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The Gatekeeper for PM David Cameron: An Interview with Kate Fall 

GRI’s co-founder Basim Al-Ahmadi sat down via Zoom with Kate Fall to discuss her pivotal role as Deputy Chief of Staff under Prime Minister David Cameron.

Europe Power Brokers

Fidesz-Managed Foundations Assume Control of Hungary’s Higher Education System

Through a recent $1.7 billion allocation (comprised of government funds and various property assets) to the privately managed foundation, Mathias Corvinus Collegium (M.C.C.), Victor Orban has expanded the mandate of his governing party, Fidesz, to include the unilateral administration of Hungary’s university system. The immensity of the monetary transfer coupled with the deliberate inclusion of private, Fidesz adjacent interests represent the further consolidation of Orban’s autocratic power and jeopardize institutional legitimacy through unfettered kleptocratic corruption. Though the geopolitical implications cannot yet be quantified, the impact of Orban’s flagrant, politically motivated annexation of Hungarian higher education on capital markets and electoral politics could, potentially, be significant.

Europe Politics

Slow EU Enlargement Affords Hungary Leverage

Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania have agreed to a border-free travel zone between their countries. Although it is an effort to open up their economies following the COVID-19 pandemic, the regional initiative also reflects frustration with the European Union for its slow accession process. Meanwhile, in taking over the Visegrad Group presidency, Hungary has made Balkan EU accession one of its key priorities. This puts Hungary in a strong political position. The risk of a migration crisis in Europe following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan means that the EU has little choice but to intensify its enlargement agenda.

Environment Europe Insights

Antitrust fines in the EU signal progress on emissions standards

On the 8th of July 2021 the European Commission announced that it had imposed a €875 million fine on a group of German car manufacturers for conspiring to limit the development of clean emissions technology. This is the 7th largest fine ever imposed by the body and demonstrates the EU’s hard-line response to the car industry’s flagrant disregard of international environmental law. Daimler’s decision to alert the Commission to the cartel in order to avoid fines under the 2006 Leniency Notice suggests that new regulatory frameworks are effectively discouraging cartels.

Europe Politics

United Kingdom – Northern Ireland Protocol Complicates Trade Negotiations

The status of Northern Ireland (NI) has consistently been one of the most contentious aspects of Brexit. The tenuous political quagmire, combined with the fact that it hosts the only land border between the UK and the EU, has caused a plethora of economic and sociopolitical problems. In an attempt to prevent the creation of a hard land border in Ireland, the UK elected to let NI remain part of the EU single market. While this has prevented dividing Ireland, it has strained relations between NI and the rest of the UK.

Europe Security

The political implications of Switzerland’s F-35 acquisition

Switzerland has finally selected Lockheed Martin’s F-35A for its Air Force 2030 program. The deal, with 36 aircraft, is expected to be worth $6.5 billion. Critics have argued that the F-35, with its sophisticated stealth and networking capabilities, is too much for a small country like Switzerland that requires only an air-policing aircraft. The decision to select the F-35 exemplifies how much politics are involved in purchasing military hardware worth billions of dollars.

Europe Politics

“There Are Such People” in Bulgaria’s Parliament

The new Bulagrian party There are Such People (ITN), led by the former late-night TV show host Slavi Trifonov and his screenwriters, entered the political scene with a bang. It secured more than 17 percent of the vote in the last parliamentary elections, but curiously refused to form a government when given the mandate. The party also did not participate in any traditional media campaigns instead choosing to utilise social media platforms. It is important to understand the rise of ITN as well as what this political phenomenon means for political life in Bulgaria, given the upcoming snap parliamentary elections in July.

Covid-19 Europe

The Netherlands Struggles to Find Political Stability as Polarisation Increases

Amid the pandemic, Dutch politics have become increasingly tumultuous. Its parliamentary elections in March touted the largest number of parties on the Dutch ballots since the 1940s. Additionally, a public awareness of a myriad of socio-political issues and a relatively high voter turnout possibly reflect a more diverse political landscape. Yet, the fallout from last year’s childcare benefit scandal, and renewed discussions about political transparency have impaired ongoing formation talks.

Europe Natural resources and energy

Energy Transition in the European Union: Great Challenges and Opportunities

Transition towards low carbon energy systems remains to be a challenge for the European Union. Europe is faced with economic, social and environmental costs of having fragmented national energy markets despite the ambitious “European Green Deal” agenda of Von der Leyen’s Commission, which positions the EU as a leader in global climate action through comprehensive decarbonization policies. A net reduction target of minimum 55% from the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions was  agreed on Wednesday 21st of April by European co-legislators under the framework for European Climate Law. Nonetheless, curbing GHG emissions necessitates regional concerted action for transition from fossil fuel economies to renewable energy based systems in order to face the transboundary effects of climate change. 

Europe Security

Why Turkey Could Help us Understand Putin’s Intentions in Ukraine

Russia has staged the largest mobilisation along the eastern Ukrainian border since the Annexation of Crimea in 2014. Iuliia Mendel, spokesperson for the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, stated that Moscow had stationed more than 40,000 soldiers near the separatist-held region of Donbas along with an additional 9,000 in Crimea. The sudden increase of Russian military presence in the region comes amid deepening defence cooperation between Turkey and Ukraine. This development in the Ukraine conflict follows a pattern of strategic rivalry between Ankara and Moscow in Libya and Syria. Although on opposing sides in each of these crises, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, share the same geopolitical goal of undermining Western pre-eminence in the post-Cold War system of international relations. Initiative in defence and security in the conduct of relations that Moscow and Ankara exercise with third countries means it is likely the crisis in eastern Ukraine will intensify.