Monday, 6 July 2009

A short July Round-up

I was away for the weekend, so I've missed a few bits of news, so here's a short round-up:

1. Javier Solana has ruled himself out of the running for the High Representative of the CFSP post - or the replacement post if Lisbon is passed in the Irish Referendum. Solana has served as the CFSP chief for 10 years, as well as being the Secretary-General for the Council*; so he knew something about being in a "double-hatted" position, as the Lisbon HR's post would be (the HR would also be the vice president of the Commission). I wonder if this announcement is good news for Barroso or not. It means that there's one less Iberian to compete with if there's a multi-office package up for negotiation (Felipe González would probably be backed by Sarkozy who is reportedly dropping his support for Blair for the Presidency of the European Council). Barroso still has a chance that the EP could confirm him for the post before the Irish Lisbon vote.

*These posts aren't actually officially linked; he just happens to hold both of them at the same time.

2. The Bill for the 28th Amendment to the Irish Constitution has been published (see Stephen Spillane here and here and Irish Election - Irish Election has the full wording of the amendment).

So the second referendum campaign will start gearing up, and the campaign organisations Generation Yes and Ireland for Europe could become more active (Generation Yes has already been quite active). The Dáil will be closing for a long summer break soon, and I somehow doubt that TDs (Irish MPs) will spend it campaigning for the Lisbon Treaty - if they won't keep the Dáil open for longer during the worst economic crisis the state has had to face, then what are the chances of them doing some campaign work?

3. Barroso has been urging that the G8 accept the need for an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. The Commission will attend the G8 in L'Aquila this week. The language of the article indicates that the Commission isn't asking that much of the G8 right now - "accepting the need" may turn out to be less significant than the European Council's "political backing" Barroso for a second term - but movements in policy this week could translate into more co-ordinated negotiations by the G8, and perhaps also the EU, come December's Copenhagen Climate Change conference. The significance of the G8 has in any case been downgraded politically by the rise of the G20, but the G8 may still reveal some of the changes in position in the diplomatic dance that will be ongoing between now and December.

At the moment, my expectations for the December Summit are quite low, given the economic crisis and the natural focus on getting the global economy going again. Some of the indications of the cost of fighting climate change are jaw-dropping, and it's hard to see how fiscally-pressed states will be able to stump up the cash. Sweden has a tough task ahead of it if it wants to boost the EU's green credentials. [The Swedish presidency has a page on EU environmental policy here].

Also worth looking out for is any sign of the press embarrassing Italy - which is Berlusconi's fear.

4. The US and Russia will probably agree on a new Treaty aimed at reducing their nuclear arsenal. It's good in terms of diplomacy and improving relations, but at the same time, it is probably one of the few areas in which they will find it easy to reach agreement. Georgia, NATO expansion, missle shields, etc. are much more sensitive diplomatic issues. Hopefully a deal on nuclear arms - and the inter-governmental commission that's mentioned - will throw up more opportunities for closer and better relations between the US (and EU) with Russia.

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