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June 08, 2017

Day 0

There are two big events on our radar screen today - the UK election and the ECB’s governing council meeting in Tallinn. On the latter, we expect no surprises. We believe that Mario Draghi’s message on the need for continued monetary support is logical and consistent, given the persistent weakness in core inflation.

As regards the former, it is worth noting that the last pre-election polls seem to have registerd a reversal in the month-long trend of a rising Labour and falling Conservative shares. The latest YouGov/Times poll has the Tories seven points ahead again - 42 versus 35. This would translate into a majority of close to 100 for Teresa May, which would be close to a landslide victory. The headline in the Independent also goes in the same direction. Its latest poll gives the Tories a 10-point lead and a 74-seat majority. One thing we are noticing is that the astonishing variability in the polls is also narrowing. It appears that commentators have put a Tory majority of 50 seats as the expectational benchmark. Anything less, and Theresa May will be in trouble. The polls suggest that she might clear that hurdle. And even pro-Labour commentators, like Owen Jones in the Guardian, now concede that the odds are stacked against them. 

The one caveat we would like to add is turnout. While less than 150,000 young people registered to vote before the deadline in 2015, that number has risen to 250,000. Expect most of them to vote Labour. And, if Labour mobilises its voters more than the Conservatives, the gap between the parties might narrow considerably. We would consider a reduced Tory majority or a hung parliament as still within the margin of error of the polls. The margin of error is not 10%, as Nate Silver keeps on claiming, but it is higher than the usual 2-3%.

As we wrote yesterday, the elections matter for the Brexit negotiations. A Labour victory could throw open the entire process, as Daniel Finkelstein of the Times notes. The problem is that Labour’s position on Brexit is internally inconsistent. Jeremy Corbyn says he accepts Brexit, but then says he would not accept a no-deal hard Brexit. But what if the EU does not give him a better deal? Will he then eat his promise not to reverse Brexit, or will he eat his promise not to crash out without a deal? 

If the polls are right and Theresa May wins with an enlarged majority, Brexit will go ahead as planned, with or without a deal. The larger the majority, the greater will be May’s ability to compromise with the EU on a deal. She will be able to offer money - not the €100bn, but perhaps half of that. If the EU rejects that offer, it would be interesting to see how they plan to fill this gap. For a compromise to happen, it is essential that the talks are conducted quietly and professionally.

Andrew Duff quotes a former ECJ judge, Franklin Dehousse, as saying that the purpose of Article 50 is to show that the EU is not a prison, and warns that the attempt to impose the jurisdiction of the ECJ on the UK post-Brexit is doomed to failure. Dehousse compares the EU’s attitude towards Brexit with that of the British in China in the 19th century. 

Duff concludes that the hopes of Ex-Remainers that the Brexit process can somehow be reversed are doomed to be disappointed. He notes that the attempts in Ireland to get the ECJ to rule on the reversibility of the Article 50 process have been abandoned. This was considered to be one of the most promising routes to a Brexit reversal process - and is now closing. 

This concurs with our view that the trigger of Article 50 is de facto and de jure irreversible. If it were intended to be reversible, then clearly this would have been stated in the Treaties. What is stated in Art 50 instead is that countries can leave the EU in accordance with their own constitutional provisions, and that if no agreement is reached, the country would leave automatically. 

And finally, here is a comment by Bill Emmott, who is spot-on in his observation that the lack of a Brexit debate in the elections is the true metric of the country's alienation from the EU.

"The bigger reason is that such a result, or even the prospect of it, confirms a simpler fact: that “Europe” does not score highly among the issues that matter for British voters, whether they are for or against membership of the EU. That prevailing indifference, rather than the referendum defeat, represents the true failure of the pro-EU cause in Britain over the past 44 years. It is a tragedy for Britain and its strategic interests that this is the case, but it is so."

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June 08, 2017

Macron and his overly enthusiastic minions

Politicians and the press are starting to get nervous about the predictions of a landslide win by the LREM/MoDem in the legislative elections. Even the government itself is expressing worries.

After Emmanuel Macron won with audacity and started off balancing the left and right, his carefully crafted approach to politics risks getting off kilter. He would face questions such as how to appoint key positions in the assembly if the number of experienced politicians to leave parliament increases? How to find a balancing mix between renewal and experience if the candidates of the civil society kick out all traditional politicians? And how to discipline the winners so that the majority does not descend into chaos? No one thought Macron would have to contemplate these kinds of questions, writes Cecile Cornudet.

Is this anti-system movement going too far? Or is it a Macron hype, inspiring people to become mini-Macrons? Nouvel Observateur has an article in that sense, it reads like a step-by-step guide on what it takes to turn from a novice to a politician under Macron. Is this the silent revolution or a tide that will turn back after reaching its high point?

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  • 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
  • November 14, 2019
  • Are France and Germany finally converging on security policy? We think they might.
  • July 04, 2019
  • What will the European Parliament do?
  • February 21, 2019
  • Sound and fury, but Brexit reality unchanged
  • Supertanker Deutschland moves to join internet age
  • October 12, 2018
  • A deal so close, and yet so far
  • AfD leaves Germans speachless and helpless
  • June 04, 2018
  • German discourse out of control
  • Wait for European disunity on US tariffs
  • January 24, 2018
  • AfD europhobe to chair of Bundestag's budget committee
  • Watch out for the Labour Party debate on the single market
  • On the productivity puzzle
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • May 12, 2017
  • What to do with Germany’s tax windfall
  • How Macron counts on building a majority
  • Options for the eurozone
  • 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
  • November 18, 2019
  • Is Macron facing another uprise against elites?
  • Forget the inflation target: Lagarde’s job is much bigger.
  • October 07, 2019
  • What did Conte know?
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • July 19, 2019
  • Instex shows the EU is caught between the US and Russia
  • Johnson’s two Brexit options
  • June 12, 2019
  • What Spain wants from the EU
  • What to focus on in the Brexit procedure, and what not
  • 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
  • April 01, 2019
  • Meaningful IV
  • Caputová elected: a turning point for central Europe?
  • February 25, 2019
  • Deal versus short delay
  • The astonishing weakness of Five Star
  • The real threat is from the left not the right
  • January 23, 2019
  • The importance of the Aachen Treaty
  • The demise of small Greek parties over Macedonia
  • A speed limit on autobahns - what is the world coming coming to?
  • December 21, 2018
  • Not just Brexit makes 2019 a year of EU uncertainty
  • Sentiment is fickle, especially about sentiment
  • Father Christmas - French edition
  • King suspends Michel's resignation
  • EP has objections to the withdrawal treaty
  • Let's break the law
  • November 19, 2018
  • May’s pushback is kicking in
  • October 17, 2018
  • Not a solution to the Brexit impasse, but a first step
  • September 17, 2018
  • About the new partnership between Russia and China
  • EU ponders Irish backstop protocol to help May
  • 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 16, 2018
  • How to think about the three Brexit options
  • How to respond to Trump
  • June 18, 2018
  • Some thoughts on the future of Europe
  • The end of Spanish income moderation?
  • May 21, 2018
  • Another snap election in the UK? Tories are preparing
  • Merkel and Putin - the beginning of a beautiful friendship?
  • April 27, 2018
  • The return of Spain's government by parliament?
  • Towards elections in Ireland?
  • From Washington to the banlieue
  • The case for a time-limited customs union
  • April 03, 2018
  • Is the time for Brexit revocation running out?
  • March 09, 2018
  • The Franco-German axis and its opponents
  • Auf Wiedersehen, Sigmar Gabriel!
  • February 15, 2018
  • How will the EU finance itself after Brexit?
  • On the customs union
  • January 25, 2018
  • About political leadership in the 20th century
  • Progress in name dispute talks and new opposition at home
  • About 40% probabilities
  • 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 17, 2017
  • Germany's climate change hypocrisy
  • Canada minus the plus
  • November 01, 2017
  • Brussels receives Catalan president as a circus
  • Canada Dry
  • Me too
  • October 17, 2017
  • Catalan separatism has its martyrs
  • European Parliament agrees to restrict posted workers
  • Foreign policy will be key in Austrian coalition talks
  • 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 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • September 04, 2017
  • Dutch referendum: never again?
  • Why trade unions stay quiet on French labour reform
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • August 04, 2017
  • What the diesel saga tells us about the EU
  • July 26, 2017
  • Has Schulz blown it?
  • Housing benefits cuts expose Macron's weakness
  • July 17, 2017
  • What Tony Blair's Brexit confusion tells us
  • Schulz advocates compulsory investments
  • Italy’s government has effectively lost its majority
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • July 03, 2017
  • Can Greece exit its programme without a credit line?
  • The softening Brexit
  • Macron's state of the nation address
  • June 26, 2017
  • Brexit - the central case and the tail-risk
  • The German fear of Macron
  • June 19, 2017
  • SPD to focus on inequality
  • On radical uncertainty
  • June 15, 2017
  • The politics of Brexit
  • Assembly this week, senate in September?
  • Romanian government crisis refuses to go away
  • June 12, 2017
  • Not strong perhaps, but stable
  • Catalan independence, a mental state
  • June 09, 2017
  • How about the Italian elections...
  • ...and the French?