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November 29, 2017

Something has to give

4Tony Connelly warns about the dissonant British and Irish discourses over Brexit, and the ill consequences this may have for the Good Friday Agreement. The British tend to see the problem of Brexit in terms of trade and economics; the Irish see the Good Friday Agreement as a benign entity that bestows peace, prosperity and social healing. And it regards the EU as the central structure behind this process .

The EU task force's paper suggesting that Northern Ireland should remain in the single market and the customs Union, or closely associated with them, is logical to the Irish while it seems reckless to the British. Theresa May's minority government relies on the Northern Irish unionist DUP, which rejects the idea of Northern Ireland remaining in any EU structure. On the other hand, the Irish government believes that Michel Barnier and the rest of the EU stand behind its stance. Prepare for a clash of historic proportions, writes Connelly.

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November 29, 2017

Fitzgerald's resignation buys Irish government time

Frances Fitzgerald resigned in the end. This means no snap elections, as the Irish prepare for the crucial EU summit on Brexit. The minority government has survived this crisis, but the agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil has been stretched to the breaking point. The Fitzgerald case dealt a blow to the trust between the two traditional rivals. Both party leaders were at pains yesterday to explain to the parliament that their agreement will continue. There is a general sense of relief that there will not be elections before Christmas. But, in the longer term, the government is unlikely to last after this episode. Both parties have already started to prepare for elections, and they will continue to do so. Each has reason to not trust the other. Pat Leahy sums it up nicely in the Irish Times:

"The fact that Fianna Fáil claimed the head of the tánaiste (Vice-PM) will be remembered by Fine Gael. The Taoiseach (Leo Varadkar) had to climb down and Fianna Fáil got its way. That will scratch Fine Gael like sandpaper. The rivalry between the two big parties – separated by history and culture more than policy – has always dominated Irish politics. It continues today, even in a changed political landscape. The relationship is different. But the rivalry remains."

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November 29, 2017

On the rise of the centre-right in Italian politics

Corriere della Sera lists the latest Ipsos polls, which show the combined vote of the centre-right coalition rising from about 30% in May to 36.5% in November, just shy of the 40% threshold that would effectively give them an absolute majority under the recently-agreed electoral law. Another pollster, Alessandra Ghisleri, even has the centre-right at 38.1%. The centre-right will almost certainly be the largest bloc emerging from the next election. The main question is whether the majority will be large enough to form a stable government. By next March or May, we may end up with a stable government in Italy, and forever lasting coalition talks and minority governments in Germany (not our baseline - but possible). 

The Ipsos poll has Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia at 16.1%; and Matteo Salvini's Lega at 15.3%; while the third party on the right, the Fratelli d'Italia, is at 5.1%. Berlusconi's palace near Milan is once again turning into the headquarters of Italian politics, Corriere della Sera remarks.

The paper's political commentator Massimo Franco notes that, despite the big differences between the parties - and especially between Berlusconi and Salvini - the electoral alliance will hold, at least until election day. On substance, the parties have little in common except for their admiration of Vladimir Putin. The electoral systems favours stable coalitions, and penalises division. The MdP, the break-away left-wing party, shows no signs of readiness to enter into a coalition with the PD. Its main goal is to destroy Matteo Renzi.

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November 29, 2017

What does the EU want from its eastern partnership?

The EU's eastern partnership summit came and went last Friday without much fanfare, and not much by way of conclusions either, so there is no shortage of commentary wondering what the point of it all is.

Already before the summit, a background piece by Jana Kobzová argued that the EU has lumped together two groups of countries - Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, on the one hand; and Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Belarus, on the other - that have little in common other than being former Soviet republics this side of the Urals. The former three would like a deeper association with the EU, while the latter are content with close economic ties. And, according to Kobzová the EU has adopted a lowest-common-denominator approach to the Eastern partnership that suits the more detached countries but hamstrings the more ambitious ones.

After the summit, Anders Åslund uses harsher language and gives a starker description of the divide within the Eastern partnership. To him Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are fledging democracies, while the other three are authoritarian states, and the EU does the former no favours lumping them together with the latter. Both commentators note that the more ambitious countries aspire to EU membership, and lament that it is not really on offer. 

This is all most visible in the case of Ukraine whose EU association agreement was on the brink of failure due to Dutch opposition in a referendum. Although the April 2016 Dutch referendum result was more intended to give the EU a black eye than motivated by any deep feelings about Ukraine either way, opposition to Ukraine's eventual EU accession did become a talking point of the 'no' campaign. This is similar to the bizarre role that Turkey's EU accession played in the Brexit referendum in the UK. The issue with Ukraine is that pursuing its association agreement has cost the country dearly - it led to the Maidan protests, the Russian annexation of Crimea and the breakaway provinces in the Eastern region of the Donbass bordering Russia. As an Atlanticist, Åslund is incensed by the EU's bland language in support of the "territorial integrity of its partners" with no mention of Russia. But Russia is involved not only in Ukraine but also in the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and in Moldova's breakaway region of Transnistria on its border with Ukraine. And let's not forget the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

What is the EU planning to do about all this? Even without offers of EU accession, the EU's external action has a responsibility to broker some sort of resolution for all these frozen conflicts, if it is to be taken seriously.

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  • Macron's last-resort tool for the gilets jaunes
  • August 31, 2017
  • Where are the Républicains?
  • Poland unmoved by EU rule-of-law sanctions
  • May will stay through Brexit, and then fight the 2022 elections
  • 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 03, 2020
  • After medical concerns, economic concerns take centre stage in Greece
  • New momentum to exclude Fidesz from the EPP
  • The Swedish experiment
  • December 12, 2018
  • 48 letters
  • A sense of deja-vu
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • 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
  • February 02, 2020
  • Is Sinn Fein the Irish anti-establishment vote?
  • Don’t assume that nobody will follow the Brits
  • October 29, 2018
  • Why the EEA is no longer a Brexit option
  • Behold the rising superpower: post-catholic Ireland’s European miracle
  • July 27, 2017
  • Löfven's move
  • The nearing end of petrol and diesel engines
  • Why a second referendum in the UK won’t happen, and why it would be wrong
  • 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
  • December 12, 2019
  • Greta is right - the EU’s fight against climate change is most likely a PR exercise
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • 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 17, 2019
  • A dangerous game for the EU
  • After Brexit, get ready for a German EU budget rebate
  • 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
  • August 17, 2020
  • How Putin could divide the EU over Belarus
  • The impossible mission of forming a federal government in Belgium
  • 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
  • August 17, 2020
  • How Putin could divide the EU over Belarus
  • The impossible mission of forming a federal government in Belgium
  • 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 31, 2018
  • Hans Werner Sinn demands German euro exit
  • The politics of the SPD’s links to Russia
  • May 14, 2018
  • Catalonia: plus ça change...
  • Conveney says no to Brexit with border infrastructure
  • Why the noble Lords don't really matter
  • April 26, 2018
  • Philippe and the protest movements
  • Scorched earth on Galileo
  • A customs union option
  • And finally, the emission-less diesel car
  • April 10, 2018
  • A mood of radicalisation in France
  • The German far right makes inroads into trade unions
  • On the absurdity of a new centrist party in British politics
  • March 26, 2018
  • On the run no more
  • Terrorist attack will challenge Macron
  • A double-whammy of geopolitical and financial uncertainty
  • March 12, 2018
  • German industry is starting to panic about Brexit
  • February 26, 2018
  • Angela Merkel's cabinet
  • February 12, 2018
  • What the euro debate is really about
  • How Brexit can still falter
  • January 31, 2018
  • A compromise of words
  • The Maybot will go on and on and on
  • January 22, 2018
  • Carles Puigdemont's flying circus
  • Macedonia and the insurrection of Greek patriotism
  • On the real hurdles for Brexit revocation
  • And the satellites, too
  • January 12, 2018
  • No, there won't be a second referendum
  • The Italian centre-right, too, is divided
  • Greek church raises the bar in name diplomacy with Macedonia
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • December 21, 2017
  • Catalonia votes
  • A deputy prime minister resigns
  • Will Gibraltar result in another Irish fudge?
  • Blood, sweat and tears
  • December 15, 2017
  • Amendment 9 conundrum
  • The negligible GDP impact of the single market
  • December 11, 2017
  • A new era for the French right
  • Growing scepticism of a grand coalition
  • December 07, 2017
  • Schengen suspended
  • Puigdemont's European arrest warrant withdrawn
  • Another Greek red line crossed
  • What the (failed) agreement on the Northern Irish border tells us
  • 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 30, 2017
  • Please tell us there is another way than fudging the border
  • Could Gentiloni remain prime minister beyond the elections?
  • Stage set for Babis minority government