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European

European, Politics

Covid19: Globalization in question?

The “Coronavirus” – unlike the “Subprime” in 2008 – is the trigger of a much wider crisis! The comparison between the coronavirus and the subprime stems from the fact that both factors served as detonators, igniting – then as now – a powder-filled unstable environment. There, unfortunately, ends the similarities, but drawing attention to them serves to underscore the urgency of the situation and its capacity to initiate a major geopolitical crisis of an amplitude unknown since the 1930’s. One should recall that the latter was only resolved by WWII whose inevitability had been largely fostered by the inexorable rise of authoritarian “nationalisms” and (temporarily) spineless democracies. Though present circumstances are thoroughly different, similar conditions seem to be spreading around…

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European, Politics

Will the European Union be the main casualty of the Coronavirus?

At the time of writing on February 25th we already know quite a lot about the Covid19 and, at the same time, many uncertainties remain. Limiting oneself to official and authoritative scientific sources, we have already learned that the virus attacks almost exclusively adults; that it is fatal mainly in the case of older people and/or if they suffer additional pathologies (smoking, cancers, diabetes, hypertension…) and is otherwise less dangerous than the annual flew epidemic with a low rate of fatalities. Among still unknown factors remain the seasonality of the virus (will it disappear in spring?), the delay for providing a vaccine (10-18 months?) or the length of the incubation period (14-27 days?). Fundamental is the correctness of the data…

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European, Politics

Is the European Union sleepwalking into its dislocation?

In a very perceptive article published in the Spectator of February 13th (1) Fredrik Erixon describes “The death of the center in European politics”. He rightly points out: “This is no longer a story about the rise of populists, it’s a story of change. Either the old parties must adapt or populists will — transforming into the new ruling norm.” This is a very crucial point because it shows that by restricting the debate challenging the “populist nationalist extremes” to waiving the spectre of the demons of the first half on the 20th. century  – a “historical” period that only few survivors recall – the “democratic centre” is addressing its audiences at cross purposes to their main daily preoccupations. By…

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European, Politics

Could the ECB turn out to be the Achilles tendon of the EU’s democratic legitimacy?

  In these uncertain times many matters filling the media remind us daily of the existential risks the world is facing extending from climate change to geopolitical challenges in the Middle-East, Ukraine or Africa, to social unrest in Venezuela, Hong Kong when it is not closer to home in France, to new forms of confrontation in terms of cyberwarfare, proliferation of nuclear weapons or trade disputes, etc. These highly complex matters have deeply imbedded relationships making them especially difficult to be understood or evaluated by an ever larger number of global “connected” individuals, wrestling with new forms of instant communication, capable of using the fast developing Artificial Intelligence algorithms to manipulate a gullible “public opinion”. It is not surprising that…

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European, Politics

The “Future Relationship” between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

The speeches delivered on February 3rd by Boris Johnson in Greenwich and by Michel Barnier in Brussels reveal the deep differences between the parties on the eve of the adoption of their respective negotiation mandates. That is hardly surprising as each protagonist flexes his muscles before initiating the talks. First it should be mentioned that both presentations were of excellent quality, their structure underscoring perfectly the differences in the personality and method of the orators. On the one hand, a flamboyant sentimental speech calling for the EU to trust Britain (a feeling that Boris Johnson’s track record renders dubious at best) and, on the other, a finely honed coherent demonstration repeating ne varietur the well-established positions of the EU. A…

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European, Politics

The “Brexit” tree hides the forest of the challenges of globalization!

The historical event of the formal departure of the UK from the EU has rightfully occupied the center of media attention over the last several days. It is nevertheless sure that other events will rapidly dominate the news: the acquittal of Donald Trump and the US presidential campaign, the coronavirus epidemic, the situation in the Middle-East, Ukraine trade wars, climate change, social unrest, EU reform, etc. What is new is that in our “connected” planet, all of these matters have also become deeply interconnected, which means that addressing them in isolation becomes problematic and is often biased. Brexit is emblematic in this regard and deserves to be considered in more detail. Most current analysis cover the process under which negotiations…

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European, Politics

Quo Vadis Europa ?

The simultaneous appointment of new leaders in the four main EU institutions (European Council, Commission, Parliament and ECB) is a propitious time to voice ambitious declarations. The new leaders have seized on the opportunity all the more vigorously that the state of the world requires urgent decisions at every level of power, extending from the world-wide governance on climate change, on migratory flows, on security, on trade, financial markets, etc., to dealing with acute political and/or social tensions – domestic or trans-border – in Europe, Asia, Africa or Latin America. It is therefore hardly surprising that the EU finds itself caught in a vice between the legitimate aspirations of its Members and their respective incapacity to make themselves heard on…

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European, Politics

Thank you Mr Bloomberg!

Dear Michael Bloomberg, I believe that I speak for many Europeans (and hopefully for even more Americans) when I welcome your bid for the presidency of the United States. ——————————– Of course, it is easy to dismiss the move if one points to the many grounds that can make such a step seem contentious, evoking, for instance, self-righteous considerations such as further reinforcing the perception that the American electoral process is a pure “money” confrontation; focus might concentrate on the former Mayor’s “unfair” advantage over the contenders for the primary nomination; one could also question the candidate’s age and, maybe, contest some aspects of his former distinguished public service. Most damaging might be the internal party debate between the left…

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European, Politics

Is a last minute compromise possible on the Withdrawal Agreement?

In my recent article (29th August) on “The prorogation gambit”, I wrote: What could be the basis of a last minute agreement? a) The British Government agree to accept the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May unchanged except for: – Removing formally the “Irish backstop” (A big apparent win for BoJo!) – Agreeing that, should no acceptable “alternative arrangements” be found to maintain an open border in Ireland before the end of the transition period, Northern Ireland (at least) would remain within the EU customs union until such arrangements were agreed. The UK could end the arrangement unilaterally but only if it offered Northern Ireland the possibility of a Referendum on remaining in the UK or becoming part or the…

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European, Politics

The UK and the EU must bring “Brexit” to a final conclusion now!

Brexit is doing untold harm to countless EU and UK citizens whose livelihood is – or will be – adversely affected, by prolonging unnecessarily the current destabilizing uncertainty. In addition, it makes Europe particularly vulnerable to the numerous geopolitical developments and/or external social, economic, or financial shocks lurking under the horizon. Rather than reveling in imagining various more or less credible scenarios that might unfold over the next few weeks, it is time to focus on a proposal that hopefully brings this tragic saga to a conclusion. Preempting the European Council meeting of October 17/18, the Prime Minister should send, by the end of this week, a letter to its President, Donald Tusk, requesting formally an extension beyond October 31st…

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