On Tuesday 7 May the Egyptian cabinet was reshuffled – and one of the key portfolios for Egypt’s relations with the outside world went to Amr Darrag of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). Darrag was named minister for planning and international co-operation. Last Friday, only days before he joined the cabinet, he appeared as a panellist at a Black Coffee Morning event at ECFR in London. Whether or not he had any inkling about his imminent promotion, Darrag’s comments give an insight into the outlook of a man who will now be influential on a series of contentious issues – including negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), relations with the European Union, and rules governing the operation of NGOs in Egypt.
Darrag is certainly a polished and articulate performer, and in that sense, a smart choice for a job that involves making Egypt’s case
The expression bad blood denotes the unpleasant turn taken in a relationship when one party is perceived to be hurting the other. The result is animosity, and an inability to communicate and interact freely. Think of Angela Merkel characterized as a Nazi in Athens, or branded with swastikas in Lisbon. Or think of the cover of Der Spiegel, featuring a quaint Southern European peasant on a donkey loaded with euros, under the EU umbrella, and the legend “The lie of poverty: how the crisis countries hide their wealth.”
And never forget that, though the center left has assumed power in Italy, some 55 percent of Italians voted for Beppe Grillo or Silvio Berlusconi, whose electoral speeches were furiously anti-German. And the French Socialist Party’s internal memo complaining of how Germany’s “selfish intransigence” is dragging Europe down: we are talking not just about placards in street
It was barely a few months ago: the French president, Francois Hollande, was fighting his way through Timbuktu's massive crowds and happily swanning through the streets of Bamako. At home and abroad, he had achieved what he had failed to do in the previous six months of his presidency -- become presidential.
How far away that seems. The presidential mantle that Mali afforded him was promptly snatched away at his return, by the social, economic and moral crisis that still besets the country and his apparent failure to steer the course. He is at a record low in the polls - lower still than president Sarkozy was at his very lowest. And yet there now seems no route but the domestic route for the beleaguered president. His recent entreaties to Germany and China have encountered little sympathy, to say the least, and Mali has become but a back story to the issues of the day.
Bad news for British Europhiles: the UK Independence Party, a group of bullishly Eurosceptic upstarts, did remarkably well in local elections (and one by-election) this week.
Good news for British Europhiles: UKIP did remarkably well in those elections.
On the face of it the former is correct. UKIP won around 25% of the vote in wards where it had candidates: impressive showing worthy of a major political party. Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, noted:
"This is the day when those dubbed "clowns, loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists" may find it hard to resist the temptation to laugh in the face of their detractors in the established political parties. It is the day UKIP emerged as a real political force in the land."
This will no doubt increase the pressure on David Cameron from his more Eurosceptic MPs for him to take a tougher line on Europe, with many
2 commentsRead more…
In the follow up to ECFR’s recent European Strategic Cacophony Brief co-author Olivier de France was interviewed by Bruxelles 2’s Marine Formentini about the new French strategic defence review and some of the brief’s main conclusions. The interview originally appeared in Le Club de B2.
It was kindly translated by Laure Taillandier and Sandro Luytens.
MF: So what should a national white paper look like?
OdF: A white paper or strategic defence review is only useful if it frames the strategic goals of the country in light of existing risks and threats. This in turn should help to define and adapt the optimal size and configuration of their armed forces, in light of the most recent geostrategic developments, and within the limits of the funds a country wishes to allocate to its defence.
Strangely, most national white papers in Europe do not fulfill such criteria. That is the
1 commentsRead more…
Europeans are losing faith in the EU
Europe can rescue the two-state solution
27 countries in search of a proper security strategy
How Europe can help Egypt
Understanding the influence of the Gulf States
A new era for EU-Georgia relations?
What next for Egypt, Tunisia and Libya?
What does China think about the island dispute?
A comprehensive evaluation of European foreign policy
How the euro crisis has affected politics in 14 EU member states
Do EU sanctions work?