P.M. May emphasizes that Brexit is final

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May made it clear on Aug. 31 that her Conservative government would not hold a referendum or otherwise back off on the plan, approved by the electorate for the United Kingdom, for her country to leave the European Union.

The Guardian paraphrased her as saying  that much as Britain may want access to the single  European market  but with no free movement of labor, that is not, and never will be, on offer from Brussels.

By promising to push ahead so firmly with no second referendum and no early general election, May has given comfort to the hardline cabinet Brexiteers, the news service said.

 

To read The Guardian’s article, please this link.

U.N. panel blames U.K. politicians for upsurge in racist hate crimes around Brexit campaign

 

A U.N. body called the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination asserts that politicians helped fuel a surge in racist hate crimes during and after Britain’s referendum campaign on whether to leave the European Union.

The panel said many prominent politicians  share the blame for the outbreak of xenophobia and intimidation against ethnic minorities.

“Many politicians and prominent political figures not only failed to condemn it but also created and entrenched prejudices, thereby emboldening individuals to carry out acts of intimidation and hate towards ethnic or ethno-religious minority communities and people who are visibly different,” it said.

More than 3,000 allegations of hate crimes were made to British police – mainly regarding harassment and threats – in the week before and the week after the June 23 vote, up  42 percent from the rate in 2015.

To read the piece on this in The Guardian, please hit this link.

E.U. beefs up its military operations

Jane’s Defense Weekly looks at the European Union’s expansion of military operations to counter new threats from Islamic terrorists and Russia. The article starts:

“Over the past two years the EU’s military operations have increased considerably, with the latest counter-migrant mission in the Mediterranean illustrating its growing ambitions to protect the continent’s security. Tim Ripley reports on the expanding mission set that is putting the organisation to the test at all levels, politically, operationally, and tactically.”

To read the full story in Jane’s Defense Weekly, hit this link.

 

IMF cuts growth forecasts after Brexit vote

 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union has “thrown a spanner in the works” of its global economic growth forecast.

The IMF’s 2017 growth forecast  for the U.K. has been slashed  to 1.3 percent from 2.2 percent and this year’s has been cut to 1.7 percent from 1.9 percent.

The IMF’s global growth forecast for 2017 has also been revised down, to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent.

To read the BBC story on this, please hit this link.

In Scotland, May pushes U.K. unity

The United Kingdom’s new prime minister, Theresa May, pushed for U.K. unity in Edinburgh on July 15 on her first visit as Britain’s premier. While 51 percent of voters in the U.K. as a whole backed its exit from the European Union, 62 percent of Scots voting favored remaining.

The vote triggered calls among Scottish nationalists for another referendum on whether Scotland should leave the U.K.

“I want to get the best possible deal for the whole of the United Kingdom out of our negotiations for the U.K. leaving the E.U.,” the new premier  said.

Questioned about another plebiscite on Scotland leaving the U.K., two years after Scots voted to remain part of the kingdom, the Conservative leader said: “As far as I’m concerned, the Scottish people had their vote.”

But she also signaled some flexibility on Scotland’s demands to be allowed to chart a somewhat different course than the rest of the U.K.  in dealing with Europe.”I want the Scottish government to be fully engaged in our discussions and our considerations, and I will listen to any options that they bring forward.”

To read more, please hit this link.

E.U. approves new data-transfer pact with U.S.

 

The European Union has approved a new agreement on how consumer data must be transferred with the United States. This brings to an end  months of delay caused by fears about U.S. surveillance.

The so-called Privacy Shield, the new commercial data-transfer pact, had been tentatively agreed to by the E.U.  and U.S. in February. It comes into effect July 11.

The E.U.’s top court had struck down the previous data-transfer agreement, Safe Harbor, because of fears of intrusive U.S. surveillance. This left such big U.S. companies as Google, Facebook and MasterCard in legal limbo.

To read The Guardian’s story on this, please hit this link.

Brexit could be very bad for China

 

The United Kingdom’s apparent decision to leave the European Union could be very bad news for China. The U.K. has been its biggest economic ally in the E.U.  Further, Chinese investments in the U.K.  itself may suffer. The British have long pushed within the E.U. for freer trade with China  while other members have feared being economically overwhelmed by cheap imports from China.

“The U.K. leadership always said they would be the guys pushing for China’s interests in the West and the European Union,” a Western diplomat in Beijing  not authorized to be quoted by name in foreign media told The Washington Post. “This is quite bad news for China.”

To read The Post story, please hit this link.

 

Deconstructing the E.U.’s democratic structures

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The European Union may not seem democratic but it is, mostly.

Amanda Taub writes in The New York Times:

“{W}hile defenders of the European Union have evidence to show that the bloc is democratic, this misses the point. Democracy, after all, is about more than elections. It’s also about accountability: whether the government is responsive to the citizenry.

“Yes, the European Union has elections (and, yes, like the United States, participation has been less than 50 percent for many cycles). But, in a functioning democracy, popular will is also expressed through mechanisms other than marking ballots.

“The European Union, perhaps in part because it was designed by technocrats rather than developing organically, does not account for or often even allow those mechanisms. And this is why, for many Europeans, the body does not feel {editor’s emphasis} democratic.”

To read the whole New York Times story, please hit this link.

U.S., E.U. agree on data-transfer pact

 

The European Union and the United States have agreed on changes to an important data-transfer agreement. The pact includes  stricter rules for companies holding information on Europeans and clearer limits on U.S. surveillance.

E.U. member nations are expected to vote on the  revised E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield in early July.

Reuters reported that “Cross-border data transfers by businesses include payroll and human resources information as well as lucrative data used for targeted online advertising….”

However, revelations of mass U.S. surveillance practices three years ago  intensified distrust of such huge big U.S. tech companies  as Facebook, Google and Apple.

“Brussels and Washington rushed to hammer out the data pact after the E.U.’s highest court last year struck down the previous system, Safe Harbor, on concerns about mass U.S. surveillance practices, threatening data flows that are key to billions of dollars of business,” Reuters reported.

“For 15 years Safe Harbor allowed both U.S. and European firms to get around tough E.U. data transferral rules by stating they complied with European privacy standards when storing information on U.S. servers.”

To read the Reuters article, please hit this link.

Firm calls Europe a leader in cybersecurity enforcement

 

An ABI Research press release says:

“Europe is emerging as a global leader in national cybersecurity enforcement. The European Union (EU) and countries connected to the Council of Europe and the European Economic Area, including Norway and Switzerland, have been most successful in implementing binding legal instruments in the area of cybercrime and cybersecurity. With impending EU legislation in place to mandate the protection of critical infrastructure, Europe will spend $35 billion in cybersecurity in this space by 2021, forecasts ABI Research.

“The new Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive demands that critical infrastructure operators—including agriculture, energy, transport, pharmaceuticals, and even water and waste management—address cybersecurity, and will push them toward allocating budget to protect their infrastructure. Non-compliers will face significant financial repercussions.

Europe remains a lucrative target, as it is a prosperous and highly-connected region,” says Michela Menting, Research Director at ABI Research. “The new directive will force operators to tackle cybersecurity issues in operational technologies, and notably in industrial settings, which is a huge step for many organizations.”

To read the whole statement, please hit this link.

 

Blame European leaders for Brexit’s popularity

(June 21st, 2016) Clive Crook writes that if the British vote on June 23 to leave the European Union, much of the blame can be put on Europe’s leaders for not doing enough to help “stay’’ backer Prime Minister David Cameron make his case.

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Mr. Crook writes:

“Europe’s other leaders could and should have helped him. They should have recognized him as an ally — and in doing so would have strengthened the European project. Certainly … they recognize their interest in keeping Britain in. And they surely understand that Europe as a whole needs to change – that anti-EU sentiment is on the rise in many other countries.

“Yet they sent Cameron away from his vaunted renegotiation with too little. And the tone of their response was even more damaging than the lack of substance. The message came through loud and clear: It isn’t Britain’s place to tell Europe how to change.’’

To read Mr. Crook’s column, please hit this link.

Turkey misses deadline for E.U. travel deal

 

Amidst fears about Islamist mass-murderers getting into the European Union via Turkey, that nation has missed a E.U. deadline that if Turkey had met it would have  allowed its citizens  visa-free travel through most of Europe.

E.U. leaders had conditionally promised the Turkish government that 79 million Turks would get access to Europe’s 26-country border-free Schengen travel zone by this month, as part of a controversial bargain on migration. But that depended on Turkey meeting 72 E.U. conditions on border security and fundamental human rights, including changes to increasingly authoritarian Turkey’s tough anti-terrorism laws.

Intensifying European worries is that Islamist terrorists can sometimes make their way from Syria and Iraq across Turkey and then into Europe.

Still, E.U. officials are expected to approve the opening of negotiations on one part of Turkish E.U. membership talks, which some people call a charade.

For the full story, please hit this link.

Merkel: Implementing Minsk Agreement would end sanctions against Russia

(June 13th, 2016) German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on June 10 that implementing the Minsk Agreement to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine would end sanctions imposed against Russia  for  its seizure of Crimea from Ukraine and its ongoing attacks on the latter nation’s east.

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Mrs. Merkel also said that in the long term, the European Union should aim for a vast common economic zone with Russia extending from Russia’s Pacific coast to Portugal.

“We should move gradually towards this goal,” she said.

The Boston Global Forum last December named Chancellor Merkel a “World Leader for Peace, Security and Development’’.

Hit this link for more details.

Cohen: Collapse of the E.U. would be a catastrophe

 

Roger Cohen warns in The New York Times of the perils that lie just ahead with what he sees as the terrifying possibility that the European Union could collapse if the United Kingdom decides to leave the E.U.

Mr. Cohen implied that would make Russian President /Dictator Vladimir Putin and would-be tyrants in central Europe very happy.

Mr. Cohen concluded:

….I listened the other evening at the American Academy in Berlin as Henry Kissinger, the personification of realpolitik, insisted that the “necessity of the coherence of the Atlantic world” had become ‘even greater.’ With him was the American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, the recipient of this year’s Kissinger Prize — and long the personification of liberal interventionist idealism. In many ways they formed a strange duo. But their togetherness was also a statement: That, until now, America’s postwar European and internationalist commitment has held across the foreign policy spectrum.

“Realpolitik and idealism meet in the unity of Europe. The unthinkable, on both sides of the Atlantic, must be resisted before it is too late.’’

For the full column, hit this link.