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Eastern European energy security: what is the Russian factor?

By JOSEPH CANTU, with PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – Recently, Eastern European reliance on Russian natural gas has dominated security discussions as a way Russia could extend its influence into the EU. While US liquid natural gas (LNG) imports pour into the new Polish LNG terminal at Świnoujście, the US Senate in June threatened to impose sanctions against the proposed Nord Stream II gas pipeline expansion, which would transit Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to German consumers. Many German politicians denounced the proposed sanctions, which have yet to be approved by the US House of Representatives. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, has also criticised Nord Stream II, saying it does not serve “the best European interest”. Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission for energy policy, agreed. Nord Stream II has the “potential to have a negative effect on Central and Eastern Europe… and it could have a devastating effect on Ukraine.” Getting a clear picture of the issue is not easy, given…

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Impact of EU’s forthcoming defence fund riddled with unknowns

By BROOKS TIGNER , BRUSSELS – The rhetoric of EU and national leaders kow-tows incessantly to the vitality and importance of SMEs – small and medium sized enterprises – for Europe’s economic innovation and job-creating potential. Yet successful innovative SMEs in the EU that soar to become giants on the world stage are few and far between. There are a couple of Skype-type exceptions, but too many of Europe’s “garage” inventors who have a good idea, particularly in the digital field, head for the greener pastures of the USA where bureaucratic obstacles are lower, returns higher and venture capitalists more willing to take risks than their European counterparts. This points directly to the EU’s forthcoming European Defence Fund (EDF) and how it will generate high-tech results within the framework of PESCO, the permanent structured cooperation in defence that 23 EU member states (and counting) will set in motion in 2018. Such projects will necessarily have to draw in dual-use innovations from the commercial realm. A critical acid test for the defence fund will be to what extent it enables SMEs with interesting dual-use products in one PESCO country to...