EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 05/12/2019

The New York Times – Henry Fountain / Climate change is accelerating, bringing world ‘dangerously close’ to irreversible change

  • Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, stated that “Things are getting worse”, after the publication of its annual  state of the global climate report, concluding a decade of what it called exceptional global heat. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drastic measures will be required. Dr. Taalas added that: “The only solution is to get rid of fossil fuels in power production, industry and transportation”.
  • In a recent commentary in the journal Nature, scientists warned that the acceleration of ice loss and other effects of climate change have brought the world “dangerously close” to abrupt and irreversible changes. The societal toll is accelerating, too, UN SG António Guterres said in Madrid before the opening of the UN’s annual climate conference: “Climate-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent, more deadly, more destructive, with growing human and financial costs”.
  • The WMO’s state of the global climate report, released at the Madrid talks, said that this decade will almost certainly be the warmest one on record. And the second half of the decade was much warmer than the first, with global temperatures averaged over the second half about 0.2 degree Celsius. But how fast temperatures will continue to increase, and how much worse things may get, depends in large part on whether the world reins in greenhouse gas emissions, and by how much.
  • EURACTIV – Pavol Szalai / EEA chief: ‘We need systemic-type environmental policies’

The Atlantic – Nicholas Burns / Trump violates diplomacy’s golden rule

  • If  the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had reached its 70th birthday under any of the previous 12 presidents, the celebration would have occurred in Washington rather than in London. The USA has always been the most powerful NATO member, and every American president until Trump has been the alliance’s natural leader. Instead, Trump has been NATO’s loudest critic. He has cast America’s military allies primarily as a drain on the US Treasury, and he has aggressively criticized USA allies in Europe.  
  • Stung by Trump’s overt criticism, US allies have begun to reciprocate. Macron caused a real stir in NATO when he stated that the alliance was effectively “brain dead.” Rather than try to mend fences, Trump announced new trade sanctions against France on the eve of the summit. Trump’s most egregious mistake, though, was his failure to support clearly and unequivocally the key provision of the NATO treaty, Article V.  
  • In any case, Trump appears indifferent to the advantage over Russia and China that the USA enjoys because of the European ties. The US has 28 allies in NATO, as well as treaty allies in Japan, South Korea, and Australia, who will defend the country when its backs are against the wall. This is the great power differential the US enjoys with Moscow and Beijing.
  • The Washington Post – Michael Birnbaum, Philip Rucker & Ashley Parker / NATO summit ends with Trump calling Trudeau ‘two-faced’ after video of world leaders apparently mocking the president
  • Project Syndicate – Joschka Fischer / The day after NATO

Financial Times – George Parker, Helen Warrell & Nic Fildes / Boris Johnson toughens stance on Huawei after Trump lobbying

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed not to involve Huawei in Britain’s 5G telecommunications networks if it compromised the country’s ability to work with close security allies, including the US, after he was lobbied on the issue by Donald Trump. In spite of assurances from UK intelligence chiefs that they can manage the risk from Huawei, US security and intelligence officials remain anxious about the threat posed by the Huawei.
  • Mr Johnson defended that the “key criterion” would be whether the use of Huawei technology would compromise Britain’s ability to co-operate with its so-called “five eyes” security partners: the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. He said this was “paramount”.
  • Different networks such as Vodafone, have argued that a move to ban the Chinese company’s 5G equipment would significantly slow down the upgrade to 5G services across the country since the old equipment would need to be stripped out and replaced to work with the new wireless technology.
  • Financial Times – Kiran Stacey & Kadhim Shubber / Huawei appeals US ruling on federal broadband subsidies

South China Morning Post – Robert Delaney / China’s man in Washington says US building ‘Berlin Wall’ against Beijing

  • China’s top envoy to the US has struck out at Washington’s hardline measures against Beijing, accusing US officials of building a “Berlin Wall” between the two sides. Speaking at the US-China Business Council’s annual gala in Washington on Wednesday, ambassador Cui Tiankai said that “obstinate prejudice” was behind criticism directed at the Chinese government for its policies on trade and investment, Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
  • Along with the approval of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, the US House of Representatives voted 407 to one to approve the Uygur Intervention and Global Humanitarian Unified Response Act of 2019, which commands the US administration to identify and sanction officials deemed responsible for their involvement in the mass internment of members of ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang.
  • Pressure on Beijing to allow international monitors into the internment camps has escalated since news outlets in November published reports based on the so-called China cables – a leak of classified documents that indicate the camps were set up as forced indoctrination centres. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council in July released a statement calling for an end to what it called “arbitrary detention” of Uygurs and other Muslim groups in the region.
  • Al Jazeera / Anger in China as US House passes Uighur crackdown bill
  • Foreign Policy – James Palmer / Chinese diplomacy takes an aggressive turn

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, 04/12/2019

POLITICO – Kyle Cheney & Andrew Desiderio / Trump abused power of presidency, Dems conclude in impeachment report

  • President Trump abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals, House Democrats concluded in a highly anticipated 300-page report released on Tuesday. The report, which is expected to form the basis for articles of impeachment, describes a president eager to use his leverage over Ukraine to extract political benefit ahead of the 2020 election.
  • The Intelligence Committee formally adopted the report later on Tuesday on a party-line vote, ahead of the first impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Republicans offered seven amendments to the report ahead of the vote, according to people familiar with the matter, but all were defeated.
  • The report describes a tangled web of contacts among an array of Trump associates and allies as the Ukraine effort took shape earlier this year. It also includes new details, such as phone logs and records describing a more extensive set of contacts than previously known between Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the top Intelligence Committee Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes of California.
  • The Washington Post / Democrats should not give up the fight to hear from more witnesses

The New York Times – Brad Plumer / Carbon dioxide emissions hit a record in 2019 even as coal fades

  • The emissions of  carbon dioxide from fossil fuels hit a record high in 2019, researchers said on Tuesday, putting countries farther off course from their goal of halting global warming. Worldwide, industrial emissions are on track to rise 0.6 percent this year, a considerably slower pace than the 1.5 percent increase seen in 2017 and the 2.1 percent rise in 2018. Moreover, global emissions from coal, unexpectedly declined by about 0.9 percent in 2019, although that drop was more than offset by strong growth in the use of oil and natural gas around the world.
  • However, scientists have long warned that it’s not enough for emissions to grow slowly or even just stay flat in the years ahead. In order to avoid many of the most severe consequences of climate change, global carbon dioxide emissions would need to steadily decline each year and reach roughly zero well before the end of the century.
  • A handful of countries account for the majority of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions each year, with China responsible for 26 percent, the United States 14 percent, the European Union 9 percent and India 7 percent.
  • The Guardian – Fiona Harvey / Don’t pursue economic growth at expense of environment – report

Financial Times – Ben Hall & Kerin Hope / Greek PM challenges Macron over move to block EU enlargement

  • Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece’s conservative prime minister, has called on the EU to open membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania next year, challenging France’s move to block the process of enlargement to the Western Balkans. Mr Mitsotakis took issue with President Emmanuel Macron’s decision in October to veto new accession negotiations calling it an error. “I hope that this mistake is going to be corrected”, he defended.
  • Concerning Mr Macron’s comments on NATO, the Greek PM stated that: “Sometimes the language itself is also important, and it ends up bringing about the opposite results. It’s one thing to say NATO is in need of reform, and it’s completely different to actually say that NATO is brain-dead.”
  • However, Mr Mitsotakis argued that he strongly supported Mr Macron’s push for eurozone reform. The Greek leader said he feared that the new European Commission, which takes office this week, would not attribute enough importance to the subject. 
  • EURACTIV – Sam Morgan / Finland’s PM toppled by postmen

The New York Times – Ivan Krastev / Will Europe ever trust America again?

  • As President Trump has insulted international institutions and abandoned allies from Syria to the Korean Peninsula, policymakers on this side of the Atlantic have found themselves trying to walk a fine line: On the one hand, they want to hedge against Washington turning its back on Europe; on the other, they want to ensure that their hedging doesn’t push the Trump administration even farther away.
  • While Trump-friendly governments in Europe hope that Mr Trump will get four more years, European liberals are giving up. They have  finally started to realize that a proper EU foreign policy cannot be based on who is in the White House. What explains the shift? It is plausible that European liberals are unconvinced by the foreign policy visions of Democratic hopefuls. Europeans are still struggling to understand how it was that Obama, probably the most European-minded American president, was also the one least interested in Europe.
  • But putting that aside, I believe there is a more fundamental change: European liberals have come to understand that American democracy no longer produces a consensual politics with a predictable foreign policy. For the past 70 years, Europeans have known that  America’s foreign policy will be consistent. Today, all bets are off. Could this week’s NATO summit change Europe’s state of mind when it comes to the future of trans-Atlantic relations? It is easier to hope for than to bet on.
  • The Washington Post – Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker & Michael Birnbaum / As impeachment inquiry rages at home, Trump unsettles the world stage at NATO

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, 03/12/2019

POLITICO – Ryan Heath / Alliance divided: Breaking down NATO’s factions

  • NATO, founded on the concept of collective action, is struggling with conflicting ideas from its members about how the 29-country coalition should focus its attention. France’s leader has proclaimed the “brain death” of the group, Turkey is demanding more NATO support for a controversial, unilateral invasion in Syria and President Donald Trump continues to bully allies over their defense spending.
  • Most political and military leaders say that’s exactly how the alliance will emerge from this turbulent political moment. NATO member governments are bound together by history, geography and necessity, while the alliance’s military relationships are solid. Still, the divisions are clear and, in many cases, widening. Here are the top gaps and factions to watch.
  • Today only nine alliance members are hitting an agreed-upon target of spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense: the United States, Greece, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. Turkey and France are close. The majority are far from meeting the target. Precious little unites the alliance’s three most difficult members — Turkey, France and the U.S. — but that hasn’t stopped them causing heartburn within NATO.
  • President Trump would like NATO allies to focus on the strategic threat China poses, and is calling on members to not let Chinese firms help build next-generation wireless networks. China is several steps ahead in dealing with this challenge. Hungary and Italy led 22 European countries in signing agreements to support China’s Belt and Road initiative, Beijing’s controversial foreign investment program.
  • The Guardian – Agence France-Presse / Trump blasts Macron over ‘brain dead’ Nato remarks

EURACTIV – Alexandra Brzozowski / EDA chief: We need both, strategic autonomy and defence cooperation

  • Europe has to step up its defence cooperation, according to Jorge Domecq, who heads the European Defence Agency (EDA).  According to him: “Strategic autonomy should be a concept which is not built against anyone. It’s not questioning our transatlantic link, not questioning our support to NATO as the cornerstone for collective defence, it only shows the need to become a more relevant partner for our allies across the Atlantic, but also in other fora as the global security provider, which is what the EU has the ambition to do.” 
  • Moreover, he stated that: “What the Commission can do, on the basis of those priorities and planning tools that have been set up, is to provide the incentives and the funds through the European Defence Fund  (EDF) and other mechanisms to support that progress in the European defence effort.”
  • Referring to PESCO, Mr Domecq argues that: “I do see improvement. By the end of this year or early next year, around 17 of those projects will be reaching initial operational capability. PESCO is a creature which is only two and a half years old and it has been a big effort, both for capitals, but also for EU institutions and EU military staff.”

The Washington Post – David J. Lynch, Rachel Siegel & Terrence McCoy / White House opens new fronts in trade war, targeting Brazil, Argentina and France

  • President Donald Trump revved up his global trade war on two fronts on Monday, announcing tariffs on industrial metals from Brazil and Argentina while threatening even harsher penalties on dozens of popular French products. The administration said the moves were necessary because US trading partners were acting unfairly to disadvantage both the country’s traditional economic pillars as well as its best hopes for future prosperity.
  • Robert E. Lighthizer, the president’s chief trade negotiator, defended that the French tax imposed upon American Internet companies: “discriminates against US companies, is inconsistent with prevailing principles of international tax policy, and is unusually burdensome for affected US companies.” Speaking early on Tuesday, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the proposed tariffs “unacceptable.”
  • The president’s enthusiasm for tariffs is not shared by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell, who has said they are making executives so uncertain about the outlook that companies are delaying investments and slowing the economy.

South China Morning Post – Teddy Ng & Kristin Huang / China threatens visa curbs on US officials over Hong Kong and Xinjiang

  • US  officials and lawmakers could face visa restrictions in China, as Beijing considers retaliatory measures against Washington for what it calls interference in Chinese internal affairs over Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Mainland media and diplomatic observers said Beijing was mulling visa restrictions, while one state media editor went further and suggested all US diplomatic passport holders could be barred from entering Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of Uygurs are held in detention camps.
  • The Chinese foreign ministry responded to the passage into law of the US Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by suspending visits of US military vessels and aircraft to Hong Kong. The Act allows the US to impose sanctions on officials that violated human rights in Hong Kong. The ministry also announced sanctions on five US-based NGOs which Beijing accuses of supporting violence: Human Rights Watch, the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House.
  • US President Donald Trump said on Monday that the situation in Hong Kong could complicate his administration’s efforts to secure a trade deal with Beijing. “It doesn’t make it better,” Trump acknowledged when asked if the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act – which he signed into law last week just before Thanksgiving – would make a deal with China harder to achieve.

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, 02/12/2019

Financial Times – Daniel Dombey & Leslie Hook / Splits widen over global climate goals as UN summit gathers

  • As delegates from nearly 200 countries convene in Madrid for the annual UN climate summit, the gap between the countries willing to reduce emissions and those who are not has become ever more stark. Teresa Ribera, Spain’s environment minister, said her country’s last-minute decision to host the talks was essential to prevent the collapse in international climate efforts after the cancellation of Santiago de Chile. Ahead of the two-week COP25 summit, the European Parliament declared a “climate emergency”.
  • However, other actors are moving in the opposite direction, such as the US, the world’s biggest per-capita emitter, which has begun leaving the Paris climate accord entirely. Laurence Tubiana, an architect of the Paris pact, said that China, the world’s number one emitter, and Japan also appeared to be climate laggards.
  • Ms Ribera’s plan would commit Spain to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 21 per cent of their 1990 levels by 2030. To do this, the renewables proportion of the country’s electricity generation would rise from about 40 per cent today to 74 per cent in 2030. Under her proposals, Ms Ribera predicted an “explosion” in Spain’s solar capacity.
  • POLITICO – Kalina Oroschakoff & Zack Colman / 6 things to know about the COP25 climate summit
  • The Guardian – Fiona Harvey / COP25: youth ‘leadership’ contrasts with government inaction, says UN chief

The Washington Post – Ishaan Tharoor / Trump heads to NATO summit and Britain braces for impact

  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is marking its 70th anniversary this year, but Trump’s notoriously transactional worldview has deepened questions about its future. More broadly, his stated skepticism about US security commitments to Europe, curiously friendly disposition to Russia’s autocratic ruler, indifference to multilateral diplomacy and apathy about human rights and the rule of law abroad have all been widely interpreted as signs of the Western liberal order fraying under his watch.
  • However, he won’t be the only skeptical figure at the summit that will start this Tuesday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may furrow the most brows after his government acquired and then tested an advanced Russian antiaircraft missile system. Moreover, there’s French President Emmanuel Macron, who provocatively declared in an interview last month that Europeans are experiencing “the brain death of NATO”.
  • The major news ahead of the summit was that the Trump administration is likely to cut US funding to NATO’s operating budget, bringing in line its contributions to that of Germany, while other member states will work to make up the shortfall.
  • Bloomberg – Marc Champion & Jonathan Stearns / It’s no longer just Donald Trump questioning what NATO does

The Guardian – Juliette Garside / Malta’s PM quits in crisis over Daphne Caruana Galizia murder

  • Malta’s embattled prime minister Joseph Muscat has resigned, driven from office by the constitutional and political crisis triggered by the murder of the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Caruana Galizia was killed in October 2017 when a bomb planted under the driver’s seat of her rental car was detonated as she was travelling away from her home in the village of Bidnija. She had exposed corruption at the highest level in Muscat’s government. 
  • Muscat’s departure brings to an end his seven-year term as the leader of the European Union’s smallest member state, but it is unlikely to draw a line under the scandal engulfing his administration. On Saturday, Malta’s richest man, the property and gambling tycoon Yorgen Fenech, was charged with complicity in Caruana Galizia’s murder. Investigations by journalists and the authorities have uncovered links between Fenech and the man who until last week was Muscat’s chief of staff.
  • Reuters – Holger Hansen & Andreas Rinke / SPD leadership choice threatens Germany’s ruling coalition

The New York Times – Farnaz Fassihi & Rick Gladstone /  With brutal crackdown, Iran is convulsed by worst unrest in 40 years

  • The Iranian Republic is experiencing its deadliest political unrest since the Islamic Revolution happened 40 years ago, with at least 180 people killed — and possibly hundreds more — as angry protests have been smothered in a government crackdown of unbridled force. These protests began two weeks ago with an abrupt increase of at least 50 percent in gasoline prices. Within 72 hours, outraged demonstrators in cities large and small were calling for an end to the Islamic Republic’s government and the downfall of its leaders.
  • The latest outbursts  not only revealed staggering levels of frustration with Iran’s leaders, but also underscored the serious economic and political challenges facing them, from the Trump administration’s onerous sanctions on the country to the growing resentment toward Iran by neighbors in an increasingly unstable Middle East. 
  • Political analysts said the protests appeared to have delivered a severe blow to President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate in Iran’s political spectrum, all but guaranteeing that hard-liners would win upcoming parliamentary elections and the presidency in two years. The tough response to the protests also appeared to signal a hardening rift between Iran’s leaders and sizable segments of the population of 83 million.
  • Al-monitor – AFP / Iraq’s Adel Abdel Mahdi, consensus leader brought down by street fury

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.

Política Internacional | Permalink

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 29/11/2019

The New York Times – Michael Crowley / Trump visits Afghanistan and says he reopened talks with Taliban

  • President Trump made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Afghanistan on Thursday and declared that he had reopened peace negotiations with the Taliban less than three months after scuttling talks in hopes of ending 18 years of war. Mr. Trump’s sudden announcement on peace talks came at a very critical moment in the United States’ long, drawn-out military venture in Afghanistan, a time when the country is mired in turmoil over disputed election results.
  • However, the scope of the negotiations is still unclear, and White House officials gave few details beyond Mr. Trump’s sudden revelation. The Taliban made no official comment immediately after the late-night visit and Mr. Ghani said little afterward about any peace talks.
  • The visit had an important political dimension. President Trump is searching for foreign policy achievements he can celebrate on the campaign trail over the next year. Several of his other marquee initiatives, including nuclear talks with North Korea and an effort to squeeze concessions out of Iran with economic pressure, have yielded few results.

The Guardian – Jennifer Rankin / EU  risks splits over Brexit trade talks, says new council chief

  • The EU  is ready for the next phase of Brexit but risks greater internal divisions, one of its incoming leaders has stated. In one of his first interviews since being nominated president of the European Council, Charles Michel hoped that the UK election would bring clarity on whether the country would ratify the withdrawal agreement. If Brexit happens on January, the two sides will embark on a race to negotiate a free-trade agreement. He stated that the EU would have to “work again very hard” to maintain unity as countries had different economic interests in the UK relationship.
  • Moreover, Michel  said that he wanted to avoid Brexit becoming a big issue, as he planned to focus on the eurozone, climate change and the EU’s next seven-year budget. His priority is making Europe a more united player on the world stage, as he warned against the possibility of the union becoming “the collateral damage” in a possible cold war between the US and China.
  • He spoke warmly of ideas to reform the EU enlargement process that are closely associated with the French president: “We need to discuss whether it is possible to improve this process, for example with the possibility to decide the principle of reversibility.”, referring to a French idea that countries could be pushed to the back of the queue if sliding back on democratic reforms.
  • POLITICO – Jean-Claude Juncker / Brussels Playbook

The Washington Post – Mustafa Salim & Erin Cunningham / Iraq forms ‘crisis cells’ as Iran’s Najaf consulate burns and more than two dozen protesters are killed

  • A wave  of fresh unrest rippled across Iraq on Thursday as security forces clashed with demonstrators in Baghdad and cities in the south, leaving more than two dozen protesters dead and one Iranian diplomatic mission burned, which prompted the Iraqi government to form new “crisis cells” to manage the unfolding turmoil.
  • The latest surge of violence underscored  the deep challenges for authorities after nearly two months of anti-government protests over a high unemployment rate, corruption and poor government services in this oil-rich nation. Moreover, it draws Iran deeper into the unrest. Iran is a major backer of the Iraqi government and holds powerful sway over local Shiite militias.  
  • At least 350 people have died in Iraq since protests erupted on Oct. 1, with daily battles in the heart of Baghdad as protesters attempt to gain control of the key downtown bridges leading to the seat of government. Security forces have confronted crowds with live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas, often with fatal results.
  • Al-monitor – Mustafa Saadoun / Iraq clamps down on media and broadcast networks covering protests

Financial Times – Simon Tilford / Germany is falling out of love with economic orthodoxy

  • Germany has been the driving force behind the dominant economic orthodoxy in Europe over the past 20 years: balanced budgets, deep-seated scepticism about the role of the state in the economy and a strong focus on export competitiveness. Outsiders have long expressed frustration at the apparently strong consensus in Germany over economic policymaking. However, the signs are now multiplying that change could be afoot, not least because the country’s economic prospects have worsened sharply.
  • Moreover, a large new poll of Germans’ attitudes to government and the economy commissioned by the Forum for a New Economy threw up some striking results, suggesting that a large majority could support a less “German” economic policy agenda. The survey revealed strong support for more public spending, including a surprising degree of support for this to be financed through debt.
  • Could this all be good news for Europe? Weak global trade and persistent trade tensions will emphasise the importance of a healthy European economy to Germany. This could persuade the country to end its opposition to reforms — such as more risk-sharing and a major common budget — needed to improve the eurozone’s economic performance.
  • Financial Times – Tobias Buck / Germany’s SPD to name new leader after months of bitter battle

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.

Política Internacional | Permalink

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 28/11/2019

Financial Times – Tom Mitchell / Hong Kong act complicates world’s most important relationship

  • Donald  Trump’s decision to sign the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law will further complicate the world’s most important bilateral diplomatic relationship. Under the act, the US secretary of state will be required to make a determination every year as to whether the “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees Hong Kong’s independent legal system and civil liberties is intact.
  • The decision would enrage and probably provoke a concrete response from Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whose administration insists that it continues to honour one country, two systems and is hypersensitive to any suggestions to the contrary.
  • Throughout  the 1990s, in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the Bush and Clinton administrations renewed China’s “most-favoured nation” trade status every year. Moreover, President Clinton gave China “permanent” MFN status in 2000 and paved the way for its entry into the WTO a year later. For now, the pattern will hold. Trump administration officials have made it clear to their Chinese counterparts that the president could not veto a piece of legislation that sailed through Congress with veto-proof majorities.
  • South China Morning Post – Zhang Shidong / China and Hong Kong stocks decline after Trump signs Hong Kong bill supporting protesters

EURACTIV – Frédéric Simon / New EU chief flags climate policy as Europe’s ‘new growth strategy’

  • Ursula von der Leyen cited climate policy as the most pressing issue facing her new executive team, which was officially ratified by a vote in the European Parliament on Wednesday. EU lawmakers confirmed von der Leyen along with her new team of 26 Commissioners, with 461 voting in favour, 157 against and 89 abstentions.
  • The climate crisis featured at the top of her address to MEPs. “We don’t have a moment to waste any more on fighting climate change,” von der Leyen told the assembly shortly before the vote in a speech delivered in English, French and German.
  • Von der Leyen’s second in command, Frans Timmermans, is expected to outline the Commission’s new environmental priorities in a European Green Deal, expected on 11 December. The centrepiece of the European Green Deal will be a climate law that von der Leyen said will be tabled within the first 100 days of the new Commission taking office. And the ambition has already been spelled out: the bill will contain a legal requirement for Europe to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • POLITICO – David M. Herszenhorn / Von der Leyen to kick off term with trip to UN climate conference
  • Project Syndicate – Werner Hoyer / The power of green public finance

The Washington Post – Richard Spencer / Richard Spencer: I was fired as Navy secretary. Here’s what I’ve learned because of it.

  • The  case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was charged with multiple war crimes before being convicted of a single lesser charge earlier this year, was troubling enough before things became even more troubling over the past few weeks.
  • Earlier this year, Gallagher was formally charged with more than a dozen criminal acts, including premeditated murder. He was tried in a military court and acquitted in July of all charges, except one count of posing with the body of a dead ISIS fighter. The jury sentenced him to four months. President Trump involved himself in the case almost from the start. The president’s involvement was shocking, as well as a reminder that the president has little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a set of rules and practices.
  • The rest is history. We must now move on and learn from what has transpired. The public should know that we have extensive screening procedures in place to assess the health and well-being of our forces. But we must keep fine-tuning those procedures to prevent a case such as this one from happening again.

The Guardian – Branko Milanović / The ‘crisis of capitalism’ is not the one Europeans think it is

  • The facts show that capitalism is not in a crisis, despite the avalanche of recent books and articles that defend it. It is stronger than ever, both in terms of its geographical coverage and expansion to areas (such as leisure time, or social media) where it has created entirely new markets and commodified things that were never historically objects of transaction. Moreover, nonexistent markets have been created, like the huge market for personal data, rental markets for own cars and homes.
  • The social  importance of these new markets is that by placing a price on things that previously had none, they transform mere goods into commodities with an exchange value. Commodification goes together with the gig economy. In a gig economy we are both suppliers and purchasers of services that used not to be monetised. This expansion of capitalism potentially opens up questions about the role, and even survival, of the family.
  • So if capitalism has spread so much in all directions, why do we speak of its crisis? Because we focus on the malaise of the western middle classes and the rise of populism. But the dissatisfaction with globalised capitalism is not universal. The western malaise is the product of uneven distribution of the gains from globalisation.

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.

Política Internacional | Permalink

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 27/11/2019

Foreign Policy – Colum Lynch / China bids to lead world agency protecting intellectual property

  • China has its sight on leading the global organization that is supposed to protect intellectual property, and which sets international standards for patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Earlier this month, Beijing nominated a candidate to head the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, signaling its desire to more actively shape the international system for defining intellectual property rights.
  • Ironically, one reason for Beijing’s move is that China is now producing a great deal of IP of its own. For years, China had shown little interest in carving out a leadership role at WIPO. But it has been quietly deepening its relationship with the agency.
  • The prospect of a Chinese leader at the organization has rattled some U.S. policymakers, who feel that WIPO’s current Australian leader has already been too accommodating to Chinese interests, such as setting up a Chinese branch office in Beijing in 2014.
  • A victory for the Chinese with their WIPO ambitions would place a Chinese national at the head of five of the U.N.’s fifteen specialized agencies. No other country has more than one national in a leadership position in a specialized U.N. agency. The USA is still hoping that China can be convinced to withdraw from the race, if they receive assurances that they can maintain their influence at WIPO for years to come.

Financial Times – Martin Wolf / Unsettling precedents for today’s world

  • History is the most powerful guide to understand the present, and since the biggest current geopolitical event, by far, is the burgeoning friction between the US and China, it is illuminating to look back to similar events in the past. The most recent one is the Cold War, a great power conflict between the chief victors of the Second World War, as well as an ideological conflict over the nature of modernity.  
  • Further back, we reach the interwar period, a time of civil strife, populism, nationalism, communism, fascism and national socialism. The 1930s are an abiding lesson in the possibility of democratic collapse once elites fail. Finally, going even further, we reach the decisive 1870-1914, where a Thucydidean war between the UK and Germany occurred.  Meanwhile, US industrial output went from 15 to 32 per cent of the world’s, while China fell into irrelevance.
  • Today’s era is a mixture of all three of these, marked by a conflict of political systems and ideology between two superpowers, as in the Cold War, by a post-financial crisis decline of confidence in democratic politics and market economics as well as by the rise of populism, nationalism and authoritarianism, as in the 1930s, and, most significantly, by a dramatic shift in relative economic power, with the rise of China, as with the US before 1914.

Al-monitor – Hamidreza Aziz / How Iran’s protests could impact foreign policy

  • The Iranian’s decision on November 15 to triple gasoline prices sparked protests across the country. Although the Iranian government has managed to contain the protests, discussions over various aspects of the recent events are still ongoing.
  • Taking into account international reactions toward the protests, Iran’s relations with the West seem to be the most important area to be affected by the recent events. In the administration of US President Donald Trump, the protests were seen as a proof that Washington’s “maximum pressure” policy against the Islamic Republic is working. Meanwhile, the EU issued a statement calling on the Iranian government to “exercise maximum restraint in handling the protests.”
  • American support for the protests has just reinvigorated the Islamic Republic’s official narrative that the real goal that the United States pursues through maximum pressure is not to bring Iran to the negotiating table but to cause “regime change.” Moreover, the protests could have implications for Iran’s regional policy as well. The Iranian conservatives see in the current situation a golden opportunity to put the burden of the economic problems on Rouhani and try to gradually sideline the moderate camp.

EURACTIV – Sam Morgan / EU battery hopes ready to take off

  • Serious challenges in the energy and transport sectors could be solved, or at least mitigated, by a step-change in storage capabilities, supported by EU funding. However, wind turbines and emission-free mobility all rely heavily on the ability to store power and deploy it efficiently. As the old saying goes, the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow, so any power generated when they do needs to be captured. 
  • Despite advancements since they were first developed in the 1970s and rolled out en masse in the early 1990s, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries still suffer from diverse problems. There are limits to how much energy they can store, concerns over the supply chains that provide the raw materials and, in some cases, safety fears that come hand-in-hand with regular intensive use. Different projects funded under the European Research Council aim to address those issues.  
  • EU officials will be hoping that advancements in the battery sector will continue and increase in pace, as estimates show that the annual value of the global market could swell to €250 billion. That is why the European Commission has doubled down on the European Battery Alliance, an industry platform meant to get all players on the same page in order to compete with Asia, which currently dominates the market.
  • EURACTIV – Jorge Valero / EU climate investment falls behind China and the US

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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