EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 19/11/2019

POLITICO – David M. Herszenhorn, Maïa de la Baume & Lili Bayer / Parliament poised to confirm new Commission

  • The European Parliament is poised to confirm von der Leyen and her College of Commissioners next week, allowing the EU’s new executive team, with the first-ever woman president at the helm, to take office on December 1, after a monthlong delay. That confirmation process wrapped up on Monday when the major political groups said that they accepted the written responses to additional questions demanded of Olivér Várhelyi, the Hungarian nominee to be commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement policy.
  • The Parliament must still collectively confirm von der Leyen and her entire College in a vote currently expected during a plenary session next Wednesday in Strasbourg. In addition, EU lawyers are expected  to issue a legal basis, and perhaps recommend further action, to allow the new Commission to take office without a British commissioner, given Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s intention to pull his country out of the EU before the new Brexit deadline of January 31.
  • In the end, presuming things go forward as expected, the monthlong delay seems unlikely to amount to much of a setback for the new Commission. However, despite von der Leyen’s efforts to build a gender-equal College, the breakdown now stands to be 15 men and 12 women, including von der Leyen herself.

The New York Times – Isabel Kershner / Are West Bank settlements illegal? Who decides?

  • The Trump administration’s declaration on Monday that Israeli settlements on the West Bank are “not inconsistent with international law” has reversed American policy on the settlements and has contradicted the view of most countries in the world. However, the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice have all said that Israeli settlements on the West Bank violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.
  • Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war and has occupied the territory ever since. The Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by 192 states in the aftermath of World War II, says that an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
  • Under the Oslo Accords, signed by Israel and Palestine in the 1990s, both sides agreed that the status of the Israeli settlements would be resolved by negotiation. However, negotiations have stalled and there have been no active peace talks since 2014.
  • Foreign Policy – Colum Lynch & Robbie Gramer / Trump crushes Palestinian hopes again

The Guardian – Jonathan Watts / Amazon deforestation ‘at highest level in a decade’

  • Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has hit the highest annual level in a decade, according to new government data which highlights the impact that president Jair Bolsonaro has made on the world’s biggest rainforest. These new numbers portray that almost 10,000 sq km were lost in the year to August.  
  • The annual numbers are compiled with information from the Prodes satellite system, which is considered the most conservative measurement of deforestation. Although less steep than the rise suggested by monthly alerts from the Deter system, it confirms an upward trend that Bolsonaro and his ministers said was a “lie”.
  • The monitoring NGO, the Climate Observatory, said that the rise was the third highest in history (after 1995 and 1998), and was likely to continue. “Proposals like legalising land-grabbing, mining and farming on indigenous lands, as well as reducing the licensing requirements for new infrastructure will show that the coming years will be even worse,” Carlos Rittl, its executive secretary, said.

Financial Times – Simein Kerr, Arash Massoudi & Anjli Raval / How Riyadh’s Saudi Aramco ambitions were thwarted

  • Some of the world’s top investment bankers gathered at a Riyadh palace on Saturday to deliver their final recommendations on the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco. Their message would disappoint the hosts: international investors were unwilling to buy shares in Saudi Aramco anywhere near the $2tn valuation long sought by the kingdom’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
  • The bankers who assembled in the Saudi capital presented the group with what they thought was a moderate proposal to get a deal done and help keep Prince Mohammed’s credibility intact while ensuring his ambitious economic reforms stayed on track.
  • Despite years of jumping through hurdles to win business from Prince Mohammed, the sovereign Public Investment Fund and Saudi Aramco, advisers only found out the decision on Sunday morning. It was then that Saudi Aramco announced its 1.5 per cent sale at a price that would value its shares at $1.6tn-$1.7tn and raise only as much as $25.6bn.

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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