Transatlantic Community News
Euroskeptic tycoon passes first Austrian vote tests
3 March 2013 – Reuters
Euroskepticism gained ground in Austria’s recent elections. Frank Stronach’s party got a tenth of the vote and won seats in two state assemblies. Mr. Stronach, a billionaire car parts tycoon who wants his country to abandon the euro and question its EU membership, said his party could get 20 to 30% of the vote in the national elections scheduled for September.
David Cameron’s European policy; Britain sidelined by Euroscepticism and the economic crisis
27 February 2013 – The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
A report recently published by the Finish Institute of International Affairs argues that UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s diminishing support, coupled with the European economic crisis and EMU reforms, have weakened Britain’s position in the EU by creating a distance between the UK and its European partners, and have prompted a debate on the re-negotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU.
MEPs: Monti’s policies have fuelled euroscepticism in Italian election
20 February 2013 – Euractiv
Polls show that there is growing euroscepticism in Italy. These sentiments are highlighted by the rise of the populist Five-Star Movement, led by Beppe Grillo. The campaign has revolved around Eurosceptic sentiments linked to austerity measures imposed by current Prime Minister Mario Monti, who took charge in 2011 to calm Italian and European markets. Critics say that the measures have created an image of Europe being only “cuts, tears and austerity.”
U.S. concerned at "climate of impunity" in Egypt
12 February 2013 – Reuters
Following a four-day visit to Egypt, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Democracy and Labor Michael Posner called for the Egyptian government to address the concerns that have recently triggered violent protests. He condemned both the violence by the protesters and the excessive force employed by police. Noting that authorities have done little in response to reported police abuses, Posner stated this was a factor in fostering impunity. Posner abstained from criticizing President Mohamed Mursi, but did ask for broad political participation in upcoming campaigns for parliamentary seats.
Biden calls for bolstering transatlantic ties
2 February 2013 – AFP
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden reaffirmed this weekend that European states remain the closest allies of the U.S. Biden stated that both he and President Barack Obama believe that “Europe is the cornerstone of our engagement with the rest of the world, and it’s the catalyst for our global cooperation.” The comments were prompted by growing concerns throughout Europe of a gradual cooling down of transatlantic relations, as U.S. foreign policy continues to turn toward Asia.
Outgoing Czech president bringing together Euroskeptics
30 January 2013 – B92
Recently ousted Czech President Vaclav Klaus intends to serve as a member of the European Parliament when his second term expires in early March. Elections for EP will be held next spring, providing Klaus with ample time to establish and strengthen a new Czech anti-EU party. There are several anti-EU and nationalist parties that will potentially rally around Klaus, including a minority inside his own Civic Democratic Party that is extremely euroskeptic.
Britain’s History of Hedging on Europe
29 January 2013 – New Atlanticist
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has publicly stated that he will put the question of the UK’s continued EU membership to vote if his Conservative Party wins the 2015 election. While Cameron’s comment has ignited controversy throughout the EU and the U.S., it is worth remembering that Britain has made this threat before. British voters were asked this same question in 1975, and just over two-thirds of those who voted were in favor of staying in the Union. Britain’s apathy toward the European project is also not unusual. For years, the UK has been on the outskirts of membership, only passively doing enough to stay in. In this light, Cameron’s moves, while stirring opposition, is not yet worrisome.
Euroscepticism: More than a British phenomenon
25 January 2013 – EurActiv
While the UK’s pending referendum on EU membership is certainly the most public sign of Eurosceptisim, there are growing signs of dissatisfaction with the European project across Europe. Indeed, as the Eurozone crisis looms on, resentment towards Brussels is higher than ever. Many Europeans blame the EU for causing the crisis, attributing it to the failure of the euro currency. They also resent the EU for wide-ranging austerity measures, which have caused many communities to lose vital services, and for a general lack of democratic legitimacy.
Aristocrat, Leftist Square Off in Czech Presidential Election
25 January 2013 - Atlantic Sentinel
Former Czech prime minister, Miloš Zeman, faces a tough election against aristocrat Karel Schwarzenberg in the second round of the Central European country’s presidential vote. Whichever candidate wins is likely to replace current president Václav Klaus, and his Eurosceptic policies. Both candidates are supportive of deeper economic and political integration in Europe, and eventually joining the Eurozone.
Silicon Valley Companies Lobbying Against Europe’s Privacy Proposals
25 January 2013 – New York Times
Silicon Valley technology companies and the U.S. government are pushing against Europe’s effort to enact sweeping privacy protection for digital data. Legislation working its way through the European Parliament could potentially give 500 million consumers the ability to block or limit many forms of online web tracking and targeted advertising. The concern is that the new privacy control could significantly hurt the U.S. tech industry in Europe. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Consumer Federation of American, and the Friends of Privacy U.S.A. are lobbying the EU Parliament, arguing that Europe needs to pass tough restrictions to save the digital economy, and not destroy it.
Europe is Edgy as Cameron Seeks to Loosen Ties
23 January 2013 - New York Times
The conversation among the British leadership in response to its citizens’ disappointment with the economic situation in Europe and its effect on Britain has heated up lately. On January 23, Prime Minister David Cameron made a speech in which he promised that, as long as he wins the election, British citizens will be able to decide on the UK remaining in the European Union through a referendum in the next five years. Talk of a possible British exit from the EU has sparked discomfort and disagreement among other members of the EU. Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister of France, said, “You cannot do Europe à la carte.” President Obama has also made it clear that the U.S. prefers Britain to stay in the EU. If Britain leaves, there is a fear that the EU will weaken not only economically but as a strong and important figure in global diplomacy.
Top of the Agenda: Cameron’s Referendum Promise Draws Worry From EU
23 January 2013 – Council on Foreign Relations
In his long-awaited speech on Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron promised a referendum on UK membership in the EU. The referendum is pending his success in the 2015 election, but Cameron promised that the UK would gradually begin to “claw back power from Brussels.” The speech was not warmly received by member countries, including France and Germany, which informed Cameron that the EU could not be treated “à la carte” and that the plan would undermine the EU’s economic recovery.
Continuity in Transatlantic Relations during Obama’s Second Term
22 January 2013 – Diplomatic Courier
The second inauguration of U.S. President Obama highlighted a desire for deeper and more comprehensive cooperation among the transatlantic community. Despite these sentiments, there are growing concerns in Washington over a lack of economic affinity between the allies due to the still unresolved Eurozone crisis. The Transatlantic Economy 2012, published by the Center for Transatlantic Relations of Johns Hopkins University, asserts the economic crisis will affect other areas of EU-U.S. importance, including their relationship with Russia and the Middle East, and NATO’s future. While the Eurozone crisis, and the significant challenges it poses, will cause Washington, Brussels, and European capitals to make an objective assessment of their transatlantic relationship, there is confidence among many that Obama’s second term will maintain continuity in U.S.-EU relations for the next few years.
The one substantive foreign policy point in Obama's inauguration speech
22 January 2013 – Washington Post
President Obama was sworn in for his second term as President of the United States yesterday. While his inaugural address focused on mostly domestic issues, including an increased focus on gay rights and climate change, there were important, though slight, indications of a changing focus in foreign policy. Obama hinted both at attempting to resolve conflicts peacefully as well as continuing to focus on cooperating with international institutions.“[W]e will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crises abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation,” stated Obama, suggesting part of the reasoning and justification for the rebalancing of U.S. foreign policy goals to Asia. It is noteworthy that Obama, despite making changes such as the “pivot to Asia” and the nomination of Chuck Hagel, did not expand upon any new or changing foreign policy objectives during his inaugural address.
Nationalism is a virus, federalism the cure
21 January 2013 – Financial Times
In De la Démocratie en Europe, Voir Plus Loin, a new book written by Sylvie Goulard, a French MEP, and Mario Monti, Italy’s prime minister, the EU experts argue that what is needed to save the European project from the crippling Eurozone crisis is yet another institutional redesign. While acknowledging the arguments that the EU is too technocratic and not sufficiently democratic, they reject the counter-argument that the solution to these problems is a return to the all-empowering nation-state. Instead, the authors assert that these challenges can, and should, be addressed at the multilateral level.
Inauguration Day Priorities for Transatlantic Cooperation
21 January 2013 – Royal United Services Institute Analysis
The second inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama represents an opportunity for Washington and Brussels to work towards closer cooperation in pursuit of their strategic objectives. While the past four years were marked with various disappointments in the transatlantic relationship, and there are still fears about the future of the EU and the daunting domestic issues Washington must address, President Obama’s inauguration marks an opportunity for the allies to delve into new areas of cooperation, such as trade and the West’s relationship with the Middle East and Russia. Indeed, with a team of like-minded officials and four years to accomplish his goals, many argue that President Obama is positioning himself for an activist foreign policy in his second term.
“Far Right” report outrages critics of federalism
21 January 2013 – Washington Times
The Washington Times revealed a West Point think tank report that links people who believe in individual freedom with violent “far right” movements and anti-federalists. The report, titled “Challenges From the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far Right,” was written by Arie Perliger, director of the U.S. Military Academy Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, NY, and states that anti-federalists “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights…” The report also attributes these anti-federalist sentiments to direct violence toward the government. The report has garnered strong opposition from conservatives and former members of the military, who argue that it conflates mainstream conservative beliefs to “anti-federalist” movements, and is intended to discredit conservatives while strengthening liberals.
David Cameron: UK could drift towards EU exit
18 Jan 2013 – BBC
Following growing tensions over the future role of the UK in the EU, David Cameron has postponed a speech that may severely affect Europe. He was to argue that: "There is a gap between the EU and its citizens…which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is - yes - felt particularly acutely in Britain.” At worst, there are fears that there may be a referendum in the UK on staying in the EU, though Cameron has stated that such a step is highly unlikely. British attitudes toward Europe have toughened since the Euro crisis. In particular, British citizens have felt that many of the EU’s austerity measures resulted in them suffering the consequences and paying for the survival of those living in other countries. Cameron postponed the speech to address these issues because of the hostage crisis in Algeria.
Can Obama rely on Europe?
17 January 2013 – Deutsche Welle
Faced with an enormous national debt and lingering engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, many analysts predict that President Obama’s second term will be devoted to tackling these national burdens, while taking a backseat to European affairs. In order to turn inward however, Washington needs assurances that the EU capable of upholding its own as a regional and global power. At a time when the Eurozone crisis still rages on, the UK threatens to rescind its membership, Russia has turned its back to the West, Turkey has lost hope of joining the EU, and the European periphery is plagued with political strife, there are doubts that the EU will be able to preserve the current liberal international order.
The U.S. – Europe Relationship
16 January 2013 – U.S. Department of State Official Blog
The U.S. Department of State reported that the U.S. and Europe have never been more closely aligned in their goals. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted in a speech she recently gave during her 38th trip to Europe that the Obama Administration has developed a transatlantic agenda that has led to cooperation on a myriad of global issues including Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Mali, Libya, and Egypt. The U.S. has also worked to advance democracy and human rights across Europe, and build relationships with countries in political transition. While challenges remain, specifically the U.S.’s delicate relationship with Russia and the crippling Eurozone financial crisis, by and large, 2012 was a year of growing strategic alignment.
Obama Bullying Could Backfire
16 January 2013 – New Atlanticist
The Obama Administration publicly expressed concerns that the special relationship it shares with the UK could be damaged if they exited the EU. The comments precede a keynote speech Prime Minister David Cameron is scheduled to deliver later this month on his country’s EU membership. The Obama Administration must be careful not to be seen as bullying the British people. By publicly warning the UK, the U.S. risks further weakening Cameron’s position within the EU, and his powers to negotiate for a Europe that the British people voted for and want.
French press: Election shows move away from Euroscepticism
15 January 2013 – Prague Daily Monitor
French and Belgian news sources covering the Czech presidential polls report that both candidates are pro-European politicians. The French economic daily Les Echos, describes the candidate, former socialist PM Milos Zeman, as “a Euro-federalist” and a supporter of firmer EU structures. The other candidate, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, is calling for a “Europe based on solidarity” and for closer unity between the 27 member states. While it is still too soon to predict the results of the January 25-26 second round, the selection of either candidate represents the abandonment of current President Vaclav Klaus and the Eurosceptic policies he has pursued over the past ten years.
German Warnings to Britain Fall on Deaf Ears
14 January 2013 – Spiegel Online
Growing euroskepticism in the UK has prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to reassess his country’s relationship with the European Union. Gunther Krichbaum, chair of the European affairs committee of Germany’s parliament and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), prompted the newest wave of anti-EU sentiments when he warned against the UK’s possible isolation within the EU, stating that it “cannot be in Britain’s interest.” Krichbaum’s remarks were in response to Cameron’s announcement that the UK intended to loosen its ties with the EU in certain policy areas. While Chancellor Merkel’s views on UK membership are not in opposition to Krichbaum’s, both the Chancellery and the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs fear that Cameron will use the statements to call for a referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU, thus conceding further to euroskeptics within his party.
A big year for transatlantic ties?
14 January 2013 – CNN World
2013 is a year of opportunity and challenge for transatlantic relations. While this might be the year that a long discussed free trade agreement is finally agreed upon, it also might be the year that the U.S. and the EU face a number of daunting security dilemmas. Surveys conducted by both the Pew Research Center and the German Marshall Fund reveal that Americans and Europeans support NATO, but wish to see a withdrawal of NATO forces in Afghanistan, and do not want their governments to be directly involved in additional security issues, such as Syria and Iran. How these grave security dilemmas are handled will greatly impact public opinion and test the bonds of solidarity between the U.S. and the EU in the coming year.
President Obama’s Second Term: Big Bets, Black Swans
11 January 2013 – The Brookings Institution
Martin S. Indyk, the vice president and director of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, outlines some challenges U.S. President Barack Obama will face as he embarks upon his second term. Although there are significant challenges facing the president, hopes are high among many that he will use his second term to improve economic relations, increase security, and continue strengthening transatlantic relations – not only with current allies, but also with rising powers.
Rehn joins German, US in warning of Brexit
11 January 2013 - Euractiv
European Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn has joined U.S. and German officials in urging Britain to stay engaged in the EU. Rehn said: “If I were a Briton in the EU, I would prefer to be in the midfield as a playmaker, rather than sitting on the sidelines as a substitute...You never score goals from the bench."
Stay at heart of Europe, U.S. tells Britain
9 January 2013 – Financial Times
After months of discussing a possible British exit from the EU in private, U.S. officials are now publicly expressing their concerns. They are particularly concerned about British Prime Minister David Cameron’s intent to renegotiate his country’s EU membership terms and put them to a referendum. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon stated: “We have a growing relationship with the EU as an institution, which has an increasing voice in the world, and we want to see a strong British voice in that EU…That is in America’s interests. We welcome an outward-looking EU with Britain in it.”
Like-Minded and Capable Democracies: A New Framework for Advancing a Liberal World Order
January 2013 – Ash Jain, Council on Foreign Relations
Ash Jain, a non-resident fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has authored a working paper that argues for deeper political and defense cooperation among like-minded and capable democratic states. Through strategic consultation, policy coordination, and joint crisis response, this “D10” grouping could advance the liberal international order.
Irish presidency will do all it can to avoid a “Brexit”
9 January 2013 – Euractiv
Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore stated yesterday that his government will do all it can to keep Britain in the EU. While stating that “Ireland with the presidency [of the EU] is in a good position to act as an honest broker and to act as a friend to the UK,” he argued that his country has a strong interest in Britain’s continued membership and that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s intent to renegotiate the terms of this membership would damage the union.
Cameron wants “restrictions” put on EU freedom of movement
7 January 2013 – Euractiv
In an interview with the BBC, British Prime Minister David Cameron argued that restrictions could be imposed to make it “harder for people to come and live in Britain and claim benefits…” When asked whether the UK should leave the EU, Cameron rejected the notion and stated: “Fifty per cent of our trade is with the European Union. At the moment, because we’re in this single market, we have a seat at the table in the single market, we help write those rules. If we were outside the EU altogether, we’d still be trading with these European countries but we’d have no say.”
European Parliament votes to fight ITU internet power grab
24 November 2012 – The Register
Members of the European Parliament have passed a resolution aimed at thwarting the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) from seizing regulatory control of the internet. Next month at an 11-day conference called the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), ITU will meet to discuss internet regulations that have remained unaltered since 1988. The fear is that while at WCIT, the ITU may try to seize regulatory control of the internet without contestation from other representatives concerned for internet users' rights. The European Party has been joined by a spread of internet freedom advocates such as Google and Greenpeace in order to ensure no drastic changes are made at the closed door conference this December. The U.S. government recently released a statement noting opposition to change of regulatory internet power as well.
Prisoner Right to Vote to be Debated by Parliament as EU Human Rights Deadline Looms
18 November 2012 – Huffington Post
Last February, the British House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favor of a blanket ban on prisoners' right to vote, with 234 votes for and 22 against. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has judged the ban unlawful, and has set forth a new deadline of Friday, Nov. 23rd to comply with the ruling. In the past, British PM David Cameron has flatly ruled-out the option of handing criminals back their democratic rights. Three options will be presented to British MPs in a new bill on Thursday, including the right to vote for prisoners who have been imprisoned for four years or less, for prisoners who have been imprisoned for six months or less, or no votes for prisoners at all. Should the MPs chose to uphold the blanket ban on prisoners' voting, the ECHR will fine the British government for non-compliance.
The Latest Polls Confirm Everyone's Worst Fears About The Golden Dawn In Greece
2 November 2012 – Business Insider
The radical party Golden Dawn has seen an increase in support, according to recent polls. The extreme nationalist party now places third in the Greek political system, winning between 11.5-14% of the voting populous according to polls from the past two weeks. Political scientists note the significance of the recent spike in support, citing the 6.9% the party received in June of this year; this signifies a nearly 100% rise in voter backing. Ruling party New Democracy has seen an almost 8% decrease in support since then, and the second most supported leftist party SYRIZA saw a slight decrease.
‘Lower the minimum voting age’ for EU referendum
10 October 2012 – BBC
The United Kingdom's Prime Minister David Cameron is putting two of the UK's most valuable assessments to a direct vote. The government is currently negotiating to lower the referendum age so that 16 and 17 year old citizens can participate in deciding important upcoming votes. The PM is set to meet with Scottish First Secretary Alex Salmond next week in an attempt to reach a deal on a referendum on Scottish independence, scheduled to be held before the end of 2014. Similarly, Cameron has noted the same course of action would be appropriate regarding the future of the country's role in, or even membership of, the European Union. In the House of Lords Wednesday, both Liberal and Conservative representatives agreed that Parliament would be the responsible legislative body for enacting or blocking changes to referendum protocol for the two upcoming decisions.
European Parliament to take part in UN General Assembly meetings
23 September 2012 – UNRIC
For the first time, the European Parliament will be represented at the UN General Assembly as a component of the EU delegation. The addition of the new body serves as a democratic legitimization of EU representation at the UN, noted Parliament's Vice President Othmar Karas. The other elements of the EU delegation include European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton. Vice President Karas is to participate in a high-level meeting within the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on Wednesday regarding the rule of law. The IPU is composed of representatives from 163 parliaments.
20 September 2012 – BBC
The little-known Syrian freedom association has filed a legal complaint against Charlie Hebdo magazine for obscenely depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a series of cartoons. The complaint accuses Hebdo of inciting violence and "throwing oil on the fire" in the wake of violent protests against an American amateur YouTube film that depicted the prophet as well, over which some 30 people have already been killed. While security at French and U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa has been increased, security forces are still being met with violent protests and anti-Western sentiment. Thousands protested outside of the French embassy in Tehran, Iran, reportedly yelling "death to France." The French government met with Muslim representatives Wednesday to defuse anger over the cartoons but has not yet taken legal action over the magazine's depiction. Employees at the magazine say they have done nothing wrong.
Czech President rejects Barroso’s EU “federation” plan
14 September 2012 – Euractiv
In response to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso’s proposal to transform the EU into a “federation of nation states,” Czech President Vaclav Klaus – a well-known Eurosceptic – rejected the idea. Klaus stated: “…on the contrary we should think about how to have our statehood and sovereignty restored. The European Union should be changed in the opposite direction to that proposed by Barroso. At the moment I write these lines, 61.8% of people responded in the poll on your web server, which was attended by 11,047 readers, that the Union is in decay. People like Mr. Barroso do not want to hear this.”
European Parliament Urges Member States To Probe Alleged Secret CIA Prisons
11 September 2012 - RTTNews
The European Parliament adopted a non-binding motion on Tuesday urging member states to investigate possible covert CIA prisons used in the early 2000s. Poland, Romania, and Lithuania specifically have beenencouraged to look into facilities that may have been used for detainment under the CIA's secret rendition program. The foundation for the resolution comes from Rapporteur Hélène Flautre's finding,which "supports the existence of a vast, secret and illegal system that led to acts of torture and forced disappearances. It is based on new facts revealed, in particular, in aerial databases held by Eurocontrol." The document was adopted by 568 votes to 34, with 77 abstentions in Strasbourg. As investigations now move forward, MEPs cite "lack of transparency, classification of documents, prevalence of national and political interests (...) lack of rigorous investigative techniques and of cooperation" as hindrances that have obstructed conclusive findings in past years.
U.S., Germany Embrace Good Business Ethics
6 September 2012 - The Washington Post
UN Urges Serbia-Kosovo Talks
21 August 2012 – Voice of America
Farid Zarif, the top UN diplomat for Kosovo, is calling for the UN Security Council (UNSC) to assume a more active role in negotiations on the final status of Kosovo. Since Kosovo broke away from Serbia and declared independence in 2008, the EU has sponsored talks that have produced agreements – even though only some have been implemented. The talks were since put on hold while Serbia held parliamentary elections. Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic stated to the UNSC that Serbia would never recognize Kosovo’s independence, but that it is open to talks. Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, stated that he seeks a normalization of relations with Serbia but will not compromise on Kosovo’s territorial integrity.
Czech, Hungarian Economies Suffer Losses
14 August 2012 – Reuters
With the effects of the eurozone crisis continuing to spread across the continent, both Hungary and the Czech Republic witnessed economic slowdown as industrial sector production contracted. A decreased demand for exports along with tax increases caused the Hungarian and Czech economies to each fall 0.2% from April to June, marking their second and third quarters of recession respectively. According to analysts, both countries illustrated shrinking demand in numerous areas including retail sales, construction, investment and manufacturing; manufacturing alone represents 80% of output for both countries. Though nearby Romania observed unexpected growth this month and appeared to pull away from recession, the Romanian currency’s plummet to an all time low last week has stoked fears that Central European economies may be headed for crisis. (Read More)
Trans-Atlantic Tensions Increase
14 August 2012 – Wall Street Journal
The traditional and well-established relationship between the United States and the U.K. has fallen under recent stress after the New York State Department of Financial Services claimed last week that U.K. bank Standard Chartered PLC broke U.S. money-laundering laws. Standard Chartered has denied the allegations and the head of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has reprimanded U.S. regulators for their claim. While both sides officially state that relations between the two countries remain friendly and cooperative, it appears that the money-laundering feud and other recent financial scandals involving the U.S. and the U.K. have added increased pressure to the relationship. (Read More)
Violence Disrupts French Summer
14 August 2012 – Washington Post
Splattered across the front page of the country’s newspapers, headlines in France have become dominated this summer by stories of riots, armed robberies and violent attacks on police. Though current French President François Hollande often criticized his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, for taking an exaggerated stance towards crime-fighting, Hollande reflected the style and attitude of the former leader yesterday when he announced a no-tolerance policy towards violent crime. Hollande’s speech against violence comes after fighting and riots erupted in the northern city of Amiens on Sunday night following a resident’s encounter with the police. According to reports, violence broke out after the resident was accosted by the police, with bystanders responding by setting fire to buildings and cars and igniting gasoline bombs. As armed violence continues to flare-up across the country, Hollande has promised greater resources for local police, firmly stating that “there is violence, there is delinquency, there is criminality, and it must be prevented and dissuaded.” (Read More)
Greece to Deport Undocumented Migrants
7 August 2012 – EU Observer
This weekend, authorities in Greece identified over 6,000 undocumented migrant workers living in Athens and arrested a total of 1,525 people for failing to meet the country's legal residency requirements. Greece's strict approach is part of a larger national campaign aimed at reducing the number of undocumented migrants in the country and improving security along the Greek-Turkish border. As authorities push to deport the group of arrested migrants, Greek Minister of Public Order Nikos Dendias explained that “the crackdown is necessary to safeguard the foundations of the Greek state.” With an estimated 1 million people living illegally or as refugees in Greece, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has expressed concern that the people arrested in last weekend's roundup may be in need of legitimate international protection. (Read More)
Greek Exit from Eurozone Would Be Manageable
7 August 2012 – Reuters
In an interview today with a German television station, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker addressed continued concerns over the sovereign debt crisis and commented that a Greek exit from the eurozone would be manageable, though not desirable. Juncker added that a decision for Greece to leave Europe's monetary union would provide “significant risks especially for ordinary people in Greece.” Asked about the likelihood of a Greek exit, he replied that any possibility would be ruled out until “at least until the end of autumn.” (Read More)
Annan Resigns as Syria Envoy
2 August 2012 – New York Times
As the armed conflict in Syria wages on, UN-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan has resigned from his post after working unsuccessfully over the past months on implementation of a peace plan. In an official statement today, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon confirmed Annan’s wish to no longer continue in his position. Though Annan has presented a Six-Point Plan to both the Syrian government and the opposition to establish a cease-fire and promote dialogue, President Bashar al-Assad’s failure to implement the plan has discouraged hope for a peaceful agreement between the two sides. (Read More)
ECB Gearing Up to Buy Eurozone Bonds
2 August 2012 – Reuters
According to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, the ECB will prepare to buy Italian and Spanish bonds in the coming months provided that eurozone governments approve the necessary bailout funds. Draghi stated that, at the earliest, ECB intervention would occur in September and that any success would depend on financially-strapped countries accepting stricter conditions and additional supervision. While European bankers and lawmakers still remain skeptical, tensions were relieved last week after Draghi promised to “do whatever it takes” to prevent the full-on collapse of the eurozone. (Read More)
Eurozone Unemployment at Record High
1 August 2012 – EurActiv
A new report published by Eurostat, the official statistics department of the European Union, shows that unemployment across the 17 countries of the eurozone has increased to 11.2%. The latest figures count nearly 17.8 million people without jobs, with the highest national unemployment rates recorded in Spain and Greece at 24.8% and 22.5% respectively. Analysts also point to increasing unemployment rates in Italy, Portugal and even France. Though the German economy remains strong, the European Central Bank will meet today to discuss possible solutions to the sovereign debt crisis and growing unemployment situation. (Read More)
Israel, EU Advance on Open Skies Agreement
1 August 2012 –Algemeiner
Signaling greater cooperation between the two partners, the EU and Israel have signed initial proposals for an Open Skies Agreement which will liberalize air travel and reduce air fares for the two sides. The proposal now sits with both the Israeli government and European Parliament where it awaits final approval. Once formally approved, officials expect the agreement to help boost tourism on both sides as Israeli airlines add seven weekly flights to all European destinations. Lawmakers predict final approval on the agreement to come in the next few months, with the gradual implementation over the following two to three years. (
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