ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 31/10/2018

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The New York Times – Jack Ewing / Eurozone growth slips to four-year low, fueling crisis fears

  • Economic growth in the Eurozone has fallen to its slowest pace in more than four years. According to Eurostat, the Eurozone grew 0.2 percent from July through September compared with the previous quarter. The rate of growth has fallen each of the last three quarters.
  • Separately, Italy’s government statistics office said growth during the third quarter was zero, as manufacturing slumped. Italy’s stagnation is likely to heighten the dispute with Brussels. One of the European Commission’s criticisms of the Italian budget is that it was based on overly optimistic estimates of future economic growth, which now look even less realistic.
  • The one somewhat bright spot in the numbers Tuesday was France, which registered growth of 0.4 percent from the previous quarter. But even that above-average result was not enough to achieve the 1.7 percent pace of expansion that economists say President Macron needs to validate his program of business-friendly reforms.
  • The disappointing growth in the Eurozone as a whole was partly caused by factors (such as a slowdown in the car industry) that aren’t likely to last, leaving room for hope that growth will pick up toward the end of the year.

Euractiv –Yuri Kofner / Brussels’ approach to Greater Eurasia in need of revision

  • In September 2018, the European External Action Service (EEAS) presented a strategy concept on the EU’s stance towards growing integration and connectivity in the wider Eurasian space. The policy paper is called “Joint Communication: Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU Strategy”.
  • Now the EU finally has a common guideline, at least on paper, on how to deal with the emerging nexus of transport corridors and economic integration projects in Greater Eurasia. This guideline is based on three principles of cooperation: comprehensiveness, sustainability, and common rules and standards.
  • However, the paper is quite vague in matters of exact regions, projects and agendas. While talking about connectivity in the wider Eurasian space, two of its most important players – the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Chinese “Belt and Road” Initiative – are never mentioned once in it.
  • This obvious omission contradicts the overall call for cooperation and evokes the thought that the EU is projecting its own agenda against that of the EAEU and China. Brussels needs to show respect to other Eurasian initiatives and let go of its zero-sum game mentality.

The Guardian – Julian Borger & Patrick Wintour / Yemen war: US unveils blueprint for ceasefire and peace talks

  • The Trump administration has given details of a UN-brokered peace plan aimed at ending the war in Yemen, beginning with a ceasefire within 30 days and talks to be held in Sweden.
  • “The time is now for the cessation of hostilities, including missile and UAV strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Subsequently, Coalition air strikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
  • The former head of US disaster relief assistance, Jeremy Konyndyk, suggested the administration was beginning to panic about what could happen in Yemen and about the growing congressional opposition to US backing for the Saudi coalition, especially after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
  • US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis did not say what action the US administration would take if the warring parties did not agree a ceasefire or attend the talks. The US, along with the UK and France, supplies most of the Saudi coalition’s weaponry, but has so far refused to curb the flow of arms.

Financial Times – Leslie Hook, David Sheppard & Myles McCormick / New Asian coal plants knock climate goals off course

  • A fleet of new coal plants in Asia threatening to derail global emissions targets has exposed the growing “disconnect” between energy markets and climate goals.
  • Asia has 2,000GW of coal-fired power plants that are operating or under construction — more than 10 times as much as the EU — and many of them are inefficient plants. Asia’s coal plants are just 11-years-old on average and most still have decades left to operate.
  • Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency: “How we are going to deal with this problem is for me the nerve center of the climate change debate today.”
  • Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions ticked up 1.4 per cent last year, following several years of staying flat, and are set to rise again in 2018 owing to greater demand for fossil fuels. Asia accounted for two-thirds of the growth in emissions last year.

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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