We introduce or July/August Newsletter, which precedes the Institute’s summer break, with our usual Inside Spain section, followed by three interesting highlights and the remaining analyses and working papers either written in English for the Institute or translated from Spanish as a selection of our original production.
Within Inside Spain and in its Foreign Policy section, William Chislett reports that José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Prime Minister, vowed to keep Spain’s 1,100 peacekeeping troops in the Lebanon, despite the death of six soldiers who were killed when a roadside car bomb destroyed their armoured personnel carrier. In a separate development, seven Spanish tourists were killed in Yemen in a suicide car bomb attack blamed on al-Qaeda. And in Europe, the agreement at Brussels that ended the bitter battle over the EU constitution was hailed by Rodríguez Zapatero as an ‘important step’ towards European political unity.
On the Domestic Scene, the Prime Minister made a surprise government re-shuffle, with changes in four Ministries, after his annual state-of-the-nation address, which saw an acrimonious exchange of views with Mariano Rajoy, the leader of the Popular Party (PP), and eight months before the next general election due to be held by next March. In another surprise move, Rodrigo Rato, who has headed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since his appointment in June 2004 for a five-year term, announced that he is to leave his post in September for what he claimed are strictly personal reasons. And some more data: Spain’s population, the fastest-growing in Europe, reached 45.1 million at the beginning of the year, with foreigners officially accounting for 10% of the total. And, finally, the Roman Catholic Church is up in arms about a new obligatory course, Education for Citizenship, aimed at developing the capacity of schoolchildren for thoughtful and responsible participation in political, social, economic and cultural life, which is part of an education reform approved in 2006 by all parties except the Popular Party (PP).
Within the Economy, the European Commission imposed a €152 million antitrust fine –the largest such fine on a telecom company– on Telefónica, Spain’s dominant telecoms group, for operating a ‘margin squeeze’ during five years on its broadband rivals. And different reports show that Spain’s per capita GDP surpasses the EU-27 average, and that its number of millionaires rose by 6% in 2006 to 157,800. Spain’s direct investment abroad reached a record US$89.7 billion in 2006, more than twice the previous year’s level, according to the first estimates by the OECD: this is the third-highest among OECD countries after the US and France. Some more figures: Spain attracted 58.5 million tourists in 2006 and earned US$51.1 billion from them, consolidating its position as the world’s second preferred tourism destination. Also, the Spanish stock market, one of the star performers in 2006 when its Ibex-35 index rose by 32%, was one of the laggards in the first half of 2007: one reason for this is the fall in property and construction stocks amidst fears of a bursting of the construction sector bubble. And finally, Cepsa, the petrochemicals company, is to invest €700 million in building an aromatics plant in South Korea and acquire another already existing plant with Hyundai Oilbank.
Our first highlight, in our Europe area, is an analysis by Soner Cagaptay, Senior Fellow and Director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near Policy, on the Turkish army, the country’s most Westernised institution, a bastion of secularism and the most popular and widely-respected institution in Turkey. The second highlight this month, within International Economy and Trade, happens to be also by a specialist on Turkey, author of our Inside Spain section, William Chislett, who on this occasion writes on the increasing weight of Spain’s main multinationals in the world’s economy. And finally, in our International Terrorism section, we present yet another work by Frank Gregory, Professor at the University of Southampton, this time on the issue of the UK’s domestic response to global terrorism.
Back in Europe, this newsletter includes an analysis by Professor Victoriano Ramírez, who proposes a parabolic method for the objective and fair distribution of the seats in the European Parliament among all EU Member States. And more on voting systems: Piotr Maciej Kaczynski writes on the issue of the Polish Government’s wish to renegotiate the voting system in the Council, which as established in the Constitution implies a huge loss of voting power with respect to Germany and a break-up of the accession package which brought Poland to the EU. Within the Mediterranean and Arab World our senior analyst Haizam Amirah Fernández warns, in an article previously published by the Spanish bi-monthly review Política Exterior, on the danger of a fourth Gulf War which could have far more serious consequences for the international system than the three previous wars put together. Spain’s former Ambassador to China and Russia, Eugenio Bregolat, writes, in our Asia-Pacific area, on the importance of China’s obsession with technology, a challenge to be overcome and an opportunity for Spain and other countries. And in Subsaharan Africa, under the title Challenges of Peacekeeping in Africa, we reproduce a keynote speech by Mosiuoa Lekota, Minister of Defence of South Africa, delivered at the Elcano Royal Institute on 19 April 2007.
In our International Economy and Trade area, we present three documents, the first by our senior analyst Paul Isbell, who, in a working paper on the new energy environment and its geopolitical implications, argues that the energy issue has emerged over the past year as the global strategic issue par excellence. Consequently, we include yet another working paper on the issue, this one by Antonio Sánchez Andrés and focused on the increasing debate regarding the EU’s energy vulnerability vis-à-vis Russia and the various aspects of this dependence. Finally, an analysis which introduces the debate with respect to action taken to mitigate climate change, its characteristics and challenges in the context of global, EU and Spanish actions, by Lara Lázaro-Touza.
We continue, in this very extensive and varied newsletter, with Defence and Security, where Antonio Ortiz writes on the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as the new French President and the potential changes in France’s security and defence policies. Finally, within International Cooperation and Development, Andrew Mold presents some evaluations, options and alternatives to the EPAs (Economic Partnership Agreements) which, ever since they were announced in April 2002 by the EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy (now chief of the WTO), have placed the European Commission on the defensive, trying to defend the policy not only from criticism from both southern and northern NGOs, respected economists and the ACP countries but also, pointedly, from several EU member states themselves.
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