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October 11, 2016

Towards the fifty-first state

The snippets of information we hear about the post-Brexit environment suggests that the UK is headed for systems on immigration controls and trade and investment policy very similar to that of the US. On immigration we are looking at the equivalent of a green-card system. And on investment, the UK is now considering US-style vetting, according to the FT. The point is that they want to make sure to have a process in place to vet investment in sensitive areas, but not the way this is done in France, where such vetting occurs on a more ad hoc basis - considered as too protectionist in the UK. The article says that the policy has not been formulated in full. One question is whether foreign investments should be subjected to a public interest test. Theresa May favours a regime that is transparent and rules-based. She disliked the informality with which David Cameron allowed Pfizer to bid for AstraZeneca - a deal that later collapsed.

Another story that caught our eye came from the BBC according to which the government had planned to publish a consultation paper on Brexit, but has decided not to go down that route. The story does not explain what happened. We presume that they want to proceed without a lengthy consultation process.

Among commentators we noted Janan Ganesh, who strongly supported Remain, and who says that Remainers should accept the hard version of Brexit.

"Sometimes history throws up ideas that are better tested than forever stymied. Britain’s mastery of its own affairs, even at the cost of access to the European market and the political chambers that regulate it, is a big, legitimate idea that has stirred politics for 30 years. If it is not allowed to run its course, even after a national referendum in its favour, it will not disappear, it will intensify in the shadows and return in more fearsome form."

We happen to agree with him on this point. But conversely, if a hard Brexit is the right choice for Britain - that is, after having voted no, and rejected the EEA option - what is the right strategy for the EU? We disagree profoundly with the emerging consensus that the best strategy is to take a hard punishing line on the UK. That could backfire if Brexit turns out to be economically neutral or positive, an outcome we would not exclude. We noted an article in FAZ this morning on an as-yet unpublished study by the IW economic institute in Cologne, in which its director, Michael Huther, argues in favour of a particularly tough line on the UK. Brexit constitutes an existential question for the EU, he argues, which requires a negotiating position that accepts no compromise. His fear is that, if you give ground to the UK, other EU principles will also be sacrificed on the altar of compromise, like Germany's cherished stabillity pact.

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October 11, 2016

Brexit and Northern Ireland

One of the trickiest questions in the Brexit negotiations will be the internal Irish border. While it is a legal and political fact, practically it is invisible, with 30,000 commuters crossing it daily. The prospect of a hard border evokes haunting memories of The Troubles, before the Northern Ireland peace process. Locals on both sides of the 300km border are now starting to hold protest rallies calling on the capitals to respect Northern Ireland's referendum vote, where a majority of 56% voted to remain in the EU, the FT reports. The campaigners last weekend said they will continue until their concerns are addressed.

Immigration controls at ports and airports is another thorny matter. Digital collection of advanced passenger information allows both governments to screen out those barred from entry before they even get on a plane. In March, Ireland passed legislation allowing the UK to require airlines and ferry companies to provide advance passenger details on all UK-Irish journeys. Asking the Irish to carry out Britain’s passport checks may not be what Brexiteers had in mind when they campaigned to "take back control of Britain’s borders", writes the Guardian. The chairman of the Vote Leave campaign, former chancellor Lord Lawson, explicitly called for the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic during the referendum campaign. 

Customs checks are a different issue, but academics say they could operate on the same principles as those between Norway and Sweden where mobile spot checks don’t necessarily take place at the physical border.

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October 11, 2016

Enemies of the state

Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont was in Madrid yesterday at the invitation of Europa Press, to give his overview of the Catalan and Spanish political situation. Puigdemont, who just two weeks ago won a confidence motion in the Catalan parliament, stressed that he has a stable government with which to implement his separatist agenda, and contrasted this with the state of paralysis in Spain's central government in the ten months since general elections were held. Puigdemont, who was appointed regional premier in January after three months of gridlock in the Catalan parliament, submitted to the confidence motion as a result of his failure to gain approval for his 2016 budget before the Summer. Puigdemont reiterated the familiar themes of the Catalan separatist movement: a demand for an independence referendum the terms of which he wants to negotiate with the central Spanish government. In support of this demand, he cited the broad majorities enjoyed by referendum resolutions in the Catalan parliament. In a jab at the Catalan socialist PSC, he noted that their proposal for a federal reform of the Spanish constitution - including the recognition of Catalonia's nationhood - was overwhelmingly rejected with the combined votes of the separatists and the unionist opposition. In the context of the PSOE's internal strife, the PSC's federalist proposal was not welcomed by the Pedro Sánchez's opponents who now control the national party through a steering group.

Later in the day Puigdemont met with Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos. Podemos is known to be favourable to a Catalan referendum, though not to Catalan independence. At their meeting yesterday, Iglesias reassured Puigdemont that Podemos would vote against lifting the parliamentary immunity of Francesc Homs, currently an MP and parliamentary spokesman for Puigdemont's party Democracia i Llibertat (DiL), to be prosecuted for his involvement as interior minister of the Catalan government in the mock consultation on independence carried out in Catalonia in November 2014. This kind of stuff is part of why a large part of the PSOE was wary of making a deal with Podemos to unseat Mariano Rajoy as PM, and the prospect of Pedro Sánchez entering into such a deal may have precipitated his ouster. Just to get a taste of the extent to which Iglesias and Puigdemont are seen as enemies of the state by a substantial segment of the Spanish population, here's a blog by Mariano Calleja published in ABC yesterday: 

"... We face an institutional coup d'état ... they don't care about the law. Their only goal is independence, the breakup of Spain, illegal secession. ... They want to build a project of a state with the anti-system, the populist, and the radical ... Puigdemont took advantage of his day in Madrid to meet... Pablo Iglesias. Do a majority of Catalans really not find all this unsettling? Puigdemont's words ooze contempt for Spain. ... This is called treason. ..."

In the current political environment, the "natural" majority in Spain's parliament is PP + PSOE + Ciudadanos in support of a unionist government, not a left government of PSOE + Podemos supported by Ciudadanos, let alone by the Catalan and Basque nationalists. And so the Catalan separatist government will go along with its plan to call a unilateral referendum next year, in a climate of complete lack of communication with the government in Madrid.

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  • April 15, 2019
  • Finland's far right changes the game
  • Brexit party drawing almost even with the Tories
  • October 18, 2017
  • Veneto and Lombardy to vote on autonomy
  • Portugal's president calls on government over fires
  • Radical ideas for radical times: how to pay off public debt
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • March 14, 2019
  • A very meaningless vote
  • October 03, 2017
  • A short note about UK politics
  • The impact of the German elections on the euro debate
  • The decline and fall of Martin Schulz and the SPD
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • February 11, 2019
  • SPD dumps Hartz IV
  • Macron's revival
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • January 10, 2019
  • Another quiet day in the Commons
  • From Rome with love
  • September 01, 2017
  • Rutte deflates Dutch labour party like a hot air balloon
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • December 14, 2018
  • Running down the clock
  • Macron, Philippe - untouchable no more
  • EP blasts Commission over Babis
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • November 01, 2018
  • Is candidate Merz a keen pro-European?
  • Around the corner - Brexit edition
  • July 28, 2017
  • German government bans Porsche Cayenne
  • More troubles for the AfD
  • Of course there will be a soft transitional period for the UK
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 21, 2019
  • Philippe to brace for more union protests
  • Greens are the electorates' new favourite
  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • June 21, 2017
  • Why has the SPD deflated?
  • Berlusconi’s strategy
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • July 09, 2018
  • German panic about Target2
  • AfD level with SPD
  • How the EU could fail
  • June 01, 2017
  • On how to fix the eurozone
  • What happens if there is no Article 50 agreement?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 18, 2019
  • Retaliation threats over drilling
  • May 28, 2018
  • A no-confidence motion that could backfire
  • The political repercussions of a historic referendum in Ireland
  • Why the lack of an international role for the euro matters
  • May 11, 2017
  • Germany rejects IMF’s policy recommendations before they are issued
  • Why Labour is losing
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 15, 2019
  • Finland's far right changes the game
  • Brexit party drawing almost even with the Tories
  • April 16, 2018
  • Italy's and Germany's pained response to the Syria attacks
  • On the end of the eurozone's economic honeymoon
  • Why Bulgaria should stay out of the euro
  • Where shall we meet after Brexit?
  • April 20, 2017
  • Don’t bet on Trump turning globalist
  • A note on UK election polls
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • January 31, 2019
  • EU will play hardball until February 14, and stick to backstop beyond
  • French left and right moves ahead of EP elections
  • Tighten the belts as the economy prepares for landing
  • February 27, 2018
  • Irish transport prepares for Brexit scenarios
  • One last Dutch referendum
  • Is the CDU a conservative party?
  • March 27, 2017
  • Governing formation troubles - Northern Ireland edition
  • Did Trump present Merkel with a bill for Nato?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 30, 2019
  • A pyrrhic victory for Kurz
  • Will there really be UK elections?
  • November 19, 2018
  • May’s pushback is kicking in
  • January 08, 2018
  • Getting real on Brexit
  • Macron in China
  • March 02, 2017
  • Juncker's scenarios for Europe
  • EU minimum wages are rising
  • No, the Lords didn’t stop Brexit
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 12, 2019
  • What Spain wants from the EU
  • What to focus on in the Brexit procedure, and what not
  • August 28, 2018
  • Urban politics and national crisis - the Irish case
  • How anti-semitism became one of the main issues in British politics
  • November 15, 2017
  • A Christmas bonus for poor Greeks
  • Dim prospects of negotiated de-escalation on Catalonia
  • Macron's favourite to succeed Juncker - first round
  • On sovereignty
  • Gli Azzurri
  • February 03, 2017
  • The Schulz effect is getting huge
  • The post-Brexit boom goes on and on and on
  • A correction on Catalonia
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • February 18, 2019
  • How the splits on the left and the right will affect Brexit
  • June 04, 2018
  • German discourse out of control
  • Wait for European disunity on US tariffs
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • May 14, 2019
  • Trump gives Orbán his blessing
  • Outcome of Belgium's parliament election on Sunday totally open
  • Has Trump really got the economics of trade all wrong?
  • October 01, 2018
  • After the referendum, more turmoil in Macedonia
  • What will happen if the UK parliament votes No?
  • Barnier's no-thanks works much better than a yes-please
  • February 19, 2018
  • SPD divided over grand coalition
  • Wauquiez - the French Trump?
  • Why Brexit will be extremely hard to reverse
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • December 01, 2016
  • Will Italian expats swing the referendum result?
  • Why we keep on misreading the polls
  • Si vis pactum, para bellum
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 24, 2019
  • May's final and biggest gamble
  • Will the EP be Brexit's great parliamentary beneficiary?
  • Can Loiseau fight the far right given her past?
  • October 22, 2018
  • A week of intense political tension in the UK
  • Poland's local elections reveal deeply-split country
  • April 20, 2018
  • Macron at home
  • EU has rejected all UK proposals on Northern Irish border
  • Could there be a Five Star-Forza Italia government?
  • October 19, 2017
  • Germany is softening up over Brexit
  • The French budget and the wealthy
  • Will Borut Pahor win re-election as Slovenian president?
  • April 20, 2017
  • Don’t bet on Trump turning globalist
  • A note on UK election polls
  • October 21, 2016
  • Wallonia says No for the third time
  • Do you remember that Dutch referendum on Ukraine?
  • How narratives are destroying the EU
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 17, 2019
  • The dreaded scenario
  • Meet the Labour no-dealers
  • March 05, 2019
  • The most promising Brexit strategy we have heard yet
  • October 22, 2018
  • A week of intense political tension in the UK
  • Poland's local elections reveal deeply-split country
  • June 11, 2018
  • The end of the G7 - good riddance
  • Macron needs allies for his European agenda
  • Who is going to be the next director-general of the Italian treasury?
  • January 30, 2018
  • Will Puigdemont be Catalan premier today?
  • Some thoughts about the German car industry
  • A short note on Italian coalition maths
  • September 22, 2017
  • The last German polls
  • May 15, 2017
  • SPD and CDU disagree on how to respond to Macron
  • Was Rajoy blackmailed?
  • The rise of the re-leavers
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • August 30, 2016
  • Brexit facts on the ground
  • Burkinis and Republican primaries
  • The SPD and TTIP
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 21, 2019
  • Philippe to brace for more union protests
  • Greens are the electorates' new favourite
  • September 04, 2019
  • Alternatives to the backstop - what are the chances?
  • How to unlock European investment beyond monetary easing
  • July 22, 2019
  • Will Johnson go for elections?
  • How will von der Leyen handle the east?
  • June 06, 2019
  • Is this the end of traditional parties as we know them?
  • How a no-deal Brexit could happen
  • April 24, 2019
  • May's final and biggest gamble
  • Will the EP be Brexit's great parliamentary beneficiary?
  • Can Loiseau fight the far right given her past?
  • March 11, 2019
  • Ask what Europe can do for Germany - AKK's EU manifesto
  • January 29, 2019
  • What comes after plan B fails? Plan C, of course. C for cliff-edge
  • Gilets jaunes, how to structure a movement in free flow?
  • European Court of Auditors criticises Juncker’s investment fund
  • December 20, 2018
  • Revenge of the stupid women
  • China's marching orders to the EU
  • November 12, 2018
  • Does Macron really believe in his own 2019 battle plan?
  • A throwaway commentary about a throwaway comment
  • October 03, 2018
  • Ironman Stubb wants to succeed Juncker
  • Don’t think for one moment that Tories are rallying behind May
  • August 28, 2018
  • Urban politics and national crisis - the Irish case
  • How anti-semitism became one of the main issues in British politics
  • July 20, 2018
  • Why preparations for no-deal Brexit are a positive development
  • On confirmation bias in the Brexit commentary
  • June 14, 2018
  • A Labour rebellion, really?
  • May 11, 2018
  • Chère Angela, it is time to decide..
  • Those trade sanctions are really serious
  • Why Labour will not turn on Brexit
  • April 09, 2018
  • Orbán gets his supermajority
  • Riding the wave of resistance
  • The EU’s self-defeating strategy
  • March 08, 2018
  • EU will not offer UK a financial services deal
  • What if the DUP implodes?
  • Has Mario Draghi expropriated German savers?
  • February 05, 2018
  • How big is Germany's external surplus, really?
  • Macron's first election test
  • Coeure's endorsement of a fiscal union
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • December 04, 2017
  • Can Brexit still be stopped?
  • Could Poland open up the Posted Workers Directive again?
  • Has the Bank of England solved the productivity puzzle?
  • November 06, 2017
  • Pressures on EU rise over Catalonia
  • German pre-coalition talks hit glitch
  • If you thought UK politics couldn‘t get worse...
  • October 11, 2017
  • A parliamentary coup in Italy
  • 1.7% UK growth forecast - not great, but hardly a meltdown
  • Could Tsipras' controversial gender bill split the coalition?
  • September 15, 2017
  • Juncker dragged into the Catalan fray
  • What to say in Florence
  • How to fill the gap left by the British MEPs
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • July 19, 2017
  • The comeback of the British rebate
  • Macron wants complete abolition of housing tax
  • June 26, 2017
  • Brexit - the central case and the tail-risk
  • The German fear of Macron
  • June 05, 2017
  • What happens to Brexit if Labour wins?
  • What Russia wants
  • May 15, 2017
  • SPD and CDU disagree on how to respond to Macron
  • Was Rajoy blackmailed?
  • The rise of the re-leavers
  • April 25, 2017
  • Germans conflicted about Macron
  • A choice over Europe
  • Who can stop the Tories?
  • April 06, 2017
  • Could this be a turning point for Le Pen?
  • Three Brexit misunderstandings
  • Are the interests of Martin Schulz and Sigmar Gabriel really aligned?
  • March 20, 2017
  • Does the language of communiques matter?
  • Spain snap election rumblings
  • Will there be a Brexit deal?
  • March 03, 2017
  • Death of Diesel
  • February 15, 2017
  • Fillon under fire
  • More headaches for Rutte
  • Who are the bigots now?
  • January 31, 2017
  • Project fear against Italexit
  • On how not to frustrate Brexit
  • January 18, 2017
  • Will she walk?
  • Should we shut up about globalisation?
  • Political renewal à la française
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • December 12, 2016
  • Renzi without Renzi
  • Shall we compensate the losers of globalisation?
  • The need for a partnership with China
  • December 02, 2016
  • Austria's Trump-Clinton moment
  • The grand coalition that dare not speak its name
  • High tensions between Greece and Turkey
  • November 23, 2016
  • AfD to become Germany's main opposition party
  • A somber EU/Ukraine summit
  • Catalan separatists in the courts
  • Fog across the channel - and noise
  • November 14, 2016
  • The populists are winning
  • The Trump effect on the French Republican primaries
  • ND to target disenchanted Syriza voters
  • Debt repayment postponed to infinity
  • November 07, 2016
  • Why UK elections are becoming more likely
  • The EU's moral bankruptcy on Turkey
  • Merkel's presidential mess
  • The case for a No vote in Italy
  • October 31, 2016
  • Will the quake help Renzi?
  • Is Montebourg an alternative to Hollande?
  • The trials of Geert Wilders
  • October 26, 2016
  • Renzi threatens to veto EU budget
  • The politics of a hard Brexit
  • Hollande at 4%
  • October 21, 2016
  • Wallonia says No for the third time
  • Do you remember that Dutch referendum on Ukraine?
  • How narratives are destroying the EU
  • October 17, 2016
  • Ceta is dead for now
  • L’après-Hollande, c'est Hollande
  • SPD against Russia sanctions
  • Nissan to join customs union and other fanciful tales
  • October 14, 2016
  • Tusk's awkward choice
  • Seven candidates, three debates
  • October 12, 2016
  • Are we headed towards a military east-west confrontation?