European Council on Foreign Relations

Europe’s Mini-pivot to Asia

An impressive array of European top politicians – including the French President Francois Holland and spearheaded by the top brass from Brussels (Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso) - flocked to Asia this Monday, taking part in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), teaming up with all of their Asian counterparts in the normally tranquil atmosphere of Vientiane, capital of Laos. Is this part of Europe's pivot to Asia?

When there is talk of the EU, the immediate association is the on-going debt crisis rollercoaster which Asians, and particularly Chinese, follow with acute interest because the EU is one of their largest export destinations. ASEM members represent together more than 60% of international commerce. Fittingly, the host country Laos is celebrating its recent admission ticket to the World Trade Organisation.

And trade is definitely the area where the EU still makes a

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What has Europe ever done for us?

The UK's main political parties begin to scratch their old itches on Europe again - the budget, the rebate, subsidiarity, and the classic debate on whether we should be in or out of the EU. A painful defeat for David Cameron by an unholy alliance of Tory backbenchers and the Labour opposition in a vote on whether to freeze or cut the EU budget, was followed by a slew of criticism for Ed Miliband and Ed Balls' political opportunism, jumping into the temporarily vacated EU bashing territory ,and pushing for a cut for the next financial perspective. And last week, Nick Clegg took to the floor at Chatham House to try to defend his personal and party pro-european credentials, despite being part of a coalition that is sending out many signals to the contrary with all its fighting talk of pulling out of many Justice and Home Affairs treaty chapters altogether.

Amid all this UK in Europe

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Ukraine’s double-edged elections

There aren’t many elections where all sides come out happy, but this arguably just happened in Ukraine last Sunday. The authorities were already happy a month or two before the elections, because they were confident of victory by fair means and (mainly) foul. So they could afford to ease off in the final weeks of the campaign. On the one hand, the ruling Party of Regions didn’t get many of the results it wanted – most notably failing to win a single seat in Kiev. In one suburban capital seat the far right Freedom party was able to declare victory over the acting millionairess mayor Halyna Hereha after a three-day struggle over the count. Other surprises included the victory for the candidate backed by the ‘semi-detached’ oligarch Viktor Pinchuk against a real regime insider in Dnipropetrovsk. The Party of Regions didn’t sweep the board in the territorial constituencies, where it once

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ECFR this week: 2nd November

Ahead of the selection of China’s new leadership on November 8th, Thomas König of ECFR’s China Programme explains what the process involves, who the new men will be, and why it matters. Here is our guide to China’s leadership changes. On our blog Jonas Parello-Plesner takes a closer look at the ultra-rich political elite in China.

China’s new leaders: China 3.0

Next week we will be publishing a major report on the debates that shape modern China. We call it China 3.0. Here is a short video with Mark Leonard on why affluence, stability and power have created new problems for China.

EU and Ukraine after the elections: “It’s time to show Ukraine some tough love”

In a new ECFR policy memo Andrew Wilson argues that the EU should rethink its approach towards Ukraine as the country has become more authoritarian and corrupt. In “The EU and Ukraine after the 2012 elections” Andrew

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The Clinton-Ashton Double Act

It’s probably the last time we see them shuttle together but you have to grant it to Hillary Clinton and Catherine Ashton: they are doing a good job as a two-piece team. (if only the Baroness had the same chemistry with her colleagues at EU foreign ministries!). It might be a bit premature to call their Balkan tour a shining success but it’s nonetheless true that it helped stich up a bargain with Belgrade. “Normalisation” of relations with Prishtina, rather than full recognition, is now set as a precondition for opening membership talks with Serbia. Both President Nikolić and Prime Minister Dačić seem receptive to the idea. If only because it helps them kick the status issue a few years down the road, possibly into the hands of some future governing coalition (as Dačić put it wryly, Kosovo and EU membership will be both solved ‘by our generation’).

Speaking on Serbian national TV

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