The continuing drama of Brexit

Polly Toynbee argues that Brexit cannot be stopped by a second referendum. Some people think this is possible, but they are deluded by reading only those sources that align with their preconceived opinions. The same is true for Brexiteers, who are blinded by their own media to the harsh economic and social aftermath of the Brexit referendum. If stopping Brexit is beyond reach, a more sober ideal is Norway’s perpetual limbo, which is in a frozen state of transition towards the EU, but at least it enjoys the benefits of being in the European Free Trade Association.

Joschka Fischer comments that the current UK political crisis does not bode well for its Brexit negotiation, as Britons will probably give away many concrete benefits in the name of an ideal of sovereignty in any case emptied by globalization and market integration. Divorces are messy when emotions run high, but a reasonable agreement–one which does not inflict unnecessary damage on either party–is desirable as both parties will continue to interact. Particularly, The EU should be generous with respect to the timeframe for Britain’s withdrawal, new trade regulations, and any transitional arrangements that could soften the impact of the separation. And the UK should be mindful of the many EU citizens currently residing in Britain, and honest about its financial commitments to the bloc.

Katy Hayward discusses the delicate issue of the border between Ireland and the UK after Brexit, and finds that the hope for “frictionless” solutions are limited. Three major risks exist: first, how to distinguish compliant trade and illegitimate trade without institutional control. Second, the likely emergence of a dangerous black market. Third, the risks of dramatically increasing electronic surveillance as the only practical solution. None of these three scenarios are in any way desirable to Ireland. Indeed, they will only exacerbate the existing dangers and difficulties in the border region.

France, Germany and the future of Europe

Peter Müller and Christian Reiermann argue that despite the professed harmony between Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, tangible political divisions between France and Germany still exist. While both leaders agree on the need to reform the economic governance of Europe, Germany insists on a recipe of strict austerity and increased competitiveness for Southern Europe’s debt-ridden countries, while France demands that the focus on austerity be abandoned. Macron has proposed creating the position of Eurozone finance minister, but it is unclear what powers and responsibilities such a position may carry. Broader agreement is to be found on the project of uniforming corporate tax in Europe as a measure to avoid fiscal dumping, and on that of strengthening the European defense by pushing forward with the so-called Permanent and Structured Cooperation (PESCO).

According to The Economist, Germany fears that the US president Donald Trump meeting with Vladimir Putin seems like a “Yalta 2.0”, i.e. an attempt to divide Europe between two great powers. The feeling was reinforced by Trump’s visit to Warsaw before the G20, where the president’s speech resonated with the ideologies both of Mr Putin and of Poland’s populist-nationalist Law and Justice government.

This Ideas Monitor is by Carlo Burelli and Alexander Damiano Ricci

Photo Credits CC:Crystal

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