The Week Ahead: 30 April – 6 May 2018

The Week Ahead: 30 April – 6 May 2018

The EU releases budget as it struggles with Brexit reality. Lebanon votes in parliamentary elections. Korea negotiations face skepticism. All in The Week Ahead. 

EUROPEAN UNION: Budget released as EU faces EU reality

  • This Wednesday, the EU Budget Commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, will release the preliminary budget for the period of 2021-2027. This budget will potentially be subject to years of political wrangling as member states, EU commissioners, and the European Parliament fight over the core components of approximately €1 trillion in spending.
  • The three key components consist of filling the budgetary hole left by Brexit, reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and determining where and how to allocate the EU’s cohesion spending (spending in support of less-developed member states). Some of these components are interrelated. For example, the UK withdrawal from the EU affects overall cohesion policy spending, but it also eliminates western Wales and Cornwall as recipients of cohesion spending.
  • There are also clear divisions among EU member states as far as fiscal policy . Both France and Germany are prepared to pay more to strengthen the European Union, while countries such as Austria, Sweden, and Denmark are advocating for tighter purse strings. As negotiations progress, the chasm between these states is likely to widen.

GRI Take: With 2 of the large 4 EU partners strongly supporting more spending and the other two indifferent (though this could change depending on Italy’s coalition government), there will likely be increased spending despite Brexit.

LEBANON: Parliamentary elections for first time in nearly 10 years

  • On Sunday, Lebanon will vote for the first time since 2009 following several suspended elections, the resignation (and un-resignation) of the president, and substantial unrest. Lebanon’s confessional political system apportions political power between Christian and Muslim groups in parliament, creating a unique situation in electoral politics. As a result, much of the electoral conflict has occurred and will continue to occur along religious lines.
  • Hezbollah and other religious groups are slated to gain substantial numbers due to the new constituency lines and proportional representation system. The new system is likely to entrench the power of current major political parties in both religious groups. In addition, one of the biggest questions is whether or not younger voters will actually vote; the garbage crisis in Beirut continues unabated and political parties continue to focus their attention on issues that are not shared by voters.

GRI Take:  Low turnout and the consolidation of support for Hezbollah could further destabilize Lebanon’s already precarious political situation.

KOREA: Negotiations now need to turn rhetoric into reality

  • Last week, several unprecedented events took place on the Korean Peninsula: the leader of North Korea traveled to South Korea, the leaders of North and South Korea shook hands and spoke together before the world press, and the two leaders signed a declaration ending the war between the two and calling for the de-nuclearization of Korean peninsula.
  • Around the world, representatives from Europe, the United States, Russia, China, and other major nations sent out praise on the meetings and signing of the commitment to de-nuclearize Korea. However, many have expressed deep skepticism at the motives and follow-through from North Korea. This week, the two sides will engage in ongoing talks.
  • On Tuesday, the two sides are slated to stop sending propaganda across one another’s borders, and family reunification events are now likely to occur in mid-August. The absence of details on a de-nuclearized peninsula has led to doubt at the ultimate success of the arrangement: in past instances North Korea has indicated it would only end its nuclear program if U.S. troops were removed from South Korea.

GRI Take: Those observing the negotiations will wait for more concrete details on what the North Korean government expresses its goals to be and how the country can be held accountable. One element of these negotiations that has not received sufficient attention thus far is that as a truce becomes closer, the likelihood of an actual unification of the two countries becomes more remote. Understanding the economic and political implications of this is crucial if the two sides actually reach a longstanding and sustainable agreement.

Stay ahead of the news cycle with GRI. Drawing on expert knowledge and local sources, The Week Ahead provides analytical foresight on the consequences of key upcoming political developments.

This edition of The Week Ahead was produced by GRI Senior Analyst Brian Daigle and Senior Editor Luke Iott.

About Author

Luke Iott

Luke currently works as an international development professional. He has extensive project experience in financial services and enterprise development across Europe, Asia and Africa. Luke holds a BA in international relations, cum laude, from Georgetown University and is particularly interested in the intersection of science, technology and international affairs. He is proficient in French, German, Spanish and Mandarin.