ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 16/05/2019

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Euractiv – Beatriz Ríos / First clashes liven up last EU Spitzenkandidat debate ahead of election

  • Yesterday, Manfred Weber (European People’s Party), Frans Timmermans (Party of European Socialists), Jan Zahradil (Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists for Europe), Margrethe Vestager (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe), Nico Cué (European Left), and Ska Keller (Greens) shared their visions of Europe in their last televised debate before the EU elections.
  • Last night’s exchanges were marked by the first skirmishes over climate change and employment policies. Timmermans was the most outspoken on climate change, calling for a tax on kerosene and a CO2 tax applicable across the entire European economy, and for a progressive coalition in Europe to tackle this global challenge.
  • Timmermans, Keller, Cué and Vestager called for a European minimum wage standard. For Weber, however, the response is not a minimum wage but “good economic policy, infrastructure, research and trade together with the establishment of an even stronger single market.”
  • In an otherwise rather pro-European debate, Zahradil was the only one to struck a resolutely nationalist note, calling for a “scaled-back, flexible, decentralised” Europe that supports national policies instead of imposing new ones.

European Council on Foreign Relations – Susi Dennison & Mark Leonard / Seven days to save the European Union

  • Support for EU membership is at a record high – two-thirds of Europeans currently believe it is a good thing, the largest share since 1983 – and yet a majority also fear that the European Union might collapse. The challenge for pro-Europeans is to use this fear of loss to mobilize their silent majority.
  • Voters’ anxiety about the future manifests in a range of different areas. Firstly, this feeling of precariousness has a significant economic dimension. There is also a geopolitical dimension: Europeans are concerned about the volatile international environment, particularly the uncertainty in the EU’s relationships with the US, China, and Russia.
  • ECFR’s survey revealed that three in ten voters believe that war between EU countries is possible. It is not that they necessarily think that war will break out tomorrow, but that there is a logic of conflict in a deeply divided continent.
  • The challenge for Europeanists consists in reconnecting with disengaged voters, convincing them not only that voting is worthwhile – with the issues they care about for the future in mind – but also that mainstream parties can provide them with a safer, fairer, and more comfortable future.

South China Morning Post – Kinling Lo / What killed US-China trade talks: A tale of two texts

  • The trade talks between China and the US collapsed because Beijing removed details outlining the obligations it was required to meet as part of reaching a deal to end the trade war, according to Susan Thornton, former acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
  • Thornton said similar things had happened before in negotiations with China, as Beijing was particularly sensitive about details being made public which could affect perception of the agreement among its domestic audience. But the US “certainly wants the public to see what they have got.”
  • According to Thornton, another sticking point between the two sides related to future tariffs, with the US wanting to reserve the right to impose future penalties as a “motivation” to ensure the deal was being implemented.
  • Other Chinese officials and think tanks have said there was no backtracking from China, and instead some of the US demands had been hard to accept. The US reportedly demanded a verification mechanism be put in place over China’s promise to end forced technology transfer, which China saw as an infringement of its sovereignty.

Al-Monitor / ‘Neither talks nor war,’ Khamenei says of US-Iran tensions

  • During a meeting with the country’s top political elites, including President Hassan Rouhani and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dismissed the possibility that the US and Iran would go to war, stating that the Americans understand that any such conflict will not serve their interests.
  • However, Khamenei reasserted his earlier stance that dialogue with the current US government is not an option: “As long as the United States is what it is now … negotiating is but poison, and with this current administration that poison is twice [as lethal].”
  • On the economic front, Khamenei admitted that Iranians, particularly the poor and the middle class, were under strain due to unprecedented US sanctions. At the same time, he rejected the idea that the economy is in a state of deadlock. “The Islamic Republic is made up of a powerful metal,” he said.
  • In yet another sign that Iran is not ready for compromise, the country’s Atomic Energy Organization has now started implementing a recently announced decision about “reducing its commitments” under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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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