The EU’s Strategic Autonomy
Among the policy ideas that circulate in the EU, and in the Brussels ‘bubble’ the concept of the EU’s ‘Strategic autonomy’ has recently been receiving publicity. It was voiced in a 2016 EU paper on the EU's global strategy and has been promoted by Macron’s government. One version was on display in Macron’s recent visit to China. This blog looks at the different meanings that can be given to it.
At the end of February 2023 China announced a 12 Point Peace Plan to help bring Russia and the Ukraine to the negotiating table. It was the subject of discussion on President Xi’s visit to Putin at the end of March. It has been welcomed by Moscow but not in the Ukraine, or by Kyiv’s allies in the West. This blog looks at its provisions.
The discussion which follows takes the 12 Points in logical order of the sequence in which they apply rather than the sequence in which they appear. This makes their logic clearer.
Unless there is a military breakthrough for either the Ukraine or Russia that enables one side to claim ‘victory’, sooner or later this year, negotiations between Russia and the Ukraine to end their conflict will become necessary. Continued grinding conflict will look increasingly unappealing to them compared with the possibility of a return to some kind of normalcy. Neither do Ukraine’s allies want to run a permanent and continual risk of the war becoming an even more devastating conflict between Russia and NATO. This blog looks at some of the theoretical options.
The next British general election is expected next year (2024). The common assumption is that the Labour Party, under Keir Starmer, will win a comfortable victory. This blog looks at what might be on the campaign agenda and what will likely not be, and what should be on the agenda but also will likely not be.
This blog looks at possible scenarios for 2023. Scenarios are not predictions. They simply indicate topics that should be factored into the strategic thinking of Boards in the private sector and those with decision-making authority in government.
Covid and the Limits of ‘Nudge’
In recent years the idea that governments can use ‘nudges’ to influence how people behave has become very fashionable. A ‘nudge’ can be defined as a means of influencing individual and social behaviour, for example through the provision of information, that does not involve official coercion. A ‘nudge’ is contrasted with a law or regulation that must be obeyed, or a tax that must be paid, and that involve penalties if they are disregarded. This blog contends that the experience with behaviour in the COVID pandemic suggests that the claims in favour of ‘nudges’ have been greatly exaggerated.
What to Do About the New Cold War
The collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1980s accompanied by the dynamic engagement of China in international trade and supply chains ushered in a period of optimism about the global order. It has only recently begun to dissipate. Now, shifts in great power relationships are once again generating conflict. At the same time, there is also a growing awareness that there remains a fundamental difference in the values involved in the domestic organisation of power in democracies compared with autocracies which then spills over into differences about the values that apply in the global space. Optimism may have gone, but there is considerable confusion about how to react to the new setting.
Russia's invasion of the Ukraine has upended what we have come to regard as the 'normal' relationship between politics and regulation. It involves a response that only governments can make - not regulators. The inexorable rise of what is termed 'the regulatory state' seems to have come to a halt. This blog looks at the new policy environment and at how far we can expect the relationship between politicians and regulators eventually to swing back towards regulation as the preferred tool.
This blog looks at the idea of the ‘Anglosphere’. The most recent use of the term has come in the context of the Sept 2021 AUKUS security agreement on nuclear submarine, AI and other technologies, between Australia, the UK and the US. The Anglosphere is a term without a clear and fixed definition and with many ambiguities around the use of the term. This blog looks at the different components of what might be conveyed by its use.
With democratic forms of government seemingly in retreat, this blog looks at different approaches to visualising the connection between the values and beliefs held in a society with democratic forms of government.