ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 11/07/2019

The New York Times – Jason Horowitz / Audio suggests secret plan for Russians to fund party of Italy’s Salvini

  • A close aide to Matteo Salvini, Italy’s most powerful politician and the emerging leader of Europe’s nationalists, sat for more than an hour with a couple of Italian colleagues and some Russian officials.
  • In February, a report was published alleging that the meeting tried to achieve a complicated plan to secretly finance Mr. Salvini’s hard-right League party with Russian money. On Wednesday, BuzzFeed News published an audio that seemed to confirm the Italian report’s version of the meeting.
  • The recording was the second to come to light in just months that appeared to reveal how Mr. Putin has actively sought to destabilize the European Union by boosting nationalist, populist parties.
  • For now, Mr. Salvini appears immune to political injury, but it raised questions on Russian willingness to disturb the European Union.

Foreign Policy – Hilton Yip / Xi Jinping is Tsai Ing-wen’s best poster boy

  • Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen quietly achieved an important victory at home. Having trailed in the previous months, Tsai was in danger of being the first incumbent Taiwanese president since 2000 to suffer an embarrassing party primary loss. Instead of losing, Tsai won by 8.2% over a party challenger to represent the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) again in Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election.
  • Fear of mainland China and Tsai’s own underrated successes may yet ensure her reelection, but the prospects are tougher. During the election, she would have to face a populist figure or Taiwan’s richest person.
  • In the President’s primary, Tsai certainly got a boost from Hong Kong’s massive million-person rally and street protests on June 9 and 12 against a much-dreaded extradition bill, which would allow anybody arrested in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China if it passes.
  • The more ordinary things Tsai has done or said may not attract headlines or win her popularity, but they are vital for Taiwan’s future. She has also overseen the reform of cushy public sector pensions that brought on protests from indignant military veterans and retired civil servants, and she has overseen the passing of Asia’s first same-sex marriage law.

Euractiv – Karl Mathiesen / EU Commission nominee backs 50% carbon cut by 2030, fails to win Greens’ support

  • The nominee for the EU’s top political job said she supported raising climate targets, making aviation and maritime polluters pay and introducing a carbon border tax to make Europe the first climate neutral continent.
  • Moreover, she emphasized that “I want us, as the European Union, to be the first continent that is climate neutral,” the potential next European Commission president told the liberal Renew Europe bloc.
  • An increase to the EU’s 2030 target, which underpins its pledge to the Paris Agreement, has been backed by the outgoing climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and the European Parliament. The target proposed by the last parliament was 55%.
  • She will meet resistance from the Greens, who have made their support for von der Leyen contingent on a strong climate policy package. Moreover, she will have to surpass skepticism from the S&D and Renew Europe groupings.

Al Monitor – AFP / Trump warns Iran sanctions will ‘soon be increased substantially’

  • President Donald Trump warned Wednesday that sanctions against Iran would soon be “increased substantially” after Tehran said it had exceeded a limit on enriched uranium reserves under a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by Washington.
  • The deal promised sanctions relief, economic benefits and an end to international isolation in return for stringent curbs on the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.
  • But Tehran says it has lost patience with perceived inaction by European countries more than a year after Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement, reimposing stinging sanctions.
  • As tensions rose, the United States dispatched a naval carrier, bombers and extra troops to the region to counter perceived threats from Iran. Trump said last month he had called off a retaliatory military strike against Iran at the last minute after the Islamic republic shot down a US drone that it said had crossed into its airspace, a claim denied by Washington.

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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