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March 21, 2017

Is Merkel going to say something?

Angela Merkel’s indecision is now the major topic of conversation in German politics. She is wildly admired by liberals abroad as the supposed leader of the western world, an accolade usually expressed by people very far removed from the inside track of German politics. What is noticeable at the moment is the total absence of a campaign against Martin Schulz, who is dominating the airwaves and building momentum. Also absent is a firm response to the daily outrages from Turkey. 

On the former, Merkel and her strategists had hoped to entrap Schulz in the molasses of the grand coalition, and take away his single greatest appeal - his ability to lead a member of the coalition without being involved with its policies. Schulz has declined all invitations to coalition meetings, on the grounds that he had more important things to do like attending summer parties, a response that has left the CDU both speechless and without an alternative strategy. Merkel has now hired Joachim Koschnicke, Opel's chief lobbyist and her former political adviser, as a special strategic adviser for the upcoming election campaign, which shows that her internal party apparatus is current not up to scratch. We believe that this will change, but for the moment Schulz has the momentum. 

Merkel is also, cautiously, trying to address the problem of repeated Nazi comparisons from senior Turkish politicians, including of course Tayyip Recep Erdogan. She said yesterday that, if these insults continued, Germany would have to ban Turkish political meetings on its soil. But she was only speaking after a massive increase in domestic political pressure.

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March 21, 2017

On how to think about Brexit and defence

Sophia Besch offers a very sensible analysis on how to think about Brexit and European defence co-operation. Britain’s contribution to European defence has the characteristics of being simultaneous a threat and a promise. Besch makes the point that the smart strategy is to treat it as a promise, and to avoid threats. We could not agree more.

“Crude blackmail would not work, and thankfully seems unlikely in any case. It is true that some Brexiters are asking why British troops should risk their lives for EU member-states that want to impose a ‘punitive’ Brexit deal on the UK. But May knows that any open threat – for example to withdraw troops from NATO deployments in Central and Eastern Europe if Poland or the Baltic states dig in their heels over freedom of movement for their citizens – would not just be unhelpful, but would also lack credibility.”

She notes that May has invested political capital in bilateral relations with European allies, citing the example of a Polish-British summit last December, during which May promised the stationing of British troops. We also noted a report in the FT that the UK defence ministry was working on a joint statement with their German counterparts on their future defence co-operation post-Brexit. 

Besch is more critical of UK attempts to act as a bridge between the US and the EU. If the EU agrees to more defence spending, then this will not be because they want to impress Trump - on the contrary, they will want to hedge against the US reducing its exposure to Europe, an area to which the UK can contribute.

Her conclusion is that common defence is in the interest of both sides.

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  • 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
  • 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 19, 2019
  • What the US-Iran standoff tells us about the EU
  • Is Germany withholding information on right-wing extremism?
  • May 10, 2019
  • Target2 debate raises legitimate questions with unsatisfactory answers
  • No more German questions please
  • April 01, 2019
  • Meaningful IV
  • Caputová elected: a turning point for central Europe?
  • February 21, 2019
  • Sound and fury, but Brexit reality unchanged
  • Supertanker Deutschland moves to join internet age
  • January 14, 2019
  • Our Brexit predictions
  • 1789 - Macron's version
  • Tsipras calls confidence vote after Kammenos pulls out
  • December 10, 2018
  • ECJ says UK free to revoke Article 50, even inside extension period
  • A turning point in Macron's presidency
  • China has added Portugal to the list of its key EU partners
  • Belgium's coalition implodes over Marrakesh pact
  • November 05, 2018
  • Macron trails behind Le Pen in European elections poll
  • How the CDU will organise leadership campaign
  • October 02, 2018
  • Whatever it takes - diesel version
  • Is Macron's European discourse too simplistic?
  • August 31, 2018
  • How Macron uses the new European divisions at home
  • Macron's eurozone budget is probably a no-go
  • EU edging closer to a Brexit deal
  • July 30, 2018
  • Brexit midsummer madness
  • June 27, 2018
  • The ramifications of the Macedonia name deal
  • Could no-deal Brexit preparations become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
  • Why it is so difficult to agree a post-Brexit defence and security co-operation
  • May 29, 2018
  • Abandon all hope ye who enter the eurozone debate
  • Italian political fallout for Macron
  • On the future of EU/Nato relations post-Brexit
  • May 01, 2018
  • What Germany wants to reform, and what not
  • How effective is Macron?
  • April 03, 2018
  • Is the time for Brexit revocation running out?
  • March 06, 2018
  • Will Italy exit the eurozone? Of course not. But it's the wrong question.
  • Slovakia's political crisis
  • Are we heading for a trade war?
  • February 09, 2018
  • Is the Labour Party shifting towards a customs union?
  • January 15, 2018
  • Is the section on Europe for real?
  • Can Drahos upset Zeman?
  • December 21, 2017
  • Catalonia votes
  • A deputy prime minister resigns
  • Will Gibraltar result in another Irish fudge?
  • Blood, sweat and tears
  • November 28, 2017
  • On the Northern Ireland question
  • Kammenos off the hook, for now
  • 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 16, 2017
  • What‘s the deep meaning of the elections in Lower Saxony?
  • Can Brexit be revoked?
  • Macron's grand narrative
  • September 26, 2017
  • Brexit is a binary choice between EEA or third-country status
  • September 08, 2017
  • SPD keeps sliding
  • Macron in Athens: symbolism over substance
  • The main Brexit battle lines run through the Tory party
  • 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 17, 2017
  • What Tony Blair's Brexit confusion tells us
  • Schulz advocates compulsory investments
  • Italy’s government has effectively lost its majority
  • July 03, 2017
  • Can Greece exit its programme without a credit line?
  • The softening Brexit
  • Macron's state of the nation address
  • June 19, 2017
  • SPD to focus on inequality
  • On radical uncertainty
  • June 06, 2017
  • Towards an Italian crisis
  • Fake news trouble for Macron
  • A new prime minister for Ireland
  • Some thoughts on UK polling
  • May 26, 2017
  • “The Germans are very, very bad”
  • Is the AfD imploding?
  • May 15, 2017
  • SPD and CDU disagree on how to respond to Macron
  • Was Rajoy blackmailed?
  • The rise of the re-leavers
  • May 05, 2017
  • Front National - thinking beyond Sunday
  • Tusk attacks Juncker over Brexit diplomacy
  • Extraordinarily ordinary
  • April 26, 2017
  • The realities of Brexit - residency rights edition
  • How Franco-German economic imbalances manifest
  • Pasok - the now classic Socialist dilemma
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • April 10, 2017
  • Nein, nein, nein, und nein
  • Sounds like a bad Brexit story, but ain’t
  • On how not to exit the euro
  • April 03, 2017
  • On the meaning of the Navalny protests
  • On the surreal nature of Italy’s political debate
  • March 30, 2017
  • How strong is support for Macron, really?
  • Last meeting of a grand coalition
  • The unspectacular departure of an MP
  • March 27, 2017
  • Governing formation troubles - Northern Ireland edition
  • Did Trump present Merkel with a bill for Nato?
  • March 23, 2017
  • Slow-motion train crash in Catalonia
  • Plan B for the Republicans?
  • March 22, 2017
  • The Brexit Timetable
  • On what can go wrong in the Article 50 process