• Europe’s Liberal Dream Team Looks More Like a Marriage of Convenience

    Europe’s two most prominent liberal leaders are teaming up. French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte are expected to form an alliance in next year’s European parliamentary elections. With luck, it will make theirs the second-largest party in the European Parliament, which would give them considerable influence over the selection of the next European Commission president.

    Macron and Rutte are both relatively young (forty and fifty-one, respectively), ambitious (Rutte is believed to covet the European Council presidency, currently held by Donald Tusk), and in favor of reform of the European Union (EU).

    But they differ on what “reform” should mean, which could make theirs an unhappy marriage.

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  • Crucial EU Initiative that Outs Kremlin Lies Under Fire

    A crucial program that identifies Kremlin methods of disinformation has come under attack. Alarmingly, one of the key accusations is that its activities constitute an attempt to restrict freedom of speech. The situation could not be more absurd. 

    The program running into such controversy is the East Stratcom Task Force and the EU vs Disinfo website that the task force runs. Back in March 2015, EU heads of state decided to create the task force, to be run by the European External Action Service, in response to Russian disinformation campaigns.

    Russia’s “information war” had escalated in 2014, with disinformation and virulent propaganda used to justify its annexation of Crimea and military aggression in eastern Ukraine. It was probably the downing of MH17 on July 17, 2014, with the death of 298 passengers, that served as a wake-up call to the West, 

    While establishing the task force in response, however, there was disagreement between the twenty-eight member states, with those nearest to Russia supporting broader measures, while others wanted a narrower scope in order to avoid antagonizing Russia. 

    As a result, the task force has been under-resourced and under-staffed, and it is an enormous credit to its team that they have achieved so much.

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  • Burrows Quoted by the Daily Signal on European Populism and Recent Dutch Election Results

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  • Will Europe’s Far-Right Populists Come Out on Top?

    Europe’s leaders face publics that are skeptical of globalization and multiculturalism, critical of the performance of the European Commission and European Council leadership, angry about the slow pace of economic recovery, and fearful of the inflow of immigrants and terrorism.

    Far-right populist political parties have benefited from this sentiment. These parties are now in an alarmingly strong position as voters head to the polls this year in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and possibly Italy.

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  • Transatlantic Relationship Forecast: Stormy Weather Ahead

    The transatlantic relationship is in for a rough ride over the course of Donald Trump’s presidency simply because there is no “correcting mechanism” among the incoming cabinet to counter the next US president’s rhetoric on the European Union, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

    In an interview with the Times of London and Germany’s Bild newspaper published on January 15, Trump bashed NATO as “obsolete,” described the European Union (EU) as “basically a vehicle for Germany,” applauded the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, and predicted that more EU member states would follow. The comments rattled the United States’ European allies.

    Trump’s key cabinet picks—secretary of state nominee former ExxonMobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson and defense secretary nominee retired Gen. James Mattis—broke with the president-elect and spoke favorably of NATO at their confirmation hearings earlier in January. However, the absence of a depth of EU expertise among Trump’s cabinet is striking, said Fran Burwell, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council.

    “They know about NATO or have had experience in NATO, but not regarding the EU. There is no correcting mechanism at the cabinet level that we see so far that would present a counterview to what Trump has said” about the EU, said Burwell.

    “The EU itself is in for a rough ride over the next few years,” she predicted.

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  • Four Swift Blows to Putin’s Influence in Europe

    Moscow retains substantial influence in Europe. However, its ability to leverage that influence against Ukraine appears to be declining, as four decisions over the past two months illustrate.

    Moscow’s intervention in Syria is weakening the Kremlin’s position vis a vis Ukraine in the views of European policymakers. This was evident on October 12 at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which dealt a major blow against Moscow’s disinformation campaign. The single most important lie in Moscow’s effort to ease sanctions and reduce EU support for Ukraine is that the war in the Donbas is a Ukrainian civil war, rather than a hybrid war that is led, supplied, and financed from Moscow, and involves significant numbers of Russian troops.

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  • Europe Funds Russian Aggression in Ukraine, Syria, and Beyond

    Three-Fourths of Russian Oil Sold to Europe

    On October 20, the Council of the European Union will consider its strategy toward the Russian Federation. Following the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Europe faces a genuine challenge: to recognize Russian aggression against Ukraine for what it is, and to provide truly effective measures to stop Moscow.

    The EU’s most powerful lever is its energy imports, which are to be considered as part of the new EU strategy. By importing energy from Russia, the EU is allowing the Kremlin to continue its aggression against Ukraine and Syria and to spread fear and uncertainty in European societies.

    Russian energy exports feed Russian aggression. Two-thirds of Russian export revenues come from the sale of energy raw materials—oil and its refinery products, natural gas, coal, and electricity—and the EU-28 is their major importer. Three-fourths of Russian oil is sold to Europe.

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  • Turkey Purges NATO Military Envoys after Failed Coup

    Turkey has fired hundreds of senior military staff serving at NATO in Europe and the United States following July's coup attempt, documents show,
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  • Why Nord Stream II is Not Only Eastern Europe’s Problem

    In November of 2015 the Council of State in the Netherlands decided that natural gas production in the province of Groningen should be capped at 27 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year. As the region suffers from earthquakes due to natural gas production, the level of such is a delicate topic for the Dutch political establishment.

    As a result of these production limitations, the Netherlands has resorted to importing more natural gas. On June 21 of 2016, the State Supervisory Body on Mining concluded that no more than 24 bcm should be produced in the coming years. Following this announcement, the Dutch government decided to follow this advice and limit annual natural gas production in Groningen at 24 bcm for the next five years. The final verdict on the matter is expected to be reached before October of 2016.

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  • NATO to Switch on Missile Defense System Tomorrow

    From Vanessa Gera, AP:  A U.S. missile defense system aimed at protecting Europe from ballistic missile threats is moving into higher gear this week, with a site in Romania becoming operational on Thursday
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