BREXIT & THE FALLOUT!

Much Brexit information affecting the UK, can be got from the main UK national newspapers, so where possible we will here be concentrating on the effects as reported in newspapers of the EU and comments from the readers of European newspapers.

These we will translate as best possible, to maintain their original meaning.

EU threatens legal action after UK unveils controversial law to override Northern Ireland Protocol

14.06.22 - Brussels has threatened to launch legal action against the UK on Monday after London published legislation that would alter its Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.

What's the background?

London and Brussels, as part of Brexit, agreed on special trading arrangements for Northern Ireland as it is the only part of the UK with a land border with the European Union.

Normally, customs checks would have been made at the land border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU).

 

But the region's dark history of sectarian violence means this was not possible. Instead, it was agreed to keep Northern Ireland in the EU's Single Market, meaning customs checks would be needed on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Britain, putting a de-facto border in the Irish Sea.

This angered Unionists in Northern Ireland, who wants to retain links with London rather than having borders put up between the two.

 

Is France taking advantage of the war in Ukraine to grow Business??

 

Close to 90% of France’s largest blue chip companies listed on the French stock exchange remain active in Russia. Some, like Leroy Merlin, are even expanding as competitors are leaving the market.

In addition, while Emmanuel Macron allegedly found the time to dress up as a Village-People version of Ukraine President Zelensky ahead of the forthcoming French Presidential election, presumably in support of the beleaguered nation, he saw no contradiction in givingRenault his and the French government’s blessing to re-open its factory operating in Russia. 

 

Further, data from the Bank of International Settlement shows, with over USD 25 billion of exposure, French banks are among the largest lenders in Russia. France’s position, however, goes beyond keeping her business toe in Russia. She is also seemingly using the crisis to gain market share in the field of agriculture and other raw materials. 

 

The country is currently the political head of the European Union. 

As such, and against all counsel for reform, she has fought tooth and nail over decades to keep its farming and fishing population subsidised by more credulous members, such as the United Kingdom – one of many reasons why the UK population voted to leave the EU back in 2016. 

The invasion of Ukraine is playing havoc with commodities in which France is a direct competitor, including wheat and oils. Russia now controls close to three quarters of global sunflower oil exports. France is a large rapeseed oil producer. 

 

With one major agricultural competitor under military occupation and facing devastation, Macron is looking across Asia, beyond Russia, to Indonesia and Malaysia, at ways to stop competing oil products from reaching European shelves. 

Indeed, Emmanuel Macron sitting with France on the rotating seat of the European Presidency, is pushing for “Climate Tariffs” on Malaysian palm oil products. France seems to be using an international emergency to consolidate one of her key sectors.

 

These facts are becoming too obvious to ignore and perhaps too embarrassing to contemplate. The money markets, as perceptive as ever, are telling us that the sanctimony has been a luke warm success at best. 

While the Rouble dropped 80% of its value against the Dollar between mid-February and the first week of March, the Russian currency bounced back to recover three quarters of its value from the early March trough. 

 

It still leaves the Rouble close to a third down on its mid-February value. That, however, is a boon for Putin. His exports have hitherto been priced in hard currencies while his expenditures are all in one he controls. 

The performance of his troops notwithstanding, Putin’s war has become cheaper and is funded by those who directly or indirectly dismantled Western Europe’s hydrocarbon infrastructure, hoping against hope that an alternative would materialise. 

And when none was truly available, the dangerous ideologues, who unfortunately clog all the arteries of our decision-making system, decided to plough on regardless and sacrifice our future and energy security on the altar of their moral conviction.  

“By their fruits you shall know them”.

Source - Alex Story - Brexit org.

 

A Brexit Bonus for the UK

 

Leaving the EU has saved the UK any future additional payments, that the EU promise to give other countries!!

Theresa May unfortunately agreed existing payments to the EU when she was PM!!

12.01.22  Have you heard of Moldova? Do you know where it is? Well, in recent years the EU has thrown hundreds of millions to Moldova in the form of grants and loans, although they are not a member as yet – this was money badged as “from the EU” but in reality funded to a significant degree by the unknowing generosity of the British public.

Last week, following a request by the Republic of Moldova, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) operation of up to €150 million. This is on top of the EU Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan for Moldova of up to €600 million for the next three years – part of which will be paid by the British taxpayer as part of the ‘Divorce Bill’ which was agreed by Theresa May when she was still Prime Minister.

Thankfully, the latest decision from the EU Commission on funding for Moldova will not form part of the UK’s ‘Divorce Bill’, thanks to Brexit. read the full article from Facts4eu

Austrian supermarket chain first to report supply bottlenecks and keeping shelves stocked!

27.12.2021 The Supermarket discounter chain 'Hofer' announces on its website, there are currently supply bottlenecks for some products.

In some supermarket branches, empty shelves may again occur in the days after the Christmas holidays. This time, the reason is not people hoarding purchases, but supply bottlenecks due to price explosions for container freighters.

 

"We ask for your understanding that individual promotional items may be temporarily unavailable or only available at a later date due to the current situation in international sea freight," is currently stated on the homepage of the discounter Hofer.

 

The background: Corona has shaken up the world's supply chains. According to logistics experts, global trade has been disrupted more than at any time in the past, and possibly more severely than at any time since the Second World War. Freight costs have risen enormously, by about 500 percent on the Shanghai-Rotterdam route. Tens of thousands of truck drivers are missing in Europe.

It can be assumed that the supply bottleneck at Hofer is only the beginning - other sectors and chains could follow.

Source & Photo - OE24

Euronews 16/12/21  - COVID-19 is killing a high proportion of people in regions of the UK that voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum, a new report has claimed!

 

Research by Ludovic Phalippou of Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and Betty H.T. Wu of the University of Glasgow has claimed to have found a direct correlation between Brexit-voting districts of the UK and those that have the highest rate of fatalities from COVID-19.

It reveals that the boroughs of Boston, Great Yarmouth, South Holland, and Hartlepool, for example, have the fourth highest fatalities from the virus in the UK and the biggest share of the vote for Brexit, with all four districts voting more than 75% for leave in 2016. By contrast, the 20 boroughs with the lowest death rates all voted heavily for Remain.

 

For the authors, the results suggest that the same people who were swayed by the arguments in favour of Brexit -- which was defined by a distrust of political and financial elites and populist rhetoric shared via social media -- are also those that resist getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and have been hostile to lockdown measures including curfews and mask-wearing.

"There is a group of people in the population who just rejects any official advice, any mainstream advice, any expert advice,” Phalippou told Euronews.

"The question then becomes for researchers, how do you capture these people? How do you have a proxy for these people? Which areas have more of these people?"

 

Phalippou and Wu said that the result should have "very important consequences for policy” and called into question initiatives such as mandatory vaccination, which was recently imposed in Austria.

Many of those that do not want to get vaccinated distrust both pharmaceutical companies and politicians already - and not entirely without reason, Phalippou said.

 

"There is actually a big academic literature showing how corrupt the process of approving medication is. So there is some underlying truth [to some of these beliefs],” he said.

"We need to take them seriously, we need to understand what they say, how they feel, and how we can counter them and their mindset.”

 

Jonathan Berman, author of Anti-vaxxers: How to Challenge a Misinformed Movement, told Euronews the correlation “made some sense” and found echoes in other areas of the world where populist movements, such as Brexit, had success in recent years.

Recent work in the US, for example, had found a similar crossover between Donald Trump voters and COVID-19 deaths.

“Brexit was a very different vote from [Trump, but] the thread I would draw between the two is that both campaigns were populist causes, which by definition are framed as regular people opposed to the elite,” Berman said.

The anti-vax movement, he said, appealed to those who were susceptible to populist ideas and who distrusted elites, and the politicians like Trump that have sought to capitalise on that.

“Epidemiologists, health boards, and virologists are cast as the elite,” he said.

'Eastern Europe'

Others suggest that while there may be a correlation between Brexit voters and regions that are suffering hardest from COVID-19, it is too simple to draw a direct line between leave supporters and vaccine scepticism - not least because even in the areas with the highest COVID-19 death rates, vaccination rates are above 60%, far higher than elsewhere in Europe.

In Boston and Skegness, for example, where only 18.9% of residents voted to remain in 2016 and where the death rate per thousand people is 3.1, double that of the remain-voting boroughs at the other end of the scale, more than 66% of people are now double-vaccinated.

Matt Warman, the Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness, told Euronews that the high death toll in his district was likely due to a range of factors, including its relatively large elderly population - who are more susceptible to the virus, generally.

 

As for the correlation between areas that voted Brexit and fatalities, he suggested it could be for a different reason.

“Areas that voted Brexit in 2016 tend to have large numbers of people who were born in Eastern Europe, and we know that there are problems with vaccination rates within the Eastern European community in the UK,” Warman, who has been MP since 2015, told Euronews.

This problem, he said, is exacerbated by misinformation being circulated online on social media, often originating in these individuals’ home countries, where vaccination rates are far lower than in the UK and anti-vax sentiment far more mainstream.

“There has not been enough focus by social media companies on misinformation in other languages within the UK,” he said.

12.12.21    London suddenly shows pragmatism in Brexit dispute

In the Northern Ireland dispute, Prime Minister Johnson's government abandons its fundamentalist position. French cutters also receive additional licenses.

Almost unnoticed by the London capital's press, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit government has significantly softened its hard line in the dispute over Northern Ireland. Talks with EU representatives are to focus first on practical trade issues, a senior government official confirmed in an interview with European media.

On the other hand, London is no longer insisting that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) should not play a role in any legal disputes over the Northern Ireland Protocol for reasons of sovereignty. This position was considered non-negotiable in Brussels.

Unclean money transactions in the renovation of his official residence in Downing Street, ever new revelations about Christmas parties a year ago in the lockdown, a massive rebellion of his parliamentary group against new Corona restrictions - the Conservative prime minister is in severe domestic political turmoil. That may be why Johnson and his team decided to give in on two fronts in the dispute with the most important trading partner.

Convergence in the fisheries dispute

In a concession to France, another 23 cutters received permits over the weekend to continue fishing in offshore waters of the main island and the Channel Island of Jersey. Another seven licenses are to be added on Monday.

According to the latest statements from Paris, several dozen boats will still be missing their papers; in Brussels, however, the British step is seen as an important olive branch in the dispute over the economically insignificant but psychologically immensely important industry.

The straightening of the front in the dispute over the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol is much more serious. This agreement is part of the British EU exit treaty. It was intended to do justice to Northern Ireland's special history and geography, namely to keep the land border with the Republic open in the south on the one hand and to preserve the territorial integrity of the kingdom on the other. Because Johnson's government made a hard break with the single market and the customs union, but Brussels insisted on the integrity of the single market, customs and import controls became due between Northern Ireland and the main British island.

Unnecessarily meticulous border controls

At the beginning of the year, these controls were unnecessarily meticulous, as both sides now see it. Among other things, the supply of essential medicines was at risk at times; many supermarket shelves were also lacking the usual goods from Scotland, England and Wales. Brexit Minister Lord David Frost therefore wanted to renegotiate Northern Ireland altogether, especially the role of the ECJ. Tinkering with the treaty text was out of the question, EU Vice Commission chief Maroš Šefčovič replied, but made far-reaching practical concessions in October.

Since then, Frost and Johnson have threatened unilateral termination of the protocol at regular intervals. In that event, the EU held out the prospect of "serious consequences." The new London pragmatism probably has to do, among other things, with the fact that "no one is demonstrating on the streets of Belfast against the European Court of Justice," as the government representative explained. Rather, he said, the important thing is to solve the practical problems, to which Brussels has recently contributed in many ways.

Northern Ireland's unique position

Time is pressing: Elections to the Belfast regional parliament are due next spring. London is therefore under intense pressure from the Protestant unionists, led by the largest member of the Belfast all-party government, the DUP.   In 2016, the DUP was the only major party in Northern Ireland to campaign for Brexit, which is why voters now blame it for the turbulent consequences of leaving the EU. Accordingly, the poll results look poor, while the parties of the nationalist Catholic minority, Sinn Féin and SDLP, are on the rise.

Recent economic data also contribute to this: No region of the kingdom has recovered as well from the effects of the pandemic as Northern Ireland. Admittedly, this is also due to the fact that the public sector plays a particularly large role in the region. In the long run, however, its unique position as a member of both the Kingdom and the EU's single market is likely to be more important.

Source: Der Standard   Photo: APA / AFP / Paul Faith

Austrian Reader comments translated.

450 million are more powerful than the few quarreling Brits.
Well, those few are also almost 70 million, including the stubborn Scots.
Nevertheless, if the EU pulls together more and more and puts a stop to the unspeakable corruption on the southeastern flank (a pious hope?), then it will become increasingly difficult for the UK.

It is also up to us to make the EU project a success.

 

Great Britain ignites
and wants to destabilize the peace in Europe. The Union was born out of necessity of the perpetual wars in Europe. The British should not have been allowed in from the beginning, but should have been treated like Switzerland. Churchill also thought that GB should only be a supporting force. Now, after the crisis of the 70's, they used Europe to build themselves up economically and should have seen that together they could do better. They could have helped shape Europe as a leading power, but instead of doing that, they were mostly "a pain in the neck" with their anti-Europe sentiments. Where should a division of Europe lead to again? To a new war. So you Brits who are on this forum, stop the firing.

 

One last comment
About a week ago the good Macron appeared and proudly said, yes we have to look that the British keep their agreement, because "it is a question of war and peace" for Ireland.
With that he more or less made clear, he doesn't care about peace in Ireland. If you really care, you don't throw around words like "war" thoughtlessly. Every word must be weighed in the balance! London has - absolutely rightly - whistled him back for this, because - as always with Macron - it was all about him and his image. I've been p***ed off by him for a long time but this was really a new low.

2.12.21 Austrian authorities said Saturday they have arrested 15 people suspected of smuggling Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian migrants into the country, and seized 14 vehicles that were used to transport them.

 

Police in Lower Austria province said they opened an investigation last month into the group that smuggled migrants from the Serbian-Hungarian border via Slovakia and the Czech Republic to Austria's northeastern corner. They were dropped off north of Vienna.

 

The 15 suspected smugglers — citizens of Moldova, Ukraine and Uzbekistan — were arrested mostly in checks in mid-November on suspicious vehicles as well as at a Vienna hotel, police said in a statement. All of them tried to flee when they were stopped.

 

They allegedly loaded 12 to 15 people into the cars and vans used for the journeys, with the back seats removed and the back windows sprayed over.  The suspects transported more than 700 people at a total cost of more than €2.5 million, police said. The migrants were charged €4,000-5,000 per person for the trip, and said they planned to continue to Germany, or possibly on the French coast — either by train, or being picked up by relatives.  This could be the starting point for those trying to get to the UK?

 

The alleged smugglers were recruited in their home countries via ads on social media offering work as drivers for €2,000-3,000 a month.

Source- Euronews

France wants EU refugee agreement with Britain

From German language newspaper -1.12.21.  France has called for an EU agreement with Britain to resolve the cross-Channel refugee crisis. The agreement must lead to a division of tasks between Great Britain and the other countries on the English Channel, including France, said Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin after consultations with President Emmanuel Macron. Legal migration routes to the United Kingdom would also have to be created, he said, because so far the British were not taking on their share of asylum seekers.

 

French Prime Minister Jean Castex will propose such an agreement to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday, Darmanin added in Paris on Monday. The French proposal comes after a crisis conference on migration across the English Channel, where tougher steps against smugglers were agreed. A few days ago, 27 people died in the English Channel on their way to Britain because their boat capsized.

 

France had disinvited Britain from the meeting with other EU countries after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for an agreement with France to take back migrants. Darmanin justified the French counter-proposal by saying that the Brexit agreement did not address how to deal with the refugees.

 

UK fishing boat can leave immediately with no fine!

London - 4.11.21 - report from German language newspaper

The British fishing cutter detained in France as part of a fishing dispute may leave immediately, according to a court ruling. A French court also ruled that the captain does not have to pay a ransom to release the cutter, according to a lawyer for the skipper on Wednesday.

The owner of the cutter had been threatened with paying a bail of up to 150,000 euros. In the fishing dispute between Britain and France, there had been a court hearing Wednesday in the port of the French coastal town of Le Havre, where the cutter was held.


Dispute over licenses

The dispute is over fishing rights after Britain leaves the European Union. France accuses the government in London of not granting French fishermen the guaranteed licenses to cast their nets in British waters.

Last Wednesday, France had detained the British cutter and warned a second boat for allegedly operating both vessels in French waters without licenses. After there had been no rapprochement on the fringes of the G20 summit in Rome over the weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron declared on Monday evening that his country would not implement threatened trade sanctions for the time being in order to give the negotiators more time to propose new solutions.

 

Reader comments:

So the action was indeed French piracy.

Perhaps it would be time again to sink some of the continentals' ships in the harbor. They need that at regular intervals, otherwise they'll forget what proper behavior looks like. And they won't get rid of their shitty diesel submarines that way either.

 

Has it been proven that the fishermen were in French waters?
If not, then France would have to pay damages for the arrest.

EU set up new joint assembly of EU and UK lawmakers

 

6.10.21 - STRASBOURG — The European Parliament voted Tuesday to approve the creation of a new joint assembly between British and EU lawmakers meant to help solve post-Brexit issues.

 

The assembly, which will include 35 lawmakers from each side, is supposed to monitor the implementation of the EU-U.K. trade and cooperation agreement and will be briefed on decisions by the Partnership Council, a supervisory body for the trade deal that is co-chaired by European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and U.K. Brexit Minister David Frost. The joint assembly will also be able to make non-binding recommendations for amending the deal.

 

The proposal to establish the EU delegation was approved by MEPs with 686 votes in favor, two against and four abstentions.

 

“I am convinced that well-framed, inter-parliamentary relations can help us to build trust and a mutually beneficial dialogue with our U.K. counterparts," said David McAllister, chair of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee. "A strong parliamentary dimension is crucial for shaping the implementation of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement."

 

However, it is still unclear when the joint assembly will be able to begin its work because the British side has not yet set up its delegation nor decided how many of its 35 seats will be allocated to the House of Commons versus the House of Lords.

 

French fishermen protest again - is there now a subliminal threat??

20.09.21 - Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday on the French beach of Armanville to air their grievances as the expiry deadline for their fishing licenses approaches.

 

Protestors selected that beach specifically as it hosts the large 90,000 volt cable that runs across the sea bed and supplies the Island of Jersey with electricity.

 

The fishermen claim that English authorities are dragging their heels over the renewal of the licenses, demanding sufficient proof that they were fishing in Jersey's waters between the years of 2017-2020.

 

Currently 48 French shipping vessels over 12m long will be able to fish in the channel waters under the new scheme. But ships of under 12m are still in the dark.

 

Bertrand Sorre, MP for the 2nd constituency of La Manche, said the provisional authorizations given to French fishermen are set to expire on September 30 and “that means in a few days these fishermen have no idea if they will be able to continue to do their jobs".

 

EU fishermen's access to British waters has been a source of bitter dispute during post-Brexit negotiations and despite the UK-EU Trade Cooperation Agreement, still remains an explosive topic Negotiations are still underway after a three-month delay in July.

 

In May, dozens of French boats blockaded the port of Saint-Helier in Jersey to show their discontent and to defend their fishing rights. This led to the UK sending two navy patrol ships to circle Jersey until the protest died down.

Source: Euronews

15.09.21 From German Language newspaper.

More refugees and migrants than ever before on the English Channel

Within a week, almost 2,000 arrivals were registered in Great Britain. London criticizes Paris, but there they have no understanding for it at all and do not seem concerned?

They took advantage of the good weather, and it became a record week for people smugglers. Figures from the British Home Office show that in the week ending September 10, 1959, refugees and migrants reached Britain after making the perilous crossing of the strait between Calais, France, and Dover, England. The cross-Channel refugee and migration crisis is coming to a head, with more than 14,400 people arriving on the British Isles via this route so far this year, far eclipsing last year's record number of 8420 arrivals.


Home Secretary Priti Patel is outraged and has announced that British patrols will no longer direct boats carrying migrants to the English coast in the future. Instead, the companions are to be pushed back. Border Force officials are currently training in jet skis in the English Channel on how to do this safely. Images from the Sky News news channel show three jet skis rushing toward a boat and preventing it from continuing its journey. The training is expected to be completed by the end of the month. After that, the new tactics will be deployed.

Patel is thus taking a confrontational course with France. After all, once British border guards have prevented miniboats from reaching British waters, they will inform the French coast guard, which will then be responsible for the people. But that is of little concern to the British Home Secretary, who after all has to defend her image as a right-winger in the Conservative Party and pursues a fierce anti-migration policy.
Outsourcing refugees

For its part, France is displeased with London's stance. The government is behaving in a completely contradictory manner, it says in Paris: For example, the kingdom has refused new agreements on the English Channel since Brexit - but at the same time demands better coastal security. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin very undiplomatically accused the British of damaging both cooperation and friendship between the two countries. They were also violating international maritime law by forcing migrants to turn back on the open sea, Darmanin added: "France does not accept practices that contradict maritime law, nor financial extortion."
Million-dollar agreement

In July, London and Paris had signed an agreement: Britain will pay its neighbor the equivalent of about 63 million euros so that France will intensify efforts to prevent migrants from crossing, according to the British. The number of border guards is to be doubled to 200, patrols stepped up and new surveillance equipment purchased.

According to France, however, this payment is not conditional on France preventing migrants from crossing the border. The government in Paris has nevertheless tightened controls and banned the sale of inflatable boats in French cities along the English Channel. Opinions differ on the effect of these measures, however, with most traffickers purchasing the rubber boats over the Internet.

Reader comment

Is migration a tactical weapon?
Not even a rat can swim unnoticed in the English Channel. That is pretty much the busiest and most monitored shipping lane in the world. If the immigrants then order a rubber dinghy from Amazon (see picture for size), that the delivery man then delivers free to the camp and then a hundred people get on and sail happily and unmolested across the canal - then something is rotten with the French. But perhaps it is not so inconvenient for Brussels that the migration problem for the British is not so simply over with the Brexit

With the Afganistan crisis, there is less Brexit news, so we will be bring info on how the crisis is affecting the EU

English language dominance in the EU media?

30.08.21  It was back in the late 1980s when I worked on the staff of the Times newspaper in London that I heard the word eurosceptic for the first time. It was during the days of confrontation between Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson, her finance minister, over whether or not the UK should join the exchange-rate mechanism. Three years later, a colleague and friend of mine casually remarked, to my profound shock, that the eurosceptics were winning the argument.

 

At some point in between, I recall another colleague, one of the rising young stars of the paper, writing a review of a French movie he detested. This was the first time I heard the word eurotrash. The word eurocrat had been invented many years earlier. Also interesting that UK newspapers, pro and anti-EU alike, habitually refer to the EU as a bloc - as in Eastern Bloc.

 

Words creates stories. And stories give rise to narratives, which are stories that we keep telling each other time and again. The eurosceptics controlled the narrative through the media, on which the EU has become perversely over-reliant. French was the lingua franca of the European Economic Community when it had only six members. But the larger the EU became, the more English was spoken. Euroscepticism became its most dominant dialect.

 

Various attempts to create a common multi-lingual media space have failed. I was once involved in a UK/German newspaper venture. It failed for exactly the same reason as the UK’s EU membership failed. True integration was not really something the UK ever wanted.

 

I have drawn the conclusion that the EU will ultimately need to create its own media space, and not have words and narratives forced upon it by outsiders. The UK is now out. British journalists are now foreign correspondents. And yet, English is still the common language. But just as London cannot remain the EU’s main financial centre after Brexit, the EU cannot rely on the UK for its media space forever.

 

The UK media are still as obsessed with Europe. The eurosceptic tabloids are still predicting the imminent fall of the EU almost daily. Among the more serious crowd, I noted an interest in the conference on the future of Europe. The views expressed are mostly negative. In the European media, by contrast, there is hardly any discussion at all. I don’t think it is in the EU’s best interest to let the UK lead on this - and predictably lead into a eurosceptic direction.

 

I see three trends that will make it easier for the EU to wean itself off the UK and US media.

The first is the rise of social media networks. Twitter is not a media company, but it challenges the newspaper’s network oligopoly by providing an alternative gateway to news and commentary. European debates on Twitter are still heavily dominated by UK and US journalists and think-tankers. But there are a lot more Europeans compared to five years ago. The discussions often take place in English - but at least they are not moderated or censored by English-language editors. It is difficult for ordinary mortals to get a letter or article published in an English-language newspaper. It is easier to attract the attention of the wider Twitter community. It is a more democratic marketplace for ideas.

 

The second development, which is further out, is the improved usability of translation software to bypass English as the lowest common denominator language in written communication. When we started Eurointelligence in 2007, the only half-decent translation software available was algorithmic. These packages were barely usable and often produced absurd translations. My favourite example is that the translation of the name of a Spanish central banker, Jose Luis Malo De Molina. Our software translated his name as the as the evil one. Worse still, translations from several European languages were gibberish.

 

The rise of statistical translation made it possible to translate a Finnish article into Spanish, and understand the gist of it. It still does not make for enjoyable reading, but at least it’s good enough for many professional purposes. It may be too early to build media companies based on translation technology, but it makes a difference that such technology exists and that it keeps improving.

 

And finally, realise that a common media space needs to be built up from the bottom up, not from the top down. Euronews was an example of the top-down approach. Arte, the French-German cultural channel, is an example of the latter. Arte is no doubt elite television, but then again, so are English-language newspapers, from the perspective of a continental European reader.

 

I understand the reasons why EU institutions relied on a small number of English-language media while the UK was a member. I was part of that group myself for many years. Now that the UK is out, it is time to reflect on communication as well, the channels through which it flows, and the tools and technologies needed to make it work in the EU’s best interest.

 

And remember how Brexit came about. It started with words and stories. The EU needs its ow!.

EU's take on UK's new Turing programme for students.

UK replacement for Erasmus programme receives 40,000 applications

18.08.21 - The British government has approved tens of thousands of applications for a new study abroad programme, launched after the UK left the EU’s Erasmus programme following Brexit.

 

Some 40,000 applicants were approved for the first year of the Turing programme, named after the famous British mathematician.  Under Turing, students at university will be able to study in European universities and, unlike Erasmus, in other countries such as Canada, Japan and the US.

 

There was outcry after the UK pulled out of the Erasmus scheme, which it had been a part of since 1987.

It left as part of its Brexit divorce from the European Union.

 

When more details of the Turing scheme were announced in March, Guy Verhofstadt, a Belgian MEP and Brexit critic, appeared to mock it, tweeting: "Less support, fewer opportunities for young students through the new Turing scheme…You don’t need to be 'Turing' smart to see who suffers from Brexit here…"

 

The first edition of the Turing programme plans to place 28,000 students from British universities in European countries, far more than the 18,300 who in 2018/2019 under Erasmus+.

 

But the opposition Labour party’s university spokesman, Matt Western, pointed out Turing will only cover travel and living expenses for students, not tuition fees abroad. This component "will make it impossible for many students to access this incredible opportunity," said Matt Western.

 

The new programme also makes no provision for reciprocity for EU students studying in the UK (currently around 150,000), making it more complicated and expensive for them to apply.

In a statement, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson touted improved diversity with almost half of the places reserved for participants from disadvantaged backgrounds.

 

"Until now, this has been an opportunity disproportionately taken up by those from the most privileged backgrounds," he said.

Source: Euronews

After Brexit, China has replaced Germany as the UK's biggest trading partner

14.08.21 - China overtook Germany to become the UK's biggest import market as trade in goods with European Union member states plunged because of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, official data show.

 

Over the past few years, According to Britain's Office for National Statistics (ONS), total trade in goods with EU countries decreased by over 23 per cent from the first three months of 2018 and the first three months of 2021 but only by 0.8 per cent for non-EU countries.

 

Germany, traditionally the UK's largest trading partner, saw its import to the UK start to decline in 2019 as uncertainty over the country's Brexit from the bloc dampened business enthusiasm.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic and measures imposed to curb its spread which severely weakened economies worldwide accelerated the trend, prompting Germany to lose its title as the UK's largest trading partner in mid-2020.

 

Overall, imports to the UK from Germany were down 11.8 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to three years ago to total £12.5 billion (€14.4 billion). During that same period, imports from China jumped nearly 66 per cent to reach £16.9 (€19.5 billion) to account for 16.1 per cent of UK goods imports in the first quarter.

 

The ONS noted that although imports from China had been on an upwards trajectory for years, they accelerated in the second half of last year, "likely because of the relatively limited impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Chinese exports."

 

"This, coupled with increasing demand for commodities produced by China such as electronic machinery (telecommunication and sound equipment) likely explains the increasing imports seen in 2020."

"Additionally, UK imports of textile fabrics from China jumped in 2020, boosted by demand for face masks and personal protective equipment," it added.

Source: Euronews

If the EU fails, this is how it would happen!

06.08.21  No one statistic ever tells a complete story, but this one comes a long way: In the 2020, year one of the pandemic, the number of start-ups in the US rose by 24%. In Germany they fell by 11%. In absolute numbers, the US has five times Germany's GDP, but nine times as many start-ups.

 

If European integration fails, this is why and how. It won't be because of Viktor Orbán, or austerity, or policy errors committed by central bankers. It will be because Europe continues to live in the past!

 

When we discuss European politics, we talk about EU governance, fiscal and monetary policy, immigration and EU enlargement. What Europe's multiple crisis have in common is that they are driven to a large extent by a lack of innovation, and the resulting lack of productivity growth. Stagnant societies close themselves off to change. They oppose integration and open immigration policies. Lack of innovation and over-reliance on old technology is the reason why German foreign policy is trapped in neo-mercantilism.

 

Earlier this week, we noted a German commentator questioning whether the Greens had even thought about the demise of the old industries that would be accelerated if their programme was implemented. The Green transition would mean that entire industrial segments are in danger of disappearing.

A reader wrote in this week making the point that the EU's planned carbon-border adjustment mechanism would cause disproportional damage to existing industries. Recent physical disruption in global supply chains is only a foretaste of what is to come.

 

These objections are real. The ideal strategic response should have started a decade ago with a policy to encourage diversification and the development of new industries as old industries die. Virulent creative destruction is disruptive, but would give societies room to compensate the losers, and move forward.

This strategy requires massive investment. It requires a rediscovery of entrepreneurship, and with it a reinvention of an education system that is currently designed to feed industrial employment, as is the case in Germany, or to support elite structures, which is what has been happening in France and the UK.

 

The various plagiarism scandals in Germany are in one respect a sign that society places an excessive value on academic titles, and mostly useless publications. The value of a good education should be in what it teaches, not in the honours it confers. In this sense, we should look at plagiarism scandals as a metric of how far away we are from that reality.

 

It is arguable that a Schumpeterian process of creative destruction, while ideal in theory, is not attainable in practice given where Europe is right now. It cannot be delivered by the state, or by existing private sector companies. It is too disruptive for European tastes.

 

The alternative strategy consists of ultra-long adjustment periods, like Germany's infamous 2038 exit date from coal. One politician we see as a typical representative of that strand of thinking is Peter Altmaier, the German economics minister. He is not a climate-change sceptic, but a target-sceptic. He wants to give industry more time to adjust. He is, of course, in favour of Nord Stream 2, because of the energy security it brings.

 

Where we think this strategy will fail in practice is an over-optimistic take on what extra time can do. The idea of electric cars is hardly new. The German car industry bet the house on diesel technology, and its criminal extension, the software cheating devices. It is somewhat naive to think that a five-year delay in the phasing out of fuel-driven cars would give the diesel boys time to reinvent themselves.

 

The default position - the one that happens when nothing else happens - is increased dependence: on US technology companies; on Chinese inward investment; and on Russia gas. We might call it non-creative destruction. That result is a gradual impoverishment, more inequality, and rising political discontent and fragmentation. Foreign policy will become even more mercantilist. Nationalism will rise and support for European integration will fall. It cannot conceivably prosper in an environment of technological backwardness. Forget about the conference on the future of Europe. A struggling inward-looking Europe will not move in one or the other direction.

 

There are signs of hope. The BioNTech vaccine was a rare success in a sea of EU vaccine development failures. If Europe could replicate that success in other areas - like environmental and agricultural technologies, alternative food production, water treatment, robotics and new production technologies, the 21st century would have finally arrived. Europe has slept through the digital revolution, AI, and electric cars. But there are many other exciting 21st-century technological developments to be exploited.

 

The mistake the EU and member states are most likely to make is to rely on existing companies, rather than encourage new ones. We should remember that all of the Big Four are newcomers. The electrical giants of the 1960s are nowhere. The European car companies will not be the leaders in electric cars. Success and failure will depend on new entrepreneurs, not old ones. The real opposites are not the left and the right, industry and union, but old companies and new ones.

 

As of now, the EU is still living in an extended 20th century, led by 20th century political figures like Angela Merkel, and Ursula von der Leyen. Politicians cannot on their own produce creative destruction, but they can set conditions for it to flourish. They have not done so. The EU is an entrepreneurial wasteland. Ireland and the Netherlands are business-friendly, in the sense that they have loopholes for large American corporates. But unlike the US itself, neither is particular friendly towards young entrepreneurs.

 

If European integration fails, this is why and how. It won't be because of Viktor Orbán, or austerity, or policy errors committed by central bankers. It will be because Europe continues to live in the past.

Source: Eurointelligence

Refugee boats in the English Channel put

British asylum policy to the test

1.08.21 - report and comments from Austria newspaper -

 

The government wants life imprisonment for smugglers and the immediate arrest of those entering the country. But there is also resistance, and the willingness to donate is increasing.

When it comes to the sensitive issue of asylum, resistance is forming in Great Britain against the shirt-sleeved methods of Home Secretary Priti Patel. The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has denounced the "shocking conditions" in undignified barracks where minors are crammed together. Measures against refugee boats in the English Channel also meet with far from undivided approval. The RNLI, which has been repeatedly criticized by the government, is showered with donations and is protected by the Navy's most decorated admiral.

 

The existing asylum system is "broken," Patel believes - a choice of words that is also familiar in Austria. The politician from the extreme right wing of the conservative governing party wants to address the shortage by systematically criminalizing migrants. In the future, not only convicted people smugglers are to receive automatic life sentences. According to the draft of a new law currently being debated in parliament, refugees without visas will soon be imprisoned immediately, regardless of their status. The "disgusting business of criminal gangs" must be stopped, Patel demands: "Access to the asylum system should depend on need, not ability to pay."


Lawsuit against the government

Those stuck in the system are already often treated inhumanely. Visiting a transitional shelter last week, a parliamentary delegation found 56 migrants in a small, unventilated waiting room. "Among them were mothers with babies and very young children, but also a significant number of young men," reported committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper. In another barracks, unaccompanied children and teenagers had been left on their own for more than ten days, she said. "This is totally inappropriate," the Labour politician wrote in a letter of complaint to Patel.

 

The treatment of minors has become more controversial since the municipalities, which are actually responsible for their care, have refused to accept them in many places. Not least, they are afraid of the costs associated with the often controversial age classification of those entering the country. As a result, officials in the county of Kent in southeast England, which is the most affected, have threatened legal action against Patel.

 

Between 2016 and 2020, more than 13,000 unaccompanied children and adolescents entered the country, primarily from Eritrea (2,322), Afghanistan (2,017) and Sudan (1,970). More than 1,500 youths each also managed to enter the Kingdom from Iran, Iraq and Vietnam. In the past six weeks, Kent sent 170 minors on to other local authorities.

 

23 % come from France

TV images of totally overcrowded rubber dinghies in which refugees from Africa and the Middle East dare to cross the English Channel are causing a stir among the public. The busy shipping lane is 34 kilometers wide at its narrowest point between Calais and Dover. For transit, immigrants pay organized smuggling gangs up to five-figure sums per person.

 

Last year, more than 36,000 people applied for asylum, 23 percent after crossing from France. In the first seven months of 2021, the number of boat people was already higher than in the whole of 2020. According to statistics from Border Force, 87 percent of migrants were men, and three-quarters were in the 18-39 age group.

 

In the fight against the profiteers of the lucrative trade, law enforcement has certainly had some successes. Kent County Police and the National Crime Agency (NCA) are currently investigating more than 50 cases against the criminal smuggling gangs on both sides of the Channel. In Belgium, France and the Netherlands, their undercover officers are working together with officers on the ground, NCA department head Andrea Wilson told The Times.

 

Farage mocks aid workers

London has also encouraged neighboring countries to better protect their borders with cash payments. Most recently, France received 54 million pounds (63 million euros) to crack down more rigorously. According to recent findings, 60 percent of refugees arrive on the French Channel coast via Belgium. Many of the organizers of criminal human trafficking have long lived in Great Britain.

However, the weather plays a greater role than the investigative pressure on those behind the lucrative trade. In the penultimate, sunny and hot week of July, the Coast Guard registered 1,300 crossings, with 430 people arriving in England on July 19 alone. As recently as last Monday, 160 migrants made the perilous journey. In the following days, strong winds and tides caused high swells; promptly, the packed inflatable boats failed to arrive.

 

To deflect attention from her agency's failings, Patel has repeatedly attacked the RNLI, a traditional sea rescue organization. Right-wing populist Nigel Farage even derided the mostly volunteer helpers as "migrant cabs." The public took the highly respected charity to task: while donations on normal days amount to a few thousand pounds, the RNLI enjoyed small donations totaling 200,000 pounds (234,000 euros) on Wednesday alone. On Sunday, Five Star Admiral Michael Boyce spoke out. His organization has nothing to do with politics, the former chief of the defense staff and current RNLI patron explained. "We are there to save lives without regard to who we are."

 

Reader comments:

There is nothing delicate at all.

these people are "fleeing" from france, a G8 state after all, so uk is clearly not responsible for their asylum and the state has the right to stop illegal migration, which it undoubtedly is for the aforementioned reason.

 

GB is right: migrants come from safe third countries (France etc.)
The asylum seekers come from safe third countries (from France etc.). Therefore, GB is right to turn these migrants away at the border and send them back. The UK is now seemingly doing external border security as opposed to the EU. Only asylum seekers who can be proven to be citizens of a neighboring state should also be allowed to cross the EU's external borders. It can not be that Afghans or Nigerians pass through some states where there is no war and then can come to the EU. In this EU external border security, the EU centralists and EU bureaucrats are totally failing. Among other things, a strengthened Frontex should actually secure the EU's external borders and not transport or haul migrants into the EU.

The new 48% !!

30.07.21  - One of the great cautionary tales of the last five years is how to start off with what looked like a strong case and end up with 48%. What happened to Britain’s Remain campaign is now happening to the campaign to deploy vaccines: Tell the anti-vaxxers that they are stupid; exaggerate your case like the French education minister, who told the lie that vaccination means that you can longer infect anybody. Or lecture people that they should listen to experts; and when things get really bad, talk about compulsion!

 

Compulsory vaccination is the second referendum of our time. If we can’t get what we want, we have other ways to make you conform.

 

It is unsurprising therefore that the vaccination rate in the US is stalling at just under 50% - almost exactly where the Remain vote ended up five years ago. We have never seen a more misguided political campaign than that one - until now.

 

Vaccination is one of the great success stories of modern science. It is one of the great success stories of German and British science in particular. The focus should be to make vaccines available to anybody, anywhere in the world, and also to make all the information about them available. We are not going to fight anti-vaxxer lies with official secrecy.

 

Readers may well remember how the news of the AstraZeneca blood clots leaked almost by accident, when an independent German research lab raised alarm bells. At that time, many more doses of that vaccine had already been deployed in the UK. Why did the NHS, or the British government, not volunteer that information? They did only when the medicine agencies, alarmed by the German research, asked for it.

Why not share the data voluntarily? Can the public not handle it?

 

And why not admit that there is logically a degree of uncertainty about the long-term side effects of the vaccines? Never before in history have vaccines been developed and deployed in such a short time. In the German debate about whether to give the vaccine to under-18 year olds and small children, that uncertainty is at least acknowledged by officials. It is logically also true that the risk of a side effect from a vaccine relative to the risk of severe illness from Covid-19 is different for children than for older adults.

 

There is also a lack of information about vaccine effectiveness. All the hard data we have seen in respect of the delta variant came from Israel and the Netherlands. How is that possible, when there are so many more delta variant infections in the UK? The Israeli studies suggest that the vaccine offers a high protection against severe illness, but a lower level of protection against becoming infected and against spreading the virus.

 

If that is so, what then is the logic of making vaccination compulsory for certain groups of people? Would testing not be more effective? The reason governments want to drive up vaccination rates beyond original targets is precisely because the vaccines are less effective. You need more of them to achieve the same degree of herd immunity.

 

Knowing how government communication works, the most plausible explanation we have is that information is deployed on a need-to-know basis. Governments don’t want awkward data to get in the way of the campaign. But remember that if you withhold information, you give the floor to the people on Facebook who tell us that the vaccines contain a microchip of Bill Gates' brain.

 

At that point you have lost the moral high ground. And you end up with another 50-50 division, like Remain-vs-Leave, or Trump vs Clinton. For the vaccination campaign to be successful, it requires a bigger margin of victory than Joe Biden’s over Donald Trump.

Source: Eurointelligence.

Has the EU totally trashed Astra Zeneca reputation?

26.07.21

The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, which was once going to save the world, is at risk of becoming a second-tier vaccine. It was supposed to be easy to use, without the need for special freezers — and cheap because its developers, hailed as U.K. national heroes, insisted it be sold at cost.

But after its early green light in the U.K. and the EU, the U.S. never approved it. Many European countries, as well as Canada and Australia, stopped using it in younger people due to blood-clot concerns. Only the U.K. is keen to sign a contract for more (albeit a retooled version). In effect, the world's vaccine has become the Marmite of vaccines.


Blame game

There's no shortage of blame to go around. EU officials and diplomats point out that AstraZeneca over-promised and poorly communicated its problems. One Commission official even suggested that people in the EU died due to AstraZeneca's supply shortages!

"[Oxford/AstraZeneca is] not a second class [vaccine] in terms of its efficacy, it has been a second class as a commercial partner," said Guido Rasi, the former director of the European Medicines Agency.

But the EU played its part. As a former adviser to the Italian government, Ricciardi faulted EU countries for making decisions based on "emotion" rather than science. Scientists and politicians quietly blamed Brexit.

 

Wealthy Western countries, now rolling in mRNA vaccines, are able to write off the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab. But poorer countries are paying the price. One of the most damaging moments was when French President Emmanuel Macron openly disparaged the jab in January, calling it quasi-ineffective.

 

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, summed up the profound effect of poor communication as it “impacts the confidence that people have in their vaccines, especially coming from authorities, like presidents of countries.”


For their part, Oxford scientists have not given up hope on their vaccine. They are testing a retooled version that targets variants, as well as booster shots in case either are soon needed. Oxford's Ritchie also is looking at making a version of the vaccine that could be inhaled, which could require less drug substance and possibly be used to stretch vaccine supply around the world. It's projects like this that motivate Ritchie to get out of bed every morning.

 

"I’m never in my life going to have an opportunity to save thousands or millions of lives," Ritchie said. "This is my one shot, and my colleagues’ one shot of doing that.  “But we're tired,” he admitted. 

Ritchie is also upset. He believes AstraZeneca was used as a “scapegoat” at a time when the EU was struggling to ramp up vaccinations. Macron calling the vaccine quasi-ineffective will "stick forever," he adds. And he calls the EU’s lawsuit against the drugmaker "morally untenable" given that the company is producing the most vaccines for the globe.

But there's still the hardest pill for Ritchie to swallow: What do all these setbacks mean for his life-long goal of making vaccines affordable and accessible around the world?

"The thing that terrifies me more than anything else is that the one vaccine that's not-for-profit is the one that has been dumped on over and over and over again," he said. He points out that no other drugmaker offered to produce at such a low cost — even Pfizer got the U.S. government to offset its costs to supply COVAX.

He made clear he doesn't represent AstraZeneca or make decisions for the company, but if he did, "I would not sign up for a deal like this ever again."

Source: Politico eu

 

Brussels won’t let Brexit ruin it holidays

430 people reached Great Britain via the English Channel in one day!

21.07.21 According to the British Home Office, this is a new high. This year, 8,000 people made it across the channel.

London - According to official figures, at least 430 people crossed the English Channel from France to the UK on Monday. Around 50 people arrived in the Kent border region on a single rubber dinghy, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

 

According to the Interior Ministry, this is a new high. Previously, the record was 416 arrivals who crossed the canal on one day in early September 2020. Especially when the weather is good, refugees from France, where they often come from refugee camps, take the dangerous crossing. Many use the services of smugglers. According to official information, almost 8,000 people will have reached the UK via the channel this year. The British government wants to act with all its might against the crossings and calls on France again and again to take stronger action against it.

 

According to the BBC, the Ministry of the Interior said again that "decisive steps will be taken to tackle the problem of illegal migration." Interior Minister Priti Patel had previously announced that asylum seekers who entered the country via illegal routes would in the long term be given fewer rights than others. Regaining control over one's own borders is a key promise of Brexit.

Source - Der Standard- Austria

 

Reader Comments

 

"Regaining control over your own borders is a key promise of Brexit." That rightly implies that you don't have control over your own border as an EU member.

 

Not a single one of these people has to "flee" from France and not a single one of these people has to "flee" to the UK and the camps of these migrants in France are not "refugee camps" ... these people are 100% people who enter illegally. They want to migrate UK !

Le Pen's divorce letter to the Germans

16.07.21  Marine Le Pen pledged to divorce from Germany if she comes to power in 2022 to focus on more strategic alliances with the UK and the US.

 

She paints the image of a great nation betrayed by Germany time and again. She is clearly fishing for votes from the military and those with nostalgia for la grande nation, where France, with its nuclear and military might, accuses Germany of not following suit despite signing on to the idea of a common defence union. This may have traction, and as such should not be easily dismissed.

 

Whoever wrote this for her did a good job tapping into the emotional quagmire of French identity and linking it to some hard facts, ignoring the other 93% of policy cooperation. Le Pen accuses Germany of pulling a diplomatic stunt on France by participating first, then taking over to finally lead the project. Faced with this, Paris gives in driven by emotions, altruism and cowardice. This is not limited to the military. The narrative resonates with some hard feelings from France's fallouts with Germany over the monetary union. Le Pen does not even have to mention it. And as always, the good and the bad are clearly defined in this story. France hoped that Germany would change, but no. Nor has France since Charles de Gaulle in this story. The only way for change to happen is to change the story. 

 

The article made some points too. German identity narrative is in itself full of obstacles: anti-nuclear, neutral and pacifist. Its doctrine in international engagements is to engage in everything and exclude nothing. France and Germany are apart on objectives about military platforms and the diplomatic means to pursue them. Le Pen accuses Germany of blackmailing and withdrawing without any consideration for Paris.

 

The Schwerin space project was brought up as an example where the Germans ditched the project with France to pursue their own satellite in competition with the French. Another difference is that German's perspective makes it look more to the East. And as for the industrial dimension, Germany looks more at technology than at military capacity building while France has the order reversed.

 

The article says the UK is a much more natural partner, sharing diplomatic status and nuclear capacities. Le Pen also advocates negotiating an alliance with the US to face the challenges in the Indo-Pacific and in space. And with allies around the world she aims to unite in the fight against Islamic terrorism. 

This article comes clearly from a military historic perspective. The UK a better partner? Forget trade or the standoff over vaccines France and the UK recently went through. Using the la grande nation narrative to define French identity can still get Le Pen votes, but it will not define the future.

Source: Euro intelligence

Weaponising humans against the EU?

14.07.21  Yet another country is weaponising asylum seekers in an effort to push back against the EU, and this time the story is almost unbelievable.

 

Frontex announced yesterday that it plans to launch a rapid border intervention to the Lithuania-Belarus border to assist with growing migration pressure, after more than 800 illegal border crossings were reported in the first week of July alone, out of a total of 1700 this year.

Frontex reported that while most migrants recorded during the first half of the year came from Iraq, Iran and Syria, authorities had noted a change in the composition of migratory flows. Today, most arrivals come from the Republic of Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Mali and Senegal. This could be indicative of an extraordinary new strategy.

 

Gabrielus Landsbergis, the Lithuanian foreign minister, has accused Belarus of flying in migrants from abroad and sending them over the border to EU countries, telling Reuters that asylum seekers are being used as a political weapon. Lithuanian MEP Rasa Jukneviciene, meanwhile, said Belarus and Russia are organising human smuggling networks, with the assistance of Iran, to fly people to the Lithuanian border. A 550-km razor wire barrier is now being built, and Fabrice Leggeri, the executive director of Frontex, has said the agency will fly migrants right back out of Lithuania using commercial and charter flights if they are not granted refugee status.

 

If Lithuania's accusations are true, it could have profound implications for EU asylum policy. Until now, asylum seekers had simply been allowed to cross borders unchallenged in disputes between the EU and its neighbours. To actively seek out and assist asylum seekers in reaching EU borders underscores just how valuable such a strategy can be for disgruntled governments and sanctioned countries. The EU’s immigration and asylum policies remain weak and fragmented. Whatever the outcome for the migrants themselves, the political costs will be high. Unable to hit the EU with any effective economic sanctions, and unconcerned about the collateral damage to desperate and innocent people, Belarus might have found a much more effective way to hurt the union.

Source: Eurointelligence

A cultural time-bomb is already ticking in the EU

By Jonathan Saxty – 3 minute read 

THE NEW Cultural Iron Curtain within Europe is getting harder to ignore, as the Visegrád Group (V4) – at the forefront of the battle between conservative eastern Europe and liberal western Europe – has now united against migrant quotas. 

 

The announcement came from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán following meetings with Czechia, Poland and Slovakia. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) already ruled in December that Hungary was not following EU law and was restricting access to people who sought asylum.  

Mr Orbán recently said he wants a total stop to immigration for two years, adding that “migrant armies are banging on all the gates of Europe” and that “migration is inherently bad”, while people should be happy to be wherever they happen to have been born “according to God’s will.”  

 

In 2018, Czechia was supposed to have relocated 2,691 refugees from Italy and Greece, but relocated only 12, while Slovakia – which was supposed to relocate 902 people - relocated just 16. This comes as the EU continues to divide into two distinct camps, with more conservative eastern Europe attempting to maintain sovereignty. 

 

So exasperated has Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte become that he said Hungary “has no business being in the European Union any more”, criticising Mr Orbán over what Brussels perceives as anti-LGBT legislation. Mr Rutte has previously asked if a new EU could be created without Hungary and Poland. According to Mr Orbán however, “we understand that we are Europe’s future”.  

 

The cultural divide extends beyond Hungary and Poland, or the wider V4. Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša recently said – as the EU presidency passed to his country - that imposing “imaginary European values” on central Europe could lead to the bloc’s collapse. Polish and Slovenian leaders were the only ones to back Hungary’s ‘anti-LGBT’ law, while the French President spoke of an “East-West divide”.  

 

According to Mr Janša, the imposition of an alien outlook by western European states was the “fastest road to collapse”. “There are differences that need to be taken into account and respected and I think there’s a clear division between national and European competences”, he said.  

Drawing on his time in Yugoslavia, the Slovenian leader said “the last nail in the coffin was when some people started using special criteria for themselves, applying double standards. The EU without central Europe is not a European union.” Echoing the language of other eastern European leaders, Mr Janša argued: “We are not a colony – we are not second-class members of the EU. We insist we need the same treatment.”  

 

Technically the EU has no mechanism to kick member states out. However, Article 7 of the EU treaties does allow the EU to remove voting rights from member states. Both Hungary and Poland are currently subject to Article 7 investigations over claims they have undermined the rule of law. A member state must be found to have been persistently breaching EU founding values although identifying the breach requires unanimity (that said, sanctions require only a qualified majority). 

 

For the most part, eastern member states have retained their own currencies, meaning they could theoretically leave the EU more easily than say Greece or Italy. While financial penalties could work, eastern members increasingly have less need for EU money and may qualify for less cash as time goes on. The V4 plus Slovenia are also among the richest eastern member states, fast catching up with Club Med countries.  

While the generation in power in eastern Europe has vivid memories of the Cold War, as that generation dies out, it is not inconceivable that feelings start to soften towards Russia and perhaps the Eurasian Economic Union. Despite political differences, the average Pole has more in common with the average Russian than with the average German. The Cultural Iron Curtain is a timebomb in Europe and the clock is already ticking.

Source: Brexit.org

There is much about the UK, but how are ordinary Europeans feeling??

 

5.07.21   A new survey published this month by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), in partnership with YouGov and Datapraxis, revealed that a majority of Europeans have now lost faith in the EU and its ability to respond effectively in the face of major crises.

 

In many of the bloc’s leading member states, including Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Austria, the picture is stark: a majority believe that the European project is “broken”, in the context of Covid-19, and want a more unified European response to global issues – as well as a stronger stand against Chinese, Russian and Turkish violations of international law.

 

Patience is wearing thin, though. For all the talk of Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel, and others of the Brussels leadership, it's become clear that Europeans want the EU to demonstrate the value of the European project to its citizens – and to stand up for the bloc’s interests in its international engagements.

 

Re-introducing key freedoms, such as the ability to live, work and travel freely, will offer one very immediate pathway for EU institutions and member states to “reboot” confidence in the European project.

Building up the EU’s global position, post-Covid, will offer another. Europeans, today, feel alone in the world, and are worried about being squeezed and outmanoeuvred by other international powers. In such a climate,

 

it’s little wonder that, despite their scepticism, they’re swinging behind the European sovereignty horse.

In ordinary times, Europeans might reasonably look to the US, and the transatlantic relationship, for support. However, its condition, after the tumultuous presidency of Donald Trump, is still fragile.

As ECFR’s survey found, while perceptions of the US have improved since the election of Joe Biden, the prevailing view across Europe is still a depressed one - with many Europeans seeing America as politically “broken”, and, in large measure, as a country that does not share in the EU’s “values or interests”.

 

And the US is not alone in this fall from grace. The UK, too, is also now viewed more as a “necessary partner” for the EU than an “ally” after Brexit. And this view stretches across almost all other global actors, including Russia and China, and suggests that the EU will need to be more pragmatic in respect to its international engagements moving forward.

 

The ambition of Europeans is for the EU to stand on the global stage as a beacon of democracy and human rights. This response to ECFR’s poll, on what the EU should stand for in the post-Covid world, should give leaders of the EU-27 confidence to take firm and decisive action across major violations of international law – such as Belarus’ hijacking of European aircraft, or the persecution of the Uighur population in Xinjiang.

 

A majority of Europeans also want to see the EU scale-up its sharing-vaccines commitments, either before, or as soon as its own vulnerable population has been immunized against Covid. Soft power is understood as an essential part of European power.     But the time for talking about the nature and necessity of Europe’s sovereignty is over: the EU has to kick into action, and show global leadership, before citizens lose faith in this possibility.

At a crossroads

This places the EU, genuinely, at a crossroads as leaders met at tghe end of June.

Though the bloc’s ability to act on the threats that affect the daily life of its citizens has been massively called into question by the slow and chaotic start to the vaccine roll out, there are, still, several routes out of the crisis – but only if leaders are willing to take them.

 

Europeans support greater cooperation, and still see value in their country’s membership of the EU. However, their sense of shared vulnerability after Covid will not be sufficient to move the European project forward.  The EU must now demonstrate its capacity to act in the face of catastrophe. ECFR’s survey suggests that action on warding-off a deeper economic recession and tackling climate change are two significant areas where Europeans expect more from the EU.

 

The Next Generation EU fund could therefore be an opportunity for Brussels to demonstrate its value to European citizens.  The Commission’s approval last week of the first three national plans under the €800 billion fund was a positive step forward. But slipping confidence in the EU’s institutions and leadership indicate that there will be no more second chances.

Source- Euronews

The protocol arguement going back to court!

02.07.21 WELCOME to the this special  report from Brexit watch – they report on the judgement of the Judicial Review in the Belfast High Court brought against the Northern Ireland protocol by Brexit-Watch Chairman Ben Habib and leading Unionist politicians such as Lord Trimble, Jim Allister, Arlene Foster and Catharine Hoey.

While the judgement went against the plaintiffs in stating that the Protocol was legal they had already committed to lodge an appeal if they lost and this is now expected to happen.

The abbreviated reasoning of Justice Colston is that new law supersedes old law (even constitutional law). This appears self-contradictory in that to change the Act of Union (Ireland) 1800 means changing the constitutional status of Northern Ireland – which under the terms of the Belfast /Good Friday Agreement also requires the consent of the people of the Province, which has clearly not been sought.

Essentially Justice Colston is saying the Gov's defence that the Act of Union has impliedly been repealed is valid and that the PM and Brandon Lewis (SoSNI) cannot deny the Act of Union has been repealed (which the PM continues to do in Parliament). This is political dynamite even though the protocol has not been struck down. Either the Good Friday Agreement has been breached (which must have international implications beyond the UK and EU) or the Act of Union stands and the Protocol is not legitimate, Boris Johnson cannot have it both ways. Further courts will be asked to decide, reaching the Supreme Court in due course.


What surely must be certain is that when Parliament voted on the various clauses of the Withdrawal Act its members were not made aware of the implied repeal of the Act of Union – indeed when pressed on the issue by various MPs it was denied. In any reasonable time this judgement would be incendiary in Northern Ireland, but now as we enter July it is the marching season in Northern Ireland that is likely to make emotions more acute.

The sad conclusion must be that in agreeing to the Protocol the EU and UK Gov have conspired together and put peace at risk while trying to pretend they were doing it all for peace and in the name of protecting the GFA – which it now apparently contradicts.

Why Brussels went easy on Britain in its data deal

British business avoided a £1.6 billion cliff edge when London clinched a data agreement with the EU this week. But it was Brussels that bent over backwards to get the deal done.

 

Monday’s agreement, which will allow Europeans’ personal data to continue to flow to the U.K. unimpeded, came because the European Commission determined that Britain’s data protection regime is up to scratch. Many signs indicated that it wasn't. The U.K. itself said it's mulling changes to its rules that would likely diverge from the EU's strict data protection law, known as the GDPR.

 

And the European Parliament, data protection watchdogs and campaigners have longstanding concerns about British surveillance powers, as well as the lack of privacy protections it has for immigrants.

But at every turn, the Berlaymont let Britain off.

 

Take exemptions in Britain’s privacy regime for immigrants. After a U.K. court ruled the exemption illegal in June, the European Commission introduced a workaround to save a deal that had looked like it was heading off course.

 

In a first, the EU also bolted on a temporary, six-month solution to the wider trade deal when the Brexit transition ended in 2020, to keep data flowing across the Channel while the EU finalized the deal, known as an "adequacy decision."

 

EU courts have shot down data deals with the U.S. twice, because they deemed American surveillance practices too intrusive for European standards.

 

Brussels officials argue the U.K., whose surveillance powers mirror those of the U.S. — its partner in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance — is different. Britain’s surveillance regime is bound by the European Court of Human Rights, they say. Never mind that the U.K. is looking to break free of the Strasbourg court’s jurisdiction, and that the legality of its snooping powers have time and again been questioned by European judges too. 

 

They also warned MEPs that not getting a deal would harm the EU, and they chastised European data protection watchdogs for being too harsh on the U.K.

 

The Commission wrote to the regulators in an email obtained by POLITICO that if their own “critical opinions” are adopted "without being significantly rebalanced," this will "show that our model is not credible as a global solution and that adequacy is basically 'mission impossible' if even a former Member State that has decided to essentially keep the same data protection rules is not considered adequate.”

 

For its part, the European Commission says it can suspend the decision if the Brits stray, and can choose to scrap the deal altogether in four years' time when it's up for renewal (a first in these types of deals).

Reputation management

The U.K. adequacy process points to growing anxiety in Brussels that it fears losing its position as a global standard-setter on data protection by being too hard on third-party countries. Europe touts its data protection rulebook, the General Data Protection Regulation, as a gold standard copied by the likes of Brazil and South Korea. It sees adequacy decisions as a key pillar of maintaining that standard.

But the shine may be coming off. The United States has long complained that it is held to higher standards than European countries when it comes to protection from surveillance. Those complaints could have some weight to them as EU countries — spearheaded by France — push to get their own surveillance regimes exempted from EU standards.

And the EU's power to decide who gets a deal and who doesn't has its critics. There are gripes that the Commission takes too long to get deals done — it has finalized 12 in almost 20 years and had one repeatedly quashed by the courts — and that the process lacks transparency.

 

“I know that the adequacy procedure is a long and winding road … I know some European processes are much too slow,” said Christian Kastrop, Germany’s consumer protection and justice state secretary.

 

And as Britain charts its own course on data flows, Europe's own model will come under closer scrutiny — and Britain's may offer an alternative to countries sick of being on the EU's waiting list.   The U.K.'s head of data flows, Joe Jones, said Britain's focus is “on doing adequacy differently” from the EU, with an emphasis on getting more deals done, and done quicker, to “keep up with what’s happening internationally.”

 

“We need to embrace the fact that different countries will take slightly different approaches to data protection and privacy,” he said.

 

Source- Politico eu

Has Brexit been worthwhile?

The fifth anniversary of the Brexit referendum has been largely an exercise of confirmation bias. What struck us in particular are the repeated assertions in Germany and from the European Commission yesterday that Brexit hadn’t paid off.

 

This is an odd claim because it turns the debate upside down. The vote was a rejection of economic utilitarian arguments. The case for Brexit was an economic one. We can see why the Germans and French are confused on this point. In Germany, all politics is subordinated to industrial interests. People voted Leave because they did not want to belong to the EU.

 

That said, we keep an open mind on the Remain campaign’s central claim - that leaving the EU would make the UK worse off in the long run. However, we won’t know the answer to that question for a long time.

First, Brexit did not happen five years ago, but in February 2020. The economic framework only became active in January this year. Six months is a little early for an assessment of a long-term economic impact.

 

Second, the last 15 months were accompanied by a pandemic. The UK was hit worse than the EU average for reasons unrelated to EU membership. Brexit was a factor in the UK’s fast roll-out of vaccines. The pandemic has been an unprecedented economic roller-coaster during which the noise cancelled out the signal.

 

Third, the test of Brexit will come from regulatory divergence. Data is probably the single biggest factor - underestimated by the trade specialists because data trade is not an officially recognised category. So here is our speculation: if the UK manages to extricate itself from the EU’s overly-burdensome data protection laws, it could reap economic windfalls on a scale of North Sea oil in the 1980s. There are many other regulatory issues that will matter too, including for financial services. But we reckon that the data environment is going to be the big one.

 

Economists think about trade of physical goods in terms of gravity. The closer you are to another country, the more you trade with it. The argument against Brexit followed on the same lines: if you destroy your trading relationship with the EU, you will not make up for the losses by trading more with Asia and the Americas.

 

But Brexit - like EU membership before - is a long-term decision, so that's the time horizon over which you need to measure the impact. In the long run, data trade will become more important - and data are not subject to gravity. Production is becoming more decentralised due to technological innovation in robotics and 3d-printing. In the very long run, it is conceivable that we trade data mainly - and raw materials - and do the rest locally. We are not in this world yet. But this is a world within the time horizon of a post-Brexit industrial era, one in which data regulation is critical.

 

The economic success and failure of Brexit will therefore depend on political decisions that have yet to be taken. It is far from clear that this will happen. Dominic Cummings pushed this agenda. But there was no broad-based political support in the Conservative Party behind this. The current focus is on industrial development and planning. Cummings' departure from the inner circle of No 10 Downing Street makes it less likely that the UK will opt for a radical departure from GDPR, the EU’s data protection regime. In that case, the UK would forego some of Brexit’s potential benefits.

 

Our best guess right now is that the long-run economic impact will be hard to discern in practice because economies adjust in non-foreseeable ways.

 

It is economists who don’t. 

Source: Euro intelligence

Years of negotiations were supposed to prevent the bridges from being broken.

24.06.21- report from Austrian newspaper: Five years after the Brexit vote, the balance remains contradictory The camps have hardly changed since the 2016 Brexit referendum. But the mood in the economy - and in the parties - has changed 

 

This week marks the fifth year that the UK left the EU in a referendum. Almost 52 percent of the British voted for Brexit on June 23, 2016 - and thus triggered a negotiating marathon that only ended in December of last year with the agreement on a trade and cooperation agreement.

 

The struggle was not only between London and Brussels, but also between the British government and the House of Commons. The parliamentary sessions under the then chairman John Bercow are legendary, who - even with loud calls for order - always defended the rights of the members of parliament and, as has now become known, has since switched from the Tories to Labour.

 

He accuses Brexit Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Tories of "reactionary, populist, nationalist and sometimes xenophobic" policies. Meanwhile, people on both sides of the English Channel are trying to cope with the new conditions of the brexit deal.

 

Question: How do the British see their decision today?

Answer: The United Kingdom left the EU at the end of January 2020, and at the end of last year also from the internal market. Since then, it seems as if the Corona-stricken British wanted to talk about Brexit as little as possible. Prime Minister Johnson even avoids speaking, and Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer also seems to have left the issue behind. Pollsters note the weakening of old loyalties in favor of the new division of the country into "Leavers" and "Remainers": "Among those who went to the ballot box at the time, very few changed their minds," affirmed Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University in Glasgow.#

 

Question: What are the specific effects on the parties?

Answer: At first it seemed that Brexit would primarily tear apart the conservatives. But the will to power prevailed in the oldest party in the world: Prime Minister Johnson threw all Liberal Conservatives out of the party, the Tories cannibalized the now-defunct Brexit Party (formerly: Ukip). This means that they regularly achieve more than 40 percent in surveys. In contrast, the Brexit crisis in Labour remains unsolved. Party leader Starmer shies away from the issue because the majority of the traditional regular electorate had supported the exit from the EU.

 

The young, urban members, on the other hand, are almost all pro-Europeans. In a by-election in Amersham, in the suburb north-west of London, disappointed Tory voters therefore rallied under the banner of the Liberal Democrats, who were believed to be dead. They denounce Johnson's Brexit course as regularly as the Scottish national party SNP, which drums for independence from London and for EU membership.


Question: Will the Union of British Nations be preserved after leaving the European alliance?

Answer: The UK looks increasingly divided. Even in Wales, a serious movement for the separation from London is taking shape. They have been around in the north for a long time. The referendum on Scottish independence in 2014 was won by the Unionists, not least with the argument of EU membership with 55:45 percent, in 2016 the Scots wanted to stay in the Brussels Club with 62 percent.

 

In the regional elections in May, the Scots clearly confirmed SNP Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon in office; a violent constitutional dispute with London is only a matter of time. In Northern Ireland, the Protestant unionist DUP is not coming out of the crisis. In 2016, it was the only major party to support Brexit; 56 percent of the electorate voted to remain in the EU.

 

The Northern Ireland Protocol in the Withdrawal Treaty is now controversial almost daily between London and Brussels. There can be no question of an imminent referendum on unification with the republic in the south, which the Catholic-nationalist Sinn Féin dreams of;   Certainly, however, the exit from the EU has not strengthened Northern Ireland's affiliation with Great Britain.


Question: How has society changed?


Answer: The concern of unlimited immigration, also fueled by Brexit pioneer Nigel Farage, had worried many Leave voters. In the summer of 2016, many of the EU citizens living in Great Britain promptly heard old prejudices and were asked, directly or indirectly, to leave the country. Five years later, hundreds of thousands have actually returned home, partly for economic reasons, partly because they no longer felt welcome.

 

 The result of the referendum shook the financial markets, the pound plummeted and lost 15 percent of its value. However, the financial center City of London has so far hardly given up any jobs to the euro financial centers Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris.

 

In the case of services, the consequences are likely to be drastic because the trade agreement concluded shortly before Christmas only dealt with goods traffic at London's insistence. But even with this there are negative effects.

 

In the first quarter of this year, the export of food and spirits to the EU fell by 46.6 percent compared to the previous year; Compared to 2019, before Covid-19 had an impact for the first time, the loss was even 55.1 percent. Because the import of goods, especially fresh food, is less affected, many heavy trucks from the continent, which used to return home fully loaded, are now leaving the island with empty cargo space. The heavy traffic lobby RHA says with bitter humor that the kingdom has become the "world champion in exporting fresh air".   The article unfortunately, as all EU news, does not address the positives of Brexit

Source: Der Standard - Sebastian Borger from London, Photo: imago - Gary Waters

How the Brexit referendum was spun and lost!

LONDON — David Cameron would have won the EU referendum with different tactics and a different Labour leader in support, one of Vote Leave’s most senior figures told POLITICO.

Speaking to a special edition of the Westminster Insider podcast, marking the five-year anniversary of the Brexit referendum, Vote Leave’s director of communications Paul Stephenson blamed Cameron’s flawed approach and Jeremy Corbyn’s natural Euroskepticism for the Remain campaign’s failure to win the day.

He said Cameron’s biggest error behad en trying to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership ahead of the referendum — effectively setting himself up to fail.

 

“It was pivotal,” Stephenson said of the prime minister’s February 2016 deal with Brussels. “They were saying they were going to do something big on immigration … As a strategy, you don’t set up the big question that needs to be answered and then flunk the question with your own proposals.”

 

“Had they just come out and said ‘the EU isn’t perfect, but for these reasons it’s the right thing to do,’ I think they could have won it. They tried to basically do a handbrake turn in the middle of the campaign, from ‘the EU is terrible, we have to reform it’ to ‘oh, it’s a brilliant thing’… I think that was a real problem.”

Stephenson — a central figure in Vote Leave HQ alongside Dominic Cummings, who went on to be Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide — said the election of Corbyn as Labour leader had also proved a gift to his campaign.

 

“I think if any other of the Labour leadership contenders had been leader of the Labour Party, then we woCraig Oliver, Cameron’s own director of communications and a key figure in the Remain campaign, agreed that Corbyn caused endless problems for his side.uld have lost,” Stephenson said. “There wasn’t really a Labour campaign until it was almost too late … It was after the local elections in May [2016] when they really came out working as a party. They had a huge amount of money they could spend, they had a huge amount of ground troops — and those people just weren’t out there.”

 

“We were out early on with red leaflets … And [Corbyn’s] silence allowed us to move into a space that shouldn’t have existed. He allowed us to go after the working class ‘small-c’ conservative vote that was naturally quite Euroskeptic. They conceded a huge amount of ground there. And I think, say, if Andy Burnham had been in charge, I don’t think we would have had as much space to move into.”

 

“The Labour Party was a fundamental problem,” Oliver told the podcast. “I think if Ed Miliband had been in charge, and you had shadow Cabinet ministers like Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls … they would have pulled their weight a lot more.”

“We actually ‘gridded’ a lot of activity for communications, we’d often leave spaces for the Labour Party, and they wouldn’t take them up. The night before you’d either have Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell pulling out. You’d have a situation where Jeremy Corbyn literally went on holiday during the campaign, or gave it ‘seven out of 10’ in terms of his enthusiasm for it.”

Oliver was happy to accept his own side’s shortcomings, however, and offered a withering appraisal of Remain’s complacency ahead of the campaign.

 

“The reality is, I think that the metropolitan liberal elite — of which I consider myself probably part — had assumed that people would listen to the establishment,” Oliver said. “That they might not like it, but they’d probably ‘do what was probably good for them’ in the end. I think that probably was an assumption that was below the surface, if people are honest about it.”

But he was equally scathing about Vote Leave’s relentless focus on immigration in the final weeks of the campaign, including repeated claims that Turkey could have joined the EU — with immediate freedom of movement rights — by 2020.

“The Leave campaign very deliberately and systematically catalyzed division: deliberately set out to play upon the psychological fears of people,” Oliver said.

 

“The [immigration] issue was blown out of proportion, magnified and amplified to the most extraordinary degree. Over and over again, they were misleading people that Turkey was going to join the EU imminently. And as a result of that, 80 million people — brackets, Muslims — could actually come to the U.K. That is a deeply uncomfortable thing for them to have been asserting, and was a problem for us.”

Stephenson, however, insisted the prospect of Turkish accession to the EU — publicly supported by Cameron in 2011 — was a “perfectly valid thing for us to talk about,” and stressed that for the majority of the campaign, Vote Leave’s focus had been on its pledge to re-channel Britain’s EU contributions toward the National Health Service.

 

“NHS was one of the things we absolutely hammered throughout,” he said.

He also defended the infamous Vote Leave tour bus, which was emblazoned with a pledge to spend the U.K.’s £350 million-a-week gross contribution to the EU on the NHS instead. Throughout the campaign, Remain supporters complained vociferously that £350 million was only the gross figure, and that much of that money was already spent on services in the U.K.

“There were a range of numbers that could have been used, and £350 million was at the upper end,” Stephenson said.

 

“All they did was create arguments about how much money we were sending … I think it became very clear quite early on to us that actually they were making a massive mistake by elevating this issue. We wanted to talk about the cost of the EU — and the lack of control of the money and how it’s spent — as much as possible. It was one of our strongest messages.”

 
Source - Politico eu... Jack Blanchard

In Strasbourg this Saturday

17.06.21 Has Brexit added to the difficulties the EU have in assimilating fully? 

The biggest enemies to European integration are not the eurosceptics or Russian hackers. They are the inter-governmental integrationists, people of a pragmatic disposition. They incessantly talk about Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. They drool over G7 summits, and about who is with whom against whom.

 

Their narrative of European integration is what used to be called the Great Man Theory of history. Laws don't matter in this Hobbesian world. The only institution they care about is the European Council. And the thing they most despise is the Conference on the future of Europe, a construction they don't understand with all its aspirations for treaty change. This Saturday, 19.06.21 the conference will hold its first plenary meeting in Strasbourg.

 

We believe that European integration is too precious to be left to any one group, which is why reform of the EU has to proceed on several levels simultaneously. We have been arguing since time immemorial that the euro area requires treaty change that lays the ground for an economic union - one that includes but is not limited to fiscal policy. It cannot be done properly without. If we want the EU to succeed in areas we want it to act, we would bestow it with the legal competencies and procedures to get the job done. Think of vaccine procurement. Andrew Duff is taking a particular interest in this debate. He was an active member of the constitutional convention almost 20 years ago - whose work later gave rise to the Lisbon treaty. Duff has in the past been more optimistic about the future of the EU than we were. But even he is now saying that this is crunch time. He writes

"Those who would resist change must live with the consequences of a failing Union."

Failure and irrelevance, not breakup and conflict would be the hallmarks of a failing EU.

Source: Eurointelligence

“If Brussels continue to think that the protocol is enough, they are in denial,”

 

15.06.21  Northern Ireland’s cross-community government lost its leaders on Monday, creating a period of grave political uncertainty as talks on how to implement the Brexit trade protocol hang in the balance.

Arlene Foster announced her resignation as first minister at the Northern Ireland Assembly, but there was nothing voluntary about it. She faced no choice but to quit after Democratic Unionist colleagues last month replaced her as party leader with Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots.

Poots has vowed to mobilize unionist opposition to the protocol, which requires EU checks on British goods arriving from the rest of the U.K.

 

The Assembly now faces a one-week deadline for its British unionist and Irish nationalist blocs to confirm a successor. Poots wants fellow DUP hardliner Paul Givan to become first minister, but needs support from the main nationalist party, Sinn Féin. This looks unlikely based on the two sides’ polarized positions.

If they cannot compromise, power-sharing — a central but chronically fragile achievement of Northern Ireland’s peace accord — will fail once again. The Assembly would be suspended and Secretary of State Brandon Lewis would resume “direct rule” from London, a system in place through most of a three-decade conflict over Northern Ireland that claimed 3,700 lives. The Assembly was last mothballed for a three-year period ending in January 2020.

 

Lewis also could call early elections that — based on all recent polls — Sinn Féin would be likely to win, overtaking unionists for the first time. This is hardly an incentive for Sinn Féin to back off its current core demand for the DUP to agree to put the Irish language on an equal legal footing with English.

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Conor Murphy said his party would not support Givan unless the DUP promises to help pass an Irish Language Act within the next few weeks. 

 

Poots has offered vague pledges that the DUP would include this long-promised move, but only within broader legislation — and probably not until the far side of elections. He said Sinn Féin could “place no preconditions” on Givan’s appointment. “We have run out of road,” Murphy told reporters.

Foster’s resignation also forced the automatic ouster of the senior Sinn Féin figure in the five-party coalition, Michelle O’Neill, from her post of deputy first minister. The rules of Belfast power-sharing require both posts to be filled by the largest parties on each side; one cannot remain in office without the other.

 

To save power-sharing, the Assembly would need to appoint Givan and O’Neill on a joint ticket next week.

Without its leaders, the Northern Ireland government may lack legal authority to take key decisions on the COVID-19 pandemic. It also won’t be able to send ministers to a summit Friday with the Irish government.

In her mostly gracious resignation speech, Foster avoided eye contact with Poots sitting to her immediate right and never mentioned him by name, reflecting the air of bitterness between them.

 

Poots, in turn, stayed seated and grim-faced when Foster departed in jovial form alongside other unionists, who invited her out for drinks.

 

But in her speech, Foster backed Poots’ anti-protocol stance. She warned that Britain must keep delaying the expansion of EU checks at Northern Ireland ports to avoid stirring street violence in unionist areas.

“If Brussels continue to think that the protocol is enough, they are in denial,” she said. “Imbalance and instability in the context of Northern Ireland is a truly dangerous cocktail."

Source Politico eu - Photo Credit - Belfast Telegraph