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April 04, 2018

On the SPD’s U-turn on Russia

FAZ’ resident SPD watcher Majid Sattar makes the observation that all the pro-Russian big beasts in the SPD are now gone. Gerhard Schröder has become Vladimir Putin’s chief lobbyist. Frank-Walter Steinmeier is president. Sigmar Gabriel just lost a power battle and sits on the back benches. The most pro-Russian of them all is the former SPD chief Matthias Platzeck, who is now chairman of the German-Russian forum, which opposes sanctions and naturally the most recent diplomatic expulsions. Platzeck is really yesterday’s man but, as Sattar points out, he is also a typical representative of the SPD’s old Ostpolitik. Its proponents are constitutionally incapable of criticising Russia, no matter what Russia does. The central tenet of Ostpolitik has been a special relationship between Germany and Russia. Steinmeier used to talk about Russia as the "indispensable partner". The new foreign minister, Heiko Maas is now shifting this position, an interesting political experiment. Not everybody in the SPD agrees with the shift. Sattar argues that the pro-Russian sentiment within the SPD is also an expression of a deep unease within the party about Germany’s anchoring in the western military alliance, and also an expression of distaste for Anglo-Saxon culture in general. The test of these internal conflicts is yet to come. We note that it will be interesting to see whether the new Italian government will shift its policies on Russia, too, and how this will affect the debate in Germany.

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April 04, 2018

What if the UK had adopted the euro?

We generally avoid wild hypotheticals because you can always end up in any scenario you wish. But Yanis Varoufakis has an interesting thought experiment that is worth noting. What if the UK had adopted the euro? His answer is that Brexit would not have happened.

We recall that the decision not to adopt the euro was a close one. There was a point when Tony Blair wanted to push ahead, but was stopped by Gordon Brown. We find it deeply ironic that these two men are now at the forefront of those who want to revoke Brexit. Unlike Varoufakis (and us), they never saw a connection between the UK’s decision to stay out of the eurozone, and Brexit.

Varoufakis notes that UK membership of the euro would have presented the EU with a much starker choice during the financial crisis - either turn itself into a fiscal union overnight, or risk a break-up. In either case, there would have been no Brexit referendum. If the UK had joined the eurozone, there would have been no surge in immigration during the last decade. Euro membership would thus have deprived the Brexiteers of their most powerful argument. Which is, of course, the deep irony of this hypothetical scenario.

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  • 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 31, 2018
  • Much ado about nothing - French version
  • Eurozone reform: Purple bonds
  • July 16, 2018
  • How to think about the three Brexit options
  • How to respond to Trump
  • July 03, 2018
  • Some realism about tariffs
  • How the Brexit carousel has come full circle
  • June 20, 2018
  • Does Macron support Merkel over refugees?
  • Arising doubts whether the meaningful vote rebellion will succeed
  • The message of two shocking polls
  • June 08, 2018
  • German car lobby in full panic mode - wants EU to cut car tariffs unilaterally
  • Turkey suspends migrant deal with Greece
  • Is Macron losing the left?
  • 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 16, 2018
  • ... and by the way: we are leaving the eurozone
  • Olaf Scholz scales back Germany’s readiness to reform the eurozone
  • Et tu Germany?
  • 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 30, 2018
  • Looming May protests against Macron
  • France has discovered the Laffer curve
  • An important resignation in the UK
  • 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 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?
  • April 12, 2018
  • The ineffective European Globalisation Adjustment Fund
  • Davis wants concrete language on future trading relationship
  • The name dispute of Alexander the Great's descendants
  • April 09, 2018
  • Orbán gets his supermajority
  • Riding the wave of resistance
  • The EU’s self-defeating strategy
  • April 06, 2018
  • Schleswig Holstein collapses Spain's strategy against Catalan separatism
  • On the implausibility of conspiracy theories in the Skripal case
  • April 05, 2018
  • MI6 claims to have identified source of Novichok production
  • Donald Tusk, leader of the Polish opposition?
  • The legal side of Brexit revocation
  • April 04, 2018
  • On the SPD’s U-turn on Russia
  • What if the UK had adopted the euro?