EA May 2015

European diplomacy and the Iranian nuclear negotiations


After twenty months of intense negotiations, the P5+1 countries – the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and China – and Iran reached a landmark accord on 14 July to limit and monitor Teheran’s nuclear program. As part of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [hereafter JCPOA], Iran agreed to a number of concessions, including the following: reducing its number of centrifuges by two thirds; cutting its uranium stockpile by 98% and maintaining the remaining reserves at a low level of enrichment; redesigning the reactor of its heavy-water facility so that it cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium; and allowing the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency to access any sites viewed as suspicious, as well as visiting military sites on request.


Perspectives:* Vladimir Putin’s Nuclear Brinksmanship

johnbarryNotions dreamed up by a coterie of American nuclear strategy analysts more than sixty years ago might seem remote from today’s increasingly tense standoff with Russia. Not so.   They likely provide an important key to deciphering Putin’s seemingly bizarre behavior.  

The reality is that Putin is practicing what early Cold War generations called brinkmanship, best described as: ‘I am willing to go closer to the cliff-edge than you are.’ Authorship of the term is generally credited to President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, a vastly influential figure through the 1950s as the tectonic plates of the world’s political map grated and shifted to the new order born in fire in World War Two. “The ability to go to the verge without getting into the war is a necessary art,” Dulles said, with evident self-satisfaction, in his memoir. The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 is generally thought to have been its last outing. Not so, it now appears.

Britain Confronts European Policy

geoffpaulphotoLess than 24 hours after his Conservative Party won an unexpected electoral victory, in which Britain's role in Europe played virtually no part, David Cameron found himself confronted on every side with questions about his European policy.

Not one of the major parties put Britain's membership of the European Union anywhere near the centre of its election campaign. It was scarcely discussed. The one party that made a British exit from the EU central to its appeal to voters, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), won only one seat in the new 650-member parliament (despite gaining nearly 14 per cent of the vote, a peculiarity of Britain's voting system).

But the minute the vote was in and Cameron, to his surprise and the blushes of the pollsters, found himself with an overall parliamentary majority of 12, the question was out there in front of the Prime Minister and the nation: what now with his pre-election pledge of a referendum before the end of 2017 on whether Britain should stay in or come out of the European Union?


New EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager Shakes Up Antitrust World

anncritt12The press and the public were almost breathless in describing her: “a Goblin under Google’s bed;” “the enforcer;” “a very steely character;” “a tough cookie;” and “Queen Margrethe III” – all descriptions of a 47-year-old Danish politician who has suddenly become the most talked about official in the normally staid European Union bureaucracy.

In three short weeks this spring, Margrethe Vestager, the European antitrust chief, came out swinging, announcing the European Union’s intention, after years of investigation, to call to account some of the wealthiest, most heavily muscled corporations on the face of the earth –many of them American. If it wasn’t quite a match between The Amazon vs. Goliath, it was a reminder that international political power can still challenge multinational economic power in a titanic battle over the rules of the capitalist game.


European Union Ambassador to U.S. Speaks out on Digital Market Issues

David OSullivan European Union Ambassador to the United States
Just days before the European Commission releases its ambitious project for a Single Digital Market, the European Union’s Ambassador to the United States, David O’Sullivan, pens a spirited op-ed in Wired Magazine, responding to U.S. fears of an emerging digital fortress in Europe.