The ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 25/05/2017

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Project Syndicate—Guy Verhofstadt / Confronting Europe’s Illiberals

  • European leaders too often shout from the sidelines when they should be on the field, acting to defend common European interests.
  • By shifting the burden of managing refugee flows to frontline countries, European solidarity has been eroded.
  • What is more, illiberal values have taken root in the EU itself, as proved by Poland and Hungary. In those countries, EU money is effectively being used to stoke Euroskepticism.
  • There appears to be a paradox in the EU: once a country has gained entry into the bloc, there is little that can be done to ensure that it maintains democratic standards and upholds European values.
  • The EU’s only option now is to invoke Article 7 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which could ultimately remove Hungary’s voting rights within the EU. And, after Orban, we must turn our attention to Kaczyński.
  • We need to restore the values-based community that once helped us face down dictators like Francisco Franco.

Financial Times—A. Chassany, G. Chazan & J. Politi /  EU leaders seek to charm Trump over climate deal

  • European leaders will try to collectively persuade President Trump, during his first visit to Europe, to stick with the Paris agreement.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron will lead a charm offensive during a lunch with his U.S. counterpart in Brussels today.
  • Germany’s strategy will be to insist on the idea that “when it’s done properly, climate protection is compatible with economic growth — they are not mutually exclusive”.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on his way to Brussels that the U.S. “hasn’t made a final decision”, and was not likely to “until after we get home”.
  • Yesterday, Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, urged the U.S. to stay in the Paris accords.

South China Morning Post—S. Jiangtao / US warship sails to within a few miles of island built up by China in Spratlys

  • Under a so-called “freedom of navigation operation”, a U.S. navy warship has sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea—specifically, in the Spratly Islands.
  • This is the first such challenge to Beijing since President Donald Trump took office, and the first operation near a land feature which was included in a ruling last year against China by an international arbitration court in The Hague.
  • Bonnie Glaser, Asia-Pacific security expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies: “US-China relations are now stabilized. China fully expects that freedom of navigation operations will continue, so they are not surprised”.
  • These operations were conducted regularly in the South China Sea under the Obama administration, with US navy vessels sailing within 12 nautical miles of China’s artificial islands at least 3 times in the past 18 months.
  • Speculation has been rife that the Trump administration wants to scale back the operations, in what would be seen as another concession to China.

The Economist / How Islamic State clings on in Libya

  • ISIS’ branch in Libya, considered the most lethal outside the Levant, was pushed out of its coastal stronghold in December and hit hard by American bombers in January.
  • The jihadists are down, but not out. Many of the fighters have regrouped in a swathe of desert valleys and rocky hills south-east of Tripoli.
  • There are thought to be around 500 ISIS fighters operating in Libya, but perhaps 3,000 jihadists of all types. ISIS is now said to be receiving support from local al-Qaeda fighters, despite feuding between the groups’ leaders abroad.
  • ISIS has fed on the Libyan chaos—and added to it, lately by attacking water pipelines and pumping stations.
  • It is difficult to attack ISIS targets in Libya either from the ground or from the air, and Libya’s neighbors are growing concerned.
  • British police are probing links between Salman Abedi, the Manchester suicide-bomber, and ISIS in Libya.

 The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo.

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