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European Concern over Prism Program (6/24)

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By Caitlin Del Sole, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

The recent public revelation about U.S. government surveillance of emails and other internet communication from “foreigners” in the National Security Agency (NSA) Prism program has deeply unsettled Europeans. Data protection has always been a point of particular contention across the Atlantic, and the Prism program revelations confirm some of the worst fears about how the United States actually handles foreigners’ data. “Here we go again: Another violation of the basic right to privacy,” wrote Viviane Reding,  the European Commission’s Vice President for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship in an Op Ed piece in the New York Times. “Another public outcry.  Another blow to citizens’ trust in the security of their personal data,” continued Reding.  “Yet more evidence that something fundamental has to change…”

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Pew Survey Confirms Turmoil over Europe (5/14)

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By Michael D. Mosettig, former foreign editor of PBS News Hour

michaelmosettigThe numbers are as grim as the title of the latest Pew Research Center survey – “The New Sick Man of Europe: the European Union,”   released today in Brussels.

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Perspective -- No More Visas Required for Poles Soon? But Do They Care? (5/13)

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By Inga Czerny, U.S. Correspondent  for the Polish News Agency

inga czerny- 5The ongoing reform of the U.S. immigration laws opens the chance to resolve an issue, which for 20 years has divided Poland and the U.S.--  the tourist visa requirement for Poles traveling to U.S. Yes, Poland, once described by French diplomats as the U.S. Trojan horse in the EU, is one of only three EU countries (together with Romania and Bulgaria) that still are not a part of  the Visa Waiver Program, which allows foreign tourists to visit the U.S. without  a visa in advance.  Why is that? Because the percentage of Poles who are denied visas or who remain in the U.S. for longer than their visas allow, exceeds the rigid legal limit of 3 percent.

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Washington Policy Wonks Wait for Froman as Trade Rep (5/3)

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For Washington policy wonks it had become the equivalent of waiting for white smoke to emerge from the Vatican. But the selection of a new Pope came a lot more quickly in March  than President Obama's appointment of his top international economic advisor Michael Froman as U.S. Trade Representative.

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European Parliament Rejects Reduced Emissions Trading Proposal (4/17)

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By Dan Mahoney, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

In a narrow vote, 334-315, the European Parliament this week rejected a Commission proposal to reduce the amount of carbon permits granted by the EU under its Emissions Trading System (ETS). The Commission’s plan is called “backloading” because the withdrawn carbon allowances would be offered in future years.

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Threading the Needle: Armenia’s Policy towards the EU and the EAU (4/15)

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By Armen Sahakyan, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

In today’s globalized economy, many smaller states can no longer compete in the world market on their own. The formation of economic-political blocs provides a competitive edge by combining national economies into stronger and deeper regional partnerships. For some states however, the conundrum is figuring out which bloc best serves their long-term national interests.

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Asia Now Spends More for Defense than Europe (4/15)

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By Michael D. Mosettig, former Foreign Editor of PBS NewsHour

Some times great historical transformations come bundled in  packages of small statistics.

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EU and Japan Announce Launch of Free Trade Agreement talks (3/29)

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By Dan Mahoney, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

The first round of talks on the EU-Japan free trade agreement has been scheduled for 15-19 April in Brussels. The initial framework was agreed last year.

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Italian Economics Minister “Explains” Italian Elections (3/12)

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By Michael D. Mosettig, former Foreign Editor of PBS News Hour

It was hardly an enviable assignment, but Italian Economic Development Minister Corrado Passera has been making the rounds in Washington trying to persuade U.S. officials and think tank audiences that the recent national elections were not a disaster for his country and the European Union.

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U.S. Tech Giants Duke it Out in Europe (3/11)

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By  Caitlin Del Sole, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

The European Union is becoming a prime arena for the latest tussles between  two U.S.  technology giants Microsoft and Google.  With Google and another internet browser competitor Opera as whistle blowers, the EU competition authority has issued Microsoft a €561 million fine for failing to adhere to its 2009 settlement with Brussels

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Kerry "Pivots" to Europe (3/5)

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By Dan Mahoney, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

Less than a month after becoming of Secretary of State, John Kerry embarked on his first international trip with an eleven day “listening tour” of Europe and the Middle East. In Europe, Kerry visited London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, and Ankara before moving on to Cairo. The State Department called Kerry’s choice to make Europe the first stop on his trip is “a real reflection of the degree to which we coordinate our global cooperation with these partners.”

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Serbia and Kosovo—Top Leaders in Talks, But Major Issues Remain (2/20)

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By Dan Mahoney, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

Top leaders from Serbia and Kosovo have had significant bilateral meetings in Brussels recently, raising some faint glimmers of hope for progress toward a more constructive relationship between the two former combatants. 

 

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The Arctic – It’s Getting Warmer, But Probably Won’t Boil (2/8)

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By Caitlin Del Sole, Editorial Assistant at European Affairs

It’s cold now, but the north will warm as summer approaches,  and so will  interest and tension in the Arctic region.  Again, large areas of the polar ice will melt making the Arctic Ocean  much more navigable and exploitable.   The expanding waterways provide an opportunity for new, more direct and less dangerous shipping routes to be developed during the summer months.  As roughly 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil is located in the Arctic, it is an increasingly attractive target of investment and energy. With this new opportunity, however,  comes new challenges of safety, environmental protection and conflicting interests.  For example, the Financial Times reports recently that companies, like ConocoPhillips, have been pressuring Norway to open up more Arctic water for exploration.

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The Nagorno Karabakh Conflict: Hotspot in the Caucasus (2/6)

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By Armen Sahakyan, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the commencement of Nagorno Karabakh uprising, which continues as an unresolved major conflict in the Caucasus.

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Cameron’s “Big” Speech on Britain and the EU Calls for Renegotiation and Referendum (1/23)

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By European Affairs

In the highly anticipated speech on the EU today, British PM David Cameron laid out a plan to renegotiate Britain’s role in the EU after British general elections in 2015, to be followed by an “in-out” referendum on continued EU membership by the UK.

For initial reaction to the speech across Europe see the attached compendium from the BBC.

Full text of the January 23 speech can be found here.

See also last week’s Michael White’s piece in ”European Affairs” on Britain’s eternally ambiguous relationship with the European Union.

 
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Europeans Celebrate Fiftieth Anniversary of Historic French-German Elyseè Treaty (1/22)

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By Michael D. Mosettig, former Foreign Editor of PBS News Hour

Twice in the past 100 years, leaders and representatives of France and Germany have gathered in glittering salons, amid gold trimming and mirrors, in Paris and its environs to sign historic treaties. The first, at Versailles in 1919, was an act of vengeance against a defeated Germany and helped pave the way for another war twenty years later.

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EU-U.S. Relations as Obama Starts Second Term (1/18)

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By Brian Beary, Washington Correspondent for Europolitics  

As President Barack Obama begins his second term, a special report from Europolitics, the Brussels-based EU affairs daily newspaper, outlines the current state of transatlantic relations in 15 separate articles. Agreement and disagreements are covered, although the general tone is positive and upbeat.  

Included are articles on:

  •  the discussions to upgrade trade relations, moderated, however, by potential squabbles over agricultural subsidies;
  •  the dispute between the EU and U.S. on tax on airline emissions;
  • global security issues including the fight against terror and U.S. policies that draw fire in some European circles;
  • data protection issues, and
  • the impact of shale gas in the U.S. on Europe.  

Key transatlantic relationship scholars are interviewed, and a useful compendium of key EU-U.S. events during Obama’s first term is presented.  
The full Europolitics report - “EU-US relations: Time for closer links” – is available at: www.europolitics.info Click on “Obama”

 
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The Uncertain Path Forward in Post-Election Catalonia (12/10)

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By Ryan Barnes, Senior Trade Specialist at U.S. Dept. of Commerce

The world was watching as voters hit the polls on November 25th in the most important regional elections in Catalonia since the return of democracy in Spain. Seen by many as a referendum on Catalan independence, the election created more questions than answers.

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Obama Signs "EU Emissions Trading Prohibition" Measure (11/29)

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By Brian Beary, U.S. correspondent for “Europolitics”

The transatlantic row over EU moves to force airlines to curb their emissions to tackle climate change has been directly confronted by the U.S. government.   On November 27, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the ‘European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act,’ which Congress had sent to his desk earlier this month. The new law empowers the U.S. Transportation Secretary to forbid U.S. airlines from participating or paying penalties in the EU Emission Trading System (ETS). The ETS works by giving out emissions allowances to participating companies who, if they emit more than their quota must buy extra permits on the ETS market.

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President of European Parliament Supports EU-U.S. Trade Pact (11/28)

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By Michael D. Mosettig, former foreign editor of PBS News Hour

In the weeks since the U.S. presidential election, there  has been growing talk in Washington policy circles and think tanks that it is time for a new push for a trans-Atlantic trade pact. But the idea runs into the practical question of whether the Washington political and policy machinery can handle two big trade deals at the same time, especially amid a still-faltering economic recovery.  "A good idea whose time has not come," said one wag, recently,  of a EU-U.S. trade agreement.  Currently, the international trade community in the American capital is consumed with negotiations already well advanced on a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would stretch from Canada to Chile and across to Southeast Asia and possibly Japan.

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