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Trans-Atlantic Scorecard – April 2020

Brookings - Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative Welcome to the seventh edition of the Trans-Atlantic Scorecard, a quarterly evaluation of U.S.-European relations produced by Brookings’s Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE), as part of the Brookings – Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative. To produce the Scorecard, we poll Brookings scholars and other experts on the present state of U.S. relations with Europe — overall and in the political, security, and economic dimensions — as well as on the state of U.S. relations with five key countries and the European Union itself. We also ask about several major issues in the news. The poll for this edition of the survey was conducted April 9 to April 13, 2020. The experts’ analyses are complemented by a Snapshot of the relationship over the previous three calendar months, including a timeline of significant moments, a tracker of President Trump’s telephone conversations with European leaders, figures presenting data relevant to the relationship, and CUSE Director Thomas Wright’s take on what to watch in the coming months.

Scorecard

U.S.-European relations overall

1 10
1.2

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U.S.-European relations by topic

Political
1 10
1.2

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Security
1 10
1.2

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Economic
1 10
1.2

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Bilateral U.S.-European relationships

Germany
1.2
France
1.2
U.K.
1.2
Turkey
1.2
Russia
1.2
EU
1.2

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  • Germany France U.K. Turkey Russia EU
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In the news

  • 2
  • 1
  • 9
  • 2
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  • 6
  • 6
  • 2
Agree Disagree
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  • 1
  • 3
  • 7
  • 3
Agree Disagree
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  • 1
  • 3
  • 7
  • 3
Agree Disagree
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  • 2
  • 1
  • 9
  • 2
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Snapshot

Timeline

January 2
The Turkish parliament voted to deploy troops to Libya in support of UN-recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s government, which is engaged in conflict against rebels led by General Khalifa Haftar, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and the Wagner Group, a Russian private military corporation with suspected links to the Russian government.Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi said that Turkish troops would not be engaged in combat, but would focus on “technical support and military training.” President Erdoğan confirmed that the first of these troops had arrived on January 5.
January 2
Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, was killed in a drone strike outside the Baghdad airport. In a statement, the U.S. Department of Defense took responsibility for the assassination, saying “This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
January 2
Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz announced the formation of a new coalition between his center-right People’s Party (OVP) and the progressive Green Party. After Prime Minister Kurz’s previous coalition with the far-right Freedom Party collapsed in May 2019, the OVP won 37% of the vote in elections held in September 2019.
January 4
President Trump warned on Twitter that the United States had chosen 52 sites to attack within Iran, “some at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture,” if Tehran ordered assaults on American assets or citizens. Trump also notified Congress on Twitter that “should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner.”
January 5
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that “we will respond with great force and great vigor if the Iranian leadership makes a bad decision.”
January 5
The Iranian government declared it would no longer adhere to the limitations placed by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on its centrifuges used to enrich uranium, but would continue to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
January 5
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell urged the Iranian foreign minister to “exercise restraint and carefully consider any reaction to avoid further escalation, which harms the entire region and its people.”
January 6
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO training of Iraqi soldiers as part of the anti-ISIS campaign had been temporarily suspended in the wake of General Qasem Soleimani’s assassination.
January 7
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the White House. During this meeting, President Trump specified that he would not target Iranian cultural sites, recognizing that such action would breach international law: “If that’s what the law is, I like to obey the law.”
January 7
President Macron called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to express France’s commitment to easing tensions and a desire for Iran to “refrain from any measure likely to exacerbate the ongoing escalation of tensions.” Macron also called on Iran to return to full compliance with the JCPOA and for the release of two French scholars imprisoned in Iran.
January 7
Pedro Sanchez was approved the Congress of Deputies as Prime Minister of Spain, making it possible to form a coalition government between his Socialists and the left-wing Unidas Podemos party – the first coalition government since Spain became a democracy in the 1970s.
January 7
EU High Representative Josep Borrell met with the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom to discuss ways to bring an end to the conflict in Libya diplomatically. In a joint statement following the meeting, they stressed the EU’s conviction that “there is no military solution to the Libyan crisis” and condemned “continuing outside interference [for…] fueling the crisis.”
January 8
In an address to the nation, President Trump declared that “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.” He added that “the United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” while vowing to impose stronger economic sanctions against Iran.
January 8
Ukraine International Flight 752 crashed in Tehran a few minutes after takeoff, killing the 176 people on board. Iran later admitted to having shot the plane down by mistake.
January 8
Prime Minister Boris Johnson met the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at 10 Downing Street to discuss their future talks on the post-Brexit trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
January 9
The U.K. House of Commons approved the Brexit implementing legislation, paving the way for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union on January 31.
January 10
Northern Ireland’s two largest parties, the hardline nationalist Sinn Féin and hardline unionist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), reached an agreement to resume power-sharing governance after a three-year hiatus.
January 12
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat resigned from office amid growing controversies over the 2017 murder of an anti-corruption journalist. He was replaced by Robert Abela, the son of Malta’s ex-president.
January 13
Russian military intelligence operatives hacked Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, the company at the center of President Trump’s impeachment trial, through the use of phishing emails and fake logins, in a likely attempt to acquire information damaging to former Vice President Joe Biden.
January 13
EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan arrived in Washington, DC for a four-day visit, which included meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and legislators.
January 14
In a joint statement, the British, French, and German foreign ministers announced that they had triggered the dispute resolution mechanism of the JCPOA, a first step toward re-imposing United Nations sanctions on Iran.
January 14
After President Macron agreed to a small increase in French troops posted in West Africa to fight terrorism, French officials criticized the U.S. plan to slash the number of American forces in the region.
January 15
In his annual state of the nation address, President Putin proposed constitutional changes, to be put to a nationwide vote, including an increase in the parliament’s and the State Council’s powers. On the same day, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his government resigned. Medvedev became deputy head of the Security Council, a body presided over by President Putin.
January 15
Turkey restored access to Wikipedia after the Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional.
January 16
The Russian parliament approved President Putin’s nominee, Mikhail Mishustin, former head of the Federal Tax Service, as the new Prime Minister.
January 16
Ukraine opened a criminal investigation into associates of President Trump amid reports that former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch was under their surveillance while posted in Kyiv.
January 16
The U.S. Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency, found that the White House broke the Impoundment Control Act by withholding $400 million of congressionally allocated military assistance to Ukraine in the summer of 2019.
January 19
During the Libya peace summit held in Berlin, Russia, Turkey, and a dozen other international powers with interests in Libya called for a cease-fire and agreed to uphold an arms embargo.
January 20
President Putin officially submitted his previously announced constitutional amendments to the Russian parliament. In one of the biggest changes, the Putin-chaired State Council would be afforded broad powers to “determine the main direction of domestic and foreign policy.” Putin also removed Prosecutor General Yuri Y. Chaika from office and replaced him with Igor Krasnov, the deputy head of the Investigative Committee.
January 20
Serbia and Kosovo agreed to resume flights between their capitals under a deal facilitated by the United States.
January 20
President Macron announced a suspension of a digital tax on American tech companies in exchange for the postponement of retaliatory U.S. tariffs on French goods.
January 23
President Trump renewed his threats to impose a 25% tariff on all European car imports if the European Union did not agree to a trade deal with the United States.
January 24
President Trump proclaimed that he would broaden all steel and aluminum tariffs to include products made of those metals, such as nails and cables.
January 26
In local elections in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, incumbent President Stefano Bonaccini, of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), beat by a thin margin Lucia Borgonzoni, the candidate of the Center Right (League, Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia) backed by former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, in a weeks-long heated campaign. In Calabria, the Center Right Candidate defeated her PD opponent.
January 27
The Libyan cease-fire collapsed, and foreign arms sales to Libyan combatants resumed in violation of the UN arms embargo.
January 28
The United Kingdom announced that “high risk vendors” like China’s Huawei would be allowed access to no more than 35% of the country’s telecommunications network and excluded from all safety and national security-related aspects of the 5G network. The move came idespite U.S. pressure to ban Huawei completely.
January 29
The European Union released a “5G toolbox” to help its member states navigate the risks posed by using vendors such as Huawei for their 5G equipment.
January 31
The United Kingdom formally withdrew from the European Union, beginning a transition period during which a new relationship with the European Union would be negotiated. The 11-month transition period is scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2020.
January 31
Charles Michel, David Sassoli and Ursula von der Leyen, Presidents of the European Council, European Parliament, and European Commission, respectively, published an op-ed article titled “A new dawn for Europe,” taking stock of the United Kingdom’s departure and looking towards the EU’s future.
February 4
President Andrzej Duda of Poland signed into law a controversial piece of legislation making it possible to fine and fire judges whose actions and decisions are deemed harmful by the government.
February 5
The U.S. Senate acquitted President Trump on impeachment charges of abusing power and obstructing Congress.
February 6
EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan returned to Washington, DC for further talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and legislators seeking to forestall the imposition of U.S. auto tariffs and pave the way for a potential meeting between President Trump and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Washington, DC.
February 8
Parliamentary elections in Ireland resulted in a highly fragmented Dáil, the Irish parliament’s lower house, with nationalist party Sinn Féin making substantial gains, but no single party receiving more than 25% of the seats.
February 10
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced her resignation as Chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union, pending the election of a new party leader. The announcement restarted the race to succeed Chancellor Merkel, as Kramp-Karrenbauer was the heir apparent.
February 14
European Council President Charles Michel released his latest proposal for the EU’s budget for 2021-2027. Among the key changes are a roughly 30% cut to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that supports farms across the bloc, as well as a requirement that cuts to development funding related to rule of law violations be approved – rather than blocked – by a qualified majority in the European Council.
February 15
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper urged that American “concerns about Beijing’s commercial and military expansion should be [European] concerns as well” and that Europeans should “clearly choose a global system that supports democracy.”
February 19
In the German town of Hanau, a far-right extremist shot and killed nine people in an apparently racist attack against people of Turkish descent. The next day, Chancellor Merkel responded saying racism and hatred were a “poison” in German society that had caused the murder by a neo-Nazi of CDU politician Walter Lübcke in June 2019 and the synagogue shooting in Halle in October 2019, among other crimes.
February 19
The United Kingdom introduced a points-based immigration system, to take effect in January 2021. The new system, which requires migrants to speak English and have a job offer from an approved sponsor at an appropriate skill level, aims to reduce overall levels of migration and prioritizes highly skilled workers.
February 20
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and the leaders of the other two major Irish parties, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, faced votes in parliament to determine the next prime minister. After Varadkar failed to receive sufficient support to retain his position and since neither Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin nor Sinn Féin garnered sufficient votes to supplant him, Varadkar resigned and assumed a caretaker role with coalition talks set to continue.
February 20
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Russia for an October 2019 cyberattack on Georgia that affected thousands of Georgian government and business websites and broadcasts for two major television stations, calling the attack a contradiction of Russia’s “claim [that] it is a responsible actor in cyber space.” The United Kingdom and Australia joined the United States in blaming Russia for the attack.
February 21
After two days of talks, the European Council failed to come to an agreement on the EU’s next budget, rejecting Council President Charles Michel’s version released the previous week. Key sticking points included the overall size of the budget, with some states pushing for new cuts, and others hoping to preserve funding for development programs and the CAP.
February 23
The G20 summit of finance ministers and central bank governors concluded in Riyadh. For the first time during the Trump administration, the joint communiqué issued by the G20 referenced the economic consequences of climate change and called on the Financial Stability Board to examine the effects of climate on financial stability.
February 27
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited West Africa to discuss investment, security, and democratic governance against a backdrop of impending troop cuts and the termination of aid to French forces in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
February 27
In northwest Syria, an airstrike carried out by Syrian government forces killed 33 Turkish soldiers.
February 29
President Erdoğan confirmed that he had opened Turkey’s borders for Syrian and Afghan migrants to cross into Europe, claiming that Turkey could no longer handle the influx of refugees. He also accused the EU of failing to uphold its end of the 2016 EU-Turkey deal, which called for irregular migrants intercepted on Greek islands to be returned to Turkey, the European Union to provide economic support to Turkey, and refugees to be resettled from Turkey to the European Union. The same day, Greek authorities announced that they had intercepted approximately 4,000 people attempting to cross the border overnight.
February 29
The United States signed a conditional peace agreement with the Taliban outlining a timetable for the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. At a press conference in Kabul, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called the agreement “a real path toward the future this country deserves,” while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO would draw down its forces to match conditions on the ground, saying that “NATO allies and partners went into Afghanistan together” and would leave together.
February 29
In Slovakia, the opposition Ordinary People party (OLaNO) won national elections on an anti-corruption platform. OLaNO founder Igor Matovič became Prime Minister on March 21.
March 1
Turkey launched a major counteroffensive in Syria in response to the killing of its soldiers a few days earlier. In a statement, Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar framed the operation as seeking to end the conflict in Syria.
March 2
British Prime Minister Johnson’s government laid out its objectives for U.K.-U.S. trade talks. In particular, the plan indicated that certain items, such as food safety, were non-negotiable, and that the National Health Service “is not, and never will be, for sale to the private sector, whether overseas or domestic.”
March 2
Russian President Putin proposed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which the parliament approved as part of a package of new amendments to the constitutional review process. A nation-wide referendum on the constitutional amendments, planned for April 22, was postponed due to COVID-19.
March 4
President Zelensky of Ukraine fired his cabinet of ministers and appointed a new prime minister, replacing Oleksiy Honcharuk with former deputy prime minister, Denys Shmyhal.
March 4
The European Union proposed a new European Climate Law to codify its 2050 net zero emissions target as part of the implementation of its European Green Deal.
March 5
After lengthy negotiations, Presidents Putin and Erdoğan agreed to a cease-fire in Syria’s Idlib region.
March 9
Italy became the first European country to implement strict lockdown procedures to curb the spread of COVID-19, halting all nonessential travel.
March 9
In The Hague, the trial of four Russian suspects connected to the 2014 downing of a passenger jet over eastern Ukraine that killed 298 people began. With the trial expected to last months, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg greeted the start of the trial as an “important milestone in the efforts to ensure justice” for the victims and their families.
March 10
The lower house of the Russian parliament passed a constitutional reform allowing President Putin to run for two additional six-year terms.
March 12
President Trump announced a travel ban, effective March 13, on all non-U.S. citizens traveling from Europe – defined specifically as people who had visited the Schengen Area within the previous 14 days of their travel to the United States – to counter the spread of COVID-19. While the initial order did not include the United Kingdom and Ireland, it was later expanded to include these countries.
March 12
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, officially classified the “Flügel,” the most radical wing of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), as a far-right extremist group hostile to Germany’s “free democratic constitution.” The move would allow the BfV to recruit informants, monitor phone calls, and keep personal data on file.
March 13
European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson announced that European Union would offer €2,000 ($2,230) to migrants stranded on Greek islands to return to their home countries. This voluntary scheme would only be applicable to migrants who arrived in Greece before January 1, 2020. This announcement came on the heels of Turkey beginning to wind down its efforts to drive migrants to the EU border, as buses began to transport migrants at the Greek-Turkish border back to Istanbul.
March 15
The German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported that President Trump attempted to purchase exclusive rights to a potential COVID-19 vaccine from CureVac, a Germany-based biotech company. In response, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier declared that “Germany is not for sale.”
March 15
Several thousand Ukrainians gathered in Kyiv to protest the government’s handling of negotiations with Russia over the war in eastern Ukraine. The protests occurred despite COVID-19-related bans on mass gatherings.
March 15
Municipal elections for 40,000 state offices were held in Bavaria, in spite of increasing measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 such as a ban on large public gatherings. Officials noted increased mail-in voting, and several mayoral elections, including the Munich election, were forced into run-offs.
March 15
The first round of local elections were held in almost 35,000 French municipalities despite the government’s COVID-19-related ban on gatherings of over 100, closure of schools and universities, and suspension of large sporting events. The second round, originally scheduled for March 22, was tentatively rescheduled for June 21.
March 16
The Russian Constitutional Court approved a package of amendments, including one that would allow President Putin to seek reelection for two additional six-year terms. A national referendum on the constitutional changes was postponed due to COVID-19.
March 16
The French Competition Authority fined Apple $1.2 billion for “engaging in anticompetitive agreements within its distribution network and abuse of a situation of economic dependency with regard to its ‘premium’ independent distributors.”
March 17
The European Union announced that it would close its borders to all “non-essential travel” for 30 days to slow the spread of COVID-19.
March 18
Iran released French academic Roland Marchal in a prisoner exchange. France, for its part, released Iranian engineer Jalal Ruhollahnejad. Marchal had been imprisoned since June 2019 on national security-related charges. Marchal’s colleague, Fariba Adelkah, who was imprisoned at the same time, remained incarcerated.
March 25
Kosovo’s ruling coalition in parliament was ousted in a no-confidence vote, following a dispute over its management of COVID-19. The ousted coalition government had been formed only two months prior to its dissolution.
March 25
The British Supreme Court ruled that the government should not give further evidence helping the United States in its proceedings against two British ISIS detainees “without the appropriate death penalty assurances.”
March 25
Turkish prosecutors indicted 20 Saudi nationals for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
March 27
North Macedonia became the 30th member state of NATO. North Macedonia had ratified NATO’s accession protocol with unanimous support in parliament on February 11, but its entry into the alliance was delayed until Spain had ratified its accession.
March 31
The European Union launched Operation IRINI, mobilizing aerial, satellite, and maritime assets to enforce the Libya arms embargo.
March 31
France, Germany, and the United Kingdom used INSTEX, a financial mechanism set up to maintain trade with Iran despite U.S. sanctions, to sell roughly €500,000 of medical goods. This marked the first time that INSTEX had been used to facilitate trade between the European Union and Iran.
March 31
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hungarian parliament granted Prime Minister Viktor Orbán the right to rule by decree for an indefinite period of time, while suspending elections and threatening people that publicize information the government determines to be untrue with jail.

Europe on the line

Tracking President Trump’s reported phone conversations with European leaders.

 

Between January 1 and March 31, 2020, President Trump spoke on the phone with Turkish President Erdoğan six times (January 2, January 15, January 27, February 15, February 28, March 31), French President Macron six times (January 5, January 20, March 4, March 13, March 19, March 26), U.K. Prime Minister Johnson five times (January 24, January 28, February 20, March 14, March 27), German Chancellor Merkel three times (January 7, January 12, March 27), Italian Prime Minister Conte once (March 30), Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis once (March 2), Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán once (February 17), and Russian President Putin once (March 30). He did not speak with European Commission President von der Leyen or European Council President Michel in that time frame.

 

Tracking President Trump’s reported phone conversations with European leaders


We track Trump’s phone calls with the leaders of France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, whether they have spoken or not, as well as other calls with European leaders of which we are aware. The White House stopped releasing readouts of the president’s calls with foreign leaders in July 2018. If we’ve missed a conversation, please give us a ring. Sources: bundeskanzlerin.de, diplomatie.gouv.fr, gov.uk, en.kremlin.ru, press reports.

Figures

COVID-19 and the Russia-Saudi Arabia oil price war

 

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, rapidly falling demand for oil triggered a snap meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on March 5. To prevent a collapse in prices due to over-supply, OPEC members agreed to further cut oil production by 1 million barrels per day until June 2020 and called on non-OPEC members, like Russia, to cut 500,000 barrels per day. When Russia refused to adhere to the cuts, Saudi Arabia responded by slashing its export prices to outbid Russian oil and issued plans to increase its production from less than 10 million barrels per day to 12.3 million. Russia, in turn, responded with a production increase of 300,000 barrels per day from a February 2020 output of 11.3 million barrels per day, contributing to a sharp collapse in oil prices.

 

Yet what makes the current crisis truly exceptional is that it coincides with an unprecedented collapse in global demand for oil. During the first quarter of 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) conservatively estimated a roughly 9% decrease in global demand for liquid fuel and a decrease of 5.6 million barrels per day compared to the same period in 2019. Predictions focusing on March and April show an even more dire situation. IHS Markit, a research and analysis firm focused on global markets, has predicted that demand for oil in April 2020 will be 20 million barrels per day lower than April 2019 and that the second quarter of 2020 overall will see demand for oil be 16.4 million barrels per day less than the same period in 2019. Physical global storage limitations of 1.2 billion barrels may then force a production cut of 10 million barrels per day over the next quarter, according to IHS Markit. In sharp contrast, during the 2014-2016 period, the previous oil crisis, which led to the first production cut agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC members since 2001, no quarter saw a change in demand larger than 5%, and demand actually increased slightly across the period.

 

 

The sheer speed of the current collapse of global oil prices stemming from the cratering of global demand for oil and from the price war also dwarfs the 2014-2016 oil crisis. Between March 6 and March 13, 2020, Brent crude prices dropped 32%, from roughly $50 per barrel to $34. By March 27, 2020, they dropped another 30% to less than $24 per barrel. Viewed on a quarterly level, from the beginning of January to the end of March 2020, oil prices dropped nearly 78%, from just above $67 per barrel on January 2 to nearly $15 per barrel on March 31. By comparison, between June 2014 and December 2016, when the previous OPEC+ production cuts deal was concluded, no quarter saw a price drop greater than 30%.

 

 

While OPEC and Russia have reached a deal to institute the largest production cuts in history, the combination of low demand for oil due to COVID-19 and staggeringly low oil prices are projected to extend the economic pain. By mid March 2020, global investment by oil and natural gas companies had already fallen by $31 billion. Weaker states with high oil production costs that depend on oil rents, like Algeria and Venezuela, could face even greater political instability. The economic danger for U.S. states where fracking is prevalent, like Pennsylvania or Texas, home to Midland, the U.S. metropolitan area most threatened economically by COVID-19, is also considerable and could play a potential role in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, depending on the length and severity of the crisis.

 

At the time of writing (April 21, 2020), following U.S. oil prices for May contracts entering negative territory for the first time in history, Brent crude prices have dropped to below $20 per barrel. Undeniably, the dramatic COVID-19 induced slump in demand combined with the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia have ushered global energy markets – and thus geopolitics – into uncharted territory.

 

What to watch

Center on the United States and Europe Director Thomas Wright lays out events, issues, and potential developments to watch for in the months ahead.

 

I am delighted to share with you the seventh edition of the Trans-Atlantic Scorecard, a quarterly evaluation of U.S.-European relations produced by Brookings’s Center on the United States and Europe, as part of the Brookings – Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative.

 

This scorecard is published at a troubling and frightening time as countries the world over are locked down to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 crisis. We are currently witnessing one of those plastic moments that could profoundly affect the international order, including the United States, individual European nations, international institutions, and the trans-Atlantic alliance itself. What is striking so far is that responses to the crisis have largely been national. Very few governments have shown any appetite for international cooperation, some because they disagree with it on principle and others because they are so preoccupied with their own domestic crises.

 

Because this scorecard is no doubt the first of many that will deal with issues pertaining to COVID-19, it forms a baseline of sorts. Most of our questions relate to the crisis, but we did also include some questions on unrelated issues, as a reminder that the world has not stopped turning. One of the consequences of COVID-19 is that problems that would normally have been high up on the agenda are now likely to drop off but continue to challenge and erode the international order.

 

There are a few points worth highlighting.

 

The overall state of U.S.-European relations was mixed, with the numbers of economic and political relations down but security relations up. Respondents were fairly evenly split on whether China would increase its influence in Europe as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. An overwhelming majority felt that the EU would not impose significant budgetary or political consequences on Hungary for declaring a state of emergency that suspended indefinitely civil rights and democratic processes. On non-COVID issues, respondents felt that President Putin would survive the drop in oil prices and that the EU’s long term credibility would not be significantly damaged by the delay in accession talks for North Macedonia and Albania.

 

Looking ahead, it is hard not to be pessimistic. President Trump singled out the European Union for criticism in one of his early speeches to the nation and has shown little interest in international cooperation. A spat over whether he had tried to acquire a German company involved in research for a coronavirus vaccine angered many Germans. We will be looking to see if this pattern continues or if the United States and Europe begin to work together to rebuild the international economy and better protect themselves against future pandemics.

 

Thank you for reading the Trans-Atlantic Scorecard.

Trans-Atlantic Scorecard maintained by Agneska Bloch, Sam Denney, Caroline Klaff, and Filippos Letsas. Additional research by Jérôme Nicolaï. Digital design and web development by Eric Abalahin, Abigail Kaunda, Yohann Paris, Rachel Slattery, and Cameron Zotter.

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