ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 21/05/2019

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Politico – Paul Taylor / Austria is no model for the EU

  • With the exception — until last weekend — of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, center-right politicians who have cuddled up to the Matteo Salvinis of this world have ended up as the big losers. They supped with the devil but forgot the long spoon.
  • There are lots of reasons why an Austrian coalition was never going to happen in Brussels. The main one is that it would tear the center-right European People’s Party apart, losing them more votes in the center than they could possibly claw back on the right.
  • Moreover, Euroskeptics are likely to be their own worst enemy. They are scattered among three groups in the outgoing Parliament due to profound differences of ideology, as well as ego. Among the many issues that divide the Euroskeptics are attitudes to Russia and economic policy.
  • Some media fall for the myth of a united nationalist front because a populist invasion is a sexier story than the much more likely reality of a slightly modified centrist balance after the May 23-26 European Parliament vote, which will still leave the Euroskeptics splintered and shouting impotently.

Financial Times – Martin Sandbu / Draghi’s legacy is consensus on ECB’s unconventional ways

  • Once the election results for the European Parliament are in next week, heads of states will attempt to solve the jigsaw puzzle of appointing new leaders to EU institutions — and this time, it includes the European Central Bank’s top job.
  • The legacy of incumbent President Mario Draghi is strong consensus on how the ECB works. In the words of one central banker, “it has transformed itself from the Bundesbank into the Federal Reserve” — with the blessing of even the actual Bundesbank.
  • The flip side of Draghi’s broad approval is widespread skepticism throughout the bloc of Jens Weidmann, the conservative Bundesbank chief. Weidmann’s chances to replace Draghi may rise if Manfred Weber, the European People Party’s German candidate to lead the commission, misses out.
  • A question for EU leaders is whether the greatest risk is a repeat crisis, or rather an uninspired economic trudge leaving many citizens tempted by anti-European politicians. How to avoid the latter is where the clearest differences emerge between the top five candidates.

Politico – Hans Von Der Burchard / Turkey shows Britain that a customs union can hurt

  • 23 years after it came into force, the EU’s customs union with Turkey is under strain. Last year, Turkey started imposing protective tariffs on a number of imports from the EU. The EU-Turkey customs union has no effective dispute settlement mechanism where Brussels could address the issue.
  • Ankara’s dissatisfaction stems from the fact that, as Brussels inks new trade accords, goods from those partner countries can enter the EU at reduced or zero tariff rates and then flow on for free into Turkey via the customs union. Turkish companies, however, do not benefit from reciprocal tariff cuts.
  • Although Turkey is trying to replicate the EU agreements to also gain market access to partner countries, many states lack incentives for striking a deal with Ankara as their exports already have duty-free access to Turkey.
  • Turkey’s hope is that by participating in ongoing EU trade negotiations as observers, Ankara could better exert pressure on partner countries to also negotiate a separate agreement with Turkey. Brussels, however, has repeatedly rejected such demands.
  • Ankara believes that Brexit could shift the balance: the prospect of the UK also joining a customs union with the EU is “seen as an opportunity,” said Carnegie Europe’s Sinan Ülgen.

Foreign Policy – Stephen M. Walt / Be afraid of the world, be very afraid

  • Developing an effective global response to atmospheric warming is the single most vexing political test humankind has ever faced. And so far, we’re flunking it, and placing whole societies in risk.
  • As for Israel and Palestine, it is not yet clear what sort of rabbit US presidential advisor Jared Kushner intends to pull out of his hat, but it won’t be a serious path to two-state solution. The Trump administration has abandoned even the pretense of evenhandedness on the issue.
  • It’s hard to be upbeat about the EU’s long-term prospects. To be sure, the EU has thus far proved more resilient than some observers expected, but that doesn’t mean it will thrive. It just means it may limp along for decades without collapsing entirely.
  • US pressure won’t topple the Iranian regime, strengthen moderate voices in Iran, or resolve any differences Washington has with Tehran. Instead, it is more likely to encourage Iran to resume nuclear development and eventually restart a nuclear weapons program. War with Iran remains a possibility.
  • China is seeking to push the US out of Asia. Not by fighting a war, but by convincing other Asian powers that the US is too weak, distracted, capricious, unreliable, and incompetent to count on. And thus far, President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo are helping them make their case.

Foreign Policy – Michael Hirsh / An icon of the left tells democrats: don’t go socialist

  • Interview – The economist Joseph Stiglitz still mistrusts markets. But he’s worried “democratic socialism” will cost the Dems the 2020 election.

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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