EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 18/05/2020

The Economist / The European Union is having a bad crisis

  • The journey towards integration since the Schuman Declaration has been bumpy, but it has had a sense of direction. National leaders came and went, the Berlin Wall rose and fell, economic hurricanes struck and blew themselves out. Somehow, the EU muddled through. It deepened and broadened.
  • It cemented peace and spread prosperity. Today, Europe is a beacon of liberal values and an exemplar of a gentler type of capitalism. Yet the EU has also lost its way. The pandemic in Europe is not just an economic crisis, as elsewhere in the world, but is fast becoming a political and constitutional crisis, too.
  • One example is the single market. This is governed by strict rules limiting subsidies, but they have been suspended as governments pour €2trn ($2.2trn) into saving businesses from collapse. Half of this was in Germany: a problem if you are a producer based in a country that cannot afford to be so generous, but which must accept German-made goods.
  • Another example is the single currency. As countries cushion the effects of lockdowns, their debts are rising sharply. Because governments in the euro zone borrow in a common currency but must finance themselves, these debts could rise to unsustainable levels.
  • Financial Times – Sam Fleming, Jim Brunsden and Michael Peel / Crisis in Europe: von der Leyen’s audacious bid for new powers

Haaretz – Amos Harel / Annexation could kill Jordan peace deal, Israeli defense officials believe

  • King Abdullah II’s statement that Jordan is “studying all the options” for responding if Israel annexes part of the West Bank, expresses the magnitude of Amman’s concern over the steps Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering. Abdullah told Der Spiegel that “if Israel really annexes the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.”
  • The Jordanian concern about steps to impose Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank and annex the Jordan Valley has also been expressed in messages to the Israeli defense establishment as well as in conversations with people close to Kahol Lavan chairman MK Benny Gantz.
  • The royal family also fears demonstrations against the king throughout Jordan and organized protests by the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan. Jordan has so far dealt well with the coronavirus, but its economy is still in difficult straits and the king’s status is considered quite unstable in light of the crisis, which began even before the global spread of the virus.
  • Without any direct link to the question of annexation, tensions began heating up considerably in the West Bank last week. There might also be a connection to the decline in reporting on the coronavirus following the Palestinian Authority’s relative success, as in Jordan and Israel, in reining it in. But beyond the pandemic and concerns over future annexation is the economic situation in the West Bank.
  • Foreign Policy – Eetta Prince-Gibson / Annexation could be the final blow to the Israel-Jordan relationship

The Atlantic – Tom McTague / The pandemic’s coming geopolitical second wave

  • With most European countries confident that they are past the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, their attention is turning to the chance of its resurgence once society returns to some semblance of normal. But beyond the epidemiological challenges lies a slowly amassing threat that is not pathological in nature, but economic, political, and military.
  • Imagine a scenario: Just as Europe and the United States begin to feel as if they have the coronavirus under control, it takes hold in the developing world. Exhausted, indebted, and desperate for their own economies to get back up to speed, richer countries are too slow to help. Panic ensues. Migrants mass in southern Europe, which is still struggling to pull itself out of a coronavirus-induced depression.
  • This is just one (invented) scenario of a number that are raising concerns in Western capitals and that were laid out to me in conversations with more than half a dozen leading security experts, academics, and government advisers in recent weeks. Of those I spoke with, few doubted that a second wave was coming. The real concern was where it would land.
  • The array of possible second-wave consequences is dizzying: the prospect of the disease taking hold in a developing G20 country—think India—which could see the virus quickly doubling back to Europe and the U.S.; the uncertain impact of technological advances in fields such as artificial intelligence as they are used to help combat the disease’s spread; a recession pulling at the ties between the European Union’s poor south and wealthy north.
  • Foreign Policy – Keith Johnson and Robbie Gramer / The great decoupling

Euractiv – Frédéric Simon / Gas industry urged to ‘accelerate’ transition to hydrogen

  • Hydrogen has become a central element of EU plans to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century. The key question now is how to accelerate the transition and upgrade the gas infrastructure, policymakers say.
  • “We need to accelerate” the gas industry’s conversion to hydrogen and other low-carbon gases in order to reach the EU’s climate objectives, said Tudor Constantinescu, a senior advisor at the European Commission’s energy directorate.
  • The European Commission has made hydrogen “a central element” of plans to decarbonise Europe’s industry – especially sectors such as steelmaking, chemicals, and heavy-duty transport, which cannot easily switch to electricity.
  • Earlier this year, the EU executive said it would launch a “Clean Hydrogen Alliance” after the summer break, bringing together companies, governments and research organisations around the development of a hydrogen supply chain in Europe.
  • Bloomberg – Josh Petri / Earth’s partially uninhabitable future is now

Today’s long read:

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.

Política Internacional |