What's New

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)

Streit Council Advisory Board Member Brendan Simms co-authors a new book: Donald Trump: The Making of a World View
On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump won the American presidential election, to the joy of some and the shock of many across the globe. Now that Trump is Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful country on Earth, Americans and non-Americans alike have been left wondering what that means for the world. It has been widely claimed that Trump's foreign policy views are impulsive, inconsistent and that they were improvised on the campaign trail. Drawing on interviews from as far back as 1980, historians Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman show that this assumption is dangerously false in this new book. (Read More)

New Book edition by Streit Council Advisory Board Member Stanley R. Sloan
The latest edition of Stanley R. Sloan's book on transatlantic security relations - Defense of the West: NATO, the European Union and the Transatlantic Bargain (Manchester University Press, 2016) - surveys the history of NATO, analyzes interactions between contemporary internal and external threats facing the Alliance, and offers a net assessment of its future. Click here for his summary of the book, and here for peer reviews.

 

Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News

Treasury fines Exxon Mobil for violating Russia sanctions under Tillerson
20 July 2017 - CNBC
The U.S. Treasury Department fined Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals, citing actions undertaken while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was serving as the company's CEO. The Treasury said the violation occurred in May 2014 when Exxon subsidiaries signed legal documents with Igor Sechin, the chairman of Russian oil giant Rosneft and a target of the sanctions as a “Specially Designated National.” In a statement, the Treasury said Exxon failed to recognize warning signs and “demonstrated reckless disregard for U.S. sanctions requirements.” Exxon Mobil has launched a legal challenge to the finding.
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UK will be at the back of the queue for a trade deal, warns top EU commissioner
20 July 2017 – CNBC

Jyrki Katainen, vice president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness for the European Commission, asserted that while the Brexit negotiations are a tough process, they must move quickly enough for officials to have enough time to negotiate a new trade deal between the UK and EU. Katainen stated that the EU is in the midst of trade talks with 21 other jurisdictions and Britain would simply be added to the list if enough time was not left during Brexit talks. He added that it would be best for both parties to find a good solution to the question of a future trade relationship due to the interlinked nature of their economies.
(Read More)

EU threatens Poland with sanctions as judiciary stand-off escalates
19 July 2017 – France 24

On Wednesday, the EU warned the Polish government to halt reforms to the country’s courts or face sanctions. The European Commission deemed Poland’s draft reforms as possibly having a “very significant negative impact on the independence” of the courts. Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans stated that the institution is very close to triggering Article 7, which would suspend Poland’s voting rights in the Council of Ministers. However, it is not clear if the Commission can gain the support required from the other 27 member states, especially Hungary.
(Read More)

No-deal Brexit would spawn “legal morass and economic disaster”
19 July 2017 – The Guardian

According to a report by the UK in a Changing Europe, if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, there would be “widespread, damaging, and pervasive” effects on the country’s economy and legal system. The experts in the group found that exiting the bloc without a deal would affect every industry, from nuclear to pharmaceuticals to aviation. The report examines the risks associated with four no-deal scenarios and argues that any of these possibilities would leave a large number of unanswered questions that would affect everyday life.
(Read More)

European human rights court rejects free speech defense of extremist videos
19 July 2017 - Reuters
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday that online videos considered by a Belgian court to be Islamist hate speech is not protected under free speech provisions. The case they looked at was of a Belgian national currently imprisoned for his activities as the head of Sharia4Belgium, who argued that his remarks in a series of videos on YouTube fell within his freedoms of expression and religion. The ECHR upheld the 2013 decision of Belgiumʼs top court saying that he incited others to discriminate on the basis of faith and commit violence against non-Muslims. The EU is currently calling on the technology and social media industry to step up its efforts to police their own platforms.
(Read More)

French military head de Villiers quits over cuts

19 July 2017 - BBC
General Pierre de Villiers, the head of the French armed forces, quit after a clash with President Macron over a proposed €850 million cut in the military spending budget for 2017. In a statement, Villiers said he could no longer “guarantee the durability of the army model” which he considers necessary to ensure Franceʼs protection. President Macron said he would not tolerate any dissent from the military and had been scheduled to meet with Villiers on Friday to sort out their differences. The generalʼs replacement will be named on Wednesday, and is expected to be General François Lecointre.
(Read More)

“City will have to launch Brexit plans if there is no transitional deal”
18 July 2017 – The Guardian

According to London regulator Andrew Bailey, major City firms will begin to implement their contingency plans in response to Brexit at the end of 2017 unless there is an agreement on Britain’s transition out of the EU. Bailey, the Financial Conduct Authority chief executive, insisted that City firms were nearing the point where they would have to take steps to move staff and other measures to ensure continued seamless operation post-Brexit. His statements were made amid expectations that Citi will announce Frankfurt as its new key hub in the EU.
(Read More)

Leading light of Italy’s 5-Star revives euro referendum pledge
18 July 2017 – Reuters

Alessandro Di Battista, a powerful figure in the Italian 5-Star Movement, revived the party’s calls for a referendum on euro membership, even after other members softened their stance on the issue. Di Battista believes that the vote should be held after several senior party members played down the idea ahead of next year’s election. The differences in message from members highlights the challenge the party faces as it tries to please core members while shedding its populist image to reassure foreign leaders and markets.
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Preserving peace in Ireland after Brexit
18 July 2017 – Financial Times

A crucial reason for the success of peace efforts between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is that both countries were members of the EU, which helped remove inner-Irish border controls while easing tensions between religious communities. As the UK prepares to exit the EU, a vital issue is how to preserve the progress achieved since 1997, particularly with regard to keeping the border between the two as open as possible. A possible solution would be to grant Northern Ireland a “special status” allowing it to remain within the EU; however, many believe that other EU governments would not be supportive of this plan. Unfortunately, the Irish question is one of three priority areas that must have significant progress before the UK and EU can begin talks on their future relationship.
(Read More)

Brexit: Support for a second EU referendum is growing, finds poll
18 July 2017 – The Independent

According to a new poll by ICM, British support is growing for another referendum on Brexit once the terms of the final Brexit deal are clear, with around one third of voters backing the idea. The momentum for a second vote once the ministers present the final deal on Britain’s departure is growing. But 46% of respondents believe that the UK should leave the EU regardless of the negotiation outcome.
(Read More) 

Majority of Brexiters would swap free movement for EU market access
17 July 2017 – The Guardian

According to studies from YouGov and King’s College London with the Rand think tank and Cambridge University, the majority of Brexit supporters would be willing to exchange European free movement for access to the European single market. The research demonstrates that a compromise on free movement and trade would result in far less public backlash than assumed by the government. Studies found that there is very little support for the government’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” approach and that British voters are much more willing to compromise than the British government is.
(Read More) 

NATO urges Turkey, Germany to settle air base row
16 July 2017 - Reuters

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged the Turkish and German foreign ministers to resolve their differences over visits to Turkish air bases, as Ankara refused to let German lawmakers visit soldiers at two air bases. The issue appears to stem from a diplomatic problem: Germany has refused to extradite asylums seekers Turkey says were involved in a coup attempt last year, while Germany is demanding the release of a Turkish-German journalist. On Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Ankara had not asked Berlin to extradite the asylum seekers in exchange for granting lawmakers access to the military base, and said that she would reject such a proposition.
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Turkey chooses Russia over NATO for missile defense
14 July 2017 - Bloomberg

According to an anonymous Turkish official, Turkey has agreed to pay Russia $2.5 billion in order to acquire their most advanced missile defense system - a deal that signals a turn away from the NATO alliance. This preliminary agreement would give Turkey two S-400 missile batteries from Russia within the next year, and an additional two would be produced inside of Turkey. Turkey previously planned to buy a similar missile-defense system from a state-run Chinese company, but gave up under pressure from the U.S. as the company had been sanctioned for alleged missile sales to Iran.
(Read More

Brexit: UK could be “associate” of EU nuclear body
13 July 2017 – BBC News

Brexit Secretary David Davis suggested that Britain could have an “association agreement” with the EU to replace its membership in Europe’s nuclear agency. A leading figure in the nuclear industry stated there an arbitration arrangement is possible. However, the UK government has insisted it will push ahead with leaving the nuclear body despite pleas for a different direction from MPs and medical bodies. Davis asserted that an association agreement would not be governed by the European Court of Justice, but rather by an arrangement agreed upon by both the UK and the EU.
(Read More

Merkel, Macron put defense at heart of blooming ties
13 July 2017 - AFP

At a joint-cabinet meeting in Paris on Thursday, Germany and France agreed to begin work on a joint fighter jet. “The aim of this joint fighter jet project is to do research and development together...to use it together... and to coordinate on exports,” said Macron, calling it “a profound revolution.” Additionally, German Chancellor Merkel agreed to support a Paris-backed joint anti-jihadist regional force in Africa called the G5 Sahel, made up of soldiers from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
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Britain takes step toward Brexit with repeal bill
13 July 2017 – New York Times

On Thursday, the UK published legislation to cut off all ties political, financial, and legal with the EU, a move that is an important step forward in the Brexit process. This repeal bill is crucial to the UK government’s plan to leave the EU in 2019 and helps to disentangle over 40 years of EU laws while repealing the treaty that made Britain a member. The bill’s passage through Parliament will be a critical turning point for Theresa May’s future as Prime Minister after the shaky general election result last month.
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Russia quietly moves border hundreds of yards into occupied Georgia
12 July 2017 - The Independent

According to local media reports, Kremlin troops moved a border sign hundreds of yards further into occupied territory in South Ossetia last week, ahead of the G20 summit. Georgiaʼs security agency called the move illegal. Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili called on the international community to condemn the action.
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U.S., India and Japan begin naval exercises, as China looks on
11 July 2017 – CNN

The rising presence of the Chinese in the Indian Ocean prompted the United States, Japan, and India to deploy front-line warships, submarines, and aircraft to participate in the tri-nation Malabar exercises in the Bay of Bengal. This is the largest naval exercise in the region in more than two decades. Conducted annually since 1992, Malabar has grown in size and complexity over the years in order to address what the U.S. Navy describes as a “variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Asia Pacific.” This was the second drill to include Japan and the first to include aircraft carriers from all three navies.
(Read More)

EU trade pact with Ukraine to take full effect in September
11 July 2017 - Reuters

On Tuesday, the European Council announced that a broad new trade treaty struck between the EU and Ukraine will take full effect from September. “This is the final step of the ratification process through which the EU and Ukraine commit to a close, long-term relationship in all main policy areas,” the council said in a statement. This comes on the eve of a summit between EU and Ukrainian leaders in Kiev which will be attended by European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and Ukrainian President Poroshenko.
(Read More) 

Australia ready to do post-Brexit trade deal – but EU comes first
10 July 2017 – The Guardian

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull announced that the country will be ready for a trade agreement with the UK soon after the latter leaves the EU, but will try to complete a deal with the bloc first. In a joint press conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Turnbull expressed enthusiasm for an ambitious agreement as soon as possible after Brexit. Additionally, he hopes that a trade deal with the EU will be completed before the UK leaves in March 2019.
(Read More

Central European states urge EU to speed up enlargement in West Balkans
10 July 2017 – U.S. News & World Report

On Monday, seven Central European member states urged the EU to quicken the accession of Montenegro and Serbia to the bloc, deeming the failure to integrate the western Balkans as a security threat to the entire region. Foreign ministers and deputy foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group – Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland – along with Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia, met to discuss critical issues such as migration and the situation in Ukraine and the western Balkans. The prospect of EU membership has been the main impetus for reform in the Balkans since the 1990s.
(Read More) 

Brexit: May offering EU workers in UK “second-class citizenship” – MEPs
10 July 2017 – The Guardian

The European Parliament has warned UK Prime Minister Theresa May that it reserves the right to reject her offer to EU nationals living in Britain as it would treat “EU citizens less favorably than they are at present.” The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, along with eight other MEPs, insisted that May’s opening offer on citizens’ rights falls short of both the EU proposal and Vote Leave’s campaign promises. These MEPs, which includes leaders of all the EP’s pro-EU political groups, are threatening to “torpedo” a Brexit deal if a better offer is not proposed.
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UK-U.S. trade deal will not make up for leaving the EU: minister
9 July 2017 – Reuters

On Sunday, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s statements that a “very powerful” trade deal with the UK would be concluded ‘very, very quickly’ post-Brexit, British justice minister David Lidington asserted that a trade deal would not be enough to make up for the damage incurred by leaving the EU. The government previously insisted that bilateral trade deals would be more beneficial than an EU-wide deal.
(Read More

German industry warns UK not to expect help in Brexit negotiations
9 July 2017 – The Guardian

German industry warned the UK not to expect help in securing a beneficial Brexit deal, a statement which harms the British government’s EU departure strategy. These German industrialists also caution that the UK will struggle to avoid economic damage as a result of Brexit. Two of Germany’s largest industry groups have stated that their main concern during this process is protecting the single market for the EU27, despite the potential harm to trade with Britain. They also insist that the British government is responsible for limiting the economic damage due to exiting the bloc.
(Read More

G20 leaders – except Donald Trump – declare Paris climate deal “irreversible”
8 July 2017 – Politico

At the G20 summit, 19 of the world’s leading economies agreed to a communique declaring the Paris climate accord to be “irreversible” and needing action quickly. U.S. President Donald Trump was the only leader at the meeting not to support the communique; however, the document does contain a statement that the U.S. “will endeavor to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently.”
(Read More

Hammond wants transitional Brexit deal to minimize business shock
7 July 2017 – New York Times

On Friday, Philip Hammond, the UK’s finance minister, advocated for Britain to negotiate a transitional Brexit deal that closely replicates membership in EU structures. The aim of this plan is to minimize the shock to British businesses. Hammond acknowledged that the country cannot stay in the single market or customs union, but welcomed corporate input on managing Brexit and its aftermath. UK employers have started to pressure the government for a Brexit deal that would cause as little disruption as possible.
(Read More)

In Poland, Donald Trump meets the “new Europe”
4 July 2017 – Deutsche Welle
Ahead of the G20 summit, U.S. President Donald Trump is visiting Warsaw for a meeting with 12 leaders from across Eastern Europe during the Three Seas Initiative in order to “reaffirm America’s steadfast commitment to one of our closest European allies and emphasize the administration’s priority of strengthening NATO’s collective defense. The visit could also establish a stronger relationship between the U.S. and newer NATO members.
(Read More)

Austria says to control migrants on Italy border, Rome protests
4 July 2017 – Reuters
Austria took in about 1% of its population in refugees during the 2015 crisis and its defense minister said that it will impose border controls if traffic at a certain alpine pass gets busier.  Vienna has been taking a strong stance against illegal migration, but France, Germany, and the EU support Italy.
(Read More)

Trump discusses migration, trade with European leaders ahead of summit
3 July 2017 – Reuters
On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump discussed climate change, trade, and migration with leaders from Germany and Italy ahead of this week’s G20 summit. Trump is preparing for the two-day G20 meeting in Hamburg that starts on Friday, about a month after the G7 summit that revealed differences in policy priorities among allies. Trump will hold separate meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the summit.
(Read More)

 



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