ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 20/05/2019


South China Morning Post / Google ‘suspends some business with Huawei in wake of Trump trade blacklist’

  • Google has reportedly suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing.
  • Huawei has said it has spent the last few years preparing a contingency plan by developing its own technology in case it is blocked from using Android. Some of this technology is already being used in products sold in China, the company has said.
  • Last Thursday, the Trump administration added Huawei Technologies to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the company to do business with US counterparts.
  • The extent to which Huawei will be hurt by the US government’s blacklist is not yet known. Chip experts have questioned Huawei’s ability to continue to operate without US help.

The Guardian / US to hold Bahrain economic conference to launch Middle East peace plan

  • The US will hold an international economic “workshop” in Bahrain in late June, seeking to encourage investment in the Palestinian territories as the first part of Donald Trump’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan.
  • The conference in Manama on 25 and 26 June will bring together government and business leaders from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It is not yet known whether Israeli and Palestinian officials will take part.
  • “This will give hopefully the people in the region the potential to see what the economic opportunities could be if we can work out political issues that have held back the region for a long, long time,” a senior US official said.
  • US officials had said the peace plan would be rolled out after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in early June. But the announcement of the Bahrain workshop appeared to set the stage for a sequenced release of the plan.

The New York Times – Anatoly Kurmanaev / Venezuela’s collapse is the worst outside of war in decades, economists say

  • Venezuela’s fall is the single largest economic collapse outside of war in at least 45 years, according to the Institute of International Finance. To find similar levels of economic devastation, economists at the IMF pointed to countries that were ripped apart by war, like Libya earlier this decade.
  • Venezuela’s hyperinflation, expected to reach 10 million percent this year according to the IMF, is on track to become the longest period of runaway price rises since that in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1990s.
  • The crisis has been compounded by American sanctions intended to force Nicolás Maduro to cede power to Juan Guaidó. Maduro blames Venezuela’s economic collapse on the US and its opposition allies — but most independent economists say the recession began years before the sanctions.
  • Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves. But its oil output, once Latin America’s largest, has fallen faster in the past year than Iraq’s after the American invasion in 2003, according to data from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Euractiv – Frédéric Simon / Gas storage vies for central role in EU quest for carbon neutrality

  • The gas industry pitches its 1,200 terawatt hours (TWh) of available storage capacity as a potential benefit to Europe’s future low-carbon energy system. In the long-run, these storage sites could provide a platform to store low-carbon gases like green hydrogen generated from wind and solar power as well as biomethane produced locally from agricultural waste.
  • However, estimates vary widely as to the sector’s ability to deliver those clean gases in the quantities needed to support Europe’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The industry’s projections are dismissed as exaggerated by environmental organizations and even by the European Commission.
  • “We shouldn’t focus on delivering green gas at any cost,” said Milan Elkerbout, a researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels. What matters most, he said, is to look at the end-use sectors that need to be decarbonized and, from there, assess the options available. And green gases will be attractive in some cases, but not always.

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, 17/05/2019

Resultado de imagen de theresa mayThe New York Times – Stephen Castle / Theresa May Vows to Set a Date for Stepping Down as U.K. Prime Minister

  • Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain promised this Thursday that she would set a date to step down as the country’s leader, starting the countdown to the end of one of the most troubled premierships in current British history. The chairman of the party committee, Graham Brady, said in his statement that Theresa May had agreed to set the timetable after another looming parliamentary vote on her plan to remove Britain from the European Union.
  • In the past, she had agreed to step down if her Brexit plan — that has failed thrice — won approval in the Parliament. Now, she has effectively agreed to leave whether her plan passes or not. Boris Johnson is the frontrunner, but other figures such as Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab or Andrea Leadsom have been included in the race
  • Theresa May’s successor will, however, inherit the same constraints that apparently have left Britain no closer to a smooth exit from the European Union than it was three years ago, when Britons voted to leave.

The Atlantic – Yasmeen Serhan / In an Echo of the Iraq War, the U.S. and Europe Are Split on Iran

  • France and Germany were dismissed by George Bush as “old Europe” when they opposed the USA led invasion of Iraq in 2003, even as it prosecuted the war with Britain by its side. More than a decade later, Washington and all its major partners across the Atlantic find themselves on opposing sides again—this time, over how to deal with Iran. The issue of Iran has been greatly divisive for the USA and its European partners.
  • The Trump administration and its allies in France, Germany, and Britain have been at bitter odds over Iran since President Donald Trump made the decision last year to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement and reintroduce great sanctions on Tehran. Europeans are struggling to keep the agreement alive, but more American pressure on Iran makes retaliation more likely.
  • That Britain —which, unlike France and Germany, joined Washington’s “coalition of the willing” in the 2003 invasion—was among the first to voice its opposition to further escalation against Iran signals that Trump could struggle to rally U.S. allies in the West if tensions were to increase. Besides, even if European leaders were to change their mind, it is unlikely that their publics would do the same: Europeans overwhelmingly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The Washington Post – Daniel Paquette & Lena H. Sun / With more than 1,100 dead, Congo’s Ebola outbreak is only getting worse. Now doctors are forced to go undercover.

  • The death toll in the central African country reached 1,136 this week, government officials said. The infection count, meanwhile, has climbed to 1,632 — with 88 more suspected, Congo’s Ministry of Health said. Concerns are growing that the crisis in Congo’s North Kivu province could become as lethal as West Africa’s battle against the hemorrhagic fever from 2013 to 2016, which killed 11,310 people across three countries.
  • The WHO Director General, Tedros Ashanom stated that “the tragedy is that we have the technical means to stop Ebola, but until all parties halt attacks on the response, it will be very difficult to end this outbreak”. An assault on a hospital last April killed a Cameroonian epidemiologist, which drove hundreds of Congolese doctors and nurses into the streets to ask for more security.
  • Experts are urging the global community to pour more resources into Congo’s struggle. J. Stephen Morrison, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies defended that “we’re at a breaking point [..] violent attacks are winning, and infections are unchecked.”

Foreign Affairs – Ankit Panda & Vipin Narang / Why North Korea Is Testing Missiles Again

  • After 522 days without a ballistic missile test, North Korea has been launching them again. On May 4, two months after the failed Hanoi summit, Pyongyang fired a new type of solid-fuel short range ballistic missile and tested two separate multiple rocket launch systems. Any hope that the test was a one-off disappeared just five days later, when North Korea again launched several of the new short range ballistic missiles. South Korea and USA have downplayed these tests’ significance.
  • In order to be sure, Kim hasn’t broken any promises he has made to the USA since 2018. North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on missile testing, declared explicitly in April of that year, applied only to intercontinental range ballistic missiles (ICBMs). In an interview following the May 4 test, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the United States believes that North Korea remains in compliance.
  • Not coincidentally, North Korea conducted its most recent missile tests just after the United States and South Korea commenced a new joint military exercise, known as Dong Maeng. This has been analyzed by Kim as part of Washington´s “hostile policy”. Concerning the motives behind Kim’s decision, Testing short-range conventional missiles not only boosts the morale of Kim’s forces but satisfies bureaucratic hard-liners that Kim will indeed pursue a “new way” if the United States fails to relieve sanctions.
  • Momentum for a return to the working-level dialogue appears to be quickly disappearing. If the administration hopes to resurrect that dialogue with North Korea on its nuclear weapons program, it would do well to take Kim’s end-of-year deadline seriously. To do so it will require reexamining U.S. objectives. A good deal—one that reduces risks and at least begins to slow the growth of the North Korean nuclear and missile programs—is preferable to an utopic quest for the “final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea.”

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, 16/05/2019

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Euractiv – Beatriz Ríos / First clashes liven up last EU Spitzenkandidat debate ahead of election

  • Yesterday, Manfred Weber (European People’s Party), Frans Timmermans (Party of European Socialists), Jan Zahradil (Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists for Europe), Margrethe Vestager (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe), Nico Cué (European Left), and Ska Keller (Greens) shared their visions of Europe in their last televised debate before the EU elections.
  • Last night’s exchanges were marked by the first skirmishes over climate change and employment policies. Timmermans was the most outspoken on climate change, calling for a tax on kerosene and a CO2 tax applicable across the entire European economy, and for a progressive coalition in Europe to tackle this global challenge.
  • Timmermans, Keller, Cué and Vestager called for a European minimum wage standard. For Weber, however, the response is not a minimum wage but “good economic policy, infrastructure, research and trade together with the establishment of an even stronger single market.”
  • In an otherwise rather pro-European debate, Zahradil was the only one to struck a resolutely nationalist note, calling for a “scaled-back, flexible, decentralised” Europe that supports national policies instead of imposing new ones.

European Council on Foreign Relations – Susi Dennison & Mark Leonard / Seven days to save the European Union

  • Support for EU membership is at a record high – two-thirds of Europeans currently believe it is a good thing, the largest share since 1983 – and yet a majority also fear that the European Union might collapse. The challenge for pro-Europeans is to use this fear of loss to mobilize their silent majority.
  • Voters’ anxiety about the future manifests in a range of different areas. Firstly, this feeling of precariousness has a significant economic dimension. There is also a geopolitical dimension: Europeans are concerned about the volatile international environment, particularly the uncertainty in the EU’s relationships with the US, China, and Russia.
  • ECFR’s survey revealed that three in ten voters believe that war between EU countries is possible. It is not that they necessarily think that war will break out tomorrow, but that there is a logic of conflict in a deeply divided continent.
  • The challenge for Europeanists consists in reconnecting with disengaged voters, convincing them not only that voting is worthwhile – with the issues they care about for the future in mind – but also that mainstream parties can provide them with a safer, fairer, and more comfortable future.

South China Morning Post – Kinling Lo / What killed US-China trade talks: A tale of two texts

  • The trade talks between China and the US collapsed because Beijing removed details outlining the obligations it was required to meet as part of reaching a deal to end the trade war, according to Susan Thornton, former acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
  • Thornton said similar things had happened before in negotiations with China, as Beijing was particularly sensitive about details being made public which could affect perception of the agreement among its domestic audience. But the US “certainly wants the public to see what they have got.”
  • According to Thornton, another sticking point between the two sides related to future tariffs, with the US wanting to reserve the right to impose future penalties as a “motivation” to ensure the deal was being implemented.
  • Other Chinese officials and think tanks have said there was no backtracking from China, and instead some of the US demands had been hard to accept. The US reportedly demanded a verification mechanism be put in place over China’s promise to end forced technology transfer, which China saw as an infringement of its sovereignty.

Al-Monitor / ‘Neither talks nor war,’ Khamenei says of US-Iran tensions

  • During a meeting with the country’s top political elites, including President Hassan Rouhani and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dismissed the possibility that the US and Iran would go to war, stating that the Americans understand that any such conflict will not serve their interests.
  • However, Khamenei reasserted his earlier stance that dialogue with the current US government is not an option: ”As long as the United States is what it is now … negotiating is but poison, and with this current administration that poison is twice [as lethal].”
  • On the economic front, Khamenei admitted that Iranians, particularly the poor and the middle class, were under strain due to unprecedented US sanctions. At the same time, he rejected the idea that the economy is in a state of deadlock. “The Islamic Republic is made up of a powerful metal,” he said.
  • In yet another sign that Iran is not ready for compromise, the country’s Atomic Energy Organization has now started implementing a recently announced decision about “reducing its commitments” under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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, 14/05/2019

The New York Times – Peter Baker / Viktor Orban, Hungary’s Far-Right Leader, Gets Warm Welcome From Trump

  • US Presient Donald Trump praised on Monday on Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, stating that “Viktor Orban has done a tremendous job in so many different ways, […] Highly respected. Respected all over Europe. Probably like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s O.K. That’s O.K. You’ve done a good job, and you’ve kept your country safe”.
  • For Viktor Orban, this embrace was a welcome affirmation, an important contrast in comparison with his cold encounters with European leaders. He is the latest of the world’s strongmen to find a warm reception at the White House, along with praised autocrats from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Philippines and Kazakhstan
  • Donald Trump made no mention of the fact that Hungary spends only 1.15 % of its economy on defense, one of the lowest in the NATO, even though he regularly urges other leaders for not meeting the 2 % goal set by the alliance. Likewise, he said nothing about Hungary’s increasing energy ties with Russia, unlike his repeated criticism of Germany on the same issue. Nor did he publicly raise American discontent with the Chinese firm Huawei’s work on Hungary’s broadband network.

The Washington Post – Anthony Faiola / Inside the secret plot to turn senior Venezuelan officials against Maduro

  • The failure of the uprising has cast new uncertainty on the opposition’s months-long effort to oust Maduro. Guaidó made a surprise appearance with a handful of troops at a military base in Caracas at dawn on April 30 to announce that he had the support of key military units and to call on others to join in the “final phase” of the campaign against the strongman. But the broader military support never materialized, and Maduro’s forces moved against opposition protesters, killing at least four and wounding scores.
  • While U.S. officials still want Maduro out and say they remain engaged, they now say it probably will take longer than they initially believed. President Trump, meanwhile, has expressed frustration at his administration’s aggressive strategy, complaining he was misled about how easy it would be to replace Maduro with Guaidó, according to administration officials and White House advisers.

Foreign Policy – Mahsa Rouhi / Iranians Will Tolerate Hardship but Not Capitulation

  • On the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran announced that it would cease to implement some of its commitments under the accord. Because the United States has banned Iran from exporting heavy water and low enriched uranium (LEU), Iran will stop adhering to the accord’s limits on accumulating these materials: 130 metric tons in the case of heavy water and 202.8 kilograms of LEU.
  • There is an argument floating around among supporters of the deal in the USA and Europe that Iran should continue its strategic patience and practice restraint and compliance with the deal. The rationale is based upon two statements:  first, to basically wait out the Trump administration in hopes that if a Democrat wins in 2020, the USA could rejoin the nuclear deal. Second, despite the fact that Iran is not reaping economic windfalls, there are some diplomatic benefits in remaining in the agreement. But if Iran violates the deal, the Europeans would have to impose more sanctions, which would deteriorate diplomatic relations between the members.
  • Perhaps more importantly, efforts to set up INSTEX, a so-called special purpose vehicle, continue to lag, with INSTEX having yet to become operational because EU companies are wary of using it and with the scope of its activities at least so far envisioned to merely encompass nonsanctionable humanitarian trade
  • Given the political environment in Tehran, where the Rouhani administration is under attack for keeping the current limits on Iran’s nuclear program while not getting a relief of economic sanctions in return, meekly accepting additional limits was simply politically untenable. Iran’s government has chosen another path in the hope that the rest of the world, outside of Washington, will recognize its domestic political constraints and good-faith efforts to abide by what’s left of the nuclear deal.

Financial Times – Gideon Rachman / America is the revisionist power on trade

  • The USA and China are dissatisfied with current world order, but the nature of both countries unhappiness is very different.  The problem for Donald Trump is that the world economic system is operating hugely to America’s disadvantage. The US president complains that “globalism” has helped China to rise at the expense of the USA. It is that view that underpins Donald Trump’s dramatic decision last week to raise tariffs on Chinese exports to the USA. For Xi Jinping, the problem is American political and strategic domination. On the other hand, he recognizes the advantage of globalisation to China, so he wants to preserve the current trade model.
  • The current US-China conflict is a trade war, not a shooting war. That situation presents Xi Jinping with a difficult tactical choice. Should China make concessions that are painful, and humbling, in the interests of preserving the essence of the economic system that has facilitated its rise?
  • America and China are both revisionist powers, as well as status quo powers The USA is the status quo power on geopolitics, so it has become the revisionist power on economics. China is the revisionist power on geopolitics, so it has become the status quo power on trade. The increasingly bellicose attitudes of nationalists look like the “Thucydides’s trap” made famous by Harvard professor Graham Allison. He has pointed out that, throughout history, rising powers such as China have often gone to war with established powers such as the US.
  • By temperament and political interest, Donald Trump is mainly on the side of the dealmakers. He also continues to set great store by his friendship with Xi Jinping. Nonetheless, a close relationship between leaders is no guarantee that conflict can be avoided, as World War One showed.

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, 13/05/2019

Resultado de imagen de trump xi jinpingFinancial Times – James Politi, Aime Williams, Christian Shepherd & Tom Mitchell / Trump-Xi trade talks likely at G20 summit, says US

  • Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, stated that there was a possibility of a meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping at the G20 summit that will be held in Japan next month, in order to rescue a deal and avoid the escalation in the trade war.
  • “We don’t think the Chinese have come far enough. We will wait and see. The talks will continue,” Larry Kudlow defended. “And I will say this, the G20 meeting in Japan toward the end of June next month, the chances that president Trump and president Xi will get together at that meeting are probably pretty good,” he added.
  • Both countries were close to a trade deal ten days ago, but the US accused Chine of not complying with the agreements and watering the agreement in order for it to be hard to enforce.  On Sunday, Donald Trump continued to prod China “We are right where we want to be with China,” he tweeted. “Remember, they broke the deal with us & tried to renegotiate. We will be taking in Tens of Billions of Dollars in Tariffs from China.”

The Washington Post – Max Bearak / Cyril Ramaphosa and the African National Congress narrowly win South Africa’s elections

  • The African National Congress, led by union leader-turned-business magnate Cyril Ramaphosa, has retained a slim majority of seats in South Africa’s parliament, giving Ramaphosa a weak mandate for a full five-year term as president. The election took place 25 years after the ANC conducted South Africa out of the former state of apartheid into a democratic state.
  • “Our people have spoken — and they have done so clearly and emphatically,” Ramaphosa said during an acceptance statement “They have voted for a united South Africa in which all may realize their potential. They have voted for a more equal society, free from poverty, hunger and want. They have voted for a country at peace with itself and the world.”
  • After Ramaphosa took over from Jacob Zuma last year, he has replaced many of his predecessor’s appointments in the cabinet and in state-owned enterprises, trying to restore investor confidence in an economy that recently slipped in and out of recession. He also approved a judicial inquiry into Zuma’s alleged improprieties.
  • Out of the 47 opposition parties in the South African election, only two are major players: the centrist Democratic Alliance (DA), which has a traditionally white voter base centered in Western Cape province and the city of Cape Town; and the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by former ANC youth league president Julius Malema, who advocates seizing land from white farmers and redistributing it among the poor black population

Foreign Policy – Henri J. Barkey / Erdogan Just Committed Political Suicide

  • By canceling the results, Erdogan is compounding the mistake of inserting himself into the local elections. He mainly transformed the local election into a vote of confidence in his own leadership. The results thus became a personal disaster for Erdogan, as his party lost some of the country’s most important municipalities, including Ankara, Adana, Mersin, and Izmir.
  • He is now doubling down on that first mistake. Erdogan risks a tremendous backlash from an electorate that will deem the action as unfair and may deliver him another humiliating defeat despite the fact that he and his party will mobilize to cheat and therefore, gain the election.
  • Why does he take this risk? There are three distinct explanations. First, Istanbul is not only the largest city but is also the country’s economic and cultural capital. Second, Istanbul is the home base of Erdogan, since he was elected mayor in 1994. Finally, Erdogan recognizes that after nearly two decades of rule the Turkish public may simply be tiring of him.

The New York Times – Anne Barnard / Inside Syria’s Secret Torture Prisons: How Bashar al-Assad Crushed Dissent

  •  As Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, closes in on victory over an eight-year revolt, a secret, industrial-scale system of arbitrary arrests and torture prisons has been pivotal to his success. While the Syrian military, backed by Russia and Iran, fought armed rebels for territory, the government waged a ruthless war on civilians, throwing hundreds of thousands into filthy dungeons where thousands were tortured and killed.
  • Nearly 128,000 have never emerged, and are presumed to be either dead or still in custody, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, an independent monitoring group that keeps the most rigorous tally. Nearly 14,000 were “killed under torture.” Many prisoners die from conditions so dire that a United Nations investigation labeled the process “extermination.”
  • Now, even as the war winds down, the world’s attention fades and countries start to normalize relations with Syria, the pace of new arrests, torture and execution is increasing. The numbers peaked in the conflict’s bloodiest early years, but last year the Syrian Network recorded 5,607 new arrests that it classifies as arbitrary — more than 100 per week and nearly 25 percent more than the year before.
  • Kidnappings and killings by the Islamic State captured more attention in the West, but the Syrian prison system has vacuumed up many more times the number of people detained by ISIS in Syria. Government detention accounts for around 90 percent of the disappearances tallied by the Syrian Network.

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, 10/05/2019

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Financial Times – Demetri Sevastopulo, Aime Williams & Edward White / US seizes North Korean ship as tensions rise

  • The US ramped up pressure on North Korea on Thursday as Donald Trump rebuked Pyongyang following recent missile tests and the justice department announced it had seized a North Korean cargo ship suspected of carrying coal, in violation of US and UN sanctions.
  • Trump spoke after South Korean officials had reported that Pyongyang had fired two “projectiles”. “They were smaller missiles, short-range missiles,” Trump said. “Nobody’s happy about it.”
  • Trump said the relationship between Washington and Pyongyang “continues”. “I know they want to negotiate. They’re talking about negotiating, but I don’t think they’re ready to negotiate.”
  • Experts expect an increase in the frequency of missile launches from North Korea as Pyongyang pushes the US to change its position. Andrei Lankov, of the Kookmin University, said tests would probably continue “for months to come” as Kim returned to a strategy of “creating a crisis” to win concessions.

Foreign Policy – Lara Seligman / The Pentagon is finally getting a new defense secretary

  • After more than four months as acting US defense secretary, the longest anyone has served in that position, Patrick Shanahan will be formally nominated to become President Donald Trump’s permanent Pentagon chief.
  • The long-awaited appointment comes after the Pentagon’s inspector general conclusively cleared Shanahan of violating his ethics agreement after accusations that he inappropriately favored his former employer, Boeing.
  • Shanahan must still be confirmed by the Senate. But despite a fallout with Senator Lindsey Graham over withdrawing US forces from Syria and a series of rocky performances on Capitol Hill, it seems lawmakers are coming around to the choice.
  • Shanahan is expected to drive continued focus on the growing threat from China and on investing in high-end capabilities to counter that threat. Sources close to him say he is also driving a tougher posture on Turkey in the debate over Ankara’s plan to buy the Russian S-400 missile system.

Politico – Riccardo Alcaro & Nathalie Tocci / Europe can still save the Iran nuclear deal

  • After the US withdrew from the JCPOA, EU hoped Iran would stick to it while not receiving its fair due. The benefits for Iran were still significant: for the first time since 1979, Tehran had the near-unanimous support of the international community. It was fully abiding by international law and multilateralism.
  • Moreover, trade with Europe – however small – would still provide the economic advantages needed for Iranian supporters of the JCPOA. But, sadly, Europeans have been unable to safeguard their oil imports from Iran and prevent it from being disconnected from international financial markets.
  • The US administration is counting on sanctions being so harsh that social and political unrest would destabilize the Iranian regime from within. The Trump administration has also provoked Iran into abandoning the JCPOA, thereby reopening the possibility of military strikes against its nuclear facilities.
  • Just as the quest for European autonomy rightly calls upon European leaders not to accept Iran’s ultimatums, it also requires them not to cave into what has been an outrageous attempt by the US to treat European countries as vassal states and the EU as an adversary.
  • Not only should the special purpose vehicle devised by the EU become fully operational, but far more consequentially, the E3 – the UK, France and Germany – should work with China and Russia to restore at least part of Iran’s ability to export oil, including by envisaging oil swaps between Russia and Iran.

Euractiv – Sam Morgan / EU heads adopt vague declaration on future of Europe

  • Heads of state and government from the EU-27 signed off on broad-brush ‘ten commitments’ for the EU’s next five years on Thursday in the Romanian city of Sibiu. The Sibiu Declaration is less substantial and specific than traditional European Council summit conclusions.
  • In what was meant to be the first high-level meeting of European leaders after the United Kingdom was supposed to leave the bloc, mention of the word ‘Brexit’ was kept to an absolute minimum.
  • Referring to the UK, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters on arriving at the Sibiu meeting that “if they stay they stay. If they go they go.”
  • Leaders including Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel and Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaite made it clear that the current system for the selection of the European Commission President, the Spitzenkandidat process, is likely to be scrapped this time around.
  • Project Syndicate – Kemal Derviş / More or less Europe?

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, 09/05/2019

Washington Post – Anna Fifield & David J. Lynch / China warns of ‘countermeasures’ against U.S. products if Trump increases tariffs

  • China warned Wednesday of retaliation if President Trump continues with his threat to further raise tariffs on Chinese goods, setting up a potential escalation in a trade war that had seemed just weeks ago to be nearing its end. A spokeman for the Commerce Ministry stated: “an escalation in trade frictions is not in line with the American or Chinese interests or the interests of the world, and would thus be much to China’s regret. But if the U.S. goes ahead with its tariff measures against China, China will have to resort to necessary countermeasures”.
  • The Trump administration has been pushing China not only to narrow its trade gap with the USA but also to develop major reforms on topics such as support for state-backed companies and intellectual property rights. There appeared to be some headway. Nonetheless, Trump tweeted on Sunday that China had attempted to renegotiate the almost-completed deal.
  • Trade data released Wednesday showed that Chinese export growth was disappointing last month. The value of Chinese exports fell 2.7 % in April compared with the previous year, against market expectations of 3 % growth. While the slump in domestic demand and exploding debt levels are the main cause for China’s slowing economy, the trade tensions are weighing heavily on it.

The Atlantic– Yascha Mounk / How Authoritarians Manipulate Elections

  • When Recep Erdoğan was first elected prime minister of Turkey in 2003, he committed himself to the respect the country’s democratic institutions, and to leave office if he ever lost the public’s trust. The reality of Erdoğan’s rule has been rather more bleak. He systematically grew his powers and purged his opponents from top positions. But even as the dictatorial nature of Erdoğan became clear, Turkey continued to hold multi-party elections.
  • The tremendous power Erdoğan now holds makes it all the more remarkable that a united opposition was, last month, able to gain an unexpected set of victories in the country’s municipal elections: Exploiting anger at Turkey’s growing economic crisis, and fielding a new crop of candidates who are both charismatic and conciliatory, the opposition pulled off two highly symbolic upsets, winning control of the country’s capital, Ankara, as well as its largest city, Istanbul. For the first time, Erdoğan faced a trade-off, Would he allow the election results to stand, thereby acknowledging the public’s growing discontent with his rule? Or would he exploit his hold over Turkey’s institutions to have the election annulled, making it blatantly clear to anybody who cared to look that Turkey is no longer a democracy?
  • For much of the 20th century, the most acute threat to democracy came from the barrel of a gun. When democratic systems collapsed, it was usually because tanks rolled up in front of the country’s parliament or presidential palace. But in 21st century, coups became strange. From Russia to Venezuela, the strongmen who have destroyed democratic institutions won high office at the ballot box. Far from openly attacking democracy, they have tended to argue that they, and they alone, truly represent the people. The new crop of authoritarian leaders is much more invested in retaining the appearance of a genuine democratic mandate.

Financial Times– Phil Stephens / Trump’s angry unilateralism is a cry of pain

  • The hardest moment for a hegemonic power is to see its dominance eroded. American president Donald Trump’s angry unilateralism aims to be a proof of power, but it’s more of a cry of pain for a mythologized past. The same happened in Britain after Second World War; Churchill would struggle to accept the postwar international order that would be leaded by the USA. Now it’s America’s turn. America’s unipolar moment passed as quickly as it surged at the end of the cold war.
  • Barack Obama’s misfortune was that he grasped early on the significance for US interests of these global power shifts, he achieved the right conclusions. If America could not run unilaterally, its interests were best served by leveraging the alliances with other states. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, defends that if the system does not work for the United States, he should break it up.
  • Among allies like Japan, Korea or the European Union, the US has lost trust. The common denominator in the policies of all these states is to wait until Trump leaves the office, which is mainly a mistake. Mr. Trump is not alone among Americans in his disillusionment with the old order. But the louder the president shouts the less inclined the rest of the world is to listen.

The Guardian– Jessica Elgot, Heather Stewart & Lisa O’Carroll / May buys time with hints at new withdrawal bill vote and exit date

  • Theresa May has achieved another week as British Prime Minister, hinting she will bring the EU withdrawal bill to parliament before the European elections and promising to meet a powerful backbench committee who have demanded that she set out her timetable for stepping down. “It is the intention to have a further vote, probably a second reading of the withdrawal agreement bill before the European elections take place and hopefully in the much nearer future than that. That is my understanding”, Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, stated.
  • Members of the 1922 Committee have previously voted down proposals to change the party rules for a vote of no confidence in the Conservative leader, which currently mean they are protected for a year after winning a confidence vote, as May did in December 2018.However, some on the executive have hinted that views could shift if May does not give a more explicit departure date.
  • Bringing the EU withdrawal agreement bill to parliament without being certain of a majority is fraught with danger. Should the bill be voted down at second reading, it would not be possible to bring it back in this parliamentary session.

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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