Alan Riley

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The chaos in the House of Commons on 29th January had two major Conservative Party motivations. First of all from No.10 by the overriding objective of this government to keep the Conservative Party, however temporarily, together, whatever the cost to the United Kingdom. That was the underlying purpose of the Brady amendment (from the perspective of No.10) which required ‘alternative arrangements’ to be put in place to the backstop guarantees for Northern Ireland contained in the Withdrawal Agreement. The second objective, shared by the European Reform Group (ERG) of extreme Brexiters and their allies, was to undermine the Withdrawal Agreement and open the way to a ‘no deal’ result.…  Seguir leyendo »

At a meeting in Moscow on Jan. 14, the European Commission’s vice president for energy union, Maros Sefcovic, was surprised to hear the head of Gazprom, Aleksei Miller, declare that if the Europeans want continued access to the Russian natural gas that is currently piped through Ukraine, Europe would have to build its own pipelines to the Turkish border.

Citing “transit risks” presented by transporting natural gas through “unreliable countries,” the Russians plan to bypass Ukraine and build a system known as Turk Stream under the Black Sea through Anatolia to the Balkans. Western Europe, which gets roughly 30 percent of its natural gas from Russia, will just have to live with the decision, Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

The European Union’s energy security is under threat — one of its largest suppliers of natural gas has gone rogue. If Vladimir V. Putin’s efforts to destabilize Ukraine had culminated in an invasion, up to 15 percent of Western Europe’s total supply would have been immediately cut off.

Ukraine has the world’s largest gas-transit system. Even if the risk of a conflict there eventually dissolves, Mr. Putin’s Kremlin still presents the European Union with a major energy security problem. The European Union needs to develop emergency plans that focus on quick replacement of lost energy sources — and long-term strategies that free it of dependence on Russia.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Monday, Croatia becomes the 28th country to join the European Union, its accession seen in Brussels as a triumph of the European project. An authoritarian country riven by conflict, where war criminals once operated with impunity, has been transformed. Despite the euro crisis, the Union’s “magnet effect” is still widely regarded as having the capacity to change wayward nations into states that follow liberal European norms.

Yet, while accepting that Croatia has made great strides in overcoming war and authoritarianism, there are compelling reasons why the country’s admission could be premature. Widespread political and economic corruption persist, and its courts often show an overly lax attitude toward due process.…  Seguir leyendo »

The battle against runaway climate change is being lost. The green movement and the energy industry — while engaged in a furious debate on issues from nuclear power to oil sands — are missing the bigger picture.

There is little recognition by either side that current policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are inadequate for dealing with the threat that they pose. It is the coal-fueled growth of countries like China and India that generates much of these emissions. Unless a cheap, rapidly deployable substitute fuel is found for coal, then it will be next to impossible to safely rein in rising carbon dioxide levels around the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

From Western capitals it’s far too easy to see the prosecution of the Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko as another example of post-Soviet repression. In reality, there are some serious questions surrounding her behavior in office over and above the usual corrupt practices of the region. Rather than directly challenging the prosecution, Washington and Brussels should insist on a greater commitment to rule-of-law standards in Kiev. Given that the European Union is in the process of negotiating a major trade deal with Ukraine, Brussels should be leveraging the Tymoshenko case to reinforce the rule of law there.

While questionable political and commercial practices are major problems across Ukrainian politics, the 2009 gas deal between Tymoshenko and Vladimir Putin was exceptional for the damage it did to Ukrainian interests.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Russian people have an extremely effective supreme court. It is entirely independent of the Russian state, its judgments have a significant impact on the legal system, and — above all — the state will (eventually) comply with its judgments.

The only problem is that the court is not in Moscow, it’s in Strasbourg — it’s the European Court of Human Rights.

Russian business also has a highly effective commercial court: The English High Court in London. The court’s commercial division is awash in Russian cases, approximately half of them emanating from disputes involving the former Soviet Union. In part, this has to do with the unique flexibility of English Common Law, under which the doctrine of freedom of contract allows foreign parties to choose England as their governing legal forum.…  Seguir leyendo »