Blogs

Three potentially costly miscalculations

Author: 
11 Oct 2018
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Region: 
UK

The Democratic Unionist Party has threatened to vote down the budget if it does not like what the UK government proposes for the Irish backstop in the Brexit negotiation. The response from Downing Street has been partly bluster – claiming that under the terms of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, voting down a budget won’t cause the government to fall – and partly to call the DUP’s bluff, based on the belief that the DUP has more to fear from a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn than anyone else.

The IPCC in a worsening political climate

Author: 
10 Oct 2018
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Region: 
Multilateral

On Monday, the International Panel on Climate Change released its most important report in recent years: the prosaically titled Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. The good news is that the report’s authors conclude that limiting warming to 1.5°C is still technically possible. Otherwise, the news is mostly bad. The report outlines both how urgently and how radically policymakers would need to act to meet the 1.5°C target. Time is running out, so why is climate change struggling to get a hearing? There is a plethora of reasons, but an age of populism is arguably bringing three to the fore: problems of association, communication and prescription.

No more clutching at straws - the policy journey to phasing out single use plastic in the UK

Author: 
5 Oct 2018
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Region: 
UK

At the governing UK Conservative party’s conference this week, parliamentary undersecretary of state, Therese Coffey, promised a ‘radical’ Waste and Resources Strategy by the end of 2018. A series of government enquiries this year have underscored widespread support for more hard-nosed policies. The EU’s circular economy package recycling targets and China’s hardening line on waste imports are also pressuring policymakers to move. So, what should businesses expect?

North American free trade - Trump edition

Author: 
4 Oct 2018
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Region: 
Multilateral

The Trump administration’s revamped NAFTA (or USMCA, as we are being invited to call it) landed this week after a year or so of fraught negotiations with Mexico and Canada. If we discount the amendments to KORUS (The United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement) prompted by the US’s steel and aluminium tariffs earlier this year, it is the Trump administration’s first major trade agreement. It is certainly more than just a rebrand. The many small and large changes throughout the revised text group into and embed some now-familiar Trump policy themes, alongside some long-standing Washington aims. 

For Brussels, Macedonia by any name must be European

2 Oct 2018
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

The long-anticipated constitutional referendum in Macedonia on Sunday has been watched carefully both in Brussels and in Moscow. The seemingly convoluted question in ballot papers – "Do you support EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between Macedonia and Greece?" – in fact provided an unequivocal direction for 1.8 million voters in the Balkan nation. The resulting 91% vote in favour of the proposal by the pro-EU government led by social democrat Zoran Zaev looked very good on paper but turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory.

Getting into bed with a FAANG

20 Sep 2018
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

What connects Jean-Claude Juncker with Netflix? House of Cards? Perhaps, but no. Orange is the new black, certainly not. Mathias Döpfner. Maybe. Back in 2014, at the peak of the horse-trading during the Spitzenkandidaten process, legend has it that this article in Bild (owned by Axel Springer, whose CEO is Herr Döpfner) played a decisive role in encouraging Angela Merkel to back Juncker for the role of President of the European Commission. The reason? Because Herr Döpfner, the most powerful media mogul on continental Europe, had been assured by “Team Juncker” that a new European Commission under his leadership would take the fight to the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google). 

The UK could be more ambitious on African fintech - but this is a good start

Author: 
19 Sep 2018
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Region: 
Africa

On her visit to sub-Saharan Africa a few weeks ago, UK prime minister, Theresa May, set out an ambition for the UK to become Africa’s biggest G7 investor by 2022. The announcement came alongside some £4 bn in foreign direct investment (FDI) commitments announced during the visit. This was the first visit by a British prime minister to Sub-Saharan Africa in five years, and the first to Kenya in thirty – and fits with a broader narrative about the key role Africa will play in the UK’s post-Brexit economic and trade strategies.