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March 26, 2018

On the run no more

The Catalan crisis was last year's big political hurricane that deflated into a subtropical depression once Carles Puigdemont left his troops behind and set off on his grand European tour. His road trip ended yesterday with his arrest at a petrol station at the northern German town of Flensburg. The news of this provoked violent protests in Barcelona.

While Germany extradite him? The answer is far from clear. FAZ tells his us this morning that the legal issues are unusually complicated in his case. If it happens, it is more likely to happen on a technicality than on the main accusation on which his European arrest warrant is based. The decision lies entirely with the German courts, and there is no possibility of a political override in either direction. 

A regional German court is now obliged to decide on the Spanish government's extradition request, and will proceed in two steps. The first is to check whether the accusation is part of a list of crimes for which extradition is automatic. This list includes fraud and corruption, but crucially not rebellion. The court will rule whether the fraud charges, which relate to the alleged misuse of public funds for an illegal referendum, fall under this category. What matters here is the German legal definition of fraud, not the Spanish one. If in doubt, the court could refer the case to the ECJ.

The other accusations listed in the warrant are not on the list. For those, the German court will have to decide whether they are considered criminal under German law. German law has no criminal offences of rebellion or insurrection. Germany does have a law against high treason. Germany also has a law to support the integrity of the state, similar to that of Spain. Another issue the court will need to address is whether Puigdemont is being pursued for his political views. If the court believes that this is so, it will either not extradite or, again, refer the case to the ECJ.

A local north German newspaper, Kieler Nachrichten, reported that Puigdemont was considering an application for asylum, which would be immediately rejected as is always the case for EU citizens. And, in any case, an extradition case always supersedes an asylum case. We think this is probably a legal delaying tactic.

The issue is not a highly politicised one in Germany. Germany's new justice minister Katarina Barley said on TV last night this was a matter for the courts - for now. The German media took a greater interest in her hostile statements towards Facebook than in the Puigdemont case.

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March 26, 2018

Terrorist attack will challenge Macron

How will Emmanuel Macron respond to radicalised Islamists? The political pressure is mounting after the attack last Friday, when Radouane Lakdim killed four people and injured 16 others in a shooting spree followed by a supermarket hostage-taking. The hero of the day was the French police officer Arnaud Beltrame, who swapped himself for a hostage and ultimately died of wounds sustained in the incident. 

It is the first time that rural France was hit by a terrorist attack, and a lot of questions are yet to be answered. Radouane Lakdim was born in France, he was known to authorities for drug-dealing and other petty crimes, and had been under surveillance by security services in 2016 and 2017 for links to the radical Salafist movement. 

The fact that the terrorist was French-born but of Moroccan descent, a lone attacker, targeting normal people in rural France, means that radicalisation can no longer be considered a foreign policy issue. L'Opinion writes that a security and economic response will not be enough. Macron so far refrained from talking about Islam and religion. But this attack is a reminder that the threat is not about religion but about a political challenge for the whole of society, writes l'Opinion. Macron might have the desire to contain the debate, but if the attacks continue this will become difficult. 

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March 26, 2018

A double-whammy of geopolitical and financial uncertainty

The appointment of John Bolton by Donald Trump to the job of national security adviser is probably the most important event of last week because it greatly increases geopolitical risk. It ended any notion that the Trump presidency would ultimately be defused through adult supervision. The New York Times writes it is certain now that Trump will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. This would be a political minefield for the EU, which will then be faced with a straight choice between protecting the deal and its allegiance to the US. The article contains two noteworthy comments by senior European international policy analysts. Josef Janning notes that Bolton is a strong supporter of Nato and a hard-liner on Russia, somewhat in contrast to Trump. François Heisbourg says Bolton is  not really a neo-con as some people called him, but a true Trumpian who does not believe in multilateralism. 

The other big uncertainty for the EU is the long-term political impact of the Italian elections. Wolfgang Munchau notes that the really important issue is not who forms the next government. The Parliament is more important. Over 60% of MPs and Senators are members of Five Star and the Lega. The proportion of populists rises to two thirds, if you include the Brothers of Italy. No matter who will end forming the government, it will not be a centrist political force simply because the extreme parties are now running the show. Europeans should not be blinded by the fact that none of them is formally threatening to pull out of the eurozone. More importantly, all of them have in common that their policies are inconsistent with the rules of engagement.

It is a sign of the times that Brexit is no longer one of the top three issues in EU politics.

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  • July 14, 2020
  • Why the far-right might win in the end
  • December 03, 2019
  • What to look out for in the last week of the compaign
  • Trump threatens tariffs on French luxury exports
  • April 26, 2019
  • How Brexit has given rise to different perceptions of reality
  • The EP, not Madrid, will boost Spanish clout
  • How realistic is a Gaullist Europe?
  • September 17, 2018
  • About the new partnership between Russia and China
  • EU ponders Irish backstop protocol to help May
  • February 07, 2018
  • A short note on bitcoin
  • July 04, 2017
  • On the CDU’s programme
  • Macron defines his presidential style
  • Why do we criticise modern macro?
  • 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
  • March 31, 2020
  • Orbán's power grab
  • Why we would like to share the optimism on eurobonds, but can’t.
  • September 30, 2019
  • A pyrrhic victory for Kurz
  • Will there really be UK elections?
  • April 01, 2019
  • Meaningful IV
  • Caputová elected: a turning point for central Europe?
  • October 02, 2018
  • Whatever it takes - diesel version
  • Is Macron's European discourse too simplistic?
  • April 06, 2018
  • Schleswig Holstein collapses Spain's strategy against Catalan separatism
  • On the implausibility of conspiracy theories in the Skripal case
  • October 09, 2017
  • UK is starting to prepare for a no-deal Brexit
  • Why Germany will resist meaningful eurozone reform
  • April 12, 2017
  • Macro in a state of denial
  • Where Schulz is vulnerable
  • Schäuble’s three party tricks
  • October 17, 2016
  • Ceta is dead for now
  • L’après-Hollande, c'est Hollande
  • SPD against Russia sanctions
  • Nissan to join customs union and other fanciful tales
  • 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
  • March 09, 2020
  • Lockdown measures are not working
  • Will the ceasefire hold in Idlib?
  • October 27, 2019
  • German political centre is melting
  • Train drivers in all-out confrontation with Macron
  • Erdogan makes threats again
  • June 18, 2019
  • Retaliation threats over drilling
  • February 04, 2019
  • Watch out for the resurgence in Tory unity
  • The gilets-jaunes' effect on the European elections
  • What did he possibly mean by that?
  • September 27, 2018
  • Two ways out of the Brexit impasse
  • May 22, 2018
  • A €60bn ESM credit line - is this what they call a backstop?
  • Will Nato survive Trump?
  • Northern Ireland's Brexit disillusion
  • Would Corbyn become prime minister if he accepted the single market?
  • January 15, 2018
  • Is the section on Europe for real?
  • Can Drahos upset Zeman?
  • September 11, 2017
  • Turkey issues travel warning for visitors to Germany
  • How nasty is the AfD?
  • May 08, 2017
  • A message of hope
  • Barnier's not so easily agreed Brexit principles
  • The rebirth of the paranoid conspiracy theory
  • 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 24, 2016
  • Towards a hard Brexit
  • Is there a pact of Ventotene?
  • La rentrée
  • 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
  • June 05, 2020
  • What to make of the German fiscal expansion
  • Inequality through and after lockdown
  • April 27, 2020
  • The EU’s trickery of a fake MFF
  • Philippe to put down cards as trust evaporates
  • March 19, 2020
  • A useful step - but much, much more is needed
  • The good that can come out of this
  • February 12, 2020
  • Turkey's standoff with Russia over Idlib
  • Watch out for Renzi
  • January 07, 2020
  • Europe's fast disappearance from the UK debate
  • How to de-escalate with Erdogan?
  • Working less for more
  • December 04, 2019
  • Towards a European green new deal
  • Nato summit on Turkey amid disunity
  • November 01, 2019
  • Beware of the fallacy of composition and hindsight bias - Brexit edition
  • 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 18, 2019
  • Will Johnson's first action on coming to office be to call elections?
  • EU Commission will monitor rule of law in all member states
  • Dijsselbloem, not Carney, is the European frontrunner for the IMF job
  • June 19, 2019
  • What the US-Iran standoff tells us about the EU
  • Is Germany withholding information on right-wing extremism?
  • May 22, 2019
  • Better start those no-deal preparations right now
  • Europe's real transfer union is from east to west
  • April 24, 2019
  • May's final and biggest gamble
  • Will the EP be Brexit's great parliamentary beneficiary?
  • Can Loiseau fight the far right given her past?
  • March 26, 2019
  • No, the UK parliament has not taken control
  • Barnier for president?
  • 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
  • February 04, 2019
  • Watch out for the resurgence in Tory unity
  • The gilets-jaunes' effect on the European elections
  • What did he possibly mean by that?
  • January 09, 2019
  • Trump downgrades EU's diplomatic status, threatens trade war
  • December 18, 2018
  • The secret plots behind the no-confidence motions
  • November 26, 2018
  • Two German plus two Dutch makes four spitzenkandidaten
  • Yellow vest protests - radicalisation and new political alliances
  • November 05, 2018
  • Macron trails behind Le Pen in European elections poll
  • How the CDU will organise leadership campaign
  • October 15, 2018
  • Black Brexit smoke
  • Bettel can relax and stay in office
  • Solving the crime vs solving the problem
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • September 05, 2018
  • May’s gamble
  • The ultimate migrant
  • 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 24, 2018
  • A constitutional referendum in Poland?
  • On the future of the euro
  • July 09, 2018
  • German panic about Target2
  • AfD level with SPD
  • How the EU could fail
  • June 25, 2018
  • Trump's car tariff to come early
  • On the lack of a sharp focus in the eurozone debate
  • June 12, 2018
  • The new Italian battle lines
  • A Brexit rebellion squashed, for now
  • Wauquiez - a party leader without followers
  • May 31, 2018
  • Hans Werner Sinn demands German euro exit
  • The politics of the SPD’s links to Russia
  • May 21, 2018
  • Another snap election in the UK? Tories are preparing
  • Merkel and Putin - the beginning of a beautiful friendship?
  • May 10, 2018
  • Time for some clear thinking on Trump and Iran
  • Will Corbyn accept the EEA? Brexiteers can relax. He won't.
  • What next for the DUP?
  • May 02, 2018
  • Galileo row escalates
  • May Day in Paris - violence and dissonance
  • A homeopathic eurozone budget
  • April 25, 2018
  • Macron's pitch to Trump
  • Montoro in Schleswig-Holstein
  • The old world and the new
  • April 18, 2018
  • What Macron did not say in Strasbourg
  • Should we worry about Selmayrgate?
  • 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 09, 2018
  • Orbán gets his supermajority
  • Riding the wave of resistance
  • The EU’s self-defeating strategy
  • April 03, 2018
  • Is the time for Brexit revocation running out?
  • March 28, 2018
  • The real reason for the sanctions against Russia
  • Wishful thinking: Brexit edition
  • Wishful thinking: Future of euro edition
  • Wishful thinking: Italy edition
  • March 27, 2018
  • The IMF's proposals for eurozone reform
  • No concessions from Erdogan
  • Will the UK be shut out of Galileo on Brexit?