How West sees Iran's nuclear program
October 16th, 2013
08:51 AM ET

How West sees Iran's nuclear program

By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

As American, European, Russian, Chinese and Iranian negotiators jockey in Geneva over ending the West’s economic sanctions on Tehran in return for a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, European and U.S. publics are sending negotiators on both sides a clear message: they oppose Iran having nuclear armaments. They agree on the current imposition of economic sanctions. And they generally support the use of military force if sanctions fail. The Chinese and Russian publics, though, dissent.

At a time when people on both sides of the Atlantic have turned critical of the Afghan War and have recoiled from involvement in Syria’s civil war, there is relative cohesion on Iran in both Europe and the United States. Indeed, there are some signs such solidarity may be strengthening. Yet although Iranian negotiators in Geneva will find little daylight between the American and European publics that they can exploit, differences between transatlantic views and those held by the Chinese and Russian publics may yet prove critical in the talks.

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Topics: Europe • Iran • Nuclear • United States
Could Britain see a baby boom?
July 31st, 2013
10:36 AM ET

Could Britain see a baby boom?

By Stijn Hoorens, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Stijn Hoorens is associate director and head of the Brussels office of RAND Europe. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

Prince George, the first child of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, arrived last week, an event watched with king-sized anticipation across the globe. The royal birth comes at a time when fertility in Britain is increasing after decades of decline. Today, the U.K.’s total fertility rate, a proxy for the average number of children per women in a given year, is the third highest in Europe behind only France and Ireland. Is Britain on the cusp of a baby boom?

Fertility rates across Europe declined year-on-year between the post-war baby boom and the end of the 1990s. Europe’s total fertility rates dropped in most countries below the threshold needed to maintain a stable population, the so-called “replacement level” of 2.1 children per woman. But the dawn of the new century saw the declines cease and birth rates actually began to trend upwards in many countries, including the U.K.

And, while fertility rates in some European countries have resumed their downward trajectory in the last couple of years, Britain stands out as an exception, a place where a baby boom may well be taking shape.

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Topics: Demographics • Europe • United Kingdom
Actually, drones worry Europe more than spying
July 17th, 2013
10:31 AM ET

Actually, drones worry Europe more than spying

By Anthony Dworkin, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Anthony Dworkin is a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. The views expressed are his own.

Relations between the United States and Europe hit a low point following revelations that Washington was spying on European Union buildings and harvesting foreign email messages.

Behind the scenes, though, it is not data protection and surveillance that produces the most complications for the transatlantic intelligence relationship, but rather America's use of armed drones to kill terrorist suspects away from the battlefield. Incidents such as the recent killing of at least 17 people in Pakistan are therefore only likely to heighten European unease.

In public, European governments have displayed a curiously passive approach to American drone strikes, even as their number has escalated under Barack Obama’s presidency. Many Europeans believe that the majority of these strikes are unlawful, but their governments have maintained an uneasy silence on the issue. This is partly because of the uncomfortable fact that information provided by European intelligence services may have been used to identify some targets. It is also because of a reluctance to accuse a close ally of having violated international law. And it is partly because European countries have not worked out exactly what they think about the use of drones and how far they agree within the European Union on the question. Now, however, Europe’s muted stance on drone strikes looks likely to change.

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Topics: Conflict • Europe • Terrorism • United States
July 15th, 2013
10:18 AM ET

How the NSA scandal hurts the economy

By Arvind Ganesan, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Arvind Ganesan is director of business and human rights at Human Rights Watch. The views expressed are his own.

The National Security Agency surveillance scandal has been devastating to the U.S. government’s credibility as an advocate for Internet freedom. But the impact on U.S. technology companies and a fragile American economy may be even greater.

Every new revelation suggests far more surveillance than imagined and more involvement by telephone and Internet companies, with much still unknown. One of the most troubling aspects of this spying is that foreign nationals abroad have no privacy rights under U.S. law. Foreigners using the services of global companies are fair game. (There is also a certain irony to the revelations, considering that some European governments such as Germany and the Netherlands are strong U.S. allies on Internet freedom but may simultaneously be targets of U.S. surveillance online.)

A July 1 report by Der Spiegel on the NSA spying on European officials infuriated governments a week before negotiations started on a massive U.S.-European Union trade agreement that could be worth almost $272 billion for their economies and 2 million new jobs. Officials throughout Europe, most notably French President Francois Hollande, said that NSA spying threatens trade talks.

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Topics: Economy • Europe • Security • United States
Europeans losing faith in Europe project
May 15th, 2013
12:01 PM ET

Europeans losing faith in Europe project

By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.

The Great Recession and the ensuing euro crisis have wreaked havoc with the European economy and now threaten to undermine the European Union itself. As Washington prepares to begin negotiations with Brussels on a U.S.-EU free trade agreement, America’s European partner has never been weaker. Europeans’ lack of faith in the European Project and the fissures that have emerged in European public opinion between the French and the Germans bode ill both for efforts to revive the European economy and for effective transatlantic cooperation in the near future.

Support for European economic integration – the idea that if nations lower their trade and investment barriers they will all be better off – is down over the last year in five of the eight European Union countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center in March 2013.

Fewer than a third of Europeans surveyed now think European economic integration has strengthened their economy. This includes just 11 percent of Greeks and Italians and only 22 percent of the French, the latter two citizens of founding members of the European Community. Since the fall of 2009, meanwhile, support for a more integrated European economy has dropped sharply: by 21 points in France, 20 points in Italy, and 16 points in Spain.

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Topics: Economy • Europe • Greece • Spain • United Kingdom
April 28th, 2013
01:46 AM ET

Can Europe teach U.S. something about engaging Islam?

By Fareed Zakaria

Jonathan Laurence of Boston College, who's done extensive research of Muslim communities in Europe, found that before 1990 European countries were largely indifferent towards their Muslim populations - letting foreign embassies, like Saudi Arabia, set up the mosques and meeting centers for these groups. They realized that this produced a radicalized and unassimilated migrant community. So now, in recent years, governments at all levels are engaging with Muslim communities, taking steps to include Muslims in mainstream society but also trying to nurture a more modern, European version of Islam.

It's worth noting, Islamic terrorism has declined in Europe in recent years. The lesson from Europe appears to be: engage with Muslim communities. That's a conclusion U.S. law enforcement agencies would confirm. The better the relationship with local Muslim groups, the more likely those groups are to provide useful information about potential jihadis.

For more on this, read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Europe • GPS Show • Islam
Will EU regret dropping Myanmar sanctions?
April 23rd, 2013
10:14 AM ET

Will EU regret dropping Myanmar sanctions?

By Gareth Price, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Gareth Price is senior research fellow on the Asia Program at Chatham House. The views expressed are his own.

The EU’s announcement Monday that it is lifting sanctions against Myanmar, following their suspension last year, poses some important questions about the country’s future political and economic development – and the role of the international community.

Discussing the suspension of sanctions, which had been in place since 1990, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said last April that "great progress has been made” in Myanmar, but added that he was "very concerned about conflict and human rights abuses." These concerns justified suspending rather than lifting sanctions. A year on, it is unclear that those concerns have been eased.

In the intervening twelve months, what amounts to a pogrom has been launched against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. The Rohingya are Muslim, are denied citizenship and so are effectively stateless. According to a recent report by Human Rights Watch, more than 125,000 have been displaced.

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Topics: Asia • Europe • Myanmar
Will Ukraine seize its EU chance?
April 12th, 2013
10:34 AM ET

Will Ukraine seize its EU chance?

By Matthew Rojansky, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Matthew A. Rojansky is deputy director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The views expressed are his own.

Europe’s too little, too late responses to the Eurozone crisis and the Arab awakening have amply demonstrated the difficulty of forging and enforcing a common position among 27 EU member states.  Yet in at least one important area, Brussels has adopted a clear position supported by national governments: Ukraine, the largest country that is wholly within Europe yet outside the EU, should receive a path to closer EU integration – but only if it meets a set of key conditions intended to demonstrate its commitment to basic European values.

EU officials say that by November, they will be prepared to sign an Association Agreement with Ukraine, which promises liberalized market access for both sides plus visa-free travel for Ukrainians, if Kiev meets three requirements.  First, Ukraine must advance its domestic reform agenda, bringing Ukrainian practices closer into line with European norms.  Second, it must address the shortcomings of the recent parliamentary elections and guarantee free and fair elections in the future.  Finally and most urgently, Ukraine must cease using the criminal justice system to target opposition politicians, a problem epitomized by the case of Yulia Tymoshenko, who was convicted of abuse of office in 2011, and is now serving a seven year prison term.

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Topics: Europe
Why it’s time to rein in CEO pay
April 12th, 2013
10:21 AM ET

Why it’s time to rein in CEO pay

By Heather Gautney, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Heather Gautney is an assistant professor of sociology at Fordham University, and author of ‘Protest and Organization in the Alternative Globalization Era.’ The views expressed are her own.

The United States has become one of the most unequal countries in the world. Just 1 percent of Americans own about 40 percent of our wealth, gaining all of the nation’s income growth from 2009-2011. The income of the average middle class family is lower today, in real dollars, than it was 17 years ago. And 46 million people live in poverty, including about one in five children by some estimates.

CEO pay scales are both a symptom and cause of these terrible trends.

Defenders of high pay levels argue that corporate executives are our nation’s job creators. If only that were true. Despite a record-high Dow and soaring corporate profits, our workforce remains stymied around 8 percent unemployment, a gross underestimate if you include those actively looking for work. The truth is that employers are content with boosting productivity and racing workers to the bottom.

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Topics: Economy • Europe • United States
Thatcher’s legacy in Europe
April 8th, 2013
01:15 PM ET

Thatcher’s legacy in Europe

By Charles A. Kupchan, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Charles A. Kupchan is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University. He was director for European affairs at the National Security Council during the first Clinton administration. The views expressed are his own.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday, altered the course of post-war Europe. As the leader of the Conservative Party, she liberalized the British economy, ultimately forcing Britain’s Labour Party to the political center and irreversibly remaking the country’s political landscape. Meanwhile, she consolidated in her own party a determined skepticism of European integration, setting the stage for the U.K.’s ongoing efforts to keep its distance from the European Union.  Finally, she set a gold standard for Anglo-American relations, forging a close relationship with President Ronald Reagan. Teamwork between London and Washington helped guide the Cold War to a peaceful end.

The economic destruction wrought by World War II ensured the consolidation of a European left with socialist leanings – one strongly committed to the welfare state, labor unions, and economic policies aimed at taming the free market. Thatcher effectively pulled off an economic course correction that fundamentally altered British – and European – politics. By forcing through liberalizing reforms that ultimately produced an impressive economic expansion, she dealt a decisive blow to Britain’s traditional left. Privatizing industries, taking on trade unions, scaling back the welfare state – these and other policies aimed at economic modernization proved uniquely controversial, but also successful in producing results as well as strong electoral support. Thatcher, Britain’s only female prime minister, stayed in office from 1979 until 1990.

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Topics: Europe • United Kingdom
Cyprus: Caught between Russia and a hard place
March 22nd, 2013
11:06 AM ET

Cyprus: Caught between Russia and a hard place

By William Pomeranz, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: William Pomeranz is the acting director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington D.C. The views expressed are his own.

The European financial crisis has reared its ugly head – this time in Cyprus. The tiny nation’s lawmakers have rejected a confiscatory tax on bank deposits that would have allowed the nation to receive a 10 billion euro bailout from the EU. Cypriot citizens angrily took to the streets to express their disapproval of the plan, but it turns out that they were not the only aggrieved party. The Russian government also joined in the chorus of protests, calling the Cypriot government’s actions “unjust, unprofessional, and dangerous.” Much of the money to be expropriated, it turns out, is held by Russian individuals and businesses (or, to put it in slightly less flattering terms, oligarchs and shell companies).  But Russia’s public outrage masked a more fundamental dispute with Cyprus concerning the island’s status as a major offshore financial center.

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Topics: Economy • Europe • Russia
Time to breathe new life into ties with Europe
February 18th, 2013
12:53 PM ET

Time to breathe new life into ties with Europe

By Peter Sparding, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Peter Sparding is a Transatlantic Fellow for economic policy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington, DC. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

It was a brief passage in the State of the Union address, but it might well prove to be one of the more consequential. In one short sentence, President Barack Obama informed Congress about his intention to launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. For decades advocates on both sides of the Atlantic have been arguing for a more comprehensive agreement. Now it finally seems within reach.

The case for closer economic ties across the Atlantic is strong. The United States and Europe remain each other’s most important economic partners, and together are responsible for almost 50 percent of the world’s GDP and 30 percent of global trade. Europe accounts for half of U.S. investments abroad – some $2.1 trillion in 2011 – and remains the most important source of foreign direct investment in the United States. More than 13 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic are supported by transatlantic trade and investment.

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Topics: Economy • Europe
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