- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Socialist Party have made no secret of their ambition for the country to take a central role on the EU stage, replacing the U.K. and Italy as the swing vote between Germany and France.
- Madrid’s assets are evident. The Spanish economy has stabilized. Politically, Spain is the largest country with a pro-EU government, after Germany and France. Sánchez also controls the largest delegation in the Socialist group in the European Parliament, and he is one of six leaders charged with negotiating how to fill the EU’s top positions.
- Some obstacles exist for Pedro Sáchez nonetheless. In Brussels, some of the biggest Spain-focused headlines were about how two recently elected Catalan secessionists, including the region’s leader-in-exile Carles Puigdemont, were blocked initially from entering the Parliament building and denied temporary credentials. Moreover, Sánchez is having problems to form a coalition in Spain, since Ciudadanos party has vowed not to work with him and favors partnership with the conservative Popular Party.
- Spain’s muscle in Brussels comes from its strength across the three main, pro-EU political groups — the Socialists, Liberals and conservatives — that are expected to form the core of a majority coalition in the European Parliament. Spain has the largest socialist delegation, Germany the biggest conservative bloc and France the largest liberal representation. Spain also has more conservatives than France and more liberals than Germany, making it a force in those groups as well.
The Washington Post – Alkhatab Alrawhani /Yemen’s peace process is almost dead. Here’s how to revive it
- Nearly six months since the so-called Stockholm agreement was signed by Yemen’s warring parties in an effort to prevent a deepening humanitarian crisis, any semblance of progress is almost dead. Mediators from the United Nations ignored the imbalance of power between the warring parties. The government of Yemen was subjected to regional and international pressure, while the Houthis were positioned on equal footing with the legitimate government, giving them a victory simply for showing up.
- As a result of this recognition, the Houthis have no incentive to implement the agreement and, having learned from their experience with the international community during the years of war, do not fear the repercussions for violating it.
- For any stability, future peace efforts must begin at home, rebuilding the legitimate government. This, of course, will not happen unless genuine pressure is exerted on the Saudi-led coalition, to cease their financing and arming of non-state militias, many of which are directly at odds with the legitimate government they ostensibly support.
- The failure of the Stockholm agreement to hold the parties to any sort of accountability should be a lesson. If the international community fails to strengthen the state’s institutions and help the Yemeni government to regain its sovereignty, the underlying reasons for the conflict will remain — and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis will likely continue without respite.
Foreign Policy – Milia Hau /Britain failed Hong Kong
- Hong Kong is awash with protest—and facing a dangerously uncertain future, as Beijing looks to extend mainland law’s grip on the territory. The region, once a rare shelter for dissenting voices in China, is seeing protections for freedom of speech stripped away one by one. That leaves Britain, once Hong Kong’s colonial master, with a particular obligation to the Hong Kongers it has let down in the past.
- The legal obligations come because the United Kingdom is one of the two signatories of the Joint Declaration, an international agreement registered at the United Nations, which promises the ways of life in Hong Kong—including the freedom of expression, guarantee of human rights, and rule of law—would be unchanged for 50 years, until 2047, under the principle of “one country, two systems.”
- The moral obligations, because Britain handed over the whole of Hong Kong: not only the New Territories that were leased from the Qing empire for 99 years, but also Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula, which were permanent British territories. Along with them came all the people, subjects of the Queen who called Hong Kong their home. Some of these people were refugees who risked their lives to escape Communist rule in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
- Hong Kong is not a democracy. It is led by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who, like her predecessors, was prescreened by a nominating committee before being elected by a 1,200-member electoral college of the city’s political elite, then appointed by Central People’s Government.
The New York Times – Julianne Smith /If Trump wants to take on China, he needs allies
- With the prospect of a trade deal between China and the United States all but dead, the Trump administration is no doubt weighing its next steps in its quest to rein in Beijing’s rise. President Trump should try something he hasn’t yet: call Europe.
- Just five years ago, that suggestion would have raised eyebrows, especially for Germany. Over the last few years, however, Germany and other European countries, have experienced a strategic awakening, becoming much more vocal about China’s predatory trade practices.
- This should make the countries of Europe well placed to work with Washington to confront China over trade, its destabilizing policies in Asia, and the authoritarian political model it is promoting around the world. Instead, Europe and the United States are consumed by cyclical arguments over military spending, trans-Atlantic trade imbalances and the Iran nuclear deal. The best way for the United States and Europe to compete with China would be to resolve their own bilateral trade disputes.
- Working with Europe will not be easy, and the two will never be in perfect lock step on China, especially when it comes to security issues. Europe doesn’t have anything resembling America’s forces in Asia nor does it share America’s security commitments. Even inside Europe, there will continue to be different approaches to China. Nonetheless, the smartest thing for Europe and the United States to do would be to find areas where they can come together
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.