Lessons from Brexit

Paul Flynn argues that one important lesson from the Brexit vote is that votes can be manipulated through the new media. Botnets are bots that spam Twitter to cause specific tweets to be more visible (a third of all Twitter traffic prior to the EU referendum wascoming from bots). Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm linked to the Leave.EU campaign used instead legal means, like targeted ads, which then spreads among the followers of the targeted person. Broadcast advertising is subject to strict controls in the interests of fair play, as it traditionally had a wide reach and great impact. Recent shifts have proved that unfair advantages are now to be gained from targeted online activity.

Anthony Costello argues that Ireland is arguably the EU state with the most to lose from Brexit, given its close relationship with the UK. Yet although the UK’s decision to leave could have clear negative economic and political consequences for Ireland, there is also an opportunity for the country to use the situation to increase its bargaining power and gain meaningful concessions. Trade relations, a northern Irish border, the peace process and the rights of the Irish diaspora in the UK will be among the key matters at the negotiating table. A bad Brexit deal – one which pushes Britain farther from the intimacy of EU economic activity – will likely have significant negative economic and political consequences for Ireland.

Europe Beyond Populism

Merve Demirel believes that the recent 60th anniversary celebrations in Rome were justifiably optimistic. The European Union may well have negotiated its rough patch and from here on out it could prove to be smooth sailing. Realistically, the resurgence of nationalistic sentiments in the region is an indication that the European Union is in need of reform rather than a signal of its doom. Of the five scenarios recently published in the Commission’s white paper, a multi-speed Europe could be more effective to cure the division in the Eurozone and the challenges that new members face.

Vivien Schmidt claims that at EU level the issue of populism is not only about the lack of effectiveness in solving the various crises but also about democratic legitimacy. The response to the populist attraction is to rethink the EU and its policies while reconnecting with the basic principles of social democracy and progressivism. This means, economically, to rethink neo-liberal policies focused on liberalizing financial markets, deregulating labour markets, and rationalizing the welfare state that left large portions of the electorate open to the populist siren calls from the extreme right. Institutionally, the Eurozone has been ”reinterpreting the rules by stealth”, yet it would be fairer and more effective to openly change them. One possible way to do so would involve making the whole exercise of the European Semester more bottom-up and flexible, use coordination to ensure that countries themselves determine what works for their very specific economic growth models, and turn “competitiveness councils” or fiscal councils in industrial policy councils rather than structural adjustment hawks. None of this will work, however, if member states continue to have excessive debt loads and massive surpluses, thus some extra form of solidarity is necessary, beyond the European Stability Mechanism.

This Ideas Monitor is by Carlo Burelli and Alexander Damiano Ricci

Photo Credits CC sgoldswo

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