EU government leaders have put no headline energy into trying to end the warfare torturing eastern Congo for the past month. And you can’t blame that on being distracted by Israel retaliating against random rocket attacks from Gaza with an 8-day bombardment until Egypt brokered the ceasefire on 21 November. Heads of EU governments weren’t headline visible on Gaza either. They’re distracted by other things. Continue reading
Peacebuilding IN Europe?
In 2001 – a different time and a different world – the EU Gothenburg summit agreed to make the prevention of violent conflict a priority for the EU. Measured by money, it’s now the world’s biggest player in peacebuilding. But look around Europe now and we can ask, should peacebuilding also start to be a priority inside the EU? Continue reading
Tobin tax: is this the way to meet the climate change bill?
Tobin or not to bin? Gordon Brown’s apparently sudden conversion to supporting a tax on financial transactions – initially proposed by James Tobin – has, if nothing else, put new energy into the related debates about the banking sector, paying off the costs of the economic crunch, and financing basic social needs. But will it fly? And should it? There are several strong reasons why but there is a negative side that we also need to attend to. Continue reading
Economic recovery and successful peacemaking: two irritating footnotes on DFID’s white paper
DFID’s impressive White Paper came out in July; it marks a major step forward in thinking and policy-making on international development (see my post on 21 August). But there are at least a couple of points that deserve a second, sceptical look. Without detracting from the achievement registered with the White Paper, but just to have it on record in a quiet way, DFID takes an unguardedly if necessarily optimistic view about recovery from the recession and over-states the success of peace agreements quite dramatically. Continue reading
10 action points for UK Parliament to focus on
British politics is in one hell of a hole because of stupid abuse of a stupid set-up for covering the living expenses of Members of Parliament. The system was meant to augment MPs’ income because successive governments since the 1980s have been too gutless to agree to raise MPs’ pay in line with, for example, doctors. So the arrangement was always a piece of classic British hypocrisy and now it’s backfired into the fan. As the scandal and ridicule unfolds, though not all MPs are embroiled in it, the body as a whole is naturally obsessed by it and their real business suffers. Here are ten key problems Parliament should be talking about instead of staring up itself.
IMF rejects its own economic estimates
On Wednesday the UK government budget was presented by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, and a pretty sorry tale he presented. But he has been hammered for being too optimistic because the IMF World Economic Outlook was published on British budget day. Its figures predict worse things than the UK government’s do and it is treated as authoritative. But why? Its new estimates reject the old ones it published with equal fanfare just three months ago. Continue reading
“Oops” – the IMF’s latest economic jargon
On the eve of the UK budget statement, the International Monetary Fund today estimated the cost to the British government and taxpayer of bailing out British banks to be £200 billion. That’s not how much we’re under-writing, guaranteeing or spinning. It’s money that we will have to actually pay out. Except, no it’s not. There’s no point giving you the link to the IMF web-site so you can see the fancy graph because they’ve, er, well, anyway it’s not there anymore. They took it down. It was wrong. Oops. Continue reading
G-20 outcomes and winners
Thursday’s G-20 summit communique was followed by an immediate hailstorm of judgements. The term “new world order” has been used more than once, which in principle is not out of order when the leaders of countries responsible for 90 per cent of world output are gathered together, and you know there is some kind of success when major world leaders queue up to claim the credit. Continue reading
G-20 tension doesn’t mount
Were it not for the death of a demonstrator and injuries to police and public, it would be possible to treat the whole G-20 summit with the humour that its theatricality demands. For putting events on the streets of London to one side, this is indeed an occasion for powerful actors to strut their stuff. Continue reading
G-20 and the bottle of expectation on economy, climate and conflict
Every significant political moment generates a bottle of expectation. As it looms up and unfolds, the news media and commentators start rushing to judge how far the bottle has been filled by actual achievement. The G-20 – the world’s 19 richest states, plus the EU, the IMF, World Bank and a couple of other financial institutions – meet on Thursday 2 April in London. In full anticipation that the half-full/half-empty metaphor will be used to excess over the next few days, what are reasonable expectations this time? Continue reading