Atlantic Update 5/5/11


Europe and the United States set their sights spacewards, although if EU President Herman van Rompuy is right the EU might be "too depressed" to muster the innovation for such a task. Russia further clarifies what it hopes to get from NATO-Russian cooperation and Europe looks to ensure its influence in Africa as Chinese presence grows.


Final rescue before renovation (Der Standard)

How many failed states will still send out distress calls for help? The new bailout plan meant for Portugal ought to be the last, because Europe is going to have to reorganise the monetary union from top to bottom, says the Standard.(Full text in German)

Sócrates’s poison (The Economist)

Portuguese voters listening to José Sócrates, the caretaker prime minister, announcing a €78 billion ($116 billion) bail-out deal last night may have thought it was a campaign broadcast for the general election due on June 5th. He boasted that the three-year programme was more lenient than those for Greece and Ireland, and then listed what the package did not contain: no change to the minimum retirement age or minimum wage, no cuts to public-sector pay or pensions, no dismissals of state workers. Deficit-reduction targets were relaxed because of slower growth.

Europe ‘loses credibility’ on human rights (Euractiv)

If it continues to consider immigrants as "totally unwanted," Europe will have very little credibility to talk about human rights in international fora, warns Thomas Hammarberg, human rights commissioner at the Council of Europe.

Commission proposes temporary checks at internal Schengen borders (European Voice)

Changes to ease pressure on Schengen system as border checks will be possible ‘under strick conditions’. The European Commission has proposed changes to the European Union’s migration policy, to defuse criticism by member states of the EU’s Schengen area of borderless travel.

US and Europe plan new spaceship (BBC News)

Europe and the US could be building a spaceship together later this decade. It is one of the ideas being considered as Europe ponders the next evolution of its ATV orbital freighter. The sophisticated robotic vessel is used to transport up to 7.5 tonnes of supplies to the space station, but only three more units are in production. Europe is now looking to develop a derivative of the ship and a joint venture with the Americans on a future vessel is being discussed.

Van Rompuy: Europeans too depressed to be innovative (EUobserver)

If Europe is to remain relevant as an innovative economy, people need to be more positive and entrepreneurial and not let themselves be depressed by the economic crisis and subsequent austerity measures, EU council chairman Herman Van Rompuy has said. "Innovation has a lot to do with behaviour, risk taking, motivation and education. You can’t have a society of very creative people only based on financial stimulus," the former Belgian premier said Wednesday (4 May) during a conference organised by Ernst&Young on innovation and the role of government in supporting it.

Russia offers NATO 5-year cooperation deal (RIA Novosti)

Russia has offered NATO a mid-term military cooperation plan for a period of three to five years, chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov said on Wednesday. "This approach will help define exactly what we want to achieve as a result of our cooperation," he told reporters in Brussels. "This will enable us to look beyond the horizon," Gen. Makarov said, adding that "corresponding instructions have already been issued to military representatives of the NATO-Russia Council."

Common army to battle budgetary crisis? (De Standaard)

“Military top brass targets De Crem", Belgium’s Defence Minister,headlines De Standaard. In an internal memo, senior officers deplore “the cumulative effect of a disastrous cocktail of numerous missions abroad, a further salvo of cost-cutting to the tune of 35 million euros, downsizing and the absence of investment credits.” Pieter de Crem wants a smaller high performance army, but according to senior figures in the military, “De Crem has ruined the army’s credibility.” On 4 May, Piet De Crem met with his Dutch counterpart Hans Hillen, who is currently faced with similar budgetary issues. The two ministers discussed “increased collaboration” between the armies of both countries. An opinion piece in De Standard highlights the importance of a European army but notes, which “for the moment, this has only been recognised by smaller countries.” In the meantime, the newspaper argues, more military “integration with the Netherlands could reduce the scope of the problem. We could establish a common navy, or make the Netherlands responsible for the navy.” (Full Text in Dutch)

UK champions own diplomacy over EU ‘action service’ (EUobserver)

British foreign minister William Hague has in a landmark speech depicted the UK as a "global power" alongside a diminutive European Union important chiefly in economic terms. Citing the words of a former prime minister in a period of British ascendancy on the world stage, he told VIPs at a dinner in London on Wednesday (4 May): "In 1805 my political hero William Pitt addressed the Lord Mayor’s banquet, two days after news had reached London of Nelson’s victory over the combined French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar … [He said] ‘Europe is not to be saved by any single man. England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example’."

China’s rise in Africa does not spell EU decline, says official (EUobserver)

Both China and Europe can reap the benefits of greater investment in Africa, with associated gains in influence not defined by a zero-sum game, a senior official from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) has said. Many in Europe have fretted in recent years over China’s increasing leverage in the mineral-rich continent, but the head of cabinet of the ACP’s secretariat told MEPs on Wednesday (4 May) that the EU could still secure its interests in the region.


‘Portugal Needs the Strength to Reinvent Itself’ (Spiegel)

Portugal has agreed to accept the austerity measures attached to the 78 billion euro bailout package designed to pull the country back from the brink of bankruptcy. But the conditions are far less draconian than those imposed on Greece and Ireland. The European Union has learned its lesson, say German commentators.


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