ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 20/03/2019

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Foreign Policy – Reid Standish / Nazarbayev is giving up presidency, not power, in Kazakhstan

  • Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s first and only president, resigned on Tuesday, setting the stage for an opaque succession process. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the speaker of the Senate and a trusted political ally of Nazarbayev, will take over as acting president until new elections are held in 2020.
  • By exiting the office of the president willingly, said Central Asia expert Luca Anceschi, Nazarbayev is able to play a central role managing the behind-the-scenes process of determining his successor, especially given the array of powers he will continue to command.
  • Nazarbayev can still play a substantial role in directing Kazakhstan’s future, especially in foreign affairs. He maintains strong relations with both Moscow and Beijing despite more nationalist foreign policies from both countries in recent years. Nazarbayev also has good relations with Washington.
  • Despite cooperating closely with Moscow, Nazarbayev has shown an independent streak at times in the face of Russian pressure. Astana, for instance, abstained from recognizing Crimea as part of Russia. Kazakhstan has also walked a tightrope in its relations with Beijing as tens of thousands of ethnic Kazakhs have been caught up in the vast internment camp in Xinjiang.

The New York Times – Katrin Bennhold / German defense spending is falling even shorter. The US isn’t happy.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had a falling-out with the Trump administration last year when it said that, despite signing a commitment to work toward spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense by 2024, its target would instead be 1.5 percent.
  • Now, projected spending levels are expected to fall below even that lower path in a three-year budget plan due to be announced on Wednesday. The timing could not be worse, with NATO preparing to celebrate its 70th anniversary in Washington in April.
  • “That the German government would even be considering reducing its already unacceptable commitments to military readiness is a worrisome signal to Germany’s 28 NATO allies,” said Richard Grenell, US Ambassador to Germany.
  • The German finance minister, Olaf Scholz, who drafted the new budget plan, is a member of the Social Democrats. This party, whose poll ratings have plummeted in recent years, is eager to distinguish itself by giving priority to social spending over defense.

Financial Times – Martin Wolf / Why further financial crises are inevitable

  • As Jihad Dagher of the International Monetary Fund shows, history demonstrates the procyclicality of regulation. Again and again, regulation is relaxed during a boom: indeed, the deregulation often fuels that boom. Then, when the damage has been done and disillusionment sets in, it is tightened again.
  • An economic reason for procyclical deregulation is that, even if regulators have the power and will to keep up, financial innovation makes it hard to do so. In addition, the more powerful the ideology of free markets, the more the authority and power of regulators will tend to erode.
  • Moreover, as Mancur Olson’s Logic of Collective Action shows, concentrated interests tend to override the general one. This is less true in times of crisis, when the enraged public wants to punish bankers. The final factor is “disaster myopia”: the human tendency to dismiss long-ago events as irrelevant.
  • The advent of Donald Trump’s administration should be viewed as a part of the usual cycles. It is possible that some of the regulations and tough supervision it dislikes are unnecessary, or even damaging. But the cumulative effect of its efforts is quite clear: regulation will erode and that erosion will be exported.

The Washington Post – Recep Tayyip Erdogan / The New Zealand killer and the Islamic State are cut from the same cloth

  • We must establish that there is absolutely no difference between the murderer who killed innocent people in New Zealand and those ISIS terrorists who have carried out attacks in Turkey, France, Indonesia and elsewhere. Terrorism has no religion, language or race.
  • Unfortunately, Islamophobia and xenophobia, among other practices incompatible with liberal values, were met with silence in Europe and other parts of the Western world. We cannot afford to allow this again.
  • All Western leaders must learn from the courage, leadership and sincerity of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, to embrace Muslims living in their respective countries.
  • Having joined NATO more than 60 years ago, we consider it our strategic goal to become a full member of the European Union. By the same token, we will continue to cooperate with our friends and allies in the fight against all terrorist groups.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 19/03/2019

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Politico – Marc Bennetts / Putin, rap and Night Wolves: Russia marks 5 years in Crimea

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Simferopol, the largest city in Crimea, on Monday for the fifth anniversary of the Kremlin’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula.
  • The Kremlin says it has pumped at least €13.5 billion into Crimea since the annexation — more than in almost any other region that it controls. Analysts say the investment is aimed at ensuring that Crimeans remain happy about Russian rule.
  • However, not everyone in Crimea is happy. Critics accuse the Kremlin of deploying massive numbers of security service agents in a bid to stamp out dissent. It’s the Tatars, a Muslim ethnic group that makes up around 12 percent of the peninsula’s population, who have perhaps suffered the most.
  • According to an opinion poll published last week by the Moscow-based Public Opinion Foundation, only 39 percent of Russians now view positively the takeover of Crimea — down 28 percentage points since 2014.
  • Euractiv – Georgi Gotev / Russia to deploy nuclear-capable strategic bombers to Crimea

Foreign Policy – Rachel Kleinfeld & Robert Muggah / The state of war

  • Although the world has done a good job at reducing certain forms of violence, others are on the rise, particularly state violence against citizens and criminal violence from mafias, drug cartels, and gangs. Complicating matters, state and criminal killings are often intertwined.
  • Rather than ramping up military and police repression, governments, businesses, and civil society groups need to double down on what works. To start, easing the recent surge in interstate warfare requires renewed investment in UN conflict-prevention efforts.
  • International agencies associated with the UN, the World Bank, and its sister institutions will need to get savvier (and less risk-averse) when it comes to engaging with states that willfully repress citizens and partner with organized crime.
  • The real terrorist battleground is not in the West. A mere 2 percent of all terrorist-related attacks and 1 percent of all deaths occurred in European countries in the first half of 2017. The probability of dying from a terrorist attack in Europe was 0.027 per 100,000 in 2016, slightly worse odds than being struck by lightning.

Al-Monitor – Hamidreza Azizi / What Rouhani’s visit to Iraq tells us about Iran’s Syria policy

  • A very important aspect of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s recent three-day visit to Iraq is the explicit and implicit implications of the trip for Iran’s policy in Syria.
  • One of the main agreements signed during Rouhani’s visit to Baghdad was on the construction of a railway connecting Iran’s Shalamcheh border crossing to Basra. This is part of Iran’s plan to establish a rail connection with Syria, to be stretched toward the Mediterranean port of Latakia. Some reports indicate that the Syrian government is going to hand over the management of the Latakia port’s container terminal to Iran.
  • Iran is apparently defining the issue of Syria’s reconstruction, as well as its economic presence in postwar Syria, within a regional framework. Although Iran’s new push for developing economic ties with its neighbors is widely seen as an attempt to circumvent the US sanctions, Tehran’s move into this direction is apparently taking a more structured and multilateral form, with Iraq and Syria as its two main pillars.
  • Although the common narrative is that Iran’s regional policy is effectively conducted by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Iranian president’s recent visit to Iraq and his possible visit to Syria indicate a growing role for the Iranian administration in regional files.

The Guardian – Roberto Saviano / Wake up, Italians – our country is in a state of democratic emergency

  • Italy is in a democratic emergency. A liberal democracy does not become authoritarian within a few months, but there are signs, however slight and seemingly unconnected, that seem to chart this depressing journey.
  • The list of reported racist incidents in Italy from the beginning of this year is shocking. And immigrant ghettos have sprung up, where some people who have official residence permits live on hunger wages and in conditions of slavery.
  • When people speak in general terms of populism in relation to this government they risk obscuring truly alarming facts on the ground with abstract political labels. The government’s strategy is two-fold: spreading fake news about immigrants, and dismissing other views as those of “the elite”.
  • Ahead of the European elections, what Italian progressives need is not just optimism but a different vision of the future. But the battered parties on the left aren’t listening; they’re focused on solving their own internal problems and seem indifferent to the alarming threats to Italian democracy.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 18/03/2019

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Euractiv – Philippe Le Corre / Mr Xi’s European tour is response to US-China rift

  • Xi’s upcoming trip to Europe is perhaps the most intriguing item in his international agenda. The chosen countries are Italy and France. Whereas Italy has endorsed China’s Belt and Road Initiative, France has been more reluctant, with Macron suggesting that the BRI should not be a “one way road.”
  • Beijing has been trying to counter-balance Washington’s hawkish discourse by gathering support across the Atlantic. It is clear that bridging to G7 nations such as Italy and France and getting global recognition for the BRI are now top Chinese priorities.
  • Because Macron appears the most vocal proponent of globalization in Europe, China also wants to be seen as the new champion of multilateralism, and will do its utmost to engage France in particular on subjects such as climate, peacekeeping operations, and global governance.
  • The French government –like its Italian counterpart– has expressed interest in more Chinese investments, imports and joint-ventures, as well as a better market access in China. Chances that a “win-win” compromise will be found are running high.

The New York Times – Nicholas Casey / ‘It is unspeakable’: How Maduro used Cuban doctors to coerce Venezuela voters

  • To maintain their hold over Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro and his supporters have often used the nation’s economic collapse to their advantage (for instance, by dangling food before hungry voters). Participants in the schemes say another tool was deployed: Cuba’s international medical corps.
  • 16 members of Cuba’s medical missions to Venezuela — a signature element of relations between the two countries — described a system of deliberate political manipulation in which their services were wielded to secure votes for the governing Socialist Party, often through coercion.
  • Many tactics were used, they said, from simple reminders to vote for the government to denying treatment for opposition supporters with life-threatening ailments.
  • The Cuban doctors said they were ordered to go door-to-door in impoverished neighborhoods, offering medicine and warning residents that they would be cut off from medical services if they did not vote for Maduro or his candidates.

The New York Times – Mark Mazzetti & Ben Hubbard / Saudi crown prince’s brutal drive to crush dissent began before Khashoggi

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman authorized a secret campaign to silence dissenters — which included the surveillance, kidnapping, detention and torture of Saudi citizens — over a year before the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, according to American officials with access to classified reports.
  • The US officials, as well as Saudi associates of the victims, said that at least a dozen of the clandestine missions were carried out since 2017 by members of the same team (the so-called “Rapid Intervention Group”) that killed and dismembered Khashoggi in Istanbul in October.
  • “We’ve never seen [a crackdown] on a scale like this,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst now with the Brookings Institution. “A dissident like Jamal Khashoggi in the past wouldn’t have been considered worth the effort.”
  • Riedel said the team’s sloppiness showed that it was used to operating freely inside the kingdom and not under the watchful eye of an adversary’s intelligence service.
  • The Guardian – Stephanie Kirchgaessner & Nick Hopkins / Saudi crown prince allegedly stripped of some authority

Project Syndicate – Alissa Amico / The AI governance challenge

  • On the sidelines of the last World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Singapore’s minister of communications and information quietly announced the launch of the world’s first national framework for governing artificial intelligence.
  • At a time when many countries face a crisis of trust and confidence in government, strengthening AI-related governance is in many ways as important as addressing failures in corporate or political governance.
  • The European Commission has recognized this, having issued last year “draft ethics guidelines for a trustworthy AI.” Yet neither Singapore’s AI governance framework nor the EU’s guidelines address a fundamental question: where does ownership of the AI sector, and responsibility for it and its related technologies, actually lie?
  • If AI is to deliver social progress, responsibility for its governance will need to be shared between the public and private sectors. But the power of national policies to manage AI may be limited. Unfortunately, creating a supranational entity to govern AI will be challenging, owing to conflicting political imperatives.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 15/03/2019

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BBC / North Korea may break off US talks and resume missile tests, official says

  • North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Sun-hui told foreign diplomats the US threw away “a golden opportunity” at a recent summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
  • “We have no intention to yield to the US demands in any form, nor are we willing to engage in negotiations of this kind,” Choe told reporters, accusing the US of taking a “gangster-like” stance.
  • Choe said that North Korea’s demand during the recent summit was for five key economic sanctions to be lifted, not all sanctions, as Trump said after talks broke down.
  • However, Choe still praised the personal relationship between Kim and Trump. Instead she blamed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton for hardening the US position.
  • Kim is set to make an official announcement on his position regarding future talks and the possible resumption of missile and nuclear testing soon, Choe said in Pyongyang.

Al-Monitor – Semih Idiz / Turkey, US head to new crisis over Ankara’s S-400 purchase

  • The standoff between Turkey and the US over Ankara’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 missile-defense systems is coming to head. Turkey will hold local elections in two weeks, and President Erdogan has been using the S-400 issue in this context.
  • Washington has started to underline that if Ankara goes ahead with the S-400 purchase, it will not get advanced F-35 fighter jets, and also lose its chance of purchasing Patriot anti-missile systems from the US.
  • Ankara says it was forced to turn to Russia for the S-400s because of foot-dragging by Washington regarding the supply of Patriot systems to Turkey.
  • Hakan Aksay, expert on Turkish-Russian ties: “Russia sees Turkey as a country that has to remain in the Western alliance in order to help it destroy that alliance.” According to Aksay, Putin could accept a decision by Turkey to cancel its S-400 order if the Kremlin can get something in return from Ankara, especially in Syria.

Financial Times – Michael Peel & Aime Williams / European Nato countries continue to trail on military spending

  • Six nations apart from the US — up from four in 2017 — reached the benchmark of a defense budget equivalent to 2 per cent of gross domestic product, according to Nato data published on Thursday.
  • Poland and Lithuania last year joined Greece, the UK, Estonia and Latvia in hitting the 2 per cent target, the Nato estimates said. But more than half the alliance’s overwhelmingly European membership lagged below 1.5 per cent.
  • Military spending for European countries in Nato and Canada rose 3.8 per cent last year, slower than the 6 per cent in 2017, but still a fourth successive annual increase.
  • Patrick Shanahan, acting US defence secretary, on Thursday played down media reports that Trump was demanding Nato allies pay the cost of hosting US forces, plus a 50 per cent premium.

The Economist / China may soon run its first annual current-account deficit in decades

  • Every year for a quarter of a century China has run a current-account surplus. Yet the surplus may soon disappear. In 2019 China could well run its first annual current-account deficit since 1993.
  • The shift from lender to borrower will create a knock-on effect, gradually forcing China to attract more foreign capital and liberalize its financial system. But, instead of urging China to free its financial system, US negotiators are more concerned that China keep the yuan from falling.
  • China’s decades of surpluses reflected the fact that for years it saved more than it invested. As the population grows older the national savings rate will fall further, because more people in retirement will draw down their savings.
  • Whether or not China actually slips into deficit this year will be determined mostly by commodities prices. But the trend in saving and investment is clear: the country will soon need to adjust to a new reality in which deficits are the norm.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 14/03/2019

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Financial Times – Edward Luce / Why America cannot fly alone

  • President Trump’s stance regarding the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max planes offers a unique example of the world spurning America’s lead on airline safety. His reversal is a “teachable moment” on the realities of a fast-changing world.
  • The biggest factor is falling global trust in US institutional probity. The same can be said of US diplomacy. More than halfway through Trump’s term, 1 in 7 US ambassadorships are still unfilled. Former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns speaks of America’s “unilateral diplomatic disarmament”.
  • Trump has hinted that he would withdraw the US extradition request for Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief operating officer, in exchange for China’s trade concessions. In so doing, Trump appears to be signaling that US courts are no longer independent of political whim.
  • Perhaps the most teachable aspect of the Boeing 737 controversy is the reality of the global economy. When China and the EU agree to the same regulatory standard, the US has little choice but to fall in line.

Foreign Policy – Arvind Panagariya / India is Trump’s next target in the trade war

  • Trump has opened a new front in his trade war: India. Last week, he notified Congress of his intention to end the favorable treatment India has enjoyed under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which allows many products from India and other developing countries to enter the US duty-free.
  • From an economic perspective, Trump’s withdrawal of GSP won’t make relations much worse. From a political perspective, though, Trump’s move is dangerous. At this time, it would be imprudent for the US to push India any further on trade issues.
  • India is in the midst of parliamentary elections, and Narendra Modi’s government can ill afford to appear weak. It would likely deny concessions that it would be willing to grant under other circumstances. The government may even choose to retaliate.
  • Once the Indian elections are over, the new government should review all its trade policies and regulations. It should reassess the wisdom of the country’s recent turn to protectionism and import substitution. In parallel, the US needs to appreciate that democracy places some limits on India’s leadership.

The Guardian / Senate passes resolution to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen

  • The Senate has voted to end US support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition’s war in Yemen, bringing Congress one step closer to a unprecedented rebuke of Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
  • Lawmakers have never before invoked the decades-old War Powers Resolution to stop a foreign conflict, but they are poised to do just that. Trump has already threatened to veto the resolution, which the White House says raises “serious constitutional concerns”.
  • “By defining ‘hostilities’ to include defense cooperation such as aerial refueling,” a White House statement said, the Yemen resolution could “establish bad precedent for future legislation”.
  • The Congressional measure was co-sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders and the Utah Republican Mike Lee. Next, it will move to the Democratic-controlled House, where it is expected to pass.

Financial Times – Rochelle Toplensky, et al. / Nord Stream 2 eyes way to curb EU oversight of $9.5bn pipeline

  • The group building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to import Russian gas into Germany is exploring plans to hive off its last 50km into a separate company, a move that would undermine EU plans to regulate the entire project.
  • While this German section would be subject to EU rules, the rest of Nord Stream 2 — nearly 1,200km through the Baltic Sea — would remain outside the bloc’s jurisdiction.
  • Applying EU rules — including measures insisting on non-discriminatory tariffs and access for third parties — was expected to change the project’s economics. If the rules are limited to the portion of the pipeline in German waters, this impact would be limited.
  • The proposal to split the offshore portions of Nord Stream 2 has not yet been discussed with German regulators, who will be responsible for applying EU rules.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 13/03/2019

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The Guardian – Peter Walker / What happens now that May’s Brexit deal has been defeated again?

  • Theresa May’s second attempt to pass her Brexit deal has again been badly defeated. The next steps will be motions on successive days to see first if MPs want to rule out a no-deal departure (for now) and then, if they do, whether they wish to extend article 50 and delay the Brexit process.
  • May’s spokesman refused to rule out putting the deal to Parliament once more, reiterating the PM’s belief that departure with a deal is the better option, and that hers is the best deal on offer.
  • While pushing for a second referendum is still among the Labour party’s official demands, in responding to May’s defeat, Jeremy Corbyn spoke mainly about again pushing Labour’s Brexit plan – which involves membership of a customs union, or the idea of a general election.
  • An election could still happen, but that would involve extending article 50 for longer than the government wants. May wants to avoid a situation in which the UK would need to participate in the upcoming European elections, taking place in 10 weeks’ time.

Politico – Hans Von Der Burchard / EU slams China as ‘systemic rival’ as trade tension rises

  • In a communication mapping out 10 proposals for dealing with Beijing, the European Commission labeled China as a “systemic rival” for the first time. In a sign of Berlin’s influence in the strategy, Germany’s main business lobby has also recently started describing Beijing as a “systemic competitor.”
  • Many Southern European nations argue Germany is hypocritical to complain about the scale of Chinese investment when it was Berlin that pushed hard for the sale of some of their prime assets during the financial crisis.
  • The European Commission also slapped down countries such as Italy for aligning too closely with China’s landmark One Belt, One Road program. Recently, Italy became the first G7 country to support the Chinese initiative.
  • The Commission called on China to deliver on World Trade Organization reforms, “in particular on subsidies and forced technology transfers,” and wants to conclude an agreement on protections for investors by 2020.
  • The paper also said that Europe needs to do more concerning the security discussion around Huawei and the future of telecoms.

Foreign Affairs – M. E. Sarotte / The convincing call from central Europe: let us into NATO

  • Twenty years ago yesterday, the first major post–Cold War expansion of NATO took place, when the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary joined the alliance.
  • In a US-Soviet summit in 1990, President Bush skillfully cited the so-called Helsinki principle—the idea that countries had a right to choose their own security alliances, as stated in the Helsinki Final Act, which Moscow had signed. Gorbachev conceded the point.
  • Still, Central and Eastern European countries had to overcome Western hesitations. After hearing the relentless appeals from the leaders of those countries, President Clinton finally signaled his support for NATO expansion by giving a major speech in a heavily Polish suburb of Detroit in late 1996.
  • Today, we speak of NATO expansion almost exclusively in the context of US-Russia tensions. But that history should not obscure the one that belongs to central and eastern Europeans, whose own actions in the decade after the fall of Wall in 1989 had much to do with their countries’ accession to the alliance in 1999.

Foreign Policy – Dimitar Bechev / Russia’s pipe dreams are Europe’s nightmare

  • Despite chilly relations, in 2018, gas shipments from Russia to Europe and Turkey hit an all-time high. Now Russia may be using another major project—TurkStream—to deepen its influence in Europe’s backyard. The pipeline is expected to become operational at the end of this year.
  • The pipeline will strengthen Russia’s strategic partnership with Turkey at a time when Ankara’s ties to long-standing allies on both sides of the Atlantic are fraying. TurkStream may also strengthen Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hand in the Balkans.
  • The EU is fighting back hard. Because TurkStream will terminate in the EU, Gazprom needs to comply with European anti-monopoly rules. One such rule—that energy companies can’t simultaneously own transit infrastructure and sell gas through it—presents a particular challenge for Moscow.
  • The EU may be willing to allow Berlin to break the anti-monopoly rules for Nord Stream 2—Russia will own those pipelines and the gas in them, but Berlin has argued that the project would be private—but it appears ready to be much more stringent in enforcing its law in the Balkans.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 12/03/2019

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The Guardian – Daniel Boffey & Rowena Mason / May wins ‘improved’ Brexit deal but it may not be enough for MPs

  • The fresh package unveiled yesterday by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and British Prime Minister Theresa May and involves three parts that Juncker said amounted to “meaningful legal assurances”.
  • Juncker said that a new add-on to the Brexit deal, emphasizing the temporary nature of the Irish backstop, “complements the withdrawal agreement without reopening it”. The add-on reiterates that the EU cannot seek to trap Britain in the backstop by failing to negotiate a new trade deal in good faith.
  • An additional joint statement in the political declaration on the future trade deal further commits both sides to work on developing new technologies at the border to be ready for December 2020. The final part – a unilateral statement by the UK – argues that there would be nothing to stop Britain seeking to “disapply” the backstop if the EU did not act in good faith and negotiations on an alternative had broken down.
  • At a joint press conference, Juncker rallied to May’s defence. In an echo of May’s own warning to her Brexiter MPs, Juncker added: “Let us speak crystal clear about the choice: it is this deal, or Brexit might not happen at all.”
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said May’s “negotiations have failed” and he called on MPs to reject the deal. To secure backing for it, May will need to win over dozens of hardline Eurosceptics in the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist party.

Al-Monitor – Simon Speakman Cordall / Why Algerian protesters aren’t satisfied with Bouteflika’s latest ‘concession’

  • Beleaguered Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has announced that he will extend his fourth term in office while sweeping changes are made to the country’s constitution.
  • News of the extension, essentially a partial reworking of his March 3 offer of only serving a limited term while overseeing reform, has angered many Algerians, with #Leave_means_leave trending on Twitter within hours of his initial announcement.
  • Jessica Northey of Coventry University: “[Protesters] just want the government to respect the [Algerian] Constitution they spent years writing. It’s hardly surprising that they’ve lost confidence in Bouteflika. Not just because he’s so ill or that they hardly ever see him, but because the constitution keeps getting amended to keep him in power.”
  • Al-Jazeera / Algeria’s Bouteflika will not seek fifth term, delays elections

Financial Times – Constanze Stelzenmüller / A new Franco-German narrative for Europe

  • The differences between the visions of Europe set out recently by French President Emmanuel Macron and the leader of the German CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, are significant.
  • Macron wants to create new EU agencies and extend the boundaries of European regulation and solidarity on hot issues such as climate change, immigration and social policy. Moreover, he wants to combat Chinese and American competition with a new European state interventionism and protectionism.
  • Kramp-Karrenbauer’ prefers free markets to dirigisme and is wary of transferring power from national governments to EU institutions. And she rejects Macron’s appeals for a European minimum wage, “communitizing” debt and making social security systems pan-European.
  • Yet Macron and Kramp-Karrenbauer are laying out a “fourth narrative” for a united Europe. The first was about peace; the second, prosperity; and the third, democratic transformation. This fourth is about the protection of what Macron terms “civilization” and Kramp-Karrenbauer calls the “European way of life”. Hence their joint focus on Europe’s ability to act: improving its ability to innovate and compete, securing its borders, fending off predators, and creating a European security council that works with the UK.

Euractiv – Joseph Dana / Local and geopolitics intrude in Israel’s attempt to supply Europe with gas

  • More than a decade ago, natural-gas fields were discovered off Israel’s northern coast. Since then, the country has scrambled to determine how the gas will make its way to Europe, mainly. For, unlike the traditional energy politics of its neighbors, Israel has far more political issues to contend with.
  • For example, seeing its bet in Iran fall to pieces, one might suppose that the French energy conglomerate Total should want to consider changing sides and working closely with Israel. But the ever-present prospect of the boycott makes such a shift fraught with potential controversy.
  • After a pipeline connecting Israel and Turkey was discarded due to geopolitical tensions, a new EastMed pipeline project was conceived with US support. The pipeline will transport gas from Israel’s offshore fields to mainland Greece through Cyprus and Crete.
  • Russia has led its own exploration efforts in waters off the Syrian coast (and in Lebanon, in partnership with Total). Any significant discovery likely will be exported to Turkey, given its proximity to the fields and its recently upgraded relationship with Russia. Once Israeli gas begins flowing into the EU, the relationship between Israel and Russia could strain.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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