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European

European, Politics

Has the Juncker Commission been up to the JOB?

The self-satisfaction with which Martin Selmayr evaluates the record of the “Job” of the Juncker Commission lacks the modicum of restraint that the current “State of the Union” calls for. Let us acknowledge the volume of actions undertaken and completed by the Commission whose number deserves unequivocally to join countless other pointless statistics that adorn the Guinness Book of Records! On the eve of the European elections it is difficult to find an elector able to identify a single measure that he feels in conscious has actually affected his life over the last five years (with the possible exception of the end of roaming charges in 2017). On the positive side, one must mention the competence with which the Commission…

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European, Politics

European Elections : the overlooked importance of the €

While the European Parliamentary elections are vying (not very successfully) with Brexit and the French Yellow Jackets to catch the attention of European public opinion, the electoral debate centers around a choice between the aggressive stance of the fast growing Eurosceptic parties and the defensive campaign of the – still dominant – Europhile groupings that struggle to defend the achievements of the 70 year old EU. The polarization of the debate has largely killed any serious attempt to promote a vision capable of rekindling the citizen’s interest for the Union, as demonstrated by the expectation of establishing a new record of abstentions. A particularly disturbing aspect of this state of affairs is that the Eurosceptics, which are – overtly or…

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European, Politics

The EU’s long term interests should prevail over short term accommodation of the UK’s whims.

The comments made by Donald Tusk yesterday in front of the EU Parliament, in which he made a solemn appeal to MEPs (and implicitly to his 27 Council colleagues) to consider favorably a long term extension of Art.50, are very worrying. Casting the MEPs in the chivalrous role of defending their “European” (British) compatriots interests, which are being ignored by their national representatives, may flatter the Assembly; it may not, however, pay appropriate attention to the overriding interests of the European Union. At present, and until April 12th, it is in the unilateral gift of the UK to choose between three alternatives: “No deal” – “Revocation of Art.50” – “Approving PM May’s deal”. Any other plan would require the unanimous…

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European, Politics

The Brexit Soap Opera!

After yesterday’s (13th October) vote in the House of Commons I could not resist the temptation to publish my personal thoughts on what might happen, fully aware that what I write is likely to be obsolete in the days if not hours after publication! The first remark is to confirm that despite the vote last night, “no deal” remains the legal default outcome and entails the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU on March 29th, unless one of two alternatives prevails before expiration of the deadline: 1. A vote to rescind the Art 50 in the House of Commons followed by its notification by the government to the EU. I consider this to be a highly unlikely possibility…

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European, Politics

Brexit : Faites vos Jeux….Rien ne va plus !

With less than seven weeks to go before exiting the EU without a deal, it is imperative, as the PM informed Parliament, to keep one’s nerves before spinning the roulette wheel for the final throw, in a betting game the British have engaged in without sufficient chips. Time has come to call their bluff! Like a boomerang, the slogans voiced by Theresa May such as “Brexit is Brexit” or “No deal is better than a bad deal” have come back to haunt their author, so three cheers for Charles Michel who has endorsed the second of these slogans. Indeed, contrary to Mrs. May, the Belgian PM’s stance offers a credible alternative: on the one hand supporting the agreed Withdrawal Agreement…

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European, Politics

Youth’s mobilization to fight climate change could upset the outcome!

Within the general dispirited mood and tensions in which the European project is often ignored by a poorly informed – if not deliberately misled – public opinion, the sudden awakening of thousands of youth that it is “their” future that is being threatened by global warming, is creating a faint new hope that – if properly managed – could transform the coming European elections into a major political event. The questions relating to global warming are emblematic of preoccupations that are better dealt with by the EU (climate does not recognize Member State boundaries), only authority that can ensure that the welfare of its citizens in general prevails over partisan “national” interests. This challenge should also be capable of mobilizing…

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European, Politics

“Brexit”: Breaking the deadlock!

There is a similarity between the United Kingdom’s attitude towards Brexit and the European Union’s stance in terms of creating “an ever closer Union”: their respective public opinions as well as their politicians seem to achieve rapidly a consensus on what they do not want but are equally incapable of agreeing on what they seek. On the one hand the UK does not wish a “no deal” exit from the EU but is unable to outline the terms of an acceptable agreement while, on the other, continental citizens are in their great majority favorable to the EU (see latest barometer) while their representatives are unable to agree on the measures necessary for its survival: federalism, completing EMU, common defense, immigration,…

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European, Politics

S.O.S. : Europe rudderless!

The forceful intervention concerning the “Yellow Jackets” and the European Union by Bernard Henri Levy on January 11th during the French TV show “24 hours Pujadas”, was both welcome and refreshing. His analysis stating that only a (reformed) EU is susceptible to offer a credible answer to the challenges confronting Member States in a hostile geopolitical environment (Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Xi, etc.) underscores – by contrast – the incapacity of national political parties to formulate acceptable constructive alternative proposals. Whether confronting the challenges of immigration, the environment, defence, economic and social problems or the €, all proposals that require retaining or restoring the primacy of individual country’s “national sovereignty” (favoured by the populists), lead to an unescapable consequence: the re-establishing…

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European, Politics

The “Yellow Jackets” and the European elections

It is dispiriting spectacle to watch the cream of French intelligentsia argue for hours on TV the impact of a “Yellow Jackets” list on the outcome of the forthcoming European parliamentary elections. The entire focus is on the gains or losses such a list would inflict on established parties. The consensus is that President Macron would have most to gain and the extremes, especially on the right, would be weakened. Should the Yellow Jackets fail to run, as is likely, the far right (Le Pen and Dupont Agnan) is expected to make significant gains, severely beating the President’s supporters. However, this debate is secondary at best if not totally derisory when compared with the high stakes in play concerning the…

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European, Politics

The “Yellow Jackets” recast the geopolitical consequences of “Brexit”

There is a fairly large consensus around the opinion that “Brexit” is neither good for Great-Britain nor for the EU. However, its consequences appear particularly damageable for the United-Kingdom and positively disastrous in case of a “no deal exit”. Inside the Union, while there are sincere regrets concerning the departure as well as a recognition of the significant contributions made by the UK, those who wish to pursue an “Ever closer Union” believe that Brexit might give a new impulse to European integration; the last major step forward in this process was the introduction of the single currency in 1999 which still remains uncompleted. In parallel with this standstill, the first years of the new century saw a marked increase…

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