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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

Merkel calls on Putin to back Ukraine gas solution
24 October 2014 – Deutsche Welle
German Chancellor Angela Merkel encouraged Russian President Vladimir Putin to come to an agreement with Ukraine on gas exports before the onset of winter in a telephone call on Friday. Russia provides the EU with approximately a third of its gas, half of which passes through Ukraine, making a gas deal between the two countries an imperative for the continent’s energy security. Russia is worried Ukraine will not be able to pay off its large gas debt, the amount of which the two countries actually disagree upon. Merkel also appealed for the “full implementation” of the Minsk peace settlement and said elections in Donetsk and Luhansk “must be conducted according to Ukrainian law.”
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Brits Are Terrified U.S.-EU FTA Will Destroy Their National Health Service
23 October 2014 – Forbes
Some Britons fear that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade agreement currently being negotiated by the U.S. and EU, will lead to the privatization of the National Health Service (NHS). “The idea that this will lead to privatization of the NHS is not true,” UK Trade Minister Lord Livingston said. Neither the British or American governments have done enough to assure the public that there fears are unfounded. UKIP’s Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall have in fact expressed support for the privatization of the NHS, and London Major Boris Johnson labeled opponents of the TTIP as “numbskulls.” Cecelia Malström, the incoming European trade commissioner, said the TTIP would not include public services unless European governments sought this.
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German economy minister stands up to U.S. on stimulus
23 October 2014 – Deutsche Welle
“We could double our debt, and it wouldn’t boost Italy’s and France’s competitive abilities,” German Vice Chancellor and Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel said during his first trip to the United States. He wants to instead encourage greater private investment to increase Eurozone growth. Germany’s coalition government has already planned a $23 billion investment in infrastructure, education, and other sectors but will not engage in stimulus that adds to the debt. Gabriel lauded the U.S.’s fracking boom, calling it the “reindustrialization” of America. Gabriel also discussed the TTIP with Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
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EU To Enhance Trade Relations with the Philippines
23 October 2014 – The Philippine Star
EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux suggested during the Philippine Business Conference and Expo that EU countries are open to enhancing their trade relationship with the Philippines through the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the Philippines Customs and Tariff Act. If approved, there would be a full removal of tariffs on two-thirds of the Philippine products exported to the EU. Tariff costs would be reduced as much as 15 percent, which would help in solving the port congestion in Manila. Adopting trade facilitation measures will further help the country to maximize welfare gains from the upcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration in 2015.
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EU Parliament Approves Zero Tariff Extension for Ukraine Exports
23 October 2014 – The Wall Street Journal
To offer swift economic benefits to Ukraine, the EU introduced a zero tariff regime in May for six months before the launch of a planned broader trade and political agreement between the country and the bloc. Due to pressure from Russia, however, the agreement between Ukraine and the EU was delayed until the end of next year. Earlier this week, the European Parliament overwhelmingly approved extending a zero tariff regime for most Ukrainian exports to the bloc, allowing the system to remain in place through the end of next year. The measure could save Ukrainian exporters around €500 million ($634.6 million) a year in export duties.
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Eurozone Business Growth Unexpectedly Gains Pace, Prices Still Falling
23 October 2014 – Reuters
Eurozone businesses performed much better than anyone expected this month but did so by slashing prices again, and optimism about the future fell to its lowest level in over a year, surveys showed on Thursday. While increased business performance is a good sign for the economy, falling prices will only reinforce fears of deflation. Data collator Markit said the PMIs (Purchasing Managers' Index) point to a 0.2 percent expansion of GDP in the current quarter, with risks to the downside. Earlier data from Germany showed activity increased in both the manufacturing and services industries, boosted by resurgent growth among factories. Despite an overall upturn in EU services activity, firms hold increasingly gloomy expectations for the year ahead.
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War heroes and activists to shape new-look Ukraine parliament
23 October 2014 - Reuters
As the Ukrainian parliamentary elections on Sunday loom ever closer, there is a high chance of a strongly pro-European majority emerging. Notable candidates include Air Force Colonel Yuly Mamchur, who famously refused to leave his Crimean post, and Tetyana Chornoil, an activist who was publicly beaten during the Maidan protests. The loss of Crimea and the prevention of normal voting in the East will decrease the parliament's number of seats to 424, which increases the chances of a pro-European majority forming. While current President Poroshenko benefits from anti-Russian rhetoric, he will face formidable competition in maintaining the pro-Western government against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who leads the Fatherland party, and populist Oleh Lyashko, who leads the Radical party.
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Topic: EU States Caution Juncker over ISDS and the TTIP
22 October 2014 – Multiple sources
Fourteen member states including the UK, Spain, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Portugal have sent a letter to incoming European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker cautioning him not to exclude investor protections from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The U.S. will likely demand concessions if investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) is excluded from the TTIP. German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel opposes ISDS. The incoming European Commission is divided on the inclusion of ISDS. Cecelia Malström, the incoming trade commissioner, thinks it would be premature to make a definitive decision on ISDS. Malström would normally have complete discretion on the ISDS issue. However, on Wednesday Juncker revoked Malström’s authority over ISDS, saying “[t]here will be no investor-to-state dispute clause in TTIP if [Commission Vice President] Frans [Timmermans] does not agree with it too.” The arrangement is intended to pacify Chief of Staff Martin Selmayr, who opposes ISDS.
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U.S. Treasury Chief Urges EU to Ease Off Austerity
22 October 2014 – Agence France-Presse
European countries should ease off their austerity and adopt more growth-friendly policies, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Monday as he kicked off a series of meetings with the region's top leaders. The U.S. administration hopes Europe will relent in its focus on debt reduction, which has been hurting growth through spending cuts and tax increases. "Our economy's strength remains sensitive to events beyond our shores and we have an immense stake in Europe's health and stability," Lew said in Brussels. "The Unites States has no bigger, no more important economic relationship that it does with Europe." In remarks after a meeting, EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy defended EU austerity as necessary due to the region’s debts and structural challenges. Secretary Lew also engaged in discussions with EU officials regarding the planned TTIP agreement.
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German Economy Minister Stands Up to U.S. on Stimulus
22 October 2014 – Deutsche Welle
While on his two-day visit in Washington, Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel attended an event Wednesday at the Center for American Progress, where he criticized a demand that the German economy should be stimulated in order to boost the European economy. He said one of Berlin's goals was to create European growth and attract more private investment. To this end he said Germany's grand coalition of Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democrats (CDU) already had a stimulus plan drawn out to provide $23 billion (18 billion euros) in investment in areas such as infrastructure and education. Gabriel is expected to take part in additional TTIP negotiations while in Washington.
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Alliance: Russian Spy Plane Intercepted in NATO Airspace
22 October 2014 – DefenseNews
NATO fighter jets intercepted a Russian spy plane over the Baltic Sea after it breached Estonian airspace. The Ilyushin IL-20 “intelligence collection aircraft,” was first intercepted by Danish F-16 jets as it approached Denmark, and then flew north towards non-NATO member Sweden, which also sent jets to intercept the plane. Nearly four hours later the plane flew towards NATO member Estonia and was detected in Estonian airspace “for a period of less than one minute, which represented an incursion of about 600 meters (yards) into NATO airspace.” Finally, Portuguese F-16s spotted the Russian propeller plane and escorted it out of NATO airspace, the alliance said.
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Russia prepares for ice-cold war with show of military force in the Arctic
22 October 2014 - The Guardian
In recent months, Russia has greatly accelerated its militarization of the Arctic. According to the RIA Novosti state news agency, Russia has discovered a new island, named Yaya, which spans only 500 square meters and stands at a meter above sea level. It will officially become a part of Russian territory. Former Soviet bases are being reactivated: A newly built airbase on Novaya Zemlya can accommodate fighters, two new brigades totaling 6,000 troops will be deployed to the Murmansk area, and new radar and ground guidance systems are being planned. This military expansion is partly a reaction to NATO and EU punishments over Ukraine, but also a ploy to secure influence over vast Arctic natural resources. These developments are a far cry from 2007, when Russia planted its flag in a titanium capsule 4,200 meters under the North Pole.
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WTO Sets Up Body to Settle EU-Russia Vehicle Battle
21 October 2014 – The Economic Times
The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Tuesday set up a body to rule on a trade dispute between Brussels and Moscow over duties imposed on European vehicles in Russia. Brussels objects to anti-dumping duties that Moscow has imposed on so-called “light commercial vehicles" made in Germany and Italy, both leading global players in the auto sector. The 160 economies which make up the WTO are allowed to levy extra customs duties when goods are being "dumped" on them – sold at below market prices to grab business. But they are also required to show that their domestic producers are suffering as a result of dumping, and that they are not simply imposing duties to protect local companies from foreign competition. To add further fuel to the conflict, Russia recently announced it will ban EU meat products including pork, chicken and beef fats and offal.
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Building Renovation: The Key for Energy Security, Growth and Jobs
21 October 2014 - EurActiv
The EU’s high energy dependence is one of its biggest challenges. It represents an enormous economic waste, with over €1 billion per day being spent on energy imports. Yet, this problem could be effectively addressed by wise choices in domestic policies: 61% of imported gas in the EU is used in buildings, and this can be reduced by almost two-thirds in 15 years if an ambitious policy for building energy renovation is undertaken. Further highlighting the urgency of the situation, the European Commission recently published the results of the “stress tests” evaluating the resilience of many EU countries to possible gas supply shortages this winter, which revealed that a prolonged supply disruption would mean that many EU member states will miss at least 60% of the gas they need. Heads of state and government must play an active role in recognizing the essential role of building renovation for reducing EU’s energy dependence, consolidating economic recovery, boosting local job creation, and alleviating fuel poverty.
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TTIP: FedEx Chief Urges Faster Resolution over Trade Deal to Boost UK Exports
21 October 2014 – The International Business Times
The President of FedEx Express EMEA has called on negotiators from the EU and U.S. to seal a free trade agreement as quickly as possible in order to boost exports from British businesses. In an interview with IBTimes UK, David Binks said that many UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) lack the support and expertise to enter export markets. Layers of bureaucracy and a lack of regulatory harmony, he said, discourages them from selling their goods overseas. "There are 20 million SMEs in Europe, they're the mainstay of the EU economy. When SMEs participate in international trade they're forced to be more creative, entrepreneurial and competitive. That has a knock on effect on the overall economy.”
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Reform Alone Is No Solution for the Eurozone
21 October 2014 – Financial Times
Germany has largely set the economic strategy of the Eurozone to focus on structural reform, fiscal discipline and monetary accommodation, which have thus far failed to provide adequate demand to reinvigorate the economy. Both France and Italy are expected to implement programs similar to the German “Hartz reforms;” however, the fiscal restructuring and tightening entailed did not stimulate private demand in Germany, but make Germany dependent on foreign demand.  While structural reforms are important, more is needed to bring back demand within the bloc. Given the negligible costs of borrowing, Germany should take the opportunity to refinance its debt and borrow to finance public investment.  At a time such as this, when public patience is wearing thin, Europe should risk expansion.
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Sweden Ready to Use Force Against Suspected Underwater Vessel
21 October 2014 – Voice of America
General Sverker Goeranson, the supreme commander of Swedish armed forces, told reporters Tuesday in Stockholm that the military was ready to use “weapons if necessary” to force a suspected foreign vessel underwater in the Stockholm archipelago to the surface. Since Friday, naval ships, helicopters and more than 200 troops have searched an area about 30 to 60 kilometers off Sweden's eastern coast after a “man-made object” was spotted in the waters. There has been speculation that the object is a Russian mini-submarine, but Swedish authorities have not referred to Russia publicly. Russia has denied the allegations, suggesting instead that the vessel could be a Dutch submarine that had participated in military exercises off Sweden's coast, however, the Dutch defense ministry responded that its submarine already had docked in the Estonian capital Tallinn after military exercises with the Swedish navy.
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TTIP Exclusive: UKIP Wants to Privatise the NHS in Controversial EU-US Trade Deal
20 October 2014 – The International Business Times
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) supports the inclusion of public services such as the National Health Service (NHS) and education in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), William Legge, the party’s trade spokesman, wrote in an email correspondence with the International Business Times. The Euroskeptic but supposedly pro-trade party is the largest of the British parties in the European Parliament. However, it refuses to take a position on the TTIP until the final text is negotiated. Incoming European Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malström said member states’ public services would only be included in the TTIP if the state agreed to it. Some fear that public services could be privatized if they are included in the TTIP. Party Leader Nigel Farage expressed support for the privatization of the NHS in April.
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Topic: Barroso and Clegg Warn Cameron on Restricting EU Migration
20 October 2014 – Multiple sources
Outgoing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg both criticized British Premier David Cameron over his promise to restrict immigration from the rest of the EU. Barroso described Cameron’s immigration proposal as a “historic mistake.” While other member states want the UK to remain in the EU, restricting freedom of movement within the EU would be a red line, Barroso said. The European Single Market ensures the free movement of labor. To restrict free movement of persons would undermine it. Liberal Democrat Vince Cable said “highly skilled” migrants “make a net positive contribution to the Treasury.” “Those who are in favor of a British exit should come out and say what is the alternative, because it will become clear there won’t be a good alternative,” Barroso said.
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ECB Purchases Begin and Markets Shrug
20 October 2014 – The Wall Street Journal
The ECB, after beginning its asset purchase program on Monday with the purchase of private French covered bonds, has plans to buy additional member states’ bonds as well as asset-backed securities starting later this year. The ECB’s measures should be more effective than the Fed or Bank of England’s purchase of government bonds because they represent a more direct channel to credit creation. By buying assets directly from the market, the ECB encourages banks to create more of them; in other words, to lend. Despite this opening salvo in the new phase of stimulus attempts, investors received the news with rather subdued enthusiasm, with equities and sovereign debt falling back into the downward rut of recent weeks. The message from the markets was that investors are worried that the Eurozone is heading towards recession, deflation and, possibly, another round of its existential crisis. Further, investors feel that the ECB is constrained by politics in quite how much QE it might be able to provide, raising questions of its effectiveness.
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TTIP and ISDS: The Obscure Trade Clause Threatening to Tear European Politics Apart
20 October 2014 – The International Business Times
Even within the European Commission, there appears to be confusion about investor protection clauses known as investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Incoming European President Jean-Claude Juncker seems to be in favor of scrapping ISDS provisions in the TTIP amid mounting public opposition. Opponents fear that ISDS could permit American corporations to sue European governments in international courts for lost profits resulting from regulatory changes. Germany and Pakistan were the first countries to sign a trade agreement including an ISDS clause in 1959, and many treaties concluded since include ISDS clauses. The British Conservative Party supports the ISDS clause. If the U.S. and EU are unable to conclude an agreement on this issue, neither may be able to conclude a trade deal with China that includes an ISDS clause.
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Europe Should Regulate Shadow Banking, Says European Central Bank’s Vitor Constancio
20 October 2014 – The Wall Street Journal
Europe should consider following the U.S. in regulating some activities that take place in the so-called shadow banking system, European Central Bank Vice President Vitor Constancio said Monday. Mr. Constancio noted that while European bank assets have declined by 11% since the end of 2012, assets managed by investment funds had risen by 30%, which is likely due to their being less regulated. As part of the EU’s creation of a banking union, the ECB will next month take over responsibility for supervising 120 banking groups across the bloc. But Mr. Constancio’s comments suggest the ECB is already looking beyond its new role and toward other parts of the financial system. The potential model for the EU, the U.S.’ Financial Stability Oversight Council, has already designated the financial arm of one corporation and two insurers as systemically important, which potentially subjects them to tougher capital rules and other new regulations.
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ECB can use new banking knowledge in rate setting- Constancio
20 October 2014 – Reuters
European Central Bank policymakers will be able to use the information they gain from their new banking supervisory powers in the traditional monetary policy side of their jobs, ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio said on Monday. The ECB’s takeover of the supervision of around 120 large Eurozone banks is one of the bloc's flagship responses to the Eurozone crisis and also marks a huge broadening of the central bank's primary role of keeping inflation in check. Germany in particular has been wary about combining the roles of monetary policy and interest rate setting with that of supervising banks. Despite stressing that combining all new information should be seen as a benefit, Constancio did say however that neither banking nor monetary policy considerations should have too much influence on decisions about the other.
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Sweden in Third Day of Suspected Russian Submarine Search
19 October 2014 – Associated Press
A Swedish military search for evidence of suspected undersea activity in its waters has entered its third day amid reports of a suspected Russian intrusion. Daily Svenska Dagbladet reported the Swedes had picked up an emergency message suggesting a Russian mini-submarine had run into trouble in Swedish waters. Anders Nordin from the Swedish Maritime Administration says a Russian-owned oil tanker, which had reportedly been circling near Swedish waters for days, turned Sunday and sailed to the north-east. Media reports suggest the tanker's moves might be connected to the search. The operation is reportedly reminiscent of the Cold War, when Sweden's armed forces routinely hunted for Soviet submarines in its waters.
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This trade deal with America would have Churchill beaming
19 October 2014 – The Telegraph
London Mayor Boris Johnson gave an unqualified defense of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in the Telegraph. “There is absolutely nothing not to like about the TTIP,” Johnson wrote. He argued that Churchill would have wholeheartedly supported the pact. Johnson described TTIP opponents as “[l]eft-wing…anti-globalisation campaigners” and “numskulls.” The U.S. is “about the most regulated market” in the world. Fears that the TTIP would lower food safety standards, lead to fracking in Sussex, or lead to the privatization of the NHS are unfounded. The U.S. consumes the largest single share, or 17%, of British exports. While tariffs are already low, non-tariff barriers still encumber trade. He defended controversial investor protections in the TTIP. The UK should conclude this “sensational opportunity” with the U.S. if the EU is unable to do so, Johnson said.
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Malaysia-EU FTA will provide growth impetus
19 October 2014 – New Straits Times
Despite global financial crisis, the EU remains a major source of foreign direct investment and transfer of knowledge and technology to Malaysia. Malaysia is interested in seeing Germany further expand its investment presence in the country, as German multinational corporations have been in the Malaysian investing space for a couple of decades now, including Infineon, Q-Cells, Osram, Siemens, B.Braun and BASF. In addition to these large companies, Malaysia is hoping to bring in small and medium sized enterprises. Both large and small multinationals are keen to grow the services sector and toward this end, the Malaysia-EU free-trade agreement, which is being negotiated, will likely provide the impetus.
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Credibility meets compromise in Europe's bank stress test
19 October 2014 – Reuters
When Europe announced its latest health check of top banks early last year it promised a "comprehensive assessment" of how well prepared they were to withstand another financial crisis. A series of interviews with officials, bankers and others involved in the European Central Bank's financial inspection of the Eurozone biggest banks shows that in the seven months since it began, the ECB has had to shoot down countless pleas from banks and national supervisors for special treatment, although certain compromises were negotiated. The ECB will announce on Oct. 26 which of Europe's 130 biggest banks have valued their assets properly and which have not, as well as whether banks need more capital to withstand another economic crash. One of the first compromises of the process came when the ECB privately acknowledged that there were "real dangers" of negative consequences if the banks were kept in the dark about how they were faring right up until the results were announced. The auditors were then allowed, for the first time, to begin sharing information with the banks they were reviewing.
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Germany’s tough economic medicine risks killing off the European project
18 October 2014 – The Guardian
Beppe Grillo, founder of the Italian euroskeptic “Five Star Movement,” has called for a petition to remove Italy from the Eurozone to “defend the sovereignty of the Italian people from the European Central Bank.” This comes as the Eurozone endured a week of challenges, from soaring borrowing rates for Greece, to the row between France and Germany over deficit limits. The austerity measures championed by Germany have kept growth rates low and threatened to push the Eurozone into recession. The French have pushed for stimulus measures, but it seems unlikely that these will be approved at the EU level. Much faith has been placed in central banks to keep the world economy afloat; however, most economists believe the impact of central bank money is waning. Continued economic stagnation has fueled the rise of skeptics like Grillo, and their influence promises further instability.
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ECB’s Visco urges common EU budget for defense, research
18 October 2014 – Reuters
European Central Bank Governing Council member Ignazio Visco called on Saturday for EU countries to create a common budget for defense, security, research and infrastructure. He further said that the pooling of budgets in these key areas should be a step towards the eventual creation of what he described as “political union” in the region, without elaborating on what such a union would entail. In a question and answer session with students, Visco also said many of the Eurozone’s economic problems were still connected to investors’ concerns that the Eurozone could break up. “How do we eliminate these fears? By making people understand that this union is not reversible,” he said. In his presentation, Visco also criticized the EU goal of increasing the role of manufacturing in the economy as unrealistic, instead pointing to the increasing role of the service sector.
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Hungary questions EU sanctions on Russia
16 October 2014 – Financial Times
Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó has criticized the EU’s policy of sanctions against Russia, questioning their effectiveness in influencing Moscow’s behavior while warning that central European exports were suffering the consequences. “These sanctions have not given us the result we hoped for in Ukraine – the conflict is clearly not de-escalating. Meanwhile, Europe’s economy is suffering and central Europe has suffered the most,” he said. Mr. Szijjártó insists Hungary is pursuing growth by other means – particularly its “Eastern opening” pitch for Asian investment. While the Czech and Slovak prime ministers have also criticized sanctions against Russia, Poland and the Baltic states have urged a hard line against Moscow.
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Borrowing costs jump for fragile Eurozone states
16 October 2014 – Reuters
Borrowing costs for some of the Eurozone’s most highly indebted southern states shot higher on Thursday, as fears of slowing economic growth wounded confidence that the European Central Bank could avert another debt crisis in the bloc. ECB President Mario Draghi helped to calm the last Eurozone crisis by promising to do whatever it takes to save the euro. This brought down borrowing costs of "peripheral" Eurozone countries such as Greece, which had been bailed out by the European Union and IMF, and Spain, which took EU aid to rescue its banks. Further worrying investors is the Greek plan to ditch its unpopular bailout program with the EU and International Monetary Fund, which demanded severe austerity, and return to relying on markets to raise funds. Referring to the potential of buying government bonds, one bonds trader noted that "[t]he ECB only has one card left to play and it doesn't look imminent."
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Single market “key” to boosting EU growth
16 October 2014 – The Parliament Magazine
"A well-run single market can be the key to unlocking prosperity, innovation and greater competitiveness in Europe, which will benefit businesses and consumers. Misdirected, it can stifle entrepreneurship and create a clipboard culture in business," notes EU MEP Vicky Ford. "The single market is meant to help people trade easily across 28 countries and sell to more than 500 million consumers," she stresses; "it is not meant to add more red tape, costs and bureaucracy." Ford further points to the “digital single market” as a key reform that will save consumers billions of euros. While noting that there are varying, effective forms of regulation across the EU, she hopes to focus on the "implementation of existing legislation and the encouragement of better sharing of best practice between member states." In her capacity as chair of parliament's internal market and consumer protection committee, she hopes to convey her view that better regulation does not always mean more regulation.
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China, EU vow to speed up investment treaty talks
16 October 2014 – XinhuaNet
Leaders of China and the European Union agreed Wednesday to put their investment treaty negotiation on a faster track so as to further cement bilateral economic ties. China, Premier Li noted, attaches great importance to its relations with the EU, which is China's largest trade partner. "We are each other's opportunities for development," he added, urging the implementation of the China-EU partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization. Li noted that the European integration process is accelerating and pointed to the importance of euro stability, which, as a major international currency, will play a positive role in promoting world multi-polarization and the diversification of international reserve currencies. Van Rompuy and Barroso pledged that the bloc will maintain close dialogues and cooperation with China to implement the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, properly handle trade frictions, and sign with China the investment treaty at an early date to create a better environment for Chinese investors.
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What should there be in a SME TTIP chapter?
16 October 2014 – EurActiv
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has the potential to benefit small and medium enterprises (SMEs) considerably if it is tailored to their real needs, writes Arnaldo Abruzzini, Secretary-General of Eurochambres. Reforms that could help SMEs should include not only the elimination of tariffs, the simplification of customs procedures, or an overall reduction of regulatory barriers but also changes to make rules of origin easier, so that all companies can benefit from zero duties, not just transnational. Such restructuring should also mean facilitating the movement of workers in areas crucial to SMEs, for instance by making it easier for them to send a representative to the U.S., or by transferring technicians for installation works, or setting up machineries. According to the author, further gains to SMEs can be realized from streamlining regulations and ensuring these firms have access to information about operating in the transatlantic market.
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Putin guest of honor at Serbia military parade
16 October 2014 - BBC News
While attending Serbia's first military parade in decades, commemorating the 70th anniversary of liberation from the Nazi party, Putin emphatically stated his support for Serbia's position on Kosovo. In his acceptance speech for the Order of the Republic of Serbia, Serbia's highest honor, Putin said "Russia, just as in the past, will always see Serbia as our closest ally." Along with the parade, an air show, and reaffirmations of close ties, a statue of Tsar Nicholas II was erected in Belgrade. Serbia and Russia are commemorating their ties at an interesting time, as Serbia formally began talks to join the EU in January. Interestingly, the celebration was four days earlier than the actual 70th anniversary, angering many Serbs who see it as a show meant to fit Putin's schedule.
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Russian gas less mighty than it looks, EU says
16 October 2014 – EU Observer
On Thursday, the European Commission released a study addressing the union’s ability to cope with a total shutoff of Russian energy exports for the next six months. A complete cessation of Russian energy exports is “unlikely,” European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said. He believes an agreement on prices can be reached between Russia and Ukraine “by next week.” “We can show to our Russian partners there is no point in using gas as a political strategy because we’re ready for it,” Oettinger said. A few member states would be greatly affected. However, if “we work together, show solidarity and implement the recommendations of this report, no household in the EU has to be left out in the cold,” Oettinger said. Storage facilities are near capacity across Europe, and liquefied natural gas can be transported to where it is needed. Norway could also increase production, and alternatives such as biomass could be employed. Bulgaria, Estonia, and Finland are among the most vulnerable countries.
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