaking up, Europe is too

Martin Kettle

Arguably the most surreal event during the general election campaign is scheduled for the week before polling day. On 3 December, Nato leaders, including Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, will gather at a Buckingham Palace reception. The next day, the Nato chiefs will meet in a luxury – but thankfully non-Trump-owned – hotel outside Watford. It’s the event where the leaders will discuss big subjects including Syria, Afghanistan, Russia and military burden-sharing – and where none of these big subjects is likely to be solved.

In the not so distant past, a leader fighting an election might have seen an international summit they were hosting as a golden opportunity. The grandeur and importance of such a gathering would mean free publicity from the campaign gods, reminding voters that the incumbent is someone who bestrides the world stage, has the ear of powerful allies, and is at ease with the deepest responsibilities of office. As a prime minister milked the occasion, opponents could only grind their teeth in frustration. 

Brexit should be seen as another symptom of this wider fragmentation rather than simply as an insular psychodrama for Britain

Blood Gold in the Brazilian Rain Forest

By Jon Lee Anderson

One day in 2014, Belém, a member of Brazil’s Kayapo tribe, went deep into the forest to hunt macaws and parrots. He was helping to prepare for a coming-of-age ceremony, in which young men are given adult names and have their lips pierced. By custom, initiates wear headdresses adorned with tail feathers. Belém, whose Kayapo name is Takaktyx, an honorific form of the word “strong,” was a designated bird hunter.

Far from his home village of Turedjam, Belém ran across a group of white outsiders. They were garimpeiros, gold prospectors, who were working inside the Kayapo reserve—a twenty-six-million-acre Amazonian wilderness, demarcated for indigenous people. Gold mining is illegal there, but the prospectors were accompanied by a Kayapo man, so Belém assumed that some arrangement had been made. About nine thousand Kayapo lived in the forest, split into several groups; each had its own chief, and the chiefs tended to do as they pleased.

IMF Warns Europe to Make Emergency Plan for Economic Slump

By Nikos Chrysoloras and Birgit Jennen

Germany stuck to its stance that Europe’s economic engine will pull through its current trough without a spending jolt, countering increasingly dire warnings from the International Monetary Fund.

Europe needs to come up with emergency plans, since monetary policy has all but exhausted its arsenal and risks spread, the fund warned.

“Given elevated downside risks, contingency plans should be at the ready for implementation,” the IMF said in its Regional Economic Outlook for Europe. “A synchronized fiscal response” may be necessary, the fund said in the report, highlighting the dangers from trade protectionism, a chaotic Brexit and geopolitics.

The stark warning comes after the latest data showed that the euro-area economy is proving more resilient than anticipated, driven by robust expansion in countries such as France. Still, Germany probably went into a technical recession during the last quarter, and the labor market in the continent’s biggest economy started to deteriorate.

Germany shrugged off those concerns, with Finance Minister Olaf Scholz saying there’s no immediate need for a fiscal stimulus package to pump up the country’s stalled growth machine.

10 November 2019

Blood Gold in the Brazilian Rain Forest

By Jon Lee Anderson

Belém, a member of the Kayapo people, confers with Chicão, a miner whom his tribe allows to work on indigenous land. A new wave of prospectors, encouraged by Brazil’s President, threatens to upend a vital ecological balance in the rain forest.Photograph by Mauricio Lima for The New Yorker

One day in 2014, Belém, a member of Brazil’s Kayapo tribe, went deep into the forest to hunt macaws and parrots. He was helping to prepare for a coming-of-age ceremony, in which young men are given adult names and have their lips pierced. By custom, initiates wear headdresses adorned with tail feathers. Belém, whose Kayapo name is Takaktyx, an honorific form of the word “strong,” was a designated bird hunter.

Far from his home village of Turedjam, Belém ran across a group of white outsiders. They were garimpeiros, gold prospectors, who were working inside the Kayapo reserve—a twenty-six-million-acre Amazonian wilderness, demarcated for indigenous people. Gold mining is illegal there, but the prospectors were accompanied by a Kayapo man, so Belém assumed that some arrangement had been made. About nine thousand Kayapo lived in the forest, split into several groups; each had its own chief, and the chiefs tended to do as they pleased.

IMF Warns Europe to Make Emergency Plan for Economic Slump

By Nikos Chrysoloras and Birgit Jennen

Germany stuck to its stance that Europe’s economic engine will pull through its current trough without a spending jolt, countering increasingly dire warnings from the International Monetary Fund.

Europe needs to come up with emergency plans, since monetary policy has all but exhausted its arsenal and risks spread, the fund warned.

“Given elevated downside risks, contingency plans should be at the ready for implementation,” the IMF said in its Regional Economic Outlook for Europe. “A synchronized fiscal response” may be necessary, the fund said in the report, highlighting the dangers from trade protectionism, a chaotic Brexit and geopolitics.

The stark warning comes after the latest data showed that the euro-area economy is proving more resilient than anticipated, driven by robust expansion in countries such as France. Still, Germany probably went into a technical recession during the last quarter, and the labor market in the continent’s biggest economy started to deteriorate.

Open Borders Are a Trillion-Dollar Idea

BY BRYAN CAPLAN

The world’s nations, especially the world’s richest nations, are missing an enormous chance to do well while doing good. The name of this massive missed opportunity—and the name of my book on the topic—is “open borders.”

Critics of immigration often hyperbolically accuse their opponents of favoring open borders—a world where all nationalities are free to live and work in any nation they like. For most, that’s an unfair label: They want more visas for high-skilled workers, family reunification, or refugees—not the end of immigration restrictions. In my case, however, this accusation is no overstatement. I think that free trade in labor is a massive missed opportunity. Open borders are not only just but the most promising shortcut to global prosperity.

To see the massive missed opportunity of which I speak, consider the migration of a low-skilled Haitian from Port-au-Prince to Miami. In Haiti, he would earn about $1,000 per year. In Miami, he could easily earn $25,000 per year. How is such upward mobility possible? Simply put: Human beings are much more productive in Florida than in Haiti—thanks to better government policies, better management, better technology, and much more. The main reason Haitians suffer in poverty is not because they are from Haiti but because they are in Haiti. If you were stuck in Haiti, you, too, would probably be destitute.

8 November 2019

The End of Neoliberalism and the Rebirth of History

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ

NEW YORK – At the end of the Cold War, political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote a celebrated essay called “The End of History?” Communism’s collapse, he argued, would clear the last obstacle separating the entire world from its destiny of liberal democracy and market economies. Many people agreed.

Today, as we face a retreat from the rules-based, liberal global order, with autocratic rulers and demagogues leading countries that contain well over half the world’s population, Fukuyama’s idea seems quaint and naive. But it reinforced the neoliberal economic doctrine that has prevailed for the last 40 years.

The credibility of neoliberalism’s faith in unfettered markets as the surest road to shared prosperity is on life-support these days. And well it should be. The simultaneous waning of confidence in neoliberalism and in democracy is no coincidence or mere correlation. Neoliberalism has undermined democracy for 40 years.

7 November 2019

Britain’s Post-Brexit Choices

NGAIRE WOODS

LONDON – Huge amounts of time, effort, and frustration have gone into negotiating the terms of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. And with the UK set to hold a crucial parliamentary election on December 12, it still is not clear whether, when, and how Brexit will happen.

But assuming the UK does leave the EU, its next government will need to begin the long, difficult process of negotiating new relationships with the rest of the world. That will involve tough choices, one of the thorniest of which is whether the UK should align its regulations in key economic sectors with those of the EU or the United States. Where, then, is Britain headed?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants the UK to reach a trade and investment agreement with the US after Brexit. After all, America is the UK’s largest single-country trade partner and its biggest source (and destination) of foreign direct investment.

In seeking such a deal, however, the UK would have to decide how far it is willing to realign its regulatory regimes with those of the US (as American firms and investors want). Closer alignment with the US would create new barriers to trade with the EU, which is a much larger market for UK exports. Moreover, the prospect of adopting US standards – on drug pricing, the environment, food standards, and animal welfare, for example – is already creating a public backlash in Britain.

The New Patchwork Politics of Wider Europe

RICHARD YOUNGS
Source Link

Political developments across the Wider Europe space increasingly blur the line between European Union and other countries. Trends in democracy have in recent years become more varied and do not divide neatly along a line between EU states and non-EU states. This is one factor that has begun to alter the underlying structure of relations between the EU and the countries of the wider European Neighbourhood. The dynamics of Europeanisation that have long been central to the EU’s external influence have begun to work in different ways. EU policies across the neighbourhood still need to adjust to the emerging patchwork of political trends.

This publication was prepared within the framework of the CEPS-led 3DCFTAs project, enabled by financial support from Sweden. To download the publication, please consult the following link.

6 November 2019

The Potential War Map of Eastern Europe

By Jacek Bartosiak

The frequently cited Suwalki Gap is the only communication route connecting Poland – the operational base of NATO and the U.S. – to the Baltic states, which abut Russia and thus are vulnerable to Moscow’s military advances. This narrow area is essential to sustaining NATO cohesion and guaranteeing the collective security afforded by NATO. In military terms, NATO’s Line of Communication, or LOC, through the gap is extremely difficult to establish and maintain; it traverses a challenging terrain over a long distance, from Warsaw to Tallinn, and since it is flanked by Belarus and Kaliningrad, it is vulnerable to Russian anti-access/area denial assets. (Indeed, the importance of Belarus and Kaliningrad cannot be overstated. They affect NATO’s general strategy, the escalation ladder, nuclear aspects, political dimension, cohesion of the alliance, and so on.)

However, the Suwalki Gap is less important to Poland – whose independence would remain intact even if Russia invaded the Baltics – than it is to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. And it is far less important than the Smolensk Gate – more on that in a moment. The Baltic states are like three pieces of meat on a skewer comprising a single road route from Poland that passes through terrain less than 90 kilometers (60 miles) wide at its narrowest point. The fact that a single LOC can be cut by a potentially hostile Russian force, therefore, demands an analysis of what it would take to discourage Russian aggression.

The Smolensk Gate

The Potential War Map of Eastern Europe

By Jacek Bartosiak

The frequently cited Suwalki Gap is the only communication route connecting Poland – the operational base of NATO and the U.S. – to the Baltic states, which abut Russia and thus are vulnerable to Moscow’s military advances. This narrow area is essential to sustaining NATO cohesion and guaranteeing the collective security afforded by NATO. In military terms, NATO’s Line of Communication, or LOC, through the gap is extremely difficult to establish and maintain; it traverses a challenging terrain over a long distance, from Warsaw to Tallinn, and since it is flanked by Belarus and Kaliningrad, it is vulnerable to Russian anti-access/area denial assets. (Indeed, the importance of Belarus and Kaliningrad cannot be overstated. They affect NATO’s general strategy, the escalation ladder, nuclear aspects, political dimension, cohesion of the alliance, and so on.)