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January 20, 2017

What does cherry-picking mean?

When we read the story by Alex Barker about how the EU is approaching the Brexit negotiations, we noted a couple of interesting points. One is the idea of a narrow trade deal, one that is not a mixed agreement and that could be implemented much quicker as it would not require ratification by national or regional parliaments. This would be a zero-tariff agreement, and a short transition phase during which Britain remains in the customs union. Even a narrow trade agreement is complex because it has to deal with issues such rules of origin and the scope of third-country trade agreements. But we think, too, that it is probably wise to aim for two separate agreements: a narrow one, and an extended mixed agreement that would take much longer to negotiate and ratify. 

What we do not understand is why some people argue that the UK should be subject to the jurisdiction of the ECJ during a customs union transition period, beyond the narrow legal aspects relating to the customs union itself. Turkey is a member of the customs union, and neither the EU nor Turkey accept freedom of movement. It is possible that some people fail to see the difference between the single market, the customs union, and generalised market access. Under WTO rules every country in the world has access to the EU’s market. This is also why we think the expression "single market access" is confusing. There is single market membership, and there is market access. If the European Council were to demand respect of the four freedoms during the transitional phase of customs union membership only, we would struggle to see how there can be an agreement with the UK on that basis. 

We are left with the nagging question whether some people may get caught up in their metaphor of cherry-picking, when they reject pretty much any post-membership relationship with the EU. 

Finally we noted a point raised by Andrew Duff. If the UK parliaments rejects the Article 50 agreement, this does not mean that the UK will remain a member of the EU. It simply means that the UK will leave without agreement. Or as Duff puts it, the EU will leave the UK. This is also why it makes no sense to call a referendum on the negotiation outcome. The binary opposites are not to accept the deal, or to stay in the EU; but to accept the deal, or not to accept the deal.

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January 20, 2017

Trump as Nixon

Manuel Conthe offers two parallels for Trump in his Expansión blog: Machiavelli's Prince and Richard Nixon. Machiavelli famously argued that being feared is better than being loved. But, even if not loved, a feared leader should not be hated. The Nixon comparison is the more pertinent one. Conthe recalls Nixon's decision to pull the US out of Bretton Woods, ending the dollar's gold convertibility unilaterally and without warning, at the same time imposing import tariffs and devaluing the dollar with the argument that those who bought American goods, would not see a decline in real incomes. The parallel with Trump's trade policy proposals is obvious.

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January 20, 2017

On the meaning of populism

Erik Jones offers a thoughtful discussion about the threat posed by the populists. This is not about where they stand on various aspects of European integration. It is about what they do to our political culture that is so dangerous. The damage will outlive them.

“...the real challenge comes not from populists as individuals or populism as a specific political program. It comes from the way populist politicians manipulate identity to achieve their objectives. European populists seek to divide in order to govern. Their challenge to European integration is fundamental in that respect. The issue is not what they have to say about the euro or about immigration, it is who they isolate as the target for their political messages. By separating the electorate into ‘us’ and ‘them’, populists pose an existential threat to the European project – because the more they succeed in rallying people to their message, the less space remains for Europeans to identify with ‘Europe’.”

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  • 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
  • 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 27, 2017
  • The Brexit Bill in full
  • Fillon says he would withdraw if charged
  • January 25, 2017
  • Good news for the British government
  • 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