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
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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 future and 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.
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The EU’s neighbourhood policy has been around for a decade – but why are there so few success stories? One explanation might be that the EU has never really been an actor with a set of strategic interests in the Eastern Partnership region. Instead, the EU has often behaved like IKEA, offering things that look nice but without providing all the necessary tools to make them work in reality.
In the beginning the EU's neighbourhood policy was mainly about Ukraine: it was hoped the country would be the prime example of the EU’s transformative power – and a showcase of the effectiveness of Europe’s policies towards the east. But the “orange” leadership showed more interest in fighting each other than fighting for the much-needed reforms. Today, their successors in government are doing their best to prove that the elites are simply not interested in fulfilling Ukraine’s enormous economic
The US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay was in danger of fading from public awareness, but now it is back in the news. A hunger strike among detainees, which began as a protest against intrusive searches, has snowballed and now includes over 100 men, well over half of the population of 166. The Pentagon recently dispatched around 40 medical personnel to Guantanamo to help deal with the strike. Guantanamo has been receiving renewed attention in the US media. This Tuesday President Obama made the strongest comments he has made on the subject since the early months of his presidency, promising to “go back at this” and examine every option to close the camp.
More striking even than Obama’s promise was the rhetoric that he used. “It is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe”, he proclaimed. “The notion that we’re going to continue to keep
‘I want my money back’ was the late Margaret Thatcher’s motto in internal EU negotiations during her time as prime minister. And the EU’s current external debt holders could soon be demanding the same thing. Russia, the main external stakeholder affected by the recent Cyprus banking debacle, has already spoken harshly of the EU bailout as ‘expropriation’.
The Cyprus solution has forced Chinese investors to keep an even more watchful eye on the euro crisis, particularly in light of the loss suffered by external debt holders. Speaking on the bailout, China’s ambassador to the EU expressed his hope ‘that such kind of practice will not be employed in future scenarios’. In late 2012, China’s second-largest insurance company, Ping An, filed a claim against Belgium in an international arbitration court claiming losses from its investment in Fortis, a bank, when it was dismantled and
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