Here is today's foreign policy mandate: the EU and the UK agree to keep it Brexit negotiations go, US finance and trade departments, and hacked Trump card threatens NDAA veto.
We look forward to your feedback at Morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com.
Brexit speaks for "extra mile"
Brexit negotiations are slated to resume this week as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to continue talking. In a joint statement on Sunday, the couple said it was "responsible at this point for going the extra mile".
With one deadline after deadline missed in the Brexit negotiations between the European Union and the UK, you are forgiven that an extra mile may underestimate the real distance between the two sides. Mainly because after months of discussions there is still a dispute over fishing and the so-called level playing field.
The deadline that wolf wept. In the financial world, the ever-changing ultimatums have sparked cynicism. "If these talks fail, I would bet there will be efforts to restart them next year," Marc Chandler, chief marketing strategist at Bannockburn Global, told Bloomberg, adding, "Deadlines don't matter."
Supermarket jitter. Beyond the financial markets, the literal meat and potatoes of a no-deal Brexit remain a problem. Grocery stores in the UK have reportedly been instructed by the UK government to start stocking up on items. "A week ago there was a conversation in which the ministers said they should prepare for a no-deal. This weekend the message is that it's not a business, ”a supermarket advisor told the Sunday Times.
Royal delays. Cultural totems also have to readjust to deal with the sinking feeling of a no-deal Brexit. The tapping of Queen Elizabeth's Christmas message, considered as an institution on Thanksgiving like NFL football, had to be postponed from its usual shooting date in mid-December to deal with the uncertainty of the Brexit negotiations.
A fight for fish? The UK Ministry of Defense has threatened to roll out the big cannons after the Brexit transition period has expired. It would "activate numerous patrol vessels in military and naval organizations deployed for physical presence, deterrence and inspection capability," suggesting a stalemate over fishing rights is on the cards.
European Council President Charles Michel ridiculed the likelihood of conflict breaking out as a result of a no-deal outcome. “I'm not going to say, like Donald Trump, that our boats are bigger than theirs because I'm trying to be serious. On the European side, we will keep our calm, ”he said.
The world this week
On Monday December 14thThe Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is hosting a virtual discussion with Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Kelly Craft, US Ambassador to the United Nations, speaks to the Heritage Foundation.
The Task Force on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the Office of Naval Intelligence will publish its findings on unidentified aerial phenomena and threats to the U.S. military.
On Tuesday 15th DecemberFrance's national lockdown has ended.
On Wednesday December 16The US Federal Reserve will make its decision on whether to raise, lower, or maintain US interest rates. Followed by a press conference chaired by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.
The two-day meeting of the WTO General Council begins, the highest decision-making body of the World Trade Organization. Discussions are awaited on the proposal to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
The other signatories of the Iranian nuclear agreement meet in Vienna.
On Thursday 17th DecemberRussian President Vladimir Putin holds his annual press conference at the end of the year.
On Friday 18th December The US Senate should adjourn, but an extension is possible.
What we are following today
NDAA veto threat. US President Donald Trump warned again that he would veto the law approving the US defense budget, this time because it is too soft for China. “THE BIGGEST WINNER OF OUR NEW DEFENSE BILL IS CHINA! I will do it! “Trump tweeted on Sunday. The proposed budget of $ 740.5 billion, agreed by both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate, is roughly three times that of China. The White House declined to elaborate on why Trump was referring to China in the tweet, though it may be due to an argument by Trump's Matryoshka doll, Section 230 of the Communications Act, a perceived bias from social media Business versus Conservatives, and Chinese officials include the recent use of Twitter by officials.
Treasury hacked. Hackers affiliated with the Russian government have had access to US finance and commerce networks for months after exploiting a vulnerability in a software management system used by SolarWinds. When the US National Security Council learned of the hack, it reportedly convened an emergency meeting on Saturday. According to the company's website, SolarWinds is used by all five branches of the U.S. military as well as the Department of Defense, State Department, Justice Department, NASA, the President's Executive Office, and the National Security Agency, suggesting that hackers may have done even more US government agencies violated than first reported. It is not yet clear what kind of information was extracted by the hackers.
Sudan rejected. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has rejected an offer by the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to mediate between Abiy and the Tigray People & # 39; s Liberation Front (TPLF). Reuters reports that Abiy rejected the offer as his government claims that all fighting stopped after government forces took the Tigrayan capital, Mekele, despite the TPLF claiming they continue to fight in the mountains surrounding the city. Abiy had described Hamdok's visit as a two-day trip, but Hamdok left Ethiopia within a few hours. The United Nations estimates that almost 50,000 Ethiopians have fled to Sudan since Abiy began campaigning against the TPLF.
Europe-Iran relations. European nations have withdrawn from a Europe-Iran economic forum to protest the execution of dissident Rouhollah Zam over the weekend. Zam had been abducted from Iraq and brought to Iran on charges of dissent during anti-government demonstrations in 2017. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif should also attend the forum, which has now been canceled. Iran called the German ambassador to Tehran because of the European actions and blew up the "interventionist statements" made after the execution.
Armistice ended? Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused the other of breaking a Russia-brokered ceasefire that was put in place last month as both sides reported renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. WHEN founded. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense reported that four Azerbaijani soldiers had been killed in the past few weeks, while Armenia said six of its troops were wounded while defending the ethnically Armenian country under the terms of the latest ceasefire.
Bolsonaro bump. Even if a local newspaper accuses his "negligent negligence" in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro sees record approval rates. A recent poll by Brazilian company Datafolha found that 37 percent of Brazilians see their government as great or good, while the number they see as bad or awful dropped 2 points to 32 percent. Bolsonaro's relatively solid approval is likely due to his support for a cash benefit for low-income residents affected by the pandemic, which Bolsonaro recently extended to the end of the year.
bits and pieces
Consumers around the world face a crisis in the Christmas tree supply as shoppers scramble to freshen up the homes they spent much time getting to know each other under lockdown over the past year. The Wall Street Journal reports that 8-foot trees in Hong Kong cost as much as $ 2,167 and prices for otherwise poor-quality trees have increased in the US. The shortage is likely due to miscalculations by suppliers when it comes to demand and fear of outbidding a market where many have been unemployed for months. The time it takes to grow a tree by most house standards – around 8 to 12 years – means it will be difficult to find more in the short term. "We have retailers asking us to cut down more trees, which we don't because we have to save some for next year," said one American grower.
That's it for today.