Insights

General Politics

Three potentially costly miscalculations

General Politics

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…

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The IPCC in a worsening political climate

Energy & Commodities

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…

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

Sustainability

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…

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North American free trade - Trump edition

Trade & Manufacturing

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…

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General Politics

For Brussels, Macedonia by any name must be European

General Politics

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…

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Getting into bed with a FAANG

TMT

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…

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

Financial Services

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…

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The new NAFTA: Mexico most unfavoured nation?

Trade & Manufacturing

Something rather important flew under the radar last week, as the US secured a deal with Mexico on NAFTA. With most of the coverage focused on the revamped rules of origin for auto trade, little light was shed on the Trump administration’s other achievements in the auto sector. The deal struck with Mexico reportedly includes a clause allowing the US to charge more than…

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General Politics

One Eurosceptic movement, many platforms?

General Politics

In Sweden’s general election this weekend, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD) are projected to win approximately 20% of votes. This will make them the second largest party in the country – the result of a swift rise that will dramatically impact Sweden’s political landscape. It echoes a similar surge from anti-establishment and Eurosceptic parties seen in the…

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General Politics

Labour's trade policy is the British government's problem

General Politics

There is nothing new in British government ministers showing a basic lack of understanding of trade policy. The Brexit referendum and its aftermath have been characterised by ministers asserting ambitious free trade goals which are not deliverable in the real world. Now the opposition Labour party has followed suit with its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, setting out a new “Build…

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The US-China trade dispute is like no other

Trade & Manufacturing

US trade policy under Donald Trump has become volatile, noisy and aggressive. This makes it hard to follow policy developments, let alone to understand what is driving them. But the key to understanding the dispute with China is to recognise it is quite different from the disputes the US has provoked with other countries. In fact, it is not a conventional trade dispute at…

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Cyber-attacks: testing the EU's defences

TMT

British retailer Dixons Carphone reported on Tuesday that ten million customers may have been affected by a cyber-attack. This is yet another example of the privacy breaches that are affecting every day operations of European companies. The Dixons Carphone incident follows other major cyber-attacks. The WannaCry and NotPetya attacks led to substantial financial losses for…

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General Politics

Unblocking the Irish backstop

General Politics

The Irish border has become a major obstacle in the Brexit negotiations. With time running short, the probability of a no-deal Brexit – and the chaos this would imply – is increasing. So what are the potential solutions?

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General Politics

Has the final whistle of the World Cup changed the score for Russia?

General Politics

The torrential downpour which greeted President Putin as he walked onto the turf at the Luzhniki Stadium as the final whistle brought the 21st World Cup to an end was the only cloud over a tournament graced with many footballing silver linings. His counterpart at FIFA, President Infantino, had declared before the final that the championship was “changing the perception of…

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Trump’s China tariffs: how long can the USTR shield US consumers?

Trade & Manufacturing

US President Trump upped the ante in his trade dispute with China earlier this week by mandating his US Trade Representative to release a list of up to $200bn in Chinese goods on which a new 10% tariff would apply by the end of the summer. Whether this can bring change in Chinese trade practices, or at least force Beijing back to the negotiating table, remains…

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Investing in telecoms: missing the opportunity?

TMT

Back in 2016, with the Digital Single Market agenda still in its infancy, the European Commission launched its ambitious reform of telecoms regulation. The so-called European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) was presented with great fanfare and with the explicit goal of plugging Europe’s €155 billion investment gap in digital infrastructure. The ultimate aim of the…

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General Politics

The analytics of football’s possible return home

General Politics

The twenty-three men of the England World Cup squad in Russia have done more to restore respect for Britain abroad than any number of ministerial visits, soft power exchanges and cultural tours. The irony of this turnaround taking place in Russia, at a low-point in Anglo-Russia relations, something which the death of a British citizen yesterday linked to the nerve agent…

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UK Trade Remedy choices: from internal critic to unilateral disarmer?

Trade & Manufacturing

Over the next few months, the UK is likely to start setting out its detailed plans for the establishment of a UK trade remedies system after it has left the EU. Freed (at least in theory – watch the customs partnership debate) from the obligations of the EU system of which it has long been a critic, the UK will have an opportunity to adopt its own rulebook for the…

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