What's New

John Davenport joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board
John Davenport is a Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Fordham University. Professor Davenport has published and instructed widely on topics in free will and responsibility, existential conceptions of practical identity, virtue ethics, motivation and autonomy, theories of justice, and philosophy of religion. He has published and spoken about the need for a federation of democracies, and is currently working on a book titled A Federation of Democracies: Towards Universal Basic Rights and the End of Tyranny. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and a B.A. in Philosophy from Yale University.

The European Defense Fund: What Does it Mean for Transatlantic Security?
The European Commission launched the European Defense Fund (EDF) on June 7, 2017. It will provide €590 million through 2020, and at least €1.5 billion per year after 2020, to incentivize collaborative defense research, development and acquisition within the EU. The aims of the fund are to reduce duplication in defense spending, produce more defense capability for every euro spent, and enhance the interoperability of European forces. (Read More)

NATO, Trump, and the Return of the Burden-Sharing Debate
As North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders prepare for a summit meeting in Brussels on May 24-25, they face heightened uncertainty about the future of the Alliance. U.S. President Donald Trump, like his predecessors, has voiced support for NATO while emphasizing the need for a more equitable defense spending burden within the Alliance. Unlike his predecessors, Trump has suggested that the U.S. may not aid NATO allies when attacked if they do not meet the Alliance’s non-binding pledge to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense. (Read More)

Streit Council Advisory Board Member Brendan Simms on the Post-Brexit European Order
The challenges facing the United Kingdom over the next two years are numerous and increasing by the day. All of these issues are hugely important and they are closely interconnected. At root, however, they are a question of order, not so much of the “rules-based” global international community, significant though that is, but of the European order around which the world system was originally constructed and that remains – for the UK, at least – the primary pivot. (Read More)

The European Union in 2017: Fragmentation or Integration?

As the European Union (EU) approaches the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, its leaders and institutions face a rising tide of political risk. Long-held and growing doubts about the EU’s ability to reduce unemployment, stem migration, and counter terrorism have set the stage for electoral gains by euroskeptic parties in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and – if an early election is called – in Italy. These risks are compounded by Russia’s support for euroskeptic parties; the uncertain fate of the EU-Turkey refugee deal; Brexit negotiations; and an increasingly likely economic downturn. What can be done to strengthen the Union? (Read More)

Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News

Spain threatens to take over Catalonia’s government as constitutional crisis looms
19 October 2017 – Washington Post

On Thursday, Spain’s central government announced it would quickly move to take control of the autonomous Catalonia and restore “constitutional order” after the region’s president refused to back away from a push for independence.
(Read More

Tusk: EU migrant quotas have “no future”
19 October 2017 – EU Observer
On Wednesday, EU Council President Donald Tusk said that obligatory “migrant quotas” should not be pressed on member states. "This completely unnecessary conflict between member states must end," he said. Migrant quotas have become a divisive issue within the EU, and the Visegrad Group – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland – has refused to take in asylum seekers from Greece and Italy despite an EU vote to do so.
(Read more

Internet giants attend G7 Summit for first time as world takes fight to extremists online
19 October – The Independent

For the first time in history, major tech companies will attend official meetings at a G7 conference in Ischia. Apple, Google, and Facebook are among the high-profile attendees, and they plan to discuss coordinated efforts to target violent extremists in the online Islamist community and other terrorist organizations. Both the online giants and G7 states will attempt to devise novel but legally appropriate measures to contain the spread of dangerous hotbeds for internet radicalization.
(Read more)

Leaders to agree on EU, Eurozone reform calendar
18 October 2017 – Reuters

European Union leaders are set to agree on Friday to a calendar called the “Leaders’ Agenda” which will detail when to tackle various changes to the bloc, including deeper Eurozone integration, to strengthen the EU after Britain leaves. The calendar, which goes until the middle of 2019, will also set out a timetable for discussions on migration, defense, the next seven-year budget, the European Parliament’s composition, trade, top EU jobs, and deepening the economic union.
(Read More)

Xi Jinping at China congress calls on party to tighten its grip on the country
18 October – The Washington Post

In the keynote speech at China's Communist Party Congress, President Xi Jinping spoke for nearly four hours and delivered the most comprehensive vision for China’s future in modern history. He declared that China must become a “mighty force” in the world, and “it is time for [us] to take center stage in the world.” Xi also extolled the virtues of “Chinese socialism,” and pushed for bigger punishments for corruption within the Communist Party.
(Read more)

Exclusive: Putin's “chef,” the man behind the troll factory
17 October 2017 – CNN

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch dubbed “chef” to President Putin and a member of the Kremlin’s inner circle, is believed to be have had his company finance a Russian “troll factory” that used social media to spread fake news during the 2016 US presidential campaign. According to U.S. officials and documents reviewed by CNN, his company was the main backer of the St. Petersburg-based “Internet Research Agency” (IRA); Prigozhin was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in December 2016 for providing financial support for Russia’s military occupation of Ukraine.
(Read more)

Ukraine anti-graft protesters clash with riot police
17 October 2017 - BBC News

Four people have been injured in clashes between riot police and demonstrators demanding major reforms in Kiev. Thousands of protestors gathered on the main road outside the parliament building are calling for an anti-corruption court to be set up, MPs to lose their immunity from prosecution, and changes to the electoral system.
(Read more)

Prague poised to turn away from Brussels
17 October 2017 – Politico

Recent polls predict that the Czech ANO movement and its founder, former Finance Minister Andrej Babis, will be the biggest election winners this week. Babis has vowed to fight political corruption, and has come out against EU migrant quotas and “EU meddling” in Czech politics. Despite discussions in the EU on developments toward a two-speed Europe, the Czech Republic’s future in the EU has not featured heavily in debates leading up to the election.
(Read more)

Brexit talks must speed up, Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker say
17 October 2017 - BBC

British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have agreed to ”accelerate” Brexit negotiations - but there was no sign of a breakthrough after their working dinner Monday night. In a joint statement, they said the Brussels talks were “constructive and friendly,” but the UK’s financial settlement with the EU continues to be a sticking point. Despite both May and Juncker agreeing that efforts should be made to accelerate the process over months to come, analysts remain skeptical that progress will be made soon.
(Read More

NAFTA nations agree to delay next round of talks to work out “challenges”
17 October 2017 – Politico

Appearing in a joint statement, trade representatives from the United States, Mexico, and Canada agreed to delay the next round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks so that “challenges” and disagreements can be resolved between the three countries. The announcement of a delay occurred after a series of U.S. proposals yesterday were rejected immediately by Canada and Mexico. Mexico’s representative said after the postponement that, “[w]e must ensure that decisions we make today do not come back to haunt us tomorrow.”
(Read more

EU slaps new sanctions on North Korea
16 October 2017 – The Washington Post/AP

Another round of sanctions against North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs were agreed to by EU foreign ministers. The new measures include tightening restrictions on remittances and foreign investment, as well as bans on exporting crude oil and petroleum products. While many of these rules are similar to existing sanctions against North Korea, the EU also decided not to renew work permits for North Korean nationals in Europe.
(Read more

The Latest: Putin halts NKorea ties in line with UN demands
16 October 2017 - The Washington Post

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree imposing restrictions on North Korea in order to comply with a United Nations Security Council resolution. Putin’s decree orders the halting of an array of economic, scientific and technical ties with Pyongyang and includes various restrictions on trade, financial transactions and transport ties with North Korea.
(Read More

Macron pushes EU to take tougher stance in trade talks
16 October 2017 – Financial Times
Later this week, French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to demand that the EU harden its approach to free trade talks. He will urge the Union to raise environmental and health standards and strengthen “reciprocity” when negotiating free trade deals. French agricultural interests are particularly concerned about a pending deal with Mercosur.
(Read more)

In Austria, the far right comes closer to power
16 October 2017 – Financial Times

In elections held last weekend, Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO) won 26% of the vote – enough to enter a coalition government with the center-right People’s party. The FPO’s anti-immigration and Islamophobic positions now appear to resonate with a substantial portion of the Austrian electorate. The results are the best for the FPO in two decades, and it won nearly one third of voters under the age of 29.
(Read more)

Macron: “I Told Trump not to tear up Iran Deal”
15 October – Politico Europe

French President Emmanuel Macron said over the weekend that he told President Donald Trump directly “not to tear up the [Iran] deal,” and argued staunchly for diplomacy with the Islamic Republic. Macron also said in a speech that a “multilateral” approach to non-proliferation is always the best avenue for resolving issues like Iranian and North Korean nuclear ambitions.
(Read more)

Europe charts own course on Iran with Washington as outlier over nuclear deal
13 October 2017 - The Washington Post

On Friday, European diplomats said that President Trump’s expected decision to strip backing from the nuclear deal with Iran could undermine further international attempts to restrict Tehran’s ability to expand its atomic program. At the same time, Europe readied measures to keep the deal on track and have been lobbying U.S. lawmakers in recent weeks on the assumption that Congress would be the main battleground. Even if lawmakers ultimately choose to preserve the agreement, Europeans warned that U.S. credibility has already been dealt a significant blow.
(Read more)

China threatens U.S. Congress for crossing its “red line” on Taiwan
13 October 2017 – The Washington Post

As the United States Congress debates the Taiwan Travel Act and Taiwan Security Act, China has formally warned of “severe consequences” should the bills become law. American lawmakers were surprised by China’s swift denouncement and called the threats “inappropriate.” China’s Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai sent a letter to all members of Congress, calling the bills “provocations against China’s sovereignty, national unity, and security interests.” The bills include miscellaneous improvements to U.S.-Taiwan relations, such as allowing Taiwan to participate in the annual “Red Flag” military exercise and approving port calls at U.S. naval bases.
(Read more)

G7 agrees to ramp up economic pressure on N. Korea – Japan’s Asakawa
13 October 2017 – Reuters
The G7 will cooperate to counter North Korean attempts to avert UN sanctions. “The G7 agreed on the need to apply maximum economic pressure on North Korea by cutting its revenue source and preventing it from abusing the global financial system,” said Japanese Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs Masatsugu Asakawa.
(Read more)

EU talks over carbon trading reforms hit impasse
13 October 2017 – New York Times
The European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), a cap-and-trade permit system for carbon emissions, has suffered from oversupply and low prices since the global financial crisis. One part of reforming the ETS under discussion is the creation of a modernization fund to finance low-carbon technology in poorer EU members. This would reduce demand for carbon emissions permits and increase the cost of emitting. But talks have faltered over a provision that would effectively rule out funding to coal-fired power plants.
(Read more)

Finland says no to Eurozone finance ministry, common budget
13 October 2017 – Reuters
In response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals to reform the Eurozone, Finland’s center-right coalition government ruled out the creation of a Eurozone finance ministry and common budget. Finland’s position aligns closely with Germany’s.
(Read more)

South Korea, U.S. to draft plan for future alliance command
12 October 2017 – Yonhap

South Korea’s Ministry of Defense announced today that ROK and U.S. forces are formalizing plans to create a new combined command to address regional security on the Korean Peninsula. The agreement would be the most significant integration of U.S. and South Korean armed forces in modern history. The plan will be approved at Seoul’s next official Military Committee Meeting.
(Read more)

U.S. withdraws from UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural organization, citing “anti-Israel bias”
12 October 2017 – The Washington Post

The United States helped found the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1945, but will now withdraw its membership due to “anti-Israel bias,” according to the Trump Administration. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called the organization a “chronic embarrassment” and added that, “U.S. taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our value[s].”
(Read more)

Deadlock over UK’s Brexit bill, says EU’s Michel Barnier
12 October 2017 – BBC

EU Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier announced that talks have reached a “deadlock.” Disagreements over citizens’ rights and financial settlements with the UK are among the central issues causing the delay. The negotiations have met several speed-bumps over the past few months, and the separation phase will likely continue to stall.
(Read more)

Denmark wants to boost defense spending by 20 percent
11 October 2017 - The Republic

In response to Russia’s military buildup in the Baltic Sea region, Denmark’s center-right, minority government wants to boost the NATO country’s defense budget by 20% over the next six years. Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen says the budget would increase by 4.8 billion kroner ($760 million) each year until 2023. The proposed boost would still fall short of NATO’s 2% of GDP defense spending guideline, and the proposal must still be approved by parliament.
(Read More

EU states agree on “aspiration” declaration about Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova
11 October 2017 - RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

EU ambassadors have agreed to recognize the European aspirations of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, agreeing on the language of the draft declaration during a meeting in Brussels on October 11th. The document reads, “the [Eastern Partnership] summit participants acknowledge the European aspirations and the European choice of the partners concerned.”
(Read More)

Theresa May sides with EU leaders and urges Donald Trump not to abandon historic nuclear deal
11 October 2017 – The Independent

UK Prime Minister Theresa May reiterated the importance of maintaining the Iran Deal to President Donald Trump during a private call. May has continually stated that she sees the deal as “vitally important for regional security,” and has supported calls from other EU leaders to recertify the agreement.
(Read more)

North Korean hack of U.S. war plans shows off cyber skills
11 October 2017 – Bloomberg

According to South Korean lawmakers, cyberwarfare elements of the North Korean government were able to steal over 200 gigabytes of classified military plans and information from the ROK’s defense ministry. Most notably, Operational Plans 5015 and 3100 were among the stolen data, which outline tactical operations to decapitate Kim Jong Un’s government.
(Read more 1, 2, 3)

Spanish prime minister demands clarity on Catalan independence
11 October 2017 – Financial Times

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has given Catalan President Carles Puigdemont five days to clarify the ambiguous suspended declaration of independence he issued on Tuesday. Rajoy suggested that he could activate Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which would enable Madrid to assume control of Catalonia’s regional government.
(Read more) 

Georgia, EU beginning strategic dialogue on security
11 October 2017 - APA

The first meeting on the strategic dialogue on security issues between Georgia and the European Union is to take place in Tbilisi today. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said at a government meeting that “the commencement of a high-level strategic dialogue on security issues between Georgia and the EU is a very important achievement,” adding that the most important part of the dialogue will be the Russia-Georgia conflict and its peaceful settlement.
(Read more

U.S. navy destroyer sails near disputed islands in South China Sea
10 October 2017 - CNN

A U.S. navy destroyer conducted a “freedom of navigation” operation near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on Tuesday. The USS Chafee, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, did not come within 12 miles of any individual island, which is the distance China considers territorial waters, but it did enter the “straight baseline” that Beijing claims around the islands group. The operation was part of a longstanding effort to challenge Beijing’s “excessive maritime claims.”
(Read more

Juncker’s euro-push could risk unity, warns eastern flank
10 October 2017 – EU Observer

In his state of the union address last month, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker argued that all EU countries should adopt the euro by 2019. Polish and Hungarian officials have, however, voiced opposition to Juncker’s call to join the EU’s “core.” The Commission will present proposals for financial incentives and a new assistance instrument for non-euro countries on December 6th.
(Read more)

U.S.-Turkey tensions boil over after arrest of consulate employee
9 October – The Washington Post

Turkey and the United States have suspended visa services and promised to “reassess” diplomatic commitments to one another. Relations between the NATO allies have chilled significantly following the Turkish government’s decision to jail American citizens in Turkey it sees as supportive of religious leader-in-exile Fethullah Gulen. Metin Topuz, an employee of the U.S. consulate, was also arrested last week, prompting the cancellation of visa services.
(Read more)

Google uncovered Russia-backed ads on YouTube, Gmail : source
9 October 2017 – Reuters

Google has discovered Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on its YouTube, Gmail and Google Search products in an effort to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated entity that bought ads on Facebook Inc, but may indicate a broader Russian online disinformation effort.
(Read more

NATO launches Black Sea force as latest counter to Russia
9 October 2017 - Reuters

On Monday NATO launched a new multinational force in Romania to counter Russia along its eastern flank and to check a growing Russian presence in the Black Sea. The force will initially be built around a Romanian brigade of up to 4,000 soldiers, supported by troops from nine other NATO countries, and complementing a separate deployment of 900 U.S. troops who are already in place.
(Read more)

European Union to get a single public prosecutor
6 October 2017 – Euractiv

Four years after legislation was first introduced to create a common prosecutors office for the EU, as envisioned under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament and member states approved the measure. The European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO) will start work next year and have the power to coordinate police investigations, freeze and seize assets, and arrest suspects across borders. Last month, French President Macron and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker endorsed an expansion of the EPPO’s purview to include trans-border crimes such as terrorism.
(Read more)

Franco-German bonds would be a good move, senior Merkel ally says
6 October 2017 – Reuters
Norbert Roettgen, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, voiced support for the issuance of Franco-German bonds for “targeted investment projects.” Roettgen argued that the status quo in the Eurozone is unsustainable, and that the creation of a Franco-German debt instrument would be a first step toward fixing its vulnerabilities.
(Read more)

Trump plans to declare that Iran nuclear deal is not in the national interest
5 October 2017 – The Washington Post

President Trump plans to announce that he will decertify the multiparty Iran Deal next week. Decertifying the agreement would effectively cancel the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and likely result in renewed sanctions against Iran. Other parties to the agreement, including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, have urged President Trump not to decertify the plan.
(Read more)

U.S. intelligence sees China’s military expanding bases globally
5 October 2017 – Bloomberg

As China’s first overseas military base was established in Djibouti in 2017, intelligence estimates claim China will continue building bases around sensitive regions across the world – ranging from the South China Sea to Africa, and even in Latin America. Experts also noted that China has the “fastest-modernizing military in the world” second to the United States, and that friction between the two superpowers will continue to grow.
(Read more)

Russia is raising fears of war by sending jets, tanks and armored vehicles to Serbia
5 October 2017 – Newsweek

Fearful of increasing NATO and European influence in Serbia, Russia made its first promised delivery of two MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia this week. More military-grade vehicles and anti-aircraft defenses are expected to head to the longtime Russian ally as tensions increase in the Balkans. Four more jets are due by October 20th, in time for a visit by Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu.
(Read More

U.S. approves missile sale to Japan amid North Korea threat
5 October 2017 - The Japan Times

The U.S. State Department announced Wednesday that it approved the sale of 56 advanced medium-range missiles to Japan for an estimate $113 million. The planned sale of the AIM-120C-7 missiles “will provide Japan a critical air defense capability to assist in defending the Japanese homeland and U.S. personnel stationed there,” the department said. The deal requires congressional approval and came at the request of the Japanese government.
(Read More

EU defends Spain’s right to use “proportionate force”
4 October 2017 – Bloomberg

European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans voiced support for the Spanish government’s right to prevent the secession of Catalonia, which is illegal under the Spanish constitution. “Respect for the rule of law is not optional; it’s fundamental,” he said. The statement comes three days after an independence referendum vote that led to a police crackdown on voters and several hundred injuries.
(Read More)

EU urges Spanish and Catalan leaders to talk
4 October – EU Observer

An emergency debate was organized by the European Parliament in Strasbourg today to address the recent Catalonian independence referendum. The European Commission and various MEPs used the opportunity to push for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, suggesting direct bilateral negotiations between Spanish and Catalan authorities. “It’s time to talk… [a]ll lines of communication must stay open,” said the Commission’s First Vice President, Frans Timmermans.
(Read more)

Europe will do everything to preserve Iran nuclear deal: EU diplomat
4 October – Reuters

EU Foreign Policy Secretary-General Helga Schmid announced that as the formal date to recertify the Iran Deal approaches, European countries will do everything possible to preserve the agreement. In remarks delivered by Schmid, she noted that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is “not a bilateral agreement” but a multilateral agreement between many of the world’s major powers, and that the EU member states which participated in brokering the deal will continue to support it. “The world does not need a second nuclear proliferation crisis, one is already too many,” she said, referencing the ongoing standoff between the United States and North Korea.
(Read more)

EU: Brexit talks still stuck on question of UK exit bill
3 October 2017 – AP

On Tuesday, the EU restated its position that the UK must settle previous financial commitments to the Union before discussing future trade arrangements. Other outstanding issues awaiting resolution include Britain’s future security relationship with the EU and the rights of EU citizens in Britain.
(Read more

Japan rules out intercepting North Korean missile tests
3 October 2017 - Financial Times

Japan will not shoot down North Korean missile tests unless they threaten its territory, according to the country’s defense minister. His remarks highlight the sensitivities imposed by Japan’s pacifist constitution.
(Read more)

Defense chief says U.S. should stay in nuclear deal with Iran
3 October – AP/New York Times

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said during congressional testimony on America’s national security interests that it should remain a part of the multiparty Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the “Iran Deal.”  While both Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have expressed concern over Iranian actions in other arenas, both have continued to publicly support the agreement.
(Read more)


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