Uniting democracies has been the key international political trend of the last hundred years. Understanding this trend and enabling it to continue is the key to world political development.
New Book by Streit Council Advisory Board Member Kenneth Weisbrode
In Old Diplomacy Revisited: A Study in the Modern History of Diplomatic Transformers, historian Kenneth Weisbrode asserts that Old Diplomacyis not really that old—many of its concepts and methods date to the mid-nineteenth century—while the practices of New Diplomacy emerged only a couple of generations later. Moreover, "Diplomacy 2.0" and other variants of the post-Cold War era do not depart significantly from their twentieth-century predecessor: their forms, particularly in technology, have changed, but their substance has not. In this succinct overview, Weisbrode reminds us that to understand diplomatic transformations and their relevance to international affairs is to see diplomacy as an entrepreneurial art—and that, like most arts, it is adapted and re-adapted with reference to earlier forms. Diplomatic practice is always changing, and always continuous. To read more about this book, click here.
Kenneth Weisbrode, Ph.D., joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board. He is an Assistant Professor of History at Bilkent University, Turkey and has written and edited several books, including Old Diplomacy Revisited: A Study in the Modern History of Diplomatic Transformers; Churchill and the King: The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and George VI; and The Atlantic Century: Four Generations of Extraordinary Diplomats who Forged America's Vital Alliance with Europe. He is also the co-founder of the Toynbee Prize Foundation's Network for the New Diplomatic History, and holds a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.
New Book by Streit Council Board Member Richard Rosecrance
In The Resurgence of the West: How a Transatlantic Union Can Prevent War and Restore the United States and Europe, Richard Rosecrance calls for the United States to join forces with the European Union and create a transatlantic economic union. A U.S.-Europe community would unblock arteries of trade and investment, rejuvenate the West, and enable Western countries to deal with East Asian challenges from a position of unity and economic strength. Through this great merger the author offers a positive vision of the future in which members of a tightly knit Western alliance regain economic health and attract Eastern nations to join a new and worldwide international order. To read more about this book, click here.
At the Washington D.C. Summit on Cross Continental Cooperation, held by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy from November 4-7, Streit Council President Richard Conn Henry reviewed the history of the Streit Council, starting with Clarence K. Streit's self-publication of Union Now just prior to World War II, and continuing with the passing of the Atlantic Union Resolution in 1964. Henry also expounded his idea on a possible Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that, if adopted, would lead to a federal union with the European Union. His proposal can be found here.
Brendan Simms, Ph.D., joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board. He is a Professor of the History of European International Relations at the University of Cambridge, and is the founder and Chairman of the Board of the think tank Project on Democratic Union, which supports a full political union of the Eurozone. He also founded and is the President of the Henry Jackson Society, a think tank dedicated to fostering a strong British and European commitment to liberty; constitutional democracy; human rights; governmental and institutional reform; a robust foreign, security, and defense policy; and the transatlantic alliance. His publications include Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire 1714-1783 (2008) and Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia (2001).
Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News
Euroscepticism on the rise in UK
27 March 2015 – Euractiv
A recent survey by NatCen Social Research found that 63% of Britons are Eurosceptic, which is defined in the study as those who want to leave or reduce the powers of the EU. More than a third of those surveyed want to leave the EU outright – higher than at any time since 1985. Overall, however, 57% of those polled want to remain in the EU while 24% are against. Even so, 38% want to remain in an EU with reduced powers.
Abe to advocate U.S.-Japan leading role in pursuing regional peace
26 March 2015 – Japan Times
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, that he will be vocal about supporting U.S.-Japanese efforts to secure peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. He also vowed to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance. Abe is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on April 28th.
Latvia: EU, US “likely” to miss year-end target for free trade deal
25 March 2015 – EurActiv
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said negotiations between the European Union and United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would “most likely…not be concluded” during the current Latvian and subsequent Luxembourgian presidencies. Luxembourg will take over the six month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 July. “We have been discussing the overall strategy how to achieve the agreement but we cannot exclude that it may take longer,” the foreign minister said. European Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmström asserted that it was impossible to say when the negotiations would end, but that the Commission wanted to conclude the talks before President Obama leaves office. Last month the EU and U.S. said the talks would proceed at “full throttle.”
Following Cameron, Marine Le Pen pledges EU exit referendum
25 March 2015 – EurActiv
Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s right-wing National Front party, has promised a referendum on France’s membership of the European Union if she is elected president in 2017. She said the vote would take place six months after the 2017 election. In 2013, British Prime Minister David Cameron promised a plebiscite on Britain’s membership of the EU if he wins the upcoming election on May 7th. The vote is to take place by 2017 after Cameron has made efforts to negotiate EU reforms. The National Front came second in Sunday’s local elections. “The European Union is death, the death of our economy, our social welfare system and our identity,” Le Pen said on Monday. She encouraged Greece to negotiate its withdrawal from the Eurozone and not another bailout program. Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras will suffer electorally if he gives in to the requirements of Greece’s creditors, she said.
IMF supports Irish case for EU budget changes
25 March 2015 – The Irish Times
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has backed the Irish government’s view that the application of the European Union’s budgetary laws to Ireland is impractical. An IMF report also said the country would likely need to increase VAT and property taxes in the coming years. It encourages the government make healthcare more cost-effective and to conduct more recent property appraisals, as house prices are on the rise. Made public on Wednesday, the report says the institution “welcomes ongoing work by the Irish authorities to refine some aspects of the EC [European Commission] methodology.” If successful in its endeavors, the government may have more freedom in its October budget. The IMF also calls on Ireland to further reduce its budget deficit. The report also suggests a new carbon tax. The IMF predicts growth of 3.5% this year. If growth is less than anticipated, the government’s debt burden could increase.
MPs seek more detail on controversial U.S.-EU trade talks
25 March 2015 – BBC News
Negotiations between the United States and European Union are ongoing on an extensive free trade agreement known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The public debate, which has been misconstrued and overgeneralized, is an obstacle to the progress of the talks, the UK Commons’ Business Select Committee said. The committee requested the Government to conduct a “comprehensive assessment” of the hazards and benefits the TTIP could bring to the economy in its latest report. It also called for an unambiguous promise from the government that public services would be excluded from the trade agreement. The U.S. and EU aim to complete the negotiations by the end of the year.
NATO scrambles jets after Russian bombers spotted over Baltic Sea
March 24 2015 – CBS/AP
Four Russian combat aircraft were tracked by Swedish and NATO jets yesterday as they were flying over the Baltic Sea with their transponders turned off. NATO scrambled Danish and Italian jets that were stationed in Lithuania to identify the planes. The two Russian Tu-22M3 long range bombers and two Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighters claimed they were headed to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. As tensions between NATO and Russia heat up, the number of Russian planes flying in international airspace with transponders turned off in breach of international aviation rules has increased.
U.S. House of Reps. votes in favor of sending arms to Ukraine
March 24 2015 – Euronews
A resolution was passed through the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming vote of 348 to 48, urging President Barack Obama to send arms to the Ukraine. President Obama has been faced with much criticism of late due to his reluctance to equip the Ukrainian military with weapons that it says is much needed in the conflict that has overtaken the East of the country. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has requested arms and weapons technology from the U.S., but the White House has yet to act as it says it is waiting to see whether international agreements that led to February’s ceasefire will be implemented.
NATO Responding to Russia’s Actions Against Ukraine
March 23 2015 – DoD News
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated over the weekend that NATO was responding to Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukrainian territory with the largest reinforcement of collective defense since the end of the Cold War. Among many planned adaptations to NATO, the alliance is set to double the size of its response force and it has already established new command and control units in Eastern Europe. The NATO Secretary General discussed Russian hybrid warfare and the risks it poses as a significant cause for the sweeping changes, but also mentioned that there is no contradiction between strengthening defense while maintaining dialogue.
EU and Turkey look to deepen trade ties
23 March 2015 – The Financial Times
Turkey and the European Union may renegotiate their customs union to update certain provisions and pave the way for Turkey’s eventual accession into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). With Turkey’s EU accession process at an impasse, strengthening the current customs union could be one way to improve European-Turkish relations. “This is not a divergence from our goal of membership,” a Turkish civil servant said. The customs union fails to address certain sectors of the economy, and Turkey fears that the TTIP will allow the U.S. tariff-free access to the Turkish market without having the same access to the American market. Italy, France, Greece and Cyprus may have objections or reservations that could make any customs union negotiations difficult. Turkish Prime Minster Recep Erdogan may be unwilling to adopt certain EU provisions on competition and public procurement.
China forgoes veto power at new bank to win key European nations’ support
23 March 2015 – Wall Street Journal
The UK, France, Germany and Italy joined China’s new development bank after convincing the latter to drop veto power over the bank’s decisions. The U.S., India and other countries have voiced concerns that the bank could be used as a tool of Chinese foreign policy. Over the weekend, more than 35 countries agreed to join the bank as founding members. The Obama Administration is now proposing that the new bank work with the World Bank, the latter of which works under U.S.-approved rules. Development experts argue that the U.S. Congress’ inability to pass a revision of voting rights in the IMF gave China the opportunity to recruit members to its own bank.
NATO says Russia’s still pouring arms into Ukraine
22 March 2015 – Bloomberg View
NATO’s top military commander warned on Sunday that Russia is still funneling arms into Ukraine despite last month’s ceasefire agreement. Under the agreement, Russia is required to remove all troops and equipment from Ukraine, and return control over the country’s borders to Kiev by the end of this year. “We continue to see disturbing elements of air defense, command and control, resupply and equipment coming across a completely porous border,” he said. Even so, President Obama is reportedly against arming Kiev as this would break ranks with European allies.
Weaker euro works in ECB’s favour, but for how long?
22 March 2015 – The Economic Times
The euro has depreciated by nearly 20% against the U.S. dollar in the past six months and is now close to parity. A €1.14 trillion quantitative easing program, launched this month by the European Central Bank, has contributed to the single currency’s decline. “In the current context, pushing down the euro is probably the only means the ECB has for pushing up inflation,” Sylvain Broyer, an economist at Natixis, said. The recent decline has been sharper than the ECB expected, and quantitative easing could drive the currency’s value even lower. With the latest economic figures indicating a strengthening recovery, European bank governors originally skeptical of or opposed to quantitative easing could clash with advocates of the program in the bank’s Governing Council. Bundesbank Governor Jen Weidsmann thinks quantitative easing is perilous and needless. “If at the start of next year, growth is on track and inflation is rising again, the ECB’s biggest difficulty will be to resist pressure for an early end to QE or a scaling down of the bond purchases,” Gilles Moec, an economist at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, said.
German defense minister supports calls for EU army
20 March 2015 – Wall Street Journal
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen supports the creation of a European army, as suggested by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker earlier this month. “Europe will only stay politically relevant in the future if we are able to complement our economic power and our political influence with a truly coherent security and defense policy,” she said at a recent conference. Addressing critics who argue that such step would undermine NATO, she added: “I want to underline that the times have passed in which there was a difference between European and NATO thinking.”
Greece to draft new reform plan in few days – EU leaders
20 March 2015 – BBC News
The Greek government is to present new reform plans in the coming days to secure additional funding. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with other European leaders in Brussels. EU leaders also decided to retain sanctions against Russia until at least the year’s end. “The Greek government will take full responsibility for the reforms and submit a list of these reforms…in the coming days,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. Following the discussions, Tsipras said he was “more optimistic.” Observers think Greece only has sufficient funds to forestall bankruptcy until sometime in April. Tsipras’ previous reform proposals were received with some criticism by EU leaders.
AP exclusive: Draft agreement cuts Iran’s nuclear hardware
19 March 2015 – Associated Press
The U.S. and Iran are drafting a deal on the latter’s nuclear program that commits Tehran to cutting 40 percent of centrifuges needed to create a nuclear weapon. In exchange, Iran would get relief from economic sanctions and a partial lifting of a UN embargo on conventional arms. In combination with restrictions on enrichment levels and the types of centrifuges Iran can use, the U.S. believes it can extend the time Iran needs to build a nuclear weapon by at least a year – up from the two to three months currently required. The U.S. Congress remains a major obstacle to a deal; 360 Democrats and Republicans, enough to override a presidential veto, sent a letter to President Obama stating that Congress will ultimately decide on easing the sanctions it has imposed.
ECB’s Targeted Loans Hand Out $100 Billion; Good News For The Eurozone Economy
19 March 2015 – Forbes
The European Central Bank managed to incentivize Eurozone banks to purchase with virtually free money to the tune of 104 billion dollars, after two earlier less successful attempts. This transaction has especially positive implications for continental Europe, where “bank funding plays a much larger part in the financing of industry…than it does in the more market based US and UK ones.” Using funds from the quantitative easing program, the ECB’s handout to major banks suggests that the banks are regaining confidence, and will now enable companies to invest in and grow the economy.
France Says Corporate Sovereignty Must Come Out Of CETA, Or Be Replaced By Something Completely Different
19 March 2015 – Techdirt
With all of the ongoing free trade negotiations, the French government, somewhat late in the game, declared that the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause must be dropped from the Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada before France will ratify the final deal. While such a request seems unlikely to happen, the French government’s statement also said Germany is of the same opinion. The inconsistency of these governments’ official positions on the inclusion of ISDS reflects the controversy surrounding the clause within Europe. European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has insisted that European representatives understand and are considering the concerns over ISDS in their negotiations over international trade deals.
EU-U.S. trade deal: what does Europe have to gain from it?
19 March 2015 – European Parliament
The United States and European Union are currently negotiating a free trade agreement known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Restrictions on the amount a Finnish airport equipment manufacturer can sell in the U.S. and a 35% tariff on Spanish shoe exports could be eliminated by the free trade pact, European Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmström said. She wants to add to the 4.7 million jobs that are already reliant on exports to the U.S. The treaty will reduce costs for both companies and consumers. “There will be some winners and losers in terms of employment, but we hope to have a bigger number of winners than losers,” Susanne Lindberg-Elmgren, a spokeswoman for Swedish labor unions, remarked. As the contents of the treaty are not yet finalized, current studies must make assumptions to estimate the economic benefit. “We have the obligation to weigh up the risks, but I believe the benefits far outweigh them,” British MEP Emma McClarkin said.
Ukraine crisis: British trainers assist Ukrainian army
19 March 2015 – BBC
British military personnel are in Ukraine to train government forces in the country’s east in medicine and defensive tactics, and to give them non-lethal equipment. This is the first time a Western nation has conducted a long-term military training program in Ukraine since the war against pro-Russian rebels began last year. The U.S. has delayed its own training program amid concerns that it could scuttle the recent peace deal. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk welcomed the assistance and called for additional support from other EU countries and the U.S.
Missile defense puts South Korea in East Asian squeeze
19 March 2015 – Christian Science Monitor
A U.S. push to place a new generation of missile defense in South Korea has prompted a dispute between South Korea and China; the latter opposes the deployment. The U.S. has not yet formally requested that South Korea deploy the new system, but it is concerned about North Korean advancing missile capabilities. China fears the system will be used to detect atmospheric objects over its territory, while South Korea has stated that it is determined to arrive at a decision on its own.
Greece must stay in Eurozone but only on agreed conditions
18 March 2015 – Reuters
Amid wide speculation of and public support for Greece’s exit from the euro, European Commissioner for economics Pierre Moscovici stated that Greece’s continued membership in the Eurozone is imperative, on the terms set by Eurozone finance ministers last month. While Athens has yet to implement these new reforms, including addressing political corruption and tax evasion, Greece will likely be out of money by the end of March. Eurozone officials are struggling to create an atmosphere of enough pressure on Greece to implement reforms and enough stability within the market to avoid expectations of a “Grexit” from derailing any economic recovery.
Warnings Raised of a Greek Exit From the Euro
18 March 2015 – The New York Times
New reports on the likelihood of and damage from a Greek exit from the euro are highlighting the tense standoff between Greece and European creditors on reaching a deal. Greece is ignoring its earlier agreements to implement the austerity policies and reforms stipulated to receive further bailout funds to avoid defaulting on its tremendous debt and “Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras [is instead] pushing ahead with an anti-austerity agenda” on the grounds that government-provided electricity and food aid is preventing a humanitarian crisis. Despite resounding resolve to keep Greece in the Eurozone, the European Commission’s financial affairs chief Pierre Moscovici admits that there is a limit to the amount the EU is willing to expend on Greece.
Russia says Ukraine law on autonomy violates peace deal
18 March 2015 – AFP
Russia is condemning the Ukrainian government for ratifying two bills on greater autonomy for the rebel-held eastern parts of the country, arguing that they violate the recent peace deal. Specifically, Moscow objects to Kiev’s requirement that the separatists hold elections under Ukrainian law, with international monitoring, before autonomy is granted. The legislation is a key part of the peace deal signed by Kiev and the rebels last month.
Putin signs treaty integrating South Ossetia into Russia
18 March 2015 – AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leader of South Ossetia signed an agreement today that calls for the integration of the region’s economy and military into Russia. A similar agreement with Abkhazia was signed last year. Georgia, the U.S., EU and NATO condemned the move. "The regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are integral parts of Georgia and we continue to support Georgia's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity," said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
EU seeks solution to keep arbitration in U.S. deal
18 March 2015 – Reuters
European Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmström confirmed that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would contain an investor-to-state state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision, but said it would be a “different animal” from current ISDS clauses. Under ISDS, U.S. corporations could sue European governments that adopt regulations or policies that hinder their profits in private tribunals. The U.S. insistence on the inclusion of ISDS will make it difficult for Malmström to convince the European Parliament to ratify the treaty. Many Europeans fear the deal will weaken food safety rules and allow for the importation of chlorine-treated chicken, genetically modified organisms and hormone-injected beef. Negotiators hope to finalize the pact by the end of this year, but this will only happen if some compromise is made on ISDS. Malmström argued that ISDS is necessary for European businesses, as U.S. law does not protect foreign investors from discrimination. A permanent investment court could possibly be established to replace ISDS.
More than trade, TTIP leads to confident Atlanticism
18 March 2015 – EurActiv
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade pact currently being negotiated between the European Union and United States, will cement common trade principles and strengthen the transatlantic relationship Russia seeks to divide. Increased trade and investment will give Europeans more confidence that collective defense obligations will be honored. The TTIP will increase the attractiveness of the Western model and make eastern European economies less dependent on the Russian market. Some assert that the TTIP is a means to oppose and isolate China, but this is not the case. China has not yet adopted some simple international trade principles. Along with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the TTIP will establish a market governed by open and fair trade rules. The more resilient the relationship is between democratic entities such as the EU and U.S., the more likely China and other emerging powers are to operate within, and not challenge, these international free trade rules.
€315bn EU Investment Plan must involve local governments to bridge Europe’s digital divide
18 March 2015 – EU News
With the launch of the new EU investment plan, a key focus will be the digital economy, which has the potential to bring in an additional 4 percent to European GDP by 2020, as long as isolated regions are included and authority to innovate is further decentralized, according to the European Committee of the Regions. In particular, completing the European single digital market and prioritizing grassroots initiatives will drive growth within Europe’s information and communications technology sector. The Committee of the Regions President Markku Markkula emphasized the importance of achieving a single digital market, warning that “a digitally divided Europe will create an economically divided Europe.”
Moldovan president calls for closer cooperation with NATO
17 March 2015 – Associated Press
In a television interview on Tuesday, Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti called for deeper cooperation between Moldova and NATO, citing “threats to regional security generated by the Kremlin” – referring to a visit by three Russian lawmakers who openly supported a pro-Russian candidate in a semi-autonomous region of Moldova.
Turkey starts $10B project to ship Azeri gas to Europe
17 March 2015 – Voice of America
Turkey inaugurated the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) project on Tuesday, which stands to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russia for energy. “We plan to establish Turkey as the energy distribution hub of the region,” President Tayyip Erdogan said at a ground breaking ground ceremony. While Russia abandoned its South Stream pipeline due to objections from the EU, it has since proposed a new undersea pipeline called “Turkish stream.” Ankara, however, favors TANAP.
EU Consensus emerging on dealing with Russian sanctions
17 March 2015 – Wall Street Journal
In talks behind the scenes, EU leaders are arriving at a consensus to delay an immediate decision on extending economic sanctions against Russia that expire in July. Under this arrangement, sanctions will only be eased if the Ukraine cease-fire accord, also known as the Minsk Agreement, is fully implemented. EU leaders are, however, expected to officially extend the sanctions in June or July. This emerging consensus masks divisions within the EU over when to extend the sanctions. The U.S. has signaled that its sanctions on Russia will remain in place indefinitely.
Topic: Obama and Kenny discuss TTIP and other issues
17 March 2015 – Bloomberg, USA Today
President Barack Obama met with the Taoiseach or Irish premier, Enda Kenny, at the White House on Tuesday. The two leaders promoted the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade agreement currently being negotiated between the European Union and United States. Kenny, a strong backer of the trade deal, said he would discuss the TTIP with European Council President Donald Tusk at an upcoming meeting. The president faces opposition from his own party on the issue, but the Republicans, who have a majority in Congress, support the TTIP. Kenny and Obama also talked about sanctions against Russia, foreign militants traveling to join ISIS, and the European economy in general.
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Grexit would have "serious consequences" for Eurozone – Moody’s
17 March 2015 – Reuters
In a recent report from ratings agency Moody’s, Greece’s departure from the euro would have grim and far-reaching ramifications for the Eurozone. Specifically, an unprecedented exit would fuel doubts in other lagging economies, such as Portugal, Spain and Italy, threatening a larger break-up of one of the main global economies. Emphasizing a less optimistic outlook for growth than that expressed by the European Central Bank, the report does project “a stable credit outlook for euro zone sovereigns… [expecting] the ECB stimulus and the boost from the lower euro and oil prices to offset deflationary pressure.”
France and Germany join UK in Asia bank membership
17 March 2015 – BBC News
The German and French finance ministries announced on Tuesday that they will apply for membership of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Italy may also apply for membership. The AIIB was established last October by 21 countries, including India, Thailand and Singapore. The UK triggered the ire of the U.S. last week when Britain announced that it would be the first Western economy to seek membership of the new bank. The U.S. sees the new institution as a challenge to the Western-dominated World Bank. Pippa Malmgren, George W. Bush’s former economic advisor, said the decision probably came as a shock to the U.S., as it is “not normal for the United States to be publicly scolding the British.” However, the prime minister’s spokesman said Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne informed his American equivalent about this issue before making a public announcement.
Russia puts military in Baltics, South on Full Alert in Drills
17 March 2015 – Bloomberg
Russian strategic bomber aircraft are being sent to Crimea and forces in the Baltics and southern regions are on full alert for military exercises ordered by President Vladimir Putin. In total, the drills involve 38,000 troops, 41 warships, 15 submarines and 110 aircraft. In commenting on the drills, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksey Meshkov said he is“deeply concerned about the increase in exercises of NATO countries close to our borders.”
Kremlin: Crimea will not return to Ukraine
17 March 2015 – Voice of America
The Kremlin said today that Crimea will not be returned to Ukrainian control despite indications from the U.S. and EU that they will neither recognize the annexation nor drop sanctions on Russia. The Russian parliament approved the annexation of Crimea on March 21st last year after residents supported the move in a referendum. The Ukrainian government insists that Crimea “was, is and will remain an inalienable part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine.”
EU exit: "Norway option" would leave the UK with 94% of current costs – think tank
17 March 2015 – The Guardian
Open Europe, a think tank that advocates for significant reforms of the UK’s relationship with the European Union, has said that Britain would still have to comply with most of EU’s regulations without having a say in their formation if the country withdraws from the EU and negotiates an arrangement with the EU similar to that of Norway’s. Currently, these regulations cost the UK £33.3 billion. An arrangement similar to that of Norway’s would shave the total cost to £31.4 billion annually or 94% of the existing costs. “The bad news is that overall, EU regulation costs too much in relation to the benefits it generates. The even worse news is that if the UK left the EU and became like Norway, 94% of the cost associated with the most burdensome EU rules would remain in place but the cost would be even harder to cut, since Norway has no formal voting powers over EU rules. Radical reform from within the EU or a far better trading model outside of it remain the UK’s best options for cutting regulatory costs,” Open Europe Research Analyst Pawel Swidlicki said.
Draghi bullish on EU growth
17 March 2015 – Business Spectator
Crediting the bond-buying program, falling oil prices and additional economic reforms put into effect in several European Union members, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is projecting a positive outlook on European growth. Last week, the quantitative easing program led the ECB to purchase 9.8 billion euros of public debt, as the euro continues to lose ground against the dollar and “eurozone bond yields plummeted in the run up to launch of the bond program and in its aftermath, although the euro gained some ground against the US dollar Monday.” Draghi has also called on EU members to collaborate further on national economic policies.
Japan’s Devaluation Warning for Europe
16 March 2015 – The Wall Street Journal
Similarities between the European economic situation and that of Japan a few years ago should be considered in working to improve the former’s outlook now. Facing deflation and resting on hopes for a trickle-down effect from increased exports due to weakened currency, the decrease in Japanese labor wages suggests that overregulated and uncompetitive business markets, compounded by an unreformed labor market prevents the necessary investment and trickle-down effect. The saving grace of Europe could be that “the eurozone is more regionally varied than Japan, so in some countries this earnings boost could stimulate production, investment, productivity gains and eventually rising wages,” and, more importantly, ECB President Draghi understands the need and has been pushing for supply-side national reforms to spark business investment.
German public, tired of Athens’ demands, wants Greece to leave Eurozone
16 March 2015 – The Financial Post
New polls reveal that over half, 52 percent, of Germans are in favor of Greece exiting the Eurozone, a significant increase from the 41 percent of the same opinion just last month. Citing an uncooperative Greek government and the bulk of financial burden on German citizens as their country is the largest contributor to Greek bailouts, citizens interviewed expressed preference for a Greek exit. Despite German officials’ continued support for Greece to remain within the Eurozone, the German public is vocalizing an opposite view and will pressure their legislators to reflect their interests. Talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras and European leaders over bailout conditions will resume this Thursday.
Ryanair considering transatlantic flights in five years
16 March 2015 – BBC News
Ryanair’s board of directors has accepted a plan to expand the Irish airliner’s low fare business to include transatlantic flights to the U.S. The company currently operates inexpensive flights across Europe. A spokesman for the company said the plan is “dependent on attaining viable long-haul aircraft and we estimate that’s four to five years away.” The spokesman remarked that both Europeans and Americans want cheaper transatlantic travel. Ryanair first considered flights to the U.S. in 2008. In 2013, the Norwegian low fare airliner Air Shuttle commenced flights to the U.S., but the company faults the transatlantic service, which has been plagued by disagreements between the airliner and the U.S. regulator, for its first loss in eight years.
No more Blue Banana, Europe’s industrial heart moves east
15 March 2015 – Reuters
Referring to the shape identified by French geographer Roger Brunet of brightly lit industrial European cities seen from satellite at night, the Blue Banana encompassed manufacturing powerhouses including Manchester and Milan. As manufacturing moves east, however, a “golden soccer ball centered on southern Germany and reaching into Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Romania” is the new geography of European industrialization. Trade data within the European Union reflects this shift, as the former region lost 4.4 percent of its share in the intra-EU market, while the latter region has increased its share by 5.3 percent over the last decade. Lower labor costs in Eastern Europe and an increasingly service-driven economy in Western Europe can partly account for this change.
Europe needs growth plan from Germany’s Merkel, Greek minister says
15 March 2015 – Europe Online Magazine
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to reinvigorate European unification with a directed economic growth plan, reminiscent of the historic American Marshall Plan of aid to Europe after World War II. Attempting to shift the burden of responsibility away from Athens with its April deadline for continued bailout pending reforms, Varoufakis aims to legitimize the demand for German loans made on Greek terms based on World War II reparations. From the German government, Merkel stands by her pledged goal to keep Greece within the Eurozone, while Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble admitted to the possibility of a Greek exit.
As Poland loses its doctors and builders, “Euro-orphans” are left at home to suffer
14 March 2015 – The Guardian
The cycle of the trained and educated Polish workforce leaving for better opportunities in Britain or Western Europe and creating a gap in the Polish economy is fueling an aging population, dying towns, and precarious home situations for young children. As economies such as Ireland and Britain benefit from the influx of highly educated Poles, the domestic economy cannot recover from the recession with millions migrating at a pace that will see the loss of 14 million people from the workforce by 2060, according to the World Bank. The government has unsuccessfully tried to incentivize workers to return to Poland, yet the growth and wages of larger economies trumps the appeal of trying to restart the Polish economy. Some argue that that “the Polish economy is still suffering from the “transformation shock” of switching from a centrally planned economy to a market-based one,” suggesting that experience and adjusted policies will improve the situation.
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