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Europe Politics

Germany’s Recent Election: The Unlikely Power Brokers

The opening of Germany’s 20th legislative period on 26th October 2021 made headlines for many of the reasons most German Bundestag elections do – Germany’s global economic might and political influence in the EU, the world’s largest trading bloc. It also signalled the departure of the country’s longstanding Chancellor, Angela Merkel, as the head of the government, having held the position since 2005. However, aside from the long-anticipated exit of one of Europe’s most familiar political figures, this election also marks the consolidation of political trends set in motion long before voters cast their ballots this September.

Europe Security

Ukraine: In the Middle of Great Power Politics

Under pro-Western President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine has made substantial progress in its drive for EU and NATO membership. However, domestic successes have been overshadowed by the increasingly difficult international position Kiev finds itself in. Russia remains a security threat as the frozen conflict in the Donbass persists; yet the US appears to be pulling support, most notably by lifting sanctions concerning Nord Stream 2. China, a major trading partner and vital vaccine supplier, is offering a hand to Ukraine. But at what cost?  

Europe Politics

French Cultural Pass Encourages Youth to Spend on the Arts

On May 21st 2021, French president Emmanuel Macron announced the Culture Pass. This program  provides €300 to all 18 year olds with the provision that it must be spent on French culture. This money will promote French culture among the nation’s youth and support an industry hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Europe Politics

Rutte for Fourth Term? Splintered Dutch Political Landscape

Approaching 7 months since the last Dutch general election, new cabinet formations have been marred by internal struggles, ministerial scandals, and political betrayals hampering party leaders from partaking in constructive discussions. The current and now demissionary Rutte III cabinet holds the record for the longest cabinet formation in Dutch history: a whopping 225 days, a situation politicians hoped they would never encounter again. However, Rutte’s aspirations to become the Netherlands longest-serving Prime Minister, in combination with the country’s fragmented political landscape, means Dutch citizens must brace themselves for a long formation if not new elections. Recent breakthroughs to restart the current coalition have signaled a possible end to formations, but if it falls through, new elections are inevitable.

Europe Finance

Towards a Digital Euro: What Does It Mean for the Safety of Europe?

The digitalization of the economy and the rapid spread of virtual currencies have created unprecedented opportunities for cross-border illicit activities. The most recent proposal of the European Central Bank for the development of a central bank digital currency is no exception. Known as a digital euro, the project is envisioned to differ from crypto-assets and stable coins in its centralized oversight and control of digital transactions. Hence, by allowing a central banking authority to monitor and verify online transactions, a digital euro could facilitate the fight against organized crime in the EU. Yet, the currently proposed design possibilities of a digital euro reveal vulnerabilities to compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations, as well as pose a significant threat to the safety of children in the digital space. 

Europe Security

The Afghanistan Withdrawal’s Impact on the EU’s Strategic Autonomy

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan throws the NATO alliance’s sustainability into a state of flux.  European policymakers may pursue a more deliberate course toward strategic autonomy if they determine that America is no longer a credible partner.  Some quarters consider  independent European security to be an impractical overcorrection given Europe’s capability deficiencies.  The withdrawal from Afghanistan provides the opportunity for transatlantic policymakers to reassess NATO’s strategic priorities. 

Economics Europe Leadership Series Politics

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.