The ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 19/07/2017

Financial Times—J. Shotter, et al. / Polish president threatens to veto Supreme Court bill

  • Poland’s President, Andrzej Duda, has threatened to veto legal reform that—according to critics—would undermine the independence of the country’s judiciary.
  • Duda said he would not sign a bill that could force some members of the Supreme Court to step down unless parliament accepted an amendment to another bill covering the National Judicial Council.
  • The amendment would mean three-fifths of MPs, rather than a simple majority, would be needed to appoint new members to the National Judicial Council. According to the former bill, this council would decide which Supreme Court judges would be kept on.
  • The parliamentary maneuvers led by the ruling Law and Justice Party (to which Duda used to belong) come as the European Commission considers whether to escalate action against Warsaw by triggering a formal warning mechanism never previously deployed against any EU member.

Brookings—D. Dollar & R. Haas / Expect more process than progress at U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue

  • This week, the US is hosting the US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue. This week’s session is likely to produce agreement on a one-year action plan for tackling trade and investment impediments.
  • Although, to the dismay of many in the business community, the new action plan will likely be general and non-specific, Trump’s approach thus far demonstrates broad continuity with the US-China economic policy of his predecessors.
  • The US will not make concessions on China’s priorities, but neither does China feel the pressure to give in to US demands.
  • 2017 is not a promising year to negotiate reforms with China. With the 19th Party Congress to be held in autumn, no senior Chinese official will want to invite any appearance of capitulation to US pressure.
  • Any significant tariffs on steel could signal a more protectionist US stance, which would affect China directly, and likely lead to a hardening of China’s positions vis-à-vis the United States.

Foreign Affairs—E. Miller & K. Truitte / Filling the vacuum in Libya

  • The US and its European allies must do more to leverage both sticks and carrots to bring the warring Libyan parties and their regional supporters to the UN-led negotiating table in order to reach a lasting political accord.
  • It would be unwise to view instability in Libya solely through the lens of counterterrorism, as such a view obscures the true root of Libya’s problems: its governance vacuum.
  • There have been some positive developments in Libya lately, but the window of opportunity is closing fast. Foreign disputes, such as the ongoing diplomatic spat in the Persian Gulf between Qatar and a Saudi-led bloc (which back opposing proxies in Libya), could curtail progress toward negotiation.
  • As for oil, increases in revenues from rising production could either prove a great boon for the country or lead to more competition and instability.

The Economist / South-East Asia’s future looks prosperous but illiberal

  • Overall, the ten countries of the ASEAN grew at an annual rate of 5% over the past five years.
  • Across South-East Asia, liberal economics have won out, in part as a result of the Asian financial crisis. However, in political terms, the region is heading in the opposite direction.
  • It is Myanmar that most encapsulates the region’s democratic reversal. When the army ceded power last year to Aung San Suu Kyi, its Nobel-prize-winning opponent of 30 years, expectations were astronomically high. That has made her government’s repressive acts all the more bewildering.
  • Democratic institutions are not as weak in the region’s two biggest countries, Indonesia and the Philippines, as in the rest of the ASEAN, but in both countries liberals also have more cause for fear than hope.

Foreign Policy—S. Walt / The global consequences of Trump’s incompetence

  • Since the presidency of George H. W. Bush, “things [in terms of US competence in foreign policy] have gone from good to bad to worse to truly awful.”
  • Offshore balancing [the strategy proposed by Walt and John Mearsheimer] won’t work if other states have little or no confidence in U.S. judgment, skill, and competence.

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

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