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Financial Mirror 26-Aug-16
* Stages 1 and 2 to cost EUR 3.5 bln, fully funded by EuroAsia Interconnector *
The biggest investment in Cyprus is finally taking shape as the final and comprehensive investment dossier has been submitted in Nicosia for the first electricity interconnection license that will provide a secure and stable supply of energy between Israel, Cyprus and Greece.
The project, promoted by the EuroAsia Interconnector in cooperation with the national utilities of the three countries, will also end the energy isolation of these ‘island’ states, that although are part of the regional and global economies, have remained detached from continental electricity grids.
The cost, estimated at EUR 3.5 bln, will be fully funded by the project promoter, while the economic benefits to all three countries will be threefold of that amount, with great opportunities for friendship and prosperity.
Nasos Ktorides, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the EuroAsia Interconnector, submitted the document to Dr. Andreas Poulikkas, Chairman of the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority, pursuant to Article 10 of the European Regulation and the Licensing Manuals issued by Cyprus, Greece and Israel. A similar ceremony for the submission of documents took place at the Israel Public Utility Authority for Electricity on July 25 and the Greek Energy Regulator (RAE) on July 22.
“Following the last trilateral meeting of the leaders of Israel, Cyprus and Greece on January 28, 2016, in Nicosia, where they declared their support, and considering the importance of the EuroAsia Interconnector for Cyprus, Israel and Greece as well as the European Union, we have concentrated our efforts on the timely implementation of the project, the construction of which will commence in 2017,” Ktorides said.
This is a unique project that will provide a reliable alternative corridor for transferring electricity to Europe and will secure energy supply by linking the electrical systems of Israel, Cyprus and Greece (via Crete and Attica), the project promoter said.
The interconnector will be achieved through 500kV submarine DC cables and HVDC onshore stations in each country, with an initial capacity of 1,000 MW. When fully operational, all three legs will have a combined length of 1518km.
The project has been selected as a European Union Project of Common Interest (PCI) and is part of the EU’s energy policy, receiving a positive evaluation due to its contribution to the energy targets. These aim at ending the energy isolation of the three partner countries, providing security in stable supply of electricity generated from clean fuels (natural gas) and other renewable energy sources (RES), will help reduce CO2 emissions, offers significant economic and labour benefits, and contributes to the EU target of 10% of electricity interconnection between member states.
The Technical and Environmental Studies recently carried out by CESI S.p.A. of Italy, as well as the Reconnaissance Survey executed by GAS S.r.l., also an Italian organisation, have concluded that the electricity networks interconnection between Israel, Cyprus, Crete and Attica is technically feasible; that all four surveyed locations have been considered technically and environmentally suitable; that the submarine cables can be manufactured with a higher voltage level up to 500 kV and with improved technical characteristics which allow for the cables to be laid at depths of up to 3,000 metres; and, based on the route survey performed by the Italian flag R/V Odin Finder, a feasible corridor has been designed that allows the 1,000 MW cable to be laid at depths of up to 3,000 metres.
Moreover, the cost/benefit analysis (CBA) studies, which are being executed by CESI based on ENTSO-E methodology, have been completed pursuant to the requirements of the relevant EU Regulation.
EuroAsia Interconnector Ltd., as the official project promoter, will finance the construction of the electricity interconnection between Israel, Cyprus, Crete and Attica with initial transmission capacity of 1,000 MW, with the financial cost of Stages 1 and 2 estimated at EUR 3.5 bln.
The implementation dates – as provided to the European Commission – for the commencement of Stage 1 of the electricity interconnection between Israel, Cyprus, Crete and Attica with total transmission capacity of 1,000 MW are:
– 2017 for Cyprus – Israel and commissioning in 2019 (329km),
– 2017 for Crete – Attica and commissioning in 2020 (310km),
– 2018 for Cyprus – Crete and commissioning in 2022 (879km).
It is estimated that the EuroAsia Interconnector will provide the partner countries with significant socio-economic benefits worth EUR 10 bln which will derive from the decrease of electricity cost by using more efficient methods in power generation (i.e. natural gas, renewable energy sources) rather than the energy consuming and polluting fuels, national caps for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will be reduced and the cost for replacing the old power plants will be avoided.
“What is important is that the implementation of the EuroAsia Interconnector will ensure the electricity interconnection between Crete and Attica at no cost to the Greek Government and will create the electricity ‘highway’ that will connect the Eastern Mediterranean with the European Union. Greece will become a major energy hub in the region enhancing further the country’s geopolitical importance in regard to the EU energy security,” concluded Ktorides.
Daily Telegraph 28-Aug-16
Turkey opened one of the world’s biggest suspension bridges on Friday, the latest megaproject in a $200 billion building spree that President Tayyip Erdogan hopes will secure his place in history.
The bridge creates a new link across the Bosphorus Strait, which divides Asia and Europe.
President Erdogan oversaw a ceremony inaugurating the $3 billion Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, which is touted by its Turko-Italian developers as the world’s broadest suspension bridge at 58.4 metres (192 feet) wide.
The toll bridge, spanning 1,408 metres (4,620 feet) over the Bosphorus, is built in the style of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge and boasts pylons higher than the Eiffel Tower.
It features 10 lanes, including two rail lines. At 322 metres (1,056 feet), officials say the bridge’s towers are also the tallest in the world.
“When man dies, he leaves behind a monument,” Erdogan told a crowd of thousands waving Turkish flags at the opening ceremony on the shores of the Bosphorus next to the bridge.
He is seeking to use such projects to drive economic growth and secure a place as Turkey’s most significant leader since the modern republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge on the edge of Istanbul is named after a 16th-century Ottoman ruler.
Erdogan’s infrastructure drive is transforming Europe’s biggest city, which straddles the Bosphorus Strait. In a little more than a decade, Istanbul’s skyline has soared, new highways have been built, and the length of the metro tripled.
But Turkey’s stellar economic growth has slowed since 2011 and it could face difficulties attracting investment following an attempted coup last month, which led to a purge by the government that has seen tens of thousands of people in the military, judiciary, civil service and education being detained, suspended or placed under investigation.
The country has also been hit by attacks this summer by Islamic State on a wedding party and Istanbul airport, while the Turkish army’s incursion this week in Syria to curb jihadist and Kurdish forces has unsettled nerves.
But Erdogan – whose government announced a $200 billion, decade-long infrastructure investment plan three years ago – has vowed the months of turmoil would not stop planned megaprojects.
The Yavuz Sultan Selim, which runs from the Garipce area on Istanbul’s European side to the region of Poyrazkoy on the Asian side, is the third bridge to span the Bosphorus Strait and can withstand winds of 300 km an hour. It ranks among the world’s biggest suspension bridges, in terms of width of deck, height of pylons as well as length of span.
It has been built by Italy’s Astaldi and Istanbul-based IC Ictas which will jointly operate it for about a decade.
Officials say the bridge will ease congestion in a city of 14 million people, reduce fuel costs and save workers time.
Environmentalists say the project threatens Istanbul’s last forestland and will contaminate water supplies. Some economists warn the costs of such large-scale building is unsustainable.
RU:160831:(31-AUG-16):‘Winter is coming’: Huge hail hits Moscow amid last days of summer torrents (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Russia Today 31-Aug-16..31-Aug-16
“Weather, you are drunk, what are you doing?” “Winter is coming!” Russian social media is completely abuzz and stunned by heavy showers and enormous hail the size of small eggs and apples that have recently struck the Moscow Region.
Residents of Moscow and its suburbs have been releasing photos of Tuesday’s storm on social media.
Wind speeds reached almost 20 meters per second, Moscow meteorological services said.
About 20 planes were unable to land at Moscow airports on Tuesday due to poor weather conditions, sources told Interfax.
“This is superhail! [They look like] golf balls! From Russia with love!” wrote one Instagram user. Another added: “The weather is dangerous this summer.”
Users were adding and #farewellsummer #autumn2016 hashtags to ‘mourn’ summer which struck with such aggressive weather phenomena. Others posted #apocalypse and #abnormally hashtags, referring to decades-old daily precipitation records which have been shown this summer in Moscow.
Surprised commenters reported that some cars were damaged in the hail.
Others tried to show that the hail wasn’t exactly small – it was nearly the size of an apple
or a matchbox
or an egg
And several hailstones could hardly fit a palm
Some users tried to make really cool ‘still life’ pictures showing hail and apples
or just hail on the grass
Powerful thunderstorms and showers have regularly hit Moscow this summer. The rainfall broke the all-time single-day precipitation high mark dating back to 1970, as parts of Moscow suffered the heaviest rains since records began.
EU:160828:(31-AUG-16):The secret history of the EU, written on an Italian prison island, reveals why the project is doomed
Daily Telegraph 28-Aug-16
As we know, the great dream that has been shaping the political integration of Europe for 60 years is today facing what is called an “existential crisis” – one so profound as to call into question its continued existence.
The seemingly insoluble problems the European Union has brought upon itself crowd in from all directions: the slow-motion catastrophe of the euro, the unending flood of refugees; the deadly plague of terrorism; the approaching energy crunch. And now, amid that growing resentment right across Europe of all the EU stands for, it is also faced with the vote of one of its largest members to leave it altogether.
As a measure of just how desperately the EU has lost its way, it is worth taking a closer look at the symbolism of the venue chosen for last week’s meeting of the leaders of Germany, France and Italy, to discuss what they can do next about it all.
We were coyly told that the little island of Ventotene off Naples was where, in 1941, a prisoner of Mussolini’s had written the visionary manifesto that looked forward to building, after the war, a “United States of Europe”. What somehow got omitted was that Altiero Spinelli was a Communist (the Today programme merely described him on air as a “Fascist prisoner”, although, lest this be misunderstood, that was edited out of their online report).
We were not told that Spinelli’s Ventotene Manifesto proposed that his future government of Europe should be quietly assembled by its supporters over many years; and that only when all its pieces were in place would those supporters summon a convention to draw up a “Constitution for Europe”, which would finally reveal to the European people just what they had been up to.
What we were also not told – and this is seemingly one of the best-kept secrets of the whole story – is that many years later, when Spinelli was elected as a Communist MEP in 1979, he became the second most influential person, after Jean Monnet, in shaping “Europe” as we know it today.
At a time when the integration process had stalled, it was he – as I and my co-author, Richard North, were first able to explain in our book The Great Deception – who persuaded the European Parliament to vote for a “Draft Treaty on European Union”.
And it was this, taken up by Jacques Delors, which led directly to the next two major treaties, the Single European Act and Maastricht, transforming the European Community into the European Union, complete with its own currency, foreign policy and much else besides.
It was an astonishing achievement, which is why one of the largest office blocks in Brussels, the headquarters of the European Parliament, is called the Altiero Spinelli Building. But if you stop any of the hundreds who work there, you will scarcely find one who could tell you why it bears his name.
The point is that, exactly as envisioned in their different ways by Spinelli and Monnet, the “project” has only ever had one real agenda in all it has done: to promote a supranational government for Europe, based on eliminating national self-interest: what Monnet called “national egoism”. There could only ever be one direction of travel: ever more integration; whatever the question, the answer is always “more Europe”.
In the end, their great dream simply over-reached itself, as we see in every one of those crises piling in on it today. And how telling it was that, when Angela Merkel, François Hollande and Matteo Renzi met off Ventotene, all they could come up with, their wish to “relaunch the European ideals of unity and peace, freedom and dreams”, was just those same familiar old dead mantras.
When they spoke of the need for more jobs, more shared intelligence, a European army, it was just the same “more Europe” we have heard a thousand times before, the only song they know. And how appropriate that they should go back to that sad little prison island to sing it.
What better epitaph could there be for it all than those words of T S Eliot in his Four Quartets, which starts: “In my beginning is my end… in my end is my beginning”. It goes on: “And the end of all our exploring is to arrive at where we started, and to know it for the first time.”
If ever there was an occasion when one could see that the European dream was dead, it was in that very place where Spinelli first scrawled it out on cigarette papers 75 years ago: Ventotene.
As Europe’s long, rolling summer of vacations comes to a close, the surreality of Britain’s June 23rd vote to exit the European Union soon will become increasingly real – particularly where London’s City is concerned.
Over the past eight weeks, speculation has been rife about the aftermath of the Brexit vote that astonished anyone paying attention and with a stake in the outcome. Count those who weren’t paying attention and that translates into all 740 million Europeans who will be affected in one way or another by the U.K.’s 52-48% vote to exit after more than four decades as one of the vital countries at the beating heart of the E.U.
Britain fully intends to retain unhampered access to Europe’s single market – as provided for E.U. members – and is expected in the coming week to put forth its plan to achieve that end. The Sunday Times quoted an unnamed source close to Britain’s Chancellor who insisted it could get there ”on a sector by sector basis,” adding that “a key priority is going to be financial services for us. For the Germans, the automotive industry is going to be key.”
Unimpeded access is certainly the hope of the U.K.’s high-growth companies that, in a survey released last week of 315 companies with an annual turnover of £10-200 million and minimum 5% annual growth, overwhelmingly registered support for both full and continued access to the E.U. and unimpeded flow of European workers to Britain.
Paradoxically, perhaps, latest figures show that flow lessening slightly as Britain’s Office for National Statistics registered a 4,000-person drop in the influx from the E.U. over the year to March 2016 – from 184,000 to 180,000. It should be noted that those figures preceded the Brexit vote.
The Telegraph reported Sunday that Prime Minister Theresa May’s government still plans to meet her previously-stated intention to negotiate a “bespoke” deal for the U.K. once she triggers the E.U.’s Article 50, launching the two-year timetable for exit negotiations.
As is well known by now, that’s far from a certainty as fellow E.U. leaders have warned that pulling out will not automatically translate into the kind of special world envisioned by May – who as a member of her then-predecessor David Cameron’s cabinet campaigned weakly for the U.K. to remain an E.U. member.
There’s a strong sense that the U.K. wants to have and eat its proverbial cake. But as one E.U. figure – the former director-general of the E.U. council’s legal service – was quoted recently, the U.K. “cannot get as good a deal as they have now.” As if that wasn’t enough, Jean-Claude Piris added simply: “It is impossible.”
That’s likely to prove true, especially if it refuses to accept unfettered movement of people, as do the other non-E.U. countries – Iceland, Norway and Switzerland – that retain access to the single market.
But the crosswinds are heavy these days, with contradictory and conflicting statements blowing around like leaves in the imminent autumn winds. A survey of 63 European and U.K. corporations by Greenwich Associates found more than one-quarter of European companies preparing to reduce their business with U.K. banks in a post-E.U. world.
And more than half of the European countries surveyed believe the country’s banks will sacrifice their passporting rights. “If proven correct, this result would have a significant impact on the fabric of the European financial marketplace upon which these corporates depend, triggering further action to be taken by them,” Greenwich concluded.
The Frankfurt skyline Photo: Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images
Frankfurt’s financial promotion agency Frankfurt Main Finance has been happily fielding calls from large banks and technology firms about the possibility of moving from London. Institutions have asked about the rules regarding migrant workers, the talent pool in Frankfurt, banking licences and regulation.
There have been calls to move the European Banking Authority from London to Frankfurt, home to the European Central Bank.
Michael Fuchs, a legislator and ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told Bloomberg last week that the E.U. will not bend its passporting rules, which enable banks incorporated in E.U. countries to sell their services and products anywhere in the Union, calling them “non-negotiable.”And yet. Some Britons still desperately hope that Brexit can somehow be short-circuited. Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell, who ran Britain’s civil service under three prime ministers, told the BBC that the U.K. should not rush to trigger the exit negotiations and held out hope that a full-blown exit could be avoided.
He’s been joined in that sentiment by other U.K. figures – former Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair among them. Some have suggested that the government is prohibited from triggering an exit without a positive vote from the House of Commons – a majority of whose members oppose Brexit – an initiative that could end up in British courts in the Fall.
But The Telegraph cited a Downing Street source Sunday that May is confident she has the legal authority to launch the exit negotiations – and plans to use it. “The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear that the British public have voted and now she will get on with delivering Brexit,” he said.
French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, pose as they arrive for a joint press conference aboard the aircraft carrier Garibaldi Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images
Merkel has been ferrying from one country to the next in preparation for a September 16 summit of E.U. leaders – minus May. The leaders of the heavyweights have been trying to flex joint muscles in advance. “We respect Britain’s decision but naturally also want to make it clear that the other 27 are working for a prosperous, safe Europe,” Merkel said last week after meeting with her French and Italian counterparts on – of all places – an Italian aircraft carrier.
Germany’s vice-chancellor has warned the future of the EU could be in doubt if the UK’s exit is handled badly.
Sigmar Gabriel said the EU would go “down the drain” if other states followed Britain’s lead and that the UK could not keep the “nice things” about Europe while taking no responsibility.
It comes as Theresa May summoned ministers for a meeting on Wednesday to discuss ideas for the UK’s withdrawal.
Downing Street said Brexit was “top” of the prime minister’s agenda.
But a report in The Sunday Times suggested her cabinet was split over leaving the single market.
The UK voted to leave the European Union in a referendum vote on 23 June.
Mr Gabriel, who is also economy minister in Germany’s governing coalition and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s deputy, told a news conference that as a result, the world now regarded Europe as an unstable continent.
“Brexit is bad but it won’t hurt us as much economically as some fear – it’s more of a psychological problem and it’s a huge problem politically,” he said.
“If we organise Brexit in the wrong way, then we’ll be in deep trouble, so now we need to make sure that we don’t allow Britain to keep the nice things, so to speak, related to Europe while taking no responsibility.”
Mrs Merkel has met a number of European leaders during the past week to prepare the ground for a September summit focused on the EU’s future post-Brexit.
She has said remaining member states must listen to each other carefully and avoid rushing into policy decisions.
Meanwhile, Mrs May is due to begin drawing up blueprints for Brexit on Wednesday, when she hosts cabinet ministers at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat in Buckinghamshire.
BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said Mrs May would hear different answers to the question “what does Brexit actually mean?” from around the cabinet table and in Parliament.
It comes as a new cross-party group called Open Britain was launched.
In a joint article for the group in the Sunday Times, three former ministers from the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats accept that the free movement of people cannot continue, but they warn against “pulling up the drawbridge.”
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Gabriel has defended himself after making a rude gesture at a group of right-wing protesters
Mr Gabriel also said on Sunday that trade talks between the EU and the US had “de facto failed”.
The plan – known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP – aimed to remove or reduce a wide range of barriers to EU-US trade and investment.
However, the move has been controversial in many of countries involved, including Germany and the UK. Critics say TTIP is driven by big business and would be bad for jobs, consumers and the environment.
In 14 rounds of talks, the two sides had not agreed on a single common chapter out of 27 being discussed, Mr Gabriel said.
“In my opinion the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it,” said Mr Gabriel.
He suggested Washington was angry about a deal the EU struck with Canada, because it contained elements the US does not want to see in the TTIP.
“We mustn’t submit to the American proposals,” said Mr Gabriel, who is head of Germany’s centre-left Social Democratic Party, which is in coalition with Mrs Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union.
The BBC’s Andrew Walker said ending the negotiations would not be a decision for Mr Gabriel, as he is the leader of centre-left Social Democratic Party, which is in coalition with Mrs Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union.
Nonetheless, Mr Gabriel is an important voice and his view that TTIP has in effect failed is a sign of just how much political difficulty it faces, our correspondent added.
He has also been forced to defend his actions after he flicked the middle finger to a group of right-wing protesters earlier this month.
Sigmar Gabriel said his only mistake was not using both hands, and told his critics to think about what they would do if faced with 12 “young, aggressive, swearing and ready-for-violence Nazis”.
Mr Gabriel had been confronted by the hecklers in northern Germany.
Daily Telegraph 30-Aug-16
The West’s alliances in the Middle East are in a sorry state. Turkey is flirting with Moscow and shelling our main Kurdish allies against Islamic State. European diplomats fume at Israel’s destruction of EU-funded Palestinian homes. President Obama has publicly criticised his Arab allies as “free riders”, while one of his senior officials memorably called prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickenshit”.
“Virtually all of my Arab counterparts were willing to speak. These were exceptional people, appointed solely for their ability to excel in American circles.”Michael Oren
At the same time, one rivalry is softening. The Arab-Israeli conflict, which has raged since 1948, shows signs of a modest, but significant, thaw. To be sure, Israel remains isolated. Only 3 of 21 members of the Arab League recognise the Jewish state. Many Arab states fund, shelter and celebrate Hamas, whose charter promises the obliteration of “the warmongering Jews”. And Israel still bristles when the US and Europe sell sophisticated arms to the Gulf. But under the surface, plates are shifting.
Last month, a retired Saudi general met Israel’s most senior diplomat, Dore Gold, at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, their second meeting in a year. Last summer, Israel’s former ambassador to Washington boasted of his meetings with Arab counterparts, praising them as “exceptional people”. And in January, Israel’s energy minister quietly visited the United Arab Emirates, after announcing the opening of an Israeli office in Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, spooks from each side have plotted in secret. The relationship is that of a mistress to a married man: one party eager for public acknowledgment, in hope of legitimising her questionable social status, the other desperate to keep it in the shadows for fear of the domestic consequences. Most Arab states risk popular fury if they were to normalise relations with Israel in the absence of a just settlement to the Palestinian issue.
There is no question about what has prompted this rapprochement. Over the past decade, Iran’s proxies and allies have grown more active and powerful. For instance, the Lebanese militant group Hizbollah, fostered by Iran in the 1980s, points its vast missile stockpile across the border to Israel – but also fights against Gulf-backed forces in Syria and Yemen. Meanwhile, the US and Europe have chosen to avoid a major confrontation with Iran. They struck a nuclear deal with Tehran last year, and even welcomed Iran’s President Rouhani to Paris and Rome. Naturally, the Arabs and the Israelis have acted on the dictum that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. “The Gulf Arabs believe… that they can count on Israel against Iran,” as one senior Israeli official told US diplomats in a leaked cable from 2010. “They believe Israel can work magic.”
This is a fragile process that could evaporate in the heat of another Palestinian uprising; but if it survives, there are upsides for the West. We’ve long urged Arab states to tone down their hostility to Israel. While the Netanyahu government will not move on the peace process, a less hawkish successor may be more inclined to do so if relations with Arabs are on an even keel. Moreover, we have demanded that Arab allies take on more responsibility for their security rather than calling on us to intervene. Why should we complain if they seek others’ help in doing so?
There are two points for Boris Johnson and the next US secretary of state to grasp. Our partnerships with Israel and the Gulf states will remain crucial to fighting terrorism and remaining in a position to intervene in the Middle East when our interests demand it. Iran is not a realistic substitute: its regime remains divided between the pragmatic leadership and hardliners who seek to sabotage it. Iranian forces continue to support the Syrian regime in its brutal war. British and Arab spies swap intelligence daily; Tehran would not dream of doing so.
And yet, we should reject the view that being good allies to the Gulf and Israel means distancing ourselves from Iran. The nuclear deal emboldened Iran, but also averted a war that would have been ruinous to us, Israel and Arabs alike. Post-Brexit Britain cannot let France, Italy and others dominate Europe’s economic relations with an emerging Iran; and we should not fear upgrading our diplomatic relationship with Iran to ambassadorial level.
Arab-Israeli contacts are a symptom of a region in extraordinary flux. Our diplomacy must be nimble enough to adapt.
UKBR:160830:(31-AUG-16):Brexit weekly briefing: splits over timing of talks and single market membership
The Guardian 30-Aug-16
Pro-leavers want to get on with it while others argue there is no hurry until UK decides what it wants from negotiations
Welcome to the Guardian’s weekly Brexit briefing, a summary of developments as Britain moves slowly – very slowly – towards the EU exit. If you’d like to receive it as a weekly email, do sign up here.
Producing the Guardian’s thoughtful, in-depth journalism is expensive – but supporting us isn’t. If you value our Brexit coverage, please become a Guardian supporter and help make our future more secure. Thank you.
The big picture
With the dust of the referendum earthquake settled, August all but over and Westminster and Brussels back from their summer breaks, the Brexit battle lines have suddenly become a lot clearer. It is going to be quite a fight.
In one camp are the get-on-with-it Brexiters like former cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith, who told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week that the formal leaving procedure must be launched early in 2017 to provide focus and set a clear deadline for exit talks. Key cabinet figures backed this plan, he said:
I have spoken to them and I am certain that these characters – David Davis, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson, and the prime minister by the way – are very clear that they need to get on with triggering article 50 as soon as possible … And I believe they are all very positive about the outcome: we will be out, and we will do incredibly well.
In his personal view, Duncan Smith said, Britain should not necessarily seek to remain in the EU’s single market because “that would entail putting yourself yet again under the rule of European law”.
In the opposing camp are much of the rest of the cabinet, including the chancellor, Philip Hammond, who reportedly wants to see Britain retain access to the single market, at least in specific sectors such as financial services, while also securing border controls for the UK.
Their position was ably summarised (also on Today) by Gus O’Donnell, the former civil service chief. While the government “needs to get on and implement the people’s decision”, he said, he really wouldn’t be in such a hurry.
The problem is that article 50 is “very strongly in favour of those who are staying, not the leaving party”, O’Donnell said. That means it would be madness to trigger it without having a “strategic plan to say ‘what kind of UK do we want, what’s our place in the world, what are we trying to achieve in these negotiations?’”
Whatever kind of Brexit it is, it will undoubtedly prove an “unprecedented challenge” for the government and for the civil service, he said – and particularly for the prime minister:
She’s got to corral all these different individuals, come up with precisely what version of Brexit we want, what works best for the British people, and then go about implementing it.
Theresa May promptly announced a meeting of senior cabinet members at the prime minister’s country residence, Chequers, on Wednesday. Amid reports of a full-blown cabinet split over the issue of single market membership (which would very probably entail accepting freedom of movement), she has demanded they come armed with ideas about how Brexit could be a success.
May has reportedly also been told by government lawyers that she is not obliged to hold a parliamentary vote on the decision to leave the EU before triggering article 50. Half a dozen different lawsuits claiming the contrary are currently before the high court where they will be heard in October, with a supreme court hearing likely some time in December.
Barry Gardiner, the shadow trade secretary, echoed the feelings of many MPs on hearing that news, saying parliament cannot be sidelined from the greatest constitutional change the country has debated in 40 years:
The logic of saying the PM can trigger article 50 without first setting out to parliament the terms and basis upon which her government seeks to negotiate – indeed, without even indicating the red lines she will seek to protect – would be to diminish parliament and assume the arrogant powers of a Tudor monarch.
The view from Europe
Angela Merkel, at least, is prepared to be (relatively) patient. Mid-diplomatic marathon around assorted European capitals, the German chancellor said in Tallinn there was no point pushing Britain for progress until it had made up its mind what it wanted, and pointed out that the remaining 27 member states had plenty to sort out for themselves without the nitty-gritty of Brexit:
As long as Britain hasn’t submitted its application we can’t say what kind of a relationship we envision. [The EU-27] can allow Britain the time it takes to work out what relationship it wants with the EU. We have to think about what our priorities are, how we want to continue our work and where we want to make an effort in particular.
Her economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, however, sounded a somewhat less conciliatory note, saying Britain should under no circumstances be allowed to have its cake and eat it in the wake of the referendum:
Brexit is bad, but it won’t hurt us as much economically as some fear – it’s more a psychological problem, and a huge problem politically. If we organise Brexit in the wrong way we’ll be in deep trouble, so now we need to make sure that we don’t allow Britain to keep the nice things, so to speak, related to Europe, while taking no responsibility.
Meanwhile, back in Westminster
The home secretary, Amber Rudd, looks like she may face a fight to keep Britain’s Le Touquet agreement with France. The deal in effect places the UK border in Calais, and has led to the emergence of the so-called Jungle migrant camp.
Rudd was set to tell her opposite number, Bernard Cazeneuve, that talk of tearing up the accord is “a non-starter”. The rightwing regional president, Xavier Bertrand, and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy have both called for it to be scrapped.
The former British ambassador to France, Sir Peter Ricketts, has warned that if a rightwing candidate wins the country’s presidential election next year, Britain “is going to have to deal with a pretty serious conversation” about the accord.
Meanwhile, in more indirect Brexit fallout, Labour’s leadership fight is getting increasingly nasty, with contender Owen Smith accusing his rival Jeremy Corbyn of lying about having voted to remain and being “happy about the result”. Smith said he would to stop May formally triggering Brexit unless she promises a referendum on the final deal, or calls a general election to approve it.
Jewish Policy Center, 11-Aug-16
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an agreement between two parties—in this case, the governments of Israel and the United States. It is less than a treaty, more than a handshake. The first MOU was signed in 1981, recognizing “the common bonds of friendship between the United States and Israel and builds on the mutual security relationship that exists between the two nations.” The current MOU, signed in 2007, represented a 10-year commitment. The Obama Administration and the government of Israel have been negotiating a new 10-year agreement that will come into effect in 2017.
It is hard to get the nuance right in a security arrangement between a superpower and a small country, even if the small country is a first-world democracy in terms of education, income, technology, and political structure. It is harder when large sums of money are involved, and harder still when the small country is, in military terms, a “security producer,” one that provides more security to a region than it requires in assistance, but is still uniquely threatened in the world.
The Obama Administration is making it harder, perhaps because one of the President’s goals has been to remove the United States from its role as security guarantor not only for Israel, but also for the region, and possibly, it seems, for the rest of the world, such as the South China Sea, Crimea and the Balkans.
The administration proposes somewhat more money for Israel—from $3.1 billion to close to $4 billion—but with important caveats:
1) 100% of the money will be spent in the U.S., while Israel is presently able to spend 25% in Israel.
This is a subsidy for U.S. defense industries and constrains Israel’s defense choices by forcing the IDF to exclude weapons from Europe and elsewhere. While some think of Israel as an expense to the U.S., the fact is that Israeli R&D innovations—shared with the U.S. by agreement—have helped mitigate the decline in the U.S. missile defense budget in an era of growing threats. Without the ability to spend some money in Israel, it will be harder for smaller defense and high-tech industries to keep up.
2) The total figure will include money for missile defense, which in this administration has been an add-on from Congress. That makes the increase substantially less than it appears to be.
This could be particularly problematic: an administration that opposes missile defense in principle—as does the Obama administration—could effectively stifle Israel, which protects its people with a layered missile defense system. As Iran continues to violate UN prohibitions on ballistic missile testing, and Hamas and Hezbollah increase their arsenals, the consequences could be devastating.
3) Israel will be prohibited from asking Congress for additional funds, effectively removing a bipartisan center of support for Israel’s security from the equation and reducing Israel’s flexibility in addressing rapidly emerging threats. This year, Congress wrote in $42.7 million for anti-tunnel cooperation—something that emerged as essential only after the 2014 Gaza war.
In deference to the outsized threats and acknowledging Israel’s status as an American ally, it has been U.S. policy for decades and law since 2008 that “Israel will be made capable of defending itself against and defeating any likely combination of conventionally armed adversaries.” This is known as Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME).
It was simple once—Arab armies were Soviet equipped and trained. But the world has changed.
On the plus side, Jordan joined Egypt in making peace with Israel, and the Soviet Union disappeared. On other hand, the U.S. has been selling arms and equipment to Arab states that maintain a state of war with Israel. Israel still receives more cutting edge technology, but at some point, the quantity of oil-financed Arab purchases can tip the quality scales. Saudi Arabia spent $9.3 billion on U.S. weapons last year.
To be fair, Israel understands Saudi purchases to address the war in Yemen and the larger conflict with Iran, not aimed against Israel. Israeli-Saudi relations have thawed at least temporarily, but other threats, some conventional, some not, have increased.
ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah are what former IDF Chief of Intelligence Amos Yadlin calls “substate actors”—terrorist organizations that have attributes of statehood, such as territory, populations, etc. Syria remains in a state of war with Israel and as the civil war continues, Iran and Hezbollah have forces and weapons close to the Golan Heights. Iran is only a decade away, if that, from the freedom to openly pursue its nuclear capability as the JCPOA ends.
It was the release of hundreds of millions of dollars by the U.S. to the Islamic Republic, destined to improve and enhance Iranian military capabilities, which added urgency to Israel’s request for missile defense and other capabilities.
The U.S., then, is on both sides of Israel’s security conundrum.
On one hand, U.S.-Israel security cooperation is embodied in QME joint R&D on missile technology, joint training and exercises (most recently a joint missile defense exercise in Israel), and Israel’s new diplomatic mission to NATO Headquarters.
But on the other hand, having to spend all the money on U.S. procurement, U.S. arms sales to countries still in a state of war with Israel, the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran and removing Congress from its pivotal role as a security partner for Israel are all positions that clearly express administration weariness and irritation with Israel.
Israel, of course, does not have to sign. There is a new administration coming, and no doubt Israel can manage evolving bilateral relations with the U.S. under either party. There is, however, something to be said for the reassurance of a 10-year American commitment, even if the current terms are not ideal.
On balance, Israel is a strong, accomplished, and increasingly capable country with both military and civilian assets sought by countries around the world. It finds itself in a vastly improved international situation even as its neighborhood declines. It would have been in the larger interest of the United States to enhance those capabilities rather than trying to constrain them.
Jerusalem Post 31-Aug-16
Latest find and ongoing projects accelerating development in the entire region.
The expected purchase of the Karish and Tanin gas reservoirs by the Greek oil and gas company Energean will be a catalyst for other international companies interested in exploring Israel’s Mediterranean, a source linked to the project told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Energean’s entrance into the Israeli gas industry “opens the sector,” the source said.
“The signal to the market is given: there’s something going on in Israel. You used to have a monopoly. Now you have a potential market.”
Although still pending Israeli government approval, the $148.5 million deal was signed by Athens-based Energean Oil & Gas in mid-August to purchase the gas reservoirs from two Delek Group subsidiaries, as well as pay the Israeli companies royalties from future gas and condensate sales. The likely sale of Karish and Tanin marked a first concrete step toward advancing Israel’s gas industry, following recent approval of the contentious “gas outline” that rattled the sector for all of 2015.
Meanwhile, just a week and a half before the signing, the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry announced that the country, after a four-year hiatus, would be opening up its Mediterranean waters to new exploration – marketing 24 new blocks in an international tender.
“It’s very important that ahead of this tender regarding the 24 blocks, that there’s a newcomer that gets in the Israeli market,” the source said. “It’s not just Delek and Noble as we’re used to.”
The entry of Energean into the sector, according to the source, will incentivize other companies to come explore as well.
“It encourages other companies to participate, to check what’s going on,” the source said. “That’s what happened in Cyprus.
One got in and the others followed.”
Israel’s decision to open up its waters is coupled not only with its own existing finds, but also with ongoing projects in Cyprus and last summer’s discovery of Egypt’s large Zohr reservoir. This latest find has accelerated the development occurring in the entire region, according to the source.
For its part, Energean has operated oil and gas-producing assets since 1981, and currently holds four licenses in Greece and one in Egypt. Of those, the Prinos field is producing oil and one South Kavala is producing gas. The company has made $300 million in investments over the past year, mainly in Greece, and is currently executing new investments in production that amount to about $200m.
In addition to the Israeli deal, Energean has signed an agreement for the exploration of two offshore blocks in Montenegro, also pending that government’s approval.
Once the Karish and Tanin purchase receives government approval, the company will deliver a development plan for the reservoirs within six months, the source told the Post.
Many experts stressed that the development of Karish and Tanin will not likely happen before development of the much larger, 621-billion cubic meter Leviathan reservoir, which itself faces potential financing hurdles. But the source argued this may not be the case.
One question frequently posed regarding the two reservoirs is whether their relatively small size – at 58.7 bcm total – financially justifies construction of an independent infrastructure.
“It is a project that may be implemented without Leviathan,” the source said. “It is not necessarily connected to Leviathan.”
Energean, which would supply gas to the domestic market through Karish and Tanin, has a number of potential alternatives regarding infrastructure required for the reservoirs, such as building independent facilities, sharing them with Leviathan, or gaining third-party access to infrastructure developed by an state-appointed operator.
Asked by the Post whether the firm was leaning toward building its own facilities or sharing them, a spokesman for Energean responded that the company has “nothing to say for the time being,” until the development plan is issued.
Regardless of the details of the development plan, and whether or not Karish and Tanin’s advancement will be linked to that of the Leviathan reservoir, the project’s source reiterated the critical role Energean’s entry will serve in attracting more players to the sector in Israel.
“The signal has already been given,” the source said.
German Foreign Policy 31-Aug-16
The German Bundeswehr’s new “White Paper” is conceived as just a milestone in the ongoing development of German global policy and its instruments, according to an article published by Germany’s leading foreign policy periodical. According to the article’s two authors, who had been in charge of elaborating the “White Paper” for the German Defense Ministry, the White Paper’s explicit claim to shape global policy and policy for outer space must be implemented and “brought to life” in the near future. While the German government is initiating new projects for upgrading military and “civil defense” measures, the EU is boosting its militarization: A growing number of government leaders of EU member states are supporting the creation of an EU army under openly proclaimed German leadership. According to a leading German daily, the balance sheet of recent German military involvements is “not exactly positive,” but this should not discourage future military interventions. One should, however, not expect too much and harbor “illusions about rapid successes.”
“Shaping Global Order”
The German Bundeswehr’s new “White Paper” that was presented to the public on July 13, has already formulated more far-reaching objectives for German global policy than any of the preceding White Papers. “The horizon of Germany’s security policy is global,” the document succinctly notes and openly announces that, “due to its economic, political, and military importance,” Berlin should begin to “actively help shape the global order.” Germany is not only “prepared” to become involved, “resolutely and substantially, as a driving force in the international debate,” but also to “assume leadership” in global policymaking. Berlin’s claim to shape policy refers not only to global trade routes at sea, on land and in the air, but “explicitly also to cyber-, information- and outer space.”
Just a Road Mark
The leading German foreign policy periodical “Internationale Politik” just published an article written by Brig. Gen. Carsten Breuer and Christoph Schwarz, respectively former director and former consultant of the “Project Group White Paper” in the political department of the German Ministry of Defense. Referring to the discussion process during the White Paper’s elaboration that also involved members of the political, economic and academic elite, as well as members of the religious hierarchies and the media (german-foreign-policy.com reported ), the two authors note, “there has hardly ever been more consensus on key issues of German security policy.” However, the White Paper is by no means an “endpoint” of this development, but at best, “a road mark,” “a milestone along the road to strategically contemplate Germany’s growing international responsibility” – a commonly used term to obfuscate Germany’s global ambitions – “and to enhance its tools.” The German “policy shaping claim,” articulated in the White Paper, must now be “brought to life,” write Breuer and Schwarz. Its implementation and further development depends “largely upon how emphatically the priorities are pursued” and the relevant measures “applied.”
The EU Army
Berlin is therefore impelling these preparations not only at home – with new plans to boost its military  and its new “Civil Defense Conception”  – but at the EU level as well. During last week’s tour of the EU, in preparation of the September 16, informal summit in Bratislava, Chancellor Angela Merkel received broad support for the expansion of the EU’s military policy. We want a “new impetus for the future,” declared Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi August 22, during a joint press conference held aboard a helicopter carrier with Chancellor Merkel and France’s President François Hollande. Our main concern in the matter is “EU security, common defense, communication between the intelligence services, and enhancement of the defense industries.” Then August 26, Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán declared, “We need to make security our first priority and begin with the creation of a common European Army.” Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had already declared “I am convinced that in the long term we won’t be able to do without a common European army.” As Italy’s former Chief of the Defense General Staff Vincenzo Camporini concluded, now that Great Britain – which had constantly blocked steps toward an EU army – will be leaving the EU, the road is now clear for it to be founded.
A German Europe
While the EU is facing its next boost in militarization, German dominance of the EU, which for German and other EU member states’ political establishments is already a foregone conclusion, (german-foreign-policy.com reported,) is even being openly proclaimed. “Thomas Mann once said that we want a European Germany not a German Europe,” remarked Estonia’s Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, last Wednesday during the German Chancellor’s visit in Tallinn. “Today, I can say that Germany, through its being exemplary, has impelled us to become better Europeans. In a period, when Europe is suffering from crises and must make weighty decisions, I believe we need a Europe that looks more like Germany.”
Meanwhile, a leading German daily has begun to examine Germany’s future wars, wars, in which probably other EU member states and possibly the EU Army, Berlin seeks to establish, will be fighting. In the daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, political scientist, Wilfried von Bredow recently assessed the latest wars Germany had participated in. “The balance sheet of these military missions, when taken together, is not exactly positive.” Nevertheless, Berlin cannot stand on the sidelines “of local and regional military conflicts elsewhere in the world,” claims Bredow. “That only leaves, in cases when confronting military decisions … harbor no illusions of a rapid success, avoid nationalist war rhetoric or unrealistic promises to gain popular consent” and coordinate “one’s own” interests “with those of the allies” as well as with the other “powers taking part in maintaining the international order.” The German establishment is not even considering the option of staying out of future wars.
War Balance Sheet
While Berlin prepares for new wars, wars Germany has waged over the past two decades in countries of Europe, Asia and Africa have resulted in desolate conditions. german-foreign-policy.com will present a balance sheet at irregular intervals over the next few weeks.
[Footnotes to articles in German removed]
 S. dazu Leading from the Center.
Natural Gas World 31-Aug-16
Cyprus and Egypt have signed the first of three agreements that involve gas being transported from Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to the LNG terminals of Egypt or for domestic demand in Egypt’s power stations.
In a joint statement August 31 they said: “Governments of Cyprus and Egypt decided to speedily proceed with discussions on an Intergovernmental Agreement for the pipeline from Cyprus to Egypt, which will be intended to facilitate the realisation of the project within the maritime areas of jurisdiction of the two countries. Cooperation in the oil and gas sector between the two countries will further deepen the excellent relations between Cyprus and Egypt to the mutual benefit of the peoples of Cyprus and Egypt, and will also further unlock and promote the potential of the Eastern Mediterranean as a whole.”
The agreement sends clear messages about the direction of Cyprus’ energy planning, which is at a very difficult period owing to developments in the area. Based on these plans, it is expected that Cypriot gas could be exported during the period 2020-2022.
But as Cyprus’ energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said, this will require entering into firm, commercial, gas sales agreements first. This does not appear to be any more likely or imminent.
Lakkotrypis said the agreement creates a secure investment framework for the transport of natural gas to Egypt. He added: “Essentially today we signed an agreement that provides that the two countries will respect the provisions of any trade agreements to be made in the near future… We hope that this agreement will assist and accelerate trade agreements… creating a secure investment framework for the sale of natural gas from Cyprus to Egypt.”
Egypt’s minister for petroleum Tareq El Molla echoed this by stating “We are very excited. We look forward to the next steps that will be part of the trade agreements to be developed soon.” He also expressed the desire of Egypt to become an energy hub in the eastern Mediterranean region.
It is a political agreement between the two states facilitating the export of gas from Cyprus to Egypt. It was stressed that the development confirms that the process of exploitation of Cyprus gas is now moving forward.
Review of Cyprus-Egypt accords
Following discovery of Aphrodite, Cyprus and Egypt entered into negotiations in August 2014 for the joint exploitation of natural gas deposits and an agreement was signed in September that year. This was followed by a tripartite Egypt-Cyprus-Greece meeting in Nicosia in November 2014 after which Sherif Ismail, Egypt’s then oil minister, said ‘Cairo would speed up talks to pipe Cypriot gas for domestic needs and possible re-export.’
In February 2015 Egypt and Cyprus signed another MoU to study over a six-month period technical solutions for the transport of gas through a marine pipeline from the Cypriot Aphrodite field to Egypt.
The Egyptian petroleum minister hailed this as the start of cooperation between the two countries in importing gas, but clarified that there is no agreement over the price of the imported gas, and that this will be negotiated after the sixth-month period. The six months have come and gone and no result has been forthcoming.
More agreements followed in August and October 2015 and in November BG – now owned by the Anglo-Dutch major Shell – joined the block 12 consortium opening the way for transporting gas to its LNG plant at Idku for export to Europe.
However, despite the political will and company support none of these accords progressed to any commercial deals as the economics do not add up, in today’s low gas-price environment.
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