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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.

What's New

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

Ukraine crisis: OSCE monitors “to be sent to truce violation areas”
3 March 2015 – BBC
During a phone call between Ukrainian, German, French and Russian leaders, the group agreed to send monitors from the OSCE to observe locations where there have been violations of the Minsk ceasefire, according to a statement from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Elsewhere, the threat to Ukraine’s gas supply has been temporarily staved, as the European Union negotiated with Russia and Gazprom to secure gas through the end of March, following pre-payment by Ukraine’s Naftogaz. The two sides could not agree on gas delivery to rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk, however.
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Ukraine Parliament to Resume Debate on Law for IMF Bailout Funds
2 March 2015 – Bloomberg
The Ukrainian parliament is working on government austerity this week, the passage of which will enable Ukraine to qualify for the IMF’s $17.5 billion loan package. Laws already passed include budget amendments and changes in laws relating to banking, pensions, taxes and customs. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that their goal is to “increase [Ukraine’s] FX reserves, gradually renew trust in the national bank and the banking system and gradually stabilize the economic situation.” Over the past year the Ukrainian hryvnia has become the world’s worst-performing currency, as its value against the dollar has declined more than 40 percent.
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UK export orders to Europe picking up, say manufacturers
2 March 2015 – Financial Times
A quarterly survey found that more companies are reporting increased demand for exports, leading to hopeful speculation about the international trade situation and the overall year for the UK. However, falling oil prices are negatively affecting the North Sea oil investment and a less competitive private debt market limits the finance available for UK firms. The strength of the pound sterling also keeps export growth restrained. Policy measures aimed at improving this situation include a pre-election budget that is expected to help insulate the UK market from crude oil prices.
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ECB uncomfortable with leading role in Greek funding drama
2 March 2015 – Reuters
The European Central Bank remains stuck in the difficult position between bending its rules regarding financing governments and having Greece dependent on it as a lender of last resort. In the political crosshairs of the European Union, the ECB has been staving off a Greek default through one short-term solution to the next, while the Greek government resists the reforms demanded by creditor countries to provide assistance. Specifically, Greece needs the ECB to “[raise] a 15 billion euro ($16.82 billion) cap on Athens' issuance of Treasury bills,” which would essentially mean “putting central bank cash in the pocket of the Greek government.” The Governing Council of the ECB meets in Cyprus this week to determine their stipulations for funding programs.  
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Eurozone unemployment hits lowest level in nearly three years
2 March 2015 – Europe Online Magazine
Recent data shows European unemployment at 11.2 percent for January, which signifies the lowest rate since April 2012. This is welcome news amid analysts’ expectations of a stagnant unemployment rate. The data also specifies youth unemployment to be at 22.9 percent of the overall numbers. As for the country breakdown, the highest unemployment among member countries of the EU remains in Greece and Spain, with over 25 and 23 percent, respectively, while Austria and Germany report the lowest rates of under 5 percent. 
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Two thirds of Britain’s laws “made or influenced by EU”
2 March 2015 – The Telegraph
Business for Britain, a group that advocates for reform of Britain’s relationship with the European Union, has said that 64.7% of all laws in effect in the United Kingdom are tied to EU regulations or directives. Directives, which are responsible for 5.4% of the UK’s laws, establish guidelines that national parliaments must then incorporate into national law and thus allow member states to tailor EU-wide standards to domestic circumstances. Regulations account for the remaining 59.3% of UK laws. Business for Britain CEO Matthew Elliott demanded “a significant reduction in the amount and scope of EU legislation and [that] powers over certain policy areas should be given back to Parliament so decisions are made far closer to the British people.” An alliance of business leaders known as Business for New Europe said that in “counting only the volume of regulation, this report fails to recognise the value that these rules have brought to Britain.”
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Irish manufacturing sector buoys Eurozone output
2 March 2015 – BBC News
The Irish manufacturing sector has attained its highest output in over 15 years, says financial services firm Markit. In February, Ireland’s Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was 57.5, while the Eurozone’s remained at 51. A number over 50 signals an expansion. France’s manufacturing sector recorded the Eurozone’s worst performance last month with a PMI of 47.6. Manufacturing in Austria and Greece also contracted. Lower energy prices have depressed manufacturing costs. Irish manufacturing jobs are being created at the highest rate since May 1998. While manufacturing growth appears to be durable, Philip O’Sullivan, an economist at Investec, said that “any uncertainty ahead of the upcoming UK election—given that Ireland’s closest neighbor has repeatedly been identified by manufacturers as a key source of demand—is likely to put that to the test.”
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Kerry meets Russian counterpart as Ukraine tensions simmer
2 March 2015 – AP
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today amid continuing tensions between NATO and Russia, and most recently American and Ukrainian calls for a full investigation into the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Last week Kerry told Congress that Russian officials had lied to his face about Russia’s role in Ukraine, drawing condemnation from Russia. Tensions were evident at the talks in Geneva as both figures spoke little and did not smile. The recent murder of a Russian opposition figure has further exacerbated relations between the two countries. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has taken personal charge of the probe into the murder and U.S. officials have decided to withhold comment until the investigation has finished.
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Ban voices shock, condemnation at Russian politician's "brutal killing"
2 March 2015 – UN News Centre
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed shock and condemnation at the brutal killing of Russian politician Boris Nemtsov, the United Nations spokesperson's office confirmed today. According to media reports, Mr. Nemtsov was gunned down on February 27th in central Moscow by unknown assailants. The UN spokesperson explained that the Secretary-General noted that an investigation into the murder had been announced by Russian authorities and that Mr. Ban expected the perpetrators to be brought to justice “swiftly.”
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Estonia’s ruling pro-NATO center-right claims election win
1 March 2015 – Reuters
The Reform Party of Estonian Prime Minsiter Taavi Roivas won the Estonian Parliamentary elections on Sunday with roughly 27.7% of the vote. The Reform party defeated its main challenger, the Center Party, which seeks better relations with Russia. Taavi Roivas, the youngest European Union leader at 35 years old, is staunchly pro-NATO and has refused to work with the Center Party in forming a government. The campaign was overshadowed by fears of Russian interference amid heightened tensions between Russia and NATO.
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Interview with EU commissioner-designate for trade: Coming out on top with TTIP
1 March 2015 – Luxemburger Wort
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom explains how the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the U.S. Specifically, Malmstrom cites the removal of tariffs and bureaucratic complications and access to new and larger markets as major benefits to such a deal. Malmstrom also points to polls that reflect a majority of Europeans in support of TTIP. In response to the accusations that TTIP will drag down the high and celebrated European food standards, Malmstrom assures the public that consumer protection will not be compromised.
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Merkel’s Bavarian allies criticize EU’s exception for French deficit
1 March 2015 – Reuters
Gerda Hasselfeldt, head of the Christian Social Union parliamentary group in Germany, criticized the European Commission for toeing the line of double standards by granting France an extension on lowering its deficit to the EU limit of 3 percent of GDP. With Germany shouldering the majority of the burden as the strongest creditor in the EU, the conservative opinion voiced by Hasselfeldt about France echoes the strict insistence that Greece adhere to EU regulations. While Hasselfeldt concedes the inaccuracy of directly comparing the economic situation in France to that in Greece, the importance of “solidarity in return for solidity” should apply to all EU member countries. 
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British investors buying Irish homes as sterling strengthens over euro
1 March 2015 – Irish Independent
Given the euro’s recent depreciation against the sterling, the Irish housing market is seeing a new trend of British presence. Real estate companies report British investors interested in a range of advantageous opportunities, from purchasing seaside vacation homes to “high-yield rental investment properties in the capital.” The financial gains to buying in euros rather than the pound sterling are compounded by the soaring real estate prices in the UK. Another noteworthy trend in the Irish real estate market is the entrance of Chinese buyers.
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Greece runs out of funding options despite Eurozone reprieve
28 February 2015 – Reuters
Despite brokering a four month assistance program, Greece still runs the risk of default without reforms that the coalition government opposes. Greece has enough money to fund itself until the middle or end of March. The government has until the end of June to negotiate a four year bailout deal. The country must repay the International Monetary Fund €1.5 billion this month. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development may provide over a billion euros in assistance in the coming week, but this will be insufficient. Eurozone bureaucrats hope that the prospect of bankruptcy will force Syriza to sign up for reforms well ahead of the end of April cutoff date. “The liquidity squeeze is being used to push the Greeks to very quickly start discussions on the review and finish that as soon as possible—not even waiting for the end of April,” one official said.
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Greek debt crisis: German MPs back bailout extension
27 February 2015 – BBC News
The German parliament has approved a four month financial assistance package for Greece. Greece’s current bailout program expires on February 28th. This program gives the Greek government time to negotiate a new, four year bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund and European Union. 542 members voted in favor, while 32 opposed the agreement, and 13 abstained. Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s finance minister, encouraged lawmakers to ratify the deal, saying, “We Germans should do everything possible to keep Europe together as much as we can.” In spite of the conclusive vote, the German public is highly skeptical of the arrangement, and Schaeuble has expressed reservations as to whether the Greek government would honor its commitments. Legislators fear that the Eurozone could fragment if Greece goes bankrupt; this could be more costly than the bailout programs and would undermine the euro’s credibility. In Greece, some on the far left have faulted Syriza for reneging on its election promises.
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IMF to Give Ukraine "Significant Initial Disbursement" Upon Bailout Approval
26 February 2015 – Wall Street Journal
The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday that its expanded bailout of embattled Ukraine will include “heavily front-loaded” cash payments once the board approves the program. The IMF’s remarks could help stem market losses by shoring up investor confidence that emergency financing will be shortly forthcoming. They also could provide incentive for Ukrainian lawmakers to move quickly ahead with new budget and economic overhauls the fund says are necessary to restore the country’s finances. The fund confirmed that the IMF board is tentatively set to approve the expanded bailout program on March 11 if Kiev is able to pass through parliament the required preconditions for fund financing.
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UN health agency “taken aback” as measles resurfaces in Europe, calls for widespread vaccination
26 February 2015 – UN News Centre
The United Nations World Health Organization said that European policymakers, healthcare workers, and parents must step up their efforts to vaccinate children against measles amid an ongoing outbreak across the continent, warning that a recent resurgence in the disease threatens Europe’s goal of eliminating measles by the end of 2015. According to UN data, over 22,000 cases of the virus have surfaced across Europe during the 2014 to 2015 biennium with the outbreak spreading to seven countries. This comes despite a 50 per cent drop from 2013 to 2014. The WHO announcement comes amid a continuing measles outbreak in the United States and stalled progress in eradicating the virus in the Eastern Mediterranean region, where weak health systems, conflict and population displacement have hampered vaccination efforts.
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TTIP: Transatlantic trade deal text leaked to BBC
26 February 2015 – BBC
Wording in TTIP negotiations regarding the controversial inclusion of the UK’s National Health Service seems to clearly prevent the possibility of privatization, however Scottish ministers and protesters insist that the NHS must be explicitly excluded from the deal to be sufficiently protected. The exact language of the document reads: "The EU reserves the right to adopt or maintain any measure with regard to the provision of all health services which receive public funding or State support in any form." While European representatives involved in the deal continuously assure the safety of the NHS, the public and health unions remain unsatisfied with the clarity of the protection thus far.
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Eurozone’s future remains at risk, warns Draghi
26 February 2015 – Business Standard
Intensifying his usual language regarding the state of the European monetary union, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi emphasized that the fate of the union rests on the further integration of member countries’ economies, through stronger institutions. Specifically, Draghi highlighted the importance of centralizing responsibilities, such as bank regulation and “overhauling restrictive labor regulations.” Speaking before the European Parliament, Draghi’s comments elicited outbursts from some Greek officials over the European Central Bank’s end to accepting Greek government bonds earlier this month.
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EU Regulator Takes Pro-Business Line
25 February 2015 – The Wall Street Journal
During a visit to Washington, DC, the new European chief for financial regulation Jonathan Hill focused on dispelling the perception that Europe is easier on big banks than the U.S. He emphasized job creation as his priority, mentioned the need to secure the financial system from cyber attacks, advocated Europe’s unified capital-market system as a potential draw for American investors, and echoed European support for a transatlantic trade deal. Hill’s comments suggest a pro-business outlook and open-minded intentions to negotiate the necessary financial regulation standards between the U.S. and EU to achieve the major trade deal.
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Ukraine begins artillery withdrawal, recognizing truce is holding
26 February 2015 – Reuters
The Ukrainian armed forces began to pull back heavy weapons from the front line in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, February 26th, an indication that the Minsk ceasefire agreement may hold. Additionally, Thursday was the second consecutive day with no combat fatalities reported. At the Donetsk airport, the site of a months-long battle, Ukrainian prisoners of war were being used by the rebel forces to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades.
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EU exit would hit UK global trade and we would suffer fallout, Oireachtas told
25 February 2015 – The Irish Independent
University College Dublin Economist Joe Durkin has told the Irish Parliament that the UK’s economy would be adversely affected during the lead-up to a possible referendum of Britain’s EU membership in or before 2017. As a close UK trade partner, Ireland would also be negatively affected. Conservative MP Mark Garnier said the proposed referendum has already led to economic uncertainty. Durkin said: “The last [EU] referendum that was held in Britain led to a reduction in investment and it led to capital flight because of the fear that Britain wouldn’t be a member of the European Union. I think there’s no doubt that the UK economy’s performance would deteriorate in the short to medium term. That’s almost inevitable because of the uncertainty.” British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s membership of the EU and then hold a referendum on the UK’s membership by 2017 if he becomes prime minister after the upcoming elections in May.
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Ukraine desperate for IMF aid as money runs low
25 February 2015- CNBC
With reports that Ukraine's gas supply could be turned off imminently and fears that the country is on the brink of bankruptcy, Ukraine government officials told CNBC the country is relying on International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid to come to its rescue. International financial aid of around $40 billion – with around $17 billion coming from the IMF – was pledged earlier this month but the money is yet to be released and is reliant on several reforms being introduced by the Kiev government. Ukraine's currency plunged to record lows on Monday, prompting the government to strengthen currency controls. On Tuesday, the Ukranian hyrvnia weakened further to close at 33 against the dollar but it strengthened Wednesday to 27.5 to the dollar. Gazprom, which is partly state-owned, said on Tuesday that Ukraine had failed to pre-pay for its gas on time and if it did not pay up, its supply would be cut off in two days, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti. Denying the accusation on Tuesday, Naftogaz, Ukraine's oil and gas provider, said in a statement on its website that Gazprom had not fulfilled pre-paid orders for the past two days and has broken contractual terms.
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Cabinet nod to BRICS bank for contingency fund, development projects 
25 February 2015 – Economic Times
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its clearance for the establishment of a New Development Bank led by the BRICS bloc of developing nations, and a Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) that will act as an extra safety net in the event of financial crisis. The proposed New Development Bank will mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in the five member nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - and other emerging economies, to supplement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development, according to an official statement. 
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ECB Faces Struggle in Sourcing Enough Bonds for QE
25 February 2015 – The Wall Street Journal
When the European Central Bank begins the implementation of quantitative easing next month, the increased amount of bonds it plans to purchase (approximately 47 billion euros more per month) is expected to come from government bonds, however the already short supply of top-rated government bonds may pose a challenge. Despite the apparent lack of incentive for most investors to sell these bonds, ECB chief economist Peter Praet is looking to banks and institutions outside of the Eurozone to participate. With strong German bonds already falling short of demand, and “around a quarter of euro-area government debt producing negative yields, according to J.P. Morgan,” the solution becomes finding a price at which investors will sell.
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Varoufakis Counts on ECB to Avoid Greek Default in March
25 February 2015 – Bloomberg Business
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis recently suggested that the European Central Bank pay off a portion of Greek loans from the IMF with profits from the Security Markets Program, however ECB President Mario Draghi explained that the ECB does not hold on to those profits and redistributes the money to member governments. The February 24th extension of Greek bailout funds did usher in a return of about 700 million euros to Greek bank accounts, yet the country’s long-term repayment plans remain unclear. By April, Greece will have to pay off 2.2 billion euros of debt, and then evaluate progress.
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Europe Wants the World to Embrace Its Internet Rules
24 February 2015 – The Wall Street Journal
In response to American companies’ dominance of the Internet, the European Union is preparing to release a new data-privacy regime, setting high standards for companies hoping to gain access to the European market. For instance, privacy regulations include limits on processing personal data, explicit consent from individuals for companies to use personal data, and “a controversial “right to be forgotten” that allows individuals to ask for links to Web pages to be removed.” While the U.S. firms support the unification of standards among EU members, they are firmly opposed to the privacy terms. The EU, on the other hand, is looking “to replicate Europe’s earlier success in establishing the global standard for mobile-phone communications, GSM.”
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Kerry: Russia Has Lied About Its Activities in Ukraine
25 February 2015 – AP
In a Senate Appropriations subcommittee meeting on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia of lying to the U.S. about its involvement in Ukraine. Kerry labeled Russia’s denial of involvement in the country as a “…overt and extensive propaganda exercise…” A bipartisan contingent of American congressmen are currently urging President Obama to send lethal weapons to the Ukraine but are at odds with their European counterparts over this issue. Kerry declined to comment on this at the meeting, but stressed the need to provide Ukraine with the economic assistance it needs.
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Estonia shows off NATO ties at celebrations on Russian border
25 February 2015 – AFP
Around 100 troops from a variety of NATO member states participated in a March marking Estonia’s Independence Day in the Estonian city of Narva. The march took place close to the Russian border in a city where the majority of residents are ethnic Russians. It takes place amid heightened tensions between NATO and Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. Commentators see the march and its location as a deliberate message by NATO, demonstrating a commitment to its collective defense.
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First day with no troops killed under Ukraine truce
25 February 2015 – Reuters
Wednesday, February 25th represents the first day in Ukraine with no military fatalities since the Minsk agreement ceasefire, which was scheduled to go into effect on February 15th. Although Ukrainian forces have not yet begun to remove weaponry from the front line, rebel forces are pulling back their heavy weapons. The hryvnia has continued to tumble in value, leading the Ukrainian central bank to impose a ban on foreign currency purchases by banks for the remainder of the week.
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Paris Meeting on Ukraine is Inconclusive as Ceasefire Struggles
24 February 2015 – U.S. News & World Report
The Normandy Quartet of foreign ministers from Ukraine, Germany, Russia and France met in Paris on Tuesday, February 24th to discuss the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region and further implementation of the Minsk ceasefire agreement. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin reported that they were unable to reach a consensus over whom to blame for the ongoing violence and could not agree on a condemnation of it. However, the Quartet urged both sides to allow OSCE observers access to any areas and to cooperate with them in order to allow for the observation of the weapons pullback.
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Europe’s Digital Czar Slams Google, Facebook
24 February 2015 – The Wall Street Journal
On Tuesday, European Digital Economy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said companies such as Facebook and Google were taking advantage of legal irregularities to amass and sell citizen’s data and that the European Union needs new, EU-wide legislation to protect data and copyrights. Oettinger said the two companies “will go to the member states where data protection is least developed, come along with their electronic vacuum cleaner, take it to California and sell it for money.” Member states are currently drafting a data privacy bill to tighten regulations on technology firms and aim to have the bill ready by the end of the year. In 2014, the disclosure of U.S. spying on European governments reinvigorated public debate on data privacy. The European Commission wants to develop a single digital market and has said it will reveal its proposals in May. The Commission is currently contemplating whether or not to bring a case against Google for purportedly taking advantage of its market dominance.
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Why Britain should not leave the EU to be like Norway—by a Norwegian minister
24 February 2015 – The Telegraph
Writing in the Telegraph, Norwegian European Affairs Minister Vidar Helgesen argues that the UK should remain a member of the European Union. The EU has been criticized in the past for its lack of coherence on foreign policy. In light of Europe’s coordinated response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in eastern Ukraine, a UK exit would only signal to Russia that the EU is weak and disunited. EU foreign policy is more effective with the UK. The UK can persuade other member states to implement needed economic reforms that will combat Europe’s declining competitiveness. If Britain left the EU in the near-future, it would be removing itself from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an agreement that will set common trade rules and liberalize trade between the EU and U.S. In 1994, Norway joined the European Economic Area, granting the country access to the single market yet requiring it to implement over 10,000 EU rules or three quarters of all EU laws. However, Norway cannot draft or vote upon these regulations. “I find it difficult to imagine the UK, with your global ambition, dedication and contributions, being comfortable with such an arrangement,” Helgesen wrote. 
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Malmstrom: Germany’s TTIP debate “more heated”
24 February 2015 – EurActiv
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom struggles to explain why the debate over the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is more vehement in Germany, given the advantage the country, as a net exporter, would have in the deal. One poll shows 58% of European Union citizens supporting the trade deal, while only 39% support the deal in Germany, 41% oppose it, and 20% remain undecided. German Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel, speaking at a recent free trade conference, called on opponents to relax their language on the TTIP, and proposed “a modernised procedure for arbitration of disputes between investors and the state… based on public law.” While this reform would dispel much of the criticism facing TTIP, Malmstrom indicated such extensive reform would be unlikely.
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Greece debt crisis: Eurozone backs reform plans
24 February 2015 – BBC News
The Eurogroup has approved Greece’s proposals for its proposed four month assistance package. Earlier on Tuesday, the European Commission described the reforms as a “valid starting point.” However, Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund Director, reportedly said that while she was heartened by corruption and tax evasion reforms, in “a few areas, however, including perhaps the most important ones, the letter is not conveying clear assurances that the government intends to undertake the reforms envisaged.” Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras wants to increase revenues by tackling corruption, inefficiency, and tax avoidance, so that he has more money to reverse severe public spending cuts, which were required by Greece’s creditors under the current bailout program in exchange for loans.
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Ukraine Rebels Say Weapons Pullback Under Way
24 February 2015 – Voice of America
Rebel forces in eastern Ukraine report that they are withdrawing heavy weaponry from the line of contact in keeping with the Minsk ceasefire agreements. The Ukrainian military has yet to respond, but has continued to indicate that they will not withdraw weapons while there is fighting going on; Ukrainian forces reported rebel attacks near Debaltseve and Mariupol on Tuesday, February 24th. Europe’s gas supply is also at risk, with Russian-owned Gazprom threatening to cut off gas delivery to Ukraine, and thus disrupt further delivery to Europe due to Ukraine’s failure to make a prepayment.
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UK, French Malls in Security Clampdown on Terror Threat
23 February 2015 – Bloomberg Business
After a Somalia-based terror group al-Shabaab released a video Saturday in which it called for attacks in Canada, the U.S., the UK and France, groups of police and soldiers, armed with FAMAS assault rifles and wearing bullet-proof vests, on Monday were patrolling the Le Forum des Halles mall in the heart of Paris. The UK has been at the second-highest terrorist threat level since August, meaning an attack on domestic soil is highly likely. Benjamin Griveaux, a spokesman for Forum des Halles operator Unibail-Rodamco SE said additional security measures have been in place at the mall since January 7th, including more police and private security guards, video surveillance and controls of clients and deliveries. U.S. Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson cautioned visitors to the Mall of America outside Minneapolis to be “particularly careful” after the al-Shabab terror group called for attacks against the center and a Canadian mall. Johnson made the comments during a February 22nd interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
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IMF signs off on $1.4 billion loan for Serbia
23 February 2015 – Reuters
The International Monetary Fund on Monday signed off on a three-year, 1.2 billion euro ($1.4 billion) loan program for Serbia to help the eastern European country restore its financial health and reassure investors. The IMF said Serbia plans to treat the funds as precautionary, as it seeks to deal with a ballooning deficit and public debt since the onset of the global financial crisis six years ago. Under the program, Serbian officials committed to restoring the health of public finances, strengthening the financial sector, and to deeper reforms, including at state-owned enterprises. Serbia's debt agency has several debt sales planned this week.
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Ukraine Tightens Currency Controls as IMF Deal Gives Little Help
23 February 2015 – Bloomberg Business
Less than two weeks after the International Monetary Fund announced a $17.5 billion bailout loan for Ukraine, the central bank tightened capital controls to prevent the country from running out of foreign currency. Central bank Governor Valeriya Gontareva announced new limits on the amount of foreign exchange available to importers and banned banks from lending money for clients to buy foreign currency. More restrictions may follow as the country’s economy contracts amid a deadly conflict with pro-Russian rebels in the country’s ea. In spite of what has been pledged, Ukraine hasn’t received a major injection of IMF cash since a $1.4 billion disbursement on September 3rd, the lender’s website shows.
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Senior Tory MP says UK-EU referendum debate is hitting investment
23 February 2015 – Financial Times
With the upcoming UK-EU referendum in 2017, conservative party members are criticizing the effect of this uncertainty on investment in Britain. For example, foreign investment in the UK has dropped thirteen percent since 2013. Despite the push for the referendum from the conservative Tory party, some members “are increasingly concerned about the party’s hostility to Europe and the willingness to harm the interests of some businesses in doing so.” The continued public and political divide over the UK’s status in the EU will be difficult to clarify with the one referendum.
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Dollar gains before Yellen’s testimony, euro falls
23 February 2015 – Reuters
A rise in the dollar and fall in the euro in foreign exchange markets this week reflect prospects of the Fed raising interest rates and continued uncertainty over the longevity of Greece’s solvency. However, “weak domestic inflation and a sluggish global economy have complicated” the possibility of moving away from quantitative easing in the U.S. These events also contributed to the rise of yen against the euro and dollar. 
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Q & A German attitudes and doubts about the TTIP
23 February 2015 – Europe Online Magazine
While German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly supports international trade deals, including the Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the U.S., concerns from German citizens include being able to keep the special price protection on books, maintaining food standards, and most notably, the controversial investor-settlement dispute settlement (ISDS) clause. The German government has assured citizens that the unique book protection and food standards will not be compromised in the deal. German officials are lobbying for adjustments of ISDS to prevent cases from being tried in private courts.
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