The road to Brexit

The debate about Brexit has not cooled down yet. As Mohamed A. El-Erian remarks on Social Europe, the issue continues to dominate both the discussion in the media and in society. Andrew Rawnsley, on the Guardian, discusses the implications of the strong correlation between age and attitude towards Brexit. The older generations are much more willing to vote for Brexit : 54% pro and 30% against among over-55s, 29% pro and 53% against among under-35s. This divide poses a sizeable problem for the In campaign, insofar as younger people are generally less inclined to go to the polls, and are also less animated about the issue of Brexit. On ConservativeHome, David Shiels discusses the possible implications of Brexit in Northern Ireland, and the position Unionists are likely to assume on the issue. Finally, Andrew Graham argues on TheGuardian that it makes no sense to leave, as Britain’s value were founded in Europe. The rule of law, liberty, democracy, human rights are not specifically British values either in origin, since they have been the product of many intellectuals around Europe, or currently, because they are also central to the EU (as stipulated by art. 6 of the EU treaty).

The terrorist threat

These European values are possibly under threat, after Bruxelles’s hideous terrorist attacks. Melik Kaylan, on, insists that Europeans are deluded if they think that their values would easily and suddenly repel the influence of centuries of despotism on Muslim migrants. The west must safeguards itself and its values by reaffirming its identity-forming traditions and insist that newcomers incorporate them, by admitting the flaws in their own culture. On the other hand, The Economist criticizes Belgium’s inefficiencies, by observing that in their police force “there are no Poirots”. Poor coordination between government agencies and lack of experience in dealing with foreign threats makes Belgium “the weakest link in the European Union’s [security] network”, as one EU diplomat allegedly put it. On the contrary, on, Thomas Renard rejects many similar accusations, and claims that commentators have been too quick in blaming Belgium. Belgium’s problem is not of competence, but of means and resources, which are chronically insufficient in small countries that face global challenges. We need real police and judicial cooperation at the European level, not insults for single states which are structurally inadequate to face terrorist threats.

Economy, crises and reforms

On Social Europe, Paul Mason discusses the serious allegations (published on wikileaks) that the IMF is plotting a “credit event” in order to force renegotiation of Greece’s debt during the Brexit referendum, when they expect political pressure to lead to a quick and advantageous solution. Were this Machiavellian plot true, it would constitute not only a threat to Greece, but a manipulative attack towards the whole Europe. Peter Spiegel’s take on the IMF’s leak is slightly different. On the Financial Times, he writes that with this “courageous” manoeuvre the IMF aims at either forcing Germany’s leadership to quickly grant wide-ranging debt relief for Greece, or allowing the Fund to exit. Despite Greek anger over the disclosure, the transcript may also be depicted as the IMF arguing on Greece’s behalf.
On Social Europe, Thomas Fazi puts the failure of economic austerity in numbers. Public debt, deflation, growth, unemployment and poverty rate are all shown to be negatively affected by the economic policies intended to remedy or contain the crisis. The only objective accomplished by austerity is to reduce intra-EMU current account imbalances. However, this has been done in an unfair way because the readjustment has been shouldered entirely by deficit countries through decreased imports. Grégory Claeys, Zsolt Darvas and Alvaro Leandro on Bruegel outline, in a policy paper, a proposal to realign the inefficient European fiscal framework, in order to increase public debt sustainability and fiscal stabilization. They propose to eliminate the structural balance rules and to introduce a new public expenditure rule with debt-correction feedback, embodied in a multi-annual framework, which would also support the central bank’s inflation target.

This Ideas Monitor is by Giulia Bistagnino and Carlo Burelli

Photo Credits CC: International Monetary Fund


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