Every week, the head editors of the European Review gather and analyze the most salient topics of the week, and present them to you in the form of a easy-to-read digest. Enjoy!
Brexit talks stall at all-important summit
March 29, 2019 is rapidly approaching, and nobody knows whether Great Britain will leave the European Union on that date with a deal or without one. A recent summit Wednesday continued that confusion as the two parties couldn’t reach further agreement: both sides want to avoid a policed border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, but they can’t agree on how to do it. Britain’s prime minister Theresa May has committed to leaving the EU’s customs union, so the EU proposed keeping Northern Ireland within the union. The problem? Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), currently propping up May’s government, wants Northern Ireland to be treated the same as the rest of the UK.
It’s a classic no-win situation: concede to the EU and lose support domestically or concede to the DUP and get a policed border with Ireland. The news certainly reminds the world of the possibility of a “hard Brexit” (Brexit without a deal) in March (or perhaps a delayed Brexit, in case of continued negotiations) while reinforcing criticism of May as an ineffective negotiator and Prime Minister.
Bavarian elections: Merkel’s party suffers devastating loss
Traditional parties haven’t been doing well across Europe, and Germany is no exception: elections in the state of Bavaria Monday dealt a blow to Angela Merkel’s sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which lost its absolute majority in the state parliament. The party’s coalition ally, the Social Democrats, also had its worst showing in years. Beneficiaries of the swing in voters’ preferences include the Greens, a leftist party, and the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a far right-wing party.
With these results, the CSU will have to negotiate a coalition to govern the state, which could take weeks. These poor results have also led to speculation that the Christian Democrats will remove Merkel as party leader in their December party conference, especially if followed up by poor results in Hesse, another German state. Finally, the elections are a reminder of the growing force of populist parties like the AfD and the declining fortunes of Merkel’s “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats.
Diplomatic spat between France and Italy over migrant dumping
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s minister of the interior, vociferously criticized French authorities for allegedly transporting a pair of migrants across the border and dumping them in the Italian woods, while France claimed that the release was accidental. Relations between the two countries, although normally uneventful, have recently taken a turn for the worse, especially considering differences between Italy’s right-wing populist government and France’s moderate government under Emmanuel Macron.
Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias resigned Wednesday due to disagreements over the recent deal to end the dispute between Greece and Macedonia over the latter country’s name. Kotzias, who supported the deal, felt like the country’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras didn’t support him enough in a quarrel with one of the deal’s main opponents. Overall, this resignation reminds the world that resolving this long-lasting dispute will not be easy.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the continent
The Law Royal, drafted in 2015 and focusing on the energetic shift of France’s infrastructure in the scope of preparing the after-petroleum, seeks the installation of a resilient economic model for energy in the face of lessening natural resources, price fluctuation and the necessities of environment protection.
The impressive scopes of lessening GHG emissions (40% until 2030), reducing final energy consumption (50% of current total until 2050) and increasing the gross consumption of renewable energies (up to 23% in 2030 with reference to 2012) are all but easily manageable.
With the passing of a fifth of the trajectory towards some of the first goals, France has struggled to implement the numerical aide to the housing energy-efficiency.With the implementation (16th of October 2018) of legal action in the name of ELAN, for the evolution of housing, urban planning and the numerical, the government has turned, like its neighbors Belgium and Germany, to redirect new constructions and housing into a more profitable and sustainable construction, via a numerical passport containing guiding principles to energy efficient housing.
Carney: UK banks can absorb Brexit costs
Contrary to most catastrophic titles conveyed in media reactions relating to his conclusions, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has offered his government with a harsh but sustainable truth concerning Brexit and the viability of English Banks: “We judge that the U.K. banking system has the capacity to absorb not only the consequences of a no-deal, no-transition Brexit, but also the losses that could be associated with intensifying trade tensions, a further sharp tightening of financing conditions for emerging markets, and substantial additional misconduct costs.” He however warns that “the ethical drift which periodically undermines market integrity and impairs finance’s ability to function effectively” has to be mitigated by authorities.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Germany
German Chancellor Angela Merkel restricts GHG emission reductions to 30% of their current rate by 2030. The industrials of the nation were joyous in the face of this lesser commitment, for carbon is indispensable to ‘’ energy generation, transportation, industry, agriculture and construction’’ today. Although, ‘’Germany now generates 36 percent of its power from renewables and has created a lot of jobs along the way (160,000 are now employed in the wind-power sector alone)’’, subsidies do not come by way of the taxpayers, but rather consumers. Additionally, within Europe’s Emissions Trading Schemes (ETS), which have provided a scheme for better regulations concerning carbon allowances in circulation, ‘’Berlin has pledged specific carbon targets for a variety of economic sectors, including transport, construction, and agriculture. If it falls short, it will have to buy emissions permits, at a possible cost of €60 billion.’’ Surprisingly, the United States has surpassed Germany in carbon emission reduction, as the latter seems to have stalled for the last nine years…
Singapore and EU sign free trade deal
‘’Singapore and the European Union (EU) on Friday (Oct 19) inked a landmark trade deal that will eliminate tariffs and give businesses across various sectors, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), better market access.’’ ‘’The city-state will drop tariffs on all products coming from the European Union. The EU will remove tariffs on 84 percent of Singapore’ products and the remaining 16 percent over three to five years. The investment-protection agreement will replace the existing bilateral treaties and set up a new dispute-resolution mechanism for investors.’’
This second quarter has proven beneficial for most countries in the southeastern region of Europe with Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia maintaining or upping their growth after a difficult summer. However, Turkey, Greece, Kosovo and others have seen inflation increase drastically.
This article highlights the tension between Germany’s past and present, as the Humboldt Forum, a new museum located in a rebuilt palace that stood during the German and Prussian Imperial era and was bombed during the second world war, faces significant controversy. Protestors claim that the museum exemplifies the country’s bloody colonial past and puts the country at risk of glazing over that colonial past, which is a lesser addressed part of Germany’s darker history.
Charles Aznavour, a French singer of Armenian descent who was widely popular in France, passed away in early October at the age of 94. This article emphasizes his accomplishments in Europe and demonstrates his legacy through his musical works and importance in the social and political world.
On October 5, a piece by the England-based artist and political activist Banksy, previously entitled Girl with Balloon but now known as Love Is in the Bin self destructed immediately after it was sold. It’s value skyrocketed despite the fact that it is now half shredded, and it is now generating as much attention for an auction house as the sale of a da Vinci.
At the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, the international community promised to return art looted by the Nazis. Here, the Guggenheim museum continues to fulfill that promise and restores a high-profile work of art to the heirs of one of it’s previous owners from whom it was unjustly stolen.
Just as the past is imperative in informing the future, The Aeneid, Virgil’s epic Latin poem, is both informed by literary history (the Iliad and the Odyssey) and seems to influence, reflect, and even tentatively foretell the future. A decisively early European piece, Virgil’s work tells a story still recognizable to the “modern” in Europe, whatever that time period be, whether it was that of the French writer Rabelais or that of Charles I in finding a passage that reflected his current state. The Aeneid is timeless, and despite being a classical work, it’s story is a contemporary one that has the power to predict sentiment ahead of its time.
Matej Šimalčík, the executive director of Institute of Asian Studies, a think tank based in Bratislava, Slovakia opines on China's growing influence in Balkans. In recent years, Balkan nations such as Serbia and Montenegro have begun to rely on Chinese funding for public infrastructure projects. Šimalčík frames this influx of Chinese funding as a testing ground for encroachment into Western European markets. He insists that Chinese influence does not pose the same threat to the EU as Russian influence, because EU stability benefits China. However, he tempers this position, noting that Chinese funding also makes these countries vulnerable to Chinese political influence. As a remedy, he suggests a clearer path to EU membership (and thus EU financing) for non-EU member Balkan states.