UN Climate Change Report Finds "Human Influence" Chief Cause of Global Warming (9/27)

By Natalie Fahey, European Institute

The most important conclusion of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, released today ahead of the next UN climate change conference in Warsaw, Poland in November - is that the scientific community can now say with 95% certainty that "human influence has been the dominant cause" of global warming since the mid 20th century.  While previous assessment reports have drawn similar conclusions, NPR's Richard Harris remarks that the significance of the report is that it "underlines that the more scientists study this issue, the more confident they are that human activities are changing the planet."

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Compromise Reached Between Croatia and EU Over Extradition Squabble (9/27)

By Leah Katherine Bewley, European Institute Editorial Assistant

Since July 1st, Croatia’s tenure as the newest member state on the European Union has been overshadowed by an open confrontation with Brussels over Zagreb’s application of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). Three days before official entry into the EU, the Croatian Parliament adopted changes preventing the extradition of anyone suspected of committing a crime before August 7, 2002. Unofficially known as Lex Perkovic, in reference to Josip Perkovic, the former head of Croatian intelligence, whose extradition is being sought  by Germany for his involvement in the 1983 assassination of a Croatian dissident. Croatia has received 23 extradition requests from other EU nations, dating back before 2002, that fall under the European Arrest Warrant Framework Decision.

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Armenia will Join Russian Customs Union (9/17)

armensahakyanphotoBy Armen Sahakyan,  European Affairs Editorial Assistant 

In a move last week that came as surprise to many, the Armenian president signed a joint statement with Russia, confirming Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union (CU) and readiness to participate in the formation of the Russian sponsored Eurasian Union (EAU).  Bringing Armenia into Russia’s Custom Union is a something of coup for Putin since Armenia had been recently negotiating for an association and customs pact with the EU.

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The Return of ‘The Rock’: Gibraltar Continues to Roil Anglo-Spanish Relations (8/14)

ryan barnes photo 2By Ryan Barnes, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Department of Commerce

Gibraltar, also known as “The Rock”  for the iconic Rock of Gibraltar that towers over the western entrance of the Mediterranean, is a roughly two and a half square mile patch of land on the southern tip of Spain, straddling the Strait of Gibraltar that separates the European continent from Morocco. Once again, tempers have flared in London and Madrid, this time over Gibraltar’s plans to expand a reef in the Mediterranean, souring an otherwise sound partnership between the United Kingdom and Spain.

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Azerbaijan Chooses TAP over Nabucco to Provide Gas Pipeline to Europe (8/8)

By Caitlin Del Sole, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

After years of fierce competition among Europe’s energy giants, the developers of a major Azerbaijani natural gas field in the Caspian Sea recently picked the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project over the Nabucco West project to transport Caspian natural gas to Europe.  According to the Financial Times, the estimated cost of the project is around $5 billion.   The decision has major implications for European energy requirements and will help ease dependence on Russian gas.

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Can an EU Budget Deal Save the Lost Generation? 7/ 18

By Caitlin Del Sole, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

The recently approved seven-year budget of the European Union provides a basis for addressing the serious and growing problem of youth unemployment throughout the region.

At the recent European Council summit, the heads of European governments agreed to frontload the 6 billion euro fund for the Youth Employment Initiative to ensure it is operational at the beginning of next year and disbursed in 2014 – 2015 and not over the full seven years of the budget through 2020.

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EU-U.S. Trade Talks – Europolitics Special Supplement (7/9)

By Brian Beary, U.S. Correspondent for Europolitics

As some 60 EU trade officials descend on Washington this week to launch negotiations on a free trade agreement with the United States, Europolitics, the leading Brussels-based EU affairs newspaper, has just published a special section on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP.

Entitled ‘Transatlantic Common Market – Opportunity or Pipe Dream,’ the report explores the core issues involved in the TTIP talks. In exclusive interviews, top U.S. and EU trade officials outline their respective goals and potential red lines. The supplement also offers concise perspectives from the other key players, notably from the European Parliament, the U.S. Congress, the business community, the trade unions, the World Trade Organization and China. It drills down into the nuts and bolts of the talks, with a dozen special features focused on individual sectors. They range from public procurement, an area where Europe would like to see America open up its markets more, to agriculture, where it is the Americans that are on the offensive in seeking to get rid of EU trade barriers. The report also examines sectors that may or may not be included depending on how the talks go, from commercial air travel to banking to the cinema industry to U.S. liquefied natural gas exports. There are, in addition, brief biographies of a dozen key Europeans and Americans pivotal to the TTIP negotiations and a statistical overview of the EU-US trade relationship.

Download the issue here.
 

European Concern over Prism Program (6/24)

By Caitlin Del Sole, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

The recent public revelation about U.S. government surveillance of emails and other internet communication from “foreigners” in the National Security Agency (NSA) Prism program has deeply unsettled Europeans. Data protection has always been a point of particular contention across the Atlantic, and the Prism program revelations confirm some of the worst fears about how the United States actually handles foreigners’ data. “Here we go again: Another violation of the basic right to privacy,” wrote Viviane Reding,  the European Commission’s Vice President for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship in an Op Ed piece in the New York Times. “Another public outcry.  Another blow to citizens’ trust in the security of their personal data,” continued Reding.  “Yet more evidence that something fundamental has to change…”

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Pew Survey Confirms Turmoil over Europe (5/14)

By Michael D. Mosettig, former foreign editor of PBS News Hour

michaelmosettigThe numbers are as grim as the title of the latest Pew Research Center survey – “The New Sick Man of Europe: the European Union,”   released today in Brussels.

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Perspective -- No More Visas Required for Poles Soon? But Do They Care? (5/13)

By Inga Czerny, U.S. Correspondent  for the Polish News Agency

inga czerny- 5The ongoing reform of the U.S. immigration laws opens the chance to resolve an issue, which for 20 years has divided Poland and the U.S.--  the tourist visa requirement for Poles traveling to U.S. Yes, Poland, once described by French diplomats as the U.S. Trojan horse in the EU, is one of only three EU countries (together with Romania and Bulgaria) that still are not a part of  the Visa Waiver Program, which allows foreign tourists to visit the U.S. without  a visa in advance.  Why is that? Because the percentage of Poles who are denied visas or who remain in the U.S. for longer than their visas allow, exceeds the rigid legal limit of 3 percent.

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Washington Policy Wonks Wait for Froman as Trade Rep (5/3)

For Washington policy wonks it had become the equivalent of waiting for white smoke to emerge from the Vatican. But the selection of a new Pope came a lot more quickly in March  than President Obama's appointment of his top international economic advisor Michael Froman as U.S. Trade Representative.

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European Parliament Rejects Reduced Emissions Trading Proposal (4/17)

By Dan Mahoney, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

In a narrow vote, 334-315, the European Parliament this week rejected a Commission proposal to reduce the amount of carbon permits granted by the EU under its Emissions Trading System (ETS). The Commission’s plan is called “backloading” because the withdrawn carbon allowances would be offered in future years.

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Asia Now Spends More for Defense than Europe (4/15)

By Michael D. Mosettig, former Foreign Editor of PBS NewsHour

Some times great historical transformations come bundled in  packages of small statistics.

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EU and Japan Announce Launch of Free Trade Agreement talks (3/29)

By Dan Mahoney, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

The first round of talks on the EU-Japan free trade agreement has been scheduled for 15-19 April in Brussels. The initial framework was agreed last year.

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Italian Economics Minister “Explains” Italian Elections (3/12)

By Michael D. Mosettig, former Foreign Editor of PBS News Hour

It was hardly an enviable assignment, but Italian Economic Development Minister Corrado Passera has been making the rounds in Washington trying to persuade U.S. officials and think tank audiences that the recent national elections were not a disaster for his country and the European Union.

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U.S. Tech Giants Duke it Out in Europe (3/11)

By  Caitlin Del Sole, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

The European Union is becoming a prime arena for the latest tussles between  two U.S.  technology giants Microsoft and Google.  With Google and another internet browser competitor Opera as whistle blowers, the EU competition authority has issued Microsoft a €561 million fine for failing to adhere to its 2009 settlement with Brussels

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Kerry "Pivots" to Europe (3/5)

By Dan Mahoney, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

Less than a month after becoming of Secretary of State, John Kerry embarked on his first international trip with an eleven day “listening tour” of Europe and the Middle East. In Europe, Kerry visited London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, and Ankara before moving on to Cairo. The State Department called Kerry’s choice to make Europe the first stop on his trip is “a real reflection of the degree to which we coordinate our global cooperation with these partners.”

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Serbia and Kosovo—Top Leaders in Talks, But Major Issues Remain (2/20)

By Dan Mahoney, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

Top leaders from Serbia and Kosovo have had significant bilateral meetings in Brussels recently, raising some faint glimmers of hope for progress toward a more constructive relationship between the two former combatants. 

 

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The Arctic – It’s Getting Warmer, But Probably Won’t Boil (2/8)

By Caitlin Del Sole, Editorial Assistant at European Affairs

It’s cold now, but the north will warm as summer approaches,  and so will  interest and tension in the Arctic region.  Again, large areas of the polar ice will melt making the Arctic Ocean  much more navigable and exploitable.   The expanding waterways provide an opportunity for new, more direct and less dangerous shipping routes to be developed during the summer months.  As roughly 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil is located in the Arctic, it is an increasingly attractive target of investment and energy. With this new opportunity, however,  comes new challenges of safety, environmental protection and conflicting interests.  For example, the Financial Times reports recently that companies, like ConocoPhillips, have been pressuring Norway to open up more Arctic water for exploration.

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The Nagorno Karabakh Conflict: Hotspot in the Caucasus (2/6)

By Armen Sahakyan, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the commencement of Nagorno Karabakh uprising, which continues as an unresolved major conflict in the Caucasus.

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