EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 20/11/2019

South China Morning Post – Teddy Ng / China summons US diplomat, vows to retaliate if Donald Trump signs Hong Kong democracy act into law

  • China summoned a senior United States diplomat on Wednesday as it warned that it would retaliate if President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law, after the bill was passed by the US Senate. In a statement, the Chinese foreign ministry said Foreign Vice-Minister Ma Zhaoxu had summoned William Klein, the US embassy’s minister counsellor for political affairs.
  • Mr Klein was summoned after foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that any attempt by the US to interfere in China’s internal affairs would be in vain. “If the US sticks to its course, China will surely take forceful measures to resolutely oppose it to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests”, Mr Geng defended. 
  • The bill’s passage in the Senate came after the US House of Representatives passed its version last month. The Senate also passed the Protect Hong Kong Act, which would prohibit the export of non-lethal crowd control and defence items to Hong Kong.
  • Foreign Policy – Dominic Chiu / Hong Kong’s silent majority can speak at the ballot box

Financial Times – Sam Fleming & Mehreen Khan / EU must help regions hit by cost of going green, EIB chief warns

  • The EU must step up support for the regions that will be hit hard by the costs of going green according to Werner Hoyer, head of the EU’s investment bank, as the bloc gears up for a funding battle over its climate change objectives.
  • The president of the bank defended that it was “understandable” that Poland, Hungary and Romania voted last week against a landmark decision for the lender to phase out fossil fuel lending by 2021, saying they would be hardest hit by the decision.
  • The EU is aiming to become the first climate neutral major economy in the world by 2050. The European Commission has estimated that it will cost €300bn to fund the economic transition to reach the target, with the bulk of spending needed in higher-polluting countries in central and eastern Europe.
  • Mr Hoyer said that the EIB would still offer polluting countries economic support after fossil fuel funding was stopped: “We are going to certainly not reduce our lending to these countries only because we don’t finance fossil fuel projects any more after 2021. Probably the opposite will be true.” 
  • The Washington Post – Gerry Shih / Years after freezing new projects, China is back to building coal power plants

The New York Times – Adam Satariano & Martina Stevis-Gridneff / Big Tech’s toughest opponent says she’s just getting started

  • Margrethe Vestager stated that the public’s growing skepticism about technology has given her an opportunity for a tougher approach in comparison with her previous five years as the world’s top tech industry watchdog. “In the last five years, some of the darker sides of digital technologies have become visible,” Ms. Vestager said in an extended interview.
  • Ms Vestager has signed a rare second five-year term as the head of the European Commission’s antitrust division, and assumed expanded responsibility over digital policy. With the new power, she has outlined an agenda that squarely targets the tech giants. She’s weighing whether to remove some protections that shield large internet platforms from liability for content posted by users. She is also working on policies to make companies pay more taxes in Europe and she is investigating how the companies use data to box out competitors.
  • However, her success will depend on support and collaboration from other European officials who are already grappling with challenges like Britain’s exit from the EU, the rise of populism and fraying diplomatic relations with the USA. Moreover, it will require standing up to relentless resistance from the tech companies, too.
  • Financial Times – Rana Foroohar / Our personal data needs protecting from Big Tech

The Washington Post – Anthony Faiola & Rachelle Krygier / In Bolivia, an interim leader is leaving her conservative mark

  • Before she proclaimed herself Bolivia’s new president and greeted cheering supporters in La Paz with a Bible in hand, Jeanine Áñez promised that her “only objective” as interim leader would be to call new elections. However, in the week since the formerly obscure conservative senator assumed power, Áñez has acted like anything but a caretaker. She’s been putting her own ideological stamp on South America’s poorest nation as she pursues the opposition’s long-held dream of undoing nearly 14 years of socialist rule.
  • In just seven days, the U.S.-backed leader has replaced Bolivia’s top military brass, cabinet ministers and the heads of major state-owned companies with appointees of her own. Her administration has threatened to arrest “seditious” lawmakers, and has ejected allies of the old government, including Venezuelan diplomats and Cuban doctors.
  • Áñez and the opposition counter that Morales’s ouster was the proper outcome for an election stolen by a corrupt and power-hungry rabble-rouser. Morales, they say, is now instigating violence from afar, complicating her efforts to “pacify” the nation and set a date for new elections. Under Bolivia’s constitution, those elections must be called within 90 days of Morales’s resignation. On Monday, Áñez said she would set a date “soon.”
  • The office of the national ombudsman said “grave acts of violence” had caused the death of 21 people in the last week, most of them killed “during interventions by the police and armed forces.”

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, 19/11/2019

POLITICO – David M. Herszenhorn, Maïa de la Baume & Lili Bayer / Parliament poised to confirm new Commission

  • The European Parliament is poised to confirm von der Leyen and her College of Commissioners next week, allowing the EU’s new executive team, with the first-ever woman president at the helm, to take office on December 1, after a monthlong delay. That confirmation process wrapped up on Monday when the major political groups said that they accepted the written responses to additional questions demanded of Olivér Várhelyi, the Hungarian nominee to be commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement policy.
  • The Parliament must still collectively confirm von der Leyen and her entire College in a vote currently expected during a plenary session next Wednesday in Strasbourg. In addition, EU lawyers are expected  to issue a legal basis, and perhaps recommend further action, to allow the new Commission to take office without a British commissioner, given Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s intention to pull his country out of the EU before the new Brexit deadline of January 31.
  • In the end, presuming things go forward as expected, the monthlong delay seems unlikely to amount to much of a setback for the new Commission. However, despite von der Leyen’s efforts to build a gender-equal College, the breakdown now stands to be 15 men and 12 women, including von der Leyen herself.

The New York Times – Isabel Kershner / Are West Bank settlements illegal? Who decides?

  • The Trump administration’s declaration on Monday that Israeli settlements on the West Bank are “not inconsistent with international law” has reversed American policy on the settlements and has contradicted the view of most countries in the world. However, the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice have all said that Israeli settlements on the West Bank violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.
  • Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war and has occupied the territory ever since. The Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by 192 states in the aftermath of World War II, says that an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
  • Under the Oslo Accords, signed by Israel and Palestine in the 1990s, both sides agreed that the status of the Israeli settlements would be resolved by negotiation. However, negotiations have stalled and there have been no active peace talks since 2014.
  • Foreign Policy – Colum Lynch & Robbie Gramer / Trump crushes Palestinian hopes again

The Guardian – Jonathan Watts / Amazon deforestation ‘at highest level in a decade’

  • Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has hit the highest annual level in a decade, according to new government data which highlights the impact that president Jair Bolsonaro has made on the world’s biggest rainforest. These new numbers portray that almost 10,000 sq km were lost in the year to August.  
  • The annual numbers are compiled with information from the Prodes satellite system, which is considered the most conservative measurement of deforestation. Although less steep than the rise suggested by monthly alerts from the Deter system, it confirms an upward trend that Bolsonaro and his ministers said was a “lie”.
  • The monitoring NGO, the Climate Observatory, said that the rise was the third highest in history (after 1995 and 1998), and was likely to continue. “Proposals like legalising land-grabbing, mining and farming on indigenous lands, as well as reducing the licensing requirements for new infrastructure will show that the coming years will be even worse,” Carlos Rittl, its executive secretary, said.

Financial Times – Simein Kerr, Arash Massoudi & Anjli Raval / How Riyadh’s Saudi Aramco ambitions were thwarted

  • Some of the world’s top investment bankers gathered at a Riyadh palace on Saturday to deliver their final recommendations on the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco. Their message would disappoint the hosts: international investors were unwilling to buy shares in Saudi Aramco anywhere near the $2tn valuation long sought by the kingdom’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
  • The bankers who assembled in the Saudi capital presented the group with what they thought was a moderate proposal to get a deal done and help keep Prince Mohammed’s credibility intact while ensuring his ambitious economic reforms stayed on track.
  • Despite years of jumping through hurdles to win business from Prince Mohammed, the sovereign Public Investment Fund and Saudi Aramco, advisers only found out the decision on Sunday morning. It was then that Saudi Aramco announced its 1.5 per cent sale at a price that would value its shares at $1.6tn-$1.7tn and raise only as much as $25.6bn.

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, 18/11/2019

The New York Times – Tim Arango, James Risen, Farnaz Fassihi, Ronen Bergman & Murtaza Hussain / The Iran cables: secret documents show how Tehran wields power in Iraq

  • Leaked Iranian documents offer a detailed portrait of how aggressively Tehran has worked to embed itself into Iraqi affairs. The unprecedented leak exposes Tehran’s vast influence in Iraqi society, detailing years of painstaking work by Iranian spies to co-opt the country’s leaders, pay Iraqi agents working for the Americans to switch sides and infiltrate every aspect of Iraq’s political, economic and religious life.
  • According to one of the leaked document, current Iraqi President Abdul Mahdi, who in exile worked closely with Iran while Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq, had a “special relationship” with the Islamic Republic of Iran when he was Iraq’s oil minister in 2014. Accordingly, no Iraqi politician can become prime minister without Iran’s blessing, and Mr. Mahdi, when he secured the premiership in 2018, was seen as a compromise candidate acceptable to both Iran and the United States.
  • Iran’s rise as a power player in Iraq was in many ways a direct consequence of Washington’s lack of any post-invasion plan after the start of the Iraq War. The early years following the fall of Saddam Hussein were chaotic, both in terms of security and in the lack of basic services. Among the most disastrous American policies were the decisions to dismantle Iraq’s armed forces and to purge from government service or the new armed forces any Iraqi who had been a member of Saddam Hussein’s ruling Baath Party

Haaretz – Yossi Verter / Netanyahu and Gantz moved on from the blame game. Now they’re playing chicken

  • Netanyahu called a potential minority government headed by Gantz – with the support of the Arab Joint List from the outside – a “historical national terror attack” that would, he said, spur celebrations in the Gaza Strip, Ramallah and Tehran.
  • As of Sunday, President Reuven Rivlin’s plan for a national unity government is losing the altitude it once had. Now, among the four-man “cockpit” of Kahol Lavan leaders, there is a consensus that Netanyahu cannot be a partner to a gentlemanly agreement. During the negotiations between his Likud party and Kahol Lavan, he refused to commit to any deadline for stepping down, should he be indicted in the corruption cases pending against him. He refused to give any guarantee that he wouldn’t seek immunity.
  • The most interesting item of news on Sunday hailed from Tel Aviv, where Lieberman and Netanyahu were meeting. Thereafter, the two released a joint announcement that their discussion had been “practical and good” regarding progress toward a unity government. There will be another meeting, apparently today, Monday.
  • Haaretz / All eyes on Lieberman as Gantz, Netanyahu show no sign of compromise

The Guardian – Kim Willsher / Gilets jaunes mark anniversary of first protest

  • The Gilets jaunes held a second consecutive day of demonstrations in Paris on Sunday to mark a year since the protest movement was founded. The interior ministry said 28,000 people took part in protests across France on Saturday, 4,700 of them in Paris. The gilets jaunes claimed 44,000 took part, nonetheless.
  • A day after black-clad youths engaged in battles with the police and rampaged around one of the city’s main squares on the 53rd Saturday of yellow vest action, protesters gathered across France to mark the anniversary.
  • The gilets jaunes movement began in the autumn of 2018 in protest at fuel tax rises and quickly spread to encompass wider grievances with the liberal president, Emmanuel Macron, and his government. At its height, around 280,000 protesters would gather for demonstrations across the country. Many were peaceful but there were outbreaks of violence in cities where the protests were reportedly hijacked by extreme elements.
  • Al-monitor / Reduction in Iran’s gasoline subsidy sparks anti-government protests
  • Deutsche Welle / Prague: Anti-government protests mark Velvet Revolution anniversary

Euractiv – Sharon Lecocq / Arab uprisings: spring time continues

  • Analysts and policy makers alike contemplate that it may be time to move beyond the Arab Spring discourse and consider it a failed attempt. After all, this is almost a decade ago. However, the spring fever is as vivid and visible today. Just like in 2011, 2019 has seen a recurrence of wide scale popular protests, this time in Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq. There are many differences between the countries and peoples in the wider Middle East and North Africa, yet the protesters decry grievances that are shared throughout the region.
  • A common explanation for the lack of democratic governance in the Middle East and North Africa is ‘Arab exceptionalism’. The notion points to the many layers of ethnic and religious identities in the region and implies assumptions about the inability of Muslims to separate religion and government. These are argued as reasons for the failure to copy the secular nation-state identities from the West. Yet protesters shout out their cause for Sudan, for Algeria, for Lebanon, for Iraq, transcending differences.
  • The EU’s response to the new wave of uprisings is as reluctant as to the former. It consists of statements that acknowledge the events and call for peaceful resolution and stability, underlining the countries’ sovereignty and political independence. A restraint in meddling is understandable and a degree of humility commendable. However, other players will gladly fill this void and determine outcomes through high politics.

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, 15/11/2019

Euractiv – Sam Morgan / EU bank brokers late-night deal to phase out fossil fuels

  • The European Investment Bank decided on November 14th to  scrap financial support for fossil fuels from 2021, after marathon talks ended in a compromise that has been hailed as “a significant victory” for green policies. It took an entire day of negotiations for skeptical countries like Germany and Italy to sign up to the EIB’s ambitious review of its energy lending policy, which is set to transform the EU lender into a fully-fledged ‘climate bank’.
  • Under a compromise fleshed out during the talks, the EIB’s initial proposal to scrub its loan books of fossil fuel projects by 2020 is extended to the next year in order to placate countries that wanted more flexibility for gas projects.
  • Vice-President Andrew McDowell, whose compromise tabled last week laid the groundwork for yesterday’s deal, confirmed that “we have reached a compromise to end financing of unabated fossil fuel projects, including gas, from the end of 2021”.
  • The Guardian – Jillian Ambrose / Methane emissions from coalmines could stoke climate crisis – study

The New York Times – The Associated Press / Key facts on Sri Lanka as it prepares to elect new president

  • The island nation of Sri Lanka, which will elect a new president on Saturday, has had a turbulent history. As it prepares to elect its seventh president, Sri Lanka remains a divided country, with ethnic, political and economic issues left unresolved.
  • The largest ethnic group is Sinhala, who make up roughly 75% of the population, most of whom are Buddhists. Tamils, who are mostly Hindus, are about 15%, while 9% are Muslims. The first serious ethnic discord in Sri Lanka emerged in 1956, when the government declared Sinhala the only official language. Tamils protested the move as an act of discrimination. The tensions led to the first racial riots in the post-independent nation, which killed dozens of people.
  • In 1972, the government declared Sri Lanka a republic by enacting a new constitution, but the Tamils said their status and welfare were largely ignored. The same year, an armed insurgency by the Tamil youth began on a small scale, demanding an independent state in the country’s north and east. The Civil War had started. Hundreds were killed and their homes and shops looted and burned. Many fled the country.
  • Financial Times – Amy Kazmin / Sri Lanka: how Easter attacks shaped presidential election

South China Morning Post – Bhavan Jaipragas / Beijing’s South China Sea stance and US ‘truancy’ set to headline Asean defence meeting

  • Fears about China’s increasingly bellicose actions in the South China Sea and the “truancy” of senior US leaders from recent Southeast Asian diplomatic events will be among the key talking points at this weekend’s meeting of regional defence chiefs. The Asean Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus in Bangkok will feature the defence chiefs from the 10 member states and 8 global partners, including US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe.
  • Although ADMM Plus participants have often taken a conciliatory approach to intractable issues such as the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, tensions have become increasingly heightened between Vietnam and China, creating a potential flashpoint. Vietnam will assume next year the rotating chairmanship of the Asean – and of ADMM – and has signalled it could elevate the South China Sea dispute to the top of the bloc’s agenda as the two countries square off over energy exploration activities.
  • Vietnam has – alongside other claimants such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei or Taiwan – complained that China’s militarisation and building of artificial islands not only challenges its sovereignty but raises questions about freedom of navigation and overflight in the area.

Al-Monitor – Shlomi Eldar / Can Arab parties oust Netanyahu without empowering Liberman?

  • The events of the past two days — the killing of Islamic Jihad senior Bahaa Abu al-Ata and the ensuing rocket fire from Gaza — only worsened the dilemma Arab-Israeli Knesset members are facing. Just a few hours before Abu al-Ata was killed, knowing that this action would provoke a conflict with Gaza and generate rocket fire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a warning to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz over coalition talks. Netanyahu warned Gantz against considering a minority government supported by the Joint List.
  • The prevailing atmosphere in Israel would surely make it difficult on Gantz, and more so on Liberman, to establish such a government. But also within the Joint List, which was considering to offer support to Gantz’s government from the outside. Putting aside his latest declarations on the Gaza escalation, Liberman is currently acting like the responsible adult in the political arena. Nevertheless, he is the same politician who has incited against the country’s Arab citizens and their elected representatives.
  • In the final analysis, if no candidate can form a government, an inevitable third round of elections could be the most normal way in the abnormal situation of asking Israel’s Arab citizens what is to be done when faced with what for them are two horrible alternatives.

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, 14/11/2019

The New York Times – Isabel Kershner & Iyad Abuheweila / Exchanges of fire continue across Israel-Gaza border

  • Gaza militants and Israeli forces are clashing after the Israeli assassination of a senior Islamic Jihad commander on Tuesday. After a quiet night and a resumption of hostilities early Wednesday, Israel and Gaza teetered between a quick resolution to this round of violence and a possible escalation — either intentional or through a misstep — that could lead to a much broader conflict.
  • By midnight, the death toll in Gaza over the two days of violence had risen to at least 26, according to Palestinian health officials, a number that includes several civilians. Palestinian officials defended that more than 80 people had been wounded. The Israeli military put the number of militants killed at about 20. No deaths have been reported in Israel.
  • The fight remained between Israel and the Islamic Jihad. Hamas, which is the larger militant group that governs Gaza, has stayed out of the fray so far. If Hamas were to start firing, the conflict would likely spiral down sharply, with Israeli officials warning of harsh consequences.
  • Haaretz – Anshel Pfeffer / Netanyahu and Hamas chief in Gaza have emerged as unlikely allies

Euractiv – Georgi Gotev / Germany makes legal changes to ease completion of Nord Stream 2

  • The German parliament approved on Wednesday changes to the law governing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to make it compliant with European Union regulations, removing a hurdle to completion of the project led by Russia. The legal tweaks approved by the Bundestag lower house relate to EU rules signed off in February that stipulate import pipelines should not be owned by gas suppliers and that third parties should also be able to use them.
  • The European Commission amended its Gas Directive in April, and the amended document entered into force on 23 May. It stipulates that a third-party nation cannot own both the pipeline and gas imported into the EU market unless the conduit was built before May 23, 2019. However, member states have yet to transpose the amendments in their respective national legislation. While the amended Directive is unable to halt the construction of Nord Stream 2, it is capable of delaying or suspending its operation.
  • Germany sees it as a primarily commercial project that is essential to energy security. But Eastern European, Nordic and Baltic Sea countries, as well as the United States, see the pipeline as increasing EU reliance on Russia.
  • Brookings – Steven Pifer / Congress, Nord Stream II, and Ukraine

The Washington Post – David Nakamura, Karen DeYoung & Seung Min Kim / Trump welcomes Turkey’s Erdogan to White House, offers thanks for tentative cease-fire in northern Syria

  • President Trump expressed optimism that the United States and Turkey are on their way to resolving the many differences between them, but he provided few details at a news conference with Turkish President Erdogan after a day of White House meetings. After defending that Turkey is a “great NATO ally and a strategic partner of the United States around the world,” Trump described their talks as “wonderful and productive.”  
  • That alliance has been sorely tested in recent years. In Syria, Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters allied with the United States to be terrorists who threaten Turkey’s security. Erdogan recounted what he said were both Turkish and Syrian Kurdish attacks against the Turkish military. “But some circles who are empathetic towards these terrorist organizations are feeling deeply upset,” he said in a clear reference to congressional critics.
  • Sanctions on Turkey were mandated under U.S. law when it purchased Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, although Trump has delayed imposing them. The purchase came after Turkey and the United States failed to reach an agreement over the price and configuration of the U.S.-made Patriot missile defense system. Trump said Wednesday that the S-400 issue “creates some very serious challenges for us” but that “we’ve asked our secretary of state and ministry of foreign affairs and our respective national security advisers to immediately work on resolving” the problem.

Financial Times – Robin Harding / Japan grows at its slowest pace in a year

  • The Japanese economy recorded its slowest growth for a year in the third quarter of 2019 as it expanded at an annualised pace of just 0.2 per cent. Although underlying growth was solid, a run down of inventories subtracted a full 1.2 percentage points from the final figure, leaving it below consensus expectations for growth of 0.8 per cent.
  • The robust data on domestic demand suggest that Japan’s economy held up well in the run-up to a rise in consumption tax at the start of October. However, even if the slide in inventories is reversed, economists expect the economy to struggle in the fourth quarter as the higher taxes weigh on consumer spending.
  • “The slowdown in GDP growth in the third quarter isn’t too worrying as it reduces the likelihood of a slump in output after October’s sales tax hike,” said Marcel Thieliant, senior Japan economist at Capital Economics in Singapore. Both the Bank of Japan and the government of prime minister Shinzo Abe are worried about the slowing economy given the backdrop of trade tensions between the US and China and global economic fragility. The BoJ recently tweaked its guidance on interest rates while the government is preparing an economic stimulus package to boost the economy beyond the Tokyo Olympics next summer.
  • Financial Times – Martin Arnold / Germany narrowly avoids recession as growth ticks up

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, 13/11/2019

Foreign Policy – Lara Seligman & Colum Lynch / As Assad gains ground, new Syria talks offer little hope of peace

  • After more than eight years of war, prospects for reaching a political solution in Syria through the Geneva talks appear dim. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made it clear that his government is not bound by any agreements a pro-Damascus delegation may strike at the U.N. brokered talks in Geneva. Meanwhile, the Turkish-backed opposition continues to make unrealistic demands for a political transition that would lead to Assad’s removal.
  • However, as discussions wrapped up last Friday, Geir Pedersen, the United Nations envoy for Syria, said the talks went better than expected, adding that the 150 delegates from the Syrian government, opposition, and civil society who represent the newly formed Syrian Constitutional Committee planned to reconvene for another round on Nov. 25.
  • In spite of the progress, experts say there is no clear path to a real political solution, and Assad has no incentive to compromise. The Syrian president has all but won the war militarily with the help of his Russian backers. Syria’s last rebel stronghold, in Idlib, has been devastated by Russian and Syrian airstrikes and is now primarily controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an extremist group linked to al Qaeda. Meanwhile, the Syrian Kurdish militias, which maintain control of a large chunk of resource-rich land, have been excluded from the Geneva talks due to a Turkish veto.
  • Al-monitor – Khlaed al-Khateb / What messages lie behind Assad’s visit to southern Idlib?

Financial Times – Martin Wolf / How the US should deal with China

  • China’s rise is the great political event of our times. Getting the response right is crucial. It is so easy to get it wrong. Today, I fear, the US is getting it frighteningly wrong. The starting point must be that, whether or not China has a plan for world economic domination by 2049, it is only a plausible outcome, not an inevitable one.               
  • The US is the most powerful high-income country because it has the biggest population, by far. But the population of China is to the US’s, roughly what America’s is to Germany’s. However, US output per head will remain far higher than China’s, permanently. At market prices, China’s gross domestic product per head in 2018 was just 15 per cent of US levels.
  • China is likely to become the world’s greatest economic power because it is both big and competent. Yet even if the US does not remain the world’s largest economy over the decades ahead, it should retain three significant assets: a law-governed democracy; a free-market economy; and economically powerful allies.
  • The US is not to make itself an enemy of the Chinese people’s legitimate desire for a better life. Still less is it to dream of overthrowing China’s political system. Such aims are neither reasonable nor achievable. It is to stand up for an open and dynamic world economy, based on market principles, to defend freedom of speech and to challenge abuses of human rights in China itself. But it is also to recognise that, if humanity is to achieve economic progress, maintain peace and preserve the global commons, a high degree of co-operation must also exist between the superpowers.

The New York Times – Brad Plumer / 5 global trends shaping our climate future

  • Wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles are spreading more quickly around the world than many experts had predicted. But this rapid growth in clean energy isn’t yet fast enough to slash humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions and get global warming under control. That’s the conclusion of the International Energy Agency, which on Tuesday published its annual World Energy Outlook, forecasting global energy trends to 2040.
  • The report also issues a warning on climate change, estimating that the energy policies countries currently have could cause global greenhouse gas emissions to continue rising for the next 20 years. One reason: The world’s appetite for energy keeps surging, and the rise of renewables so far hasn’t been fast enough to satisfy all that extra demand. The result: fossil fuels use, particularly natural gas, keeps growing.
  • There are several takeaways from the report. The first is that renewable electricity will surpass coal soon. Also, offshore wind goes big and mainstream. However, S.U.V.s are erasing the progress achieved with electric cars. Energy efficiency efforts are slowing due to the fact that, in 2018, the energy intensity of the global economy, a measure of efficiency, improved by just 1.2 percent. Finally, according to the report, what happens in Africa is crucial, since if the continent pursues the same fossil-fuel heavy path to development that China did, greenhouse gas emissions could rise considerably.
  • Financial Times – Anjli Raval / Drastic changes needed to alleviate climate crisis, says IEA

Euractiv – Alexandra Brzozowski / EU expands military cooperation with 13 new joint projects

  • The EU defence ministers signed off on November 12 the third wave of 13 new proposals under the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) framework, which has raised the number of agreed joint military projects to 47 initiatives. Together with planned 13 billion-euro European Defence Fund it marks the cornerstones of the EU’s efforts to do more for its own security, which has depended for decades largely on the American-dominated NATO.
  • The new wave of collaborative military projects includes a large number of training projects in the field of cybersecurity and space and is marked by a very strong trend in high technology development. Five of the new PESCO projects focus on training, including an Integrated European Joint Training and Simulation Centre, a Special Operations Forces Medical Training Centre, a CBRN Defence Training Range, a Cyber Academy and Innovation Hub, and an EU network of diving centres.
  • Currently, 17 of the 34 are likely to reach operational capacity by the end of this year. Asked how many of the now 47 PESCO projects should make the list in the end, an EU diplomat told reporters that “it needs to be made sure there is a robust selection mechanism of projects that fill the capability gaps and actually deliver.”

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, 12/11/2019

Euractiv – Sam Morgan / EU bank tees up fossil fuel compromise ahead of crucial vote

  • The European Investment Bank will decide on Thursday whether or not to purge its loan books of fossil fuel projects. All signs point to the EU lender striking a compromise with countries like Germany and Italy, which want more leeway for new gas projects.
  • In a draft update to its energy lending policy published in July, the EIB proposed to “stop lending to fossil-fuel energy projects by the end of 2020″, in a move meant to make the bank’s actions compliant with the Paris Agreement on climate change. But the 28 EU member states, which jointly own the EIB, looked to water down that ambitious update over the last three months. So much so that the bank’s leadership postponed a decision on the policy from October to November.
  • In a letter to the bank’s board of directors dated 5 November, EIB Vice-President Andrew McDowell, who oversees energy policy, offered to amend the current draft of the update when it comes to gas projects that have obtained the blessing of the European Commission. “The deadline for appraisal and approval of gas projects on the 4th list of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) co-financed by the ED budget (and not just the Connecting Europe Facility) could be extended by one year – until end 2021,” the letter defends.
  • McDowell’s letter also suggests that renewable energy projects could be eligible for financing worth 75% of costs and that all member states should be allowed to access the advantageous terms offered by the triple-A rated lender. The document stipulates that increased funding could be offered “as long as the projects provide a high policy value and where the EIB involvement accelerates the implementation of the project”.

The Washington Post – Steve Hendrix, Taylor Luck & Ruth Eglash / After 25 years, Jordan declines to renew Israel’s access to the ‘Island of Peace’

  • Jordan announced a year ago its intention to end Israel’s use of Naharayim, located just below the Sea of Galilee, as well as Tzofar, another strip of borderland south of the Dead Sea. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed concerns about the move, saying relations between the two countries remained strong. But little progress has occurred since, as Israel has struggled through two inconclusive elections and a year of political gridlock. A regional official at Tzofar told local media that the loss of the cropland would be a “death sentence” for area farmers.  
  • Cooperation has stopped on key water projects, including a canal that was to resupply a dwindling Dead Sea. Israel has restricted the import of Jordanian goods into the West Bank, a substantial market next door. Jordan recently recalled its ambassador over the detention of two young Jordanians on suspicion of working with militant groups on a visit to the West Bank.
  • On Sunday, with the front pages of Jordan’s four daily newspapers trumpeting “Jordanian sovereignty restored,” King Abdullah II announced the final decision in his televised speech opening parliament. “Today, I announce the expiration of the peace treaty annexes of Al Ghamr and Baqoura and the imposition of our full sovereignty over every inch of those lands,” the king said, sparking a standing ovation.

The Guardian – Kate Proctor, Rowena Mason & Heather Stewart / Nigel Farage urged to stand aside in Tory target seats after climbdown

  • Nigel Farage has made a U-turn by agreeing to withdraw his party from all Conservative-held seats. The Brexit party leader claimed he had changed his mind about fielding candidates in 317 seats held by the Tories after Johnson released a video pledging to take Britain out of the EU by next year and to pursue a Canada-style trade deal.
  • The abrupt nature of Farage’s reversal prompted claims from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National party that he and the prime minister had struck a secret pact in favour of a hard Brexit, which both sides denied. Farage said he had been offered a peerage by the Tories as recently as last Friday but claimed he had turned it down. Farage pledged to pour his resources into targeting seats held by remain parties and Labour, who accused him and Johnson of entering into an “alliance with Donald Trump to sell out our country”.
  • Labour strategists fear that the absence of a Brexit party candidate could make it easier for the Tories to hold on to some of the seats Labour is targeting, such as Blackpool North. But in Labour-held seats, they believe the presence of Farage’s party could help them to avoid being unseated by the Tories.

The New York Times – Pascale Bonnefoy / Chile’s president says he will support a new constitution

  • After three weeks of nationwide protests against the government, President Sebastián Piñera of Chile said he would initiate a process to draft a new Constitution for the country. The announcement came hours after meeting with lawmakers from his coalition, and was the first time the government expressed a willingness to replace the current Constitution. But for many, it was too little, too late.
  • As of Nov. 10, five people have been killed by either the police or the military, while 1,000 have been injured in police shootings since the protests began in mid-October, according to the National Institute for Human Rights, an independent state institution. Another 767 have been injured through beatings, tear gas or other means, the institute said, and more than 5,600 people have been arrested since the protests began.
  • Chile’s Constitution was designed behind closed doors during the Pinochet dictatorship and provides a limited role for the state in the economy. In addition to the constitutional reform, the Chilean Congress has responded to the crisis by pushing through bills aimed at reducing inequality and the cost of living and enhancing 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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