ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 01/02/2018

Politico – David M. Herszenhorn & Maïa de la Baume / Commission’s Spitzenkandidat process at risk

  • The Spitzenkandidat process awards the European Commission presidency to the party winning the most seats in Parliament. Critics say it is an opaque process that forces the European Council and the Parliament to accept the winner of a process driven by party insiders.
  • A majority of the European Council have voiced opposition to the process. But supporters — including the EU’s three largest parties — say the EU’s credibility depends on maintaining it.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron has made an impassioned case for “truly European elections” and pushed hard for a new process by which MEPs are elected on transnational lists. But he does not back the Spitzenkandidat process, which virtually guarantees a victory for a big, traditional party, according to officials close to him.
  • The fight between proponents and opponents of the Spitzenkandidat process will be one of the main agenda items at a summit of EU leaders next month.

Project Syndicate – Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent Reinhart / Are oil prices heading for another spike?

  • The price at the pump for premium gasoline topped $3 per gallon in much of the United States over the past few weeks. From its local low two years ago, the price of oil has more than doubled.
  • If the depreciation of the dollar continues, could the result be a spike in energy costs? Our tentative answer is no.
  • Saudi Arabia dearly wants a stable, balanced market for petroleum in advance of the sale of a 5% stake in Saudi Aramco. For a healthy market consistent with longer-run capital investment, an oil price that is too high can be as challenging as one that is too low.
  • Furthermore, the US is on track to pump more oil this year than at any time in its history.
  • On balance, it is likely that the economy-wide effects of the energy shock, though unpleasant, will not derail growth.

The New York Times – Nick Cumming-Bruce / U.N. examines 206 companies over links to Israeli settlements

  • The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights disclosed that it is examining more than 200 companies doing business with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, although none of them were named.
  • Of the companies identified, 143 are based in Israel and 22 in the United States. The remaining 41 companies are spread among 19 countries, mostly in Europe.
  • The report drew condemnation from the Trump administration and Israeli diplomats, who cited it as proof of the Human Rights Council’s institutional bias.
  • The report is to be taken up at the next session of the Human Rights Council in March, when members will have an opportunity to recommend additional funding for the effort.

Foreign Affairs – Catherine Collins & Douglas Frantz / The long shadow of A.Q. Khan

  • In 2004, the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer (A.Q.) Khan, then famous for his role in developing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, confessed on live television to having illegally proliferated nuclear weapons technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea over the course of decades. In 2008, Khan retracted his confession, though he has boasted about helping Iran and North Korea at other points.
  • The US and other countries had many opportunities to stop Khan. Now, three of the US’ most significant national security challenges are largely the results of Khan’s handiwork.
  • Khan was never forced to identify the participants in his black market. Policymakers and intelligence agencies simply do not know the full extent of his ring, which means they can never close the file on the dangers.
  • The United States did not pressure the Pakistanis to make Khan reveal his secrets. In an echo of Carter’s decision to turn a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear efforts, President George W. Bush did not want to risk his already tenuous relationship with Islamabad with a war raging next door in Afghanistan.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may contain word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

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