With the Trump administration, transatlantic relations continue to “diverge”. US secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended The Global Entrepreneurship Summit held at the Hague from 3-5 June. Far-right Euroskeptic populist parties are scrambling for alliances after their recent gains in the 2019 European Parliament elections. Although they are united in opposing migration, Euroskeptic parties have significantly different views on issues of public debt, environmental protection, economic and social policy. The European Commission, in a draft memo, has identified a new strategy for capital markets union, Fintech, financial stability, sustainable economy and Brexit as key priorities for the next financial services Commissioner. Centre-left Social Democrats won the majority of the seats in Parliament at the Danish general elections on Wednesday (5 June), securing 26 percent of the vote while the Liberal Party won 23 percent. Click on the image to read more.
EU leaders convened an informal summit after the European elections on Tuesday (28 May) to discuss the distribution of EU top jobs. Donald Tusk is tasked by the EU 28 to consult the member states and the European Parliament about these top positions. The various pan-European groups are now scrambling to form pivotal alliances in this more fragmented parliament. Traditional groups EPP and S&D have lost their hold on the majority and must look to new coalition partners such as the Greens and ALDE. After the crushing defeat by the Brexit Party and Liberal Democrats, both the Tory and Labour parties are facing an uncertain political future. Some Conservative members are already considering Brexit options other than a hardline no-deal, which could trigger a general election in which the Tories would lose power. The recent European elections have not only shaken up the European Parliament, it might also impact upcoming national elections. Snap elections will be held in Greece after poor showing of the ruling Tsipras party in the European elections. Click on the image to read more.
The 2019 EU Parliament elections saw traditional parties such as the EPP and S&D emerging as the biggest groups in the election, in spite of considerable losses. Populist parties made significant gains in their individual countries, with parties in Italy, France and the UK emerging as the frontrunner of the elections. May was forced to step down after a strong backlash to her attempt to present for the fourth time the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to House of Commons. Her “new Brexit deal” included concessions to the Labour demands on remaining in EU custom union and a promise to put a second referendum to vote in Parliament. On Wednesday (15 May), the Trump administration signed an executive order banning the purchase of equipment from Huawei citing national security concerns. This move to blacklist the Chinese telecom giant by the US has placed a huge roadblock for the company to do business with US counterparts, such as Google, which has suspended business with Huawei. Click on the image to read more.
On Tuesday (14 May), a Downing Street official announced that British Prime Minister Theresa May will bring her Brexit deal back to Parliament by June 3. The announcement came after weeks of cross-party talks between the government and Labour Party failed to produce any tangible outcome so far. With less than two weeks left to the EU elections, Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique en Marche (LREM) party published its European election programme in Berlin titled ‘Renaissance’. It seeks to form a Liberal coalition with eight other European parties. Transatlantic ties between the US and the EU appear to be deteriorating over Iran’s nuclear deal escalation, as well as EU-US bilateral trade discussions, and the EU push to achieve strategic autonomy. US re-imposition of sanctions on Iran has impacted the country’s economy negatively. Click on the image to read more.
The EU Summit in Sibiu, Romania, on 9 May was planned as the first post-Brexit meeting of the 27 EU member states. The theme for this summit was “Europe’s place in the world” as EU leaders discussed the “strategic agenda” to be adopted in June after the European Parliamentary elections. On Thursday (2 May), the leading candidates for EU Commission President clashed in a second debate held in Florence. The debate was heated with candidates clashing over topics such as the common European army and future of Europe. Click on the image to read more.
Theresa May’s efforts to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) in Parliament still faces challenges as both options and time are running out before the May 22nd deadline for avoiding European elections. Cross party compromise has proven to be difficult though both May and Labour leader Corbyn tried to signal that they are close to a deal. On Monday (29 April), the first debate between 5 leading candidates for the European Commission Presidency took place in Maastricht. Environmental issues and digital regulation were the big topics of the debate. The 26th EU-Japan summit took place in Brussels on 25 April. At the summit President of EU Council Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reaffirmed their support for free trade, multilateralism and an international order based on the rule of law. Click on the image to read more.
A new “Remain Alliance” is being formed in Britain ahead of the European elections in May. The Change UK party was formed by the former Independent Group of eleven defecting Labour and Conservative MPs and now includes Boris Johnson’s sister and journalist, Rachel Johnson, and former BBC reporter Gavin Esler as lead candidates. The EU Parliament’s projection of seats in the next Parliament with the UK parties’ participation shows that the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) are in the lead. POLITICO similarly projects that even without the UK’s participation, the EPP still holds the lead but S&D would have a slight boost in their numbers if the UK participates. Click on the image to read more.
The House of Commons is on Easter break until April 23. Meanwhile, the UK government continues to engage in talks with the Labour Party to find a compromise on the post-Brexit future relationship with the EU. A new report by the European Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, claimed that almost 100 million swing voters are moving “fluidly between parties of the right and left,” and that they are “seeking change”.A senior Huawei official in Brussels, Sophie Batas, has acknowledged that Chinese State Security Law “sets out an obligation on organisations and individuals to provide assistance with work relating to State Security”. European Union countries approved plans for trade talks with the United States on Monday (15 April).
On Wednesday (10 April), EU leaders agreed to a second Brexit extension until October 31 although Theresa May had only asked for an extension till June 30th.The conditions for the October deadline include a review at the end of June and requirement for UK to participate in the European Parliament elections. The EU-China Summit on 9 April was declared a win-win for EU-China trade relations. Donald Tusk declared the talks a “breakthrough” as Beijing made last minute concessions to EU demands. The United States has threatened the European Union with billions of euros worth of trade sanctions in retaliation for EU subsidies to Airbus. This follows from a long running dispute between Washington and Brussels over mutual claims of illegal aid given to rival aviation giants Boeing and Airbus that began almost 15 years ago. On Friday (5 April), EU institutions put their cyber systems to the test in a bid to assess the efficiency of responses to attacks against critical network infrastructure, ahead of the European elections in May. While internet voting systems will only be used in Estonia for May’s ballots, electronic voting appliances could be used elsewhere across the bloc, despite previous concerns. Click on the image to read more.
A no deal brexit is “almost inevitable” as MPs failed to pass Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement for the third time on Friday (29 Mar) and also failed to break the impasse with a second round of indicative votes held on Monday (1 April). To break the deadlock, May has sought a cross-party compromise with the opposition Labour Party to pave the way for a soft Brexit. On Friday (29 March), Facebook unveiled a raft of measures to prevent foreign campaigns from interfering in national elections.However, the plans will complicate pan-European parties’ ability to advertise in countries where they are not directly represented. On the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), experts share of their visions for the alliances’ future in a changing global order. Despite 70 years of solidarity, the alliance has faced some new challenges, including the fissures in diplomacy exposed by US president Donald Trump. Click on the image to read more.