Europe & EU 2013

Written by  //  December 27, 2013  //  Europe & EU  //  3 Comments

The European
EU Observer
New School of Athens (NSoA)
Q&A: EU-Russia battleground (BBC)
Ukraine

 

Gas Politics After Ukraine
Azerbaijan, Shah Deniz, and Europe’s Newest Energy Partner
(Foreign Affairs) In the wake of the European Union’s failure to conclude an association agreement with Ukraine, one could be forgiven for thinking that it is losing its touch in the former Soviet Union. It isn’t. This week, EU leaders signed a deal with Azerbaijan to build a pipeline for importing gas from Azerbaijan into Europe. All told, the arrangement is expected to bring billions of investment dollars into southern Europe and will, in the construction phase alone, create about 30,000 new jobs in the countries that the pipeline will eventually link: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, and Italy.
… In the run-up to this week’s meeting, Brussels blocked Moscow’s acquisition of energy infrastructure along the pipeline route and doggedly investigated Gazprom, Russia’s gas monopoly, for violating EU antitrust laws in the region. Helping matters along is Baku’s firm belief that cooperation with Europe is the path to security and development. A tiny state surrounded by Russia, Iran, and Turkey, Azerbaijan needs the West, perhaps more than Ukraine did, to ensure its independence. It also wants the Europe’s help resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between itself and neighboring Armenia.
The pipeline deal is also great news for Europe, opening up its first new major source of gas in decades. Shah Deniz is a mega-field, containing 40 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, equivalent to almost two years of U.S. natural gas consumption. It can also produce up to 100,000 barrels a day of condensate, which, when exported with Azerbaijani oil, will add up to almost a million barrels of oil a day. (17 December 2013)

5 December
eu_members_next sevenEU enlargement: The next seven
Seven countries, as well as Kosovo, are waiting in the wings to join the European Union.
Kosovo’s independence is not recognised by all EU countries, but the EU nevertheless views it as a potential candidate for membership.
Croatia and Turkey started accession talks on 3 October 2005. Croatia joined on 1 July 2013. Turkey could complete negotiations in 10-15 years, but progress has been very slow, as the EU is divided over whether Turkey should join at all.
The other Balkan countries have been told they can join the EU one day, if they meet the criteria. These include democracy, the rule of law, a market economy and adherence to the EU’s goals of political and economic union.

Q&A: EU freedom of movement
(BBC) Freedom of movement is a fundamental right in the EU. But the UK and some other countries are concerned about the existing rules, as Bulgaria and Romania will get full access to the EU labour market in January.
3 December
EU diplomats fear imminent crackdown in Ukraine
(EU Observer) The EU has agreed to hold new trade talks with Ukraine, but some diplomats fear the Ukrainian leader is preparing to use violence to end protests. European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso agreed to the talks in a 30-minute phone call with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Monday (2 December).
1 December
Shock four-country poll reveals widening gulf between Britain and EU
Poll of France, Germany, Poland and the UK shows British hostile to EU, and other nations hostile to Britain
A powerful cross-party alliance including former Tory foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is calling for an urgent fightback against spiralling anti-European sentiment as a new four-nation poll suggests the UK could be heading out of the EU.
Why Ukraine Matters
(Forbes) The past week has seen massive protests in Ukraine in response to President Viktor Yanukovich’s bungling of an EU trade pact. It is one of those seemingly obscure international events that are easy to miss, especially in the middle of the holiday season. Yet the events in Ukraine matter and not just because what they bode for the future of Europe and an increasingly desperate Vladimir Putin, but because this is a story that will continue to resonate in the years to come.
30 November
Ukraine’s Yanukovich vetoes EU push to save trade deal
(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich vetoed last-minute attempts by the European Union to rescue a trade deal that could have been signed at a summit on Friday and would have signaled a historic shift away from Russia, EU diplomats said. …  As EU leaders gathered in Vilnius on Thursday for a summit with six countries in eastern Europe and the southern Caucasus, officials from the EU and Ukraine tried to work out a last-minute compromise that could have allowed Yanukovich to sign the trade deal in the near future.
21 November
What’s Holding Europe Back?
Interview with Pier Carlo Padoan, Chief Economist and Deputy Secretary-General at the OECD
(Canadian International Council) The Eurozone is slowly getting out of the recession. Whether the growth we’re seeing now is sustainable remains the big question. So far, the improvements we’ve seen are mostly in the periphery, where the recovery has predominantly been export-led. The same can be said of Germany, although that country is of course in a much better state. What this means is that domestic demand is still weak.
31 October
Ukraine’s Prisoner’s Dilemma
(Project Syndicate) The European Union’s most important decision this fall will be whether to sign an Association Agreement with Ukraine at the EU summit in Vilnius on November 28-29. The Association Agreement, which runs to some 1,200 pages, would remove almost all EU tariffs on Ukrainian goods, boosting the country’s long-term GDP by an estimated 12%. It would also establish a political, economic, and legal reform plan for the country, supported by roughly 60 state agencies in EU member countries. Although the Association Agreement does not lead automatically to EU membership, it is an important step in that direction.
30 October
Tymoshenko Release: Ukraine’s Geopolitical Future Hangs on Deal

(Spiegel) EU negotiators have arrived in Ukraine to try to secure the release of imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. … The pact is expected to deepen Ukrainian engagement with the country’s western neighbors, while exacerbating tensions with Russia.
28 October
EU environment ministers call for action on climate policy
* Ambitious EU climate target for 2030 needed * Carbon market structural reform required
(Reuters) – Thirteen European environment ministers and dozens of business leaders urged the European Union on Monday to adopt “ambitious” energy and climate goals for 2030 to create a low-carbon economy in Europe to spur investment. In a 40-page document released at a green growth conference in Brussels, they also said the 28-nation bloc should reform the structure of the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) and offer a strict emissions cut pledge at a climate summit next autumn. Going against the tide of officials keen to blame green energy subsidies for higher energy bills, environment ministers from 13 EU countries and businesses including Coca Cola Enterprises and Shell called for action.
2 October
Berlusconi’s About-Face: A Vote of Confidence Will Not Suffice
It was a good day for Italy: Silvio Berlusconi had no choice but to reverse course and back Prime Minister Enrico Letta. But the government in Rome remains unstable. If Italy wants lasting stability, the political class will have to undergo radical reform. … The chaos in Rome is not entirely disconnected from what has happened  …  in the Vatican — since Pope Francis took up office: understanding and change, an end to the ornate games of money and power and the political puppet shows for the pleasure of vain old men. There is a call for Italy’s leaders to return to what they were actually appointed (in the Vatican) or elected (in parliament) to do. But… Italy’s agony will continue as long as there is a large majority in both houses that continues to put its own personal ambitions ahead of solving the country’s problems. In the next few weeks, the onorevoli, or the “honorable” as Italian parliamentarians are addressed, will have plenty of opportunity to do just that.
30 September
Why Fascists Do Better in Austria Than in Greece

(Bloomberg) Austria and Greece have at least one thing in common aside from their membership in the euro area: Both are confronting the rapid rise of ultranationalist movements. Surprisingly, the destitute southern nation is having greater success in holding them at bay.
Stronach opposes coalition with Austria’s ‘professional politicians’
Frank Stronach has been elected to the Austrian Parliament along with 10 members of his Team Stronach party, but he has no interest in propping up the coalition that has governed Austria since 1945. “We would not go into coalition with any other parties,” Mr. Stronach said in a telephone interview from Austria Monday.
Berlusconi faces obstacles in bid to topple government
(Reuters) – Silvio Berlusconi on Monday faced dissent within his People of Freedom Party, complicating his plans to bring down Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s coalition government. But even if Letta survives a confidence vote on Wednesday the prospects for stability and reform in Italy look more fragile than ever as he will face a larger and stronger opposition backed by Berlusconi’s media empire. Letta’s hopes of survival appear to rest on some 20 senators from Berlusconi’s party, who are unhappy with his shock decision on Saturday to withdraw his ministers from Letta’s government.
29 September
Austrian parties set to renew grand coalition after election slap
(Reuters) – Austria’s pro-Europe, centrist coalition partners face weeks of hard bargaining to extend their seven years in power after voters gave them only a tiny combined majority while boosting the far right and a new liberal party. Chancellor Werner Faymann’s Social Democrats (SPO) offered talks with their conservative People’s Party (OVP) allies to ensure that the two parties that have dominated post-war politics stay in power. But conservative leader Michael Spindelegger was keeping his options open after both parties emerged bruised from their worst electoral showings since World War Two.
24 September
Roger Cohen: Merkel the Great
(NYT) Henry Kissinger famously asked what Europe’s phone number is. Well, now he knows: Dial Angela Merkel. After eight years in office spanning an economic crisis that has shaken nations from the United States to Greece, Merkel lifted her Christian Democratic party to a share of the vote not seen for two decades. In an election devoid of a theme, she was the subject matter. Her slogan was “The Chancellor.” It was a personal triumph, this near-absolute majority, and it was that alone.
14 August

EU member countries map Eurozone climbs out of recession Group exits longest slump with better-than-expected growth of 0.3 percent in second quarter led by Germany and France. Data agency Eurostat said on Wednesday that the 18-month downturn which has cost millions of jobs and crushed debt-laden governments around the single currency area ended thanks in large part to better-than-expected gains of 0.7 percent in Germany and 0.5 percent in France. … Confirming a fragmented picture of the rebound, Spain’s economy fell by 0.1 percent on the quarter, while Italy and the Netherlands both dropped by 0.2 percent.
17 July
The Great Game for gas in the Caspian: Europe Opens the southern corridor
(Economist Intelligence Unit) Europeans have sought access to the Caspian region’s prolific energy resources for decades. More recently, they have been keen to tap into Caspian gas in a bid to cut dependence on Russian supplies, but so far with little success. [In] June 2013 … the consortium developing Azerbaijan’s crucial Shah Deniz field decided on the route of a pipeline that will carry its gas to Europe. In a new report, The Economist Intelligence Unit examines the outlook for oil and gas production in the Caspian region. We assess Europe’s interest in securing direct access to Caspian gas supply in the light of recently weakened demand dynamics, the potential spread of shale gas and the availability of LNG. We also analyse the outside interests at play in the region, as Europe, Russia and China compete for the Caspian’s energy resources.
7 July
Maureen Dowd: Goodbye Old World, Bonjour Tristesse
The French have higher rates of taking antidepressants and committing suicide than most other Europeans. And while arguing about how to move forward, they feel trapped in the past, weighed down by high unemployment and low hopes, the onerous taxes that drove Gérard Depardieu to flee, conflicts with immigrants, political scandals, Hollande fatigue, Germany envy, economic stagnation, a hyperelitist education system, and cold, rainy weather that ruined the famous Paris spring. Instead of confronting the questions at hand — how to adjust to globalization and compete with the Chinese — the French are grieving their lost stature and glorious past, stretching back to the colonial empire, the Lumières, the revolution, Napoleon, even the Jazz Age writers and artists.
14 June
Czechs hope wealth-destroying floods can lift growth
(Reuters via Planet Ark) Floods that have caused billions of euros in damage across central Europe may actually provide an economic boost for the Czech Republic, a country struggling to shrug off its longest recession in more than two decades. Governments and insurers from Germany to Romania will have to pick up the costs of helping families and business recover from the floods, which have killed at least a dozen people and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes since the start of June.
11 June
Drama grips court and gnaws at psyche
(Financial Times) Germany’s constitutional court on on Tuesday heard evidence on the legality, or otherwise, of the European Central Bank’s plan to save the euro 7 June Flooding Across Central Europe (The Atlantic) Heavy rainfall over Europe during the the past week has swollen many rivers past their flood stage, wreaking havoc unseen in decades across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic. At least 18 people across the region have been killed, and tens of thousands have been evacuated. In Germany, the crest of the Elbe River is now approaching the North Sea, as the swollen Danube River is surging toward the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Picture shows broken dam built to contain swollen Elbe river during floods near village of Fischbeck

A picture shows a broken dam built to contain the swollen Elbe river during floods near the village of Fischbeck in the federal state of Saxony Anhalt June 12, 2013. Photo: Thomas Peter

Floods in central Europe continue to create havoc Rising waters of the Danube expected to reach Budapest on Monday (CBC) Widespread flooding has already inundated several parts of central Europe.In Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, rivers and lakes have flooded after extended periods of heavy rain. Central Europe flooding in photos Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes because of floodwaters, blamed for the deaths of 20 people. Thousands of residents are still unable to return to their homes, and bridges and streets are impassable in many regions of eastern and southern Germany.

25 May
Germany and France launch ‘New Deal’ for jobseekers
(The Age) Germany and France are to tackle mass youth unemployment that is gripping southern Europe with a ”New Deal” aimed at curbing the mounting anger threatening to tear apart the eurozone. The ”New Deal for Europe” will provide European Union funds to pay for language courses and flights around the continent for jobseekers
24 May
Anti-austerity: Keynes never met the euro zone By Kenneth Rogoff
(Globe & Mail) There is no magic Keynesian bullet for the euro zone’s woes. But the spectacularly muddle-headed argument nowadays that too much austerity is killing Europe is not surprising. Commentators are consumed by politics, flailing away at any available target, while the “anti-austerity” masses apparently believe that there are easy cyclical solutions to tough structural problems.
21 May
The Resistible Fall of Europe: An Interview with George Soros
The evidence is growing that austerity is not working. Sooner or later, I expect a reversal of the current fiscal policy – the sooner, the better.
(Project Syndicate) The euro is in the process of destroying the European Union. To some extent, this has already happened, in the sense that the EU was meant to be a voluntary association of equal states. The crisis has turned it into something that is radically different: a relationship between creditors and debtors. And, in a financial crisis, the creditors are in charge. It is no longer a relationship between equals. The fate of Italy, for example, is no longer determined by Italian politics – which is in a crisis of its own, I would say – but rather by the creditor/debtor relationship. That is really what dictates policies.
15 May
Eurozone sinks into longest recession
France leads EU slump after weak exports and Germany posts slow start to year as austerity continues to bite. Falling output from France to Finland meant that the 17-nation economy shrunk 0.2 percent in the January to March period, its longest recession since records began in 1995, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said on Wednesday.
6 May
Exclusive: EU to propose punitive duties on Chinese solar panels
(Planet Ark) The EU’s trade chief will recommend placing punitive import duties on billions of euros of solar panels from China, people close to the matter say, in a protectionist move that risks upsetting Beijing. The case, the biggest the Commission has launched, is a delicate one for Brussels. Europe wants to protect its manufacturers such as Germany’s SolarWorld against cheap imports but also needs China, the EU’s second largest trading partner, to help the bloc emerge from recession.
2 May
Project Syndicate: Europe ECB cuts rates to support flagging euro zone economy
(Reuters) – Extended weak economic activity and tame inflation persuaded the European Central Bank to cut interest rates, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Thursday.
17 April
Nouriel Roubini: eurozone austerity is making things worse
(Emerging Markets) “Today in the eurozone there is absolutely no talk about a growth agenda” while there is plenty of discussion about banking and fiscal union, and in the absence of economic expansion, “you’ll have eventually social and political backlash against austerity,” he said during an IMF conference under the title”Rethinking Macro Policy II: First Steps and Early Lessons.”
EU works on post-2015 proposal The EU is drafting post-2015 goals for a sustainable future and an end to poverty, but obstacles are expected. The EU believes that such goals should address “access to energy and water, sustainable land use, natural resource efficiency and climate change mitigation in the development framework,” says Krzysztof Lisek, a Polish member of the European Parliament. The InterDependent (4/1)
Record High: European Jobless Rates Show North-South Rift
(Spiegel) Unemployment in the euro zone hit 12 percent in February, its highest level since the creation of the euro, according to data released on Tuesday. It provided further evidence that the debt crisis has driven a wedge between the stable north and the struggling south in the 17-member currency bloc.
Beyond the Post-Cold War World | Stratfor
Europe primarily defined itself as an economic power, with sovereignty largely retained by its members but shaped by the rule of the European Union. Europe tried to have it all: economic integration and individual states. But now this untenable idea has reached its end and Europe is fragmenting. One region, including Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, has low unemployment. The other region on the periphery has high or extraordinarily high unemployment. Germany wants to retain the European Union to protect German trade interests and because Berlin properly fears the political consequences of a fragmented Europe. But as the creditor of last resort, Germany also wants to control the economic behavior of the EU nation-states. …  But the member states do not want to cede sovereignty to a German-dominated EU apparatus in exchange for a bailout. In the indebted peripheral region, Cyprus has been treated with particular economic savagery as part of the bailout process. Certainly, the Cypriots acted irresponsibly. But that label applies to all of the EU members, including Germany, who created an economic plant so vast that it could not begin to consume what it produces — making the country utterly dependent on the willingness of others to buy German goods. There are thus many kinds of irresponsibility. How the European Union treats irresponsibility depends upon the power of the nation in question. Cyprus, small and marginal, has been crushed while larger nations receive more favorable treatment despite their own irresponsibility. It has been said by many Europeans that Cyprus should never have been admitted to the European Union. That might be true, but it was admitted — during the time of European hubris when it was felt that mere EU membership would redeem any nation. Now, Europe can no longer afford pride, and it is every nation for itself. Cyprus set the precedent that the weak will be crushed. It serves as a lesson to other weakening nations, a lesson that over time will transform the European idea of integration and sovereignty. The price of integration for the weak is high, and all of Europe is weak in some way.In such an environment, sovereignty becomes sanctuary. It is interesting to watch Hungary ignore the European Union as Budapest reconstructs its political system to be more sovereign — and more authoritarian — in the wider storm raging around it. Authoritarian nationalism is an old European cure-all, one that is re-emerging, since no one wants to be the next Cyprus.
8 March
Germany’s New Anti-Euro Party (Spiegel) Anti-euro political parties in Europe in recent years have so far tended to be either well to the right of center or, as evidenced by the recent vote in Italy, anything but staid. But in Germany, change may be afoot. A new party is forming this spring, intent on abandoning European efforts to prop up the common currency. And its founders are a collection of some of the country’s top economists and academics. … The sentiment, of course, is hardly new. Euro-skeptics are everywhere these days, particularly in those southern European countries that have been hit hardest by the crisis that continues to plague the common currency. And even in mainstream parties, concerns about the path on which the EU currently finds itself are common. But in Germany, as elsewhere in northern Europe, the most vocal critique of the euro has tended to come from right-wing populist parties.
5 March
Europe, Unemployment and Instability
(Stratfor) The global financial crisis of 2008 has slowly yielded to a global unemployment crisis. This unemployment crisis will, fairly quickly, give way to a political crisis. The crisis involves all three of the major pillars of the global system — Europe, China and the United States. The level of intensity differs, the political response differs and the relationship to the financial crisis differs. But there is a common element, which is that unemployment is increasingly replacing finance as the central problem of the financial system. … Whether it is the Golden Dawn party in Greece or the Catalan independence movements, the growth of parties wanting to redefine the system that has tilted so far against the middle class is inevitable. Italy was simply, once again, the first to try it out. It is difficult to see not only how this is contained within countries, but also how another financial crisis can be avoided, since the political will to endure austerity is broken. It is even difficult to see how the free trade zone will survive in the face of the urgent German need to export as much as it can to sustain itself. The divergence between German interests and those of Southern and Eastern Europe has been profound and has increased the more it appeared that a compromise was possible to save the banks. That is because the compromise had the unintended consequence of triggering the very force that would undermine it: unemployment. It is difficult to imagine a common European policy at this point. There still is one, in a sense, but how a country with 5.2 percent unemployment creates a common economic policy with one that has 11 or 14 or 27 percent unemployment is hard to see. In addition, with unemployment comes lowered demand for goods and less appetite for German exports. How Germany deals with that is also a mystery. The crisis of unemployment is a political crisis, and that political crisis will undermine all of the institutions Europe has worked so hard to craft. For 17 years Europe thrived, but that was during one of the most prosperous times in history. It has now encountered one of the nightmares of all countries and an old and deep European nightmare: unemployment on a massive scale. The test of Europe is not sovereign debt. It is whether it can avoid old and bad habits rooted in unemployment. 27 February
Mario Margiocco: Italy’s Perfect Political Storm
(Project Syndicate) can Italy afford another year without an effective government? The initial reaction by international observers and investors has been one of deep concern, with the interest-rate spread on Italian debt relative to German debt widening sharply. With no parliamentary majority possible, a weak caretaker government is inevitable.
Italian politics in deadlock as Beppe Grillo rules out deal Former comedian says he will not back Democratic party and brands leader a ‘dead man talking’
Europe Frets over Italy: ‘Two Clowns Won the Election’ (Spiegel) Global investors have made it clear that the Italian election result is not to their liking, with Moody’s even threatening a rating downgrade. European politicians are also unimpressed and fear the euro crisis may soon return. Some comments have been surprisingly undiplomatic.
World from Berlin: ‘Europe Can’t Afford an Ungovernable Italy’
Who is Beppe Grillo? Profile of Beppe Grillo: The Europhobe comet Alpine Agitator: Frank Stronach’s Crusade to Transform Austria
18 February
EU-US Trade Talks : Southern European States Put on the Brakes
(Spiegel) Germany is pushing for the broadest possible free-trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, against resistance from France and other Southern European nations which want to exempt issues like food regulation and gene technology from the talks in order to protect the interests of their farmers … The German government is concerned that the US might in this case respond by demanding exemptions itself, which would end up producing only a modest agreement.
15 February
No to EUsterity — The European Parliament threatens to veto a hard-won budget
(The Economist|Charlemagne) It is an absurd way to run the world’s biggest economy. The comedy of interminable haggling is compounded by the farce of each leader twisting the numbers to claim victory. Such is the misery that the EU now draws up budgets for seven-year periods. But this is too rigid—even the Soviet Union limited itself to five-year plans. And it magnifies the sums at stake: nearly a trillion euros for 2014-20. Looked at another way, though, the budget is only about one-fiftieth of public spending in the EU. For rich countries, net contributions amount to about 0.3% of GDP. One reason for the budget mess is that the money comes from national treasuries, creating a zero-sum game. Another is that the budget must be agreed unanimously. A third is the economic crisis. Most net contributors cannot see why the EU should be exempted from the austerity it preaches to others. And for those running deficits every pound, crown or euro sent to Brussels is an extra pound, crown or euro that must be borrowed.
14 February
Euro zone economy falls deeper than expected into recession
(Reuters) – The euro zone slipped deeper than expected into recession in the last three months of 2012 after its largest economies, Germany and France, shrank at the end of a wretched year for the region. It marked the currency bloc’s first full year in which no quarter produced growth, extending back to 1995. For the year as a whole, gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.5 percent
13 February
Did Obama Just Derail the Canada-EU Trade Deal?
(Open Canada) Time is running out for Canada to complete a free-trade agreement with the European Union. In his State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama said that the U.S. would start comprehensive free-trade talks with the EU.
8 February
EU leaders agree to push for U.S. trade deal
(Reuters) – European leaders agreed on Friday to push for a free-trade pact with the United States, putting the onus on the White House to decide whether to try for a deal that would encompass half the world’s economic output. Major exporters Germany and Britain won support from the rest of the European Union at a summit in Brussels to reach a deal with Washington that many leaders hope will help Europe pull out of its banking and debt crises. In their final statement, leaders said the European Union gave “its support for a comprehensive trade agreement” with the United States. “We need to move forward,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said at the end of the summit, referring to the United States. “The Commission will push ahead to realize the full potential of an integrated transatlantic trade agreement,” said Barroso, who heads the EU executive responsible for negotiating the European Union’s trade agreements.
22 January
United Kingdom Moves Away from the European Project
(Stratfor) British Prime Minister David Cameron will deliver a speech in London on Jan. 23, during which he will discuss the future of the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union. Excerpts leaked to the media suggest that harsh EU criticism will figure prominently in the speech, a suggestion in keeping with Cameron’s recent statements about the bloc. But more important, the excerpts signal an unprecedented policy departure: renegotiating the United Kingdom’s role in the European Union. London has negotiated exemptions from some EU policies in the past, even gaining some concessions from Brussels in the process; this time, it is trying to become less integrated with the bloc altogether. Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum after 2015 on the United Kingdom’s role in Europe. He has also said he would reclaim powers London surrendered to the European Union. While they no doubt reflect similar anxieties across the Continent, such statements are anathema to the European project, and by making them, Cameron could be setting a precedent that could further undermine the European Union.
14 January
Nouriel Roubini of Europe? Erste Bank CEO pessimistic
Markets are getting ahead of developments in Europe, where things are likely to remain difficult, Andreas Treichl said (Emerging Markets) “As of today I have something in common with Nouriel Roubini, which I never thought I would have,” Treichl said during a panel organized by Erste Bank in Vienna. “I believe that it’s going to stay difficult, that markets are a little bit ahead of the developments that we actually have in Europe and in our [Central and Eastern European] region and that [2013] will be a year when we will start, much more than in the past, to see the difference between the good and the bad.”
13 January
Britain and the EU
(The Economist|Charlemagne) After six months of repeated postponements, we are told [David Cameron] now wants to deliver his oration on Europe—setting out how he would renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU and then put the treaty to a referendum—in the Netherlands on January 22nd. … To start with, the possible Dutch venue for the speech is hardly a scoop. It was reported by the FT on January 6th, so can hardly be a response to the Americans. Odder still is the fact that nobody seems to have told the Dutch about Mr Cameron’s forthcoming visit. A spokesman for Mr Rutte said: “We do not know where or when [the speech will be]. We are very curious.” (Hat tip Mail online.) The Netherlands, he said, does not intend to redefine its relationship with the EU. Neither does it seek opt-outs. In short, the Netherlands wants to co-operate with Mr Cameron, not to be co-opted to help fight his domestic entanglements.
10 January
Changing of Lagarde How the IMF’s courageous new chief is saving Europe.
(Foreign Policy) This week, the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, declared the euro crisis over. On Jan. 7, he told reporters, “I think we can say that the existential threat against the euro has essentially been overcome.” It was a shocking expression of denial, even for a member of the European policymaking establishment that has had its head in the sand since the beginning of the crisis. Fortunately, a new voice has emerged to disrupt the European echo chamber, that of International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.

3 Comments on "Europe & EU 2013"

  1. Guy Stanley February 10, 2013 at 9:26 pm · Reply

    Re: UK moves away from European Project
    I’m sure everyone remembers Sir Humphrey telling his Minister that Britain simply had to remain in the Common Market (as it was then) to ensure it didn’t succeed. Now that its strategy may be working, it may make sense to consider alternatives. The Stratfor article resurrects the Conrad Black-Tony Blair line about an alliance with the US (by implication reciprocating Harry Hopkins’ quotation from. Ruth I 16). But that ignores the value of the UK to North Americans as an Anglo bridge to Europe. If there’s a single simple theme that emerges from the Eurozone crisis, it is how difficult it is for Europeans to understand that a successful future depends on working together as a single entity, in flagrant contrast to the continent’s history since the death of Charlemagne. Guy

  2. Guy Stanley March 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm · Reply

    I think Stratfor’s take (see 5 March: Europe, Unemployment and Instability) is pretty accurate. The jobs crisis is the big one now. It is caused mainly by the lack of aggregate demand which arises directly from austerity and the persistent liquidity trap that accompanies it. It’s fashionable to blame the Germans and it’s clear their strategy of twisting arms on debt relief to get restructuring has failed in Italy and proven disastrous elsewhere. The other looming threat is that Britain will move to associate status like the Swiss so it can keep its financial industry free to destroy the rest of its economy. With the sequester cuts looking permanent in the US, we might say that the West seems to be converging on 1937 or some such year of the double (triple?) dip. If wars could get us out of this, well, there are at least three fierce ones already. But technology now allows NATO countries to join in with only relatively small troop commitments and without adding much to employment– while nevertheless destroying the small economies that host the actual fighting. So, that avenue no longer seems as promising as it used to. If democracy actually worked, the neo-con and neo-lib governments whose policies botched the recovery would follow the Italian technocratic colleagues into the oubliettes. Then perhaps if a coalition of social democratic parties could work together to force the institutional policy changes, things might improve. But that doesn’t yet appear to be on the table.

  3. Laura | Dutch Law Firm AMS April 14, 2014 at 9:36 am · Reply

    Thanks for sharing. A lot of things happening in Europe right now, especially with Ukraine and Russia.

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