European Business Review (EBR)

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ISSUE 3-2020 / YEAR 23rd - PRICE 5,00 € / $6,00



INDEX Founder

Konstantinos C. Trikoukis Chairman

Athanase Papandropoulos Publisher

Christos K. Trikoukis



State of the Union: Von der Leyen’s europhile dreams

European Foreign Policy After Brexit



EU & International Correspondent

N. Peter Kramer Editorial Consultant

Anthi Louka Trikouki Issue Contributors

Dharmendra Kanani, Rosa Balfour, Briony Harris, Wouter Veening, Martin Banks, Johnny Wood, Jan Zalasiewicz, Naor Gilon, Maros Šefkovič, Shihoko Goto, Alexandra Papaisidorou, Philip Meissner, Christian Poensgen Correspondents

Raising our game through strategic foresight

Brussels, London, New York, Paris, Berlin, Istanbul, Athens, Helsinki, Rome, Prague

A top economist shares 3 ways leaders can help economies recover

Communications Director Alexandra Papaisidorou Advertising

Marianna Panoutsopoulou Business Development John G. Tragkas Published by:

EMG STRATEGIC CONSULTING LTD. 19 Leyden Street, E1 7LE London, United Kingdom



The battle for the planet: Who are the players?

The ‘Harris-Biden’ campaign and the ‘law and order’ issue



Clock ticking on Luxury watchmakers

Which countries are making the most progress in digital competitiveness?

ISSUE 3 -2020 / SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2020, YEAR 23rd Published quarterly under the license of Christos K. Trikoukis. European Business Review trademark is a property of Christos K. Trikoukis. European Business Review is strictly copyrighted and all rights are reserved. Reproduction without official permission of the publisher is strictly forbidden. Every case is taken in compiling the contents of that magazine, but we assume no responsibility for the affects arising therefrom. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher nor of the European Business Review magazine.

For previous editions archive and up-to-date information on major topics and events you may visit our website EUROPEAN BUSINESS REVIEW | 3






A note from the Publisher


o yes, this year the whole world seemed to stop spinning for a while and now it certainly takes time to boost again. The pandemic of the 21st century has turned our daily routines, lives and businesses upside down. These are unprecedented times, for sure. For most of you, our readers, who are mainly business travellers, movers and shakers, this time will be most remembered as a period of “pause”. Global business travel has largely ground to a halt during the pandemic. Experts have been raising the alarm that this is the death of business travel as we know it, arguing that it will be a long time before the virus is really gone and that business people have become used to meetings on the likes of Zoom and Teams. As a result, many of them no longer see the need for constantly crossing the globe and living out of a suitcase.

But we want to urge caution here. There have been similar predictions before, and they were proven wrong. The 9/11 attacks had a negative effect on global business travel, for example, but it found its feet several years later. There was a similar downturn and revival in business travel after the global financial crisis of 2007-09. We believe that this will be the case once again. We just need to adjust to the new norms and standards and prepare ourselves and our businesses for the day after. At the “European Business Review (EBR)”, as in every media organisation, we also had to cope with the new reality. The first issue of the year came out with delay, we “skipped” the second one but… here we are again with issue number 3 that you are holding in your hands! In the meantime, some things have changed; our website has been both redesigned to firmly correspond with all new mobile devices and systems and enriched with more editorial pieces and news content every day, we launched the “Mid-Week Update” e-newsletter to keep you connected every week and we advanced our online presence to all social media platforms with regular feed. Most important, N. Peter Kramer, our editor-in-chief for 15 consecutive years has now a new role as EBR’s “EU & International Correspondent” keep delivering his contributions to both online and print editions. Of course, he always remains the “wise spirit” and the moving power of this publication. Thank you Peter! For all our readers, we - the team of EBR – are grateful for your support and rest assure that we always remain dedicated to provide you with reliable news, in-depth analysis and commentaries on people, places and issues that matter. Stay all safe and as Peter recently reminded me, if you can’t change a situation, make a virtue of necessity! Best regards, Christos K. Trikoukis



by N. Peter Kramer, EU & International Correspondent

State of the Union: Von der Leyen’s europhile dreams


n September 16, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held her first ‘State of the Union’ before the European Parliament in Brussels. ‘Europe has a common destiny’ , she said reconfirming existing wishes and launching a number of new ones. The thread through her lengthy speech was: more EU integration is needed and therefore the Commission needs more power and more money. The old stale song: more, more, more! Of course, the European Parliament was very enthusiastic and rewarded the commission president with a thunderous applause. In many EU capitals, on the other hand, the reaction to Von der Leyen’s sermon was no more than a shrug. Von der Leyen put forward a plan to establish a European Health Care Union. But health care was and still is a policy area for the member states themselves. Who believes they will give the commission the authority to take the lead? Plus it would bring hundreds more EU bureaucrats to Brussels. The problem with bureaucracy is just that by its nature many do not have the slightest idea of reality at member state level nor any notion or insight into historical and long existing differences between the countries. A recent example. someone at the commission headquarters, the Berlaymont, stated that one of the most famous and historical buildings in the world, the Aya Sophia, is situated in Cyprus! Since the year 532 it has been found in Istanbul… Von der Leyen issued a plea for qualified-majority voting on foreign policy. Divisions have long been blocking a clear EU foreign policy. ‘Credibility is at stake’, europhiles are crying. But with 27 countries around the table, there are different analyses of problems, conflicting national interests and different external influences. The past weeks we have seen a lack of unity in four foreign policy challenges: Belarus, Turkey, Russia and China. Smaller member states especially fear that qualified-majority voting for foreign policies will give the chance to bigger EU players (read: Germany and France) to overrule them and ignore their problems. Another remarkable passage in the State of the Union was Von der Leyen’s appeal on the EP to fight for more funding and remedy the cuts the European Council made in the EU budget 2021-2027 (Multi-annual Financial Framework, MFF) in June, after a 4-day long summit. Her message did not fall on deaf ears, again applause for Von der Leyen by the MEPs. In the meantime, the Council and the parliament are continuing to disagree on whether to increase the MFF. It is complicating attempts to reach a quick agreement on the exorbitant €750 billion recovery fund called Next Generation EU, to overcome the crisis inflicted by COVID-19. Anyhow, changing the rules is the prerogative of the member states... unanimously!



A moment for transformation and change Over lockdown summer, there’s been a striking gendered approach to maintaining, protecting and unravelling democracy by Dharmendra Kanani*


Across the world a group of male political leaders have been hell-bent on demonstrating their prowess in exercising power without restraint – whether it’s by clinging to office despite widespread civil unrest, rewriting constitutions, undermining the independence of the judiciary, through to silencing or harassing the media, either consigning them as ‘foreign interference’ or just ‘fake news’.

them as a whole. It’s a steady creep which is difficult to make sense of as a dynamic malaise because it feels disparate and unconnected. Its manifestations range from Trump systematically sowing seeds of doubt about the US election process, to Lukashenko’s brutal crackdown in Belarus and similar actions of leaders in Hungary, Poland and elsewhere in Europe’s backyard. The growth of this illiberalism is due largely to the fat, lazy and complacent ‘left’, taking its ideology for granted, paying scant attention to harsh economic divides and failing to reinvent itself when faced with today’s harsh realities.

These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg in the global march of authoritarianism. If you blink you might miss

At the same time, we have seen the encouraging emergence of women leaders, elected or otherwise, fighting

ver lockdown summer, there’s been a striking gendered approach to maintaining, protecting and unravelling democracy.



for democracy and promoting better governance. From Belarus, Afghanistan, Iraq, Malawi, the US, New Zealand, Rwanda, Namibia, Kenya Bolivia, Lebanon, Tunisia, France, India – the list goes on. All of them, either as Mayors, Chiefs, political leaders, activists are creating space and movements of communities seeking a different kind of conversation about power and how to govern. The sense of global solidarity to uphold and protect human rights and basic freedoms has faltered This is an unprecedented shift. Women have more global impact now than in any previous generation. What’s at stake in a world dominated by male leaders is that the heady creep of the ‘strong man’ dynamic. In this regard, let’s pay heed to the lessons of the bystander tragedy of the 1930s and the modern equivalent of simply shrugging our shoulders at the latest shocking revelation of abuse – as if it’s merely par the course. What does this mean, for foreign policy? In the early part of this century, mainly due to growing antipathy towards multilateralism in the US, the sense of global solidarity to uphold and protect human rights and basic freedoms has faltered. With the growth in the power of the East and Russia’s continuing mendacity, there’s an ever-growing vacuum for leadership that safeguards fundamental rights, freedoms and progressive liberalism. The coronavirus crisis has simply laid bare and emboldened the geopolitical, economic, political and social problems inside the EU and across the globe. This crisis reveals the poor health of local, regional and global governance and cooperation when it actually matters. Is this a role which the European Union can step into, in its desire to be a ‘geopolitical’ power? This is a moment for transformation and change, one that requires tearing up the rule book EU foreign policy is currently an unguided process looking for purpose, stamina and leadership – it’s ad hoc at best and is at risk of missing out on key opportunities to lead in global, regional developments and structures. It has yet to capitalise on the vacuum created by the US’s recalcitrance and an ‘America First’ mantra. The November US elections will determine the fate not only of EU-US relations but also the future of multilateralism, free trade and neo-liberalism. A Trump victory would mean the continuation of a nihilistic approach to liberal democracy and climate change. So, there’s a lot at stake. Unless of course the EU strikes a different pose on the world stage for progressive politics.

While the EU should be bold about its commitment to multilateralism, it cannot defend it on its own. Europe needs to adopt a more strategic approach towards great powers. It must look for more like-minded partners, beyond the ‘Big 3’ of Russia, China and US, and perhaps explore better relations with smaller strategic states across Asia and in the South, in particular to serve as balancers that share a similar value-based and geopolitical solidarity. There’s need to reframe foreign policy to be about political, economic and social change, not only security and defence matters. Using the EU’s diplomatic network more proactively would serve this process well, combining sanctions, using conditionality in financing for demonstrable change; and facilitating better NGO engagement in countries and regions where it is evident that movements – led by people especially women and community organisations – can be the catalyst for sustainable change. Belarus is a classic example of where this would be of significant benefit. This is a moment for transformation and change, one that requires tearing up the rule book. Nations must work together globally and develop a global system of governance that capitalises on their interdependencies and their respective and mutually shared interest. Let’s learn from Nina, a 73-year-old great grandmother from Belarus. The image of her standing up to riot police has inspired masses of younger generations. Her philosophy is simple, “I don’t consider myself a special hero, that’s the duty of any normal person, people must be free.”

*Dharmendra Kanani Director of Insights at Friends of Europe





European Foreign Policy After Brexit The rapidly eroding trust between the UK and the EU casts a dark shadow over the future of European foreign policy cooperation. But as the eventful summer of 2020 has shown, that cooperation is much needed. by Rosa Balfour*


t is not clear whether the British government is posturing to extract concessions from Brussels on the deal sealing the country’s withdrawal from the EU, or whether it believes it can leave the EU without a deal. What is clear is that trust between the two sides is rapidly eroding, casting a dark shadow over the future of cooperation between the two sides. That cooperation is in dire need at a time of great international turbulence. An internal market bill put forward by the British government on September 9, 2020, suggests that 10 Downing Street may not stand by the terms of its withdrawal agreement with the EU, agreed in January, prompting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to remind the UK that it is “legally obliged” to respect its international commitments. It was never going to be easy to work with the UK on foreign policy, internal and external security, and defense policy, but the rationale for finding pragmatic solutions to cooperate on a host of foreign and security policy themes has generally been strong—from coordinating international sanctions and dealing with conflicts in Europe’s neighborhood and in Africa to working together on international migration and fighting the climate crisis together. In multilateral institutions, Britain and EU member states continue to stand mostly together and increasingly often alone. Cooperation among the so-called big three—France, Germany, and the United Kingdom—has continued since Britain’s decision to leave the EU, especially with respect to Iran. Germany and France want to keep Britain roped in, and London does not want to be chained into EU institutional processes. In March 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron also proposed a European Council for Internal Security to keep Britain in Europe’s security framework.

But London’s appetite to work with other Europeans was conspicuously absent during the eventful summer of 2020. One cannot but wonder whether Europe’s response to the situation in Belarus and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny would have been stronger and more impactful with the UK’s weight (and had the United States been visible). Where Paris and Berlin disagree on tactics and strategies in Libya and in the Greece-Turkey standoff in the Eastern Mediterranean, London could have tipped the balance toward forging a more common European position. In the Western Balkans, where the UK is still an important presence, British diplomats could have whispered in a few ears across the Atlantic to prevent the emergence of two separate international initiatives dealing with the Serbia-Kosovo question—one by the EU, the other by the United States. The UK could also have put pressure on the EU for a more forceful response to China’s encroachment on Hong Kong. And on defense, Britain is one of only two countries in Europe—with France—to have credible military capacity. In general, the EU’s struggle to forge shared positions on foreign policy, from Russia to China, is macroscopically painful. In the past, the UK was a policy shaper and player in today’s hotspots across the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Eastern Europe and vis-à-vis Russia and Turkey. Now, together with the United States, it is conspicuously absent. But decades of British engagement in Europe’s neighborhood cannot be wished away overnight. Even if the UK’s future direction of travel is toward a



so-called Global Britain free of the chains of working with its old partners in the EU, the UK needs friends, allies, and partners to achieve its new goals. Just by way of example, Britain’s preferences with respect to Russia will benefit from cooperation with both the United States and the EU—on sanctions and intelligence sharing, on fighting money laundering and organized crime, and on countering foreign interference in domestic politics. The British government has launched a review process of its international engagement with the Integrated Review of foreign policy, defense, security, and international development. As part of this process, and with any debate on working with the EU becoming toxic, Britain will be looking to shed old ties and find new alliances to pursue its Global Britain goals. But this requires trust and sharing some basic principles. The world, not just the EU and Ireland, is watching while its proposed new bill on the UK’s internal market will “break international law in a very specific and limited way” with respect to the withdrawal agreement’s protocol on Northern Ireland. This move could endanger peace in Northern Ireland, the negotiations with the EU, the holding of the United Kingdom, and likely Britain’s standing in the world.


London is eyeing a trade deal with the United States, but Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, was quick to rule out any deal if the Good Friday Agreement is undermined. On Europe’s part, the Brexit issue needs to be viewed more broadly and in the long term. The EU has demonstrated it is a tough and focused negotiator. It has been remarkably united in defending the Single Market and Ireland’s sovereignty and in undermining repeated attempts by the UK to divide its members. But the focus of post-Brexit Europe also needs to be on the next friendship—not just the divorce—and beyond who is currently living in 10 Downing Street: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In an unstable and unruly world, the drive needs to be toward strengthening alliances between those seeking international stability and cooperation rather than competition and rivalry. To do so, the EU needs to be open to loose arrangements with partners and make itself attractive for such alliances. *Rosa Balfour Director of Carnegie Europe. Her fields of expertise include European politics, institutions, and foreign and security policy.





EU – China Summit: Merkel – Von der Leyen – Michel vs Xi by N. Peter Kramer


eptember 14. While the initial summit lost its official in-person character due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 3 EU leaders and the Chinese leader attended a virtual meeting via a videoconference. The main result of the summit was that the leaders agreed on speeding up negotiations to conclude a long-standing investment deal. Promises were made to try to realise an investment treaty before the end of the year. After the meeting, Commission President Von der Leyen said it was a positive sign that China had sent a high-level team to negotiate on the investment pact. ‘We have an agreement on three important issues,’ she told reporters, ‘on the disciplines regarding the behaviours of state-owned enterprises, on technology transfer and on transparency on subsidies’. However, she emphasised that ‘there is still a lot remains to be done in other important and difficult chapters, particularly in two areas: market access and sustainable development’. Also, China still did not agree on opening important sectors such as telecom, IT, health, financial services and manufacturing…

And what about human rights? Pressure had been rising in recent weeks on the EU and Germany to take a stronger stance against China on the detention of Uighur Muslims, against Beijing’s new National Security Law in Hong Kong, unilateral actions in the South East China Sea threatening Taiwan. Asked by reporters if Beijing would take notice of the EU human rights concerns, Angela Merkel said ‘we will see what comes out of it. But there was no agreement about these issues’. China was not part of the post-summit press conference and there was no joint statement. The stateowned Xinhua News Agency reported that Xi rejected any interference in Chinese affairs, particularly on human rights. ‘Chinese people will not accept an instructor on human rights and oppose double standards’, Xi was quoted as saying during the summit. Ahead of the summit, MEPs wrote a letter to Merkel, Von der Leyen and Michel calling for ‘targeted sanctions and asset freezes against Chinese officials responsible for policies violating human rights’. But at the end, what is heaviest should weigh most, isn’t it?



Raising our game through strategic foresight by Maroš Šefčovič*


ith the adoption of its first-ever Strategic Foresight Report, the European Commission is making a giant leap forward, by bringing robust longterm challenges and vision into short-term political focus and action. We cannot expect the future to become less disruptive. New trends and shocks – like the coronavirus pandemic – will inevitably emerge and affect our lives.


Trying to guess what lies ahead, especially in today’s world of rapid, complex changes, is therefore of limited value. Crystal balls do not work in real life. What does make sense, however, is to keep an eye on the horizon – to identify and understand emerging challenges, to map possible paths to a preferred future,


and to better steer our action as a result. This is what strategic foresight is about: anticipating, exploring, acting. The European Commission, led by President von der Leyen, is set to exploit this strategic value of foresight. By using it to prepare major initiatives across all policy areas, we will bring the long-term into short-term political focus and ultimately, we will achieve a step change in future-proofing EU laws. This is a true game-changer. Until now, foresight had been at arm’s length from the political level, which tends to be trapped in short-termism, prone to seeking quick fixes and quick gains. On the other hand, strategic foresight forces us to acknowledge hard truths, to challenge the status quo and focus our minds on the next generation rather than the next election.

est knowledge feeds directly into our strategy to boost Europe’s open strategic autonomy – key to building our geopolitical, economic, digital and even green resilience. We will now address other cross-cutting topics where strategic foresight can help us understand the dynamics at play across policy tracks. Apart from open strategic autonomy, we are set to zoom in on the future jobs and skills linked to a green economy. An in-depth view of the labour market shifts driven by the green transition is still missing. We will also explore how to make the green and digital transitions work together in harmony. Take energy consumption: transferring and storing one gigabyte of data through the internet uses up to 7 kWh – compared to 0.000005 kWh if done locally. FORESIGHT: A CALL TO ACTION


To walk the talk on resilience, we also need to monitor it. We are proposing to move towards resilience dashboards. Once fully developed in cooperation with the Member States and other key stakeholders, they should help us assess how vulnerabilities and capacities evolve over time at both, EU and national level. Ultimately, we need to answer one core question: are we, through our policies and recovery strategy, effectively making the EU more resilient?

That is why resilience takes centre stage in the Commission’s 2020 Strategic Foresight Report, the first in a yearly series. This pandemic has made it clear that resilience is necessary in all policy areas if we want to bounce forward – that is not only recover but emerge stronger by accelerating the green and digital transitions in a fair way.

Altogether, it is no easy feat. To make full use of strategic foresight entails a cultural shift. But the unprecedented severity of the current crisis will help us break down many past barriers and inertia. I am proud that the Commission is the first public administration of this size to bring strategic foresight so clearly into the political limelight.

The report shows what COVID-19 has taught us about Europe’s green, digital, socio-economic and geopolitical resilience: where we are vulnerable and what strengths we have. In turn, EU policies informed by strategic foresight can better mitigate these vulnerabilities and boost our capacities – to turn them into opportunities that will lastingly make Europe more resilient. This honest assessment must be constantly refined and refreshed.

Now we are set to launch an EU-wide foresight network that draws on Member States’ public foresight capabilities, think tanks, academia and civil society. Here I believe my second hat – as Vice-President for interinstitutional relations – will help. Our ambition should be nothing less than to collectively establish world-class anticipatory governance at EU level. This is an opportunity for transformation and we will tap into it fully.

We have no time to spare. The coronavirus crisis has thrown a sharp light on our vulnerabilities. But it has also presented opportunities that the EU cannot afford to miss. More than ever, our policies must be evidence-based, future-proof and centred around resilience.

Take our first example, the Commission’s recent Action plan on critical raw materials. Strategic foresight complements the criticality assessment by providing the 2030 and 2050 outlook – both demand and supply risks – for strategic technologies and sectors. This lat-

*Maroš Šefčovič Maroš Šefčovič is the European Commission Vice-President for Interinstitutional relations and Foresight. ** first published at



Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris



The follies of French ecological mayors by N. Peter Kramer


lected in June, the new ‘ecologist’ mayors in France are trying to put their stamp on the daily life of their communes. They are attempting to realise a change in society according to their dreams, often without any deliberations with their town council, let alone their citizens. They defend the restrictions of individual freedom in the name of an interest of a higher order, for instance the climate change, but more often in reality they are just putting personal ideas into practice. When, in mid-September, the Tour de France arrived in Lyon, the third city of France, mayor Grégory Doucet, qualified the biggest cycle event in the world: ‘macho and polluting’. His colleague in Rennes, Nathalie Appéré, had already refused for ecological reasons to offer her city as an arrival place for the 2021 edition. Doucet really put himself out there, when one day, in name of the French constitutional ‘separation of church and state’ (la laïcité), he refused to participate in a multi-secular ceremony in a catholic basilica, but the day after, during a muslim ceremony, laying the first stone for a mosque… Eric Piolle, mayor of Grenoble, says no to 5G, using as his rationale the argument that it ‘makes possible to look at porn in a lift’! His colleague in Bordeaux, Pierre Hurmic, supports him, he is ‘a low-tech’ fan. The mayors of Nantes, Johanna Roland, and Besancon, Anne Vignot, are also anti-5G. Just like Emmanuel Denis, mayor of Tours. Sadly for them, the French Council of State said that the mayors do not have the power to refuse the installation of antenna

Grégory Doucet, Mayor of Lyon

relays; which is a state competence. More. Mayor Hurmic announced, ‘No Christmas trees in Bordeaux in the name of the charter of the rights of the trees’. And, mayor Doucet once more, ‘No to the aircrafts of the Patrouille de France’, an aerobatics demonstration unit of the French Airforce, well known from opening the yearly parade on Quatorze Juillet. The mayor of Marseille, Michèle Rubirola, opposed and ignored the prime minister’s decision to impose the wearing of face-masks due to COVID-19 pandemonium. Later, the rise in local infections was four times higher than the national average. In Besancon, mayor Anne Vignot, is against the doubling of the RN57, the overcrowded ring road around the city. She has as a solution the ‘desynchronisation of working hours’. And, a last one. In Annecy, mayor Francois Astorge, has decided to create a local valuta, ‘complementary and solidary’. Not all the above-mentioned mayors are elected under the flag of the green-left political party EELV (Europe Écologie Les Verts). Some are independent or members of the Parti Socialiste (PS). But, they won their position as mayor through a close cooperation with the EELV in their commune. The best known amongst them is the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo (PS). Her restrictive measures have a dramatic result. Streets not (yet) closed for cars are showing growing congestion. In practise taxi’s and public transport are also caught up in these all-day traffic jam. Is the metro a solution? Hidalgo advises seriously in a campaign not to take the metro but the bicycle. She lowered the budget for the underground system and opened in the famous Rue de Rivoli, one of the busiest arterial roads of the capital, 3 of the 4 lanes for bikes leaving one open for cars, taxi’s and busses… Protests of individual Parisians, shopkeepers, businesses are disregarded. The notorious arrogance of power-mad people. In France, they call mayors like Hidalgo ‘Khmers verts’, the ‘green Khmers’.



OECD’s Secretary-General Angel Gurria

A top economist shares 3 ways leaders can help economies recover The global economy won’t return to pre-pandemic levels for another two years, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) by Briony Harris*


The global economy won’t return to pre-pandemic levels for another two years, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The economies of the 37 developed nations that make up the organization shrank an unprecedented 9.8% during April, May and June due to the impact of COVID-19. And the path to recovery is highly uncertain


and vulnerable to a second wave of infections. Global economic activity is expected to shrink by 6% overall in 2020 if a second wave is avoided, although this could be a sharper decline of 7.6% if it hits before the end of the year. Although the lockdown measures brought in by many


governments have succeeded in slowing the spread of the virus, they have also limited business activity and taken a very heavy toll on the health of economies around the world. The OECD’s Secretary-General Angel Gurria has taken part in the Great Dialogue Series - part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Reset Initiative - to share his thoughts about how to help the global economy recover. 1. Keep supporting people as long as possible From paying private-sector wages to deep fiscal stimulus, many governments have acted quickly and decisively to protect the economy. Gurria said it was important not to withdraw this support prematurely, highlighting the negative impact when this was done previously. "Remember the big mistake we made in 2008/9? We withdrew the stimulus too fast. We went into austerity too fast. And what happened is we went into two further downturns of the world economy after that because we were too fast. We should not make the same mistake this time," he warned.

with the rate rising to 19% in Spain, 17.5% in the US and an average of 11.4% among OECD member countries during the second quarter. The lowest skilled workers are most vulnerable and could risk losing their links with the jobs market more permanently, Gurria said.

He also said that deciding whether to prioritise protecting people’s lives or their livelihoods was a "false dilemma".

"That is going to have a very serious result because they are more difficult to catch up in terms of skilling," he warned.

It’s necessary to invest heavily in controlling the virus. And if we don’t do that, the economic cost will be even greater, he explained.

If this reskilling issue is not adequately addressed, it could lead to discontent on the streets and increase political pressure, he added.

2. Reskill the most vulnerable workers There has already been a huge surge in unemployment,

3. Don’t shorten global value chains Global supply chains were vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak in China, especially when urgent supplies of PPE were needed. But Gurria warned against action that would lead to more manufacturing ending up closer to the end market, or a reduction of international trade in general. "Don’t shorten the value chains. Diversify the value chains - because otherwise we run the danger of getting less efficiency throughout," he warned, stressing the importance of global trade to the global economic recovery. *Briony Harris Senior Writer, Formative Content **first published in:



Major breakthrough for Israel, but it remains silent in Europe by Naor Gilon*



his third Tuesday in September was a big day for Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. In the White House, the countries signed a peace treaty. It is an historic event that the three countries signed an agreement to fully normalise their relations. This reminds of the iconic images of Israeli and Arab leaders shaking hands during the peace accords between Israel and Egypt in 1977 and Jordan and Israel in 1994.. The Abraham Accord is a major breakthrough in international and regional diplomacy. The establishment could also have been a great opportunity for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Enthusiasm and satisfaction would be expected from all those who have been advocating for peace in the Middle East for so long. It is disappointing to see that many in Europe are not very happy. The generally active Twitter accounts of some European leaders have remained silent. Even the fact that Israel delayed the application of Israeli law in parts of Judea and Samaria (the so-called annexation) apparently did not give enough cause for enthusiasm.


The Palestinian story, which propagates that the Muslim world should be in constant conflict with Israel until the Palestinian issue is resolved, is unfortunately being adopt by many Europeans. Even while Arab countries understand that this is unworkable, and they normalise relations with Israel. The Eu is going one step further, with resolutions that make further improvement of EU-Israeli relations dependent on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With this the EU gives the Palestinians control over relations between the EU and Israel. Another example is the negative reaction of a spokesman of the European Commission to the intentions of Kosovo and Serbia to open embassies in Jerusalem. This notion of automatic support for the Palestinians, even after they rejected the US peace plan, in practise pushes them away from dialogue and compromise. And with that, the unnecessary suffering of the Palestinian people is prolonged, resulting from the incompetence of their own leadership.

The agreement with the Emirates and Bahrain also shows how serious the Iranian threat is being taken in the region. Cooperation between Israel and moderate Arab countries will counteract Iran’s efforts to destabilise the region. The negative and threatening reactions to the agreement by Iran and its allied terrorist organisations speak for themselves. The Middle East is undergoing a fundamental and positive change. Let us hope that more countries in the region will soon follow the courageous leaders of the Emirates and Bahrain. Let us also hope that the Palestinian leadership will understand the change and will not miss another opportunity for the sake of its own people and will instead join the camp of the moderates.

*Naor Gilon Israel’s ambassador to The Netherlands **article first published in De Telegraaf



Shinzo Abe’s Legacy for Japan Japan’s longest-serving prime minister achieved not only a stable Japan — but one with a clear view of its own identity and role in the world by Shihoko Goto*


istory may look far more kindly on Shinzo Abe than Japanese voters did during his last few months of office. He resigned only days after setting a record as Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. Already nostalgic? Of late, Abe had been struggling in public opinion polls, not least because of voters’ frustration about his handling of the COVID 19 pandemic.


Yet, far from declaring good riddance to a premier who most likely would have continued to slide in popular support, Japan is already beginning to look back nostalgically on Shinzo Abe’s seven years and eight months in office. There is widespread recognition of what he has achieved — not only a stable Japan, but one with a clear view of its own identity and role in the world.


A clear vision Even his staunchest critics would not deny that Abe had a clear vision for Japan at a time when countries across the globe have been struggling to grapple with the shifts in the international balance of power and challenges to economic growth. Until 2012, Japan had struggled with defining its identity in a post-Cold War order. As it ceded the number two spot in the global economy to China in 2010, the narrative for Japan both at home and abroad was that it was a country that had peaked, and would continue to slide with an aging population and growing debt. Defensive realism Abe, however, brought forth a grand vision, if not a strategy, for Japan to be able to reassert itself as a global power that would champion the rules and institutions that had helped the country reestablish itself after the end of World War II. Faced with a more ambitious China that was not only increasing its military capabilities, but also eager to offer an alternative roadmap for international development that challenged U.S. dominance, Japan under Abe sought to enhance its defense capabilities and play a greater role in ensuring that the rule of law prevailed across Asia. Abe’s vision was undoubtedly welcomed by Washington — and by EU member countries as well. Assertive Japan, tepid voter support Abe’s challenge, however, was that the prospect of a more muscular and assertive Japan had tepid support from Japanese voters themselves and from neighboring China and Korea in particular. The prospects of Japan changing its pacifist constitution despite China’s growing military capabilities, the ongoing threat of North Korea and a less dependable United States as a security guarantor failed to garner wide public support. What’s more, Abe’s much-noted overtures to reach out to President Trump personally to secure greater U.S. commitment to Japan has had mixed results, and did not necessarily translate to greater public support for his administration. At the same time, many continued to see Abe’s vision for Japan as an extension of his own family’s aspira-

tion, even as he became the country’s longest-serving prime minister. A political blue-blood in action Of course, there is no doubt that Abe is as political blue-blood as they come, with former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi as his maternal grandfather, and maternal grandfather Kan Abe a former member of the House of Representatives. His family legacy no doubt gave him a considerable advantage especially within the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, but at the same time, it had continuously been a double-edged sword in winning over public support. Abe’s single greatest achievement is undoubtedly the fact that he brought stability to Japanese politics and became an established global statesman at a time of great global upheaval. Amid the rise of anti-globalization and economic nationalism, Abe’s endeavors to press ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and a bilateral trade deal with the EU positioned Japan as a champion of free trade and enhanced its standing as a keeper of the international order. Late-stage hiccups Abe’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics provided two important dampers, defining his government in 2020. Neither are expected to have easy solutions moving forward. So perhaps it is no surprise that he resigned when he did. It echoed Abe’s first resignation as prime minister when he previously served in the post in 2007, when he left office after only a year due to health reasons. Conclusion As things stand, it seems unlikely that Abe’s eventual successor will be able to command the world stage as he did, and with it, Japan’s ability to be a global stabilizer will diminish as well.

*Shihoko Goto Deputy Director for Geoeconomics with the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Asia Program and a Senior Editor at The Globalist



Ambassador Tsai: ‘In these days of China’s aggressive and expansive behaviour, Taiwan needs friends all over the world’ by N. Peter Kramer


he Republic of China (ROC), the official name of Taiwan, is more than ever in the global spotlight. It garnered international praise for its (compared with almost the rest of the world) successful approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. With less than 500 confirmed cases and, although every death is one too many, only seven deaths, Taiwan has defied predictions and successfully contained the crisis. It managed this without lockdowns;


schools were only closed for two weeks in February (!); baseball games restarted in April. This all came in no small part due to Taiwan’s very quick response measures, including the establishment of a special command center, the implementation of stringent border controls and quarantaine rules. In a conversation with Taiwan’s new ambassador to the


EU, Dr Ming-Yen Tsai, the Ambassador described how his country coped, as the only one in the world which had to survive the pandemic without a relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO). In 2016, Taiwan, one of the most developed countries in Asia, was stripped of its status of observer in the WHO’s decision-making body which it has held since 2008. This under pressure from the People’s Republic of (Mainland) China. The COVID-19 pandemic made many Taiwanese think of the horrible SARS epidemic in 2003, when the island-state also stood-alone and when the WHO, with a Chinese director-general, did not seem to care about Taiwan’s 23 million inhabitants. Then too Taiwan had to solve by itself the mortal crisis; and they did! Probably the experience and knowledge of solving the horrendous SARS situation in 2003 helped the quick and successful reaction to COVID-19 this year. Mainland China has for months been stepping up aggression in south-east Asia. Chinese soldiers have clashed with Indian troops on the border. It has escalated efforts to gain more control over the South China Sea. It imposed a controversial security law in Hong Kong. And, Chinese military planes and ships have repeatedly menaced Taiwan’s airspace and waters. After a détente in relations between China and Taiwan during the presidency of Ma Ying-jeou (2008-2016), the Mainland’s aggression increased again at the beginning of 2016, when President Tsai Ing-wen was elected. With a landslide victory she was elected on the basis of a clear and stronger attitude to China than her predecessor had shown. For Taiwan’s security, the strong relationship between the US and Taiwan is of great importance. The Obama administration stated that the US would uphold the One-China Policy, which means in Beijing’s opinion that Taiwan is a part of China’s territory. Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, on the other hand picked up the phone on 2 December 2016 to receive the congratulations from President Tsai after his election. That was the first time in 40 years that a US President(elect) had directly spoken with a ROC president. The recent visit to Taiwan of the Secretary of Health of the Trump administration, Alex Azar (the highest-level US visitor in four decades to Taiwan) is remarkable. In August, the US also declassified documents that provide more detail on its security assurances to Taiwan. After the 1979 Act of Congress Taiwan Relations Act, the socalled Six Assurances by President Ronald Reagan to Taipei in 1982 made it clear that Taiwan’s security is the major concern of the US. According to Ambassador

Tsai, the declassifying of the details of this document, ‘makes very clear to Beijing what the bottom line is of the US security policy with regard to Taiwan. Also the US congress strongly supports my country, because it is a beacon of democracy and freedom in Asia’. There is also a long-standing relationship between Taiwan and the EU. They are important partners in trade and investment. The EU is Taiwan’s 5th trading partner worldwide after China, ASEAN, US and Japan. But there is more. According to Dr Tsai the EU and Taiwan are of one mind about democracy, human rights, press freedom and the environment; and the European Parliament Taiwan Friendship Group plays an active role. ‘In these days of China’s aggressive and expansive behaviour, Taiwan needs friends all over the world’, concludes the Ambassador to end his introductory talk with EBR.





The battle for the planet: Who are the players? The world has become an ecological battlefield where large segments of mankind are fighting Mother Nature and her allies. by Wouter Veening*


he former are using chainsaws, bulldozers, asphalt machines, excavators, drill platforms, snares, nets, guns and many other weapons to transform forests into cattle pastures, soybean fields, plantations, to penetrate and open the earth crust for minerals, oil, gas, coal, uranium, lithium and the other so-called rare earths and to cull, catch and poach wild life and fish. They leave toxic (persistent) chemicals in water, soil and air and pump massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and massive amounts of groundwater from the soils. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere warms the world, causes droughts and floods, leads to irreversible sea level rise, and increases the intensity of extreme weather events [1]. This is the climate crisis, which, if unchecked, will make the planet uninhabitable for humanity and many other species of the community of life. This is one of the ways in which Mother Nature hits back, which she also does by releasing viruses from places where she should have been left alone, causing the pandemics which now dominate the attention of the global community. Her allies support her with scientific insights on how the natural world works - mapping and forecasting the actual state of the atmosphere, the oceans and the freshwater bodies (hydrosphere), the soils (lithosphere) and the diversity of life (biosphere). They also design legal arrangements to structure the response of the human society to the challenges to Mother Nature; they actively participate in diplomatic efforts to implement these arrangements in practice, also involving the enlightened military in this.

cial innovation to steer production and consumption patterns towards harmony with nature and they are active in approaching schools and the larger public through the traditional and social media to raise consciousness about the planetary predicament and what can be done about it in daily routines. Vital ecosystems as the Amazon and the rain forests in Indonesia, Malaysia and New Guinea are being destroyed at a higher tempo than ever before. It is clear, however, that at this moment, the start of the 2020s, the allies of Mother Nature are losing the battle. Vital ecosystems as the Amazon and the rainforests in Indonesia, Malaysia and New Guinea are being destroyed at a higher tempo than ever before and, were it not due to the Covid-19 pandemic, greenhouse gas emissions would have been the highest to-date. Why the destructive forces have the upper hand? It is necessary to analyse why the destructive forces have the upper hand - what are their resources? – in order to strategise better for the protection and sustainable management of the world ecology. One is the often religious inspired ideology of man being the crown of creation, to which all other creatures are subordinate, only to be hunted, harvested or used at will by their human superiors. The main product of this ideology is a life-style with high levels of material comfort and high intensities of inputs from nature.

[1] In climate science 54 so-called Essential Climate Variables are distinguished which all are impacted by the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and/or can provide an entry for action to balance the climate:

In addition, they promote technological and finan-



This life-style, often called “the American way-of-life”, is in practice enjoyed by a minority of the world’s population, but aspired to by many and as such is a powerful motive for politicians promising to bring such a life-style to their societies. It is an important pull factor for migration for those who do not see improvements in their material life patterns happening in their foresee-able future.

major way to the Green Deal by applying the highest environmental standards to the import of its productive (natural) resources from abroad, by designing and producing durable consumer goods and by using the cleanest technologies in its chain of production and bringing its goods to the market.

We observe these migration processes from Mesoamerica to the United States and from Western and Eastern Africa, including the Horn, to Europe.

Hard science is a major weapon in the defense of nature and the protection of water, air and soils against pollution. The European Environment Agency, together with many other scientific institutions in the EU, the United Nations and academia in other parts of the world have put and are putting together analyses and scenarios which provide a sound basis for decision-making by business and politics. Science on the basis of empirical observation and verification is considered to be a major asset in the defense of nature.

Of, course insecurity due to resource and/or socio-cultural conflicts is an important push factor. It is a serious aspect of global injustice if the resource conflicts e.g. in the Sahel or the Horn of Africa between pastoralists and farmers are caused by droughts, which in their turn are caused by climate change originating from energy use elsewhere in the world. Here the European Union has to reflect upon its role and the policy actions to be taken in the framework of, for example, the Green Deal as now proposed and further developed by the European Commission. The business sector in the EU as the biggest economic bloc in the world, obviously has to contribute in a


Science as a major asset in the defense of nature

However, as referred to above, scientific cognition will be discarded if they conflict with cognition associated with short-term need satisfactions. They often are then labelled “fake science” and we see with many Republicans in the U.S., the populists in Europe, the Evangelicals in Brazil, amongst others, how this leads to undermining of e.g. climate policies with further greenhouse


gas emissions, loss of biodiversity, destruction of global ecological assets such as the Amazon. Closely associated with the natural science arguments there are fundamental economic arguments arena showing that working in line with natural forces will prevent costly or even insurmountable adaptations in the foresee-able future [2]. A powerful ally here is the insurance industry, especially the re-insurance branch of that industry. If an activity needs insurance if it wants to be covered against ecological risks in the future, then the insurance-giver may require provisions to minimise those risks before agreeing to a certain level of coverage. Diplomacy and the Rule of Law As referred to above, on the diplomatic level, the Eu[2] It should always be realised that, etymologically, economy, is the normative version of eco-logy, where eco comes from the Greek ‘oikos’, meaning house or environment, which is the science of how living beings relate to their environment. Economic activities not in line with ecological insights are bound to backfire, as the impacts of climate change now are making abundantly clear. The problem is that these impacts often take time to manifest themselves, time which give the perpetrators an opportunity to bring their profits to safe-havens.

ropean Union with its new Green Deal including its new Biodiversity Strategy should be both a powerful and influential ally on the battlefield. As indeed the largest market in the world it has considerable economic power and it has shown willingness to tie its internal and external trade relations to environmental conditions as they are embodied in the various Multilateral Environmental Agreements to which the EU and its Member States are Parties. Whether NATO can come to the defense of Mother Nature is still an open question. It of course has to confront security challenges in its Neighbourhood (Middle East, West Asia, North Africa) emanating from environmental degradation over there. Most outspoken in the pre-Trump era was the U.S. military. See amongst others the Quadrennial Defence Reviews of 2010 and 2014 with strong statements on the relevance of the climate change crisis both for strategy and operations. If and when the Pentagon gets the political space again



to prepare further for the consequences of climate change and to engage on this with its NATO partners, it can become a force for the protection of the ecological good around the globe. A very concrete challenge would be to restore the rule of law over the management of the South China Sea according to the prescriptions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Award of the Permanent Court of Arbitration of 12 July 2016 in the case of the Philippines against China concerning the management and entitlements with regard to the Sea, one of the most important marine biodiversity areas in the world. Only the U.S. can project the power to indeed bring this area back to the realm of international jurisdiction. Finally, in this overall overview of the (potential) allies on the battlefield to defend nature, there is the bit elusive entity of international public opinion. Truly global media such as the New York Times, the Guardian, CNN, Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine (and many others) tend to take international environmental and climate issues seriously and often engage in deep-digging investigative journalism on the what, how and who of


Illustration Sources: “The deforestation risks of China’s Belt and Road Initiative” by Elizabeth Losos, Alexander Pfaff, and Lydia Olander Monday, Brookings, January 28, 2019 Over consumption Cartoon from Educate Together Letter to Belgium, visit to Greece and a statement on migration policies in Europe Council of Europe Newsletter – July 2017

pollution scandals or misleading public opinion campaigns as e.g. sponsored by the fossil fuel industry. Of course the Russian and Chinese media are state-controlled and will deny in general the existence of domestic problems and/or contributions to international ecological questions when that would undermine the position of their regimes and consorts. It is against this background of the negative and positive forces affecting nature and the environment, the basis of all life, that an action agenda for both the political and the economic sphere has to be developed. *Wouter Veening President, IES



The ‘Harris-Biden’ campaign and the ‘law and order’ issue by N. Peter Kramer


n Monday 14 September Democratic Vice-President candidate Kamala Harris referred in public to something she called the ‘Harris administration’. In a speech the day after Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden himself referred to a ‘Harris-Biden administration’! If that is how they want it, from now on it is ‘the Harris-Biden campaign’. The Democratic storyline has been that most of the protesters are peacefully objecting to racism and police practises. But it has become impossible not to see something that is between carrying signs and looting stores. It is common practise for protesters, men and women, to stand inches from the faces of policeman,


especially black policeman, screaming insults and personal obscenities with no let-up. This behaviour is a phenomenon worth thinking about it. It looks like the new status quo in which there is no fear of the police by protesters and common street criminals. It is not that long ago that everyone knew that if you did this to a policeman or -woman, you would be arrested and/or popped with a billy club. But nowadays protesters know they will not be arrested, if they are arrested, they will be released quickly, and they will be released because the prosecutors probably will not press charges. Instead, prosecutors are looking for reasons to cite the police for acts of violence.


After the shooting of two policemen in Compton, south of Los Angeles, a contingent of Democratic antipolice protesters stood outside the hospital chanting, ‘we hope they die!’ Joe Biden tweeted criticism after the incident as ‘entirely counterproductive’. Counterproductive for what? For his Harris-Biden campaign? It is not the effect of the last 100 days. There is a trend in the Democratic politics that has built up this redefinition of law and order for years. They essentially redefined crime more as a behaviour problem and blamed the police function for incarceration rates. Democrats have elected progressive prosecutors in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, San Antonio, Seattle, Orlando, St. Louis, the NYC borough of Queens and many other cities. An important political document in this Democratic evolution was released in July, after the protests, looting and urban shootings began in May. The Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force document was called ‘Protecting Com-

munities by Reforming our Criminal Justice System. It is really unbelievable but the words ‘felony’, ‘homicides’ or ‘gangs’ appear nowhere. It is almost entirely about one thing, the police and reducing their role. The word ‘shootings’ appears once, in regard to ‘police shootings.’ Also, the Democrats have failed at their Convention to mention the violence was not just avoidance of an inconvenient reality. It was an ideological choice. The post-Floyd protests put the progressive urban policing model to an unexpected real-world test, which it has failed disastrously. It has not led to what Kamala Harris this summer as ‘reimagining how we do public safety in America’. But instead to a collapse of the police function. The result is an abrupt spike in urban crime and mobile political protesters exploiting official restraints on police. It is a still-raging storm of Democratic failure. It appears that voters have begun to notice.



How COVID-19 will look to geologists of the future COVID-19 is a major global shock that has turned our lives upside down, but how does it measure up on the grand billion-year scale of Earth history? by Jan Zalasiewicz*


OVID-19 is a major global shock that has turned our lives upside down, but how does it measure up on the grand billion-year scale of Earth history? The answer puts our human dramas in the largest perspective – and may yet be critical to all our futures. The pandemic won’t leave a direct record of the viruses


for geologists of the far future to investigate, as viruses don’t fossilise. And it may be hard to pick out a clear fossil record of the victims too, as they could be difficult to distinguish among other causes of death. There will be indirect signals such as some specific “technofossils” that are spiking in abundance. For


instance many billions of disposable face masks and gloves are already showing up in litter globally and are now working their way into the geological cycle. They are plastics-based, durable and so easily fossilised. Their fossilisation can take different forms. Relatively intact gloves and masks may accumulate in river-beds or at the bottom of lakes. Over time, they will be covered by more sediment and will become fossilised in newly-formed rocks. Other masks and gloves will be carried into the oceans and some will be washed to distant shores, as the rise of PPE found during beach clean-ups is already showing. Others will follow currents to add to mid-ocean “plastic islands” where many will degrade, fragment and slowly sink, adding to the countless billions of microplastic fragments drifting down into deep sea muds. For our lifetimes, and many generations into the future, this will be a huge environmental problem that adds to the millions of kinds of technofossils we already produce. In the far future, it increases the chances of the events of 2020 being picked up in a fossil signal by some sharp-eyed palaeontologist. Plastic pollution is up, but carbon emissions are currently down. This reduction might be seen in the fossil record of atmospheric CO? in polar ice layers. But, so far this reduction is tiny. A decrease in other greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide, whose emissions have also taken a hit, might help to strengthen this fossil signal. The air has been cleaner, too, and so lake sediments may briefly include fewer fossil smoke particles. The drop in emissions has also had a positive impact on the oceans. With globalised trade, invaders such as the zebra mussel have rapidly dispersed to all corners of the planet in recent years by hitching a ride in the ballast water of ships: novel species assemblages have been created, forming the flora and fauna of the Anthropocene. These are here to stay, but COVID-related reductions in fishing and ship-borne trade may be slightly reducing this paleontological signal, by slowing the introduction of new invasive species between the harbours of the world. All this evidence of slowdown will be subtle. If there’s economic rebound, as the International Monetary Fund predicts, this will drown out any such evidence of the temporary reductions. And it could get worse. Legislation associated with a “Build, Build, Build” scheme

in the UK that cuts protections for wildlife, could put protected animals like the great crested newt – a drag on the economy according to prime minister Boris Johnson – at risk. That would be a poignant marker of the fallout from COVID-19 as governments globally attempt to increase production. Removal of “green tape” in infrastructure projects to boost the economy would likely see the quicker demise of more threatened species, too, to hasten the mass extinction event currently under way. But the real geological effect will be if the pandemic acts as a catalyst to change society’s planetary impact, such as by decarbonising industry across the world. The philosopher Bruno Latour has said that a key lesson of the pandemic is that the global economic machine can be brought to a screeching halt. For former head of the UN climate convention Christiana Figueras, the recovery can be used to reshape industry and cut emissions, rather than just return to business as usual. If Green New Deal policies are implemented then the faint, hopeful geological signals may shift from transient to permanent. What would these signals look like, once petrified? If greenhouse gas emissions continue to reduce through climate-friendly policies, climate stabilisation would be recorded not just in ice and lake cores but in corals, tree rings and stalagmites worldwide. Investing in ecosystem resilience and restoration projects would be economically beneficial, and also increase both social justice and the diversity of plants and animals whose bones, shells and pollen end up in sediment layers. Developing the circular economy in response to this economic recession could slow, and eventually halt, the flood of single-use plastic waste, too. The acid test of that will be in the rock strata that will form from now on – either they will show signs that the accelerating trends of the Anthropocene carried on, or they will show a deflection away from a potential “Hothouse Earth” and towards some kind of new stability. The future is not yet set in stone, but in the very long run the rocks will tell the story of which road we collectively take.

*Jan Zalasiewicz Senior Lecturer in Palaeobiology, University of Leicester



COVID-19 has worsened gender inequality - what we can do about it More women have lost their jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis than men, new research has found by Johnny Wood*


ore women have lost their jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis than men, new research has found.

The report COVID-19 and gender equality: Countering the regressive effects, from McKinsey Global Institute, estimates that women make up almost two-fifths of the global labour force but have suffered more than half of total job losses from the crisis. That’s left them 1.8 times more vulnerable to the pandemic’s impact than men.


One reason for this is that the virus has increased the burden of unpaid care for children, the elderly and the sick, which is disproportionately taken on by women. The situation is compounded by existing gender inequalities. Urgent action is needed to prevent deepening divisions between male and female employment opportunities and to maximize global GDP, the report says.


Occupation clusters Of course, the virus doesn’t specifically target women – but it does impact some parts of the economy more than others. McKinsey notes that men and women tend to cluster in specific occupations, leaving women more vulnerable to the disruption caused by the pandemic in both developed and developing economies. Women’s jobs are at 19% greater risk than men’s, the report estimates. While women account for 39% of the global workforce, they are over-represented in three of the four most in-decline parts of the global economy: accommodation and food services (54%); retail and wholesale trade (43%); and services such as arts, recreation and public administration (46%). That said, labour market dynamics differ between countries and regions, as do attitudes to women’s employment and access to the labour market. The report found that women were disproportionately represented in industries affected by COVID-19 in places including Nigeria, for example, while in other countries such as France men were more affected. Why gender parity matters Closing the gender gap will have a huge impact on the economy. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 shows reducing gender inequality boosts an economy’s growth, competitiveness and readiness for the future. The McKinsey report supports these findings. Researchers modelled three scenarios – “do nothing”, “wait to take action” and “take action now” – to measure the impact gender inequality caused by the pandemic could have on economic performance post-COVID-19. Under the “do nothing” scenario, women would experience a disproportionate share of job losses from the pandemic, which would slightly reduce the female-to-male labour force participation rate (from 0.63 pre-COVID-19 to 0.61 in 2020). Without action to boost gender parity, reduced female participation would persist post-pandemic, leaving global GDP $1 trillion below where it would be if the coronavirus had affected both sexes equally. “Take action now” maximizes the contribution women can make to the global economy, increasing the participation rate to 0.71. Under this best-case scenario, decisions by policy-makers would significantly improve gender equality by 2030, leading to a $13 trillion boost to global

GDP in that year – an 11% increase over the do-nothing scenario. Waiting until 2024 to take action would also benefit GDP in 2030, but by $5.4 trillion less than taking action now, the report predicts. Addressing imbalances In each country studied, models showed that taking effective action to reduce gender disparities in job losses caused by COVID-19 would lead to greater overall economic output by 2030. Recovery efforts that invest in the female workforce, tailored to each country’s needs, could significantly boost employment opportunities and drive inclusive economic growth, the report predicts. This could include removing gender imbalances in recognizing and taking on unpaid work and child care, and putting policies in place to distribute these responsibilities more evenly between men and women. Barriers to women’s digital and financial inclusion and entrenched attitudes about women’s role in society are also areas to address. While countries like Iceland, Norway and Finland top the Global Gender Gap Index rankings in the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, the report forecasts that gender parity will not be realized for 99.5 years, unless action is taken to redress gender imbalance. *Johnny Wood Senior Writer, Formative Content **first published in:





Clock ticking on Luxury watchmakers After several decades of growth time has finally caught up with the high-end watchmaking business by Martin Banks*


fter several decades of growth time has finally caught up with the high-end watchmaking business. The pandemic has brought tourism to a halt and left luxury shops closed causing an unprecedented drop in revenues. In 2020 Swiss watch exports have declined by 33% year-to-date, the sharpest and deepest decline in the last 20 years. Even in 2009, in the midst of the great recession, it fell by 23%. Yet, analysts say that COVID-19 has not altered the main trends in the sector but rather accelerated them. Cracks in the ostensibly spotless world of Swiss watchmaking have been about to emerge for a fairly long time. The lack of leadership, outdated strategies, an over-reliance

on mainland Chinese consumers and the inability of the sector to live up to the challenges of the new digital world are among the real culprits. The decade after the Great Recession has been in many ways the decade of lost opportunities for the sector which found itself stuck in the illusion of the ‘timeless’ past. The rigidity of ‘luxury strategies’ of the sector’s majors is hardly a surprise given the generation factor: until very recently the industry was controlled and managed by the cohort of baby-boomers. Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH group (Hublot, TAG Heuer and other top brands) who briefly surpassed Jeff Bezos as the rich-



est person in the world in December last year, is 71. Nick Hayek Jr., CEO of the Swatch Group (Blancpain, Breguet, Glashutte Original, Harry Winston, Longines, Omega, Tissot, and RADO) this year is turning 66. The outgoing CEO of Longiness, the legendary Walter Von Kanel, is now 79. Swatch group, which saw its market value plunging by almost 30% in 2020, was forced into a major management reshuffle this summer, promoting a new generation of managers such as Omega’s CEO Raynald Aeschlimann to a group-level role and appointing relatively younger Matthias Breschan and Sylvain Dolla to lead Longines and Tissot respectively. The reshuffle is yet to bear fruit. The Richemont group, which controls brands such as IWC, Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, meantime, appears lost in a quagmire with its watch brands underperforming, assorted personnel issues and a digital strategy yet to produce results. Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, the Genevan group’s management model has been criticised with employees angry that their annual bonuses have been


cut, while management has seen its remuneration increase by more than one third in the last financial year. It was also hit by the sudden departure of Sophie Guieysse, the group’s human resources director, in the midst of a coronavirus crisis. She departed after managers complained about her alleged aggressive methods and personality. In Turin and Milan, strikes were organised on June 5 by several hundred workers at the jewellery division of the Swiss luxury group in protest at cuts in their salaries. Another big name CEO in the luxury watch segment is the charismatic Georges Kern, of Breitling. With an impressive growth track record he has relaunched Breitling in the huge Chinese market. The challenge to come, though, will be his reliance on huge marketing budgets and celebrity endorsements that may now prove a relic of the past. Elsewhere, family-owned Patek Philippe and Chopard will have to adapt to the new world with the tools they have after a generation change that both companies have experienced while Audemar Piguet, CEO of


Bennahmias, with his ability to take risks and adapt to change, looks to have the skills to guide his company to the next challenge. His market experience is extensive but, even so, his strategy has made him enemies in the important leading multi brand retailer environment. Davide Traxler, CEO of Parmigiani, another high-end Swiss watch maker and the brand which is spotted on the wrist of Prince Charles, perhaps the only manager in the sector widely identified with real turnaround experience, has long argued that the luxury watches industry has to look beyond its traditional markets and shouldn’t consider China a magic cure. With years of experience in the trade, his impressive and immediate success in Chopard and a “cleansing” of Parmigiani mark him as an “out of the box thinker”. Rather usefully, Traxler, who was hired in 2018 to help the company to accomplish a successful turnaround, is also used to managing with little or no budgets. Industry analysts and retailers quote Parmigiani’s case in the context of the COVID-19 crisis as a success story. According to DLG, a consultancy, Parmigiani has been among the most crisis-resilient brands during the health pandemic. Last year, the firm made headlines launching a first-in-the-world wristwatch with a perpetual Islamic calendar, ‘Hijri’, and Arabic calligraphy to lure luxury-buyers from the Middle East. Their latest line unveiled this year, Tonda GT, is said to feature a design which blends classic and casual cues to boost its appeal to younger generation ‘disrupters’. In the beginning of the lockdown, the company launched an e-commerce boutique in the US and hosted online events – the move even a couple of years ago unthinkable for the staunchly offline sector. Analysts say the industry has to realize that the world has changed and it is no longer enough to have an attractive legacy story. In order to survive, traditional brands have to open up new markets. This is a task for a new generation of managers, such as Aeschlimann at Omega, Dolla at Hamilton and Traxler at Parmigiani Fleurier, who have strategic agility and operational nimbleness to feel the market, hear the retailers and read into digital trends. Of course, time waits for no-one and, with no end in sight to the current crisis affecting the industry, such skills will be vital in the months and years to come.



Which countries are making the most progress in digital competitiveness? We are in the middle of a technological revolution in which artificial intelligence, 3D printing, virtual reality and other technologies are converging by Philip Meissner and Christian Poensgen*


e are in the middle of a technological revolution in which artificial intelligence, 3D printing, virtual reality and other technologies are converging. This will affect every industry and every economy around the globe. A country’s ability to navigate these changes and to build competitiveness around these digital technologies will not only deter-


mine its future wealth but also its geopolitical position. Against this background, we analysed how countries have developed their digital competitiveness in the last three years. Our Digital Riser Report answers three questions: Which ’Digital Riser’ countries have done well and improved their position relative to their peers,


which countries have lost ground, and what can we learn from the best? The answers can be found in the Digital Riser Report by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness by ESCP Business School, which provides a global ranking of 140 countries and compares them within their regions. Across the globe, digital incumbents face new and dynamic competitors. Within the G7, France was able to advance most in its relative digital competitiveness between 2017 and 2019, which makes the country our top Digital Riser in this group; conversely, Italy and Germany decreased the most within the G7. Within the G20, the ranking reveals interesting patterns in regards to the two global digital superpowers: China and the USA. It shows that China has gained significantly in digital competitiveness, while the US fell over the same time period, mainly due to a decrease in attractiveness for international talent. The top three Digital Risers in the G20 are Saudi Arabia, France and Indonesia. India, Italy and Germany have come in last. The report also measures the two core dimensions of digital competitiveness, a country’s ecosystem and its mindset. These are based on five items from the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, which analyses the progress of 140 countries along the mindset and ecosystem dimensions as well as the absolute, accumulated change in ranks between 2017 and 2019. There are two major differences between the Global Competitiveness Report and the Digital Riser Report. First, whereas the Global Competitiveness Report analyses the countries’ overall competitiveness, the Digital Riser Report analyses their digital competitiveness only as indicated by their digital ecosystem and mindset. Second, whereas the Global Competitiveness Report analyses changes over a one-year timeframe, the Digital Riser Report showcases how countries have fared during the last three years. Aside from the ranking itself, we also analysed the policies that the top Digital Risers countries have followed. This analysis shows that all Digital Risers have certain things in common that other governments can learn from when they design their country’s digital strategy. The report includes detailed overviews of each of the top three Digital Risers in every region. Here is a summary of the best practices they share: 1) The top Digital Risers around the world have in-

vested in talent and made innovation and entrepreneurship easier for companies. Indonesia and the Dominican Republic, for example, have invested significantly in digital education. Indonesia, for example, has started a digital talent scholarship programme to provide certifications to 20,000 people. The Dominican Republic, meanwhile, has started the ’One Computer’ initiative to give every child access to a laptop at school. Other success factors of Digital Risers include their ability to attract international talent. The Philippines - with its start-up visa programme - and Indonesia, France and Latvia are the success stories here. Also, Digital Risers have made it easy, quick and cheap to start companies. Azerbaijan, for instance, reduced the time to start a company from over 3 days to less than 1 day, while Latvia has introduced a special tax and funding regimes to support young companies. 2) The top Digital Risers have followed comprehensive, swiftly-implemented plans along a long-term vision. Most Digital Risers share a deliberate and comprehensive government programme with top level support, like France’s La French Tech, or Saudi Arabia’s ICT Strategy 2023 and Arabia’s Vision 2030. Start-ups were a key focus area of Digital Risers. Their growth has been supported with large scale initiatives like the J-Startup Program in Japan or the 1000 startups movement in Indonesia. France, for example, has set up a new 5 billion Euro fund, while Armenia supports start-ups with up to 50,000 euros. Our report shows that while some countries are advancing quickly in digital technologies, others are losing ground. Countries like the USA, Sweden and Singapore are often perceived as digital champions, but our results indicate that they are not necessarily dynamic digital risers. Only Singapore improved their relative position slightly over the last three years. In contrast, the USA and Sweden actually lost ground during the same time. This highlights that digital competitiveness develops in a dynamic fashion and that with the right policies, new digital champions can emerge around the globe. *Philip Meissner & Christian Poensgen Professor ESCP Business School, Founder & Director European Center for Digital Competitiveness and Founder & Director, European Center for Digital Competitiveness **first published in:



77th Venice International Film Festival 2020 VS covid-19 The Lido welcomed the major international festival to take place whilst covid threat is here. Everyone felt the emovement as the Venice Film Festival opened with a tribute to those who lost their lives due to the coronavirus. “We are here” was heard by both artists, organisers and more while this year award was its top prize, the Golden Lion, to one of 18 films in the main competition. The red carpet now includes the optimism and hope for the future, thestruggle not to quit amongst difficulties but try to remain the “stars of our life” without limits and makrs due to pandemics. The Festival director, Alberto Barbera, mentions that it is a "sign of confidence and concrete support" for the film industry. At the same time, Roberto Cicutto, the President of La Biennale di Venezia, claimed “The show must go on and the world must go on”. by Alexandra Papaisidorou*




his year films from more than 50 countries will be screened at the festival, and of the 18 movies competing for the Golden Lion, eight are directed by women. This year, Cate Blanchett is the president of the jury for the main competition, and the director Claire Denis will lead the jury for the festival’s Horizons competition. Masks are worn but our heart can and has to remain unmasked forever... Art and culture are the helping hands! It’s their miracolo! Introduction by the Director of the 77th Venice International Film Festival Alberto Barbera The winter of our dismay turned into a springtime of anxiety, and then slipped slowly into summer marked by uncertainty and fear over a fraught future. What remains inside us is the memory of the many victims of the pandemic, who no one can or wants to forget, and worry about a recommencement which is struggling to take form. In this context, the decision to hold the 77th edition of the Venice Film Festival is experienced like a sign of confidence in - and concrete support of - the world of film and the audiovisual industry, which were so deeply affected by the propagation of the virus and its dramatic consequences. On-set productions were interrupted, the release of movies was postponed until further notice, cinemas were closed and then partially re-opened with severe limitations that were imposed

for safety reasons. Thousands of jobs at risk and a shocking number of families kept on hold in uncertainty over the recovery of a sector which is by no means secondary to culture and the world economy. Until a short while ago, even the certainty of maintaining the late-summer appointment with Venice's Festival was anything but a given. In the meantime, many filmmakers went back to work to complete unfinished movies, as the festival's organizational machine got back in motion to be ready for the event. And thus, with a great sense of responsibility and commitment, we are dealing with an unknown and unprecedented situation, in which the rules of the game are constantly changing, demanding great flexibility and availability, and making us continuously change course. The Festival will be held on its scheduled dates, at the cost of a few sacrifices but also bolstered by innovation fostered by the opportunities which the circumstances have made possible. It's true that the Sconfini section will have to await a return to normality before it can be reinstated, but the Venice VR Expanded competition has found a congenial and effective placement in streaming. This offers the advantage of giving many aficionados of this new art form the possibility for broader access that is less influenced by the physical limitations of its – undoubtedly - fascinating venue on the island of Lazzaretto. Lastly, the traditional appointment with Venice Classics will take advantage of a collaboration with the



Cineteca of Bologna on the occasion of the 34th edition of the festival Il Cinema Ritrovato, which will be held in Bologna August 25-31, after which the already-scheduled repeat screenings will take place in Venice during the following months. This is a concrete sign of solidarity between the festivals and of our ability to react to the difficulties of the moment, finding new, shared ways to break free from the isolation caused by the pandemic and help reboot the country's cultural life. Another way to respond to the terrible difficulties generated by an unexpected and (almost) unprecedented health crisis, and to lay the foundation for the reconstruction of what has been lost along the way or risked destruction, confident that sooner or later “greenery will bloom again.” This year, to borrow Bob Dylan's words, the program contains multitudes: of movies, of genres, of points of view. A consistent number of films have been invited, just slightly fewer than the usual number in Venice. A sign that cinema hasn't been overwhelmed by the pandemic tsunami and still conserves enviable vitality. As usual, the selection offers a multifaceted succession of different approaches, in the awareness that the Festival must not abstain from representing the wealth and variety of film. Which isn't a unicum, as people sometimes tend to believe, but a multitude of aesthetic and visual experiences which can offer people the same wealth of forms which the others arts have always practiced and valorized. Therefore, this year, too, there will be auteur films, comedies, documentaries, horror flicks, gangster movies, and so on, without neglecting those films which in jargon could be called crossovers (if it weren't such a horrible term), which refuse to separate languages in favor of a productive fusion of forms and aesthetics. A few spectacular movies will be missing, blocked by the lockdown which still affects the programming of the mostawaited Hollywood releases. A few cast members of the invited movies won't be able to attend because of the ongoing limitations on intercontinental travel,


but they will be able to take advantage of the resources of communications technology to ensure the promotion of their movies. But the most important thing is that the Festival's program will be a confirmation of the vibrancy of contemporary film, entrusted to an extremely interesting generational turnover that will also includes the female component, which until now has been limited to embarrassing percentiles. Almost half of the films in the Venezia 77 competition were directed by women, and they were selected exclusively on the basis of their quality and not as a result of gender protocols. This is an unprecedented percentile which we hope augurs well for a future cinema that is free of any sort of prejudice and discrimination. The “specter at the feast” this year is - ça va sans dire - Covid-19, a discomfiting presence which has conditioned many choices and imposed extraordinary security measures that have been scrupulously applied to ensure that all the participants – the teams, accreditation holders, and the public – can be an active part of the event, with peace of mind and risk-free. Fewer movies, distancing which will be respected in the Festival areas and inside the screening rooms, disinfection of the locations, an increased number of repeat screenings of each film, full use of the multiplex Astra at the Lido: all these adjustments have been rendered necessary by this extraordinary year. Thanks to the number of repeat screenings at the Cinema Rossini in Venice and at the Centro Candiani in Mestre, plus the creation of two open-air arenas (the first at the Lido, the second at the Giardini della Biennale), the Festival's traditional and devoted public will be able to see most of the movies. All that's left for me to do is wish everyone a good Festival and say long live cinema! *Alexandra Papaisidorou Editor-at-large / PhD cand. University of Piraeus, Cultural Diplomacy & International Relations



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