Tag Archives: EU

Is Europe America’s Friend or Foe? by Jean Pisani-Ferry

It’s hard to tell if Trump regards Europe as a friend or foe. However, Europe has to define itself before it will command respect from either Trump or the world. From Jean Pisani-Ferry at project-syndicate.org:

Since Donald Trump took office as US president, a new cottage industry in rational theories of his seemingly irrational behavior has developed. On one issue, however, no amount of theorizing has made sense of Trump: his treatment of America’s oldest and most reliable ally.

PARIS – Since Donald Trump became US president in January 2017, his conduct has been astonishingly erratic, but his policies have been more consistent than foreseen by most observers. Trump’s volatility has been disconcerting, but on the whole he has acted in accordance with promises made on the campaign trail and with views held long before anyone considered his election possible. Accordingly, a new cottage industry in rational theories of Trump’s seemingly irrational behavior has developed.

The latest challenge is to make sense of his stance towards Europe. At a rally on June 28, he said: “We love the countries of the European Union. But the European Union, of course, was set up to take advantage of the United States. And you know what, we can’t let that happen.” During his recent trip to the continent, he called the EU “a foe” and said it was “possibly as bad as China.” Regarding Brexit, he declared that British Prime Minister Theresa May should have “sued” the EU. Then came the truce, on July 25: Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, agreed to work jointly on an agenda of free trade and World Trade Organization reform.

So it seems we are friends again – or perhaps just resting before the dispute resumes. But the deeper question remains: Why has Trump repeatedly attacked America’s oldest and most reliable ally? Why does he seem to despise the EU so deeply? Why should the US try to undermine Europe, rather than seeking closer cooperation to protect its economic and geopolitical interests?

To continue reading: Is Europe America’s Friend or Foe?

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Trump Calls For EU To Drop All Trade Barriers Ahead Of Juncker Visit, by Tyler Durden

Is President Trump a closet free-trader? From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

With Jean-Claude Juncker probably in the air right now, flying to his White House meeting on Wednesday, President Trump threw a wrench in the prepared script when on Tuesday evening he appealed for a return to (truly) free trade and urged Europe to “drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies” shortly after his administration imposed tariffs on EU imports, and Europe retaliated.

“That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready – but they won’t!” Trump tweeted.

In reference to what promises to be a contentious meeting with Washington’s “foe” – as Trump called the EU in a recent interview, Trump greeted Tuesday morning with a key theme of his presidency:

“Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs… Remember, we are the “piggy bank” that’s being robbed…” and also “Countries that have treated us unfairly on trade for years are all coming to Washington to negotiate.”

Juncker told reporters last week he is “upbeat and relaxed”; however, one doesn’t need a crystal ball to know that things are likely not going to go well at the meeting, as Bloomberg reports that the European Commission President “won’t be coming to the White House with a ‘great deal’ on trade to counter Donald Trump’s recent criticism of the European Union and his claims it runs a $150b surplus with the U.S.,” according to an unnamed European official.

The last time the two met face to face, at the recent G7 summit in Quebec, the EU’s most senior official told fellow European leaders that Trump had called him a “brutal killer” — though possibly in the spirit of jesting, over what Trump identified as unfair EU trade policies and fines on American tech companies.

Last week Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Union trade commissioner who is accompanying Juncker on his trip, indicated he would attempt to persuade Trump against his threat of raising tariffs on European car imports, possibly wrecking a $1 trillion trade relationship which the EU says will be disastrous for both sides of the Atlantic, with 15 million jobs on the line.

To continue reading: Trump Calls For EU To Drop All Trade Barriers Ahead Of Juncker Visit

 

The EU’s New Data Protection Rules Are Already Hurting Europeans, by Kal Weiss

The EU’s new data protection rules are hurting those they were ostensibly meant to protect, and helping those they were ostensibly meant to protect from. Welcome to the truth about regulation. From Kai Weiss at mises.org:

It’s finally over: the flood of e-mails that every single human being who possesses an inbox has received in the last few weeks thanks to the new data protection rules by the EU. These rules, called GDPR, have caused havoc even before becoming effective on May 25, and have probably caused the greatest spam wave of all time – all in the name of fighting against spam of course.

The GDPR rules were designed to protect European consumers from data violations by big tech companies (Brussels thinks that Facebook, Google and Co. are abusing the rights of its people), and include – just as a best of – a “right to be forgotten” (meaning that Europeans can ask companies to delete all their data), “consent” (meaning that the data being processed by a company has to be consented to by the individual – though what “consent” means is still disputed), an obligation to hire a data protection officer if you are a bigger company, and above all else, hefty fines for infringements. Those infringements shall “be subject to administrative fines up to €20,000,000, or in the case of an undertaking, up to 4 percent of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher.”

What has been the result of these data protection rules after a little over a month? Summing it up in one word would probably be: chaos. As the trillions of e-mails that were sent around the globe showed, no one really understands what the rules are all about – or what to do about it.

On the day the rules came into effect, several US pages panickingly switched off their platforms in EU countries, among them the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, and Orlando Sentinel. But not only newspapers have blocked Europeans ever since: the list also includesShoes.com,Instapaper, and the History Channel. Meanwhile, ad companies, being hit the most by the new rules, have pulled out of the EU altogether, including Drawbridge and Verve , citing the GDPR as the reason that they can’t continue their business on the Continent anymore. Those staying have had to incur gigantic costs: British companies have reportedly sunk 1.1 billion dollars, and Americans 7.8 billion in preparation for GDPR.

To continue reading: The EU’s New Data Protection Rules Are Already Hurting Europeans

Gross Incompetence, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

There is no easy or graceful exit for Great Britain from the EU. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

Here’s the lowdown: the EU’s single market mechanism dictates freedom of movement for labor, capital, services and goods. These are not divisible; you cannot have one without the other. Still, that’s precisely what Theresa May, again, is proposing. She basically wants to keep the UK in the single market for goods, and make other arrangements for the rest. The EU will not accept that because it could have 27 other countries coming with their own versions of single market à la carte.

So why does she come with version 826 of what she already knows will not be accepted? And why did her cabinet comply? There are a few possibilities. Perhaps May has finally understood that there is no manner of leaving the EU left to her that will not lead to utter disaster. Maybe she just wants the whole thing to stop. Or maybe Boris Johnson et al, sensing failure for May, see a chance to dethrone her and take over power. Then again, maybe they all look for a way to blame the EU for their own failures.

It’s hard to say, really. What’s obvious, through the comments of industries like Airbus and Jaguar Land Rover, is that 100,000s of jobs are at stake, along with 100s of billions of investments in Britain. Large enterprises are often branched out all through the EU, and they need to comply with EU rules; separate rules for their business with the UK would be a nightmare.

And even smaller companies, to varying degrees, face those same problems. For all you may think of the EU, it has arranged the single market strictly and successfully. There are enormous advantages for companies in that. Take those away and they will look at relocating towards the continent, where they would regain those advantages.

There appear to be three options (and May’s plan is not one of them): a hard Brexit, new elections, or no Brexit at all.

To continue reading:  Gross Incompetence

Your Memes Are Safe (For Now): EU Rejects Internet Censorship Bill, by Carey Wedler

The EU suprisingly rejected a draconian bill that would have put new restrictions on the internet. From Carey Wedler at theantimedia.org:

In an unexpected move, this week the European Parliament rejected a highly controversial bill that critics claimed would stifle free speech and creativity on the internet.

The EU Copyright Directive was heavily criticized over two elements in particular.

Article 11 would have established a “link tax,” which would have required online publishes to pay a fee for the right to link to news organizations. Critics argued the vague language did not adequately define what constitutes a link and said the rule could easily become a tool for political abuse.

According to many opponents, Article 13 would have further stifled free expression in the digital age by tightening copyright rules and requiring platforms to police users’ content. As a letter signed by 70 prominent members of the tech industry asserted:

“By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”

“Article 13 is that it makes no exceptions for fair use, a foundation of the internet an essential caveat in the law that allows people to remix copyrighted works,” Gizmodo noted.

Though proponents of the bill rejected the widespread suggestions that the bill could potentially even make many memes illegal because they often include copyrighted content, the outlet forcefully argued that “Memes, news, Wikipedia, art, privacy, and the creative side of fandom are all at risk of being destroyed or kneecapped.”

The legislation, which was backed by media companies, publishers, and members of the music industry, including Paul McCartney, was ultimately accused of attempting to codify censorship.

Further, the open letter from tech leaders also warned that the costs of implementing such a system would burden smaller companies.

To continue reading: Your Memes Are Safe (For Now): EU Rejects Internet Censorship Bill

Turkey’s European dream may be over, is the Sultan ready for Eurasia? by Pepe Escobar

Turkey may quit trying to be the square Muslim peg in Europe’s round hole. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

Erdogan has lost his parliamentary majority and must now establish a coalition with the far-right Nationalist Action Party; given the latter is anti-Western, the road ahead points in only one direction: Eurasian integration

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves to supporters from a balcony at the AK Party headquarters in Ankara, on June 24 as they celebrate him winning five more years in office with sweeping new powers after a decisive election victory.
Photo: AFP / Turkish Presidential Press Office / Kayhan Ozer

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves to supporters from a balcony at the AK Party headquarters in Ankara, on June 24 as they celebrate him winning five more years in office with sweeping new powers after a decisive election victory. Photo: AFP / Turkish Presidential Press Office / Kayhan Ozer

These EU leaders and the institutions that support them – political parties, academia, mainstream media – simply can’t understand how and why their bubble does not reflect what voters really think and feel.

Instead, we have irrelevant intellectuals mourning the erosion of the lofty Western mission civilisatrice (civilizing mission), investing in a philosophical maelstrom of historical and even biblical references to catalog their angst.

They are terrified by so many Darth Vaders – from Putin and Erdogan to Xi and Khamenei. Instead of understanding the new remix to Arnold Toynbee’s original intuition – History is again on the move – they wallow in the mire of The West against The Rest.

They cannot possibly understand the mighty process of Eurasia reconfiguration. And that includes not being able to understand why Recep Tayipp Erdogan is so popular in Turkey.

Sultan and CEO

Profiting from a large turnout of up to 85% and fresh from obtaining 52.5% of the popular vote – thus preventing a run-off – Erdogan is now ready to rule Turkey as a fascinating mix of Sultan and CEO.

Under Turkey’s new presidential arrangement – an Erdogan brainchild – a prime minister is no more, a job Erdogan himself held for three terms before he was elected as president for the first time in 2014.

Erdogan may be able to rule the executive and the judiciary, but that’s far from a given in the legislature.

With 42.5% of the votes and holding 295 seats, Erdogan’s AKP, for the first time in 16 years, lost its parliamentary majority and must now establish a coalition with the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP).

The doomsday interpretation spells out a toxic alliance between intolerant political Islam and fascistic extreme-right – both, of course, hardcore nationalist. Reality though is slightly more nuanced.

To continue reading: Turkey’s European dream may be over, is the Sultan ready for Eurasia?

The EU’s war on what makes the internet great, by Oliver Wiseman

The EU is using copyright law to stifle the Internet, a cherished goal. From Oliver Wiseman at capx.co:

What is it about the European Union and bad tech laws with boring names? Brussels managed to transform four harmless letters into a byword for irritating compliance-induced spam and pop ups as well as a consolidation of power for the internet’s biggest players. Now that the GDPR dust has settled, along comes Article 13 of the Directive for Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which was approved by the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs yesterday.

Article 13 requires websites to take “appropriate and proportionate” measures to make sure copyrighted material doesn’t appear on their pages. It would also require sites to “provide rightsholders with adequate information on the functioning and the deployment of measures”. Then there is the jargon-laden instruction for Member States to “facilitate… cooperating between the information society service providers and rightsholders through stakeholder dialogues to define best practices”.

Those appropriate and proportionate measures mean “content recognition technologies” along the lines of Content ID, the copyright filter that Google uses to stop YouTube users from uploading copyrighted videos. As open internet campaigner and writer Cory Doctorow has explained, everyone hates the filter: “Big rightsholders say that it still lets crucial materials slip through the cracks. Indie rightsholders say that it lets big corporations falsely claim copyright over their works and take them down. Google hates Content ID because they spent $60,000,000 developing a system that makes everyone miserable, and YouTubers and their viewers hate it because it overblocks so much legit content.”

The EU seems to have looked at this way of doing things and decided it should be extended – by law – not just to all online videos, but to everything on the internet.

It is hard to overstate the extent of the threat this piece of legislation is to online culture as we know it. In an open letter to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, a group of internet pioneers that includes Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf and Jimmy Wales spell out the danger: “Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance of its users.”

To continue reading: The EU’s war on what makes the internet great