EU vs. Switzerland. Negotiations formalizing the relationship between Switzerland and the European Union appear to be floundering. Swiss-EU relations are currently covered by around 120 bilateral agreements negotiated over the years, but the EU wants to consolidate those deals into a new treaty that would also require Switzerland to automatically adopt some EU laws. Now, Brussels has warned that, in light of ongoing challenges with Brexit, if there is no resolution by June 30 it will cut off Swiss stock traders from EU markets. Switzerland has said it would retaliate by blocking EU investors from buying Swiss stocks, forcing them to use local banks or brokers. The implicit warning to the U.K. throughout these negotiations is that it, too, would be required to seek equivalence rules, similar to Switzerland, or face trading restrictions for its own equity markets.

No decision on EU expansion. On Tuesday, the EU General Affairs Council decided to postpone until October a decision on the launching of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. Supporters of the delay argue that more work needs to be done in the two countries to tackle corruption, organized crime and poverty; that starting accession talks now would inflame anti-migrant sentiment in some EU countries; and that the EU needs to be focusing on its own internal reforms at the moment, not looking to expand. Critics contend that both North Macedonia (which literally changed its name to unlock negotiations) and Albania have already sacrificed much in the way of reforms to get to this stage, and that their efforts should be rewarded. Moreover, accession is a years-long process, and starting it is not the same as letting the candidate countries take a seat at the table. Some of the other criticisms, however, are less sound, such as that the delay harms EU credibility – it surely does, but the bloc hardly has any credibility in external affairs; that it will boost the position in the Balkans of rivals like China – never mind that EU membership hasn’t exactly proved to be a firewall preventing China from expanding its influence in some EU member states; or that it undermines the pro-EU governments in Skopje and Tirana, where polls consistently show sky-high support for EU membership. It’s unclear what will have changed when the issue comes up again in four months, but the postponement probably is not the crisis that critics say it is.

More rocket attacks in Iraq. Two Katyusha rockets reportedly came close to hitting a U.S. base in Mosul on Tuesday, while another rocket attack on an oil-drilling site owned by ExxonMobil in Basra wounded three people. The attacks come just one day after three rockets hit a base north of Baghdad where U.S. forces are stationed and several days after mortars were fired at the Balad air base, where American trainers are located. None of these attacks seem to be causing major damage, but they are coming in greater frequency after the rocket attack that occurred last month near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

Honorable Mentions