John Roberts

  • Yet Another Crisis Day in Britain's Brexit Saga

    There is uncertainty everywhere. In the Northern Irish city of Londonderry, police carried out a controlled explosion of a hijacked van and evacuated houses in the Creggan area less than forty-eight hours after a bomb exploded outside the city’s courthouse—luckily, with no casualties.

    Parliamentary exchanges on January 21 were spattered with references to the courthouse bomb and to the vexed issue of the Irish backstop, the mechanism agreed by the United Kingdom and the European Union to ensure that the current frictionless border between Northern Ireland and the Republic—a key ingredient of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 that ended thirty years of violence in Northern Ireland—will remain in place after the UK leaves the EU.


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  • Compromising Brexit: The Challenge for May – and Corbyn

    It is just possible that the British Parliament might eventually be able to agree a compromise on how Britain should leave the European Union. But which of the country’s warring politicians might be able to secure such a compromise remains almost impossible to fathom.

    The problem is that the two most important figures in this debate, Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, appear unwilling and unable to compromise.


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  • May's Brexit Deal Stumbles in Parliament. Now She is Fighting to Save Her Government.

    A little over two months remain until the United Kingdom is to leave the European Union (EU) and yet the manner of Britain’s exit seems more unclear than at any time since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

    The UK Parliament on January 15 rejected by a vote of 432 to 202 the Withdrawal Agreement British Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU.


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  • The Brexit Uncertainty that Worries Ireland

    DUBLIN — What does breastmilk have to do with Brexit? If you’re in Ireland, it’s an unexpectedly symbolic illustration of past and prospectively future divisions within the island of Ireland – and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

    The South West Acute Hospital at Enniskillen, in the British province of Northern Ireland, hosts the only bank of breast milk for neonatal units both in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.


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  • May's Brexit Deal Faces Another Test. What If It Fails?

    British members of Parliament will finally get a vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiated deal with the European Union setting the terms for Brexit. British government officials announced on January 7 that a vote on the deal would occur on January 15, after a similar vote was cancelled on December 11 as the government feared it did not have the votes to pass the deal.


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  • Turkey's Energy Nexus-Discoveries and Developments

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    As the fastest growing energy market in the OECD over the past decade and a country dependent on imports for almost all of its hydrocarbon demand, Turkey’s energy sector carries regional implications. Securing a reliable and affordable source of energy, through diversification and increased domestic production, has formed the cornerstone of Turkey’s energy policy. In a special issue, jointly published with Turkish Policy Quarterly, the Atlantic Council IN TURKEY explores the changing energy dynamics in Turkey and the region. Including contributions from six Atlantic Council Global Energy Center experts and officials from the US State Department and Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, the issue analyzes the key trends shaping changes in the energy sector from Iran and Iraq to the Caspian and Mediterranean as well as the ongoing transition to clean energy.

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  • British Prime Minister Theresa May: Victorious But Still Trapped in a Minefield

    UK Prime Minister Theresa May survived a December 12 attempted coup to unseat her by her own Conservative Party. But with no clear path ahead concerning Britain’s exit from the European Union, she’s only navigated the first few yards of a mile-wide minefield. 

    On Brexit, her own party is split, parliament is split, and the country is split. There is no prospective outcome – whether for May’s deal to leave the EU, or for some putative new deal, or for no deal whatsoever, or for remaining within the EU – that commands a natural majority. 

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  • Brexit and the Irish Backstop: The Fear that Dare Not Speak its Name

    British Prime Minister Theresa May on December 10 decided not to call a long-expected vote on her plan to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union (EU). The underlying reason is continued controversy over the so-called Irish backstop—a fall-back plan that would maintain an open border on the island of Ireland if the UK leaves the EU without securing a deal. But while there is a mountain of controversy over the backstop mechanism itself, and whether it might lock the UK, against its will, into a near permanent customs union with the EU, there is virtually no discussion of the underlying political—and security—rationale for the backstop.

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  • Don't Be Fooled, Parliament is Still in Control in Britain

    Britain appears to be consumed by the chaos of its complex negotiations in the wake of its 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union. But if the government is floundering, then parliamentary democracy and accountability are flourishing.

    There is a vibrancy in the way in which Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly come before the House of Commons to deliver statements and face tough interrogation, often from members of her own Conservative Party. There are the intense discussions amongst parliamentarians on what course of action should be taken if, as it is generally assumed, the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement with the EU is rejected in a key vote scheduled for December 11. And while Brexit dominates headlines, Parliament’s power, as well as its influence, was demonstrated most unusually a few days ago when a US businessman was escorted to Parliament and compelled to hand over documents on Facebook’s activities as part of a committee inquiry into fake news.

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  • Three Pipelines and Three Seas: BRUA, TAP, the IAP and Gasification in Southeast Europe

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    In a new report, Three Pipelines and the Three Seas: BRUA, TAP, the IAP and Gasification in Southeast Europe, Global Energy Center Fellow John Roberts takes a comprehensive look at the state of gas infrastructure and interconnections throughout southeast Europe.

    Integration in the region, which includes countries that were formerly members of the Warsaw Pact, is crucially important not just for economic development and the further integration of the European gas market, but also as a bulwark against reliance on Russian gas supplies. Interconnection offers options and liquidity—crucial for competition and energy security.

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