The leaders of the G20 are meeting in Buenos Aires amid growing geopolitical and trade tensions. The Summit is a long shot from 2009, the first time it was held at the leaders' level. Back then, governments of the 19 industrialized nations (plus the EU) managed to avoid a major trade war in the face of the worst economic recession since 1929. Today, the US-China trade war is on, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is flaring up again, and the Khashoggi case continues to haunt Saudi Arabia.
The escalating trade war between the United States and China will be one of the hot issues during the Buenos Aires G20 meeting. This trade conflict, probably the most important since the second world war, started last January with the US introducing safeguard tariffs on imports from the world of solar panels and tariff rate-quotas on imports from the world of washing machines. These tariffs have been introduced in response to requests by US manufacturers.
As G20 leaders arrive in Buenos Aires to start their 13th summit on November 30, 2018, many observers wonder if they will fail, for the first time, to produce a collective communiqué at their summit’s end. Most assume that if they do, it will contain only a collection of watered-down, general platitudes, in sharp contrast to the 529 precise, future-oriented, politically obligatory commitments that they made at their last summit, in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017.
Calls for European self-reliance in a volatile international environment have multiplied in the last two years. From Angela Merkel to Emmanuel Macron, from Jean-Claude Juncker to Donald Tusk, several leaders have stressed that Europeans can preserve their way of life, uphold their security and advance their prosperity only by joining forces in the face of adverse trends. Size matters in a world of proliferating threats and of growing economic, geopolitical and normative competition.
The twentieth summit between the European Union and China, which ended on 16 July 2018 in Beijing, reinforces the collaboration between the two actors both at the economic-commercial and the geopolitical levels.
In 2011 a now infamous policy paper by the same author labelled the EU-India relationship as “A Loveless Arranged Marriage”. Seven years later, the EU-India strategic partnership has turned into one of the well most functioning of the EU’s strategic partnerships, even far ahead of the faltering EU-US strategic partnership under US President Trump.
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) stands for 55% of global trade, 60% of global GDP, 60% of the world’s population, 65% of global production, and 75% of global tourism. Figures such as these are published every two years on the occasion of the biennial ASEM summit, but in and of themselves they say very little.
With US President Donald Trump apparently hell bent on upending global rules, can Europe and Asia join forces to shore up a rapidly weakening multilateral order? New initiatives unveiled by the European Commission for revamping the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and setting governance standards for transport, energy and digital connectivity offer opportunities for more joint Europe-Asian action.
The state of relations between Europe and China on the issue of bilateral direct investments has recently become more and more delicate. Precisely since the end of 2017, which marked a milestone in Europe-China economic relations. For the first time ever, Chinese direct investment flows exceeded their German counterparts, traditionally the largest European investors in the Middle Kingdom.
Since the beginning of trade tensions with the US, Beijing intensified its outreach to Europe in search for allies. In a ‘charm offensive’, China showed goodwill by suggesting it would make economic and political concessions. Particularly, it addressed issues of reciprocity, i.e. EU requests to have equal access to the Chinese market as Chinese investors and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) do in Europe, and Europe’s concerns over Chinese initiatives undermining EU unity and rules.
European cities are at the forefront of tackling the complex challenges of integration. The foreign-born population is constantly growing and already exceeds 30% in Berlin, Vienna, and London. Local authorities are therefore playing a more and more important role in managing increasingly complex integration processes. Integrating foreigners requires a commitment to the coordination of policies in diverging areas such as: reception, education, the labour market, health services, and fighting segregation.
In NATO's Southern flank, the general picture is quite bleak. There is a general failure of governance as the Eastern Mediterranean and its adjoining regions remain an extremely turbulent and unstable neighborhood, where the security environment continues to be "Hobbesian".