We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.

December 06, 2017

Ireland in search of its own path in the EU

Brexit brings to the forefront Ireland's over-dependence on the UK as an ally at the EU negotiating table, and as a buyer of Irish goods and services. With Brexit this dependence is becoming a liability for Ireland, and prompting a turn in Irish diplomacy. Leo Varadkar was to attend the African summit (which in the end he had to cancel), where Ireland has virtually no footprint. Ireland also recently applied to join the Francophonie, a club of French-speaking states, though not as a member but as an observer. French is growing as a language in Africa and, if the population continues to grow as forecast, it could even overtake Mandarin, Spanish, or English, as the world's most-spoken language. Observer status would bring Ireland closer into the French orbit, and allow Dublin to develop new relationships and diversify trade, so the Irish Times.

We also note an interesting comment by linguist Joachim Fischer, who notes that in a post-Brexit world Ireland will also face cultural shifts in the media and academia that they have not even begun to think about. Outsider perspectives can never be identical to insider perspective, and this will affect the discourse in the UK and also in Ireland, which used to rely on the UK for input in its own debates. 

British media will discuss the EU as an outsider, with from a different mindset from the (mostly negative) coverage about the EU while still a member. After Brexit, Irish commentators can no longer rely on British prompts. They will have to turn to continental media to find reference points for debating the future of Europe, and the role of Ireland within it. 

This also affects teaching. So far, teaching EU studies depends on textbooks by British publishers. The conceptualisation is strongly influenced by British perspectives. From there, a discussion a about the future of the EU will look very different indeed. Compare Wikipedia in different languages and you already see the not-so-subtle differences, which are only likely to increase with an outsider mindset.

Fischer sees this as an opportunity for the language-lazy Irish. The time has come for Ireland to find its own path in a new Europe. This calls for new alliances and a stronger engagement in the multi-linguistic and multi-cultural EU.

Show Comments Write a Comment

December 06, 2017

Who owns the eurozone?

Werner Mussler is right with his assertion in FAZ this morning that there is currently no majority for a set of proposals by the Commission, due today, that seek to strengthen its own role and that of the European Parliament. But one should also note that the euro is a project of the EU, not an inter-governmental enterprise, and that there are limits - including legal limits - to inter-governmentalism. Mussler's reporting gives us a good summary of the hostile position of the member states towards further eurozone integration at the EU level, but omits to point out that the scope for eurozone reform on an intergovernmental level is also very small. One of the issues where we agreed with Wolfgang Schäuble is that a meaningful eurobond will require treaty change.

We also agree with Mussler's criticism of the European Commission's excessive emphasis on who is in charge, as opposed to what needs to be done. Mussler also informs us that Donald Tusk had a meeting with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Klaus Regling, and Mario Draghi, this week, which he interprets as a signal that the European Council, not the commission, will take charge of the process. 

He said there is a lot of disagreement among the member states, but the following five areas have emerged for discussion:

  1. completion of the banking union;
  2. a European monetary fund;
  3. the eurozone finance minister;
  4. a eurozone budget;
  5. fiscal supervision.
Show Comments Write a Comment

December 06, 2017

Gabriel's big speech

Germans love big inconsequential speeches. Joschka Fischer's pro-Europe speech at Humboldt university in 2000, about the need for a unified Europe, set out a federalist vision of the kind the country did support but no longer does. This week Sigmar Gabriel, who is now demoted to acting foreign minister, gave his big speech on the future of trans-atlantic relations and the EU.

What always bothers us about Germans asking for a European defence force is their unwillingness to contemplate that their persistent reluctance to use force is the main reason why this is not happening. Germany's foreign policy strategy is very similar to its economic strategy. It is based on other countries not doing the same - i.e. running persistent current account surpluses and refusing military engagement as Germany's default option. As we have seen in the eurozone, the small-country mindset is poisonous once you integrate almost 20 small economies into a single large one. The same problem arises when you do this in foreign policy. As the world's second or third largest power, the EU can no longer play the neutral card in the way it has done before.

Gabriel's speech is worth reading because it indicates that there is slow progress. For examples, he explains in detail why there is a complete lack of strategic thinking in German foreign policy circles - unlike, for example, in the US. Gabriel is right, of course, in his core diagnosis that there is a fundamental shift going on in US foreign policy, and that Europe will no longer be able to hide behind the US or indeed allow Washington to take the lead. He cites Donald Trump's unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the US sanctions decided by the Congress in the summer (against, among others, German companies) as examples of Europe needing to seriously pursue its own interests. 

But what he doesn't mention is that the europeanisation of foreign and security policy requires a fundamental shift in thinking in Germany - and especially in his own party. The main political difficulty is not the symbolic stuff, like the creation of a joint military headquarters, but the real stuff. The question to ask is: would the SPD support Emmanuel Macron on the issue of force deployment as well? The German discussion on this issue has not even started.

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.


Recent News

  • February 12, 2018
  • What the euro debate is really about
  • How Brexit can still falter
  • July 06, 2017
  • On Merkel’s imperial overreach
  • When the opposition opposes to oppose
  • Everybody wants the medicines agency
  • November 29, 2016
  • On the politics of the Italian referendum
  • 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 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
  • October 12, 2017
  • Panicking in London
  • Gabriel's unbearable hypocrisy on the eurozone
  • April 15, 2017
  • Happy Easter
  • October 19, 2016
  • Walloons stand firm
  • Juppé and Macron - father and son?
  • J’ai vraiment dit ça?
  • 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
  • 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
  • January 19, 2018
  • On the futility of discussing the German current account surplus
  • The Brexit revocation madness
  • Varadkar, the enfant terrible in the Brexit negotiations
  • September 14, 2017
  • Bravo Mr Juncker
  • ... what he said about the labour market
  • ... and what his speech means for Brexit
  • May 11, 2017
  • Germany rejects IMF’s policy recommendations before they are issued
  • Why Labour is losing
  • 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 26, 2016
  • Will the refugee crisis return?
  • Montebourg en avant
  • Moisi on Sarkozy's chances
  • Binary choices
  • 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 18, 2018
  • Don’t hold your breath about the EU-Japan trade deal
  • June 29, 2018
  • On the EU's red lines in the Brexit negotiations
  • As bad as Nafta
  • 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?
  • 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
  • May 09, 2018
  • A moment of truth in the Brexit talks
  • A leap of faith, Mr Kierkegaard?
  • April 23, 2018
  • More bad news for the SPD
  • Will Theresa May accept a customs union? The Times says yes. We think so too.
  • A comeback for Marine Le Pen?
  • April 09, 2018
  • Orbán gets his supermajority
  • Riding the wave of resistance
  • The EU’s self-defeating strategy
  • 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 14, 2018
  • SPD nominates Nahles
  • Why the CEPR proposal won’t work for Italy in particular
  • Why cryptocurrencies are pointless
  • 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 17, 2018
  • Labour smashes No Brexit dreams
  • A new political bargain in Portugal?
  • January 10, 2018
  • Yes, the choice is between Canada and Norway
  • Who is resisting Macron and his government?
  • Greece and Macedonia to solve name dispute
  • 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 14, 2017
  • Macron gives up on Euro reform... for now?
  • Refugee quota controversy hides disagreement over ultimate policy goal
  • Can't pay, won't pay
  • 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 06, 2017
  • Ireland in search of its own path in the EU
  • Who owns the eurozone?
  • Gabriel's big speech