I thought Italy would be next to leave the EU… But…

Now I’m convinced it will be Hungary because it looks like Brexit all over again

Paul A. Nuttall is a historian, author and a former politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019 and was a prominent campaigner for Brexit.I believe Viktor Orban could be readying his country for ‘Huxit’. If he is not, then he is playing a high-stakes game of poker with the overlords in Brussels.

Earlier this week, Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian Nation) ran a headline saying, “it is time to talk about Huxit.” This is a huge development because the newspaper is considered to be the unofficial mouthpiece of Orban’s government. Till then it looked like Italy would be the next to leave EU.   

Last month, the newspaper announced that “the time has come, now in July 2021, to seriously consider the possibility of our withdrawal from a union of states with a thousand bleeding wounds, showing imperial symptoms, and treating the eastern and central European countries incredibly arrogantly.

The newspaper also stated that there is a culture clash between Western and Eastern European values, something I argued on RT.com last month. Similarly, Magyar Nemzetopined that “our paths have diverged as the West now consciously… breaks from Christian morality and values. Instead, they aim to build a cosmopolitan, faceless world society based on the unbridled self-enjoyment and self-destruction of the individual… we Hungarians, Poles and central and eastern European people hold on to our cultural and religious foundations.”

Reading this came like a welcome dose of déjà vu to an old Brexiteer like myself. All the way back in November 2010, the Daily Express, became the first mainstream British newspaper to come out in favour of the UK leaving the European Union.

The Daily Express announced that “from this day forth our energies will be directed to furthering the cause of those who believe Britain is Better Off Out.” And continued, “after far too many years as the victims of Brussels larceny, bullying, over-regulation and all-round interference, the time has come for the British people to win back their country and restore legitimacy and accountability to their political process.”

To put the importance of this announcement into some perspective, this was the first time that a mainstream British newspaper had come out in favour of withdrawal from Europe since the 1975 referendum. Suddenly, being in favour of what later became known as Brexit was not the preserve of “cranks and political gadflies,” as one Conservative Party leader called us, and instead became a mainstream idea. In fact, the brave decision taken by the Daily Express was one of the most important events on the long and rocky road to 2016’s Brexit.   

 And now we have history repeating itself in Hungary. It surely cannot be a coincidence that a mainstream Hungarian newspaper is now questioning its country’s membership of the bloc, especially one with links to the government. I would argue that this has come straight from the Brexit playbook.

And it seems as if Brussels is waking up to fact that Hungary is seriously considering making a dash for the exit door. Yesterday, it was announced that the European Commission had missed the deadline to impose financial penalties on Hungary for not complying with the bloc’s“values.”  This will undoubtedly trigger an inter-institutional conflict in Brussels, as the European Parliament has demanded that Orban’s Hungary be punished. The dispute may well end up in the European Court of Justice (ECJ), as the European Parliament is determined to punish Hungary for its stance regarding LGBTQ rights.   

However, the fact that the European Commission, which is not bound by public opinion like the European Parliament, is not prepared to invoke sanctions against Hungary is most informative. Whereas the EU was all too eager to recently punish Poland, maybe because it was confident that its government would back down, it seems to be treating Hungary with kid gloves. Maybe the penny has finally dropped in Brussels, and they have realised that to impose financial sanctions would play right into Orban’s hands.   

It could be argued that Orban is playing a high-risk game – but that is only the case if he really wants to stay in the EU – and I am not convinced that he does. I suspect that Orban is carefully dipping his toe in the Huxit bath. If he finds the water agreeable, he may well plunge right in, which could spark a crisis in the EU even worse than Brexit. You see, the UK was never really a comfortable member of the EU. It was a reluctant partner, but never a friend, which made divorce at some point an inevitability. 

Hungary, however, is much different, as it is client state of Brussels bean-counters. It is a net benefactor of EU funds, and unlike the UK, which handed over cash to Brussels as if it were confetti, it is in receipt of millions of euros every year. But in the end, Hungary may decide that money isn’t everything, and traditional values are more important. And if this does happen, I wouldn’t bet against other Eastern European states following suit, as they grow increasingly uncomfortable with the West’s dictatorial liberalism.   

“We are not a colony of the EU”

A new leader came to the fore of the EU

Since July 2021, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has risen to the level of politicians in the Old World of the first rank. Over the next six months, his country will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. For many in the unification leadership, this is an unpleasant acquaintance

He is considered a copycat of Donald Trump for the revised slogan of the American President “Slovenia First”. For his addiction to social networks, he is called “Marshal of Tvito”, and for his rejection of migration, he is called “an anti-liberal democrat.” But none of those nicknames would have attached to Slovenia’s 62-year-old Prime Minister Janez Janshe, a right-wing conservative, were it not for his habit of expressing thoughts bluntly. Jansha began his country’s presidency of the Council of the European Union by warning about the disintegration of the bloc, which could happen if some countries continue to “impose” “imaginary European values” on others, and immediately warned against considering Slovenia a  “colony” or “Europe of the second class”. 

Jansha knows what he is talking about firsthand: his political career started during the years of the collapse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Over time, starting as a left-wing radical, he turned into a staunch Slovenian nationalist. You have to pay for everything: the price was the damage to relations with Brussels.

Among the seven authorities of the European Union, only one – the Council of the EU (which is sometimes equated with the upper house of the European Parliament) – assumes the chairmanship of all members of the association in turn. This is the only platform that allows the EU countries that are in opposition to its course (Slovenia is also included) to declare themselves. In Brussels, however, they know how to manage a bureaucratic calendar. So, preparations were made for the appearance of Janez Janshi in the European political Olympus in advance – this event was preceded by numerous critical publications in the press.

The main message of most of them was similar: the Slovene, already well-known in the European arena, has changed a lot in recent years. When Yansha headed his country in 2004-2008, she had no difficulties with the European Union. But the ensuing global economic crisis and mass migration from the Middle East in 2015–2016 pushed the former European-compatible politician to a position of nationalism. Since then, he has supported the construction of walls on the borders with neighbors, quarrels with liberal journalists and judges, and prefers to be friends with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Jansha became critical of ideas that the EU considers to be part of their values, which lies beyond compromise: in particular, support for LGBT people. Together, this is a rather big burden in the eyes of the EU leadership, especially when it comes to a person,

That is why no one was surprised that a disagreement between the future partners occurred already at the first joint press conference of the Slovenian leader in his new capacity and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. “The European Union unites countries with different traditions, different cultures … and all these discrepancies must be taken into account and respected,” Jansha made a statement with subtext. Von der Leyen didn’t like it: “Freedom of speech, [cultural and racial] diversity and equality are fundamental European values,” she retorted . The European media saw the beginning of a conflict in this exchange of views, which seems convincing, because von der Leyen’s deputy Frans Timmermans reacted rather harshly: he refused to be photographed with Janscha.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, speaks with Slovenia’s Prime Minister Janez Jansa during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. European Union leaders gather for a second day of meetings to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and to assess new measures on how to meet targets to become climate-neutral by mid-century. (John Thys, Pool via AP)

During the first speech in the European Parliament, the Slovenian had no easier time. Green and Liberal MPs (Renew Europe) gave him a cold welcome. “I am afraid, Mr. Jansha, that the events in your country do not leave us the opportunity to trust you,” said Malik Azmani, the people’s choice from the Netherlands. LGBT. This also includes corruption and abuse. ” Ska Keller, co-chair of the Green faction in the European Parliament, accused Jansha, a former journalist, of “a campaign to slander the Slovenian mass media.”

Eastern European Union?

Jansha has long compensated for the difficulties with the countries of Western Europe by rapprochement with Hungary. Until now, his support for this country was mostly moral. Like Orban, Yansha strongly opposed the participation in politics of the American billionaire George Soros and even entered into controversy with him through the social network: “Stay away from Europe, please. Your dirty money and so-called non-profit organizations have become the most serious provocateurs of conflicts on the continent. destroying trust between peoples and democracy. Brexit alone is enough. Europe needs to recover, ” wrote the  indignant Jansha. 

Another point of intersection between the leaders: Slovenia has long been considered one of those states, on whose help Hungary can count on if sanctions against it are put to a European vote.

However, as the  authors of the investigative journalism argue , Yansha’s and Orban’s connections extend beyond that. Allegedly, when creating his own mass media, the Slovenian leader attracted funds from Hungarian entrepreneurs from Orban’s entourage.

But on the other side of the business relationship, there is something that brings both politicians together, which is not limited to money. Both Fidesz Orbana and the Slovenian Democratic Party of Janshi assume that they represent small countries whose identities are threatened by the changes taking place in the world. Therefore, back in 2015, both states developed a common approach to the migration issue: the construction of walls. And Slovenia even got ahead of its neighbor, erecting sections of fortifications on the Croatian border, that is, directly within the EU, “protecting” not Europe, but the Schengen zone from states that did not enter it.

“Slovenia in the first place!”, “Without us, Slovenes, there will be no Slovenia!” – These slogans, considered marginal at the beginning of the century, brought Yanshi’s party an election victory in 2018. The local media, oriented to European public opinion, launched a campaign against the prime minister, but could not undermine his power. The relationship between them turned into a regime of mutual attacks. Knowing the attitude of Yanshi to the Yugoslav communist regime (which condemned him to a criminal term), the media called the prime minister “Marshal Tvito” – by analogy with the Yugoslav dictator Marshal Josip Broz Tito. Yanshe also managed to touch the sensitive strings of the soul of his opponents. While still in opposition, his party organized a nationwide essay competition for children on the benefits of living in a homogeneous country without migrants.

Small country and one very big

In the plane of confrontation between part of the Eastern European states and Brussels in the 2010s, a new player, China, made itself felt. A conflict with the European Union in the language of real politics usually means a willingness to deal with the Middle Kingdom. This is most clearly demonstrated by Viktor Orban himself: his country has actively joined the Belt and Road Initiative, the key element of which is planned to be the railway between Budapest and Belgrade. Orban readily accepts loans from Chinese banks, which are given in such a way that the money will be spent on projects related to the PRC. One of these is the branch of Shanghai Fudan University in Budapest. True, the outcome of this undertaking is unclear: the Hungarian opposition mobilized against it in the summer of 2021.

For Slovenia, which is at odds with Brussels, it is also about receiving Chinese money. The main directions of these investments are outlined by the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China: improving the port in the city of Koper, laying railways, participating in the privatization of local state-owned companies. The advantage of Chinese investment in the eyes of Eastern Europeans is the lack of political conditions and respect for local culture. A potential drawback is the growth of debt, which for a small state may be unbearable. This is one of the reasons why Budapest and Ljubljana will hardly dare to go east too far.

However critical in Eastern Europe (including Slovenia) some of the proposals of the pan-European leadership may be, for the elites of these countries it is not only and not so much an adversary as a difficult negotiating partner. After all, both Slovenia and Hungary are direct recipients of the EU’s annual aid, which they (especially in a crisis) are not ready to refuse. Therefore, we can expect that the verbal escalation between Orban, Yansha and Europe, although it will continue, but the critical line, both leaders will not cross. Their task is different – to be heard. After all, what seems natural for large countries with a long history of persecution of minorities, followed by late repentance, looks completely different from the point of view of small states (Slovenia’s population is only 2.1 million) without a sense of collective guilt.

Are Poland and Hungary ready to invest in the NPP in Kaliningrad?

Potential Polish-Hungarian-Russian cooperation on the completion and subsequent joint operation of the Baltic NPP (nuclear power plant) could solve some of Poland’s energy problems

Expert of the Polish analytical center Polityka Insight Robert Tomashevsky released information that claims to be a sensation. According to him, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and one of the richest Poles, media mogul Zygmunt Solozh-Jacques intend to invest in the completion of the Baltic nuclear power plant in the Kaliningrad region. As a reminder, this project was initiated by Rosatom, the construction start ceremony took place on February 25, 2010. It was assumed that the nuclear power plant, worth 6.23 billion euros, would make the Kaliningrad region an exporter of electricity. 

However, after Poland and Lithuania refused to buy its products in 2014, construction was suspended. According to Tomashevsky, the Hungarian MVM group, which is responsible for the modernization of the Paks nuclear power plant operating in Hungary, and the ZE PAK concern owned by Solozh have expressed their readiness to invest in the Baltic NPP.

“The main argument in favor of the construction of the energy bridge and the Baltic NPP is the accelerating energy transformation, due to which in the coming years it will be necessary to stop most of the Polish coal-fired power plants, which will lead to an increase in demand for energy imports,” the expert explains the motivation of the Polish side. But, given that nuclear energy works at the intersection of business and politics, and the second is almost more than the first, the question arose how the Polish authorities would react to the project, which implies entering into a dialogue with their Russian counterparts. Tomaszewski reports that Solozh allegedly discussed this idea with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Minister of State Assets Jacek Sashin. Whether it is true or not, it is difficult to say, government representatives have not yet provided their comments. But neighboring Lithuania twitched.

Lithuanian Energy Minister Dainius Kreivis said in an interview with the Lithuanian business portal Verslo Žinios that “the information about the construction of a nuclear power plant in the Kaliningrad region with the participation of Polish and Hungarian companies either does not correspond to reality, or is part of an information war waged by Russia.” The Lithuanian minister believes that Polish officials in charge of energy, primarily the strategic energy infrastructure commissioner Piotr Naimsky, adhere to the position that after the synchronization of the power systems of Poland and the Baltic republics, the import of energy from third countries, including Russia and Belarus, is impossible. It used to be like that. And now?

Poland in recent years has taken a number of decisions in the energy sector, which contain a turbulent political charge. First, it is expanding its LNG reception infrastructure (mainly from the United States) and is building its part of the Norwegian-Danish-Polish gas pipeline Baltic Pipe. Secondly, it adopted a program for the construction of Polish nuclear power plants. Thirdly, it agreed with the green course of the European Union. In each of these directions, Warsaw is facing side effects that could force it to correct its previous positions. The Green Deal sets ambitious targets for drastic cuts, with a view to bringing greenhouse gas emissions to zero. For Poland, this means that it first of all needs to find a replacement for its coal-fired power plants, in other words, to stop mining coal and switch to alternative energy sources.

By and large, there are two options here – gas and nuclear. Renewable energy sources will not cover the needs of the Polish economy. Warsaw in both cases relied on the Americans. But this was relevant during the presidency of Donald Trump, because in addition to the business component, the ruling Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS) hoped to derive political added value from such cooperation with the United States. Apparently, this will not be possible with the Joe Biden administration, which is why Polish experts and analysts suggest considering alternative projects. For example, to abandon the previous plans to build nuclear power plants with the Americans, betting on France.

However, in any case, Poland is still far from the appearance of its own nuclear power plants, while coal generation should be stopped in the coming years. Projects for enhancing the gas component in the country’s balance sheet are facing internal resistance, and the nuclear component – with external ones. Recently, American lobbyists for the Troyemorye initiative, represented by former US ambassadors to Poland Daniel Fried (1997-2000) and Georgette Mosbacher (2018-2021), and senior analyst of the Atlantic Council Jan Brzezinski, made an article focusing on the creation of Eastern Europe has a developed gas infrastructure, primarily LNG terminals, in which Germany is simply obliged to invest in order to “reduce the risk associated with Nord Stream 2”.

In this situation, potential Polish-Hungarian-Russian cooperation on the completion and subsequent joint operation of the Baltic NPP could solve some of Poland’s energy problems. In this case, Warsaw gets the opportunity to replace part of the coal-fired generation with “atomic electricity”. The claims of Germany are withdrawn, which is protesting against plans to build Polish nuclear power plants near its borders. In addition, nothing prevents the Polish authorities from entering into negotiations with Rosatom on the prospects of creating Polish nuclear power plants by its forces. This will not in the least hinder Poland’s political maneuverability, just as the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey does not prevent Ankara from arguing over a number of important problems with Moscow. Of course, if Law and Justice starts a dialogue with Russia in the atomic sphere, opponents of the ruling party will get another opportunity to accuse it of “working for the Kremlin.” But, on the other hand, the opposition is doing it this way today. So there isn’t much to lose PiS here, by and large.

July 6, 2021 Stanislav Stremidlovsky

Подробности: https://regnum.ru/news/polit/3314362.html
Любое использование материалов допускается только при наличии гиперссылки на ИА REGNUM.

Merkel leaves the European scene after two diplomatic failures

Sylvie Kauffmann – Le Monde (France)

It seems that Merkel will leave the European scene after being part of two diplomatic failures.

It used to be easy. In the early 1990s, when Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand were promoting their idea of ​​Europe. The leaders of the two countries had only to agree between themselves and then send a proposal to the head of the Council with a request to “convey a message to other members”. And that’s it, it’s done. This was the case, for example, on October 27, 1993. On the eve of an extraordinary European summit on the implementation of the Maastricht Treaty.

It was that simple! There were only 12 Member States since then their number has more than doubled. Nevertheless, the main blow to the habits of the Franco-German tandem was their heterogeneity. Angela Merkel had to state this following the results of several hours of discussion on Hungary and Russia in the framework of the commemorative meeting of the European Council on June 24 and 25.

The German Chancellor suffered a crushing failure with a proposal to hold a European summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. She was “saddened” by the experience. According to her, this means that the member states “do not have enough trust in each other.” An extremely perspicacious and significant comment.

Unusual haste

This European summit is the last for the Chancellor before the parliamentary elections in Germany scheduled for September 26. That will mark her departure from politics after 16 years in power. Her disappointment is understandable. She is leaving the European scene amid two diplomatic failures. Significantly, these setbacks are related to China and Russia. And in both cases, she showed an uncharacteristic haste.

As for China, Angela Merkel has used the influence of Germany’s EU presidency until December 31, 2020 to push for a global investment agreement between Europe and China. The agreement was reached on December 30 following the results of the summit held by video link with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Be that as it may, this document faced sharp opposition from the European Parliament. It today looks stillborn due to the aggravation of relations with Beijing.

The episode with Russia was no doubt even more painful, as it struck the heart of post-Cold War Europe and Angela Merkel’s picture of the world.

To understand the situation, one should consider the June chain of diplomatic events. US President Joe Biden came to Europe to rally the Atlantic family after “Hurricane Trump”, expressed his special favor to the Chancellor. Only she received an invitation to Washington on July 15. He then left his European friends and went to Geneva to meet with Vladimir Putin on June 16.

Biden did not expect anything from this summit, to which he did not involve the Europeans. The main goal for him was to neutralize the Russian problem with the help of a communication channel with Moscow. Just in order to direct all his efforts towards solving the much more pressing Chinese issue.

Enduring dislike

On June 18, Angela Merkel received Emmanuel Macron in Berlin. They talked about Russia for a long time. The Chancellor presented her plan to the French president: to propose to the European Council a restart of the dialogue between Europe and Russia, which was frozen after the invasion of Ukraine in 2014. 

The key event was to be a summit of the heads of state and government of the EU with the President of Russia. In Paris, they considered the option of the 27 + 1 meeting too generous a gift for Putin, who had not changed his position in the least since 2014, and thought to get by with the participation of the heads of European departments. Be that as it may, Macron could not but approve of the idea of ​​resuming dialogue with Moscow. He himself has tried unsuccessfully to achieve this since 2019, earning enduring hostility from a number of European partners. And the fact that these same partners greeted the summit of Putin and Biden with applause.

Meanwhile, Merkel called Putin and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy. On June 22. Putin published a rather mild article in Die Zeit calling for the restoration of a full-fledged partnership with Europe. But Merkel forgot to discuss this Franco-German project with other Europeans. They were beside themselves when they learned about it on the eve of the European summit. The discussion that took place in the evening of the first day turned out to be tense. The Baltic states, Poland and Sweden rejected the proposal.

“She is no longer considered trustworthy representative of European interests”

Why did Merkel begin to actively promote this initiative, without making the slightest effort for preliminary preparation? She advocated European sovereignty. Since there is now a Russian-American dialogue, Europe should also discuss with Russia issues of interest to both sides. Macron, in turn, made a good face and stressed that the discussion had moved forward.

Did the chancellor dream of forming a historical geopolitical triptych before leaving? Would it be nice to end the September summit with Putin after the December meeting with Xi Jinping and the July talks with Biden? In any case, due to the protection of the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, “she is no longer considered a trustworthy representative of European interests before Putin,” said German MP Franziska Brantner.

The incident sheds light on the profound impact of the post-communist countries on the development of the EU. Whether it’s Hungary’s rejection of Viktor Orban’s open society or the Baltic states’s refusal to resume dialogue with Putin, the historical and geographical legacy of these countries is fully manifesting itself. Kohl and Mitterrand probably believed that with the help of the unification of Europe, the accounts of the Cold War were closed. Merkel and Macron have just seen that this is still a long way off.

Europeans froze the largest trade deal with China

Brussels is looking for an alternative in the USA and India

Dmitry Migunov

The European Parliament on May 20 froze the ratification of the investment agreement between the EU and China. The reason was foreign policy friction between Brussels and Beijing. It is not yet clear whether the document will be returned to the vote. A split in relations between two of the three largest economies in the world may prompt the EU to seek other alliances, or perhaps to rely primarily on its own forces and active protectionism. Details – in the material “Izvestia”.

China-EU relations in recent years have been an almost equal combination of love and hate. For the European Union, China was the second most important export market (about € 250 billion a year). Especially for critical industries like mechanical engineering. In turn, the importance of the European market for China was no less important. Although it was inferior to the American one in terms of supply, it grew faster and more stable.

At the same time, Europe has become the most important target for the export of capital from China. Accumulated Chinese investment reached $ 350 billion by the end of 2019, again second only to the United States. Investments in European countries fit perfectly into the Belt and Road project, whose main task was to create in Eurasia a reliable alternative to the United States as a destination for Chinese exports. 

Within this framework, Chinese companies have actively invested in enterprises in Germany, Italy, France, Hungary and other countries. Manufacturers of car tires, household appliances, oil and gas companies, airports and football clubs – it will be difficult to name a field of activity in Europe, wherever a Chinese investor has penetrated, both private firms and corporations with state capital. 

Mutual rhetoric sometimes blunt

Despite this flourishing relationship, mutual rhetoric was sometimes blunt. In March 2019, the European Commission named China as its “systemic competitor.” Given that this happened in the midst of Donald Trump’s declared trade war, this was not good news for China. Later, the conflict was mitigated, among other things, due to the fact that Trump’s anger fell on Europe itself. Americans began to impose trade duties against European countries, threatening retaliation for the introduction of a “digital tax” and other actions in the economy that the previous US administration took as unfriendly.

In December last year, the EU and China signed the largest investment agreement in European history. Its essence boils down to facilitating the access of European companies to the Chinese market, which was able to withstand even the blow of the pandemic (the only large economy that avoided contraction in 2020). Companies that supply high-tech goods to the PRC have received especially favorable working conditions. China, in turn, received guarantees for its investments in the EU, as well as access to the renewable energy market, where the two sides are simultaneously the two largest players and strategic partners by a wide margin.

However, the signed treaty had to go through a difficult and lengthy ratification process. And something went wrong here. First of all, the power has changed in the United States. The new government, at least at the level of rhetoric (and in some places in fact, for example, on the issue of Nord Stream 2), made concessions to the European states. The transatlantic relationship again came to the fore, and China was no longer vital partner.

The diplomatic conflict turned into a reciprocal exchange of strikes when the sanctions imposed on China (not too significant) were followed by a similar targeted response from an Asian country. This is most often the end of the conflicts. This time everything went much further. The European parliamentarians with an overwhelming advantage – with 599 votes out of 687 possible – voted to freeze the ratification of the agreement.

This is not final decision though

Note that this vote is not a final decision and, in fact, has no legal force as such. But the ratification process may be slowed down for a long time. During this time, foreign policy and economic circumstances may well change. And the attitude of individual countries to the agreements.

I must say that the Europeans did not sit idly by all these months. In the course of the trade conflict with the United States, it seemed that the EU and China would inevitably move closer. Brussels is now considering other options for economic integration. The most obvious option is trade agreements with the United States. In early May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the same deal with America that was agreed with Canada last year.… This agreement was already in the air in the middle of the last decade. The parties had already begun negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade Partnership, but in early 2017, the United States canceled a similar trade alliance with the countries of East Asia and Latin America. The last agreement was “killed” at the stage of full readiness. On both sides of the Atlantic they decided that the treaty had no chance at all.

In all fairness, Merkel’s approach is not shared everywhere on the continent. French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly stated that Europe should not rely on other superpowers and should show more independence. Questions can also arise overseas, where, despite all the rhetoric of multilateralism and free trade, slogans like “buy American” are gaining momentum. And the full employment promised by the new American administration is unlikely to be achieved if we give even more privileges to foreign manufacturers in their market.

Protectionism is gaining strength

It is possible that the EU will turn in a different direction. In April, it became known that Brussels is negotiating with India on a global infrastructure plan. That should become a competitor to the Belt and Road. It should include cooperation in third countries, the exchange of scientific and innovative ideas and the drafting of uniform standards, especially in the field of financial sustainability. All this should tie the third largest economy in Asia (and the second in terms of purchasing power parity) more closely to the European Union.

India is not yet a player capable of replacing China and the United States as an economic partner. Rather, an agreement with it could become a demonstration of a course that presupposes self-reliance in Europe. Such a line in the economy is becoming more and more popular, given that protectionism is gaining strength in all regions – and the European Union can in no way be an exception .

Germany and Russia to work on hydrogen

Russia and Germany will jointly implement projects in hydrogen energy. The corresponding agreement was reached by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Alexander Novak with the Minister of Economy and Energy of the Federal Republic of Germany Peter Altmeier

The meeting was also attended by the Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Denis Manturov, the rector of the St. Petersburg Mining University Vladimir Litvinenko and the ex-Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany Klaus Toepfer, according to the website of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Russian Federation.

“We agreed that it is important to make joint projects in hydrogen energy. The Prime Minister of the Federal State of Saxony (FRG) Michael Kretschmer recently visited. He proposed joint projects in the field of hydrogen, ” Novak said at the meeting.

“I will give instructions to the Ministry of Energy of Russia so that we jointly propose one or two projects from which we would start,” added the Deputy Prime Minister, whose words are quoted in the release of the Cabinet. According to the Deputy Prime Minister, it is necessary to continue working on joint energy projects.

A German company is already working with Gazprom on this issue.

Meanwhile, Wintershall Dea and Gazprom are discussing the possibility of transporting hydrogen through the existing gas transmission system. The head of the German company, Mario Mehren, told about this in an interview with the corporate magazine of the Russian holding.

“As part of the Science and Technology Cooperation Program between Gazprom and Wintershall Dea, specialists from our companies and joint ventures are discussing current innovative projects in order to find ideas and jointly develop solutions,” Meren explained.

“This initiative has been around for almost 30 years. And it is one of the largest and most intensive exchange formats of this kind, ”said the head of Wintershall Dea. He stressed that during the pandemic, this work continued in an online format.

“For example, in recent months, there has been intense discussion of the possibility of adapting the existing pipeline infrastructure for the transportation of hydrogen. And the use of decarbonized solutions in our joint gas transportation business. Hopefully, soon we will be able to report on new projects in this area, ” Meren added .

In addition, Wintershall Dea and Gazprom are planning a campaign to measure methane emissions. The goal is to reduce the intensity of these emissions during gas production. The partners also plan to jointly develop measures to improve the energy efficiency of compressor stations.

“I am convinced that international partnership will continue to play an important role in the future. And thanks to joint efforts to decarbonize the energy sector, we will be able to further strengthen and expand the successful Russian-German cooperation, ”Meren concluded.

EU trade chief proposes mutual tariff freeze to Washington

Brussels suggested the EU and its major overseas partner suspend tariffs imposed on billions of dollars of imports for six months, EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis told Germany’s main news platform, Der Spiegel.

The measure would go beyond the latest four-month suspension of import duties that the parties agreed in March.

“We have proposed suspending all mutual tariffs for six months in order to reach a negotiated solution. This would create a necessary breathing space for industries and workers on both sides of the Atlantic,” Dombrovskis said.

Last month, the two transatlantic partners agreed to suspend mutual tariffs that had covered $7.5 billion of EU imports of American goods and some $4 billion of US products shipped to the bloc. The freeze is set to expire in four months.

The bitter EU-US trade dispute over aerospace subsidies to plane makers Airbus and Boeing dates back to 2004. Then Washington challenged European subsidies of Airbus that reportedly had “adverse effects” on the US.

The EU filed a retaliatory complaint against the direct support given to Boeing in the form of regional tax breaks and government grants.

So far, tit-for-tat duties on various goods have affected nearly $50 billion in mutual trade. The list of EU products on which the US imposed taxes came in at $25 billion. $7.5 billion was authorized by the World Trade Organization (WTO). In comparison, the EU’s list totaled a mere $20 billion. WTO approved $3.99 billion.

US axes Trump-era Scotch whisky tariffs for four months in bid to resolve aircraft trade war with UK

The US said on Thursday it will suspend 25 percent tariffs on Scotch whisky and retaliatory import taxes on other UK products in a bid to resolve the two parties’ on-going transatlantic trade row due to aircraft subsidies.

Then-US President Donald Trump slapped the UK and other EU member states with tariffs on whisky, wine, cheese and other foodstuffs in 2019 in return for European plane maker Airbus being given illegal subsidies by the bloc. 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in 2018 that EU governments had failed to comply with US requests to stop funding Airbus, which had caused its American rival Boeing to lose $7.5 billion a year.

Airbus had already filed a similar complaint with the WTO against Boeing in a dispute between the two manufacturers stretching back to 2004.

On Thursday the US and the UK said in a joint statement that “the United States will now suspend retaliatory tariffs in the Airbus dispute from March 4, 2021, for four months.”

The move is the latest of Trump’s policies to be overturned by President Joe Biden, whose administration will now turn its focus toward rising civil aviation powers “such as China,” the statement says.

Reacting to the news, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the tariff climbdown as “fantastic news” for the transatlantic trading relationship, as well as for Scotch whisky distillers and other businesses.

In December the UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced Britain would suspend retaliatory tariffs against the US, ahead of Brexit and the expected new trading relationship with the US under Biden.

As well as whisky, Trump’s original tariffs in response to the WTO ruling targeted UK cashmere, German coffee and tools, Spanish olive oil, as well as cheese, meat and other products from various EU nations.