GlobaLab weekly round-up: 10/02/07-16/02/07

February Woods (courtesy IL University)

More on the Africa and China debate

  • William Gumede on the Washington Post strikes another point against China in Africa, outlining why its antics are condemning the continent to a further period of underdevelopment…
  • … but receives a good response from Andrew Mwenda, who argues that the debate is misplaced, and calls for more trade to help the continent rise out of poverty. He makes an interesting point on the alleged ‘lack of conditionality’ debate: ‘arguments that Chinese aid is good or bad because it does not have conditionality is misplaced. Conditionality has consistently failed to work. A lot of studies on Africa have demonstrated this. What China is doing in Africa is not changing direction, but offering more of the same’. [both via Africa Unchained]
  • And Paolo de Renzio from ODI jumps into the debate, asking a simple, yet powerful question: ‘Amidst all the noise, however, the most deafening roar is that of China’s silence. Its silence on the vision it has for a different world order. Should the international community engage with China in dialogue at this higher level, rather than focus narrowly on good governance in Africa?’

South Asia

Environment

Russia

Innovation and Technology

The US in the Middle East

Economy and International Development

  • Much to the horror of debt-relief campaigners, the Guardian and the BBC report on a British High Court ruling, which allows British Virgin Islands-based Donegal International to sue Zambia for a $42m repayment for a debt that the African nation owed and which the company purchased at less than $4m (£2m). Oxfam urges campaigners to send an angry message to the company’s CEO.

Europe/EU

  • Edward Lucas lashes out not once, but twice from the Economist’s pages at Poland’s ‘pig-headed’ government led by the Kaczynski twins, depicted as ‘vengeful, paranoid, addicted to crises, divided and mostly incompetent‘. An unusually politically-savvy position for an Economist correspondent to take, given Poland has taken in a record $14.7 billion in foreign investment last year, and the economy is growing at almost 6% a year.
  • Eurozone reviews Germany’s 2.9% GDP growth in 2006, which has allowed the German economy to outgrow the US one in per-capita terms.
  • Clive Matthews/Nosemonkey reports on racial representation in the European Parliament (from a Guardian article stating that of 785 MEPs – representing 492 million people from 27 countries – just 9 are not white) and does an excellent round-up of the major European blogs, from debates on the future of the constitution to the French presidential elections.
  • Mariann Fischer-Boel starts warming up to her new blog-toy, reporting from her recent US trip where she discussed farm subsidies and the future of the WTO Doha negotiations: ‘My discussions in Washington showed that the Farm Bill will be written very much with domestic concerns in mind. DOHA does not seem to be high on the agenda in farm bill discussions. This is a very different approach to ours, where we reform first and then look to lock these reforms into a WTO agreement‘. Is my euro-speak rusty, or is the pot calling the kettle black?
  • And finally, for those of you who are wondering what happened to the oneseat campaign (which collected over 1m signatures to try and stop 200 million euros being spent every year to move the European Parliament between Brussels/Belgium and Strasbourg/France), read Nanne’s entry on trading seats and proposals to try and woo France’s bruised ego on the subject!
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2 responses to “GlobaLab weekly round-up: 10/02/07-16/02/07

  1. As a native son of Strasbourg, I have to comment on the ongoing debate about the European Parliament’s monthly pilgrimage to Alsace (your last point). The bottom line is, of course, that it doesn’t make sense (for practical, economical and environmental reasons) to have 800-odd MEPs travel between Brussels and Strasbourg. There are also economic arguments on the other side, since the European Parliament (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:European-parliament-strasbourg.jpg) has been built at an enormous cost, and Europeans would probably be as critical of the maintenance at taxpayers’ money of a white elephant.

    Furthermore, I really think that one should not discard the powerful symbolic value of an EU institution in Alsace. War between France and Germany is unthinkable for our generation, but we should not forget that Strasbourg was chosen as the capital of Europe (once) to eliminate that very possibility.

    Lastly, this determination to make Strasbourg a site of reconciliation can be seen in the newly created (and first in Europe I believe) Eurodistrict of Strasbourg-Ortenau (http://www.eurodistrict.eu). Given Belgium’s incessant discussions about Flanders/Walloon separation (and the subsequent political limbo in which Brussels would find itself), I think Strasbourg may still be have a role to play in the future of the EU…

  2. No doubt Strasbourg should have a role to play in the future of the EU, and the proposals on the table are all trying to be suitable scripts, but I think – as you said – that the Parliament should be in Brussels for a number of reasons, not least environmental.

    Yet, the case you make – a very symbolic one – I am afraid only resonates to a certain point and with certain nations – namely Germany, France and perhaps Belgium. Yes, the Alsace issue has bruised both Germany and France, but this is not the only region in Europe which has sparked terrible events. What about the Sudetenland ? And Gdańsk/Danzig? And Istria? Europe is littered with painful memories of past wars. We have slaughtered each other for centuries. We need to remember our history and at the same time move on to a different future.

    For me, this different future requires a process of deep integration between the European peoples, especially now that enlargement has expanded the boundaries and historical memories far beyond the Western frontiers we have become accustomed to. This means that the old Franco-German rivalries (or Anglo-German, or whatever-German) don’t necessarily mean much to other European people. Europe is now much more than France and Germany. Sure, if France and Germany don’t get along and start fighting over Alsace again, it’s a big problem. But the EU was both spawn from this ancient rivalry and has grown out of it. I think it is time for France and Germany to grow out of it too, and recognise that there is a need to build new symbols around a truly shared European political vision.

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