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MERKEL’S NEIN LIVES

MERKEL’S NEIN LIVES

Well, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has dodged another bullet. After weeks in which it looked like a split over migrant policy with her conservative alliance partner, the CSU, could bring down her government, Merkel struck a 25th hour deal to tighten Germany’s border with Austria. That puts the issue to rest, for now — but, as my pal Gabe explains, at what cost?


Here’s how we got here: Last month, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of the Bavaria-based CSU threatened to turn away migrants arriving at Germany’s border without proper documentation, in a direct challenge to Merkel’s open border policy. A formal split between the CSU and the CDU could have undone her government.

But two things worked in her favor. First, EU leaders agreed at a summit last week to a new scheme that aims, however vaguely, to stop more migrants from reaching Europe and to share the costs of housing those who do. Second, Seehofer’s own position became widely unpopular at home — with 67 percent of Germans calling his and the CSU’s actions irresponsible. He was in fact ready to resign as recently as yesterday, before agreeing to a compromise with Merkel that keeps him around.

A big win for Merkel? Here are a few caveats…

  1. While Merkel has kept her government together (for now), she did so by acquiescing to tighter controls at Germany’s southern border — a move that contradicts her long-standing support for open borders and sets a precedent for other less migrant-friendly governments throughout Europe to do the same. ​
  2. The EU-wide deal on migration that gave Merkel a reprieve is in fact quite vague — its reliance on voluntary action by countries to absorb more refugees could quickly run aground on stiffening resistance in many countries, reigniting the issue anew before long.
  3. Within Germany, the steadily growing appeal of the far-right anti-migrant AfD continues to polarize the country. Seehofer’s bid to outflank the AfD, which swiped a huge chunk of CSU voters in the last election, has failed. Still, the reasons why he tried it at all remain firmly in place.

The takeaway: After 13 years in power, Merkel is nothing if not a survivor. But with each deft escape from political peril, her room for maneuver narrows further. Last night’s concession on open borders was a significant one — it remains to be seen whether her victory was strategic or pyrrhic.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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