“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” Prior to the 2016 Brexit referendum, I borrowed this line from the Eagles’ 1976 hit “Hotel California” as an argument against Britain exiting the European Union. I told audiences up and down Britain that if they voted to leave the EU, they would end up more entangled with the EU Commission than ever before.
Tag Archives: EU
Europe seems awash with historical hang-ups. And they are important ones. They may define the continent’s future as much as the outcome of Germany’s current political convulsions, or the state of Italy’s banks, or whether Brexit Britain manages to cobble a transition deal. Large crowds of Greek people recently protested against the use of the name Macedonia by the neighbouring former Yugoslav republic.
In Paris, there is intense debate about whether the writer Charles Maurras, a leading intellectual figure of French early 20th-century ultranationalism and antisemitism and a prominent supporter of the Vichy regime, should be listed among the names to be officially “commemorated” this year (he was born in 1868). Poland’s new law aimed at curtailing any discussion of the role some Poles played in the Holocaust led to a spat with Israel and the US. In Germany, where the far-right AfD holds 94 seats in the Bundestag, a local Berlin politician (of Palestinian family background) last month called for newly arrived migrants to be sent on mandatory visits to concentration camp memorials to assist their “integration courses”.
Over the past two months, Google has started letting people around the world choose what data they want to share with its various products, including Gmail and Google Docs.
Amazon recently began improving the data encryption on its cloud storage service and simplified an agreement with customers over how it processes their information.
And on Sunday, Facebook rolled out a new global data privacy center — a single page that allows users to organize who sees their posts and what types of ads they are served.
While these changes are rippling out worldwide, a major reason for these shifts comes from Europe: The tech giants are preparing for a stringent new set of data privacy rules in the region, called the General Data Protection Regulation.
Inequality is on the rise across the world, but it’s not increasing everywhere at the same pace. In many ways Europe stands out as a positive exception. Despite all the criticism thrown at the EU, it is a global leader in preserving a degree of fairness in the social fabric. This may seem unlikely – Europe is hardly devoid of problems and tensions. Parts of the left depict it as a vehicle for neoliberal economic policies, and parts of the right deride it as an inefficient administrative monster. So how is Europe really doing?
It’s hard to exaggerate the difference between western Europe and the USA when it comes to inequality. In 1980, these blocs of similar population and average income were also similar in income inequality: the top 1% captured around 10% of national income, while the poorest 50% took around 20%.
Things have changed dramatically since then. Today, the top 1% in Europe take 12% of income (in the US, 20%) while the bottom 50% have 22% (in the US, 10%).
European foreign ministers are being forced to side with Iran over Trump whether they like it or not
President Trump is trying to kill off the nuclear deal with Iran, but at the same time make the Iranians take the blame. Once again today he issued waivers reimposing strict economic sanctions on Iran, but threatened to pull out next time round unless Congress and European countries improve the terms of the agreement from the US point of view. He also announced sanctions against individual Iranian officials for alleged corruption and human rights abuses during the recent street protests in Iran.
But the real aim of US opponents of the nuclear deal signed by President Obama and others in 2015 is to make sure that Iran gets no “peace dividend” out of the agreement and is provoked into walking away from it. Probably, Iranian leaders are too clever to fall into the trap, but Iranian policy is the product of competing power centres in Tehran so what they will decide is neither certain nor necessarily very smart.
ATHENS – By 2016, almost all Europeans had realized that radical policy and institutional reforms were essential to revive the European project. Yet serious reform was impeded by the usual disagreement about what should be done – a dispute that Emmanuel Macron, France’s new president, once described as a “holy war” between German and French elites.
He was a rich businessman, an outspoken outsider with a love of conspiracy theories. And he was a populist running for president.
In 1990, when Donald Trump was still beyond the furthest outskirts of American politics, Stanislaw Tyminski was trying to become the new president of post-communist Poland. He shared something else with the future Trump: nobody in the political elite took Tyminski seriously.
That was a mistake. He was the standard-bearer for a virulent right-wing populism that would one day take power in Poland and control the politics of the region. He would be the first in a long line of underestimated buffoons of the post-Cold War era who started us on a devolutionary path leading to Donald Trump. Tyminski’s major error: his political backwardness was a little ahead of its time.
The collapse of Germany’s coalition talks is the latest shock to hit Europe. No one saw it coming. Of course the blow is of a different nature from the banking crisis, the war in Ukraine, the refugee crisis, Brexit, Trump, Poland and Hungary’s democratic backsliding, or Catalan secessionism. Germany’s politics look upended but the fundamentals are still in place: the postwar democratic set-up is hardly under threat. Still, this is rattling stuff. Europe’s powerhouse is in unknown political territory at a time when so much remains unresolved across the continent. And Germany’s political uncertainty means yet more uncertainty for the EU. Yet doomsayers shouldn’t assume that this crisis has to be fatal.
L’éclatement de la Yougoslavie il y a un quart de siècle, resté synonyme de « balkanisation » et de conflits nationalistes, est depuis longtemps une source d’inspiration pour les dirigeants indépendantistes catalans. Inversement, la déclaration d’indépendance de la Catalogne suscite dans les Balkans des lectures contrastées, et réveille au passage des velléités chez des nationalistes insatisfaits de la carte de l’après-Yougoslavie.
Dès 1991, Jordi Pujol, l’ancien président de la Généralité de Catalogne (1980-2003) et figure historique du nationalisme catalan, avait trouvé dans l’éclatement simultané de la Yougoslavie et de l’Union soviétique l’annonce d’une nouvelle ère des nations. Si la Croatie avec ses quatre millions et demi d’habitants, l’Estonie avec son million et demi pouvaient devenir indépendantes, pourquoi pas la Catalogne qui en compte sept millions ? Pujol, qui parlait alors d’« auto-affirmation » (et non de sécession) de la Catalogne, dut quitter la scène politique pour fraude fiscale. Mais son successeur, Carles Puigdemont, a repris l’argument.
Listening to the mock outrage and dire warnings of violence pouring from politicians and broadcast media over the next steps in Catalonia, the Gospel of Matthew seems strangely relevant. Rarely, in the modern age, has a moment of political transformation revealed more about the preoccupations of onlookers than the “Catalan situation”. Of course, no-one knows precisely what will unfold as the Spanish government seeks to assert its authority on the parliament, police, education system and civil service of the autonomous region turned independent state of Catalonia. And since the Scottish independence referendum was an official affair, whose outcome was always going to be legally binding on both sides, neither Europe nor the UK has had to prepare for a unilateral declaration of independence like the one announced last week.