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  • 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
  • Author: Zvi Magen, Udi Dekel
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The arrangement between the United States and Russia over southern Syria represents a test, both for the chances of jumpstarting a coordinated process between the world powers over a future settlement in Syria and for the relations between them on other contested issues. Israel was not mentioned in the context of the ceasefire arrangement, but it has scored several achievements. Nonetheless, Israel is likely to confront an attempt by President Assad to advance forces to southwest Syria and the Golan Heights. Because Assad’s forces rely on help from Iran’s proxies – Shiite militias and Hezbollah – Israel may have to fulfill a counter-threat if any of the red lines it announced are crossed.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: Ephraim Kam, Zaki Shalom
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Senior officials within the Iranian regime have long been convinced that American administrations have striven to infiltrate Iran’s internal system and topple the Islamic regime, and this impression has been bolstered of late. For its part, even if the Trump administration has not presented a defined position on regime change in Iran, it undoubtedly has a clear interest in this regard. Yet the US administration has no concrete ability to bring about regime change in Iran in the desired direction – not by supporting internal opposition forces, and certainly not through military intervention. If the Iranian regime does change in the future, it will presumably result from internal processes and not external intervention.
  • Topic: War, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Iran
  • Author: Raz Zimmt
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The new government proposed by President Hassan Rouhani is the first significant evidence of his intentions, priorities, and limits of power. While forming his government, the President was forced to balance the opposing forces in the Iranian political system. The composition of the government reflects his wish to avoid open conflict with the religious establishment, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and his intention to place the economic crisis at the top of his government's priorities, even at the expense of civic reforms. His decision to ignore calls for reforms and the failure to include women and minorities in the government have already sowed disappointment and drawn criticism from broad sections of the public that supported him in the last elections. However, public support depends to a large extent on actual policies and success in realizing promises, mainly in the area of the economy. Putting economic matters at the top of the agenda for his new government requires cooperation with other centers of power in Iran, above all, the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards. This means that with regard to foreign affairs and security issues no significant changes in Iranian policy are expected.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Emily Landau
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: While North Korea’s recent nuclear tests significantly raised the level of fear in the United States, they were not a surprise. North Korea, long a nuclear state, is a dangerous nuclear proliferator that has shirked international commitments. Pyongyang issues highly aggressive rhetoric toward the United States and its regional neighbors on a regular basis; it flaunts its nuclear capability and threatens to use it, and tends to share nonconventional know-how and technologies. And herein lies a link to Tehran: as Iran also remains motivated in the nuclear realm despite the JCPOA, the direct implications of North Korea's activities for Iran's nuclear program must be under constant scrutiny. The indirect implications for dealing with Iran's nuclear motivation invoke the ability to rely on negotiations to stop a determined proliferator. The North Korean case of failed negotiations must be heeded when thinking about Iran.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Amos Yadlin, Gilead Sher
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The perspective of twelve years since Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank confirms that this significant political and security-related event was a correct strategic decision. Regarding the West Bank, it appears that unilateral disengagement as a stand-alone event will not repeat itself. However, a political and security independent process with similar attributes could enable Israel to continue striving for a reality of two states for two peoples, based on a gradual, secure, and responsible end to Israel’s control over the Palestinian people. Efforts should be made to reach agreement with the Palestinians regarding interim measures throughout transitional stages. However, if it becomes clear that an agreement cannot be reached, measures should be implemented independently (regardless of Palestinian consent) aimed at improving Israel’s situation without impairing its security. These measures will need to be carried out in close coordination with the United States and in accordance with US-Israel understandings.
  • Topic: Civil War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Israel, Gaza