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Bojo’s bonkers Brexit

Ideas on Europe Blog - Thu, 27/06/2019 - 00:04

So desperate is Boris Johnson for the keys to number 10, that he has conceded all the demands of the far-right of his Tory party, who have said they will withdraw their support for him if he doesn’t do what they say.

The Guardian reported today, ‘Eurosceptics in the party were increasingly turning the screws on Johnson by warning they would withdraw support for his government if he fails to take the UK out of the EU by 31 October.’

Bojo the Prime Minister wannabe – or ‘mini Trump’ as they call him in the rest of the EU – has now made clear that that if he is in charge:

  • The UK will leave the EU on 31 October 2019 “come what may; do or die”
  • Theresa May’s Brexit deal will be torn up and a new deal negotiated. “We need a new withdrawal agreement,” said Mr Johnson, who added that Mrs May’s deal was “dead”.
  • In the event of no deal, Mr Johnson said he would threaten not to pay the £39 billion debt that Theresa May’s government had already agreed was owed to the EU (whether we leave or remain).
  • He could “ignore” any Parliamentary objection to a no-deal Brexit. (That’s according to the advice of former Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, who is backing Mr Johnson to be our next Prime Minister. Any motion from MPs against a no-deal Brexit would have “zero legal effect” and could be overridden, Mr Raab said today on the Radio 4 Today programme.)

It’s all nonsense of course. The UK is not ready for Brexit, let alone a no-deal Brexit, and let alone by 31 October.

Renegotiating the deal is simply a no-no. The EU27 are absolutely resolved: there will no renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement.

A spokesperson for the European Commission told reporters today:

“I can confirm, as has been repeated several times, we will not be renegotiating the withdrawal agreement, full stop”. 

Even if the EU was prepared to renegotiate Theresa May’s deal – which took almost two years to conclude – there is now no time to do it.

In real terms, there are only a few weeks left of Parliamentary time before 31 October.

Our Parliament will shortly be packing up shop for the summer. Then, our lawmakers will be trotting off to for the September party conference season.

By the time Parliamentarians return for “normal” business in October, leaving the EU – deal or no-deal – will be just a few weeks away.

No time for a new deal. Under Bojo, the only option would be no-deal.

So, here’s the bottom line:

  • Under a Jeremy Hunt prime ministership, Brexit will be a longer, drawn out affair, as he has accepted the possible need for a further extension to allow for new negotiations. Under Hunt, Brexit delays will go on and on and…
  • But under a Boris Johnson prime ministership, Brexit will be shocking and sharp, a sudden and sheer drop over the cliff edge at the stroke of midnight on Halloween, with the strongest, highest possibility of Britain leaving without any deal, which would be catastrophic.

So, Remainers, chins up for a Boris Johnson premiership.

Bojo’s Bonkers Brexit offers the best chance for a rapid and seismic end to the Brexit madness.

Any plan by Boris Johnson to leave the EU without a deal would result in Parliament passing a vote of no confidence in his government, with a high chance of success.

That would almost certainly precipitate a General Election, in which it’s hoped that a new mandate would be offered to ‘the people’, either to revoke Article 50, or to offer the nation a new referendum on Brexit.

Boris Johnson’s Brexit bungle could save the day for Remain. It could bring in a new Labour government, possibly sharing power with the LibDems, agreeing to offer the nation a way out of the never-ending Brexit impasse.

But only if Labour now seizes its moment and unequivocally becomes a Remain party, and does so without delay.

And only if the Remain side now urgently gets its act together, and presents the best, most powerful, persuasive, professional and compelling case for the nation to abandon Brexit and Remain in the EU.


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The post Bojo’s bonkers Brexit appeared first on Ideas on Europe.

Categories: European Union

SCAF : The New Franco-German Aircraft

CSDP blog - Wed, 26/06/2019 - 15:15

SCAF : Future Combat Air System


New Beginnings in Turkey post-Istanbul Mayoral elections or Not

Ideas on Europe Blog - Mon, 24/06/2019 - 12:36

I have not commented on Turkish politics for a while now for I thought not much is changing in Turkey since 2013, except there has been a constant and continuous democratic backsliding and the reign of the Justice and Development Party for almost two decades.

What today’s Istanbul Mayoral election result represents is a critical juncture in Turkish politics, which will probably be followed by some significant changes, but I cannot predict yet what will be the nature of these changes. Only time will tell.

The newly elected Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who was the opposition’s candidate, adopted an inclusive, constructive and, if not too simplistic to say, a friendly and a kind approach during both election campaigns and his narrative was a true reflection of this style. The style that won him votes from every corner of Istanbul.

However let’s not forget when the President Tayyip Erdogan was first elected as the Mayor of Istanbul in 1994, he represented a new beginning for Turkey, thus garnered supports from different segments of the society, from Republicans and Nationalists to Kurds and Islamists.

The common denominator, which had brought people together behind Erdogan in mid 1990s, is also what brings people of different backgrounds together behind Ekremoglu: people’ desire to live in a country where democracy is the only game in town.

Whether Imamoglu, his team and his political party have the vision to take on Turkey as a project and work hard to heal it, I don’t know.

Whether they can deliver on such a big project, I cannot say.

And whether they will maintain their friendly politics style, we have to wait and see.

I think who or which political party wins the elections are not that important under the current circumstances in Turkey.

What is vital is whether these politicians and their political parties or the alliances they formed will keep their loyalty to the principles of liberal democracy.

Or whether once they gain more political power in the coming elections, their Kemalist origins would awaken and strengthen their nationalist demons.

The post New Beginnings in Turkey post-Istanbul Mayoral elections or Not appeared first on Ideas on Europe.

Categories: European Union

New faces, old problems

Ideas on Europe Blog - Thu, 20/06/2019 - 09:20

So today we find out who will be the final two candidates to become the new leader of the Conservative party.

It’s also the day that we find out whether the EU has made any progress on selecting individuals to fill the top jobs at the Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council.

Both sets of decisions will matter for Brexit, but neither will matter that much.

Individuals clearly have a role and a weight in politics: whether it’s their charismatic leadership, their technocratic expertise or their oligarchic connections, they can make a difference to a situation.

In this case, it’s possible that a new Prime Minister will be able to cajole fellow MPs to vote in support of a plan in a way that Theresa May wasn’t. If nothing else, none of the remaining candidates has a similar political decision-making style to May, of an exceptionally small circle of advisors, with whom choices are made and then stuck to with scant regard for others’ views.

If one assumes that part of the blockage on withdrawal from the EU was the failure of May to keep her party on-board with the evolving negotiations with the Commission, then here is an obvious opportunity.

Likewise, new leadership in the Commission and European Council might open up more scope to jiggle the EU27 along to make some accommodations on the other side of the table. That might be both because they have a less antagonist relationship with the new Prime Minister and because they are not beholden to previous discussions and commitments.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But equally: maybe not, maybe not, maybe not.

Reading through those opening paragraphs looks like an exercise in wishful thinking, in many ways.

As the EU has made clear, the issue was never May per se, but the situation she was operating within. In particular, her inability to command a robust majority in Parliament raised concerns about her capacity to deliver on commitments made.

A new PM might well be more commanding of his own party, but that party still doesn’t have a majority by itself and even with its partner, the DUP, there is now only a working majority of about 4. Recall that figure includes a number of backbenchers who are profoundly unhappy with the prospect of (in some cases) a no-deal scenario or (in others) anything other than a no-deal, and the scene is set for the new occupier of Number 10 to discover that they are not the individual who counts in all this.

Importantly, none of the candidates is offering a fundamental shift from May’s decision to go down the party-political route: reaching across the aisle to build a wider coalition is neither likely to be offered, nor to be accepted by an opposition who feel ever more confident that an early election is in the offing.

Likewise, connective as Jean-Claude Juncker or Donald Tusk have been, they have still been just that: connective. Their authority and locus has been built on the high level of support from the member states, which itself has come from the robust defence of their interests in the central institutions of the EU. At its most prosaic, any new European Council President who sells out Irish interests to try and close the Withdrawal Agreement is likely to find their position deeply troubled. EU unity to this point has been built on deep recognition and respect of members’ interests, not on coercive leadership from above.

And this is even before we consider that the current EU leadership group has been very well-disposed to the UK, most obviously in helping to make adjustments to the Agreement to improve its chances of approval by the UK Parliament (or so they were told).

Taken together, the most substantial danger right now is buying into the view that we just need to shake things up with a new Prime Minister and we’ll be good to go: Theresa had a jolly good go at things, but now someone else needs to take the reins of power and bring them a good old tug. Tugging might make that person feel better, but it doesn’t necessarily address the underlying issue.

All of which is to take us to a situation where we are going to use more of the (limited) time available focusing on elements that do not resolve the Brexit blockage.

Even with a new Prime Minister in place during July, the EU side will take some time yet to get its house in order, even without factoring in the summer break. That means September is likely to be rather frantic in London, Brussels and various EU27 capitals, as everyone tries to take stock of what has (and hasn’t) changed.

Even force of character isn’t suddenly going to give a new Prime Minister a robust majority, so the question will become one of whether you have to go down the path of building such a position by the more conventional means of an election. As the British political vernacular would put it, that might be very courageous.

The post New faces, old problems appeared first on Ideas on Europe.

Categories: European Union

The “Spitzenkandidaten” in the media: did they make a difference this time?

Ideas on Europe Blog - Wed, 19/06/2019 - 18:50

This is a post on Spitzenkandidaten by Dr Katjana Gattermann. The text was originally published in the edited volume Euroflections. Leading academics on the European elections 2019, a free downloadable report with results, analyses and reflections on the election to the European Parliament 2019. More than 70 researchers from all over Europe participate in the project led by the editors Niklas Bolin, Kajsa Falasca, Marie Grusell and Lars Nord. Download the report and read more about the project here.

The Spitzenkandidaten

One distinct feature of the 2019 European Parliament elections were the campaigns of the pan-European lead candidates of several European party groups. These so-called “Spitzenkandidaten” were first introduced in the previous elections of 2014. Back then, it was hoped that – by personalizing the campaigns – European citizens would become more aware of the elections and ultimately more mobilized to take part in the polls. In 2014, there was no clear evidence that the Spitzenkandidaten indeed fulfilled this function. In fact, only few citizens could recognize any of the Spitzenkandidaten during the campaigns. Nonetheless, one of the past Spitzenkandidaten, namely Jean-Claude Juncker, was later nominated by the European Council and ultimately elected as Commission President by the Parliament.

That is why the European Parliament urged European party groups to again nominate pan-European Spitzenkandidaten for the 2019 elections. This time, there were seven Spitzenkandidaten: the European People’s Party nominated the German Manfred Weber, the Social Democrats Dutchman Frans Timmermans, the Conservatives the Czech Jan Zahradil, and the Greens and the Left each chose a duo of a male and a female candidate. The Liberals put forward a team of candidates, comprising among others Guy Verhofstadt from Belgium and Margrethe Vestager from Denmark.

The importance of media visibility

In order for European citizens to take note of the Spitzenkandidaten, there has to be sufficient media visibility. So, how visible were the candidates? Did the media pay more attention to them than in 2014? Seeing that the outcome of the Spitzenkandidaten procedure was still unknown during the 2014 election campaigns, but eventually led to the selection of Jean-Claude Juncker as Commission President, journalists may have taken the procedure more seriously in 2019 and hence may have more frequently reported about the Spitzenkandidaten.

Back in 2014, I conducted a content analysis of each two French, Dutch, German, Irish and Italian newspapers over a period of ten weeks prior to Election Day. I repeated this content analysis for the same newspapers and time-span for the 2019 elections. On the whole, news coverage of the Spitzenkandidaten was not significantly more comprehensive in 2019 compared to 2014. German newspapers paid most attention to all Spitzenkandidaten in 2019, followed by the Dutch press, which is not surprising because the candidates of the two biggest party groups are German and Dutch, respectively. French newspapers reported most extensively about the Spitzenkandidaten in 2014.

This year however, they devoted significantly less attention to the Spitzenkandidaten than before. In 2014, the German Spitzenkandidat Martin Schulz (Social Democrats) received most attention in all newspapers under study, while in 2019, the German Manfred Weber was most reported only in Germany, Italy and France. Margrethe Vestager was the most visible candidate in the Irish press; Frans Timmermans unsurprisingly received most attention at home. In short, the visibility of the Spitzenkandidaten varied across country and there was no significant increase in attention paid to them by European newspapers between 2014 and 2019.


Moreover, three pan-European television debates between the Spitzenkandidaten were held in both 2014 and 2019. Two of them were livestreamed on the internet; and only the debate organised by the European Broadcast Union (EBU) was also broadcasted via national television stations. According to the EBU, the 2019 debate was broadcasted live in 19 EU countries, but not in nine other EU countries (Austria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia). However, one problem with pan-European debates is language: often, candidate statements have to be translated by an interpreter which hinders the audience to get a vivid impression of the candidates. Likewise, candidates may come across differently – for example, as less confident or less eloquent – if they debate in a language that is not their mother tongue. Still, these debates provide an important forum for citizens to learn about different candidates and their positions – if not directly, then at least through further media coverage about these debates (provided the media report about them, of course).

Does the visbility of Spitzenkandidaten improve turnout?

It is still too early to say whether the Spitzenkandidaten were able to mobilize European citizens this time round; we need to systematically analyse data for that. Indeed, turnout figures have gone up in many countries compared to the previous European elections. But there could be several reasons for this which are not necessarily linked to the Spitzenkandidaten. Then again, provisional election results of the Dutch Labour party of Frans Timmermans and the Bavarian Christian Democrats, for which Manfred Weber was standing, indicate that both parties have gained more seats in the European Parliament compared to last time. Even if these outcomes could be attributed to the Spitzenkandidaten, this impact remains limited to the country or region in which they had actually been listed on the ballot. Moreover, national parties tend not to campaign extensively with candidates from other countries, for example, on election campaign posters.

Overall, it is unlikely that the Spitzenkandidaten were the driving force behind voter turnout and votes for specific party groups across Europe. Given that media attention differed across country and there was not significantly more news coverage about the Spitzenkandidaten compared to 2014, it remains to be seen whether European citizens have actually become more aware of the candidates during the 2019 election campaigns.

The post The “Spitzenkandidaten” in the media: did they make a difference this time? appeared first on Ideas on Europe.

Categories: European Union

Agenda - EP concluded the last plenary session of its 8th term on 18th April

European Parliament - Tue, 18/06/2019 - 11:04
The European Parliament concluded the last plenary session of its 8th term on 18th April

Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP
Categories: European Union

Latest news - Next Committee meeting - Committee on Foreign Affairs

The next meeting of the AFET Committee will take place in July, more information will follow.
Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP
Categories: European Union

Highlights - The European Parliamentary committees: their role and composition - Committee on Foreign Affairs

Parliament's committees deal with EU legislative proposals by adopting reports, which then are referred to plenary for voting by all Members, and appoint negotiation teams to conduct talks with Council. They adopt non-legislative reports, organise hearings with experts and scrutinise other EU bodies and institutions. Parliament can set up sub-committees and special committees to deal with specific issues. Each committee elects a chair and up to four vice-chairs for a two and a half year mandate.
Further information
More information
Source : © European Union, 2019 - EP
Categories: European Union

Funding for migration, border and security policies: Council agrees its position

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
The Council today reached partial general approaches on three sectoral home affairs proposals in the context of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the period 2021-2027.
Categories: European Union

Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
Weekly schedule of President Donald Tusk 10 - 14 June 2019
Categories: European Union

Migration policy: Council agrees partial negotiating position on return directive

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
This position covers all aspects of the proposed revision apart from the provisions on the border procedure for returns.
Categories: European Union

Post-2020 digital policy − Council adopts conclusions

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
Council conclusions on the future of a highly digitised Europe beyond 2020 will assist in the development of the EU's future digital policy.
Categories: European Union

Eastern Partnership joint declaration on transport cooperation

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
Eastern Partnership will take forward transport cooperation to reinforce road safety and improve transport connections.
Categories: European Union

Data retention to fight crime: Council adopts conclusions

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
Council conclusions on the way forward on the retention of electronic communication data for the purpose of fighting crime.
Categories: European Union

Council gives mandate to Commission to negotiate international agreements on e-evidence in criminal matters

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
The Council is tasking the Commission with negotiating agreements with the US and within the Council of Europe to facilitate access to e-evidence.
Categories: European Union

Letter of congratulations from President Donald Tusk to Antti Rinne on his appointment as Prime Minister of Finland

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
President Donald Tusk congratulated Antti Rinne on his appointment as Prime Minister of Finland.
Categories: European Union

Radicalisation in prisons: Council adopts conclusions

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
The Council adopted conclusions on preventing and combatting radicalisation in prisons, and on dealing with terrorist and violent extremist offenders after release.
Categories: European Union

The Council underlines role of non-power nuclear technologies

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
The Council adopted conclusions on non-power nuclear and radiological technologies and applications.
Categories: European Union

Giving entrepreneurs a second chance: new rules on business insolvency adopted

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
The Council adopted the directive on preventive restructuring frameworks, second chance and measures to increase the efficiency of restructuring, insolvency and discharge procedures for entrepreneurs.
Categories: European Union

Easier use of digital information for freight transport – Council agrees on its position

European Council - Tue, 11/06/2019 - 06:41
The EU is establishing a uniform legal framework for the use of electronic freight transport information in all modes of transport.
Categories: European Union