Lord Garel-Jones, Chairman of UBS Latin America and Former United Kingdom’s Minister for Europe, is interviewed by Dr.de Areilza, Dean of IE School of International Relations, on the United Kingdom, the European Union and Latin America.

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U.S. Navy Admiral James George Stavridis


Thursday 12 December

18h30, Serrano 105

Admiral Stavridis served as the 15th Commander, U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and NATO‘s 16th Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). Stavridis is the first Navy officer to have held these positions. Admiral Stavridis assumed duties as commander of European Command and as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe in early summer 2009.

Stavridis is a 1976 distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a native of South Florida.

Stavridis earned a PhD and MALD from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in International Relations in 1984, where he won the Gullion Prize as outstanding student. He is also a distinguished graduate of both the National and Naval War Colleges.

He holds various decorations and awards, including two awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal and five awards of the Legion of Merit. He is author or co-author of several books on naval ship handling and leadership, including Command at Sea, Destroyer Captain, and Partnership for the Americas about Latin America.

In May 2013, ADM Stavridis was named as the 12th Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Please kindly RSVP at Aitziber.Onaindia@ie.edu as spaces are limited.



Elect a president

Written on November 21, 2013 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Europe

TorreblancaBy José Ignacio Torreblanca, Associate Professor at IE School of International Relations

The designation of the German Martin Schulz as the EU-wide Socialist candidate to the presidency of the European Commission is the starting gun for elections that promise to be complicated. He and other candidacies are supposed to breathe some life into elections from which the voters usually stay away in droves, and which are normally disputed more in a national than pan-EU key, and are now under the effects of the crisis and of the Europe-wide boom among xenophobic parties.

With the crisis, confidence in EU institutions has collapsed. If in 2007, 52 percent had a positive view of the EU and 57 percent trusted its institutions, in 2013 these percentages have fallen to 30 and 31. Equally worrying is the weakness of support for the European Parliament. If in 2007, 56 percent trusted the assembly and 28 percent distrusted it, now the respective percentages are 43 and 47, an almost equal division. The European Parliament, which began its career in 1979 with a 62-percent voter turnout, has, in spite of its growing powers, progressively disappeared from the radar of the EU voter, with the turnout sinking to 43 percent in the last elections, held in 2009. This average rate of participation, painful to every Europeanist, conceals worse ones: 19 percent in Slovakia, 24 in Poland and 27 in Romania.

Concerned about the deterioration in their image, defenders of the parliament often argue that national democracies are not much more popular than the EU. And they are right: in general terms, voters are angrier with their own governments and parliaments than with European policy and institutions. Only 25 percent of EU citizens trust their national government or parliament. But this reality offers scant consolation. Disaffection with national institutions is prevalent only in southern Europe, where democracy has suffered as a result of the crisis, but not in the north of Europe, where national democracies are valued for their ability to cope with economic difficulties and, at the same time, impose reforms and discipline on other nations.

Apparently, the citizens of creditor countries do not necessarily want a more united Europe. They want a sort of Europe which is not necessarily the one desired by people in the south of Europe, who prefer a more generous Union which is more sensitive to their needs. Thus, those who hope that the weakness of their democracies may generate support for ceding more powers and sovereignty to the EU seem to be mistaken. Given the experience of recent years, southern citizens would accept ceding more sovereignty to the EU only if it serves to increase the EU’s capacity to deal with their real problems such as unemployment, debt and the lack of economic growth — but not if those powers serve to impose more cutbacks and force the adoption of a model slanted to favor the creditors.

Added to the traditional low turnouts, the situation of economic crisis, the problems of distrust of EU institutions and the rise of populist and xenophobic extreme-right movements, it is clear that the European Parliament, the EU’s most legitimate and democratic institution, is about to enter a political high-risk zone. To call 390 million Europeans to the polls, when half of them (183 million) do not trust the parliament, poses the serious question of what political project to offer to the public. If what we want is attention and visibility for the faces on the slate, it looks a priori like a good idea. After all, ideas and projects do not just float in the air; they need individuals to give them credible form, both to voters and to other candidates. Unfortunately, the EU Socialists have rejected the idea of a face-off between candidates, which might have been very positive. The results: a single candidate, German and from a party allied in government with Chancellor Angela Merkel. If she decides to support his candidacy, which seems likely, we will be right back where we started.

As published in www.elpais.com on November 14, 2013.



In an interesting seminar, Tomas Abadía, CEO of IADIC International , shared with the MIR class his assessment of current EU-US  transatlantic relations. He touched upon the key issues that define the relations between the two largest economies in the world today: political, economic, and security. Indeed the US and the EU share a common commitment to democracy, peace, prosperity, and stability post World War II. In addition, they represent the world’s largest trading bloc with trade worth more than $2 bn a day. Together they represent 80% of funding for development assistance worldwide and 70% of funding for the UN peacekeeping forces.  However, the recent NSA surveillance scandal has brought tension between key allies.  According to Mr. Abadia, this scandal should not undermine an otherwise solid relationship. Indeed, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that is currently being negotiated should not be jeopardized by current tensions. This agreement if signed could represent combined gains for Europe and the US of more than 300bn euros a year. For Mr. Abadia, the EU-US strategic partnership is more relevant than ever and the two blocs should strengthen their shared values and interests in the world.

Students had many questions for Mr. Abadia, including questions on the reform on the UN Security Council, IMF, World Bank and other international institutions; on growing anti-Americanism in the world, and on the new balance of power in strategic regions such as Asia Pacific. Mr. Abadia agreed that the UN, IMF and World Bank should be reformed, democratized and made more transparent to reflect the new international order. He deplored increasing anti-Amercanism in the world and suggested that the US and EU further join efforts in foreign policy initiatives, especially in the Asia Pacific, home to half of the world’s inhabitants.

Children peek out from their makeshift shelter in Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan tore through eastern and central Philippines on November 10th

Children peek out from their makeshift shelter in Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan tore through eastern and central Philippines on November 10th

Weather forecasters had given warning before Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines that the storm was extraordinarily powerful. That it was extraordinarily destructive became clear to all when the typhoon landed on the east coast November 8th. Three days later it has become apparent that the storm was also extraordinarily deadly; the survivors will require an colossal relief effort just to stay alive.

Before the typhoon landed, meteorologists had detected wind speeds of 313kph (194mph) near the centre, gusting up to 378kph, making it one of the strongest storms ever recorded. It whipped up giant waves that crashed ashore. Between them, the wind and waves ploughed through coastal communities, crushing buildings as if they were cardboard, tossing boats and cars around like toys and sweeping people to their deaths. The storm charged across the middle of country from east to west, drenching everything in its path with driving rain. Homes and crops that the wind failed to destroy were left at the mercy of flooding and landslides brought on by the rain.

A picture of the amount of death and destruction caused began to emerge only after the storm had swept out over the South China Sea, heading towards Vietnam. Witnesses spoke of corpses littering the wrecked city of Tacloban, on the east coast, which felt the full force of the storm. They spoke of dazed survivors wandering streets strewn with debris, begging for help. “From the shore and moving a kilometre inland, there are no structures standing. It was like a tsunami,” said the interior secretary, Manuel Roxas, after inspecting the destruction from a helicopter. “I don’t know how to describe what I saw.”

The responsible authorities were powerless to find out the extent of the disaster, let alone bring relief. In Tacloban and elsewhere, the electricity supply, the water supply and telephone communications were among the first casualties. The local authorities were unable to help survivors as public servants were unable to report for duty. Fallen trees and power lines had blocked roads and floods had swept away bridges. More out-of-the-way places were beyond help. Read more…

As published in www.economist.com on November 11, 2013.


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