Will Germany lead the Brexit negotiations?

On the OxPol blog political scientist Jan Zielonka argues that Brexit negotiations will be difficult and full of hurdles. More precisely, Zielonka claims that Brexit will not only affect those citizens who are part of a professional Europe-wide network, but all citizens across the continent: “It is not easy to untangle 20,000 laws and regulations of the European acquis”, Zielonka writes. Moreover, he argues that is wrong to assume that the UK exit from the EU will ease off the process towards a Common Defence Union, or towards the achievement of better financial regulations in the Union.

Over the past few weeks many economic and political analysts have argued that the German industrial sector has a vested interest in preserving good ties with the UK, and consequently in supporting “soft negotiations” with London. More importantly, some analysts expect Germany to take the lead in the forthcoming negotiations with Britain. However, writing for Chatham House Katinka Barysch claims that it is erroneous to assume such a prominent role for Germany. Barysch argues that Brexit is only one among the many preoccupations of the German executive, which is currently more focused on the September general elections than on Brexit. Barysch also claims that, in the eyes of the German Chancellor, the political objective of a strong and unified EU is paramount.

On The Independent, John Rentoul focuses on the British political class, discussing the recent statement released by Prime Minister Theresa May, that “free-movement of people might continue for a transitional period after 2019”. Rentoul argues that unexpectedly there has been no reaction on the side of Tory hardline Brexiteers, such as Liam Fox and Steve Baker. Rentoul claims that by invoking Article 50, May was able to free itself from the shackles of the Eurosceptic wing of her party.

On EUROPP, Simon Hix suggests that there is room for a new bilateral arrangement between the UK and the EU to grant some rights and freedoms to the citizens of both parties living abroad. Hix calls for the definition of a “comprehensive and deep” free trade agreement covering goods and services. Last but not least, he argues that the most pressing short term issue has to do with the amount of money the UK still needs to pay into the EU budget. The author strikes a balance between the two opposite interests at stake and claims that the UK contribute with a sum somewhere between 25bn and 60bn euros.

The gig economy

The editorial board of the The New York Times claims that the utopia of self-entrepreneurship fostered within the “gig economy” hides a reality made of “worker manipulation”. According to the authors, employees of the sector are forced into long hours at low wages: “Companies harness advances in software and behavioural sciences to old fashioned worker exploitations”, on the base of historical low US regulation of the labour market. However, some smaller companies of the sector have recently decided to treat workers as proper employees, experiencing that the related organizational change caused lower turnovers and improved the quality of the services provided.

On openDemocracy Tom Hunt argues that contemporary concerns linked to the gig economy “are old problems with new names” and that when it comes to explaining the weakening of labour rights, everything turns around the disruptive force of technological development.

However, on the same website Alice Martin argues that it is not technological innovation per se, say robots, that impacts on jobs. Rather, technology enables “algorithmic HR and employee surveillance to be matched with an ample supply of fraught contractors”. In other words the crux is that the “on demand” economy implies a constant and increased competition among the low wage workforce. In an attempt to define new ways for collective action to be effective, Martin calls those who are employed by on demand companies to join forces with those who are looking for a job.

This Ideas Monitor is by Carlo Burelli and Alexander Damiano Ricci

Photo Credits CC Playerest 

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