EU Sees Five Possible Futures. Which Is Best and Which Is Likely?

Three young women listen to a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, September 14, 2016
Three young women listen to a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, September 14, 2016 (European Parliament)

The European Commission published a white paper on Wednesday that sets out five possible futures for the European Union.

The scenarios range from muddling through to something resembling a federal Europe, with three options in between.

The fact that the EU executive recognizes that it would be misleading to boil the choice down to “more” or “less” Europe is itself a welcome change.

That doesn’t mean the five scenarios are all-encompassing. One could add an EU collapse on the one end and a United States of Europe on the other. But neither is likely to happen. Read more

Why Ontario Plays Such a Central Role in Canadian Politics

The CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, September 25, 2013
The CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, September 25, 2013 (Stéphane Damour)

Canada is often considered to be a haven from geopolitics, a nation relatively free from economic want or political cant. But if by geopolitics we refer simply to the influence of geography upon politics, Canada may in fact be a prime place to study it, if only because the country posseses so much of the former when in comparison to the latter.

The basic fact of Canadian geopolitics is this: more Canadians live in the city of Toronto than live in the 2,500-kilometer expanse of land separating Toronto from Alberta. Read more

Explaining the Latest Greek Drama

Greeks demonstrate outside parliament in Athens, February 16, 2015
Greeks demonstrate outside parliament in Athens, February 16, 2015 (Lefteris Heretakis)

Time is — once again — running out for Greece. This time the sticking point is a €7 billion tranche from its bailout program. Greece needs the money by July, but European officials had hoped to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund about the payment early next week, lest Greece’s debt crisis become an issue in the Dutch and French elections.

The mood in Brussels isn’t hopeful, the Financial Times reports. The expectation is that the creditors will miss their self-imposed deadline.

That would be especially unfortunate for the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, who faces reelection in four weeks. He famously promised voters in 2012 that he would not support any more bailouts for Greece — but then he did. This is the worst possible time for him to be reminded of that broken promise.

There is no immediate risk of bankruptcy, let alone ejection from the eurozone, for Greece. But the closer we get to July, the more markets will worry and the more pressure will rise on lenders to hash out a compromise.

So what’s the problem? Read more

Nativist Freedom Party Draws Support from Dutch Periphery

Evening falls in Maastricht, the Netherlands, January 5, 2009
Evening falls in Maastricht, the Netherlands, January 5, 2009 (Bert Kaufmann)

Support for the nationalist Freedom Party rises the farther away one travels from the commercial and political heartland of the Netherlands on the North Sea coast, a recent survey shows.

The anti-EU and anti-immigrant party led by Geert Wilders receives around 20 percent support nationwide, but there are regional differences. Read more

Trump’s Ban: Alternative Facts Create Real-Life Policy

Vice President Mike Pence applauds as President Donald Trump signs a document confirming James Mattis as his secretary of defense during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington DC, January 27
Vice President Mike Pence applauds as President Donald Trump signs a document confirming James Mattis as his secretary of defense during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington DC, January 27 (DoD/Jette Carr)

Donald Trump has always had a difficult relationship with the truth. His sheer volume of daily falsehoods overwhelms an unprepared news media — and buries unsavory stories which the Republican would prefer to keep hidden.

Trump even manages to construct entire narratives via a steady diet of alternative facts delivered to his supporters.

This weekend, we saw something new: For the first time, those falsehoods came together to generate, enact and justify policy. Read more

Moldova’s President of Smoke and Mirrors

Presidents Igor Dodon of Moldova and Vladimir Putin of Russia deliver a joint news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, January 17
Presidents Igor Dodon of Moldova and Vladimir Putin of Russia deliver a joint news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, January 17 (Presidential Press and Information Office)

Moldova’s new president is no friend of liberal democracy. Igor Dodon, who came to power in December, enjoys basking in the glow of Vladimir Putin and his entourage. Read more

Trump Could Bring Enemies in South America Closer Together

Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro chairs the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Cochabamba, Bolivia, June 4, 2012
Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro chairs the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Cochabamba, Bolivia, June 4, 2012 (OAS/Juan Manuel Herrera)

The alliance between Cuba and Venezuela has lost prominence in recent years as the former normalized its diplomatic relations with the United States while the latter doubled down on a self-described anti-imperialist policy.

Now Donald Trump’s presidency threatens to bring the two countries closer together again. Read more