African migration: From polarization to win-win
With this year’s European Parliament elections, the EU may be approaching a watershed moment on migration. Voters and politicians are questioning the fundamental assumptions of globalized approaches like the UN Compact on Migration and the EU Trust Fund for Africa, which may do more to encourage than curb the migrant influx. But “outsourcing” management of migration flows to transit countries may only increase Europe’s vulnerability to political shocks in buffer states like Sudan, Libya or Algeria.
Reforming the African Union
Bucking the world trend, Africa in 2018 was marked by important advances toward free movement, free trade and closer cooperation between states. The main advances were on the economic front, with the agreement to create a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). While trade liberalization has the potential to be transformative for Africa, disparate stages of development, protectionist impulses and political tensions may prevent meaningful advances.
Thank you, Mr. Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump is right that both the EU and China use unfair trade practices. Now, his threats to impose tariffs on European goods – hypocritically branded “protectionist” by many countries with higher trade barriers – have brought EU officials to the negotiating table. Perhaps the EU will finally engage in freer trade, to the benefit of Europe and the world.
Brexit scenarios: Toward the endgame
Prime Minister Theresa May has bowed to economic reality and unveiled a Brexit model that would keep the United Kingdom close to the European Union. The move provoked an immediate cabinet crisis and the resignations of leading Brexiters. Fear of a Labour government will probably keep other Conservatives in line, but Ms. May’s survival also hinges on the EU accepting her new strategy. Otherwise, a hard Brexit is plausible.
A free and open Indo-Pacific: Regional and global implications
One of the techniques devised for managing China’s ascent and its destabilizing impact is the concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” This idea, embraced by the governments of Japan, India and the United States, includes military, economic, political, legal and diplomatic dimensions. Some argue it is a smoke screen to mask U.S. disengagement, while others maintain it is a Japanese-inspired effort to enlist American help.
2018 Global Outlook: World trade
After a surprisingly good 2017, world trade should do even better this year. But that doesn’t mean that Europe and the United States can afford to be passive. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which will turn most of Asia into a privileged trade zone, demands a choice – either join the initiative or promote free trade outside it. For now, the West is doing neither.
2018 Global Outlook: The Euro-Atlantic relationship
The transatlantic relationship can be described as a family matter – with the United States as the mostly benevolent patriarch and Europe as the dependent relatives. Relations had been cooling for at least a decade, but this process is being expedited by the presidency of Donald Trump. Both sides seem to agree that Europe needs to grow up and take charge of its own destiny. If so, we could be headed for a stormy late adolescence.
Palm oil, Russian fighters and the European Parliament
Indonesia, the world’s largest exporter of palm oil, has been clearing significant areas of its tropical forests to make room for palm plantations. The EU is alarmed and wants to discourage the policy by reducing palm oil imports. This counterproductive approach to preventing tropical deforestation already has backfired.
Brexit and the sunset of European influence in Asia-Pacific
Though the Asia-Pacific region seems too far away to be affected by Brexit, the UK’s departure from the EU will have a profound impact on the region. While it will reduce the bloc’s significance in the region’s affairs, the UK’s status may suffer as well. Asia-Pacific states will likely look to countries such as Germany to act as a new counterweight to China and the United States.
Scenarios for unification in the Balkans
Calls to redraw the map in the Balkans are again being made. This time, Serbia is proposing an integrated economic area, while Albania and Kosovo are raising the possibility of unification. Neither scenario is likely to occur, because each could lead to renewed conflict. But as states wait for progress toward EU membership, loose confederations based on Serbia and Albania could form, dividing the region into two clear geopolitical spheres.