What we’re reading: Leadership Changes, Chinese Challenges, Transatlantic Perspectives

Welcome to a new edition of our reading list. This month, we look at leadership changes in Ukraine, Austria, India and the UK, European strategic autonomy, the latest in transatlantic relations and new insights in global development.

We hope you will enjoy our selection. Feel free to suggest your favourite reads via Twitter or Facebook. And don’t forget, we are always open for your contributions – so if you are interested in writing for us, please get in touch!

Leadership Changes in Ukraine, Austria, India and the UK

The Centre for Strategic and International Studies published an analysis about the new Ukrainian president, voted into power in late April. Comedian and satirist Volodymyr Zelensky, initially not taken seriously by observers, won the election with 73% of the vote. This election has been seen by international observers as a democratic one, despite attempts by Russia to meddle. The Atlantic Council has published a report titled ‘Foreign Interference in Ukraine’s Election’ analysing the election and noting that increased vigilance by Ukrainian authorities and civil society greatly helped to thwart Russian efforts.

Meanwhile in Austria, national elections will be held in September following a vote of no confidence for Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s government after the so-called ‘Ibiza scandal’ was exposed. An opinion piece in Foreign Policy ‘Corruption and Collusion Can’t Stop Austria’s Far-Right’, argues that the scandal may not negatively affect the FPÖ as much as originally thought. A poll conducted three days after the scandal showed that support for the FPÖ decreased only from 23% to 18%. This was also confirmed a week later at the European Parliament elections: the FPÖ only lost one seat compared to 2014 and won 17.2% of the Austrian vote.

In India, mammoth general elections were held from April 11th to May 19th with a record turnout of 67%. Modi’s BJP party claimed victory with Modi winning a second term in office. FEPS Europe has published a comprehensive report reviewing the run up to the election, the main players, the causes for victory and defeat and the urgent issues facing Modi and his government.

Closer to home, Teresa May announced her resignation as British Prime Minister on May 24th. A Chatham House opinion piece ‘May Leaves, But Brexit Remains’ examines May’s legacy and looks ahead to the frontrunners of the leadership race and whether a general election is in the offing.

European strategic autonomy and strategic competition

The German Institute for International and Security Affairs has published a thought-provoking report about European Strategic Autonomy. Their focus is on what Germany, with or without its European partners, need to do to achieve greater strategic autonomy, and what the results, consequences and blockers to this could be.

IISS published a research paper in May titled ‘Defending Europe: scenario-based capability requirements for NATO’s European members’. It examines in detail through scenario analysis how the defence of Europe, and of European interests, would look if the United States left NATO and did not contribute militarily. The findings of the study highlight the importance of the NATO Command Structure and also just how necessary the US military is to European defence.

Meanwhile Bruegel’s working paper ‘Europe in the midst of China-US strategic competition: What are the European Union’s options?’ looks at the US-China trade war and how Europe should position itself in this strategic competition. The paper explores the different options facing the EU  and what it stands to gain and lose.

Transatlantic Relations

Julianne Smith argues in the New York Times that the question how to deal with China presents an opportunity for a renewed transatlantic partnership. However, in order to develop common strategies “the best way for the United States and Europe to compete with China would be to resolve their own bilateral trade disputes.”

Providing a snapshot into current US-EU relations is the quarterly ‘Transatlantic Scorecard’ from Brookings. This resource provides a view on relations by polling Brookings scholars and experts in areas such as political, economic and security and also includes a ‘What to Watch’ section by Thomas Wright, the Brookings Center on the United States and Europe Director where he summarizes the events, issues, and the potential developments to watch for in US-EU relations in the coming months.

May 30th saw Chancellor Merkel give the commencement speech to the Harvard Class of 2019. In what many believe was a thinly-veiled attack on Trump and his policies, Merkel implored the audience to “tear down walls of ignorance and narrow-mindedness”. Merkel also described her life in East Berlin and how the Berlin Wall “quite literally stood in my way”.

In case you missed GLOBSEC 2019 in Bratislava you can now browse through the Globsec video archive and watch a bunch of talks, sessions and debates on future threats and transatlantic perspectives on the most pressing issues in international security.

Global Development

A new report by Brooking’s asks the question ‘Are we reducing hunger in the world?’. The authors argue that they are unable to answer such a question as the most commonly used indicators tell conflicting stories. They assert that data needs to improve which in turn will allow for improved policy making.

And lastly in our roundup for the month, the ODI has a very interesting podcast series where they examine ‘When disasters and conflict collide’. It explores how conflict increases people’s vulnerabilities to disasters around the world and what can be done to change this.


Photo by David Iliff . License: CC BY-SA 3.0



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