ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 13/03/2019

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The Guardian – Peter Walker / What happens now that May’s Brexit deal has been defeated again?

  • Theresa May’s second attempt to pass her Brexit deal has again been badly defeated. The next steps will be motions on successive days to see first if MPs want to rule out a no-deal departure (for now) and then, if they do, whether they wish to extend article 50 and delay the Brexit process.
  • May’s spokesman refused to rule out putting the deal to Parliament once more, reiterating the PM’s belief that departure with a deal is the better option, and that hers is the best deal on offer.
  • While pushing for a second referendum is still among the Labour party’s official demands, in responding to May’s defeat, Jeremy Corbyn spoke mainly about again pushing Labour’s Brexit plan – which involves membership of a customs union, or the idea of a general election.
  • An election could still happen, but that would involve extending article 50 for longer than the government wants. May wants to avoid a situation in which the UK would need to participate in the upcoming European elections, taking place in 10 weeks’ time.

Politico – Hans Von Der Burchard / EU slams China as ‘systemic rival’ as trade tension rises

  • In a communication mapping out 10 proposals for dealing with Beijing, the European Commission labeled China as a “systemic rival” for the first time. In a sign of Berlin’s influence in the strategy, Germany’s main business lobby has also recently started describing Beijing as a “systemic competitor.”
  • Many Southern European nations argue Germany is hypocritical to complain about the scale of Chinese investment when it was Berlin that pushed hard for the sale of some of their prime assets during the financial crisis.
  • The European Commission also slapped down countries such as Italy for aligning too closely with China’s landmark One Belt, One Road program. Recently, Italy became the first G7 country to support the Chinese initiative.
  • The Commission called on China to deliver on World Trade Organization reforms, “in particular on subsidies and forced technology transfers,” and wants to conclude an agreement on protections for investors by 2020.
  • The paper also said that Europe needs to do more concerning the security discussion around Huawei and the future of telecoms.

Foreign Affairs – M. E. Sarotte / The convincing call from central Europe: let us into NATO

  • Twenty years ago yesterday, the first major post–Cold War expansion of NATO took place, when the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary joined the alliance.
  • In a US-Soviet summit in 1990, President Bush skillfully cited the so-called Helsinki principle—the idea that countries had a right to choose their own security alliances, as stated in the Helsinki Final Act, which Moscow had signed. Gorbachev conceded the point.
  • Still, Central and Eastern European countries had to overcome Western hesitations. After hearing the relentless appeals from the leaders of those countries, President Clinton finally signaled his support for NATO expansion by giving a major speech in a heavily Polish suburb of Detroit in late 1996.
  • Today, we speak of NATO expansion almost exclusively in the context of US-Russia tensions. But that history should not obscure the one that belongs to central and eastern Europeans, whose own actions in the decade after the fall of Wall in 1989 had much to do with their countries’ accession to the alliance in 1999.

Foreign Policy – Dimitar Bechev / Russia’s pipe dreams are Europe’s nightmare

  • Despite chilly relations, in 2018, gas shipments from Russia to Europe and Turkey hit an all-time high. Now Russia may be using another major project—TurkStream—to deepen its influence in Europe’s backyard. The pipeline is expected to become operational at the end of this year.
  • The pipeline will strengthen Russia’s strategic partnership with Turkey at a time when Ankara’s ties to long-standing allies on both sides of the Atlantic are fraying. TurkStream may also strengthen Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hand in the Balkans.
  • The EU is fighting back hard. Because TurkStream will terminate in the EU, Gazprom needs to comply with European anti-monopoly rules. One such rule—that energy companies can’t simultaneously own transit infrastructure and sell gas through it—presents a particular challenge for Moscow.
  • The EU may be willing to allow Berlin to break the anti-monopoly rules for Nord Stream 2—Russia will own those pipelines and the gas in them, but Berlin has argued that the project would be private—but it appears ready to be much more stringent in enforcing its law in the Balkans.

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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