BREXIT UPDATE: MARCH IS COMING FOR MAY

BREXIT UPDATE: MARCH IS COMING FOR MAY

As things stand now, the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union in March of 2019. But despite months of rancorous negotiations, Brussels and London are still far apart on the terms of what that divorce might look like. Just days ago, the basis for a potential deal fell apart, leaving open the possibility that when the time comes, the UK might crash out of the Union without a new set of economic and financial agreements in place. That would be a potential economic disaster for both sides.


As the deadline approaches, EU leaders are set to convene in Luxembourg today to try again to hammer out at least a basic agreement over the future of economic relations between the continent and the UK.

Here’s a quick guide to what the issues are and what could happen next:

The major sticking point between the UK and EU right now is what happens to the border between Northern Ireland, which is a part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which is a member of the EU. The situation is compounded by the fact that the border itself is part of deep-seated ethnic and religious fault lines. Thirty years ago, an agreement to bring an end to decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland was based on a delicate compromise: Northern Ireland would remain a part of the United Kingdom but with continued economic, cultural, and civil ties to the neighboring Republic of Ireland. In 1998, negotiators of that deal could never have anticipated the rapid expansion of the EU or the modern challenges of extricating the UK from it.

But the legacy of that moment now hovers over Brexit negotiations, where the UK faces a fundamental choice about this land border: either impose border controls in an effort to fully separate Northern Ireland from the EU or leave the border alone by effectively allowing it to remain under EU rules. The first option risks damaging Northern Ireland’s economy and angering those who still chafe under UK rule, while the second is seen as a red line for pro-Unionists there, including members of May’s governing coalition, and Tory hardliners who view it as prelude to continued close economic relations with the EU.

Until recently, it looked like May had achieved the careful choreography of appeasing both hardliners at home and negotiators in Brussels by proposing a technology-enabled “frictionless border” with a so-called “backstop” contingency plan to prevent a hard border in Ireland if no final Brexit deal is reached. But a cabinet rebellion from hardliners who fear this plan could become permanent – effectively maintaining integration with the EU and cutting off Northern Ireland from the UK – has scuttled the prospect for progress this week.

The bottom line: Over the next two days, May will meet with European leaders to try and find common ground on Northern Ireland that also addresses the concerns of those at home. But the clock is ticking—with only two real possibilities after this week's summit to strike a deal to finalize the UK’s withdrawal and begin discussions on future economic relations with the EU.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

China's GDP grew a lower-than-expected 4.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, a whopping three percentage points less than in the previous period. It's a big deal for the world's second-largest economy, the only major one that expanded throughout the pandemic — and now at risk of missing its growth target of 6 percent for the entire year.

Normally, such a drastic slowdown would have put the ruling Communist Party in a tizzy. But this time, Xi Jinping knows this is the price he must pay for his big plans to curb rising inequality and boost the middle class at the expense of the CCP's traditional economic mantra: high growth above all else.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Read Ian Bremmer's wide-ranging essay in Foreign Affairs that puts in perspective both the challenge, and the opportunity, that comes from the unprecedented power of Big Tech.

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here on the road, something we haven't done very much recently, but will increasingly as we try to move through COVID. And I want to talk to you about a new article that I just put out in Foreign Affairs that I'm calling "The Technopolar Moment." Not unipolar, not bipolar, not multipolar, technopolar. What the hell does technopolar mean?

It means that increasingly big technology companies are themselves geopolitical actors. So to understand the future of the world, you can't just look at the United States, Europe and China. You need to look at the big tech companies, too.

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China gets away with a lot these days in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and elsewhere. That's because over the past decade, its economy has experienced explosive growth, making it an indispensable trading partner for almost every country in the world. At the same time, China has been expanding its share of the global economy, and is now set to overtake the US as the world's biggest economic powerhouse in the near term. We take a look at China's annual growth rate and share of the global economy based on GDP over the past decade.

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What is the legacy of Colin Powell?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell tragically died of complications of COVID-19. He was the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first Black National Security Advisor and the first Black Secretary of State. And he leaves a legacy of a long career, dedicated almost entirely to public service.

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Can this guy defeat Viktor Orban? Hungary's opposition movement of odd bedfellows has finally settled on the person they think has the best chance of defeating PM Viktor Orbán at the ballot box: Péter Márki-Zay, a politically conservative small-town mayor from southeastern Hungary, who beat out left-leaning European Parliament member Klara Dobrev in a weekend poll. Márki-Zay has a lot going for him: as a devout Catholic and father of seven it will be hard for the ultraconservative Orbán to paint him as a progressive threat, even as Márki-Zay reaches out to reassure left-leaning groups that he will protect LGBTQ rights. What's more, Márki-Zay has little political baggage: until recently he was a marketing executive. But can the relatively inexperienced Márki-Zay keep the various opposition factions happy? The stakes couldn't be higher: since taking power more than a decade ago, Orbán has deliberately made Hungary into an "illiberal" state, cracking down on the press, undermining the rule of law, and clashing with the EU. Bonus: if Márki-Zay stays in the news, you get to say "Hódmezővásárhely" the name of the city he currently runs.

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5,600: Myanmar's military junta will release from prison 5,600 people who were jailed for protesting against last February's coup. The gesture, the biggest act of amnesty since the junta took power, comes just days after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which rarely interferes in members' internal affairs, said it would exclude the head of Myanmar's military from an upcoming regional meeting.

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Colin Powell's legacy

US Politics

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