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
EU finance ministers dream of a capital market union
26 April 2015 – Deutsche Welle
European finance ministers support the integration of Eurozone capital markets, which means “a single market for capital investments and finance streams” that will diversify investment opportunities. As part of the effort to increase investment, the push for a capital markets union will provide businesses with another source of funding outside of banks. By facilitating the free flow of capital, “regional shocks could then be absorbed by diversified capital market investments.” Challenges include implementing thorough regulation, and the ongoing economic woes of southern Europe.
Euro accession a turn-off for Polish voters
26 April 2015 – Reuters
Despite popular support for the European Union, most Polish citizens no longer support joining the Eurozone, as evidenced by President Bronislaw Komorowski’s recent decision to jettison the topic in his reelection campaign. Support for euro inclusion has dropped since the 2008 financial crisis, as the Polish economy has grown by almost a third since 2007 while the Eurozone has grown by only 4 percent, and boasts a much more reasonable debt-to-GDP ratio of 50 percent. Further, “many Poles also fear that prices would rise if they adopted the euro, while wages would not.”
NATO: Big military build-up on Russia-Ukraine border
23 April 2015 – Associated Press
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview on Thursday that Russian forces are massing on the border with Ukraine. Russia is accusing the U.S. of sending military instructors to eastern Ukraine, though they are in fact in the western part of the country where they are training national guard units. Stoltenberg warned that Russia’s actions undermine the cease-fire and could enable pro-Russian separatists in the country to go on the offensive with little warning.
PM sets out “English votes” timetable
23 April 2015 – BBC News
Bills that apply only to certain constituent countries of the UK will require the approval of MPs from those countries, Cameron has promised ahead of the May 7 election. Since 1999, most of the laws that apply exclusively to Scotland have been drafted by the Scottish Parliament. Thus, some resent the fact that Scottish MPs can vote on bills affecting only England and Wales while English and Welsh MPs are unable to vote on Scottish only matters. Further tax powers devolved to Scotland would necessitate a separate income tax rate for England and the other constituent countries of the UK, Cameron contended. In the wake of last year’s referendum, the Smith Commission suggested that Scotland be able to set their own income tax.
Insurers lead moves to include financial services in TTIP
23 April 2015 – EurActiv
As the ninth round of negotiations over the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and EU continue, insurance companies on both sides of the Atlantic are pushing for inclusion of a financial services chapter. The U.S. officially remains disinclined, most likely due to interests of regulators. The inclusion of such a clause would benefit insurance companies that face “costly duplicative regulatory requirements.” If TTIP passes with the financial services aspect, experts estimate that U.S. insurance services exports to the EU will increase by almost 10 percent by 2027.
Merkel calls Ireland “growth engine” of EU
22 April 2015 – The Irish Times
In a subtle effort to spur cooperation from the Greek government, German chancellor Angela Merkel praised the efforts of European nations such as Ireland, for implementing tough economic reforms to ensure recovery. Specifically, “tighter budgets and economic overhauls” have contributed to growth in Ireland. Eurozone finance ministers and Greek government officials are convening in Riga this week to discuss the country’s debt.
Single European sky crucial for EU prosperity
21 April 2015 – The Parliament Magazine
European Parliament rapporteur on the implementation of the single European sky (SES) Marian-Jean Marinescu presents the case for commencing negotiations on this legislation, which will coordinate management and regulation of airspace through the EU. Specifically, the legislation is focused on “direct routes and a new airspace configuration.” Marinescu has jumpstarted dialogue through organizing conferences and traveling to speak with stakeholders and policymakers. The SES would contribute to economic growth, through “employment and competitiveness in Europe, in particular by increasing demand for jobs requiring advanced qualifications.” The SES would expedite and modernize the European aviation sector.
Obama Pushes Back Against Fellow Democrats Who Oppose Trade Pact
21 April 2015 – The Wall Street Journal
In a televised interview on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama refuted criticisms of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 Asian nations, insisting that this free trade agreement will benefit the middle, working class and small businesses. Given that the Republican party generally supports free trade deals, Obama must convince progressives within his own party to win support. Promoting trade has become a focus of the Obama administration, with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe in negotiation as well.
ECB staff mulls plans to curtail bank funding
21 April 2015 – CNBC
According to sources within the European Central Bank, officials are preparing a report that considers the possible scenarios of Greek debt, including whether or not Greece remains cut off from Eurozone creditors, and if Greece were to default, whether it would do so in an “orderly” or “disorderly” manner. In the default scenarios, the report suggests 75 percent haircuts for an “orderly default,” meaning, “Greece would default under a formal ECB program” or 90 percent haircuts in case of “disorderly default.” Despite relaxed rhetoric from the ECB regarding Greece’s staying in the Eurozone, these precautionary measures reveal a less certain future. The Greek government currently faces upcoming repayments to the ECB and IMF, as well as domestic expenses.
New law to allow Japan to supply U.S. military in South China Sea, say officials
21 April 2015 – Reuters
According to Japanese government and ruling party sources, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to expand Japan’s non-combat role in armed conflicts to supplying U.S. forces with fuel and ammunition anywhere. Currently, Japan can only provide the U.S. with logistical support in the “areas around Japan.” Abe is expected to send legislation legalizing the shift to parliament next month, though under the proposed arrangement the government will still need parliamentary approval for every operation.
Maybe It’s Finland That Europe Should Be Worrying About, Not Greece
21 April 2015 – Seeking Alpha
Given the speculation of a “Grexit” and the ensuing contagion within the Eurozone, the case is made that Finland may be gearing up to leave the currency bloc. Indicators such as slow GDP growth rate, ahead of only Italy and Cyprus at 0.8 percent, an economy reliant on international trade, potential political realignment, and little sympathy for Greece point to the possibility of Finland deciding to leave the euro. Specifically, if Greece were to leave first, causing the currency to appreciate, Finland’s export-based economy would suffer. Further, if the traditionally euroskeptic party The Finns gain ground in recent elections, “Finland's political system may have significantly more sway in negotiating a potential exit from the eurozone.”
GDP growth pushes deficit close to the limit
21 April 2015 – The Irish Examiner
As growth picks up in the Irish economy, experts predict the country will not have a problem reining in its government deficit to GDP ratio to the EU mandated 3 percent. Already down to 3.1 percent for the fourth quarter of last year from a high of 5.8 percent at the end of 2013, helped in part by restructuring agreements made with the IMF and ECB. Specifically, “the promissory note deal, struck in February 2013, which saw the notes replaced with a series of long-term bonds, helped reduce the debt burden associated with the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.” Ireland’s impressive GDP growth rate of 5 percent is expected to continue.
NATO to Hold Major Cyber Defense Drill in Estonia
April 21 2015 – AP
NATO’s cyber defense center in Tallinn will hold the Lock Shields 2015 exercise, where about 400 computer experts from 16 nations will take part in major annual cybersecurity drill. The motive behind the drill is to exercise simulated attacks from Russia and ISIS. In 2007, the Estonian government, media and corporate websites were crippled in a cyberattack blamed on Russia and more recently French television network TV5Monde had their broadcasts disrupted by ISIS sympathizers. This comes as NATO is bolstering its defensive capabilities on a multitude of fronts in light of recent events in Ukraine and Syria.
U.S. Resumes Trade Talks With Europe, Japan
20 April 2015 – Voice of America
This week, the U.S. and EU enter the ninth round of negotiations in New York on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), while the U.S. simultaneously hashes out the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Japan in Tokyo. Despite public protests against TTIP in Germany, and the possibility of the U.S. Congress voting down either trade deal, key leaders, including U.S. President Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have championed the deals. The discussion on TTIP will focus on “removing tariffs, cutting red tape and reducing restrictions on investment in a trade area covering 800 million people,” while the major obstacles for TPP “include access to the U.S. car market and Japan’s farm market.”
EU lawsuit against Google just a distraction from economic woes
20 April 2015 – Washington Examiner
The details surrounding the European Union’s anti-trust lawsuit against U.S. tech giant Google suggest the purpose of the case may be more to placate European voters than it is to prosecute a company overstepping its reach. In a recent interview, the EU’s commissioner for competition and lead on the case against Google, Margrethe Vestager, struggles to justify the prosecution’s argument when presented with questions regarding Google’s 90 percent preference in the European market, and the expectation of preferential search results. A possible explanation for the over-zealous case against Google could be just a “way of distracting the public from Europe's real problem: slow growth and high unemployment.”
Asean economic growth “to outdo EU”
20 April 2015 – BBC
Once integrated, the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) is projected to surpass the European Union in size within 10 to 15 years, as the market has an estimated growth rate of 5 percent per year, while the EU lags behind at less than 2 percent per year. Rather than adopt a single monetary policy and a central bank like the framework of the EU, the region is focused on “the free flow of goods, services, investment and labour.” Challenges to the process, expected to become the seventh largest economy in the world after unification by the end of the year, include economic inequality and lack of far reaching education on the deal.
Ukraine, U.S. joint military training exercises begin despite Russian objections
20 April 2015 – International Business Times
The Ukrainian military has started training with 300 U.S. paratroopers in the city of Lviv. The troops will train 900 members of Ukraine’s national guard over the next six months, but the U.S. has said it will not supply weapons or lethal training to the guardsmen. “We will be conducting classes on war-fighting functions, as well as training to sustain and increase the professionalism and proficiency of military staffs,” U.S. Army Maj. Jose Mendez, operations officer of the 173rd brigade, said in a statement. A Russian government spokesman warned that the training could “destabilize the situation.”
Cyprus passes foreclosures bill, opening access to ECB’s QE programme
19 April 2015 – Reuters
The Cypriot parliament passed an insolvency framework to address “non-performing loans that are among the highest in Europe” at the urging of the European Central Bank in return for inclusion in the ECB’s bond-buying program. This legislation was required by the ECB for Cyprus to receive the remaining bailout funds from its “10 billion euro bailout deal in 2013” and enable Cypriot government bonds to be purchased by the ECB. With this development, officials expect “ECB purchases of Cypriot government debt would help bring down yields and assist Cyprus in its return to capital markets,” through the purchase approximately 500 million euros of Cypriot bonds.
Putin says ready to work with the United States
18 April 2015 – Reuters
In a Saturday television interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin argued that Russia needs to work with the U.S. on a common agenda. "We have disagreements on several issues on the international agenda. But at the same time there is something that unites us, that forces us to work together…I mean general efforts directed at making the world economy more democratic, measured and balanced, so that the world order is more democratic. We have a common agenda," Putin said.
Europe ready for Grexit contagion as Athens gets closer to Russian cash
18 April 2015 – The Telegraph
Given the lack of progress in negotiations with Eurozone creditors, Athens is moving towards an energy deal with Moscow that would provide around 3 to 5 billion euros of immediate funds. While ECB president Mario Draghi insists that keeping Greece in the European Monetary Union is a priority, he has also assured that the EU is strong enough to avoid a stream of exits, specifically Portugal, Spain and Italy, if Greece were to leave. With supportive yet insubstantial words from U.S. President Obama, “Greece [appears to be] effectively playing off Moscow, Brussels, and Washington, against each other in three-way geo-strategic poker.”
G20 More Upbeat on Growth, but Officials Fret Over Greece
18 April 2015 – NDTV
The outcome of the G20 summit on Friday was decidedly optimistic on global growth, specifically regarding positive developments in the Eurozone, Japan, the UK and the U.S. despite the challenges posed by exchange rate volatility, geopolitical tensions, and the Greek debt crisis. While Greece was not directly addressed in the meeting, statements from U.S. and Eurozone officials emphasized the need to reach a deal with the debt-burdened country. The G20 recommended that emerging market economies dealing with capital outflows “[take] steps to curb sharp capital movements.”
Rush to China’s bank pushes U.S., Japan to speed trade talks
16 April 2015 – Bloomberg Business
China’s new infrastructure bank, the AIIB, has lined up 57 countries – placing pressure on the U.S. and Japan to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. U.S. and Japanese negotiators are forging agreements on their portion of the 12-member agreement, which is expected to serve as another economic center of gravity in the Asia-Pacific region. As they do so, they will need to overcome domestic opposition, particularly in the U.S. where Congressional approval of fast-track authority is not guaranteed.
EU clears path for 17 new GM foods
16 April 2015 – The Guardian
In response to pressure from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations to facilitate biotech trade, the EU is expected to authorize 17 new genetically modified foods for import. While the European Food and Safety Agency “has never refused a GM authorization,” this new wave of authorization comes with an opt-out for EU members on grounds outside of environmental or health concerns. Critics to the opt-out argue this could jeopardize the functioning of the single market. Criticism of the approval for further GMOs in the European market stems largely from societal considerations.
Why the U.S. shouldn’t worry about the AIIB
16 April 2015 – CNBC
While the establishment of the China-led Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) is regularly referred to as competition for the existing US-led World Bank, a number of experts point to deficiencies in the structure of the AIIB, which prevent it from posing a legitimate threat. For instance, Chinese financial markets lack the depth to serve as a dominant foreign reserve currency, the Chinese economy may not be large enough to take on such a global leadership role, and the institution lacks clear direction. Key aspects such as governance and funding of the AIIB have not been clarified; the U.S. has announced “it will only welcome the AIIB if its standards match those of existing institutions.”
G-7 statement gives Japan new backing over China issues
16 April 2015 – The Japan Times
G-7 foreign ministers endorsed a “Declaration on Maritime Security,” in which the group states its opposition to any attempt to press maritime or territorial claims “through the use of intimidation, coercion or force” in the South China Sea. While European G-7 states are more responsive to attempts at revising borders given Russian incursions into Ukraine, Japan was unable to secure European support in the event of an incident arising in connection with China’s territorial claims. The next G-7 meeting is set for June 7-8.
ECB Rues Limits of Stimulus as IMF Gauges Rust in Economy
15 April 2015 – Bloomberg Business
While the European Central Bank has emphasized the success of the quantitative easing program, along with the IMF, it remains conscious that raising inflation may not be solved without cooperation from member governments to implement further reforms. Specifically, lack of inflation hinders price growth, and the IMF predicts “the economy won’t work at full capacity… before 2020 at the earliest.” The focus for ECB President Mario Draghi in combatting lasting ramifications of the 2008 recession is on the integrated participation of member states to align monetary policy and implement structural reforms.
Nick Clegg refuses to veto in-out referendum
15 April 2015 – The Guardian
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said he would not rule out a coalition with the Conservatives even if that meant a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union by 2017. Clegg would require Prime Minister David Cameron to repudiate £12 billion worth of proposed welfare cuts in exchange for a referendum. The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto has been crafted to ensure that Clegg can form a coalition with either of the two main parties. Clegg described the manifesto as “an insurance policy against either main party lurching off to the extremes.” He said that the Scottish National Party was unfit to govern a nation they sought to divide, suggesting that even an informal agreement between the SNP and Labour would derail any possible coalition between Labour and his party. Labour leader Ed Miliband already promised not to enter into a coalition with the SNP. The Guardian predicts that Labour and the Conservatives will obtain 271 and 270 seats respectively. The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats are expected to win 54 and 29 seats. Clegg said his party would take an active role in any possible renegotiation of the EU treaties.
EU, Russia, Ukraine to resume trade pact talks
14 April 2015 – The Economic Times
The trilateral talks among the EU, Russia and Ukraine regarding a free trade agreement between the EU and Ukraine will continue next week, after being delayed since September by violence in eastern Ukraine. The free trade deal is “part of the broader 2014 EU Association Agreement at the heart of the Ukraine crisis, with Moscow angry to see its Soviet era satellite turn to the West at its expense.” A promise for “flexibility” toward Russia’s concerns over the deal from an EU representative reflect the positive atmosphere surrounding the resumption of talks, indicating all sides are interested in achieving outcomes. Representatives from these parties will also discuss plans on securing gas supplies for the coming year.
Violence escalates in Ukraine ahead of talks
14 April 2015 – Reuters
Fighting in eastern Ukraine is intensifying as the government accuses rebels of using heavy weapons – a violation of the ceasefire deal. Recently, one Ukrainian serviceman was killed and six were wounded in rebel-held territories. U.S., French and German officials expressed concerns at the apparent violation. "We are going to remind our colleagues, both Russian and Ukrainian, that the Minsk process must be respected and must be respected before the end of the year," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters.
Ukraine faces “unprecedented” energy crisis
14 April 2015 – Euractiv
According to the International Energy Agency, Ukraine faces a major energy crisis. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and damage from fighting has cut Ukraine off from access to coal mines and shale gas fields, and Russia’s energy minster stated yesterday that his country will not renew natural gas transit contracts with Ukraine. Approximately 40 percent of natural gas supplies to Europe go through Ukraine. Yesterday, a Gazprom official warned the EU against moves to block Russian plans to transit gas to Europe through other routes.
AmCham EU: Parliament’s TTIP recommendations can lead to a robust deal
13 April 2015 – EurActiv
As negotiations pick up speed in the European Parliament with an upcoming vote on a draft resolution, American Chamber of Commerce to the EU managing director Susan Danger reiterated support for the deal and the importance of this opportunity. Danger praised the Parliament’s commitment to transparency and stakeholder engagement, and an added section regarding the inclusion of small and medium enterprises; she further encouraged the inclusion of the investor-state dispute settlement and “language enabling cross-border data flows and oppose forced data localisation requirements.” Crediting EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom with bringing TTIP back into focus, Danger confirmed AmCham’s support of the continuing debate.
Russia opens way to missile deliveries to Iran, starts oil-for-goods swap
13 April 2015 – Reuters
Russia is ending a ban on missile system deliveries to Iran and started an oil-for-goods swap. A senior Russian official said that Russia is supplying grain, equipment and construction materials to Iran in exchange for crude oil. This comes after an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program was reached between Iran and major world powers earlier this month. The deadline for a final deal is June 30th.
Greece casts shadow as ECB money printing buoys Eurozone
13 April 2015 – Reuters
Despite the recent stabilization of Eurozone prices due to the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program, concerns over a resolution between Greece and its creditor institutions continue to threaten recovery. Eurozone ministers meeting tomorrow will discuss the possibility of releasing emergency funding to the debt-ridden country, pending the extent of reforms submitted by Athens. ECB President Mario Draghi may “reveal whether the ECB's decision-making Governing Council extended the limit on emergency liquidity that can be drawn by Greek banks,” before attending the G20 summit in Washington DC. Low oil prices and euro depreciation are contributing to the positive outlook in the Eurozone, but some analysts also think Draghi should “show there is room for flexibility in rolling out money printing to ensure” the large scale of the bond-buying program.
Swedish central bank governor worried about strengthening crown
13 April 2015 – Reuters
Stefan Ingves, the governor of Sweden’s central bank, expressed concern over the effect of the European Central Bank’s aggressive quantitative easing program on Swedish currency. Specifically, the appreciation of the crown against the falling euro has forced the Riksbank to bring interest rates into negative territory and “risks creating another property bubble.” While the Swedish economy is experiencing growth, the ECB’s policy could lead to a chain of events in which deflation impedes further growth.
Modi, Merkel seek deeper trade ties at Hannover Messe
13 April 2015 – Deutsche Welle
Speaking at Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial trade fair, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promoted strengthening their countries bilateral trade through restarting talks on a free trade agreement between the EU and India. Modi, who ran for office on the premise of updating Indian infrastructure and refreshing the economy, is leading a “Make in India” campaign to bring manufacturing to the country. The current quantity of bilateral trade between Germany and India reached a three-year low of 16.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2014. Merkel cited Germany’s position as India’s largest European trading partner, encouraging further growth in this relationship.
Germany’s Bundesbank backs IMF quota and governance reforms
13 April 2015 – Reuters
A top official of the Bundesbank urged IMF members to implement reforms of the organization held up by the U.S. Bundesbank board member Andreas Dombret addressed IMF quota reform: "This is important so that member countries are appropriately represented at the IMF, and so that financial contributions and voting rights in the fund are more in line."
European officials push for lasting peace deal in Ukraine
12 April 2015 – Wall Street Journal
The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France are meeting today to forge a durable peace deal. Measures agreed to in a February deal include a cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons, and appear to be sticking. But Russia and Ukraine are clashing over the next stages of the deal - the reintegration of eastern territories into Ukraine and increased local autonomy. Ukraine has offered more local powers after elections are monitored by international observers. Russia wants the rebels included in direct talks with Kiev, including those on constitutional reforms.
U.S.-EU deal: Germany warns against overblowing expectations
12 April 2015 – Reuters
Despite concerns over inflated estimates of economic gains from the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and the EU, German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel voiced support for the deal as a much-needed boost for European companies and a crucial opportunity to set global standards of trade. The elimination of tariff barriers alone ensures a positive effect on both economies, making TTIP worth it for Gabriel, while other implications, such as a reinvigoration of transatlantic relations and improved and harmonized global standards add further incentive for the deal. Still under negotiation, Gabriel suggested the goal to finalize TTIP within the year “was very ambitious.”
Influx of Canadian food expected as EU laws change
11 April 2015 – The Scotsman
With the finalization of the Comprehensive Economic Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada, the Scottish market is expected to see an increase in Canadian food, such as maple syrup, cheese curds, bison beef and geoduck. The removal of “99 per cent of all tariffs on Canadian goods entering the UK and the rest of Europe” will create higher demand for previously more expensive Canadian foods, diversifying the Scottish restaurant scene. The deal is set to go into effect next year.
UK election may be our cue to consider EU exit
12 April 2015 – Irish Independent
Ireland questions its place in the EU if the UK were to leave its current agreement. With the fall of the euro from the European Central Bank’s aggressive bond-buying program, Germany’s consistent dominance in the continent, and growing concerns of Greece’s future in the union, as well as the UK’s, it could be in Ireland’s interest to follow Britain out rather than staying in the euro. Citing Britain’s place as Ireland’s top trading partner and as the third largest economy in the EU, and the Irish link to the U.S., the argument follows that Ireland still has those economic relationships if it becomes necessary to leave the Eurozone or the EU.
Greece may have blown best hope of debt deal
12 April 2015 – Reuters
The hostile atmosphere of negotiations between the Syriza-led Greek government and its creditor institutions of the IMF, the ECB and particularly Eurozone officials could prove the most costly misstep thus far. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and finance minister Yanis Varoufakis are denouncing austerity, demanding German war reparations, and avoiding reforms have shattered the trust of wary creditors. Rather than continue on this path of alienation, experts suggest the Greek government “pay off its expensive IMF loans early, redeem bonds held by the European Central Bank and extend the maturity of loans from euro zone governments to secure lower interest rates for years to come.”
NATO caps size of Russia’s mission after internal reports of espionage
10 April 2015 – The New York Times
NATO is lowering the cap for the number of officials that partner countries can include in their delegations to the Alliance – to 30 members. The move comes after a confidential assessment by the alliance’s Civilian Intelligence Committee that intelligence agents had been a part of Russia’s delegation. Additionally, it is said to be “a practical measure, which applies to all  partners at NATO headquarters, including Russia” The Russian mission to NATO has not commented, although partner states have nine months to comply with the new guideline.
Nordic nations agree on defense cooperation against Russia
9 April 2015 – Reuters
In a joint declaration released on Thursday, the defense ministers of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland cited Russia as the “biggest challenge for European security.” "Russia's leaders have shown that they are prepared to make practical and effective use of military means in order to reach their political goals, even when this involves violating principles of international law," ministers from the countries stated. In response to heightened Russian military and intelligence activity against them, they agreed to closer defense ties and increased solidarity with the Baltic states.
Widening UK trade deficit prompts fears for growth
9 April 2015 – The Guardian
The Office for National Statistics in the UK reported a large gap in British current account deficit of £2.9 billion in February, having increased from £1.5 billion in January. The trade deficit with just the EU, Britain’s primary trading partner, reached a record high of £21.1 billion. The main implication of this statistic is that “the economic recovery may be waning.” While there is hope that a recovering Eurozone will lead to more demand, currently, “UK GDP growth will likely remain largely reliant on domestic demand.”
Obama officials ramp up trade pressure with 50-state report
9 April 2015 – The Hill
In a crucial effort to build the case to Congress to approve proposed trade deals with the EU and Asian countries, the U.S. Trade Representative and the Commerce Department published a joint report on the impact of trade at state level, focusing on small and medium enterprises. Specifically, the report presents “the value of goods exported, jobs supported [which reached 11.7 billion in 2014], number of companies that sell their goods overseas and the percentage of those that are smaller businesses.” Emphasizing the need to “catalyze a race to the top,” the report also cites geopolitical concerns and democratic values in support of the deals.
Tspiras Returns to Reality After Meeting Putin
8 April 2015 – Bloomberg Business
No concrete economic agreements were reached between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russia’s Vladimir Putin at the recent Moscow meeting. Greece denied having requested aid from the Kremlin and the Russian ban on Greek produce still stands. Tsipras announced the official intention of the visit as “enhancing Greece’s trade, its role as an energy hub and to look at boosting tourism.” Tsipras repeated his disapproval of EU sanctions against Russia, and Putin noted Russia’s fall from the top of Greece’s trading partners.
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