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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

French Elections and the aftermath

France held its municipal elections on March 30th.  Francois Holland's Socialists were not expected to perform well, and they met those expectations.  After the election debacle, President Hollande reshuffled his cabinet, hoping to mitigate some of the damage:

French reshuffle may loom after Hollande's Socialists routed in local elections

Fran├žois Hollande.
There was a great deal of focus on the success of the far right National Front, but the party still has some way to go to be considered a mainstream party:
Marine Le Pen

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Obama in Europe, Ukraine issue at top of agenda

President Obama's trip to Europe had been planned, but the timing was important for the situation in Ukraine. This overview in the Washington Post's Wonkblog lays out the critical issues going forward:

Wonkbook: How the crisis in Ukraine is shaking up Obama’s trip to Europe

Obama emphasized unity between the U.S. and Europe, although differences remain, particularly on the issue of military spending.

The sanctions regime will take time to impact Russia, as explained by former LBJ faculty member James Lindsay:

In the latest news, Secretary of State John Kerry is returning earlier than planned to Europe, to explore new prospects for diplomacy...
Ukraine highlights the dangers ahead for the EU:

Ukraine Upheaval Highlights E.U.’s Past Miscalculations and Future Dangers


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ukraine - Background and Developments up through the referendum in Crimea, March 16, 2014



Timeline of developments in Ukraine since it declared independence from Russia in 1991

BBC Ukraine Timeline

Some links with streaming updates:

Wall Street Journal Streaming News on Ukraine

Yannis Koutsomitis Storify: Ukraine after Regime Change

CNN: Crisis in Ukraine

The referendum on Crimea took place today with the expected outcome of the referendum in Crimea:

BBC on the Referendum in Crimea

The Ukrainian Prime Minister sent a warning to Russian separatists and the outcome of the referendum could lead to a loss of resources for Crimea - and a painful switch over to dependence on Russia:

Ukraine Prime Minister sends warning to Pro-Russian separatists


Meanwhile in Moscow, thousands protested, including members of Pussy Riot:

Tens of Thousands Protest Putin

"Don't believe it when they say that we are few, that we are weak," said Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of Pussy Riot, during the rally. "Together we will change this country."


From the White House:


Embedded image permalink

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Putting the Swiss Vote in Context: UK and Switzerland ready to take action on EU migrants - Germany in the middle?

The big news on immigration this week was a Swiss vote to curb migration:

Swiss Voters Narrowly Approve Curbs on Immigration 

The vote was immediately denounced by the EU and some member countries, and could threaten Switzerland's relationship with the EU.  Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, the country has signed onto various treaties related to trade and the free movement of labor, that will be impacted by the new law. However, this vote needs to be put in a broader context.  In the past, the focus of most EU member states was on controlling immigrants from outside of the EU. The boatloads of refugees landing on the Italian island of Lampedusa was a symbol of illegal immigration and refugee flows that were a growing concern.  However, there has also been a growing concern about immigration from other EU member states, particular those with lower incomes and welfare benefits

Swiss immigration vote shows loss of trust in business elite: minister

The BBC looks at concerns raised by the vote:

EU neighbours regret Swiss vote for immigration quotas

On January 1, 2014, Romania and Bulgaria gained the right of free movement of labor within the EU.  In advance of this development, UK Prime Minister David Cameron laid out his concerns regarding immigration from those countries, and changes his government would make to the welfare system.  However, critics charged that the changes would have little practical effect, and even the government focused on the idea that they would "send a message"

EU migration: David Cameron says his welfare changes 'send a message' to Romania and Bulgaria. Is that enough?

Germany will block David Cameron's attempt to restrict immigration by rewriting the EU treaty's right to free movement

More recently Cameron has modified his tone as an immigration bill works its way through Parliament:

David Cameron says EU immigration at 'reasonable level' 

Although there have been calls from conservative politicians in Germany to pursue similar measures, the German government has been critical of Cameron's attempts to pursue changes to free movement:

German foreign minister: Cameron 'damaging Europe' with call for immigration limits

German minister dismisses fears of immigration from eastern Europe


EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor has also been critical of Cameron:

EU tells Britain: Don't pander to prejudice on immigration

One of the ironies of the current situation is that the unease of foreigners is not limited to Bulgarians and Romanians:

Germans in Switzerland uncertain of future

Meanwhile, Britain's Immigration Minister resigned after revealing that his housekeeper was an undocumented immigrant.
 
 
 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Euro Crisis disappears from the headlines, Ukraine Crisis continues, Benefits for migrants raises issues in Germany

From the BBC "Whatever happened to the eurozone crisis?"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26004585

"Merkel Warns of ‘Deceptive Calm’ as Euro Crisis Risk Remains"
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-29/merkel-cautions-against-deceptive-calm-as-crisis-risk-remains.html

Ukraine Rivals meet at Munich Summit:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26004585
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara (left) and opposition leader Vitali Klitschko
Activists claims of torture put pressure on Ukrainian Government
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26004585

Protestors find ways to stay warm in the freezing cold


Immigration from Romania and Bulgaria leads to controversy in Germany over unemployment benefits: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/eu-commissioner-criticizes-tough-german-stance-on-immigrant-benefits-a-946373.html

From Exclusion To Integration

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Protests in Ukraine, Easing climate rules, Davos

Opposition leaders in Kiev agreed to a truce with policy while former boxing champ Vitali Klitschko met with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych:
http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/23/world/europe/ukraine-protests/index.html?hpt=wo_c2

From the Guardian : Ukraine crisis exposes Europe's policy vacuum: The EU's longstanding policy towards post-Soviet states has been shredded - and now needs a radical rethink
http://www.theguardian.com/global/2014/jan/23/ukraine-crisis-exposes-europe-policy-vacuum

Sunrise above a barricade in Kiev

In Brussels, EU leaders met and amid concerns about economic growth, proposed an end to binding national targets for renewable energy production after 2020: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/business/international/european-union-lowers-ambitions-on-renewable-energy.html?_r=0

Political and business leaders are meeting in Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum: http://www.weforum.org/ 
At the forum, the European Commission announced a new think tank, Startup Europe: http://thenextweb.com/eu/2014/01/23/neelie-kroes-launches-startup-europe-partnership-accelerator-european-digitial-forum-think-tank/

And one last note from Britain on parents and their children in a time of recession: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/18a0d0f4-8283-11e3-9d7e-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2r9BWRkLp