Volatile Energy Resources in the Eastern Mediterranean (7/25)

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By: Joseph Bebel, Washington, D.C.

Reunification remains a distant hope for the nation of Cyprus. But the recent collapse of reunification talks was particularly disappointing for those who hoped exploitation of new energy finds in the Eastern Mediterranean would push the island nation towards reconciliation. Cypriot Minister Neoklis Sylikotis had hoped that newly found resources would serve as “a catalyst for reunification.” However, as Professor Hubert Faussman from the Universtiy of Nicosia noted, instead the peace talks “became a victim” of the recently discovered resources.

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Central Europe’s Multispeed Dilemma (6/12)

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By Joseph Bebel, Washington DC

In the wake of the Brexit referendum, the European Commission published a white paper on the future of Europe. The document detailed five scenarios for moving the European Union forward in its future integration efforts. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker framed the paper as a starting point “for a united Europe of 27 to shape a vision for its future.” The white paper begins the process for EU27 to determine a coherent course of action before European Parliamentary elections in June 2019.

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Brexit and the Pressures of Devolution (4/28)

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By Konstantin Veit, Washington, DC
 
According to a draft text of European Council summit minutes seen by The Guardian newspaper, at this weekend’s first Brexit summit, the EU 27 will consider including Northern Ireland in the bloc, pending Irish unification. “The European Council acknowledges that, in accordance with international law, the entire territory of such a united Ireland would thus be part of the European Union (in the event of Irish unification).” For Dublin, which has been pressing for the inclusion of the so-called “GDR clause,” a reference to the integration of the former East Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall, this is a clear victory.
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History Shudders, but Paris Shrugs (4/24)

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WalterNicklen2015By Walter Nicklin, Paris

Cool and sunny.  That’s the weather in Paris the morning after the first round of the Presidential elections.  That also seems to capture the mood: cool and sunny.  Among the normal crowds along the Seine as well as the outer arrondissements, there is no sense of “morning-after” shock, as had been the post-Presidential-election case in the United States last November.   For unlike in the U.S., the national polls pretty much predicted what would happen. 

With ballots still being counted, independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen were the clear winners in a crowded field of 11 Presidential candidates.

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Progress on the Greek Bailout (4/7)

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katerinasokou.2016By Katerina Sokou, Washington DC
 
“White smoke” indicating agreement from the Malta Eurogroup Meeting of Eurozone Finance Ministers on the Greek bailout program negotiations  brought some smiles to the government faces  in Athens, together with the hope that the ongoing review can be completed and bailout funds disbursed after months of wrangling with and among its creditors. The Greek government hailed the decision to allow technical teams from the EU and, significantly from the IMF, to return to Athens to reach a staff-level agreement, even while warning that the agreement “will sadden the Greek people.” In exchange for the bailout, Greece has agreed to more taxes and pension cuts over and above the measures already taken.
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Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Challenger (2/17)

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By Konstantin Veit, Washington DC

On January 29, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) nominated the former President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz to be the party’s leader for German legislative elections in September. Since then, the political landscape in Germany has shifted considerably and Chancellor Angela Merkel fourth term no longer seems inevitable.

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Unexpected Elections in Northern Ireland in the Shadow of Brexit (2/10)

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By Konstantin Veit, Washington, DC

United Kingdom’s smallest constituent unit, Northern Ireland, has scheduled Legislative Assembly elections for March 2. How did that come about?

For a decade, the devolved government of Northern Ireland was formed by the nationalist Sinn Féin party and the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The country’s snap elections follow the resignation of then deputy first minister Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin) in early January.

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U.S.-German Relations: Trump’s Trade Advisor Takes Aim at Germany (2/2)

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By Konstantin Veit, Washington, DC

Earlier this week Peter Navarro, Donald Trump’s top trade adviser and head of the new National Trade Council in an email interview with the Financial Times, accused Germany of using a “grossly undervalued” euro to “exploit” its EU and U.S. trading partners. Furthermore, Navarro told the FT that Germany was a main obstacle to a future Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the potentially transformative U.S.-EU trade agreement being negotiated by the Obama administration and which is now off the table.

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“Democratic Backsliding” in Poland and Hungary (8/4)

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By Claire Swinko, Washington

Poland, an EU member country with a rich post-Soviet era history of upholding democratic values, has come under fire in recent months for its “democratic backsliding”— the so-called reversion toward authoritarianism based on non-democratic values and lack of respect for the rule of law and basic fundamental freedoms. 

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EU Announces “Open Skies” Arbitration Action Against U.S. Over Norwegian Airlines (7/29)

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By Brian Beary, Washington
 
Europe’s patience finally ran out. After waiting more than two years for U.S. authorities to give a fly permit to an Irish-based subsidiary of low-cost Norwegian airlines, the EU Commission has told Washington that it will launch arbitration proceedings against it for breaching the 2007 EU-U.S. Open Skies agreement. “I find it regrettable that this is the outcome,” EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc wrote in a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Bulc said that formal notification that the agreement’s arbitration clause was being invoked would be made “in the coming weeks.”
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The Message from France (7/22)

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By Michael D. Mosettig

For two top officials of a beleaguered French government, their mission to Washington had multiple purposes: to reassert their country's central role in the war against the ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorist networks and to reassure opinion leaders that the European Union can rebound from the shock of Brexit.

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Why Italy’s Municipal Elections Matter (6/20)

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By Alexander Privitera, Executive Director of The European Institute

The success of the populist “Five Star Movement” in the local elections in Italy should not be exaggerated. However, it would be a mistake for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi or Europeans to ignore the warning shot that came from the vote on Sunday. This was the first electoral test on the bumpy road to the crucial referendum on constitutional changes in the fall. If Italians reject Renzi’s institutional reforms he can pack up and leave. The vote on Sunday has started to clarify a few important questions:

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Swiss Voters Reject Proposal for Guaranteed Income for All (6/9)

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By Claire Swinko, European Affairs

Earlier this week Swiss voters overwhelmingly (77%) rejected a referendum initiative to provide a universal basic income to its citizens regardless of employment status. While the measure called for a constitutional amendment that would introduce a UBI and guarantee “a humane existence and participation in public life for the whole population”, nearly all major political parties and the government opposed both the idea of a referendum and its substance. However, proponents gained the requisite 100,000 signatures in accordance with Swiss law, suggesting a basic monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs to adults who have legally lived in the country for a minimum of five years, and 640 Swiss francs to children under 18 years of age. Opponents claimed the proposal, if enacted, would cost 25 billion Swiss francs per year and even the measure’s proponents conceded that it could consume about a third of the country’s GDP.

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Hopeful Words on Ukrainian Economy from Ousted Finance Minister (4/21)

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By Ben Antenore, European Affairs

Only hours before speaking publicly in Washington D.C. about the progress made in reforming Ukraine’s economy since she took office as Minister of Finance two and a half years ago, Natalie Jaresko learned she was out of a job. For many in the West, Natalie Jaresko’s departure from government is troubling. She was one of the last reformers standing in President Poroshenko’s cabinet after the well-publicized resignations of Economics Minister Aivaras Abromavičius and Deputy Prosecutor General Vitaliy Kasko earlier in the year. Her replacement is former McKinsey consultant Oleksandr Danilyuk who, according to Anders Aslund of the Atlantic Council, has a history of blocking Jaresko’s reforms.

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Wales and the British EU Debate (4/13)

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By Lucas Leblanc, Intern at the European Parliament Liaison Office in Washington DC.

What does a recent three-month immersion at Wales’ National Assembly, the democratically-elected body founded to represent and govern Wales in 1998, teach a graduate in international relations from a U.S. university? To appreciate rugby, without a doubt, but also to better understand how the current debate on Britain’s membership in the EU relates to the country’s recent constitutional evolution, one in which Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the city of London gained greater levels of elected self-government in a process known as devolution.

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Dutch Voters Reject EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (4/8)

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By Bill Marmon, Managing Editor European Affairs

Although the voter turnout was low and the result not binding, the resounding (61 percent to 38 percent) rejection by Dutch voters this week of the trade and cooperation agreement between Ukraine and the European Union was an embarrassment to supporters of European solidarity.

The referendum, organized by Euroskeptics, is non-binding since the Dutch parliament has already approved the Association Agreement with Ukraine—the same agreement that sparked the Maidan violence and government upheaval in Ukraine two years ago when the former prime minister refused to sign the agreement. But since the turnout this week of 32.2 percent was just above the 30 percent required for validity, it is likely that the Dutch parliament will reconsider the issue.

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Irish Celebrate the Birth of their Republic, and Quarrel about the Political Future (4/1)

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By Ben Antenore, European Affairs
 
As Irish citizens commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising against Great Britain, the current Republic is struggling as a governing coalition still does not exist after the general elections of February.
 
One hundred years ago on April 24, 1916, the Easter Rising occurred when 1,200 rebels seized some of the main administrative buildings in central Dublin. One of these buildings, the General Post Office, became the rebel headquarters. That same afternoon, Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the rebellion, proclaimed the birth of the Irish Republic and the formation of a provisional independent government.
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Polish and Czech Leaders Converge in D.C. (3/31)

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By Michael D. Mosettig, former Foreign Editor of PBS News Hour
 
It seemed a far cry from the heady days after the 1989 collapse of communism in Central Europe, when the leaders of the Polish and Czechoslovakian peaceful revolutions--Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel-- received rapturous welcomes in Congress and elsewhere in Washington.
 
Now, 27 years later, Poland's current head of state and the prime minister of the Czech Republic have come to the Washington in the wings of a global nuclear security summit.  They used their trips also to speak to respectful crowds at think tanks, while much of the U.S. capital's attention has been focused on a Mideast in flames and a rising China and Asia.
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An Appreciation: Jean-Luc Robert (1963-2016), First Counselor European Parliament Liaison Office (EPLO) to U.S. Congress (3/25)

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By Brian Beary, Contributing Editor European Affairs

jean luc.robert1“Jean-Luc was not only a friend but a terrific colleague,” said Institute President Joelle Attinger, speaking of Jean-Luc Robert, who died recently. “He fully believed in the European Project, and even more so, in the pivotal role that the Parliament plays in bridging the democratic deficit between the European electorate and the EU's institutions. To that end, he paid political ideology little mind. What mattered to Jean-Luc was getting the best of the Parliament before policymakers in Washington so the latter could better appreciate the caliber of the EU's legislative branch and gain fuller understanding of how and why it was approaching policy issues in the manner it was.”

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A Dispatch from the Brexit Frontline (3/18)

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By Geoffrey Lewis, Resident of Duddenhoe End in Essex, UK

Duddenhoe End village hall was crowded and noisy with chatter on Friday evening. The local Conservatives were gathered to debate Europe - in or out. This is a Tory family matter and a family row. Neither Labour nor Lib Dems seem split on the question, although they have plenty of other things to worry about. Everyone in the hall was wearing the casual uniform of the Home Counties: check shirts, blazers or tweed jackets, and they were raring to go. There were tables in two rows laid for supper. This was free with wine, all the gift of the lady organizers, and so a full house was guaranteed.

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