Cameron’s “Big” Speech on Britain and the EU Calls for Renegotiation and Referendum (1/23)

By European Affairs

In the highly anticipated speech on the EU today, British PM David Cameron laid out a plan to renegotiate Britain’s role in the EU after British general elections in 2015, to be followed by an “in-out” referendum on continued EU membership by the UK.

For initial reaction to the speech across Europe see the attached compendium from the BBC.

Full text of the January 23 speech can be found here.

See also last week’s Michael White’s piece in ”European Affairs” on Britain’s eternally ambiguous relationship with the European Union.


Europeans Celebrate Fiftieth Anniversary of Historic French-German Elyseè Treaty (1/22)

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

Twice in the past 100 years, leaders and representatives of France and Germany have gathered in glittering salons, amid gold trimming and mirrors, in Paris and its environs to sign historic treaties. The first, at Versailles in 1919, was an act of vengeance against a defeated Germany and helped pave the way for another war twenty years later.


EU-U.S. Relations as Obama Starts Second Term (1/18)

By Brian Beary, Washington Correspondent for Europolitics  

As President Barack Obama begins his second term, a special report from Europolitics, the Brussels-based EU affairs daily newspaper, outlines the current state of transatlantic relations in 15 separate articles. Agreement and disagreements are covered, although the general tone is positive and upbeat.  

Included are articles on:

  •  the discussions to upgrade trade relations, moderated, however, by potential squabbles over agricultural subsidies;
  •  the dispute between the EU and U.S. on tax on airline emissions;
  • global security issues including the fight against terror and U.S. policies that draw fire in some European circles;
  • data protection issues, and
  • the impact of shale gas in the U.S. on Europe.  

Key transatlantic relationship scholars are interviewed, and a useful compendium of key EU-U.S. events during Obama’s first term is presented.  
The full Europolitics report - “EU-US relations: Time for closer links” – is available at: Click on “Obama”


The Uncertain Path Forward in Post-Election Catalonia (12/10)

By Ryan Barnes, Senior Trade Specialist at U.S. Dept. of Commerce

The world was watching as voters hit the polls on November 25th in the most important regional elections in Catalonia since the return of democracy in Spain. Seen by many as a referendum on Catalan independence, the election created more questions than answers.


Obama Signs "EU Emissions Trading Prohibition" Measure (11/29)

By Brian Beary, U.S. correspondent for “Europolitics”

The transatlantic row over EU moves to force airlines to curb their emissions to tackle climate change has been directly confronted by the U.S. government.   On November 27, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the ‘European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act,’ which Congress had sent to his desk earlier this month. The new law empowers the U.S. Transportation Secretary to forbid U.S. airlines from participating or paying penalties in the EU Emission Trading System (ETS). The ETS works by giving out emissions allowances to participating companies who, if they emit more than their quota must buy extra permits on the ETS market.


President of European Parliament Supports EU-U.S. Trade Pact (11/28)

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

In the weeks since the U.S. presidential election, there  has been growing talk in Washington policy circles and think tanks that it is time for a new push for a trans-Atlantic trade pact. But the idea runs into the practical question of whether the Washington political and policy machinery can handle two big trade deals at the same time, especially amid a still-faltering economic recovery.  "A good idea whose time has not come," said one wag, recently,  of a EU-U.S. trade agreement.  Currently, the international trade community in the American capital is consumed with negotiations already well advanced on a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would stretch from Canada to Chile and across to Southeast Asia and possibly Japan.


Palestine, Europe and the UN (11/26)

By Geoffrey Paul, Middle East Specialist Based in London

Coincidence or historical irony? Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas goes to the UN General Assembly on Thursday to seek an upgrade in the international status of Palestine from “permanent observer” at the UN  to  “non-member observer state,” the same status as enjoyed by the  Vatican. His bid comes  65 years to the day since, on November 29, 1947, the  UN passed a resolution calling for the establishment of separate Arab and Jewish states in the British mandated territory of Palestine.


Remembering Europe’s “Remembrance Day”—94th World War l Armistice Day

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

For most Americans, it is the war that barely exists in historical memory, lost somewhere between the Civil War and World War II (and for the baby boom generation, Vietnam). For Europeans, as well as the British dominions, nearly a century later, World War I is the war that will not and cannot go away. Quite simply, the First World War changed almost nothing for most Americans. For all Europeans, nothing again would ever be the same.


Europe Pivots East, European Leaders Trek To Vientiane, Laos

By The European Institute

The U.S. is not the only country that is “pivoting to Asia.” A heavyweight contingent of Europeans including Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and European Union President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso is assembling in the unlikely site of Vientiane, Laos, for a two day summit with Asian leaders.


Europe Searches for Role in China as U.S. Pivots East (10/24)

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

It is hard to walk around Washington these days without bumping into a conference on U.S.-China relations. There was even a well informed and lively panel assembled in a crowded auditorium at the French Embassy, of all places.   Finally, as the meeting was drawing to a close, I felt compelled to say, "We are on French soil, and Europe has not been mentioned."  The panelists responded with some remarks about the European Union's trade with China, which indeed does now surpass that of the U.S.  See earlier European Affairs piece on Europe and China.


Update on U.S. Dispute with EU on Airline Emissions (10/23)

By Brian Beary, U.S. Correspondent for ”Europolitics”

When the US Congress reconvenes in lame duck-session after the November elections, it is expected to finalize legislation that would authorize the U.S. government to prohibit U.S airlines from participating in the EU Emission Trading System (ETS).  Last month, the US Senate followed the House of Representatives in opposing the airlines emissions measure, and both houses will now have to reconcile the variances in their respective versions.


The Other Dream Team; Lithuania Shoots Hoops (10/18)

By Erik Peterson, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

A heart-warming documentary film, “The Other Dream Team,” on the unlikely basketball prowess of tiny Lithuania is showing in commercial theaters around the country and memorializes the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic team that got into a semi-final game against the mighty United States, playing with Michael Jordan and other superstars. Lithuanian’s “other” dream team gives new meaning to “punching above your weight."


Eleven European Foreign Affairs Ministers Dare Articulate Their Bold Vision of the Future of Europe (10/4)

By Jacqueline Grapin, Founder and Chairman of The European Institute

A highly significant report issued last month by a distinguished group of European Foreign Ministers is a bold rejoinder to those prophets of doom who predict the end of the euro and question even the viability of the European Union itself. Who said that Jean Monnet, one of the Fathers of the European Union, was wrong when he thought that trade liberalization in Europe would lead to economic and later to political union?


European Union May Propose Law to Require More Women on Company Boards (10/2)

European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding is proposing draft legislation that would require state owned companies to name women to 40 percent of seats on boards by 2018. According to the European Commission women hold only14 percent of board member positions and 3 percent of board president positions in Europe’s biggest companies, despite the fact that around 60% of all European university graduates are female.  “I do not accept the argument that there aren’t enough qualified women to fill supervisory boards,” Reding said. “The pool of talent is there. Companies should make use of it.”


Monti Warns Against Backtracking on Bailout Deal (9/27)

By Michael Mosettig

Italy's prime minister has fired a warning shot across the bow of three hard-line EU governments that seemed to be backtracking on a  June deal to help Spain and Ireland get their banking crises under control.

Appearing at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, this morning,  Prime Minister Mario Monti was asked about the Tuesday statement from the finance ministers of Germany, the Netherlands and Finland that said money from the newly-created European Stability Mechanism would not cover "legacy" debt that governments incurred before this year to bail out banks.

EU Promises 700 Million Euros to Egypt (9/26)

By Erik Peterson, “European Affairs" Editorial Assistant

Undeterred by its economic crisis, the European Union has stepped forward with a sizeable aid package for Egypt, the key nascent democracy emerging from the Arab Awakening.


Polling Results From German Marshall Fund and Chicago Council on Global Affairs (9/12)

By Michael D. Mosettig

It's polling season again and not just in the last two months of the  U.S. Presidential elections. Two think tanks known for their comprehensive  surveys published  new studies of public opinion  this week, one barely  mentioning Europe and the other showing more parallel trans-Atlantic  attitudes than the daily headlines might suggest.


European Union Opens Anti-dumping Investigation on Chinese Solar Panels (9/12)

By Erik Peterson, “European Affairs” Editorial Assistant

The European Union announced last week it was opening an anti-dumping investigation into Chinese solar panel companies, perhaps following the lead of the U.S. which has already taken preliminary action.

The complaint was submitted to the European Commission on July 25th by EU ProSun, an industry association that represents the majority of EU solar companies, including German firm SolarWorld. The complaint outlined in the European Commission memo alleges that solar products imported from China are entering the European market with prices below market value, giving the Chinese companies an unfair advantage.


German Constitutional Court and the European Bailout Fund (9/12)

UPDATE—This morning the German federal Constitutional court upheld German participation in the European bailout fund. But it did impose the condition that any more money for the 500 billion euro fund will require approval of the German parliament.

At 10 am Wednesday morning in Germany, a panel of eight judges will  issue a ruling on whether the permanent European bailout fund passes constitutional muster in that country.

The case has brought unprecedented international attention to the federal constitutional court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) that sits in  Karlsruhe, hundreds of miles southwest of Germany's political and economic  centers of Berlin, Munich and Hamburg.


Euro Crisis Comes Back - After Relative Quiet Period (8/21)

Although it is still August, klieg lights are back up on European debt/euro crisis after a couple of weeks of welcome summer (relative) quiet.  

This week, French President Francois Holland and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Berlin on Thursday Aug. 23 to wrestle once again with the debt crisis that threatens European and global economic stability.  Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras , whose country hangs by its fingernails to the euro, travels to Berlin the next day, Aug. 24, before going on to Paris on August 25.