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November 20, 2017

Showdown over Northern Ireland

Ireland’s tougher stance on Brexit is a politically bold and risky move. The Irish want the UK to come up with a clear proposal at the December summit on how they plan to avoid a border, otherwise they risk an Irish veto on moving into the second phase of the Brexit talks.

The Irish need reassurance that there will be no regulatory divergence on either side of the border, as concluded by the task force paper that caused so much uproar when it was leaked to the newspapers. The provocative tone clearly lit a fuse in the UK. The British feel that this undermines the Brexit vote, and the Sun tabloid newspaper even suspects Sinn Fein of being behind it all, while Council officials and Brexit negotiators shake their heads at the leak.  But Ireland is aware that, once they move to phase two, they no longer have leverage. And, despite London’s lukewarm promise of a "frictionless, invisible border", there is no trust that they will deliver on this once the details become clear. The UK insists that they can only meaningfully deal with the border issue in phase two when they talk about trade and customs. If the Irish - or the EU, as Dublin emphasised - were to veto the second phase of talks, expect divisions to emerge inside the EU.

Tony Connelly from RTE has an excellent recount of what led up this high noon in Brexit diplomacy. So far the British only offered some technical fixes on trade and customs to avoid a hard border in its 27 pages paper published mid August. But the Irish question is not just about economics. There is the Good Friday Agreement, too. The resulting North-South cooperation relied on a joint EU membership by Ireland and the UK, and is thus adversely affected by Brexit. Mapping the areas concerned, the Commission came up with 142! These include environment, health, agriculture, transport, education including higher education, tourism, energy, telecommunications, broadcasting, inland fisheries, justice and security, and sport. This was reflected in the task force working paper. Its conclusion according to Connelly is that:

“taken altogether, in order for the EU and UK to protect the Good Friday Agreement, and meaningful North-South Cooperation, and the all-island economy, there cannot be any "regulatory divergence" from the rules governing the single market and the customs union. Therefore, to avoid a hard border, both sides of the island would have to maintain the same rules as codified in the EU customs union, and the single market.”

Ireland has a clear interest in raising the stakes before the December summit. But there are risks not only for Ireland and the EU, but for the UK too. The Irish position is that it is possible to have a separate customs space within a state, and that all-island regulatory arrangements are possible too. These solutions are, however, rejected by the Northern Ireland unionist DUP, which supports Theresa May’s government. If May goes along the lines suggested by Ireland, the DUP may drop its support for the government, and then we are looking at new UK elections which, given the current state of the UK government after all those scandals, the Tories might well lose to Jeremy Corbyn. Would the DUP soften its stance? After all, a majority of 56% in Northern Ireland voted to remain. Unlikely. Back to square one.

The positions are now quite assertively out in the open. Theresa May has just two weeks to come up with a plan for the Irish border. Prepare for a showdown.

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November 20, 2017

Castaner and his list confirmed

Christophe Castaner was elected at the helm of the LREM party. He was the only candidate, handpicked by Macron, ultra-loyal, and delivering a smooth and unpretentious speech. His list for the executive arm also obtained an ample majority in an open vote at the party congress, with three-quarters of the votes. But the internal debate is not over. 

Earlier this week 100 anonymous members of LREM said they were leaving, in an open letter accusing the party of "contempt and arrogance". None of the signatories were lawmakers, but the letter underscored bitterness within a movement composed of more than 300,000 grass-roots members. Castaner's uncontested election may further accusations that the party is turning away from internal democratic principles. Some say that the gap between the different lists for the executive arm would have been smaller if the vote had been secret. Castaner promised to work with all the lists, as it will be his job to put the party on a trajectory towards winning the next elections.

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November 20, 2017

Gennimata to lead the new left alliance

We also note that Fofi Gennimata, the Pasok leader, was elected to lead the new alliance between Pasok, and Potami, the Democratic Socialist Movement and the Democratic Left. She won the second round of the leadership contest with 56% of the votes. The parties will keep their independence at least until the next elections, but will form the new umbrella in time to challenge Syriza then.

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November 20, 2017

Brexit‘s ultimate irony

In his FT column, Wolfgang Munchau argues that the real discussion needed in the UK is not whether Brexit will happen or should happen, but how to succeed after Brexit - a discussion that neither the Brexiteers nor the Remainers currently seem to have much interest in. In the post-Brexit environment, the UK will be faced with two opposing visions: Jeremy Corbyn‘s socialism; or the post-industrial vision which Theresa May briefly appeared to champion after she became prime minister, but which she has since cast aside as British politics is now fully absorbed by the messy Brexit process itself.

In this environment, Munchau argues, Britain will no longer be able to pursue the rentier economy model the country has pursued during its membership of the EU, acting as the financial centre of a monetary union it has no intention to join, and attracting hot foreign money into a property market with prices held high by artificial supply constraints. In the new world, the UK will have no alternative but to secure rising living standards with policies to increase productivity, which in turn requires an emphasis on innovation. In this world, Britain‘s antiquated school system and universities will need to change, too. The ultimate irony is that for the UK to succeed in this environment, it will need to became much more "European".

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  • 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 20, 2017
  • How to soften Brexit?
  • The deep roots of Brexit: Thatcher and the Germans
  • 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
  • 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
  • July 06, 2020
  • Did Covid-19 escape from a Wuhan lab?
  • What to make of Angela Merkel's U-turn
  • 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 06, 2020
  • The feedback loop of Covid-19 and inequalities - part 10 of our series
  • How confinement affects mental health
  • 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 06, 2020
  • A decade that started with a bang
  • What to expect of Spain's next government
  • Divide et impera: Macron's pension reform strategy
  • 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 23, 2019
  • Corbyn’s last big battle
  • Germany’s CO2 compromise meets all targets - except the climate targets
  • November 13, 2018
  • Peak Salvini?
  • Protest uberisation
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • February 28, 2017
  • Is Hamon losing the right wing of his party?
  • Something we just don’t understand
  • 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
  • March 23, 2020
  • Orbán seeks to extend his powers
  • UK as the double counterfactual
  • June 10, 2019
  • How to create Brexit facts
  • The new Alde is already in trouble
  • 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 01, 2017
  • Do Republicans have a plan B if Fillon falls?
  • Unforgiven
  • 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 14, 2020
  • Why the far-right might win in the end
  • October 27, 2019
  • German political centre is melting
  • Train drivers in all-out confrontation with Macron
  • Erdogan makes threats again
  • February 11, 2019
  • SPD dumps Hartz IV
  • Macron's revival
  • May 31, 2018
  • Hans Werner Sinn demands German euro exit
  • The politics of the SPD’s links to Russia
  • 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
  • July 20, 2020
  • What will happen on January 1
  • December 09, 2019
  • The next three days
  • May 01, 2019
  • Labour votes against obligatory second referendum
  • On the link between output gap measures and the rise of political extremism
  • Berlin's inconclusive Kosovo conference
  • September 21, 2018
  • SPD ministers want to continue grand coalition
  • February 12, 2018
  • What the euro debate is really about
  • How Brexit can still falter
  • July 05, 2017
  • Europe’s next migration crisis
  • Philippe: French need to kick spending addiction
  • November 28, 2016
  • And now what Monsieur Fillion?
  • The inescapable logic of an interim agreement
  • On Germany's foreign policy post-Trump
  • How to lose against the populists
  • 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 08, 2020
  • Is Greece ready for virus spread in migrant camps?
  • On the future of the EU - the final part 12 of our series
  • October 07, 2019
  • What did Conte know?
  • April 08, 2019
  • Welcome to the new Brexit grand coalition
  • Waiting for Macron's next move
  • October 08, 2018
  • A renewed willingness on both sides to cut a Brexit deal
  • Latvian politics in turmoil after huge populist gains
  • April 09, 2018
  • Orbán gets his supermajority
  • Riding the wave of resistance
  • The EU’s self-defeating strategy
  • October 09, 2017
  • UK is starting to prepare for a no-deal Brexit
  • Why Germany will resist meaningful eurozone reform
  • April 13, 2017
  • Did Russia influence the Brexit vote?
  • All good between Germany and the US now?
  • October 18, 2016
  • The self-destruction of Francois Hollande
  • Brexit psychotherapy
  • At least three candidates for the PvdA leadership
  • The unbelievable hypocrisy of Mario Monti
  • 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 22, 2020
  • Why we don’t think this deal is historic
  • March 10, 2020
  • Virus math
  • October 29, 2019
  • People's Vote descends into Civil War
  • CDU at odds on dealing with extreme parties
  • June 19, 2019
  • What the US-Iran standoff tells us about the EU
  • Is Germany withholding information on right-wing extremism?
  • February 08, 2019
  • Macron turns stand-off with Italy into a game changer
  • Is there a strategic intent behind Macron's decision?
  • 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
  • May 25, 2018
  • Rejected by US, Germany is turning towards China...
  • ...and France is turning to Russia
  • UK ties Galileo to security partnership
  • Germans are discovering miniBoTs
  • January 17, 2018
  • Labour smashes No Brexit dreams
  • A new political bargain in Portugal?
  • September 13, 2017
  • Why the Turkey negotiations will continue
  • May 10, 2017
  • PSOE primary campaign in full swing
  • Czech government crisis escalates
  • Backroom dealing on electoral reform in Italy
  • 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 25, 2016
  • The costs of Brexit
  • Redefining corruption
  • Greek government shocked, shocked...
  • The costs of Brexit
  • Redefining corruption
  • Greek government shocked, shocked...
  • 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 29, 2020
  • Édouard Philippe - mayor or prime minister?
  • Sir Humphrey, R.I.P.
  • May 18, 2020
  • Why this won't be a symmetric shock
  • Towards a new cold war
  • April 06, 2020
  • The feedback loop of Covid-19 and inequalities - part 10 of our series
  • How confinement affects mental health
  • February 25, 2020
  • Why no-deal is a real possibility
  • January 17, 2020
  • The world has discovered how to blackmail Germany
  • Fideszit?
  • December 11, 2019
  • Philippe to present pension reform bid
  • The N-VA is back in the game for a Belgian government
  • November 05, 2019
  • Grassroot movements and a new era of instability
  • September 30, 2019
  • A pyrrhic victory for Kurz
  • Will there really be UK elections?
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • July 08, 2019
  • Instex, forever around the corner?
  • Why Rory Stewart is not really what Remainers should be looking for
  • June 03, 2019
  • Reinventing the French right without Wauquiez
  • Tory leadership election is between feasible and unfeasible Brexit options
  • May 02, 2019
  • Ahead of a meeting with Salvini, Orbán brands the EPP as suicidal
  • What role for trade unions amid gilets jaunes?
  • The church vs the EU
  • April 01, 2019
  • Meaningful IV
  • Caputová elected: a turning point for central Europe?
  • March 01, 2019
  • Stars seem to align in favour of the Brexit deal
  • The hidden traps of the UK rebate
  • Orbán coming dangerously close to EPP expulsion
  • 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
  • January 04, 2019
  • Will the AfD become the Dexit party?
  • Romania's corruption problem in the spotlight of its EU presidency
  • November 26, 2018
  • Two German plus two Dutch makes four spitzenkandidaten
  • Yellow vest protests - radicalisation and new political alliances
  • October 29, 2018
  • Why the EEA is no longer a Brexit option
  • Behold the rising superpower: post-catholic Ireland’s European miracle
  • October 05, 2018
  • What to make of the Anglo-Irish approximation on the backstop?
  • Macron's launches charm offensive but gives offence nevertheless
  • Moscovici all but breaks with his socialist party
  • September 12, 2018
  • It is easy to criticise Chequers but very hard to come up with an alternative
  • August 21, 2018
  • Tu felix Austria nube
  • July 30, 2018
  • Brexit midsummer madness
  • July 09, 2018
  • German panic about Target2
  • AfD level with SPD
  • How the EU could fail
  • June 18, 2018
  • Some thoughts on the future of Europe
  • The end of Spanish income moderation?
  • 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 08, 2018
  • Macron and the technocratic republic
  • Philippe's silent offer to the SNCF unions
  • On the ordoliberal utopia of a debt-free state
  • April 19, 2018
  • Greece fears escalation after Erdogan calls snap polls
  • Towards repeat elections in the Czech Republic?
  • Lords defeat UK government on customs union - but it’s not what it seems
  • April 03, 2018
  • Is the time for Brexit revocation running out?
  • March 19, 2018
  • Waiting for Germany
  • Russia’s friends
  • Can the Commons force an extension of the Art 50 period?
  • March 05, 2018
  • One rock, two vetos, three governments
  • Rutte weighs in
  • February 19, 2018
  • SPD divided over grand coalition
  • Wauquiez - the French Trump?
  • Why Brexit will be extremely hard to reverse
  • February 05, 2018
  • How big is Germany's external surplus, really?
  • Macron's first election test
  • Coeure's endorsement of a fiscal 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 15, 2018
  • Is the section on Europe for real?
  • Can Drahos upset Zeman?
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • December 18, 2017
  • SPD regional party preemptively rejects grand coalition
  • Future of eurozone to be decided by March - we can hardly wait
  • December 11, 2017
  • A new era for the French right
  • Growing scepticism of a grand coalition
  • December 05, 2017
  • On the Labour Party's shift to the left
  • Catalan separatists forecast to lose elections
  • December 01, 2017
  • Unemployment insurance for all - nice idea, but does it work?
  • Hard border paradox
  • Could Jeremy Corbyn be the politician to defeat the banks?
  • November 27, 2017
  • Will Northern Ireland scupper a Brexit deal?
  • Last-ditch effort to prevent Irish elections
  • Pressure on Wauquiez
  • November 23, 2017
  • ..the Greek government too
  • The eurozone's impossible fiscal trinity
  • Did Hammond do enough?
  • Berlusconi in Strasbourg
  • November 21, 2017
  • A short note on the impact of German political chaos on Brexit
  • A scandal, overshadowed
  • November 20, 2017
  • Showdown over Northern Ireland
  • Castaner and his list confirmed
  • Gennimata to lead the new left alliance
  • Brexit‘s ultimate irony