EU-China, Brexit Complete, Israel Elections (again) and the Week in Review
Merry merry and happy happy, y’all. We’re off next week but have got you covered for your holiday downtime with another Perch Pod coming out on Monday. In the meantime, remember to check out our latest episode and to leave a rating or a review! Here’s to a 2021 full of vaccines, hugging the people we love, and watching the new Dune movie in theaters.
EU-China investment deal? Not so fast. A spokesman at China’s Foreign Ministry said that negotiations on the long-delayed EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) are in “final stages.” Reuters also reported Germany was pushing to conclude the deal by year’s end.
What it means: Talks between EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He tentatively scheduled for Tuesday were subsequently canceled. France, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg all came out highly skeptical of the potential deal.
Ultimately, this will come down to how much China is willing to bend to accommodate EU concerns, and how much Brussels is willing to separate its policies from Washington’s in the process. If past performance is any indication, neither side is willing to compromise enough to get a deal done, but there are powerful economic arguments for a deal as well. Time will tell whether those arguments are strong enough to force a compromise by Beijing, Brussels, or both.
Finally. The European Union and the United Kingdom reached a post-Brexit trade agreement.
What it means: Since last December, we have been saying the UK will make a deal – not just because that is what is in Britain’s economic interests, but because Scotland voted 62-38 percent against Brexit in 2016. If British Prime Minister Boris Johnson took the UK out of the EU without a deal in place, he would become the last prime minister of the United Kingdom.
Of course, Johnson is risking that no matter what he does. Support for Scottish independence has surged in recent months, with a recent Ipsos MORI poll clocking in at 58 percent support for Scottish independence. More on that from us here.
But exiting the EU without a trade deal in place would have turned what is currently a “risk” into a certainty. Boris Johnson is many things, but an eejit isn’t one of them. Now that the UK and the EU appear at last ready to put aside their squabbling, things get truly interesting. This isn’t the end of geopolitical risk in the UK and in UK-EU relations. It is the beginning.
More Israeli elections. Israel’s COVID-19 unity government collapsed after seven months; new elections are tentatively scheduled for March 23, 2021.
What it means: First off, if you missed our prescient piece on Benny Gantz from back in June, now is a good time to familiarize yourself with it.
This is Israel’s fourth election in the last two years. The previous three ended inconclusively or with a fragile government not because Israelis don’t agree on what policies they want but because Netanyahu has become such a controversial figure. If you put the personalities aside, however, and simply add up all the Knesset seats for right-of-center parties according to current polls, the sum is 83 seats. Explicitly religious parties are polling at 30 seats in the Knesset right now – that’s more than the decrepit, hollowed-out remainder of the once-strong Israeli left-wing, which is projected to get 26 seats (and that’s being generous).
What this all means is that once Netanyahu eventually fades from the scene, whether in handcuffs or due to Father Time (he is 71 years old after all, and he eats far too much ice cream), the key point of contention between Israel’s various conservative factions will leave with him. No doubt these factions will find new things to fight over, but they will agree on a few key issues, like annexing the West Bank, preserving the “Jewish” character of Israel’s population, and deterring potential attacks from regional enemies with a strong and aggressive military.
An executive producer for Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of “The Three-Body Problem” is hospitalized in Shanghai after a deliberate poisoning attempt.
Don’t eat weird animals.
Shortly after Biden’s election victory, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reportedly told his Finance Minister to “make sure the yen-dollar exchange rate does not cross the 100 yen mark.”
Argentine port workers, oilseed workers, and grains inspectors vowed to continue their 2+ week strike through Christmas.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Iranian constitution “may need to be amended.”
Gunmen killed over 100 people in the Ethiopian village of Bekoji.
Rwanda and Russia deployed troops to the Central African Republic to help the government fight pre-violence.