It's Christmas Eve, ECFR staff has dispersed to the corners of Europe (and beyond) on winter's creaking transport system, and it is time to wish you all a happy Christmas, a happy holidays, and a happy new year.
What that new year holds is difficult to predict. 2010 was certainly a year where many old certainty seemed to be built upon weaker foundations that many had imagined, as the impact of the financial crisis spread into sovereign debt, national budgets and, critically, the underpinnings of the eurozone itself.
These are evidently crucial times for detemining what Europe's place in the 21st century will be. We hope ECFR - through its publications, articles, blog posts and podcasts - will remain a vital, insightful and relevant voice in the debate.
And, as a parting gift for 2010, I'll leave you with a few interesting voices with their takes on what the future hold. They're
When I go to Beijing, I have a regular tailor, Wendy, who makes me new suits and shirts. They are good quality and she always provides good service. It is a genuinely good ‘made in China ‘ experience.
Wendy's tailoring shop is on the second floor of a shopping mall, nothing more fancy than that. Yet when I went back during my most recent China trip, I discovered new high-level customers had been there before me. On one of the shelves was a framed photo of Wendy with Hillary Clinton, who was visiting the shop and apparently buying a lovely new red coat. Red really suits her. And it remains the politically correct colour in China. I imagine that her purchase is something that the American right wing press could have got a lot of traction from.
Wendy tells me that she also fitted and made suits for Obama and his team when they were in Beijing. She added that, even given Chinese
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Yesterday, we saw Zapatero concentrated in reading his papers before the European Council started when Merkel entered the room and directly went to see him. He stood up and then, after the usual two kisses which are due to the Spanish tradition, they had a lively exchange. It looked as if Merkel was telling Zapatero “do not believe those who say Germany is not willing to save the eurozone”.
Apparently, Merkel has taken enough fire: from her own Parliament; from other governments, and from the European press and she is now willing to be more reassuring about Germany’s role. This is all fine, and anything done to reassure markets is welcome, but if you have already have to move twice the firewall from one place to another, from Greece to Ireland, and now to Portugal, it might well mean that there is something failing.
This is what is happening with the EFSF and the doubling
Beautiful snowflakes are covering Berlin while the country prepares for Christmas. There is a fairy-tale atmosphere in the air and – as if politics sought to contribute to that atmosphere – a beautiful, though fictional story did the rounds in yesterday’s newspapers: Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, will replace Herman van Rompuy as the President of the EU next year. From there, enchanted by Europe and convinced by the importance of the EU for Germany, she will unite the European Union, deepen its integration and move it forwards to a political union ready to thoroughly global. Once a tiny, shy and under-estimated ‘maiden’ of former Chancellor Kohl, Merkel will be transformed from the woman who jeopardises the historical legacy of Germany in Europe into the fairy who truly makes Europe united, free, proud and ready for the 21st Century.
But history has not yet decided whether
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The Chinese censorship of western news organizations including the BBC around last week’s Nobel peace prize ceremony was not a surprise. More unexpected was the speed with which they were back up and running. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks is easier to access from China than ever before.
Things have been tense in China since the decision to award Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize. These tensions reached something of an apex last Friday with the actual awards ceremony, as China went into full attack mode against the decision by the committee to award the prize to an individual who is incarcerated in China.
In China itself, however, one could be mistaken for not noticing that this was all going on. While everyone seemed to have heard about it (and I encountered a couple of tense meetings in which it came up), the story was blocked from the airwaves and netwaves. In particular, the BBC and CNN
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