Monthly Archives

October 2017

European, Politics

The Crisis in Catalonia

What are the European Union’s options? The unanimous support by the Heads of State and Government for Spain’s Prime Minister, expressed by their refusal to interfere in the battle between his government and Catalonia’s, was highly predictable. Indeed, neither the Union nor its Members can easily intervene, in a conflict concerning the application of a country’s constitution, without risking to create a dangerous precedent. The caution shown by the Union reflects the fact that the controversy is unrelated to Spain’s compliance with its “European” undertakings; the situation is therefore not comparable with the procedures initiated by the Commission against Poland and Hungary which fall within its remit as “Guardian of the Treaties”. This position, in which the “legal” argument overrides…

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European, Politics

The Brexit Process is stalling!

It is high time to be thinking “out of the Box”. If there is not a rapid radical shift in the framework of the Brexit negotiations the process will die unresolved on March 29th 2019, leading inexorably to a deep crisis, totally predictable and therefor unnecessary; it will cause considerable damage to Great-Britain and, most likely, to the European Union as well. It is becoming clearer by the day that even if “sufficient progress” is made on a divorce agreement by December this year, the time remaining for negotiating and ratifying a “transition deal” will prove insufficient, making the “no deal” and “falling off the cliff” scenarios the most likely ones. Despite the blustering of some blinkered politicians, the consequences…

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“Brexit”

The Trap of the Transition Period! A certain amount of febrility is surrounding the Brexit negotiations in the aftermath of Theresa May’s Florence speech. The tone of the message was conciliatory and brought some clarifications to items that had stymied the initial stages of the talks. In particular the acknowledgement of financial liabilities concerning past commitments (without defining them but accepting, at least implicitly, an amount equal to budgetary obligations extending through 2020) was most welcome; this could lead, at last, to serious negotiations, leaving aside the posturing that had paralysed any meaningful progress so far. The Irish border question was largely ignored except by reference to the transition period (see below) aiming at postponing dealing with a particularly difficult…

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President Juncker’s 2017 State of the Union address

Strasburg, September 14th 2017 What a refreshing change since the publication last May 31st of the Commission’s paper on the deepening of EMU(1) of which I had made a thorough and critical analysis in an article dated June17. The proposals contained in President Junker’s speech in front of the European Parliament show a bold and coherent vision of the Union’s future. I wish to insist on the word “coherence”, a quality that is too rarely associated with such a comprehensive review, because, even if some will doubt the feasibility of some of its elements, they form a largely interdependent “whole” that loses much of its pertinence if considered only piecemeal. The subsequent necessary debate should strive to maintain this coherence…

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“Germany must overcome two demons!”

Commentry on Pierre Defraigne’ article in “La Libre Belgique” (30/08/17) As is often the case, I share much of Pierre Defraigne’ analysis; nevertheless, reading this article leaves me somewhat dubious. Indeed, if the usual references to “non-interference” in the internal affairs of other countries are to be expected, they seem here to be a pretext to put the spotlight on the responsibilities that, according to the author, Germany should assume unilaterally. The analysis and the critique of the current situation is based on the belief that it is in the country’s (short term) interests to preserve the status quo in light of the domination it exercises both through key European mandates it has secured and the sheer economic and financial…

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“Europe: Emmanuel Macron is playing for high stakes!”

(Commentary on “24 hours in question” TV show of August 22nd on LCI.) It was with astonishment that I listened, on August 22nd on French TV, to four so-called specialists debating with unabashed chauvinism the outcome of President Macron’s European engagement which is likely to reflect his overall success or failure. This crucial dossier was considered mainly from the narrow perspective of its impact on the President’s popularity! “Europe: France is playing for high stakes” would have been a far more appropriate title. Indeed, designating EU reform as the key challenge in his presidential program was both risky and worthy of admiration; it is the impact of his policies on France and the EU that is crucial rather than any…

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Are we the new Sleepwalkers?

Are we the new Sleepwalkers? In a world that has lost its bearings, emotional outpourings are more and more often supplanting rational analysis. Be it in reaction to a terrorist attack (Barcelona) or to the tweets and untimely declarations of Donald Trump (Charlottesville- North Korea), etc., comments concerning these events suggest all too often narrowly focussed solutions which, however sensible they may seem, fail to consider the context in which they are supposed to be implemented. Thus, on the matter of the future of the European Union, there seems to be a developing a consensus on the added value of a common approach in areas such as climate change, the environment, the fight against terrorism and defence while “nationalist” and…

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Commentary on: EU paper on deepening EMU

(European Commission: First published on 31 May 2017) (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/reflection-paper-deepening-economic-and-monetary-union_en/) 1. Introduction The publication of the Commission’s “Reflection paper on the deepening of the economic and monetary union” is very disappointing both by its lack of originality and ambition! With regard to originality, the first half of the text is limited to a history of EMU (recalling the significant improvements implemented since the financial crisis) and, as far as the second half is concerned, to updating prior documents, in particular of the “Five Presidents Report” (detailing the road map to be completed). The document doesn’t contain a single new noteworthy proposal or explore avenues to overcome the blockages that currently hinder the implementation of measures that are needed to ensure the…

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The French Legislative Elections

The debate surrounding the € should not be shelved! The strong showing of President Macron in the second round of the presidential elections was due, in part, to the disastrous demonstration of incompetence and ignorance by his rival, Marine Le Pen, concerning monetary affairs. During the current parliamentary election campaign, she is desperately attempting to bury the matter by postponing any decision concerning the National Front’s position in relation to the Euro. It remains, however, of great importance that the French voter be fully informed with regard to policies that affect deeply the country’s “monetary national sovereignty” and the wealth of its population. President Macron has put the further integration of the Eurozone at the very heart of his program….

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The EU “On the Road”

Since May 14th the European Union can, once again, start moving forward following the inauguration of President Macron. It was a near thing that the European project, initiated over 60 years ago, came a cropper under the violence of nationalist and populist assaults. If the victory of Emmanuel Macron appears evident with the benefit of hindsight, one should recall that in the first round of the election, over half the voters backed anti-European programs and a further quarter favoured a Union under French domination. Furthermore, in the second round, the risk of having a choice limited to two anti-European extremists was decided by only a few hundred thousand votes between the four main candidates. Had the race been between Le…

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