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November 12th – The BESA Times

Fifty-Seventh Edition - Monday, 12th Every week, a complete snapshot of what happened around the world in the past seven days


The European People’s Party has chosen Manfred Weber as its Spitzenkandidat, setting him to the Presidency of the EU Commission. The center-right party alliance, which is expected again be the major bloc in the European Parliament after the 2019 elections, will embrace Weber’s conservative agenda. At the center of the political spectrum, the ALDE group has joined its forces with Macron’s En Marche party; the liberals, which are now the fourth EP group, may increase their seats thanks to the French president contribution.

It has been disclosed that the largest US investment banks, led by JP Morgan, are planning to shift assets for 250 billion euro to Frankfurt in response to Brexit. The decision might be reversed – or the transfer of assets downsized – depending on the final deal between London and Bruxelles. The City will no longer be the financial hub of the continent. In the last months many financial intermediaries have been relocating across Europe, especially in Paris and Frankfurt. Now that the latter has been chosen by JP, Goldman and Morgan Stanley, it seems quite obvious that the German city has won the race.

Australia is taking action to contain the expansionary ambitions of China over the south Pacific. This week Canberra engaged in a dual strategy: on one hand, the foreign minister has visited Beijing after three years of virtually no contact in order to normalize the relationship between the two countries. On the other hand, the prime minister has announced a $1.5 billion aid program for the many developing nation of the South Pacific by means of grants and LT loans for energy, transport, water and telecommunication projects. Still, it’s Xi Jiping the local frontrunner in terms of aid – and thus, soft power – with $6 billion of concessions and loans granted in the last seven years.


What to remember from last week’s news?

On Tuesday, the Democratic Party won over the House of Representatives in the US midterm elections, while the Republicans gained seats in the Senate, which they already controlled. Democrats won the popular vote and their votes are now necessary in congress to pass legislation. On the other side, Trump’s party performed better than expected, also thanks to a very favorable electoral map, and won some crucial gubernatorial races. The biggest losers were the moderate politicians, as the new Congress is more polarized than ever, with many progressive Democrats and pro-Trump Republicans. The turnout was impressive, at 114 million, the highest figure since 1966. What do these midterms tell us? Trump will certainly have a hard time pushing his agenda through Congress, and that the results of the 2020 presidential race are far from obvious, as the much anticipated ‘blue wave’ was weaker than expected.


Did you know:

Beijing is pushing the military into artificial intelligence by means of the so-called “military-civil fusion” strategy, i.e. the duty for the private sector to share new developed technologies with the military. The recent allegations that China is eroding US military supremacy by theft of intellectual property, made by US vice-president Pence, seem to be confirmed by independent observers. Private companies are, indeed, the perfect intermediaries: they collaborate with Western partners in AI research (traditionally, an environment of international cooperation) and then they bring the results back to homeland. The Trump administration is trying to stop this outflow of intellectual properties by a general overhaul of regulation and even allowing the Committee on Foreign Investment to block any new Chinese investment in Silicon Valley.


What to expect from the coming week:

After a meeting on Friday evening among ambassadors, the negotiations on the Brexit deal are close to a breakthrough. There are still a couple of issues left to solve, such as the fishing rights and the management of the Irish border. The settlement of these disputes, however, will be likely postponed; a draft treaty may be ready in the next days.




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