EU’s New Rules on Hedge Funds Improve Earlier Draft—But Remain Controversial

Perspectives: An Occasional Forum of the European Institute Reflecting Participant Views on Topical issues

By Anthony Luzzatto Gardner

After nearly two years of heated debate, the member states of the European Union have approved the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive which imposes strict regulatory requirements on a wide range of “alternative” investment fund managers, including those managing hedge funds, private equity and venture capital funds, listed investment companies, real estate and infrastructure funds.

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Leaked Cables Show A Transatlantic Success: EU Rallied to Iran Sanctions after Some Swedish-led "Foot-Dragging"

An interesting narrative that emerges from the newly-disclosed secret State Department cable traffic documents the Obama administration’s success in getting European support for sanctions and other actions against Iran. After the presidential elections in 2008, the new team in Washington developed a sustained diplomatic focus on the issue and proved more effective in this regard than earlier efforts by the Bush administration, which had its hands full with the war in Iraq. The change of emphasis and clarity is described in a New York Times story based on the documents released by Wikileaks.

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Irish Government Sets Draconian Cuts in Hopes of Recovery in Debt Crunch

Here is a point by point run-down of the austerity package unveiled Wednesday by the Irish government. Dublin hopes it will be strong enough to quell the current crisis of confidence in the country’s finances – and that the government, with its paper-thin majority, can keep enough public support to make the plan credible. The  four-year plan, the brunt of which is suppose to take effect next year, includes cuts in welfare and the minimum wage and higher taxes for Irish citizens. But it maintains the relatively low corporate tax rate that other EU countries have sought to see raised – so far, without success – in their negotiations with Dublin about a planned EU-IMF bailout.

-- European Affairs

 

Lisbon Summits Offer Success For U.S., Russia And EU -- At Least On Paper

(Nov. 22)   The three summit meetings last weekend resulted in what New York gamblers call a “trifecta” of three wins:  the leadership of the NATO alliance set a framework for missile defense in Europe without undermining nuclear deterrence as an ultimate security guaranty; Russia returned to its special partnership with NATO for the first time since the Georgia war in 2008; and the EU fielded an effectively streamlined team (the result of its own Lisbon treaty last year) that has already bolstered the pace of  EU-US cooperation.

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Backlash Among European Allies Likely If U.S. Delays Strategic Arms Pact

 

An Obama administration failure to get ratification of the so-called New Start treaty – as now seems probable – will inject damaging tensions into U.S. relations with Germany and other key NATO allies in Europe.
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A Tangible Idea for U.S.-EU Summit -- Coordinate Development Assistance

By Anthony Luzzatto Gardner

Top-level focus on the single topic of better transatlantic teamwork on humanitarian assistance and development aid could help re-energize the anemic institution of U.S.-EU summits.

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European Response to U.S. Elections? “Watchful-Waiting” on Foreign Policy

Most of America’s partners seem to judge that the electoral blow to President Barack Obama is bad news for a leader they like and proof that the U.S. public is moving farther away from the social values and other center-left views that amount to a broad consensus in much of the EU.

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UK Parliamentary Briefing Calls U.S. Vote a "Stage-Setter" for 2012 Presidential Ballot

The European Institute has received permission to publish a briefing (see text) given Wednesday to the All-Party Group on Transatlantic and International Security about the broad political implications of the U.S. vote this week. It is a group drawn from all three political parties in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords.
 

New Congress Will Slow U.S. Action On Climate Change - - But California Voters Endorse Their State’s Emission Curbs

Conservative control of the House of Representatives weakens the already-flagging momentum on climate-change legislation. Many new Congress members – Republicans (including Tea Party activists) – will expand the ranks opposing environmental action as too expensive or even denying the existence of global warming as a man-made problem.
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U.S. Tea Party -- French Journalist’s Snapshot of its Political Program

The Tea Party – the radically conservative movement that has emerged within Republican party ranks – exploded onto the American national scene in 2009 in a powder trail of local and then national protest rallies.  The movement's core concerns, so far, are reducing the size of the U.S. government, lowering taxes and cutting back on federal spending.  [They have generally de-emphasized the “cultural wars” about social issues such as abortion that have been an electoral staple of right-wing politics in the recent U.S. elections.]
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“New Americans’ – Naturalized Immigrants – Are Potent Electoral Demographic

Immigrants who have become naturalized Americans in recent decades are numerous enough – and now organized enough! -- to be a potential political factor in American voting, including in next week’s Congressional election.  As always these days, immigration itself will be an issue and in the U.S. the “immigrant vote” could matter as recent immigrants chose sides in light of their own experience.  In some hard-fought Congressional constituencies, the outcome might turn on the votes of New Americans – immigrants or immigrants’ children who have become politically conscious during the recent decades when massive and sometimes disruptive immigration has become a high-profile issue.

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Visa Waiver Expansion Hits Snag for Four EU Countries: Legislation Needed, But Unlikely

By Brian Beary in Washington | 22 October 2010

The EU’s drive to get all 27 member states included on the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) has run up against a wall. The view of multiple sources closely monitoring the dossier is that the US Congress will have to pass new legislation before Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania will have any chance of joining the other EU23. Though some on Capitol Hill are sympathetic to their cause, nothing is likely to happen until 2011 at the earliest. Even if Congress changes the rules to make it easier for the EU4 to enter, they still need to be invited to join by the US administration and there is little indication that the Obama administration is interested in expanding the programme.

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Sarko Victory On Pension Change Signals New Dynamic For Social Reform in France

Signs are that the weeks-long struggle over a new law to raise the retirement age in France is ending on the terms set by the French government and President Nicolas Sarkozy.

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EU's Ashton Fills Two Top Slots in its Fledgling Diplomatic Corps

The European External Action Service took another step forward today by naming the people who will occupy the two top posts in the service representing the EU around the world: Pierre Vimont, currently French ambassador to Washington, will be the Executive Secretary General heading policy formulation and David O’Sullivan, a top Irish civil servant who has held key positions at the European Commission, will be the Chief Operating Officer managing the new service.

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British Defense Cuts Should Be Opportunity For U.S. To Pursue Alliance-Wide Debate About Restructuring Forces Together

(October 20) -- While Obama administration officials have voiced disappointment about UK cuts in the military budget and the possible risk of seeking it increase the load on Washington, a more nuanced reaction comes from a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, Robert Hunter.

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Merkel Stokes Immigration Debate in Germany

(October 18) Diving into Germany’s growing anti-immigration debate this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel branded her country’s “multiculturalism” a “total failure”. Speaking at a meeting of youth members of the Christian Democratic Union in Potsdam, Merkel said “At the beginning of the 60s our country called the foreign workers to come to Germany and now they live in our country. We kidded ourselves for a while - we said, ‘They won’t stay and sometime they will be gone.’  But this isn’t reality. And of course, the multicultural approach and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other... has failed, utterly failed."

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When Chips Were Down On Euro, Obama Showed U.S. Support, "Not Schadenfreude”

(October 13) The U.S. played a substantial role – and a very constructive one – in helping European leaders crystallize their rescue last spring of the eurozone, according to a reconstruction of some critical moments in the crisis.

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Burqa Ban in France Gets Final Approval; Similar Bans Spreading Across Europe

(October 13)  The Conseil Constitutionnel, France’s top legal authority and guardian of the constitution, approved a law last week previously passed by both chambers of the French parliament banning the wearing of full-face veils in public places. While many expected the Constitutional Council to overturn the law, it ruled instead that the law "conforms" with the constitution and does not encroach on civil liberties, so long as the law does not apply to public places of worship where it could violate the practice of religious freedom.

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Cyprus Turns 50 — But Turkish Troops Still Hold Northern Sector

 

(October 12)  One of Europe’s most intractable conundrum—the island Republic of Cyprus—is celebrating its 50th year as an independent nation.  The celebration is muted, however, by another anniversary—the 36th year since Turkish troops (now numbering 43,000) took control of nearly 40 percent of the island and effectively displaced 180,000 Greek Cypriot refugees.
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Europeans and Other Foreign Companies Line Up for US High-Speed Rail “Gold Rush”

(October 7) Notwithstanding a “buy America” requirement, European railroad engineering firms are lining up eagerly and in force to enter what they see as a modern day “gold rush” to get a stake in the U.S. high speed rail market, fueled by President Obama’s $8 billion in stimulus funds.  So far, 13 routes in a wide geographic area, including California and Florida, have been proposed.  See recent European Affairs article raising the curtain on this push.

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