Lebanon’s economic and political crisis represents an important issue for European policymakers. Given the central role the country plays in the eastern Mediterranean region, its further destabilisation is likely to spread to the broader Middle East, with significant consequences also for Europe. Over the past twenty years, both the European Union and its member states, with France in the lead, have played a key role in sustaining Lebanon’s fragile economy and supporting the burden posed by the Syrian refugee crisis.
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Lebanon’s fall from grace has been nothing short of dramatic. Not so long ago, Lebanon was an upper-middle income country with a highly skilled work-force, first-world educational and health institutions, a vibrant and entrepreneurial private sector, a thriving cultural and tourist scene, and a large and engaged diaspora.
Nothing will ever be the same. It’s hard not to share such a clear yet simple assessment of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the short span of a few weeks, indeed a few days, ordinary human activities were disrupted. The impact was immediate and particularly visible in cities where traffic frenzy and traffic jams were suddenly replaced by deserted streets and unreal silence.
After a decade of rapid growth, shared mobility has confronted new challenges with COVID-19. Shared mobility refers to transportation modes in which services and vehicles are shared among users. This includes app-based ride-hailing, carpooling, and car-sharing, as well as micro-mobility services such as bikes, e-bikes, and electric scooter fleets.
Up until not long ago, research and development efforts around autonomous driving focused on the vehicle. Automobile and technology companies disseminated their vision for futuristically designed vehicles wherein passengers could even sleep during their trips, and which would make mobility fully efficient, safe, clean, and equitable. Over time, following the involvement of other actors (researchers from different fields, administrations, traffic management centres, etc.) in autonomous mobility, this idealistic vision was discarded.
Alongside meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, taken place from 18 to 24 April, Washington saw an attempt to keep the G20 working.
Over the last two years, global economy – and the EU’s in particular – has been shaken by two “black swans” in a row: Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine. After the impressive economic rebound in 2021, the conflict has already taken its economic toll: growth forecasts for 2022 and 2023 are heavily revised downwards, public debts are skyrocketing, and inflation is at 30-year high, and likely to keep rising.
Most of the developed world reacted to Russian government’s military operations in Ukraine with a prompt economic counteroffensive.
Foreign producers who have heavily invested in Russia over the past two decades – betting on Russia’s political stability, size, and access to the post-Soviet market - now face a hard choice: how to do business without losing face. Many are considering to go-in-between jurisdictions (Armenia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, etc.) to continue trading with Russia to circumvent sanctions.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to increased oppression against opposition activists, NGOs, and journalists within the country. Civil society organizations are trying to survive under the new political and economic conditions, with many activists and experts fleeing Russia.
Regardless of how things play out in Ukraine over the near-term, it appears all but certain that Russia and the West will find themselves locked in a protracted confrontation for years to come. The Syrian civil war and the Iran dossier provide good test cases for assessing how that confrontation could affect the Middle East. In Syria, Russia and the West have in recent years competed for influence, deconflicted to avoid clashes, while cooperating selectively on counterterrorism, humanitarian issues, and a political process under UN auspices.