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  • Author: Milan Elkerbout
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement represents a setback for global climate action. But the damage will be felt more in political and diplomatic terms than in terms of climate policy or reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which depend at least in the near term on domestic climate policies. The election of Donald Trump and the strong Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress that accompanied his election immediately dispelled any hope that the US would implement or maintain ambitious climate policies. Indeed, in the first months of his Presidency, Trump signed an executive order to review (and thus likely roll back) President Obama’s landmark climate policy – the Clean Power Plan. The latter initiative aimed to reduce power-sector emissions by 32% by 2030 through federal legislation. Other US climate policies, such as vehicle standards and methane regulations, are also destined for the axe. Taken collectively, these measures will make it very difficult for the country to meet its Paris pledge of reducing GHG emissions by 26-28% by 2025 compared to 2005, even if another personality occupies the White House by 2021. 1 Improving fundamentals for renewable energy may still allow the US to reach its 2020 target of a 17% reduction in emissions compared to 2005. But the difference between this target and the formal pledge made by the US in Paris is roughly equal to the annual emissions of the entire transport sector in the EU.
  • Topic: Climate Change, International Affairs, Climate Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Gros
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: For years, the eurozone has been perceived as a disaster area, with discussions of the monetary union’s future often centred on a possible breakup. When the British voted to leave the European Union last year, they were driven partly by the perception of the eurozone as a dysfunctional and possibly unsalvageable project. Yet, lately, the eurozone has become the darling of financial markets – and for good reason. The discovery of the eurozone’s latent strength was long overdue. Indeed, the eurozone has been recovering from the crisis of 2011-12 for several years. On a per capita basis, its economic growth now outpaces that of the United States. The unemployment rate is also declining – more slowly than in the US, to be sure, but that partly reflects a divergence in labour-force participation trends.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Mikkel Barslund
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: CEPS researchers Mikkel Barslund, Mehtap Akgüç, Nadzeya Laurentsyeva and Lars Ludolph are among the contributors to the 2017 MEDAM Assessment Report on Asylum and Migration Policies in Europe, produced by the Mercator Dialogue on Asylum and Migration (MEDAM). The report explores ways in which responsibility for refugees can be fairly distributed – globally and within the EU – and how we can curb irregular migration while expanding legal immigration to the benefit of all concerned. CEPS is one of three research institutes working on this multi-year project, alongside the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute. For more information on the MEDAM project, which is funded by Stiftung Mercator
  • Topic: Migration, Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mikkel Barslund, Lars Ludolph
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This paper argues that none of the secular trends that have driven down real interest rates over the past two decades is likely to reverse in the near future. Thus, real rates can be expected to remain low and government debt-servicing costs to decrease further over the coming years. Based on these findings, the authors calculate direct gains accruing to the Belgian government from lower net debt interest payments. The savings on interest payments are then contrasted with the projected future increases in age-related expenditures on pensions, education and long-term care. The findings indicate that, if savings on interest payments are channelled to cover the increases in age-related expenditures, they will fully offset financing needs in these areas until 2030. The calculations are robust to a moderate increase in interest rates.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Belgium
  • Author: Brad W. Setser
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The global impact of oil’s fall from $100 plus to under $50 a barrel has not gotten as much attention as I think it deserves. For most oil exporters, it has been a profound shock—one that forced such a massive contraction in imports that it pulled down global trade (far more than the trade remedies that tend to dominate the ‘trade” news). A few countries adjusted quickly and relatively efficiently (Russia), though not painlessly. A few have struggled to adapt—notably, because of its large external debt, poor policies, and growing political crisis, Venezuela.
  • Topic: Oil, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Zvi Magen, Udi Dekel
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The arrangement between the United States and Russia over southern Syria represents a test, both for the chances of jumpstarting a coordinated process between the world powers over a future settlement in Syria and for the relations between them on other contested issues. Israel was not mentioned in the context of the ceasefire arrangement, but it has scored several achievements. Nonetheless, Israel is likely to confront an attempt by President Assad to advance forces to southwest Syria and the Golan Heights. Because Assad’s forces rely on help from Iran’s proxies – Shiite militias and Hezbollah – Israel may have to fulfill a counter-threat if any of the red lines it announced are crossed.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: Olli Ruohomäki
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Finnish Institute for International Affairs
  • Abstract: Despite the complexity Afghanistan entails, it is possible to outline the main contours of the fragmented reality and geopolitical fault lines that inform the situation on the ground. It is with this in mind that this Briefing Paper examines the cur- rent state of affairs in Afghanistan with a focus on the highly contentious politics, precarious security situation and the role of the difficult neighbourhood. The paper concludes with reflections regarding the prospects for peace, which do not appear promising.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Taliban, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Thomas Wright
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The 2016 US presidential election is the most consequential election for international order since the Second World War. America’s status as a liberal superpower is on the ballot. To understand Donald Trump’s foreign policy, we must distinguish between his three core beliefs that he has held for many decades and rarely if ever waivered from, the central themes of his campaign, and other issues. His core beliefs are opposition to America’s alliance arrangements, opposition to free trade, and support for authoritarianism, particularly in Russia. If he is elected president and governs in a manner consistent with these beliefs, the United States will be transformed from the leader of a liberal international order into a rogue superpower that withdraws from its international commitments, undermines the open global economy, and partners with Putin’s Russia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: IN EARLY 2017, Iraqi security forces (ISF) are likely to liberate Mosul from Islamic State control. But given the dramatic comebacks staged by the Islamic State and its predecessors in the city in 2004, 2007, and 2014, one can justifiably ask what will stop IS or a similar movement from lying low, regenerating, and wiping away the costly gains of the current war. This paper aims to fill an important gap in the literature on Mosul, the capital of Ninawa province, by looking closely at the underexplored issue of security arrangements for the city after its liberation, in particular how security forces should be structured and controlled to prevent an IS recurrence. Though “big picture” political deals over Mosul’s future may ultimately be decisive, the first priority of the Iraqi-international coalition is to secure Mosul. As John Paul Vann, a U.S. military advisor in Vietnam, noted decades ago: “Security may be ten percent of the problem, or it may be ninety percent, but whichever it is, it’s the first ten percent or the first ninety percent. Without security, nothing else we do will last.”
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Defense Policy, International Security, Reconstruction, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Pierre Vimont
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Painfully and hesitatingly, the EU has managed to stem its migration crisis, regaining control of its borders and ensuring a dramatic drop in the flow of migrants. Yet, the migration issue is not going away, and the political debate around it persists. Europeans need to work together in a field where in the past they have been eager to act on their own; and they must define an integrated policy based on a genuine sense of solidarity.
  • Topic: Migration
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union