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How effectively Western countries can return to Iran deal after Trump administration

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Despite a strong opposition from Trump’s election campaign towards the US election 2020 results, media have announced Joe Biden as the next US president. This raised a wave of “hope” among leaders around a world who believe the unilateral decisions by US administration under Trump is over and US would try to reconstruct the US foreign Policy with cuddling old allies in Europe, as Joe Biden already stated his commitments to return the US to Paris climate agreement and Iran nuclear deal, writes Ali Bagheri.

Possible improvement in EU and US relationship should not be exaggerated

Clearly, Joe Biden presents a totally different personality than Donald Trump. However, Europe cannot risk its relationship with US only based on the personality of the new president not foreseeing the bone structure of US foreign Policy. François Hollande, former French president, believes: “Joe Biden's victory would bring a form of appeasement and open the transatlantic dialogue on subjects as major as the climate, Iran and the relationship with China. His eventual victory will not reverse the trends seen under the Obama presidency, or even some of Trump's inflections. He will have to take into account the protectionist sensitivity that now exists in his country. Finally, the United States, which no longer wants to be the policeman of the world, will not intend to ensure the security of Europe in an intangible way.” (Le Soir – 18 October).

Geopolitician Caroline Galactéros believes what Europe suffers more is the lack of a strategic vision in its foreign policy. “We believe that things will go well without coercion and we no longer know how to lead” She stated in an interview with L’Echo (6 November). “With Trump, Europe therefore found itself both orphaned and naked in the face of the lusts of all the other actors… Joe Biden could put the forms back, especially with the Europeans. He has already started by referring to a return of the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement.” However, Caroline Galactéros does not feel the same way for Iran deal. “The Iranian nuclear deal should be recast, according to American and Israeli interests,” she added.

All in all, experts anticipate the US administration would try return to the previous path as Obama, however it is unlikely to expect that he can get a big achievement in his first round because there are a lot of actions to reverse while EU remains caution about the outcome of the next election within 4 years. Moreover, the presence of Biden in the white house and a better relationship with EU can make even a stronger alliance for US political agenda about Iran. Especially when EU has deep concerns for increasing number of terror attacks on its soil and the case of the Iranian diplomat terrorist in Belgium.

Iran and middle east are different playgrounds for EU and US

Trump’s “Maximum Pressure” policy towards Iran squeezed this country’s economics and isolated Iran from most of its benefits of JCPOA. Biden wants to return to Iran Nuclear Deal, but he needs to convince major counterparts in the region such as Saudi-Arabia and Israel. Moreover, he will not risk returning to the JCPOA as it was signed back in 2015. Especially when Iran has broken most of its commitments and keep following its ballistic missile program. Besides, Democrats are not enthusiasm to bow to the Ayatollah when there exists a both partisan agreement on Trump’s policy towards Iran. Resolution 734 which received more than 221 supports (bipartisan support) in US congress clearly condemns Iranian state-sponsored terrorism and expressing support for the Iranian people's desire for a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear republic of Iran. Therefore, on the viewpoint of US politicians nothing has changed towards Iran that Joe Biden can restrain. They also have EU as their alliance to follow their agenda towards Iran too.

The other factor is Iran itself. Donald Trump started a “maximum pressure” campaign not because he loved to do so but the protests in Iran became that much radical that left no ways for him except to follow these steps. Donald Trump asked Iranian authorities for a new round of negotiations several times, and he believes he would make a deal in his second round. But let’s analysis his actions towards Iran when the Iranian people and their resistance are involved in the problem.

Trump withdrew from JCPOA after a major uprising in December 2017 and January 2018 in Iran. “US could never leave JCPOA if 2018 Uprising has not occurred” stated Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, in his speech in the Parliament in November 2018. The other important action of Trump administration was the elimination of Qassem Soleimani, who has been in US and EU terrorist lists for years. Again, it was not Trump to make this decision, November 2019 uprising in Iran left more than 1500 unarmed protesters who have been killed by IRGC troops in Iran’s streets. This uprising shook the Iranian regime to its foundations that Trump felt no hesitation to remove Qassem Solimani just with a blink. Joe Biden also confirms Trumps action in his statement. “No Americans will mourn Qassem Soleimani, He deserved to be brought to justice for his crimes against American troops and thousands of innocents throughout the region” Biden wrote in his statement.

Iranian resistance is a key player that cannot be ignored

In conclusion, no matter if the U.S. president is a Democrat or Republican the foreign policy of the U.S. remains the same regarding the rest of the world. Maybe Joe Biden will not use the same tough words as Trump did, but he will also stick to a policy in favor of American interests putting America first. However, the situation for Iran is different, because the balance of power is not just about the Iranian regime and Western countries anymore. A key player has arisen in Iran’s political platform which is the Iranian resistance with the support of the Iranian people and resistance units inside the country. The National Council of Resistance of Iran who has announced his resistance unit’s strategy since 2012 for regime change in Iran has proven its capabilities to organize nationwide uprising and continues to do so regardless of foreign powers desires.

Ali Bagheri is an energy engineer, PhD from University of Mons. He is an Iranian activist and an advocate for human rights and democracy in Iran. Email: [email protected] Phone: +32 474 08 6554 Twitter: https://twitter.com/DR_Ali_Bagheri LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alibagheri89 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Aramana979?ref=bookmarks

All opinions expressed in the above article are those of the author alone, and do not reflect any opinions on the part of EU Reporter.

Climate change

Big business seeks unified, market-based approaches ahead of climate summit

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Corporate executives and investors say they want world leaders at next week’s climate summit to embrace a unified and market-based approach to slashing their carbon emissions, write Ross Kerber and Simon Jessop.

The request reflects the business world’s growing acceptance that the world needs to sharply reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, as well as its fear that doing so too quickly could lead governments to set heavy-handed or fragmented rules that choke international trade and hurt profits.

The United States is hoping to reclaim its leadership in combating climate change when it hosts the 22-23 April Leaders Summit on Climate.

Key to that effort will be pledging to cut US emissions by at least half by 2030, as well as securing agreements from allies to do the same.

“Climate change is a global problem, and what companies are looking to avoid is a fragmented approach where the US, China and the EU each does its own thing, and you wind up with a myriad of different methodologies,” said Tim Adams, chief executive of the Institute of International Finance, a Washington-based trade association.

He said he hopes U.S. President Joe Biden and the 40 other world leaders invited to the virtual summit will move toward adopting common, private-sector solutions to reaching their climate goals, such as setting up new carbon markets, or funding technologies like carbon-capture systems.

Private investors have increasingly been supportive of ambitious climate action, pouring record amounts of cash into funds that pick investments using environmental and social criteria.

That in turn has helped shift the rhetoric of industries that once minimized the risks of climate change.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents oil companies, for example, said last month it supported steps to reduce emissions such as putting a price on carbon and accelerating the development of carbon capture and other technologies.

API Senior Vice President Frank Macchiarola said that in developing a new U.S. carbon cutting target, the United States should balance environmental goals with maintaining U.S. competitiveness.

“Over the long-term, the world is going to demand more energy, not less, and any target should reflect that reality and account for the significant technological advancements that will be required to accelerate the pace of emissions reductions,” Macchiarola said.

Labor groups like the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of U.S. labor unions, meanwhile, back steps to protect U.S. jobs like taxing goods made in countries that have less onerous emissions regulations.

AFL-CIO spokesman Tim Schlittner said the group hopes the summit will produce “a clear signal that carbon border adjustments are on the table to protect energy-intensive sectors”.

Industry wish lists

Automakers, whose vehicles make up a big chunk of global emissions, are under pressure to phase out petroleum-fueled internal combustion engines. Industry leaders General Motors Co and Volkswagen have already declared ambitious plans to move toward selling only electric vehicles.

But to ease the transition to electric vehicles, US and European automakers say they want subsidies to expand charging infrastructure and encourage sales.

The National Mining Association, the US industry trade group for miners, said it supports carbon capture technology to reduce the industry’s climate footprint. It also wants leaders to understand that lithium, copper and other metals are needed to manufacture electric vehicles.

“We hope that the summit brings new attention to the mineral supply chains that underpin the deployment of advanced energy technologies, such as electric vehicles,” said Ashley Burke, the NMA’s spokeswoman.

The agriculture industry, meanwhile, is looking for market-based programs to help it cut its emissions, which stack up to around 25% of the global total.

Industry giants such as Bayer AG and Cargill Inc have launched programs encouraging farming techniques that keep carbon in the soil.

Biden’s Department of Agriculture is looking to expand such programs, and has suggested creating a “carbon bank” that could pay farmers for carbon capture on their farms.

For their part, money managers and banks want policymakers to help standardize accounting rules for how companies report environmental and other sustainability-related risks, something that could help them avoid laggards on climate change.

“Our industry has an important role to play in supporting companies’ transition to a more sustainable future, but to do so it is vital we have clear and consistent data on the climate-related risks faced by companies,” said Chris Cummings, CEO of the Investment Association in London.

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Brexit

UK asks for more time to respond to EU Brexit legal action: RTE TV

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Britain has asked for more time to respond to legal action taken by the European Union over its unilateral decision to ease requirements of the Northern Ireland Protocol, Ireland’s RTE television reported on Wednesday (14 April), writes Conor Humphries.

“The request came in two letters from the UK’s chief Brexit minister David Frost,” RTE correspondent Tony Connelly said in a Twitter post.

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EU

Team Europe increased Official Development Assistance to €66.8 billion as the world's leading donor in 2020

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The EU and its 27 member states have significantly increased their Official Development Assistance (ODA) for partner countries to €66.8 billion in 2020. This is a 15% increase in nominal terms and equivalent to 0.50% of collective Gross National Income (GNI), up from 0.41% in 2019, according to preliminary figures published today by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC). The EU and its member states thereby confirm their position as the world's leading donor, providing 46% of global assistance from the EU and other DAC donors, and have taken a major leap forward towards meeting the commitment to provide at least 0.7% of collective GNI as ODA by 2030.

International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen said: “Team Europe has significantly increased its contribution of Official Development Assistance compared to last year. This is crucial at a time when so many people in our partner countries face significant health, economic and social challenges linked to the COVID-19 crisis. The latest figures show that 10 years ahead of the due date to deliver on our commitment to provide 0.7% of our collective GNI as ODA, we are more determined than ever to achieve this target.”

Overall, 17 Member States increased their ODA in nominal terms in 2020 compared to 2019, with the strongest nominal increases coming from Germany (+€3.310bn), France (+€1.499bn) and Sweden (+€921 million), and further increases coming from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The EU institutions' ODA (meaning the European Commission and the EIB) increased by €3.7bn (27%) overall in 2020 in nominal terms. 15 member states improved their ODA relative to their GNI by at least 0.01 percentage points: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. In Cyprus and Greece, ODA as a share of GNI decreased by at least 0.01 percentage points.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the EU, its member states, and the European financial institutions, together with the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, have combined their financial resources as Team Europe, mobilising over €40bn in support to partner countries in 2020. 65% of this amount was already disbursed in 2020 in support of the immediate humanitarian needs; health, water, sanitation and nutrition systems, as well as tackling the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 crisis has put a huge stress on public finances and debt sustainability of many developing countries, affecting their ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This is why, in May 2020, President von der Leyen called for a Global Recovery Initiative, linking debt relief and investment to the SDGs to promote a green, digital, just and resilient recovery. The Global Recovery Initiative is about shifting to policy choices supporting green and digital transitions, social inclusiveness and human development while enhancing debt sustainability in partner countries.

ODA is one of the sources of financing to deliver on the SDGs, although more transparency is needed on all sources of finance for sustainable development. As an important step in that direction, data on Total Official Support for Sustainable Development (TOSSD) has been collected and published for the first time, increasing transparency on all officially-supported resources for the SDGs, including South-South co-operation, support to global public goods such as vaccine research and climate mitigation as well as private finance mobilized by official interventions.

Background

The data published today is based on preliminary information reported by the EU Member States to the OECD pending detailed final data to be published by OECD by early 2022. EU collective ODA consists of the total ODA spending of EU member states and the ODA of the EU institutions not attributed to individual member states or the UK (notably own resources of the European Investment Bank and, for the first time in 2020, special macro-financial assistance loans on a grant equivalent basis).

Despite its withdrawal from the European Union taking effect on 1 February 2020, the United Kingdom still contributed funding in the form of ODA to the EU budget and the European Development Fund in 2020. This is included in the EU institutions' ODA. However, in order to avoid double-counting between the ODA reported as EU collective ODA and the ODA reported by the United Kingdom itself, the United Kingdom's contribution to EU institutions is not included in what is reported as EU collective ODA.

Four EU member states already exceeded the 0.7% target of ODA as a share of GNI in 2020: Sweden (1.14%), Luxembourg (1.02%), Denmark (0.73%) and Germany (0.73%).

When highlighting the member states which increased or decreased their ODA as a share of GNI, only cases where the change amounts to at least 0.01 percentage points (based on exact rather than rounded values) are taken into account, while member states for which the change is smaller than 0.01 percentage points in either direction are considered to have kept their ODA as a share of GNI stable.

The EU and its member states thereby perform significantly above the average of non-EU DAC donors in terms of their ODA as a share of GNI, standing at 0.50% compared to 0.26% by the aggregate of all non-EU DAC donors.

In May 2015, the European Council reaffirmed its commitment to increase collective ODA to 0.7% of EU collective GNI by 2030. Since 2015, on a flow basis, ODA by the EU and its current 27 member states has grown by 37% (€18.7bn) in nominal terms while the ODA/GNI ratio has increased by 0.1 percentage points. The year 2020 marks a turn in the previous trend of declining ODA since the 2016 climax when the EU and its then 28 member states' ODA reached 0.52% of GNI. This turn is due partly to an absolute increase in collective ODA in nominal terms, and partly to an absolute decrease in collective GNI in nominal terms. The EU is also committed to give collectively between 0.15% and 0.20% of the EU GNI in the short term to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and 0.20% by 2030. Since 2015, on a flow basis, ODA by the EU and its current 27 member states to LDCs has grown by 34% (€3.5bn) in nominal terms to reach €13.8bn (0.10% of GNI) in 2019, and the ODA to LDCs/GNI ratio has increased by 0.01 percentage points. Moreover, compared to 2018, the EU and its then 28 member states increased their aggregate ODA to Africa by 3.6% in nominal terms to €25.9bn in 2019. Data on ODA to LDCs, Africa and other specific recipients for 2020 are expected by early 2022.

Scaling up sustainable finance and private sector engagement in partner countries is essential, coupled with reforms to enhance business climates, as meeting the challenges of the Global Recovery Initiative cannot be achieved by ODA alone. The EU has been instrumental in bringing together aid, investment, trade, domestic resource mobilisation and policies designed to unlock the full potential of all financial flows. The European Fund for Sustainable Development guarantee in particular has played a key role in unlocking additional finance for partner countries. Over the last year alone, the EU signed €1.55bn worth of financial guarantees with our partner financial institutions, leveraging over €17bn of investments – also helping to ensure that recovery from the pandemic is green, digital, just and resilient.

More information

Q&A on preliminary figures on 2020 Official Development Assistance for the EU and its member states 

Annex Preliminary Figures on 2020 Official Development Assistance, Tables and Graphs for the EU and its member states

Commission's publication of figures on the global COVID-19 response

OECD press release

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