LET THEM EAT CHEESE EU-Japan Summit to see trade framework signed The EU and Japan will hold a summit in
LET THEM EAT CHEESE
EU-Japan Summit to see trade framework signed
The EU and Japan will hold a summit in Brussels today, where both parties are expected to sign off on the framework for a long-awaited free trade deal.
In the works since 2013, the pact will cover a quarter of the global economy and seek to upgrade the $140 billion trade relationship. Under the framework, the EU would drop a 10% duty on Japanese cars while Japan would slash tariffs as high as 40% on European cheese.
Negotiators will still have to hammer out the details going into the Thursday summit, with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida cautioning “important issues” remain unresolved. European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, however, expressed confidence in reaching a framework at the summit following negotiations in Tokyo last week.
The European Commission lists “a powerful signal that two of the world’s biggest economies reject protectionism” as one of the agreement’s top goals. Potential targets of that signal will attend tomorrow’s G20 summit, including an “America First” president and a prime minister readying to Brexit.
EU enlargement commissioner visits Turkey
European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn arrives in Turkey today to discuss the country’s long-stalled bid for EU membership. His visit comes as the European Parliament votes on a resolution to suspend accession talks.
The parliament debated the resolution yesterday, with proponents citing growing authoritarianism under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, including abuses of human rights and press freedoms. Mr Hahn has called Turkish accession “unrealistic” unless Ankara makes “substantial advances in the rule of law.”
Erdogan—first elected on a pro-EU platform—has soured on accession as well, mulling a referendum on whether to continue negotiations. There are concerns in Turkey and the EU he will hold a promised vote on reinstating the death penalty, initially abolished to meet EU human rights standards.
While Brussels is expected to adopt the resolution, the EU will likely carry on with the stalled status quo, partly because the bloc needs Erdogan’s cooperation to keep Syrian migrants in Turkey and out of Europe—he would see anyone other than himself scotching talks as a grievous affront. However, a major provocation may change that calculus; the much-contemplated death penalty reinstatement could send Ankara’s membership bid to the gallows.
ENERGY TIES BIND
Trump speaks at Three Seas Initiative
The US president meets the leaders of 12 central and eastern European countries in Warsaw today to facilitate progress on the “Three Seas Initiative.” Among other things, this project aims to build the infrastructure and relationships required for regional energy security—reducing reliance on Russian hydrocarbons.
Most of the 12 countries in attendance today imported more than 75% of their gas from Russia last year. The planned expansion of the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia will only further this energy dependence in eastern and central Europe, increasing security risk.
To remedy this, Polish President Andrzej Duda plans to build an energy corridor from the Adriatic Sea to the Baltic, proposing a pipeline to Norway that will distribute American liquid natural gas—a relatively new development and one Mr Trump will be looking to peddle.
EU interior ministers will meet in Estonia to discuss migration. Italy, France and Germany will table a “code of conduct” to regulate charity groups operating rescue boats off the coast of Libya—which critics say is encouraging people to make the perilous journey. Ministers will also discuss providing more support to Libya’s coastguard and monitoring Libya’s southern border, which many migrants cross on the way to the Mediterranean. The Southern Mediterranean migrant route is by far the most active, with more than 60,000 crossings reported since January. This compared to less than 10,000 along the Eastern Mediterranean—once the route of choice for hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, who’ve since been held in Turkey.
A slew of world leaders will begin streaming into Europe ahead of Friday’s highly anticipated G20 summit. Today, the French and Russian foreign ministers will hold talks in Paris, Mexican President Pena Nieto will meet Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s president will host Vietnam’s prime minister. The G20 will dominate global headlines for the next 72 hours.