Historic EU COVID recovery fund deal; Turkey and Greece Aegean dispute
Ian Bremmer shares his insights on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:
How will the EU coronavirus recovery fund work and are there winners and losers?
How it's going to work? Hundreds of billions of euros being distributed between, its collective redistribution from wealthy countries to poor countries. And that money has been now unanimous agreement between all 27 members of the European Union. Not 28, the Brits are no longer a part of the table. And it's historic. It's by far the biggest political success that we've seen anywhere around the world in providing real multilateral leadership to help make it easier for those countries that are suffering the most. In the case of Europe, that means the poorer countries that don't have the ability to bail out their devastated economies. Again, you are seeing double digit contractions across Europe economically this year. Now you're seeing hundreds of billions of euros, half of that will be grants, don't need to pay back, half will be loans. That was a big part of the of the debate, of the controversy.
And who's it going to go to? It's going to go to the southern Europeans, like Italy, like Spain. It's going to go to the Eastern Europeans. And part of that, that's where you have some of the problems that some of those East Europeans do not actually support. All of the mandated rule of law, independent judiciary that you're supposed to, to be a part of the EU, the EU has not been able to sanction them. Countries like Hungary and Poland precisely because you need unanimity to do so and it's hard to get unanimity. Some of the wealthier countries are saying, "well, we're not going to give that money unless we can ensure that everybody that gets it actually is aligned politically." Well, that didn't work. So, countries like Poland and Hungary will continue to have their political systems diverge from those of the west and the north. That's bad for Europe long term, but for the short term, Euroscepticism is actually on the decline, not on the rise, because even if you're a Eurosceptic in a country like Italy or Greece or Hungary, if they're saying they're going to give you money to help bail you out, mutualized debt, something that no one thought could have happened before the pandemic, you're reasonably happy with that. I mean, you know, you're not going to give up free money. That's how I like Ayn Rand Institute accepting cash from the US government. You know, I mean, you read "Atlas Shrugged." I mean, I suppose, though, it was horrible, but that doesn't mean you won't take free money from the government. That's just your ideology. Who cares about that?
What is going on with Turkey and Greece in the Aegean Sea?
Well, the Turkish government is now sending a bunch of military vessels, looks like towards this Greek economic exclusion zone, which is where the Greeks are saying they have the right to exploit resources in the Aegean Sea. The Turks are contesting that. It's kind of like the dispute you've seen in the South China Sea, where the international community clearly supports one set of norms in the fishing and mineral rights that are off of countries borders. But the more powerful country militarily in the region, China, is trying to subvert that. That is what we are potentially now seeing with Turkey and the Greeks. With the Turks saying they have the right to exploit and providing licenses for doing so and suddenly a bunch of military ships showing up. Very interesting because Greece and Turkey are both NATO allies. The Americans are supporting the Greeks, as the international community broadly does here, in terms of their definition of what their territoriality actually implies, where it expands to. But that doesn't mean the Turks are going to listen. And the fact there's been a bit of a bromance between President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan complicates this. So, we should watch this very closely. Big win for the Greeks in terms of the EU deal, potentially big problems in terms of the fight with Turkey.
Finally, is Russian influence in UK politics really the "new normal?"
I'm going to say no. I think people continue to exaggerate what the Russians are actually able to accomplish. It is true that they provided lots of disinformation and certainly weren't saying, they weren't open about it, they weren't saying "this is coming from Russia." It wasn't state propaganda. It was pretending to be local actors with the Brexit referendum, with the Scottish independence referendum, and of course, in the United States with the US elections. But the amount of money is relatively limited. And the outcomes, I would argue, are much more divisive because of problems in these countries themselves. The Russians tried to have that same kind of impact on the German elections and it failed. Why did it fail? Because the German people were generally happier with their social contract, generally weren't prepared to listen to crazy extremist conspiracy theories. In the US, in the UK, where lots of people increasingly feel like their own systems are delegitimized and rigged, they're more willing to listen to wackos. And so, they're more susceptible to delegitimization efforts, whether they're domestic or international. So, if you really want to fix this, I mean, yes, the US needs to respond and show that if the Russians hit us on cyber, we're going to hit them on cyber. That tit for tat is completely understandable and appropriate. But you're not going to fix the problem until you actually build your own resilience at home and that's what we need to be doing. Certainly true for the UK.