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January 19, 2017

Something not quite right about the transitional deal

We got some more clarity on what the British governments wants from Brexit. David Davis, the Brexit secretary, said that a transitional phase - which he calls an implementation phase - would last only a year or two. We accept his argument that the UK would negotiate from a position of perfect convergence at the time of Brexit, and that the lack of convergence is normally one of the main sticking points in any trade negotiations. While the EU and the UK will not formally start negotiations before the actual date of Brexit, both sides can prepare lay of the groundwork so that the negotiations could proceed right away. But the idea that the EU is able to conclude a so-called mixed trade agreement - which this would be - and have it ratified by national and some regional parliaments within two years, let alone one year, seems unrealistic to us. What may be possible is provisional implementation of an agreement, but even this would take longer to enact. Davies left it open what the nature of the transitional deal would be - membership of the customs union or some other type of agreement. 

Downing Street also briefed on the two-year transitional phase after Theresa May’s speech on Tuesday, so this appears to be a broader government consensus. The only rational explanation we have is that the British government is not really seeking a transitional agreement, and would only accept it if the EU agrees to it on British terms. Politically, a transitional deal is awkward because it would push the moment of a full return of national sovereign beyond the next election, scheduled for 2020. If the EU does not, or cannot, conclude a quick FTA, Britain would then leave abruptly, while blaming the EU for the economic consequences. We are struggling to come up with any other interpretation - expect perhaps that the Tories hope to maintain the illusion of a short transition period until the elections, and admit only later that it might take a few years longer. But it is hard to see how such a lie can be credibly maintained for a long time. 

What we found very odd yesterday was Boris Johnson’s intemperate comments, which seemed to sabotage the prime minister’s more sensible diplomatic line - hard on the substance of Brexit, but soft in the language and open-minded about future co-operation or association agreements. Johnson yesterday compared President François Hollande to a Nazi administering punishment beatings. There is no point in trying to extract a deeper meaning here.

What is, however, true is that the UK is playing up a backmail threat - which is that Brexit without agreement would damage the EU as well as Britain. We have argued before that there is a logic to this argument, and that the collateral damage of a super-hard Brexit to the EU is not yet fully appreciated among the EU-27, judging by the stream of uninformed opinion especially among MEPs. There are potentially crippling financial stability issues, which have not yet been investigated seriously. It is easy enough to argue that the EU constitutes a larger proportion of British trade than vice versa. That’s the static argument. The dynamics look different. And so does the politics. A hostile Brexit would dramatically weaken the EU’s influence in any global governance forums, such as the G7 or the G20.

We are wondering how long German industry will be able to maintain its official position of support for Angela Merkel, which is that the cohesion of the EU is more important than the profits of business. We noted an interview with a senior German industry lobbyist who acknowledged that German industry had invested around €120bn in the UK, most of which will be lost on Brexit. He didn’t mention the massive trade surpluses Germany runs with the UK every year. But they still expressed readiness to support Merkel because the future of the EU was a more important matter. While we think that such an attitude is laudable in principle, it is also lacking in credibility. It is fine to say this now, in the period before Brexit is triggered. But when the EU and the British government start to negotiate concrete Brexit terms, expect German industry to descend from its high pedestal, and do what they normally do.

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January 19, 2017

Why Trump was right on Europe

This is a controversial view by an author who is not prone to populist outbursts. Sebastian Mallaby argues that Trump is right in his description of Europe as a place in decline, facing a potential breakup. The facts supports this argument. He notes that, since the financial crisis, the US has grown by a cumulative 12%. The EU has grown by only 4%. Minus Germany, the EU has contracted. 

"The decisions that delivered this destruction were made overwhelmingly in Germany, just as Trump seems to suspect. Angela Merkel, the country’s sober, deliberate and altogether un-Trumpian chancellor, systematically slow-walked measures that could have accelerated Europe’s recovery. Budget stimulus, bank recapitalizations and, at least early on, monetary policy were sluggish because of German resistance. At some points in this process, Merkel was protecting German taxpayers, which is both reasonable and yet at the same time supportive of Trump’s view that national interests beat euro cohesion."

We have made a similar argument before, about the eurozone, which we also see at risk of collapse for exactly those reasons. What Trump said was not diplomatic. It is not the message European foreigners like to hear. But it is true.

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January 19, 2017

Can the internet predict better than polls?

Antoine Bevort uses internet statistics to find out whether it did a better job to predict the political outcome of elections. He analysed data ahead of the Republican primaries and finds that the interest in Francois Fillon was on a meteoric rise ahead of the elections, surpassing his colleagues not only in terms of number of tweets/posts but in the number of likes, retweets and comments. Could this be used in real time? Does this tool help us to understand what is going on in the left primaries? Can we expect another surprise?

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  • 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
  • May 31, 2017
  • Getting real in the debate on the euro's future
  • Russia's growing influence in Italy
  • 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 10, 2017
  • PSOE primary campaign in full swing
  • Czech government crisis escalates
  • Backroom dealing on electoral reform in Italy
  • 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 09, 2019
  • What can go wrong now?
  • April 13, 2018
  • German support for eurozone reform next to zero...
  • ... and no support for France on Syria either
  • A French sermon
  • Why the euro endures
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • 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 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
  • February 26, 2018
  • Angela Merkel's cabinet
  • 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 01, 2017
  • The threat of Frexit
  • Fear and loathing of a referendum in Spain
  • How to get around Theresa May’s little ECJ issue
  • Solve the problem
  • 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 11, 2019
  • Politics and the new sense of urgency
  • Ten little monkeys jumping up and down - down mostly
  • August 28, 2018
  • Urban politics and national crisis - the Irish case
  • How anti-semitism became one of the main issues in British politics
  • November 13, 2017
  • A pro-European list: Wauquiez' nightmare
  • Catalan separatism isn't going away
  • Why oh why does Germany behave the way it does?
  • Why the four freedoms matter
  • February 02, 2017
  • Will it come to the use of force in Catalonia?
  • The day Brexit became irreversible
  • Can Trump and May succeed?
  • 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 29, 2019
  • People's Vote descends into Civil War
  • CDU at odds on dealing with extreme parties
  • February 13, 2019
  • What to make of the man in the pub - and other tales
  • Macron loses more early advisers - or cuts them loose
  • June 01, 2018
  • Will France and Germany stick together in their response to US trade tariffs?
  • From a eurozone budget to a slush fund
  • 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 09, 2019
  • The EU's impossible dilemma
  • The horsetrading starts in Sibiu
  • May to bring withdrawal bill to Commons week after next
  • September 27, 2018
  • Two ways out of the Brexit impasse
  • February 16, 2018
  • How big will the euro budget be?
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • November 30, 2016
  • Is Russia behind a massive cyber attack in Germany?
  • Will Fillon move to the centre?
  • The Dutch left field is getting crowded
  • 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 18, 2019
  • The horrifying implications of Merkel’s 5G decision
  • April 17, 2019
  • Why it is far from clear that the grand coalition will survive the year
  • Macron's chance and challenge
  • Eurozone firms' surprising response to sagging profits
  • The result of Spain's elections, a riddle wrapped in mystery
  • The MMT debate is coming to Europe - and Germany
  • Greek parliament seeks German war reparations
  • October 15, 2018
  • Black Brexit smoke
  • Bettel can relax and stay in office
  • Solving the crime vs solving the problem
  • 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?
  • October 16, 2017
  • What‘s the deep meaning of the elections in Lower Saxony?
  • Can Brexit be revoked?
  • Macron's grand narrative
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • October 20, 2016
  • No games please, we are Europeans
  • 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 16, 2019
  • What next, after EU sanctions Turkey?
  • What to make of Johnson’s four-point Brexit plan
  • Galileo fails, and nobody notices
  • March 04, 2019
  • Macron's two-month sprint
  • May's numbers are not there yet
  • Greening QE
  • On the "hope" of a rate raise
  • 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 29, 2018
  • Where is the opposition in France?
  • Scenarios and risks for Syriza over Macedonia
  • September 21, 2017
  • Time to get serious about Brexit
  • Would the FDP claim the job of finance minister?
  • The return of the ultra-right to German politics
  • 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 23, 2019
  • Putin brokers deal to push Kurds away from border
  • AKK’s biggest gamble yet
  • September 09, 2019
  • Chances of no-deal are rising and rising
  • Resist the beginnings
  • July 29, 2019
  • No-deal Brexit is no longer just a scenario
  • No German warships to the Strait of Hormuz
  • June 18, 2019
  • Retaliation threats over drilling
  • May 07, 2019
  • … while Macron’s European troubles have already begun, and might get even worse
  • Don't discount a Brexit deal
  • Is Tsipras too complacent?
  • Costa - the fiscally responsible Socialist
  • March 28, 2019
  • Fidesz exposes EPP to barrage of provocations
  • How Berlin has turned the ghost of Aachen into a poltergeist
  • February 18, 2019
  • How the splits on the left and the right will affect Brexit
  • January 10, 2019
  • Another quiet day in the Commons
  • From Rome with love
  • December 04, 2018
  • Brexit Revoked - the scenarios
  • In search for a bold response to the gilets jaunes
  • October 29, 2018
  • Why the EEA is no longer a Brexit option
  • Behold the rising superpower: post-catholic Ireland’s European miracle
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • 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
  • July 05, 2018
  • Does the German compromise work? Legally? Politically?
  • What to make of Salvini's relations with Russia?
  • June 04, 2018
  • German discourse out of control
  • Wait for European disunity on US tariffs
  • May 03, 2018
  • Finland's take on universal income
  • The lessons from Weimar
  • April 03, 2018
  • Is the time for Brexit revocation running out?
  • March 05, 2018
  • One rock, two vetos, three governments
  • Rutte weighs in
  • February 05, 2018
  • How big is Germany's external surplus, really?
  • Macron's first election test
  • Coeure's endorsement of a fiscal union
  • January 08, 2018
  • Getting real on Brexit
  • Macron in China
  • December 11, 2017
  • A new era for the French right
  • Growing scepticism of a grand coalition
  • November 17, 2017
  • Germany's climate change hypocrisy
  • Canada minus the plus
  • October 25, 2017
  • How to think about a Brexit baseline scenario
  • Like the right, the left, too, is divided over Europe
  • October 02, 2017
  • Catalonia recalls EU and eurozone instability
  • French trade unions increase pressure over labour reforms
  • Watch out for a political accident in the UK
  • Municipal elections boost Portugal's Socialists
  • September 11, 2017
  • Turkey issues travel warning for visitors to Germany
  • How nasty is the AfD?
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • August 02, 2017
  • On the importance of a Brexit transition
  • To kill a referendum, starve it
  • How to spot a moron?
  • July 14, 2017
  • We are entering the technical phase of Brexit
  • Don’t be too complacent about the EU
  • June 26, 2017
  • Brexit - the central case and the tail-risk
  • The German fear of Macron
  • June 08, 2017
  • Day 0
  • Macron and his overly enthusiastic minions
  • May 23, 2017
  • When events intrude
  • On Italy's obsession with voting systems
  • May 08, 2017
  • A message of hope
  • Barnier's not so easily agreed Brexit principles
  • The rebirth of the paranoid conspiracy theory
  • April 23, 2017
  • The demise of the AfD has accelerated dramatically
  • On how France will need to confront Germany
  • April 10, 2017
  • Nein, nein, nein, und nein
  • Sounds like a bad Brexit story, but ain’t
  • On how not to exit the euro
  • March 27, 2017
  • Governing formation troubles - Northern Ireland edition
  • Did Trump present Merkel with a bill for Nato?
  • March 17, 2017
  • Le Pen fishes for Sarkozy voters
  • Catalonia is nothing like Scotland... Oh, wait!
  • Sinn’s Europe
  • March 08, 2017
  • The depressing truth behind the new multi-speed Europe
  • February 28, 2017
  • Is Hamon losing the right wing of his party?
  • Something we just don’t understand
  • Solve the problem
  • February 20, 2017
  • SPD ahead of CDU/CSU
  • Fillon bounces back
  • The Brexit timetable
  • February 13, 2017
  • What decides the French elections: cult or programme?
  • Sense and nonsense on globalisation
  • Towards the next European crisis
  • February 06, 2017
  • The Schulz effect, mark III
  • Germany's two asymmetric shocks
  • A Brexit conundrum - or not?
  • January 30, 2017
  • On the illusion of choice
  • January 26, 2017
  • PenelopeGate
  • Hamon on course to win nomination
  • Meet the (probable) next US ambassador to the EU
  • January 23, 2017
  • What if the populists clash with one another?
  • Why the euro is a real problem for the German left
  • When you call the US, what number do you dial?
  • January 20, 2017
  • What does cherry-picking mean?
  • Trump as Nixon
  • On the meaning of populism