EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 09/01/2020

EURACTIV – Samuel Stolton / No complete agreement before end of 2020, von der Leyen tells UK

  • The UK and the EU will not be able to agree on “every single aspect” of their future relationship before the end of the year, and will either have to focus on priority areas or agree to an extension period, according to Ursula von der Leyen. She stated that a further extension to the transition period that ends on 31 December would be required should a comprehensive agreement on the future partnership between the UK and the EU be in the offing.
  • If Boris Johnson sticks to the current end-of-year deadline for the transition period, negotiations on the future partnership would have to focus on “prioritised” areas, where there are no international agreements to fall back on. However, according to von der Leyen, negotiations for the prioritised areas would take “nine to ten months at most.”
  • One particular area in which the Commission president highlighted the necessity for continued cooperation was in the field of security. “We must build a new, comprehensive security partnership to fight cross-border threats, ranging from terrorism to cyber-security to counter-intelligence,” she said, adding that it would be at the behest of the UK as to the level of cooperation that it would seek with the European Defence Agency.
  • The Guardian – Lisa O’Carroll / Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen have ‘positive’ meeting

Financial Times – David Sheppard / Five reasons oil prices failed to soar on US-Iran tensions

  • Oil prices jumped 5 per cent after Iran launched strikes against US military bases in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of commander Qassem Soleimani. However, by Wednesday afternoon, gains in crude had reversed, with prices trading lower than before the Iranian general’s assassination. Why have oil prices failed to rally despite the tensions in the Middle East? There are several explanations.
  • Firstly, many traders are expecting the crisis to de-escalate. Boby McNally, a former adviser to the White House stated that it appeared Iran’s missile strikes had been “deliberately planned to avoid killing US soldiers”. Moreover, oil tanker groups are taking a wait-and-see approach. Frontline, the world’s largest oil tanker operator, said that while it was “monitoring the situation closely” it had not “suspended trading in the area”.
  • Also, if the crisis escalates, Opec and its allies can increase the supply to the oil market. If oil prices rose too high, Donald Trump would be expected to pressure allies within the cartel, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to boost production to help calm the market. However, oil prices are already high, and oil has already risen strongly in the fourth quarter of last year. Finally, in the back of every oil trader’s mind is the simple calculation that higher prices equals higher supplies.
  • Foreign Affairs – Maysam Behravesh / Soleimani was more valuable in politics than in war
  • Foreign Policy – Reid Standish & Amy Mackinnon / Putin moves to heighten Russia’s role after Suleimani killing

EURACTIV – Reuters / ‘Shot across the bow’: US steps up pressure on UK ahead of Huawei decision

  • The USA is making a final pitch to Britain ahead of a UK decision on whether to upgrade its telecoms network with Huawei equipment, amid threats to cut intelligence-sharing ties. Britain is expected to make a final call on how to deploy Huawei equipment in its future 5G networks later this month, weighing US-led allegations that the equipment could be used for Chinese state spying against Britain’s relationship with Beijing and industry warnings that banning the firm outright would cost billions of dollars.
  • Huawei, the world’s largest maker of mobile networking equipment, has repeatedly denied the allegations. A company spokesman said UK lawmakers had confirmed Huawei equipment would not be deployed in networks used for intelligence sharing. “Our 5G equipment does not pose a threat to information security,” he said. “We are confident the UK government will take an evidence-based approach when making its decision about Huawei’s inclusion in the 5G network.”
  • A provision of the US 2020 defence spending law directs intelligence agencies to consider the use of telecoms and cybersecurity infrastructure “provided by adversaries of the United States, particularly China and Russia,” when entering intelligence-sharing agreements with foreign countries. The provision, added by Senator Tom Cotton, was aimed in particular at members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance and was intended as “a first shot across the bow,” said a person familiar with the matter.
  • South China Morning Post – Reuters / US lawmaker seeks ban on sharing intelligence with countries that use Huawei’s 5G networks

The Guardian – Jon Henley / Irregular migration to EU at lowest level since 2013 – border agency

  • Irregular migration into the EU has fallen to its lowest annual level for the first time since 2013, according to Frontex.  However, there was a significant increase in the number of arrivals to Greece. The agency stated that, according to preliminary figures for 2019, irregular crossings detected on the bloc’s external borders fell by 6% to just over 139,000 – about 92% down on the record number set during the 2015 European migration crisis.
  • This decline is the result of significant falls in the numbers of people reaching European shores via the central and western Mediterranean routes, the agency said, while the eastern Mediterranean route saw a corresponding increase.
  • Overall, Afghan nationals accounted for almost a quarter of all irregular arrivals in 2019, Frontex said, almost three times as many as in the previous year. There were also more women and children than in recent years.

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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