The impact of the rise of anti-establishment parties, in Europe and abroad ... What will Europe’s leaders do to quell voters’ ugly mood? The quest for the new president of the European Commission is likely to turn into another messy wrangle (see Charlemagne). Its mandate to promote growth, competitiveness and jobs (in that order) is likely to be little more than a pastiche of fine words. And leaders disagree over how growth can be rekindled. As ever, the French want measures to protect industry, the British want more openness and competition, the Italians want a relaxation of fiscal rules and the Germans still see the problem in terms of export competitiveness (principally due to wages rising faster than productivity). ... The European Parliament, hitherto a bastion of European federalism, is set to become the beachhead for all sorts of anti-Europeans. The most strident have roughly doubled to about 100 out of 751 seats. More broadly, anti-establishment parties control nearly one-third of the parliament. Beyond the victories of Eurosceptics in France and Britain, the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party won in Denmark, the far-right Jobbik came second in Hungary and Germany has its first neo-Nazi MEP. ... The new European Parliament will probably be more sceptical of free markets and less favourable to free trade, particularly the ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with America. One of Ms Le Pen’s demands is the immediate suspension of these negotiations. Moreover, anti-EU parties are often markedly pro-Russian. Internationally, the loser of these elections could be America—and the winner, Russia.
An historic trade pact between America and Europe needs saving … IN AN age of small-bore politics, America and the European Union have a chance to achieve something large: a transatlantic pact that would, at a stroke, liberalise a third of global trade. At a time when emerging powers are closing fast on a fretful West, a free-trade area covering America and the EU would offer something more. Done right, it could anchor a transatlantic economic model favouring openness, free markets, free peoples and the rule of law over the closed, managed visions of state capitalism. … Right now, the pact is in trouble, beset by small-mindedness and mutual suspicion. This is madness.
It was a show of force in keeping with the ambitions of American law firms that increasingly see the European Union’s vast apparatus as a vital lobbying opportunity for themselves and their multinational corporate clients. … As the European Union has emerged as a regulatory superpower affecting 28 countries that collectively form the world’s largest economy, its policies have become ever more important to corporations operating across borders. In turn, the influence business in Brussels has become ever larger and more competitive, rivaled only by Washington’s. … No group is proving more aggressive in claiming a share of that business — and provoking more criticism — than Covington and a dozen other major international law firms, some of which have imported American practices to Brussels, the seat of European Union power, while also operating with fewer constraints than in the United States. … The firms are taking advantage of weak ethics rules in Brussels, including one that allows some former government officials to begin exploiting their connections the day they leave office. … “There is a certain excitement of getting what you want through the system,” Mr. De Ruyt said in an interview, adding that he had learned the art of influencing decisions, instead of just making them. “I now know exactly how to do it.”
All we know at this point in time is that Brexit will (probably) happen at some point over the next 2-3 years, but we still have no idea what the actual implications will be. ... In that context I note that it has taken Canada ten years to negotiate their free trade agreement with the EU, and that was prioritised by the EU negotiators. The EU have already declared that the UK will not be prioritised. On top of that, the UK will now have to negotiate trade agreements with pretty much every country around the world that it does business with – a monumental task, and the legal resources to do that job do not exist, according to a government official. ... As events unfolded, it would probably be fair to say that the vote wasn’t really about what it was supposed to be about; that got lost along the way. No, it turned into a referendum for or against immigration and a protest vote against Brussels and London. The amount of bitterness in large parts of the country – and in particular in the North – is such that many saw the referendum as an opportunity to give Brussels and London (or at least the elite in those cities) a slap in the face. ... Now, a couple of weeks after the referendum, we are admittedly in a bit of a dilemma – almost akin to a prisoner’s dilemma. The more financial markets puke over the next few months, the more likely lawmakers on both sides are to forget past disagreements and insults, and work on a solution that would keep the UK in the EU. On the other hand, if financial markets get a whiff of something about to happen - a possible compromise solution – financial markets will perform better, and thus make it less likely to happen.
The myth around which the EU has grown is that ministers and their officials always planned gradually, but inexorably, to subordinate the nation state to a higher European order. In the words of Vaclav Klaus, a former prime minister of the Czech Republic, countries would “dissolve in Europe like a lump of sugar in a cup of coffee”. But although Monnet and some of those around him did indeed dream of a European superstate, the politicians who made use of their ideas did not. The pooling of sovereignty found in the treaties first of Paris and then of Rome—which created the European Economic Community in 1957—was designed to save the nation state, not bury it. Europe’s governments have jealously guarded their powers ever since. ... If one key aspect of Europe has stayed constant, another has come full circle. Monnet’s scheme was an answer to the problem of Germany: too large to co-exist as a first among equals, too small to dominate its neighbours without resort to force. It was, for a long time, a good answer. For 65 years Germany has been prepared to subsume itself in Europe and, in exchange, has been allowed to act as a full member of the Western alliance. Today, by dint of unification and EU enlargement as well as its mighty economy, Germany runs Europe. ... Nobody thinks Europe’s great power is about to take up arms. But what sort of union does it want? ... The EU was not predestined, but makeshift. In the frantic politics of the post-war world other Europes were possible. But the one that actually came into being has been oddly durable. The fretful union of today, dominated by governments that scrap and bicker and backslide, is not an aberration. It is how things began. ... Leaders rarely act without a crisis to spur them on, and as a result their remedies are often inadequate.