Bloomberg – Esfandyar Batmanghelidj / Europe protects itself from Trump’s caprice
- France, Germany, and the UK are ready to launch the much-anticipated Special Purpose Vechicle (SPV), a first-of-its-kind state-owned trade intermediary. It will initially facilitate trade in “essential goods”— mostly European exports of food and medicine to Iran.
- These, although not sanctioned by the US, have been restricted by the reluctance of European banks to facilitate payments for fear of American retribution. Iran is hoping European companies will eventually be able to use the SPV for a wider range of goods and services, but they may not take such risks.
- The SPV, called INSTEX, or Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, is the first new institution established as part of this European push to increase its economic sovereignty. It is registered in France with a German managing director, and will take some months to become operational.
- Sigal Mandelker, the US Treasury’s top sanctions official, has said she isn’t worried “at all” that European companies will be able to sidestep sanctions through INSTEX.
- Atlantic Council – Brian O’Toole / Facing reality: Europe’s Special Purpose Vehicle will not challenge US sanctions
Foreign Affairs – Oliver Stuenkel / How South America ceded the field in Venezuela
- South America no longer plays any significant role in the Venezuelan crisis. The armed forces will be the decisive domestic player, while the only external actors that really matter are – in order – the US and China and, to a lesser extent, Russia and Cuba.
- For Brazil, in particular, its impotence symbolizes the dramatic failure of the foreign policy it has pursued for decades. Recent domestic political and economic crises have further reduced the country’s influence in Venezuela.
- Colombia may consent to host US troops, but no countries in the region are willing to countenance direct interference. The Brazilian military will not agree to putting their troops on the ground in Venezuela, which even pro-US governments in the region would see as a dangerous precedent.
- There are four useful actions that South American governments can take to help. First, they can better coordinate the response to the Venezuelan migration crisis. Second, they can help coordinate the delivery of medical and humanitarian aid. Third, they should offer amnesty and asylum to leading figures in the Maduro government. And fourth, they should use the collapse of the Maduro regime as an opportunity to deepen cooperation among their armed forces.
Project Syndicate – Jean Pisani-Ferry / The EU needs a Brexit endgame
- Throughout the Brexit negotiations, the contrast between the UK’s amateurish muddling and the EU’s show of clarity and consistency could not have been sharper. Still, the EU has demonstrated a remarkable lack of strategic perspective, focusing wholly on rules and processes instead of results.
- The EU has done very little to engage with British civil society, political constituencies, and businesses, or to foster a productive conversation about the future.
- If the EU refuses to reopen negotiations, the UK will have to choose between a no-deal Brexit and accepting the deal it rejected a few weeks ago. The EU’s second option is to remain firm on substance, but to accept an extension of the March 29 deadline if the UK holds another referendum.
- The EU’s third option is to express openness to a marginally amended deal or accept a short deadline extension for talks about the future, if there is a bipartisan appetite for it. This seems like the best way forward.
Financial Times – Julian King / The EU needs its own security strategy to confront the digital threat
- The EU stands seeks to protect and promote its interests by shaping international rules and standards. But the bloc’s ability to go on doing this risks being undermined by the evolution of the global digital critical infrastructure and technologies: 5G networks, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
- At present, non-European providers are set to dominate 5G: European companies have about 30 per cent of the market — but they are more expensive. Meanwhile, more than 90 per cent of European IT devices are made in Asia, notably China. US and Chinese investment in AI also dwarfs that in Europe.
- In Europe, it is time to discuss whether we want to continue to see our own cutting edge technologies sold off one after another. We also must consider whether it makes sense for individual countries to let out their 5G spectrum with little information or co-ordination on what others are doing — this risks allowing one dominant supplier to emerge across the continent. Co-ordination would also allow our collective investment in AI and other vital technologies such as quantum computing and cryptography to be more than the sum of its parts.
- These issues are inherently geopolitical, so the solutions need to reflect Europe’s particular perspective — based around keeping markets open and trade fair. Security concerns are not an excuse for arbitrary protectionism. But, equally, they cannot be ignored.
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.