Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Who do you call to speak to Europe?

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- Obama on the phone

Obama on the phone

Who do you call when you want to speak to Europe? The question, long attributed to Henry Kissinger, has yet to be answered convincingly by the 27-country European Union.

Six months ago, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told a news conference the person to call on foreign policy issues was Catherine Ashton, who had just been chosen as the European Union’s foreign affairs chief.  The “so-called Kissinger issue is now solved”, he said.

Ashton reinforced that view on Monday by suggesting she was the person to call if Iran wanted to discuss the latest diplomatic moves on its nuclear programme. “They have my phone number,” she said.

But Barroso was more vague at the news conference last November when asked whom U.S. President Barack Obama should call if he wanted to speak to the EU. He pointed out that the EU was not one country, like the United States, China or Russia — implying they each had one clear leader. He seemed to be saying that the person you have to call depends on circumstances or the nature of the problem a foreign leader wishes to discuss.

Deja vu? EU ministers meet on Greece

- Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou kisses French counterpart Christine Lagarde

Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou kisses French counterpart Christine Lagarde

 

How many meetings does it take for the European Union to
solve a problem? Quite a few — at least in the case of Greece’s
debt crisis
and preventing it from spreading to other euro zone
countries.

Searching for silver in Greece’s storm clouds

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Greece and the euro zone are still very much in the midst of a debt and deficit storm, with not just Athens but possibly Portugal and Spain at risk of being swept up in the maelstrom.

But that hasn’t stopped economists and political analysts looking for a silver lining in this unprecedented meltdown.

from Emily Flitter:

A spiral for Europe?

Quelling the European debt crisis will take more than just a bailout package for Greece, says one expert in financial contagion. Other countries with shaky fiscal profiles need to get their finances in order--and fast. 

 Lasse Pedersen, a professor of finance at New York University's Stern School of Business, has made a close study of liquidity spirals in financial markets, and he sees parallels between his work and the European crisis. 

from UK News:

Ash-stranded 2,000 kilometres from home – Tuesday update

* 1600 euros the quoted fare for taxi from Barcelona to Perpignan

* Train from Perpignan cancelled, but we blag our way on to Paris-bound service

* Chaos in Calais

Original post: “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake!”

That quote from "Withnail and I" has been rattling around my brain for the last few days as I’ve looked for a way to complete the 2,000 kilometres (1,243 miles) or so from the small town I’ve been staying in south of Valencia, Spain, and my home in London.

I’ve spent most of the last 72 hours on the internet, searching in vain for reasonably priced car hire, bus, train and ferry tickets.

Lapland’s part in EU foreign policy

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Last weekend, Finland’s foreign minister gathered six of his colleagues and the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, in the frozen far reaches of Lapland for two days of talks on the future of European foreign policy.

As informal ministerial gatherings go, it was a rather jolly (if cold) affair, complete with a ‘family photo’ taken with a pair of nervous reindeer, a chance to see the northern lights and activities such as skiing, sledging and snow-mobiling. Some of the ministers even brought along their families.

Does Washington care about the EU?

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Try as it might, the European Union’s efforts to act like a bigger player in world affairs keep running into obstacles.

The latest setback is a report that President Barack Obama won’t be able to make it to the annual EU-U.S. summit this year, pencilled in for Madrid in May. A hectic domestic agenda and the fact the U.S. president made 10 foreign trips last year — more than any other president in his first year in office — means staying at home is the priority and the Europe Union will have to wait.

Will EU ever move on from “soft touch” diplomacy?

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- Miguel Angel Moratinos (centre)

Miguel Angel Moratinos (centre)

Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos recalled this week that it had been said of the previous U.S. administration that what American diplomacy needed was “regime change”. Europeans, meanwhile, he said, simply needed “a regime”.

America got its regime change with President Barack Obama, Moratinos explained this week, while Europeans got a new regime with the Lisbon treaty, a document that is supposed to help bolster the EU on the world stage and creates a more powerful foreign policy chief for the bloc.

‘Dinnergate’ perks up German campaign

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The German election campaign has so far lacked the riveting debates and explosive issues to which voters were treated in previous battles for power, perhaps because Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rival, Vice-Chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier, have worked together in the same “grand coalition” government for the past four years and neither party seems especially eager to rock the boat.

Filling the void have been several somewhat bizarre little scandals that each side has tried to use to tarnish the other, taking pot shots without resorting to full firepower. They are, after all, partners in power.

It’s all the fault of those people who work and save too much

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One thing we’ve learnt from the crisis is that if something sounds funny it probably is. All that talk about slicing and dicing subprime debt to turn it into triple-A securities was hard to understand at the time and now we know it was just the 21st century equivalent of alchemy.

The current debate about the responsibility that surplus countries like China, Germany and Japan share for the crisis has a similar ring.

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