Thursday, 19 July 2018

Is it time to kick America out of NATO?

Donald Trump threatened to pull the United States out of NATO at last week's summit in Brussels. Perhaps European leaders should call his bluff. A European Treaty Organisation may be the only logical way forward.

As Donald Trump stood beside Vladimir Putin on Monday and stated that he believes the Russian president over his own intelligence agencies, you could feel a collective shudder pass across Europe.

"If Trump isn't even willing to side with his own intelligence agencies over Russia right now, why would anyone think he would side with us?” one Latvian friend sent me in a text. “NATO is finished. And if NATO is finished, Latvia is finished".

There has been much speculation since Monday over why Trump would defy his own intelligence, his own party and even his own advisors in refusing to acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election. But whatever the reason, Trump’s summit with Putin, immediately following his aggressive attacks on NATO in Brussels, have left many Europeans with only one conclusion: we’re on our own now.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Will Cyprus stay in perpetual division?

With EU-Turkey relations at an all-time low, the reunification of Cyprus seems like a distant prospect. This week I saw an island where the frozen conflict has become largely normalized. Unlike in Berlin, this wall doesn't look like its falling any time soon.

Sometimes, old wounds just won't heal. So it is with the island of Cyprus, where a 180 kilometer scar runs from shore to shore, and has been festering for four decades.

I visited the island for the first time this week, and those wounds were on display right from the start. As my plane flew across Greek Cyprus, over the capital Nicosia, I could see the giant Turkish flag painted on the mountains to the north, taunting the Greeks. It reminded me of the Alexanderplatz TV Tower in Berlin, built to be unavoidably visible everywhere in West Berlin during the Cold War.

The trip was, admittedly, somewhat of a box-checking exercise. Of the 32 European Union and EFTA countries, there are three left that I haven't visited - Cyprus, Slovenia and Romania. I'm heading to Slovenia next month for a conference, and have resolved to do a weekend in Bucharest before the year is done. Then - I win?

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

I’ve had an abortion

On 25 May, Ireland will hold a referendum central to its self-image in the 21st century. This week guest blogger Jen Baker explains why she's hosting a fundraiser to Repeal the 8th in Brussels next Tuesday.

I’ve had an abortion.

It was awful, painful - both physically and psychologically - and not something I would wish on anyone. And it was absolutely the right choice for me.

My normal contraception had failed and I was left with a stark choice, neither option particularly appealing. But at least I had a choice. In Ireland abortion is illegal under the 8th Amendment. Because of this, every single day women and girls who may have suffered rape or incest, have life-threatening healthcare issues while being pregnant or, simply like me, have found themselves with an unwanted pregnancy are forced to travel abroad to seek care.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Monday, 26 February 2018

In rejecting spitzenkandidaten, Macron has let the perfect be the enemy of the good

National leaders, led by Emmanuel Macron, have refused a European Parliament demand that citizens should select the next EU president. The reasons have more to do with institutional rivalries than citizens’ interests.

“Don’t count your spitzens before they hatch,” tweeted Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė ominously as she entered Friday’s summit of EU leaders in Brussels. 

The Lithuanian president was referring to the so-called ‘spitzenkandidaten’ process, used in the last European Parliament elections in 2014 for the first time to select the European Commission President as a result of the public vote. National leaders of the 27 future EU member states (that is, all except the UK) were meeting Friday to decide whether to use the process again in next year’s election.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The latest on Brexit and German coalition formation

As Brexit negotiations continue in Brussels and coalition negotiations continue in Berlin, Tyson Barker and I discuss what's next for both of these contentious talks in this month's Brussels2Berlin podcast.