Libya and the Franco-Italian rivalry
In North Africa, France and Italy share vital national interests on migration, terrorism and energy. Yet profound differences on tackling these issues – rooted in history and leadership styles – has put them in direct competition, and even led to a diplomatic crisis earlier this year. Nowhere is the rivalry more visible than in Libya, where it is delaying a resolution to that country’s civil war.
Opinion: The overhauled but directionless Franco-German tandem
When French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel signed a new Franco-German treaty in Charlemagne’s old imperial capital of Aachen earlier this year, the outcome was underwhelming. The ambitious goals that were set also seem entirely unrealistic, given the countries’ increasing divergence on policy. That means fears of a dominant Franco-German tandem in the EU are unfounded, but so are hopes that it will lead the bloc out of its current doldrums.
A year of change for the European Union?
The European Union, which still lacks a post-Brexit vision of itself, will be changing the leadership of almost all its leading institutions over the next few months. Candidates are already jostling for position to take over at the European Commission and the European Central Bank, and surprises could be in store. With non-mainstream parties likely to gain seats in the May European Parliament elections, the EU-27 seems headed for even less harmony and more dissension.
2019 Global Outlook: The volatile Moscow-Kiev-Brussels triangle
In 2019, the geopolitical interplay between Russia, Ukraine and Europe will depend on their leaders. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin will have to decide whether to continue his assertive foreign policy. In Ukraine, the presidential election could bring the mercurial Yulia Tymoshenko to power – how she will deal with the war in the east remains a mystery. In Europe, the Franco-German alliance is losing traction. Rifts in the EU will deepen, making it impossible to present a united front on the challenges Russia and Ukraine present.
2019 Global Outlook: Economic reform in France
Another year, another missed opportunity for fiscal reform in France. Like his predecessors, President Emmanuel Macron has ended up mostly raising taxes instead of decreasing the size of government and reducing expenditures. The “national dialogue” to come following the Yellow Vest protests could bring better democratic representation – and with it, more economically responsible governance. But entrenched interests will put up stiff opposition.
2019 Global Outlook: Europe’s year of living dangerously
There are plenty of signs of trouble ahead for the European Union in 2019. Unstable leadership, rampant populism, strikes and demonstrations, migration disputes, security challenges, Brexit, an economic slowdown and the makings of another financial crisis are just a few of the challenges that await. For EU institutions, perhaps the biggest test will come with the European Parliament elections in May, which could overturn the grand coalition that has governed the bloc since the 1980s.
Opinion: Yellow Vests are a symptom of France’s dysfunctional democracy
With the Yellow Vest protests, France has finally fractured between its metropolitan areas and a resentful low-wage periphery. What started as a tax revolt has become a diffuse and unstructured uprising against an unaccountable ruling caste. Many of the movement’s demands would only perpetuate France’s administrative and social centralism, yet its appearance shows that this political model may no longer be sustainable.
GIS Dossier: Angela Merkel
When Angela Merkel finishes her term as German chancellor in 2021, it will mark the end of an era. Love her or hate her, this shrewd political operator has had a huge impact on Germany, Europe and the wider geopolitical scene. This GIS Dossier compiles our experts’ analysis of her policies and the effects they have had across the globe.
Migration and Europe
Judging by the declining numbers of new migrants, Europe is no longer facing an acute immigration crisis. But you would never know it from the decision by the European Council in June to set up holding camps for asylum seekers. Instead, the get-tough policy of EU leaders is increasingly driven by domestic political pressures.
Redressing the European position
In urging Europe to become stronger, politicians like French President Emmanuel Macron and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas are right. But their statements sound more like expressions of defiance toward Washington than serious declarations of intent.