ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 03/07/2019

Euractiv – Claire Stam, Gerardo Fortuna, Jorge Valero & Sam Morgan / EU leaders agree on top job picks but trouble already looms

  • The European Council finally agreed to rally behind German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen as their pick for the Commission presidency. But the deal sets up a potentially ugly encounter with the European Parliament, which might not approve her appointment.
  • The Greens already rejected the Council deal while the Socialists, who called it “unacceptable”, and the Left might follow suit. Some MEPs are angry that the Council has chosen a candidate who did not feature at all in the European election campaigns.
  • Leaders also agreed on their picks for Council president, European Central Bank chief and EU High-Representative, which will go, respectively, to Belgium’s Charles Michel, France’s Christine Lagarde and Spain’s Josep Borrell. Michel’s election is final, while Lagarde and Borrell are also provisional.
  • According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, all four names were endorsed by unanimous vote, her own abstention notwithstanding. Germany’s abstention was reportedly due to a revolt in the ruling coalition, as Merkel’s socialist partners refused to endorse von der Leyen’s candidacy.
  • Financial Times – Guy Chazan / Ursula von der Leyen’s elevation baffles her German critics
  • Financial Times – Ben Hall / ECB cashes in on Lagarde’s alliance-building skills

Politico – Paul Dallison / 4 names put forward for Parliament president

  • Four MEPs have been nominated as candidates to become president of the European Parliament. They are: Ska Keller (Germany, Greens), Sira Rego (Spain, GUE/NGL), David-Maria Sassoli (Italy, S&D) and Jan Zahradil (Czech Republic, ECR).
  • Missing from the list put around by the Parliament on Tuesday evening was Sergei Stanishev, a Bulgarian who heads the Party of European Socialists. EU leaders had made clear that he was their preference for the Parliament presidency, despite no indication that he would have sufficient support.
  • Voting starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Parliament in Strasbourg. To win, a candidate must get an absolute majority of the valid votes cast — 50 percent plus one.
  • Politico – Eddy Wax, Arthur Neslen & Laura Kayali / Parliament groups vow to stop far-right MEPs chairing committees

Foreign Affairs – Ivan Briscoe / Power and paranoia in Caracas

  • Foreign powers invested in Venezuela have dialed back their hostile rhetoric and begun to explore a détente between the Venezuelan government and its opposition. However, powerful pro-Maduro and pro-Guaidó constituencies remain convinced that their cause will triumph in the end.
  • Polls show that more than 50 percent of the population supports a political agreement between the government and the opposition. Maduro, having survived this year’s onslaught of diplomatic, economic, and political pressure, should in principle be in a position to hammer out a satisfactory peace deal.
  • But, in practice, such a deal is unlikely in the short term. Guaidó’s April revolt extended the influence of the government’s most notorious hard-liner, Diosdado Cabello. Maduro seems to fear offering concessions that could displease his hard-line allies, on whom his power increasingly depends.
  • As Maduro’s position has hardened, so, too, has Guaidó’s. The uprising has elevated the more radical members of the opposition, among them Leopoldo López. Uncompromising views have been reinforced by senior US officials such as National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Project Syndicate – Joseph E. Stiglitz / Thumbs down to Facebook’s cryptocurrency

  • Facebook has decided that the world needs another cryptocurrency. But, in fact, the last thing we need is a new vehicle for nurturing illicit activities and laundering the proceeds, which another cryptocurrency will almost certainly turn out to be.
  • The real problem with our existing currencies and financial arrangements, which serve as a means of payment as well as a store of value, is the lack of competition among and regulation of the companies that control transactions. This leads to excessive credit card fees.
  • Even if the US decides to have a non-competitive second-rate financial system, Europe and the rest of the world should say no: it is not anti-American to be pro-competition, as Trump seems to have recently suggested in his criticism of European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager.
  • Time and again, Facebook’s leaders, faced with a choice between money and honoring their promises, have grabbed the money. And nothing could be more about money than creating a new currency. Only a fool would trust Facebook with his or her financial wellbeing.

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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