jbebel201707At its June summit, the European Council agreed to further strengthen EU security and defense. In what European Council President Donald Tusk called a “historic step”, member states agreed to move forward with the proposed European Defense Fund and activate the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) mechanism. With Brexit negotiations underway, the agreement came without the UK, which has consistently opposed increased EU defense integration. Additionally, member states also agreed to revisit the funding of the EU battlegroups to facilitate their future deployment. This ambitious goal coincides with conclusions adopted by the Council in May to “reinforc[e] military rapid response” by restructuring the EU battlegroups.

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PaulAdamsonBefore British Prime Minister Theresa May called her snap and ill-advised election pro-European Brits had their work cut out fighting the dominant prevailing wisdom of the inexorability of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU – the so-called “Brexit”.

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michaelwhiteWhat’s that, you say? You were so busy with your own problems and Donald Trump’s that you didn’t notice the Brits were staging an impromptu general election? Britain’s rookie Conservative prime minister, Theresa May, invoked one on the spurious grounds that it would give her a stronger mandate to negotiate a satisfactory Brexit divorce with her estranged EU partners and, incidentally, to crush the rival Labour party, led by the apparently hapless Jeremy Corbyn.

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bod.p.johnbrutonIf one reviews European history over the period since the Reformation five hundred years ago, the role that England has sought to play in Europe has been that of holding the balance between contending powers. It used its naval strength, and the overseas colonies its naval strength allowed it to hold, to exercise that balancing European role.

At no time in the last 500 years, did the UK seem to disengage from, or turn its back upon, continental Europe. Indeed England felt it so much a part of continental Europe that Henry VIII actually contemplated being a candidate for Holy Roman Emperor.

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aliaslanTurkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a tall order for his first trip to Washington: To instill an image that he is a respected world leader despite his authoritarianism; to foster a personal relationship with the new US President Donald Trump, and hopefully, garner a few concessions on several contentious issues which have been straining bilateral relations. Those issues include the US decision to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria for anti-ISIL Raqqa operation, obstacles in the extradition request for prominent Turkish dissident Fethullah Gulen, and Erdogan’s keen interest in shutting down the U.S. government’s Iran sanctions violation case against Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab. Turkey’s strongman can be happy with the warm welcome by President Trump at the White House, but so far there has been no indications of any concrete accomplishments on these priority issues. 

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