ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 12/03/2019

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The Guardian – Daniel Boffey & Rowena Mason / May wins ‘improved’ Brexit deal but it may not be enough for MPs

  • The fresh package unveiled yesterday by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and British Prime Minister Theresa May and involves three parts that Juncker said amounted to “meaningful legal assurances”.
  • Juncker said that a new add-on to the Brexit deal, emphasizing the temporary nature of the Irish backstop, “complements the withdrawal agreement without reopening it”. The add-on reiterates that the EU cannot seek to trap Britain in the backstop by failing to negotiate a new trade deal in good faith.
  • An additional joint statement in the political declaration on the future trade deal further commits both sides to work on developing new technologies at the border to be ready for December 2020. The final part – a unilateral statement by the UK – argues that there would be nothing to stop Britain seeking to “disapply” the backstop if the EU did not act in good faith and negotiations on an alternative had broken down.
  • At a joint press conference, Juncker rallied to May’s defence. In an echo of May’s own warning to her Brexiter MPs, Juncker added: “Let us speak crystal clear about the choice: it is this deal, or Brexit might not happen at all.”
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said May’s “negotiations have failed” and he called on MPs to reject the deal. To secure backing for it, May will need to win over dozens of hardline Eurosceptics in the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist party.

Al-Monitor – Simon Speakman Cordall / Why Algerian protesters aren’t satisfied with Bouteflika’s latest ‘concession’

  • Beleaguered Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has announced that he will extend his fourth term in office while sweeping changes are made to the country’s constitution.
  • News of the extension, essentially a partial reworking of his March 3 offer of only serving a limited term while overseeing reform, has angered many Algerians, with #Leave_means_leave trending on Twitter within hours of his initial announcement.
  • Jessica Northey of Coventry University: “[Protesters] just want the government to respect the [Algerian] Constitution they spent years writing. It’s hardly surprising that they’ve lost confidence in Bouteflika. Not just because he’s so ill or that they hardly ever see him, but because the constitution keeps getting amended to keep him in power.”
  • Al-Jazeera / Algeria’s Bouteflika will not seek fifth term, delays elections

Financial Times – Constanze Stelzenmüller / A new Franco-German narrative for Europe

  • The differences between the visions of Europe set out recently by French President Emmanuel Macron and the leader of the German CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, are significant.
  • Macron wants to create new EU agencies and extend the boundaries of European regulation and solidarity on hot issues such as climate change, immigration and social policy. Moreover, he wants to combat Chinese and American competition with a new European state interventionism and protectionism.
  • Kramp-Karrenbauer’ prefers free markets to dirigisme and is wary of transferring power from national governments to EU institutions. And she rejects Macron’s appeals for a European minimum wage, “communitizing” debt and making social security systems pan-European.
  • Yet Macron and Kramp-Karrenbauer are laying out a “fourth narrative” for a united Europe. The first was about peace; the second, prosperity; and the third, democratic transformation. This fourth is about the protection of what Macron terms “civilization” and Kramp-Karrenbauer calls the “European way of life”. Hence their joint focus on Europe’s ability to act: improving its ability to innovate and compete, securing its borders, fending off predators, and creating a European security council that works with the UK.

Euractiv – Joseph Dana / Local and geopolitics intrude in Israel’s attempt to supply Europe with gas

  • More than a decade ago, natural-gas fields were discovered off Israel’s northern coast. Since then, the country has scrambled to determine how the gas will make its way to Europe, mainly. For, unlike the traditional energy politics of its neighbors, Israel has far more political issues to contend with.
  • For example, seeing its bet in Iran fall to pieces, one might suppose that the French energy conglomerate Total should want to consider changing sides and working closely with Israel. But the ever-present prospect of the boycott makes such a shift fraught with potential controversy.
  • After a pipeline connecting Israel and Turkey was discarded due to geopolitical tensions, a new EastMed pipeline project was conceived with US support. The pipeline will transport gas from Israel’s offshore fields to mainland Greece through Cyprus and Crete.
  • Russia has led its own exploration efforts in waters off the Syrian coast (and in Lebanon, in partnership with Total). Any significant discovery likely will be exported to Turkey, given its proximity to the fields and its recently upgraded relationship with Russia. Once Israeli gas begins flowing into the EU, the relationship between Israel and Russia could strain.

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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