The extraordinary case of Edward Snowden marks a watershed. The young employee of an NSA subcontractor in Hawaii has begun to leak information through the Guardian on how the U.S. government snoops on the entire world with the help of the web’s best known industry names. That Snowden has sought abode in Hong Kong is an additional irony, of course. Ever since the 19th century Hong Kong has provided refuge for free-thinkers and dissidents fleeing the Qing Dynasty or its successors in mainland China. But that Hong Kong's legal autonomy will now be tested in a case involving the United States is completely unexpected.
But those who see a plot – the man would be in cahoots with China’s secret services – had better wait for evidence. Even though Snowden’s purported revelations are a golden egg for Beijing, which so far was on the defensive on cyberwar issues, the PRC does not have a
Ministers from France, Germany, and Italy are expected to meet in Rome this week to tackle youth unemployment and introduce reforms to relaunch growth and competitiveness. What is at stake is the European project. The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, described it as a "battle for Europe's unity", and warned that a revolution might occur if Europe's welfare model is abandoned. Joblessness is an emergency and it is good sign that it is on top of the agenda of the next European Council (to be held end of June). President Van Rompuy acknowledged  that the number of unemployed people in the Union, especially of the unemployed young, is at record levels. At last, European leaders are addressing social issues alongside economic ones.
The European Commission has proposed a series of measures in the framework of the Youth Employment Package: the European Alliance for
A year from now, at the end of May 2014, a new European Parliament will be elected. Before that, in September, the Germans will vote - deciding to keep or eject Angela Merkel, and the make-up of the governing coalition.
ECFR is using this opportunity to launch a new series on our blog – the “Berlin Notebook.” The idea is not only to follow the elections closely from Berlin, and deal with the various questions it throws up, but also to observe the shifts and changes within the new German government in the months ahead of the EP elections. This should help us understand whether or not the year 2014 will be a tipping point; whether or not it becomes the moment when Europe reconciles itself with its citizens, gets serious about integration, starts building a fully-fledged European democracy, and overcomes some old fashioned notions of sovereignty and nationalism.
Looking back, the
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In his new ECFR report on the Middle East Peace Process (“Europe and the Vanishing Two State Solution”) Nick Witney argues that the EU’s policy on Israel is fatally tainted by double standards: while declarations might be tough, actions do not follow. Such inconsistency, he convincingly argues, is both in conflict with the increasingly anti-Israeli attitude of European public opinion, and undermines the credibility of European external policy in general. He suggests a number of punitive measures, from separate labeling of products from Israeli West Bank settlements to imposition of visas on settlers and more.
My critique is not about Israeli policies. There is indeed plenty to criticise there, while any defense would miss the point of Witney’s argument: the promotion of European, not Israeli interests. I believe, however, that the policy shift Witney proposes would be harmful to
All eyes are on Hong Kong – Edward Snowden, the 29-year old NSA whistleblower fled to one of the 'Special Administrative Regions' of the People’s Republic of China after single-handedly exposing the US government PRISM information collection programme that targeted private user accounts operated by Facebook, Google, Apple and other internet giants. While the actual severity of the US-led invasion of privacy is heatedly debated and Snowden so far has not been charged with anything, he nonetheless (pre-emptively?) decided to escape to Hong Kong. In an interview with the British Guardian he lamented that it is “tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People's Republic of China."
Despite a well-established extradition treaty between the United States and Hong Kong, Snowden could
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