March 14, 2014
Besides the Ukraine crisis, there are several few other important events that should be discussed in Europe these days. Here’s my list at the end of this week.
- Italian banks: Two major Italian banks, UniCredit and Monte dei Paschi di Siena, announced significant losses during the final quarter of 2013. It’s important to look into how significant this is for the Italian economy and its banking sector, considering the problems this sector has faced recently due to the crisis. While Italy’s largest banks will probably pass the stress tests and survive the crisis, a process of consolidation will take place — some of the smaller banks will disappear while others will merge.
- France gets no EU support for a military operation in the Central African Republic: Major Gen. Philippe Pontiès, the operational commander of the promised European Union mission to the Central African Republic, met for a fourth time Thursday with leaders from EU member states to try to fill the remaining gaps in soldiers and equipment. After the meeting, an EU diplomat said promises of additional support weren’t yet forthcoming, and as a result, the operational commander has been unable to recommend the mission’s launch. The EU has been planning this operation for some time.The fact that they can’t seem to find enough countries in Europe to contribute troops in a way illustrates how European military cooperation risks falling apart on a case-by-case basis depending on individual members’ interests.
- Sweden’s defense-related discussions: The Ukraine crisis has brought to the fore two policy disputes in Sweden. There is agreement nearly across all party lines on an increase in defense spending. The country’s accession in NATO is also drawing increased domestic debate.
- Arctic corridor: A new global logistics route was presented in the Arctic Business Forum. According to a presentation, the corridor not only would unite main global trade destinations faster (by 40 percent) than the routes currently in use, but it also would open up new opportunities for energy and mining industries.