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What We’re Watching: Europe's trucker shortage, Mapuche emergency in Chile, Japan’s military plans

Truck driver shortage across Europe: No, the UK is not the only European country with an acute shortage of drivers to move goods around. Indeed, the entire continent is now desperately in need of more truckers, mainly as a result of soaring demand coupled with less people willing to do a job for low pay and poor working conditions. The situation in mainland Europe is not as bad (yet) as in the UK, where Brexit has aggravated the problem: the army has been deployed to refill gas stations amid backed-up ports and empty supermarket shelves because EU drivers now need visas. Still, the shortage is creating a massive headache for European companies already struggling to keep up with so much pent-up demand. What's more, a new EU-wide law will soon require truckers to be paid the minimum wage in each EU member state they transit through. This is all precisely what the IMF has been talking about this week, when it warned that supply chain disruptions are slowing down the global post-pandemic recovery and driving up inflation.

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Is Brexit breaking Britain?

When the UK left the EU at the end of last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised that his country would put its new freedom to good use. A more open and dynamic "Global Britain" would still benefit from solid ties with Europe, he pledged, but aligning its foreign and trade policies more closely with democracies in other regions – the United States, India, South Korea, Australia and others — would lift the UK into a new era of security and prosperity.

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Antony Blinken mending fences with France following AUKUS rift

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

How is US Secretary of State Antony Blinken doing with his talks in Paris?

Well, seems to be fairly okay. He had a lengthy discussion with the Foreign Minister Le Drian and he was even received by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron. There's a lot of fence-mending to be done, but a start has been done. And that's good.

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What We're Watching: Brexit clashes, China stalking Taiwan, strongman's son for Philippine president

Bet you thought Brexit was over… it's not: The EU and UK remain at loggerheads over the future of the Northern Irish border. Brussels says that it won't renegotiate a part of the post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal that includes a symbolic border between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state, and Northern Ireland, part of the UK, threatening to increase tensions along this decades-long flashpoint. Though British PM Boris Johnson agreed in December to a nominal border that would essentially run through the Irish Sea, he has been dragging his feet ever since, and has even threatened in recent weeks to use a loophole to renege on the Northern Ireland clause altogether, which would only further infuriate the Europeans. Indeed, Johnson is facing extreme pressure from all sides: Northern Irish unionists are furious that the British PM ever agreed to a border in the first place, saying it undermines its place within the UK trade system, while Brussels is refusing to budge, saying that renegotiating Brexit would destabilize the whole continent amid ongoing supply chain disruptions. London's ultimatum expires in 10 days.

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Bosnian Serbs will boycott government over genocide denial law

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is going on in Bosnia with Bosnian Serbs boycotting all major institutions?

Well, it's a reaction against a decision that was taken by the outgoing high representative during his very last days, after 12 years of having done very little in this respect, to have a law banning any denial of Srebrenica and other genocides. But this issue goes to very many other aspects of the Bosnian situation. So, it has created a political crisis that will be somewhat difficult to resolve.

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Merkel and Johnson will discuss post-Brexit relationship

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What are Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson going to talk about when they meet this week?

Well, I guess they need to start discussing a relationship post-Brexit. It was five years ago, and the relationship is still dominated by sort of Brexit-related issues. The uncertainty over the Northern Ireland protocol is a cloud over the relationship, but there are also common issues. Needless to say, the pandemic is still with us.

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UK & France fight over fishing rights & why Scottish elections matter

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

What's going on between the United Kingdom and France over fishing rights?

Yes, good question. Why on earth are they sending the Royal Navy to chase away some French fishermen from the island of Jersey? Fishing rights is very controversial. It was one of the key issues in the Brexit negotiations. Extremely divisive. Fishermen are fairly determined people but sending the Royal Navy to handle the French fishermen was somewhat excessive. I guess it played rather well with the English nationalists for Boris Johnson in the local elections, though.

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What We're Watching: French and Brits fight over fish, Nigeria's insecurity, Duterte cozies up to China

Paris-London face-off at sea: France and the UK are at loggerheads in the high seas this week over post-Brexit fishing access in Jersey, an island off the English Channel. Furious at regulations that they say makes it harder to fish in these lucrative waters, dozens of French fishing boats amassed near the Channel Island, threatening to block access to the port. In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deployed two naval vessels — a move critics say was an unnecessary escalation, and an attempt by the PM to flex his muscles and bolster the Tory vote ahead of Thursday's regional election. France, for its part, sent its own naval ship and threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supply, 90 percent of which comes from French underwater cables. Fishing rights was one of the final sticking points of Brexit trade negotiations, an emotive political issue for many Britons who say that they got a subpar deal when the UK joined the European Economic Community in the 1970s. Though an UK-EU Brexit agreement was finally reached in December 2020, it's clear that there are still thorny issues that need to be resolved.

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