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Germany's floods make climate, competence top issues for election

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

What will be the effects on the politics of Germany after the immense flooding?

Well, it's really been a catastrophe, nearly 200 people dead in Germany alone. First effect, naturally, questions about the competence of the government, has enough been done? And secondly, climate issues will be much more in forefront of the election campaign.

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Merkel's White House visit will have symbolism and substance

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

Why is the United Kingdom opening up and what's happening in the rest of Europe?

Well, I mean, my personal view is that there's an element of complacency in Europe and elsewhere. The Delta variant is spreading rather fast. We'll see an increase in infections in a number of countries. Remains to be seen how this will be handled.

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What We’re Watching: EU goes green, Ethiopians at war, Taliban gains, Bolsonaro’s hiccups

Europe's green moonshot: The EU is going big on climate policy. On Wednesday the European Commission, the bloc's political cupola, committed to reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. These plans are the most ambitious of any large country or union on Earth: recent pledges by the US and China, the number one and number two polluters, are both more modest. The EU's proposals include new carbon trading schemes, investments in green tech, boosts for electric vehicles, and financial support to help lower-income communities adopt clean technologies. But as always, the EU's best-laid plans will still need to run through the wringer of 27 member states, each with their own agendas and constituencies. We, and the planet, are watching to see what things look like on the other side of that.

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Europe's "clear vision" for relations with China is one-sided

Does the European Union have a better plan for dealing with China than the US does, as Bruno Maçães argues in his latest op-ed for Politico Europe? While there are differences in how the EU and US are approaching Beijing, the EU's plan to separate politics from economics isn't quite working out the the way Maçães describes. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to take the other side.

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What We’re Watching: EU COVID pass mess, Bolsonaro in trouble, Kim Jong Un’s latest shakeup

EU rolls out COVID digital certificate: As of today, the EU's long-awaited COVID Digital Certificate system — a centralized database of residents' vaccination status and test results — is up and running. Good news for those wishing to travel around the bloc again this summer, right? Not so fast. First, countries worried about the more infectious Delta COVID variant are still permitted to restrict travel from countries where the strain is prevalent. Second, some EU member states are still not fully integrated with the system, so the usual testing and quarantine requirements are in place. Third, the system greenlights people who have received vaccines approved by the European Medical Agency, but not others such as the WHO-approved Sinovac or Sputnik V, which are being administered, for example, in Hungary. As with its vaccine rollout, we predict the bloc's vaccine (gasp!) "passport" scheme will be initially glitchy, but ultimately work out fine.

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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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What We’re Watching: China vs Australia, Kashmir talks, EU’s Putin FOMO

China-Australia trade row continues: In the newest installment of the deepening row between China and Australia, Beijing has launched a complaint against Canberra at the World Trade Organization over tariffs placed on three Chinese exports: wind towers, railway wheels and stainless-steel sinks. Australia says it was caught off-guard by China's suit — the tariffs have been in place since 2014, 2015, and 2019 — and that Beijing didn't go through the regular WTO channels nor pursue bilateral talks before filing the complaint. It's the latest move in a game of tit-for-tat: last year, Beijing slapped tariffs on Australian products like wine and barley, a massive blow to Australia's export-reliant economy. Since the Chinese crackdown on Australian wine, sales have fallen from AU$1.1 billion ($840 million) to just AU$20 million, prompting Australia to recently challenge Beijing's move at the WTO. China-Australia relations have become increasingly fraught over a range of issues including trade, Chinese spying, 5G, and Australia's call for a global probe into the origins of the pandemic.

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Is China too confident?

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody, Ian Bremmer here. Happy Monday. Have your Quick Take to start off the week. I want to talk a little bit about China and the backlash to China. We all know that China has been the top international focus of the Biden administration, considered to be the top national security threat, adversary, competitor of the United States. On top of the fact that there's large bipartisan agreement about that, on top of the fact that President Biden doesn't want to be seen in any way as potentially weak on China, to be vulnerable to the Republicans if he were to do so.

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