For those of you who are just returning from holidays, here is an update of what has been going on at ECFR during August:
The main story in recent days has of course been the dramatic events in Libya. This morning we posted this podcast with Richard Gowan and Hans Kundnani, looking at who should now take the lead in helping ensure a peaceful post-Gaddafi future for the country, and what role Germany might play.
Also on Libya:
There will be plenty more on Libya in the coming days and weeks.
Closer to home, the story of the summer has undoubtedly been the euro crisis – an issue which certainly hasn’t taken an
Germany has many singularities that make it different to the rest of Europe, one of which is a pacifist tendency – a product of its history – that is simply not in sync with the other larger EU countries, and which is a real hurdle for any common EU foreign policy. As Germany searches for a response to both the latest developments in Libya and the ever-present euro crisis – on which Berlin is again in a unique position – it must begin to see the connections between the two.
With its abstention in the vote on Security Council Resolution 1973, which allowed for the protection of civilians and the establishment of a no-fly-zone over Libya in March, Germany caused considerable irritation among its traditional partners, to put it mildly. Germany, instead of aligning as normal with the US and Europe, decided to everybody’s surprise to take sides with countries such as Brazil, Russia and
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As the Libyan rebels take Gaddafi’s compound, attention is inevitably shifting to the country’s post-conflict future, both internally – in terms of physical reconstruction and political transition – and externally, in the new Libya’s relations with the rest of the world.
One question that won’t be far from many government’s minds is that of access to Libyan oil. Before the conflict began, the country was responsible for about two percent of global production, and while it could be up to a year before output is back to normal, the international manoeuvring has already begun. China, as the Guardian reported yesterday, is seeking to sure up its energy deals and investments in the country, worried that the rebels might not look favourably on states that didn’t support them.
Beijing certainly has a vested interest in getting on good terms with the next rulers of Tripoli. But, as this
The collapse of the Gaddafi regime – although not yet complete – should be a source of satisfaction but not complacency. Libya’s rebels may win the battle of Tripoli, but it is not certain that they can establish stability, security and normality without outside help. Frequent reports of extra-judicial killings and disorder in rebel-held Benghazi have not inspired confidence.
Luckily, outside help is forthcoming. The next weeks will see international officials (and no doubt a lot of spooks) hurry to Tripoli with offers of assistance. Months ago, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed a Special Adviser on Post-Conflict Planning on Libya to prepare for this moment. The adviser, Ian Martin (who I previously had the privilege of working with on a review of the UN’s political missions) has had time to make detailed plans. While European governments and EU officials will want to play
Since the beginning of the Greek crisis last year, Germans have tended to explain the European single currency’s problems in terms of a difference between a fiscally-responsible north and a fiscally-irresponsible south. Although all eurozone countries including Germany are to blame for the flaws in the construction of the single currency that have now become apparent, and although German banks arguably helped create excessive sovereign debt through irresponsible lending, Germans have tended to see the euro crisis in cultural terms. It seems as if Germans see the crisis in terms of a kind of European “clash of civilisations”.
What Germany has feared above all is the emergence of a “transfer union” – in other words, an EU in which fiscally responsible member states (e.g. Germany) pay for fiscally irresponsible member states (e.g. Greece). However, as the crisis has developed over the
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