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  • Author: Hajnalka Vincze
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: “One only comes out of ambiguity to their own detriment,” this maxim often repeated by former President François Mitterrand sounds like a premonitory warning in the aftermath of Emmanuel Macron’s election in France. Indeed, for the new president whose figure of speech, “but at the same time,” has practically become his trademark during the campaign, the inevitable clarifications are likely to entail hurdles. In the economic and social policy field, Macron’s “right and left” positioning enabled him to capture a wide audience, but at the cost of sometimes contradictory statements that might prove to be difficult to reconcile between two very different camps. In foreign policy, who Macron appoints to key position should lift part of the mystery as to the actual preferences of the new president. While claiming to want to perpetuate the voluntarist Gaullo-Mitterrandian tradition, Emmanuel Macron has so far given no indication that he would break with the policy carried out over the past ten years, a policy that resulted precisely in the noticeable vanishing of what used to
  • Topic: International Affairs, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: France
  • Author: David Danelo
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On January 29, 2016, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a law changing the official name of Mexico’s capital region from Distrito Federal, or D.F., to Ciudad de Mexico. Beyond altering nearly two centuries of dialectical urban description—the region had been called D.F. since 1824 when Mexico’s first constitution was written—the adjustment grants Ciudad de Mexico a level of autonomous governance similar to the country’s other 31 states. The name change devolved power from Mexico’s federal government “to the citizens of Mexico City” and was presented with great public fanfare. Much of Ciudad de Mexico’s new constitution, which was signed in February 2017 and will become law in September 2018, was crowd-sourced from online petitions and community advocates. With articles enshrining green space and LGBT protections, the document has been hailed by liberal advocates as the most progressive in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: June Teufel Dreyer
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The first 100 days of a president’s term—the “honeymoon period,” during which his power and influence are believed to be their greatest—are, whether rightly or wrongly, regarded as a predictor of a president’s success during the remainder of his term. Given the often bombastic tone of Candidate Trump’s campaign rhetoric, it was to be expected that the foreign powers against whom much of his vitriol was directed would seek to challenge the determination of President Trump to live up to his promises. And so it has been.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lawrence Husick
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In Greek mythology, the Hydra was a many-headed serpent (accounts range from six to more than 50 heads) which grew back at least two heads for each one lopped off. The Hydra had poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly. It took Heracles to vanquish the beast in his second labor. It’s a pity then that the less-than-heroic Jared Kushner now has the task of modernizing and reforming the federal government’s information technology (IT) and cybersecurity infrastructure—a hydra-like beast if ever there was one.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John R. Haines
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Hungarian proverb Madarat tolláról, embert barátjáról translates roughly as “You can tell a bird by its feathers, and a person by his friends.” If so, it says much about Hungarian President Viktor Orbán. Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked during a 12 April interview with Russia’s MIR television and radio network whether “relations deteriorated with Trump in office from what they were under his predecessor?” He answered, “We could say that at the working level, the degree of trust has dropped, especially in the military area. It has not improved and has probably worsened.”[1] Mr. Putin premised this appraisal with an extended dissemble about “several versions” about “the chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province, which led to the US air strike on a Syrian air base:”
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Hungary
  • Author: June Teufel Dreyer
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Palm Beach heaved a collective sigh of relief as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plane lifted off from the county airport. Gone were the noisy cheers of his supporters and the anti-Xi banners and jeers of Falongong practitioners, human rights advocates, and admirers of Tibet and Taiwan. The Palm Beach Post reverted from moment-to-moment briefings from the chief of police on street blockages and security precautions to issues of more immediate concern like rip tides and coverage of the Master’s golf tournament competition. Members of Trump’s exclusive Mar-a-Lago private club, whose initiation fee had doubled to $200,000 after his election, could now return to accessing the privileges for which they had paid so handsomely.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: China, America
  • Author: David Danelo
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: “You should have said something,” a perturbed Chilean university professor tells me in Spanish, soon after we disembarked from a bus in Córdoba, Mexico. Wearing combat boots, fatigues, and a shaved head with scrubby facial hair, the short, slender, middle-aged man had watched me get inspected three times by Mexican migration and military personnel while traveling north from the Mexico-Guatemala border. At each checkpoint, I was the only passenger who drew attention; my passport and documents permitting me to travel through Mexico were scrutinized, and each compartment in my backpack was unzipped. The Chilean, who looked like he could have been in the military himself, claimed he was an advisor to Mexican border forces. “They were profiling you. They are not supposed to do that.” I laughed. Of course, they were profiling me. I look exactly like what I am: a gringo; a güero; an American. Given the attitude the United States government has directed recently towards Mexico, why wouldn’t I be a primary target for extra security screenings? I considered myself fortunate that Mexican authorities were content with seeing my passport and searching my backpack. All things considered, it was a courteous reprieve
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Artyom Lukin
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Russia is now the only major country that is on more or less friendly terms with Pyongyang. Its current economic leverage with the North comes mostly from the importation of North Korean labor, which provides Pyongyang with a vital source of cash. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) trusts no person or country, but it probably distrusts Russia much less than China and the United States. This dynamic gives Russia a potential diplomatic role in the North Korean problem. The Kremlin does not support using high pressure tactics against Pyongyang, especially military options, as it might have unpredictable and disastrous consequences for the entire Northeast Asian region. Moscow is committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, but sees it as a long-term goal, while the most realistic objective at present should be a North Korean nuclear and missile moratorium, or “freeze.”
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Jacopo Maria Pepe
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: China’s increased engagement in Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe has aroused concerns in Europe that China is pursuing a divisive strategy. Its primary goal, however, is to use the region as a gateway to Western Europe’s markets while including the EU in its own Eurasian integration project; in Beijing’s view, a robust regulatory EU is doubtless preferable to a fragmented Europe. China’s deepening involvement in the region could nevertheless increase economic divisions within the EU as whole. As a trade triangle emerges involving China, Germany, and the Visegrad states, the “German-Central European manufacturing core” potentially stands to gain at the expense of the EU’s Atlantic and southern European member states. Germany must address this risk with a triple strategy that balances national interest, EU cohesion, and engagement with China. This involves, first, working with the Visegrad Four, with other European countries, and with EU institutions to forge a deeper and more effective cooperation with China to enhance transport connectivity and economic modernization, particularly in the Western and Eastern Balkans. Second, Germany should increase pressure on China to open up the Chinese domestic market to ensure mutual access. And third, it should promote forward-looking European industrial policy centered on the digitalization of value and supply chains for Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe. This would allow Germany to prevent intra-European divisions from deepening, while taking advantage of its triangular relations with China and the countries of Central Europe and fostering mutually advantageous integration across Eurasia.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Sergey Markedonov
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The South Caucasus continues to be critically important to Eurasian security. The outbreak of fighting in April 2016 between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway republic of Nagorno-Karabakh introduced new uncertainty and confrontation to the region. Russia’s policies here are crucial, as they are in the region’s other ethno-political conflicts, in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Sergey Markedonov offers an insider’s perspective on the Kremlin’s involvement in the region, highlighting its security concerns and stressing that Russia is not taking a universal approach to all of the post-Soviet conflict zones. While the “Western” political and expert community often assumes that territorial revisionism is a kind of idée fixe within Russia, this is far from the case. Each situation demands an indi- vidual response from Moscow, as it weighs and pursues its own interests. This in turn explains the improbability of “Crimean situations” multiplying in the South Caucasus. The region undoubtedly harbors risks of confrontation – not only between Russia and the countries of the immediate region but also with such large powers as the US, the EU, Turkey, and Iran – but it also holds several opportunities for cooperation.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Daniela Schwarzer
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: A Macron presidency could be the last chance for liberal-minded politicians to reform France and the EU. Failure to do so may pave the way in ve years’ time for a far-right or far-left president who would then begin undoing the EU
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: France
  • Author: Michael Emerson
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This was meant to be a Brexit election to strengthen the Prime Minister’s hand. The result was precisely the opposite. Her management of the Brexit process has become a long sequence of own goals: quit the customs union and single market; watch EU agencies relocate to the continent, including importantly for medicines and banking; banking jobs begin to relocate; science, research and academia see their interests harmed; the budget settlement prospect becomes a big new negative; the Irish border question threatens; immigration from the EU is already declining and various sectors from fruit-picking to the national health service are at risk. Moreover, the UK’s economic growth has slowed down and is now forecast to drop to 1% in 2018; the pound has lost 13% since the referendum; inflation is up; and consumer spending is down. The only solace available to Mrs May is that the Scots seem to be having second thoughts about independence. But this election was her biggest own goal yet. The credibility of her Brexit negotiation method is shattered. She thought the British people could be satisfied with slogans about “Brexit means Brexit”, or “getting the best deal for Britain”, and the now notorious “no deal is better than a bad deal”. Above all there was the failure to define and communicate a credible negotiation strategy. The Brexit White Paper of February 2017 contained serious contradictions, insisting that the UK should get ‘seamless’ market access while still leaving the customs union and the single market.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Political stability, Europe Union, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Britain
  • Author: Elspeth Guild
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The task of finding a solution to the legal status of non-British EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit is exercising the best minds in the European Union at the moment. As the European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations rightly underline, “The United Kingdom's decision to leave the Union creates significant uncertainties that have the potential to cause disruption,…Citizens who have built their lives on the basis of rights flowing from the British membership of the EU face the prospect of losing those rights”. These guidelines also place special emphasis on the priority to ensure reciprocal guarantees in safeguarding the rights derived from EU law of EU and UK citizens and their families affected by Brexit, effective from the date of withdrawal. The latest idea floating in the media is that the UK should naturalise the non-British EU nationals living there (possibly numbering 3 million) as British citizens. This solution has been commonly called “giving them all passports”, but for an individual to qualify for a passport, s/he must hold the nationality of the state of issuance. Is this a serious policy option? It is certainly original and has the benefit of shifting the burden of dealing with this question back onto the UK – enlarge your population and keep good relations with your neighbours. But there are at least four challenging questions that deserve careful consideration.
  • Topic: Citizenship, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: John Bruton
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This paper presents the testimony delivered by John Bruton, former Prime Minister of Ireland, on 27 April 2017, before the Seanad Special Committee on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The Special Committee was established by the Seanad on February 27th to consider the implications of Brexit for Ireland. Mr Bruton began his testimony by commending the committee for its work and also the government for ensuring, through effective diplomacy, that the particular problems of Ireland have been publicly recognised in the negotiating positions of both the EU 27 and the UK.
  • Topic: Brexit
  • Political Geography: Ireland
  • Author: Michael Emerson
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: A team of economists at CEPS was commissioned by the Policy Department on Economic and Scientific Policies for the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection to assess the likely economic impact of Brexit on EU27, together with some scenarios for the terms of the UK’s secession. For the EU 27, the losses were found to be virtually insignificant, and hardly noticeable in the aggregate. For the UK, however, the losses could be highly significant, with various estimates running up to ten times greater as a share of GDP. Impacts on some member states – in particular Ireland – and some sectors in the EU27 could be more pronounced than the average for the EU27. Michael Emerson is Associate Senior Research Fellow, Matthias Busse is Researcher, Mattia Di Salvo is Research Assistant, Daniel Gros is Director and Jacques Pelkmans is Senior Research Fellow – all at CEPS.
  • Topic: Economics, Brexit, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Milan Elkerbout
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement represents a setback for global climate action. But the damage will be felt more in political and diplomatic terms than in terms of climate policy or reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which depend at least in the near term on domestic climate policies. The election of Donald Trump and the strong Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress that accompanied his election immediately dispelled any hope that the US would implement or maintain ambitious climate policies. Indeed, in the first months of his Presidency, Trump signed an executive order to review (and thus likely roll back) President Obama’s landmark climate policy – the Clean Power Plan. The latter initiative aimed to reduce power-sector emissions by 32% by 2030 through federal legislation. Other US climate policies, such as vehicle standards and methane regulations, are also destined for the axe. Taken collectively, these measures will make it very difficult for the country to meet its Paris pledge of reducing GHG emissions by 26-28% by 2025 compared to 2005, even if another personality occupies the White House by 2021. 1 Improving fundamentals for renewable energy may still allow the US to reach its 2020 target of a 17% reduction in emissions compared to 2005. But the difference between this target and the formal pledge made by the US in Paris is roughly equal to the annual emissions of the entire transport sector in the EU.
  • Topic: Climate Change, International Affairs, Climate Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Gros
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: For years, the eurozone has been perceived as a disaster area, with discussions of the monetary union’s future often centred on a possible breakup. When the British voted to leave the European Union last year, they were driven partly by the perception of the eurozone as a dysfunctional and possibly unsalvageable project. Yet, lately, the eurozone has become the darling of financial markets – and for good reason. The discovery of the eurozone’s latent strength was long overdue. Indeed, the eurozone has been recovering from the crisis of 2011-12 for several years. On a per capita basis, its economic growth now outpaces that of the United States. The unemployment rate is also declining – more slowly than in the US, to be sure, but that partly reflects a divergence in labour-force participation trends.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Mikkel Barslund
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: CEPS researchers Mikkel Barslund, Mehtap Akgüç, Nadzeya Laurentsyeva and Lars Ludolph are among the contributors to the 2017 MEDAM Assessment Report on Asylum and Migration Policies in Europe, produced by the Mercator Dialogue on Asylum and Migration (MEDAM). The report explores ways in which responsibility for refugees can be fairly distributed – globally and within the EU – and how we can curb irregular migration while expanding legal immigration to the benefit of all concerned. CEPS is one of three research institutes working on this multi-year project, alongside the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute. For more information on the MEDAM project, which is funded by Stiftung Mercator
  • Topic: Migration, Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mikkel Barslund, Lars Ludolph
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This paper argues that none of the secular trends that have driven down real interest rates over the past two decades is likely to reverse in the near future. Thus, real rates can be expected to remain low and government debt-servicing costs to decrease further over the coming years. Based on these findings, the authors calculate direct gains accruing to the Belgian government from lower net debt interest payments. The savings on interest payments are then contrasted with the projected future increases in age-related expenditures on pensions, education and long-term care. The findings indicate that, if savings on interest payments are channelled to cover the increases in age-related expenditures, they will fully offset financing needs in these areas until 2030. The calculations are robust to a moderate increase in interest rates.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Belgium
  • Author: Brad W. Setser
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The global impact of oil’s fall from $100 plus to under $50 a barrel has not gotten as much attention as I think it deserves. For most oil exporters, it has been a profound shock—one that forced such a massive contraction in imports that it pulled down global trade (far more than the trade remedies that tend to dominate the ‘trade” news). A few countries adjusted quickly and relatively efficiently (Russia), though not painlessly. A few have struggled to adapt—notably, because of its large external debt, poor policies, and growing political crisis, Venezuela.
  • Topic: Oil, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus