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European

European, Politics

Currencies and Finance are major weapons in the geopolitical game.

The post Covid “Recovery Plan” is a major card in the EU’s hand. The use of monetary and financial weapons in political gamesmanship is not new; it has taken various forms over time: from the flows of gold and silver travelling over the Silk Road, to cargos of precious metals filling the Spanish and Portuguese galleons returning from South America or more elaborate measures including blockades, embargoes, exchange controls, currency depreciation, financial manipulations or outright frauds, the acceleration of globalization and the growing interdependence of its actors have made access to financial markets a matter of survival. After a period of unquestioned domination of Sterling, relying on the vastness of the British Empire, it relinquished its leadership to the $…

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European, Politics

Is the European Union losing its way?

Barring a major effort, the EU is on track to being marginalized! The events unfolding under are eyes and whose roots reach back over the last several decades, are questioning the foundations of the EU which have been the focal point around which European society has coalesced since WWII. Firmly scotched to the USA during the reconstruction period and benefitting from its benign protection against the spread of communism, European nations favored building regimes emphasizing a welfare State and to a greater or lesser extent wealth redistribution, at the expense of their economic, monetary, defense and finally political autonomy, these aspects being clearly closely interconnected. Up until the introduction of the Single Currency, the EU created the illusion of being…

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European, Politics

Europe – Covid and Freedom

The lessons learned from the pandemic opens a window to further European integration. Lassitude, sacrifices, anxieties, unknowns surrounding the pandemic, economic uncertainties are all undermining the spirit of the population, rendering the task of governing ever more complex. The media, be it TV debates, the press or social media platforms, train their sights on the dysfunctionalities, the contradictions, the incoherencies underpinning the opinions of “specialists” (or incompetent participants) who wrangle publicly, thus making the decisions made by political authorities particularly difficult to follow and understand. Within this context, there is a lack of consensus concerning the importance assigned to competing priorities, aiming either at health care, economic activity, social protections or to be respectful of citizen’s rights and liberties, each,…

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European, Politics

The Euro as an instrument of Power?

Commentary on the Communication from the European Commission(COM (2021) 32) On the eve of President Biden’s inauguration, the Commission published a Communication aiming at strengthening the role of the Union on the world stage by developing a policy of “open strategic autonomy” outlined in its Communication of May 2020. This new Communication centres on the development of the international role of the €, strengthening the EU’s financial market infrastructures, improving the implementation and enforcement of the EU’s sanctions’ regime as well of the unlawful extra-territorial application of unilateral sanctions and other measures by third countries. As was provocatively suggested in a commentary in the Financial Times of January 21st, the American President will have lost no sleep when informed of…

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European, Politics, Uncategorized

2021 will be the making or the undoing of the European Union.

Covid 19 is an opportunity for the Commission to implicate the “Citizen” in future of the Union. The European Commission, under President Ursula von der Leyen, is determined to extract the process of European integration from the rut in which it has been stuck since the signing of the Lisbon treaty. The conclusion of the Brexit Agreement opens the way to focus its efforts on its new priorities. In addition to the environment and digitalization, circumstances have led it to embrace vigorously its involvement in healthcare, a domain previously reserved to Member States. Its dealing with the pandemic has considerably reinforced the pertinence of its interventions, be it in relation to the economic crises (Recovery Plan), its flexible interpretation of…

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European, Politics

Brexit: A way forward!

Boris Johnson’s inept handling of the negotiations paves the way for the creation of the: “Republic of Ireland, Ulster and Scotland” Is there light at the end of the tunnel? The British government’s statement that it is deliberately preparing to violate international law “in a precise and limited manner” is signaling “open bar” for all the conflicting nationalistic claims that are tearing apart the fabric of the United Kingdom. The bullying tactics of the PM have galvanized the resolve of separatists, overriding serious drawbacks on the economic front that would result from the breakup on the Union. Independence would – because of its shared border and currency – leave Scotland even more dependent on England than the UK is on…

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European, Politics

The “Euro” is worth a Mass!

In these times of crisis, when, at any moment, our daily lives can be upset by geopolitical, health, economic or social events whose reciprocal and unpredictable interactions make the management of public affairs particularly difficult, a small but significant item, despite being largely  ignored, is giving reasons for hope:  the requalification of Standard & Poor’s sovereign rating of  the EU’s debt from “AA+ with a stable outlook” to “AA+ with a positive outlook”, opening the possibility of recapturing its coveted AAA rating. This revision, particularly surprising in such an unstable environment is, without doubt, attributable to the opportunities created by the “historic” decisions agreed at the recent EU Summit concerning an € 750 billion stimulus program to be financed through…

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European, Politics

European Union: Agreement over a Coronavirus Rescue Fund and the Multi-annual budgetary Framework.

Let’s not sulk the pleasure! An historic agreement has been extracted at the end of four long days and nights by the 27 Heads of State and Government. The main achievement is not to be found in who came out on top in the haggling or in the – apparently – muscular exchanges between the protagonists, but rather in the preservation of the essential features of the proposal elaborated by the Commission. Of course, one cannot but regret the strengthening of the regime of individual national rebates and the evisceration of any substantive content of the conditionality linked to the respect of fundamental European values in accessing the Coronavirus Rescue Fund (“CRF”); nevertheless, it is undeniable that the EU has…

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European, Politics

Covid 19: Cataclysm or Catalyzer?

France in the eye of the storm! The “cataclysm” born from the pandemic is conferring on the European Union a role of “catalyser” in the articulation of the measures designed to support the recovery; it may be a new example of a salutary crisis enabling the EU to make decisive progress. The ambiguous results of the recent French municipal elections reinforce considerably the pressure on Member States to choose between a shared European sovereignty and, alternatively, following an independent course leading to the inevitable demise of the EU. Commentators seem fairly unanimous in considering that abstention was the main feature of a poll that usually enjoys a high rate of participation due to the preponderance of local issues. With an…

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European, Politics

The “phoney crisis”

On January 30th 2020, the President of the WHO announced: “….. for all these reasons, I declare the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern”. A world crisis had been declared and, as the pandemic spread, each country mobilized independently the forces deemed appropriate to deal with the aggression of the coronavirus. Initially, it entailed the closing of borders, followed by imposing more or less strict lockdown measures with constraints on individual freedoms; everywhere EU regulations were either suspended or ignored. However, to their credit, most governments chose to prioritise fighting the health urgency to the detriment of its economic consequences. Confronted with an unknown enemy, it is hardly surprising that many countries were caught unaware,…

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