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

12 July 2020

What Germany Must Do For A Speedy Recovery – Analysis

By Philipp Bagus*
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On June 29, the German parliament reacted as parliaments normally do when there is a problem, namely, by allowing the government to spend more. In order to respond to the economic difficulties due to the corona epidemic and the government restrictions, it passed a typical Keynesian stimulus package in order to boost aggregate demand.

The self-set goal of the economic stimulus package is to lead the German economy back to a “sustainable growth path…that will secure jobs and prosperity.” I interpret the term “sustainable growth” here as growth that individuals really want and would support through their voluntary actions in a market economy. It is therefore a growth that is not based on fiscal subsidies and growing public debt and that would collapse without these subsidies or in the event of public overindebtedness. To wit, state funding of new structures that are only kept alive by continuous state subsidies cannot be described as sustainable growth.
The Initial Situation

The corona epidemic and the political reactions to the epidemic have led to a worldwide supply and demand shock. On the supply side, production had to be stopped due to disease, lockdown, and disruption of supply chains. In addition, there are problems of overindebted companies with insufficient liquidity. Since many companies could not and cannot produce any more, global production has collapsed.

11 July 2020

The European Union and the search for digital sovereignty: Building “Fortress Europe” or preparing for a new world?

by Frances Burwell, Kenneth Propp
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When the new European Commission took office under President Ursula von der Leyen, enhancing digital capabilities across the European Union immediately emerged as a top priority. Even in her first statement before being confirmed as European Commission president, von der Leyen called for Europe to achieve “technological sovereignty in some critical technology areas.” Despite the priority given to technological or digital sovereignty, there has been little clear definition of what the term actually means. But it was clearly much more than a rhetorical flourish—by March 2020, the European Commission had outlined new legislative proposals covering the development and use of artificial intelligence, the participation of “high-risk” vendors in critical networks, and the management of data.

The COVID-19 pandemic has since only elevated the debate about Europe’s digital sovereignty. Combined with geopolitical concerns, including growing sensitivity about China’s rapidly increasing role in the European economy, the pandemic is prompting a review of Europe’s strategic position and appears to be strengthening a belief that Europe should seek greater “strategic autonomy”. However the EU redefines sovereignty post-COVID-19—including technological or digital sovereignty—the impact will not be limited to Europe and European companies. Indeed, many of these EU initiatives could run counter the strong position of US and Chinese digital companies in the European market and will inevitably impact the transatlantic partnership.

Striking the Balance: US Army Force Posture in Europe, 2028—A Study Sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of the Army

Authors: J.P. Clark and C. Anthony Pfaff

Within the context of Europe, the US Army must develop a force posture that best navigates the tensions between deterring or defeating armed conflict at acceptable cost, successfully competing below armed conflict, and maintaining global responsiveness and institutional flexibility through the global operating model and dynamic force employment. While Russia’s economy, and consequently military capability will likely shrink over the next 10 years, which can make them more dangerous as the Kremlin continues to try to punch above its weight. The ideal force posture needs to accomplish a range of on-going and contingency missions and also be adaptive enough to remain viable despite any number of potential swings in resources, military balance, or the domestic politics of allies. This study recommends five possible strategic approaches and specifies what conditions and priorities optimize each.

The principal investigators recommend invest in a multidomain alliance. This strategic approach enables the joint force and multinational partners to get the most of their capabilities and makes best use of the Army’s top modernization priorities, such as long-range fires in a way that alters the strategic balance of a theater to avert a potentially catastrophic, albeit low probability, scenario of armed conflict. More importantly, this strategic approach is far more stable in a crisis, as it does not place policymakers in having to rush this critical, escalatory capability into theater at a moment of high tension. Moreover, invest in a multidomain alliance has the flexibility to allow a later build-up of heavy forces if conditions still warrant.

9 July 2020

France Was Officially Colorblind—Until Now

BY KARINA PISER
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Last month, France’s human rights watchdog released a biting assessment of discrimination in the country and urged the government to take quick measures to address deep inequalities along racial lines. In France, where tension over national identity has defined public debate since the 1980s, talk of discrimination is hardly new. But the report, issued by human rights ombudsman Jacques Toubon, stressed a crucial element that has long been minimized in mainstream conversations—that the discrimination faced by French citizens of foreign origin is “systemic.”

The report isn’t the first time the notion of systemic discrimination has entered the public debate. Anti-racism activists, especially among the younger generation, have been insisting on its consequences for years. But Toubon’s intervention does mark a rare instance of that term coming from a public official—and has particular weight at a moment when racism, and France’s understanding of it, are more challenged than ever.

7 July 2020

The Pandemic Is the World’s Long Overdue Reality Check

BY JAMES TRAUB
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Something may have broken—or rather, begun to break—last month when U.S. President Donald Trump held an indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma in open defiance of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic and found, to his shock and outrage, that his own supporters had failed to show up. That something is the politics of alternate reality that he and other illiberal populists have ridden to power in recent years.

It has long been understood that totalitarian leaders sustain themselves through the manipulation of reality; that, after all, is the theme of George Orwell’s 1984 and Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. Orwell, who understood clearly the power of language to obscure rather than reveal, would hardly have been shocked to see the practice transposed to democracies, but it didn’t fully happen in his day. Perhaps it awaited the shotgun marriage of extreme polarization and social media.

Over the last few years, Trump, Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Narendra Modi in India, and others have carried out an experiment in the mass manufacture of alternative realities in a democratic society. Their success has forced a question: What reality, if any, will prove so terrible that it will expose their game? Americans have experienced a few false starts, including an impeachment trial, that have only proved that much of what transpires in political life does not reach people intimately enough to dispel the shadows. Nothing, however, is more intimate than the prospect of sickness and death.

6 July 2020

Losing Germany

By Edward Goldberg

Thomas Friedman in the New York Times writes regularly about how you can’t fool, deceive, or trick Mother Nature. Well the same logic applies to history and geography. Although the headlines are currently focused on the Black Lives Matter movement and the continuing COVID pandemic, a geopolitical blunder of historic importance is being committed: President Donald Trump is pushing Germany away from the United States. Former Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and George Marshall are turning over in their graves. Henry Kissinger, the Merlin of balance of power thought in international relations, must be in total despair.

Germany is not only the fourth-largest economy in the world; it is the industrial and financial engine of the European Union. Furthermore, with its interlocking trade connections to the other 25 members of the European Union, its economic weight is significantly amplified. Germany is truly the leader of Europe, and Europe is America’s largest trading partner. In 2018 (latest data) the European Union accounted for 22.4% of total U.S. trade.

In our globalized world, where national sovereignty is still key but where market power counts as it never did before, the European-American relationship is crucial to the United States’ position in the world. Because of the explosive growth of the global economy, the GDP of the United States went from being 36% of the world’s totalin 1969 to only 15.2% today. However, the combined U.S.-EU economic relationship (a key to the Western alliance) should in principle dramatically magnify the economic power and influence of the United States.

5 July 2020

Europe as a Neutral Giant?


From Emmanuel Macron to Ursula von der Leyen, many European leaders dream of the European Union (EU) asserting itself one day as a geopolitical superpower in its own right.

There is still a long way to go, however. True, the Europeans manage to play some degree of power politics vis-à-vis Moscow—the EU economic sanctions over the annexation of Crimea certainly help contain a resurgent Russia. But on almost all other geopolitical hot-button issues, Europeans fail to formulate any meaningful foreign policy that can’t be ignored by the big powers.

In Syria, the EU has been AWOL despite millions of Syrians having fled the civil war to Europe. In Libya, EU members cancel each other out. Berlin and Rome back the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, while Paris lends at least diplomatic support to military strongman Khalifa Haftar. In Iran, Europeans fail to deliver on their obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, as Washington’s secondary sanctions prevent EU companies from trading with Tehran. In the Balkans, Brussels is struggling to uphold its influence, which is further complicated by France, the Netherlands, and Denmark making it clear that they are not keen on allowing EU enlargement into Albania and North Macedonia anytime soon.

3 July 2020

Facing Trump, Putin, and Xi, London Needs Old Allies for New Ideas

BY BEN JUDAH
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Hong Kong, where the sun finally set on the British Empire in 1997, is now the fulcrum of London’s most fateful foreign-policy decisions since Brexit. But as Beijing tosses away its past commitments and imposes a draconian new security law on the territory, a geopolitically intriguing club of three is emerging, as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom support one another against Beijing.

This collaboration is an old idea, but it’s one with a surprising valence right now. Vague ideas for “CANZUK,” which included New Zealand with the three, as an economic community have gathered steam inside conservative parties in Canada, Australia, and Britain for some years. Like most analysts, I had dismissed these as imperial nostalgia projects that made little sense given the countries’ widely divergent economic interests and the reality that such collaborations were likely to do little to reinforce the rules-based global order.

Last year, the University of Cambridge historian Christopher J. Hill dismissed the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which unites Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the United States, as a “sub-optimal relic of war-time days” that was “never going to be an ‘action organization’ in the sense of formulating joint foreign policies.” But events in China and Hong Kong should change everyone’s minds. Five Eyes has shown itself to be a crucial tool for coordinating a global response to China in the age of Chinese companies’ attempts to dominate 5G mobile communications networks. Canada, Australia, and Britain produced their own strong joint statement on Hong Kong before a follow-up added the United States.

2 July 2020

Here’s why Britain is struggling to form a fully effective carrier strike group

By: Andrew Chuter  

LONDON — Britain’s Royal Navy took delivery of two new aircraft carriers, but a government report on the ships achieving operational capability has laid bare some obstacles toward making a fully effective carrier strike group.

In a report released June 25, the National Audit Office pointed to delays in developing the Crowsnest airborne early warning radar and contracting to build the logistics ships destined to support the 65,000-ton carriers as ongoing problems for the Royal Navy. The NAO also raised questions about future funding.

The Ministry of Defence is making slow “progress in developing the crucial supporting activities that are needed to make full use of a carrier strike group, such as the Crowsnest radar system and the ability to resupply the carriers. In addition, it has not established a clear view on the future cost of enhancing, operating and supporting carrier strike, which creates the risk of future affordability pressures,” the NAO said.

Added the head of the watchdog: “The MoD also needs to get a firmer grip on the future costs of carrier strike. By failing to understand their full extent, it risks adding to the financial strain on a defense budget that is already unaffordable.”

1 July 2020

A Disastrous Summer in the Arctic

By Carolyn Kormann

The remote Siberian town of Verkhoyansk, three thousand miles east of Moscow and six miles north of the Arctic Circle, has long held the record, with another Siberian town, for the coldest inhabited place in the world. The record was set in 1892, when the temperature dropped to ninety below zero Fahrenheit, although these days winter temperatures are noticeably milder, hovering around fifty below. Last Saturday, Verkhoyansk claimed a new record: the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic, with an observation of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit—the same temperature was recorded that day in Las Vegas. Miami has only hit a hundred degrees once since 1896. “This has been an unusually hot spring in Siberia,” Randy Cerveny, the World Meteorological Organization’s rapporteur of weather and climate extremes, said. “The coinciding lack of underlying snow in the region, combined with over-all global temperature increases, undoubtedly helped play a critical role in causing this extreme.” Siberia, in other words, is in the midst of an astonishing and historic heat wave.

Anthropogenic climate change is causing the Arctic to heat up twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Climate models had predicted this phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, but they did not predict how fast the warming would occur. Although Verkhoyansk has seen hot temperatures in the past, Saturday’s 100.4-degree record follows a wildly warm year across the region. Since December, temperatures in western Siberia have been eighteen degrees above normal. Since January, the mean temperature across Siberia has been at least 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average. As the meteorologist Jeff Berardelli reported for CBS, the heat that has fallen on Russia in 2020 “is so remarkable that it matches what’s projected to be normal by the year 2100, if current trends in heat-trapping carbon emissions continue.” By April, owing to the heat, wildfires across the region were larger and more numerous than they were at the same time last year, when the Russian government eventually had to send military aircrafts to battle vast blazes. The scale of the current wildfires—with towering plumes of smoke visible for thousands of miles on satellite images—suggest that this summer could be worse. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, they will also be more complicated to fight.

The European Union’s Security and Defence Policy Beyond COVID-19

Shreya Sinha

As Europe went from being the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic to a situation where most European countries are confident that they are past the worst of the crisis, the focus of the European leaders is now towards the resurgence of the society back to normalcy. Beyond the epidemiological challenge of the virus – the economic, political, geopolitical as well as security challenges faced by the Union are also plenty. Though the European Union’s Global Strategy of 2016 (PDF) highlighted the detection, prevention and response to global pandemics as a priority, the massive consequences and implications on the security policy of the EU are unprecedented. In a continent that is always undergoing shifts, the outbreak of COVID-19 is likely to cause an impact much similar to that of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States of America in 2001.

The most direct and immediate impact is economic in nature which is taking place concurrently to the pandemic. Most European companies including the EU defence firms are witnessing a historic drop in their stock market prices. This is subsequently leading to a rise in their debt ratios and eventually causing a functional threat to their survival. Further, as the public authorities are channelling their resources towards fighting an unprecedented challenge, the funding towards the defence sector and its initiatives is bound to be diminished.

What’s Driving the Rise of Authoritarianism and Populism in Europe and Beyond?


Globally, the past decade has been marked by the twin advances of authoritarianism and populism. The two are not always linked, but in situations ranging from the Philippines and Cambodia to Hungary and Poland, politicians have leveraged populist movements to seize power. Once in office, they have begun the process of dismantling the institutions designed to check their authority and protect human rights, particularly the judiciary and the media.

The populist boom is fueled by disparate, local issues, but these often share common features, such as feelings of disenfranchisement, of being left out of a global economic boom and of discomfort at seeing familiar social orders upended. The movements these grievances generate have spurred anti-immigrant xenophobia—and, in places like Hungary and Greece, even horrifying episodes of political violence—as underlying prejudices are exploited by opportunistic politicians.

Champions of liberal democracy have often appeared hamstrung in their attempts to counter these forces, but there have been some recent successes, including the rise of the Greens across Europe and electoral setbacks for extremist parties in countries where they once seemed ascendant, such as France, Spain and the Netherlands. And in countries where centrist or right-wing parties have chosen to adopt populist policies rather than to push back against them, civil society groups have been resurgent.

The Myth of German Coronavirus Exceptionalism

MICHAEL MEYER-RESENDE

If Western media are to be believed, Germany has dealt exceptionally well with the coronavirus crisis. In the context of U.S. President Donald Trump’s ineptitude and the higher death rates in other big Western democracies, Germany is held up as an example of how to do better. But with whom is Germany being compared?

If Western countries’ responses are compared with those of Asian democracies, the West has failed as a whole. South Korea and Taiwan were confronted with the coronavirus much earlier than the West, yet they managed to keep their infection numbers low while avoiding the extensive economic standstill that afflicts Europe.

Germany has been part of this failure as much as any other Western country. The German government’s lead disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, kept the risk level of the coronavirus at low to medium until late February. Two weeks later, the country closed down. The institute’s experts managed to test and systematically trace a small early outbreak, but they were surprised when carnival festivities triggered a major wave of infections in late February. After that, their approach of systematic tracing and tracking was overpowered within days.

30 June 2020

Europe as a Neutral Giant?

Joseph de 
Source Link

From Emmanuel Macron to Ursula von der Leyen, many European leaders dream of the European Union (EU) asserting itself one day as a geopolitical superpower in its own right.

There is still a long way to go, however. True, the Europeans manage to play some degree of power politics vis-à-vis Moscow—the EU economic sanctions over the annexation of Crimea certainly help contain a resurgent Russia. But on almost all other geopolitical hot-button issues, Europeans fail to formulate any meaningful foreign policy that can’t be ignored by the big powers.

In Syria, the EU has been AWOL despite millions of Syrians having fled the civil war to Europe. In Libya, EU members cancel each other out. Berlin and Rome back the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, while Paris lends at least diplomatic support to military strongman Khalifa Haftar. In Iran, Europeans fail to deliver on their obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, as Washington’s secondary sanctions prevent EU companies from trading with Tehran. In the Balkans, Brussels is struggling to uphold its influence, which is further complicated by France, the Netherlands, and Denmark making it clear that they are not keen on allowing EU enlargement into Albania and North Macedonia anytime soon.

29 June 2020

The Myth of German Coronavirus Exceptionalism

MICHAEL MEYER-RESENDE

If Western media are to be believed, Germany has dealt exceptionally well with the coronavirus crisis. In the context of U.S. President Donald Trump’s ineptitude and the higher death rates in other big Western democracies, Germany is held up as an example of how to do better. But with whom is Germany being compared?

If Western countries’ responses are compared with those of Asian democracies, the West has failed as a whole. South Korea and Taiwan were confronted with the coronavirus much earlier than the West, yet they managed to keep their infection numbers low while avoiding the extensive economic standstill that afflicts Europe.

Germany has been part of this failure as much as any other Western country. The German government’s lead disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, kept the risk level of the coronavirus at low to medium until late February. Two weeks later, the country closed down. The institute’s experts managed to test and systematically trace a small early outbreak, but they were surprised when carnival festivities triggered a major wave of infections in late February. After that, their approach of systematic tracing and tracking was overpowered within days.

27 June 2020

The EU’s new bond isn’t as solid as it seem


Its rescue fund will bail out the poorer states. It will fuel a rapid economic recovery. And perhaps most of all, it will finally turn the European Union into a fiscal union, raising its own money, and distributing it based on which region needs its most. The EU’s new €750 billion (£680 billion) rescue fund has been hailed as a huge step forward for the Union. Perhaps it will be. There is a problem, however. Some analysts are starting to argue the new shiny new EU bonds should be rated as junk – or something close to it.

On the surface, you might think an EU bond should be completely solid. After all, this is a £14.5 trillion economy, the largest single bloc in the world, with the world’s second-largest currency, the euro. It is only borrowing a fraction of GDP. In a world awash with debt, it should be able to raise the money, and lots more if it is needed, right? Well, here’s the problem. The EU has done the easy bit (promising to hand out lots of free cash) but has been a little slower on the harder bit (raising some taxes to pay back all that debt).
You are relying on Greece, Portugal and Italy to come up with the cash

Even at very low interest rates, a bond needs some form of income to back it up. The EU is looking at new forms of direct taxes to repay the bonds. Plenty of fashionable ideas are under discussion, such as the inevitable green levies, and raiding the Apple piggy bank (otherwise known a digital services tax), along with more controversial proposals such a 0.5 per cent extra VAT rate, or an access fee to the single market. But none of them have been agreed yet and most of the 27 countries are very reluctant to let Brussels raise taxes directly. It could be years before a compromise is hammered out.

26 June 2020

Opinion – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of COVID-19 Recovery Financing in Europe

Frederick Kliem

For once, there is unanimity in the European Union (EU). Consensus exists that unprecedented amounts of money will have to be spent across Europe to stave off the inevitable post-COVID-19 economic crisis. Like other crises before, COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses of both the EU and the eurozone and brought into question the survival of the bloc. Should countries like Italy – the EU’s third-largest economy and one its six founding members – fail to revamp their economy and service its huge sovereign debt, the future of the Euro is unclear.

Reminiscent of the 2010 sovereign debt crisis, the large economies of the eurozone are determined to rescue the common currency at any cost and restore trust in the EU. Doing so, requires money and if the EU Commission gets its way, it will command up to €2.4 trillion in the coming years – equivalent to the GDP of France.

The Good

Initially, the EU had been slow in responding to the crisis. EU solidarity and the integrity of its rules were being questioned when member states ignored rules, standards and expectations in lieu of uncoordinated unilateral crisis management measures. The absence of pan-European solidarity and the comprehensive institutional failure in Brussels disillusioned many citizens and political elites particularly in Italy.

25 June 2020

After Brexit: Will the U.S.-UK Deal Get Tariffs Down to Zero?

by Simon Lester

U.S.-UK trade talks are in progress, although conducting them over Zoom or Skype (or however they are doing it), rather than in person, is likely to slow things down. At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing yesterday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer indicated that these talks were “unlikely” to be completed this year.

Nevertheless, these are real, substantive talks, and it’s worth paying attention. When it gets done, what kind of trade deal will this be exactly? Some of the Trump administration’s early trade re‐​negotiations (NAFTA, the Korea‐​US FTA) added more protectionism than liberalization, and its completed negotiations (with Japan and China) did not liberalize very much. What would a U.S.-UK trade agreement do?

One of the strongest pro‐​trade voices in Congress, Senator Pat Toomey, tried to get at this point in a Senate Finance Committee hearing with Lighthizer yesterday (he had a busy day!). In particular, Senator Toomey want to know the degree to which tariffs would be cut in a U.S.-UK FTA. Here’s what he asked (1:18:40 of the video):

24 June 2020

Europe After Coronavirus: The EU and a New Political Economy


The COVID-19 crisis could lead to a wider rethink of Europe’s political economy. This paper explores what such a model might look like, and what it would mean for the governance of the European Union.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a health and economic crisis without modern parallel. The scale of its effects could prompt a far-reaching re-evaluation of the role of the state in relation to the market in Europe. This paper is a thought experiment examining the consequences of a change in Europe’s political economy and the potential implications for the European project.

The current form of the European Union, centred on the single market and the single currency, evolved during a period of economic liberalization. If the COVID-19 crisis leads to a larger role for the state and a move away from market-oriented policies, the EU will face a challenge in accommodating that change.

Can Middle Powers Lead the World Out of the Pandemic?

By Bruce Jone

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, much of the world looked anxiously to Washington to see if it would provide the kind of leadership that was once expected of the United States during major crises. But instead of marshaling a unified global response, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump resisted international health cooperation and announced that the United States would withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO). Domestically, it orchestrated an astonishing display of denial, distraction, and delay that allowed the virus to overwhelm the country.

The question then became: Would China fill the leadership void? Beijing initially sought to cover up the outbreak, but it moved aggressively to lock down entire cities and provinces once the crisis could no longer be denied. By early March, China had mostly halted the spread of the virus within its borders, allowing it to turn to helping other countries overcome shortages of protective gear. China’s “mask diplomacy” has been more effective than is generally acknowledged in the West. In Italy, for instance, opinion polls reveal that more people trust China to contain the virus than trust the United States to do so. And in parts of Southeast Asia, Chinese medical and financial assistance has been similarly well received. But China has not lived down its initial missteps, and its aggressive use of propaganda—including conspiracy theories intended to sow doubt about the virus’s origins—have undercut its claims to global health leadership. When Australia called for an independent investigation into the source of the outbreak and the early response to the pandemic at the World Health Assembly, more than 100 countries supported the motion. Not even Russia stood with China in opposing the investigation.