ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 05/12/2017

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Politico—Bjarke Smith-Meyer / Eurogroup’s next leader will be Portugal’s Mário Centeno

  • Portugal’s Finance Minister Mário Centeno will be the next president of the Eurogroup, beginning on January 13 and for a term of two and a half years.
  • Centeno —who has a Harvard PhD— will be the first holder of the post from southern Europe and the first from one of the countries forced into a bailout by the euro crisis.
  • Two major tasks face the new president once he takes over. Greece is approaching the end of its bailout program and Centeno will be responsible for overseeing that exit, while handling sensitive talks over debt relief.
  • Centeno will also have the tricky job of developing a common strategy for the future reform of the eurozone’s governance.

The Guardian—Saeed Kamali Dehghan / Killing of Ali Abdullah Saleh changes dynamics of Yemen’s civil war

  • The killing of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former Yemeni president who was the most important figure in the country for four decades, marks a dramatic shift three years into a war in a state of stalemate. It risks the conflict becoming even more intractable.
  • In 2014, Saleh forged an unlikely alliance with his former enemies, the Houthis, to facilitate their takeover of Sana’a and to force then-President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi (who had replaced Saleh in 2011) to flee to Saudi Arabia.
  • Last week, Saleh moved to increase his power in Sana’a and signaled that he was swapping sides, seeking a dialogue with the Saudis. After his killing, the Houthis called for celebrations to be held in public squares.
  • “For Houthis, the definition of winning is just survival, and they’re doing a pretty good job at that; for the Saudis the definition of winning is restoring the internationally recognised government,” said Adam Baron, visiting fellow at European Council on Foreign Relations.

Project Syndicate—Mark Leonard / Europe’s crisis starts at home

  • A fundamental question about the current state of the EU must be answered: which gulfs are wider – those between member states or those within them?
  • One solution to the fact that some national governments do not want to abide by EU rules could be to create a smaller club with better benefits. But this solution could work only if the biggest problem is the divide between member states.
  • But many member states consist now of “50-50 societies”: half cosmopolitan, half communitarian. Earlier this year, a Brookings Institution report concluded that divisions between countries are far smaller than differences within countries.
  • Creating a flexible or multi-tiered Europe could solve some short-term problems, but it could also introduce new dangers. No quick institutional fix can address the underlying intra-societal challenge to the European project

Foreign Affairs—Ryan Mitchell / China’s crown theorist

  • The inclusion of Wang Huning in the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee was a striking departure from the practice of recent decades. The only previous occasion on which a theorist like Wang rose to the standing committee was at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.
  • The current situation in China is radically different from that of the 1960s, but changes in the national situation and the norms of elite politics seem to have once again brought the CCP to a historical inflection point.
  • For Wang, early Western theorists of sovereignty were able to cut through the ideological fantasies of their eras and grasp what their societies really needed: strong, unifying rulers who were loyal to the people and did not cater to feudal, foreign, or religious demands.
  • Wang argues that it was no accident that Western countries developed a distaste for state sovereignty and an interest in universalist ideas at the exact moment that they sought to consolidate control over vast colonial empires.
  • In Wang’s view, the West’s “cultural expansionism” can be countered only by a CCP capable of firmly asserting its own “cultural sovereignty,” a term that Wang adopted to refer to China’s ability to maintain its ideological autonomy and political unity against criticism from the outside world.
  • In the Standing Committee, Wang will remain subservient to the interests of the CCP. Barring any unforeseen crisis, his public work will continue to serve the party. And indeed, it is Wang’s own theories that justify his subordination.

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

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