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Some self-reflections on Brexit

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jun 21st, 2017 at 06:04:01 PM EST

Sometimes you have to examine your motives for writing stridently on a particular topic: what is it that provokes you to turn to print? I have now written over 400 articles for the European Tribune, and 40 of them have been on Brexit in the last year alone.

On the one hand, it is hardly surprising that a European community blog should focus on a topic like Brexit, and ever since I was made an editor I have felt a responsibility to try to keep the front page ticking over on at least some of the core issues effecting Europe.

But there have been many other reasons why I think Brexit is one of the seminal issues of our time and why I am so militantly opposed to it and everything which gave it birth.

I feel I owe you an explanation.

Read more... (20 comments, 1711 words in story)

Towards the 6th French Republic?

by Migeru Sat Jun 17th, 2017 at 09:38:55 AM EST

The political realignment taking place in France is nothing short of extraordinary. Before Emmanuel Macron won the presidential election last month it was assumed that, lacking a party, he would not be able to beat the Republicans, or even the Socialists, at the legislative elections, and a cohabitation would ensue. But at the first round last week the vote share of Macron's party La République En Marche was a historic high, with participation at a historic low. As a result, Macron's party is expected to win a blowout victory at the second round tomorrow. His majority could be large enough to allow him to reform the Constitution without the support of the other political parties. We could be looking at the 6th French Republic.

Read more... (16 comments, 596 words in story)

LQD - Channelling Fintan O'Toole

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jun 17th, 2017 at 09:26:07 AM EST

Fintan O'Toole has long been one of Ireland's best writers and recently won the George Orwell prize for journalism and a European press award for his commentaries on Brexit. His latest piece parodies the DUP's love affair with the Conservative party and all things British...

DUP's crush on Britain will end badly

It is one thing to be infatuated with someone who just ignores you. The unfulfilled love retains its bittersweet purity, its dreamy half-life of pure possibility. But the true tragedy occurs when your love is apparently consummated at last and you find that the loved one really despises you. The DUP has long dreamed of being wrapped fully in the warm embrace of the Tory world with which it strives so hard to identify. And now, miraculously, its moment has come. But the loved one is thinking of England, sneaking glances at her watch and praying "Oh god! When will this be over?"

Read more... (10 comments, 451 words in story)

Brexit Mania

by Frank Schnittger Sun Jun 11th, 2017 at 07:03:01 PM EST

For some strange reason I am vaguely encouraged by the outcome of the British general election, and it is not because the numbers turned out to be broadly as I expected they would be. Theresa May must be one of the worst leaders that even the Tories have ever produced, and no amount of repetition of the mindless "Strong and Stable" mantra could hide that fact.

Equally, the DUP did more or less exactly as I expected they would do in Northern Ireland, and they too have, in Arlene Foster, a leader who is pretty much the worst of a dire lot of predecessors, including Ian Paisley, the party founder, himself. But it is not really the choice of leaders which has me basically equanimous at the election outcome.

It could have been better, it could have been worse, but the outcome of the first post-Brexit election was always going to be something truly awful. The level of delusion, lies and deceit Brexit has introduced into the mainstream of the UK body politic was always going to produce a uniquely toxic stew, and now we can put a name on it: Brexit Mania.

Read more... (25 comments, 1724 words in story)

May-Day: UK Elections - Open Thread

by Bjinse Thu Jun 8th, 2017 at 10:41:17 AM EST

All eyes on the UK today. Will May end up having a hung parliament - or will there also be some quartering? Or will we see the Tories run off with the loot into a glorious sunset of the Brexit?

Discuss freely.


Steve Bell

Read more... (104 comments, 184 words in story)

Leo Varadker to become Irish Prime Minister

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jun 5th, 2017 at 10:42:27 AM EST

Leo Varadker, the son of an immigrant Indian Doctor and an Irish mother, has won the Fine Gael Leadership election and is set to become Taoiseach in the next week or so. To do so he needs to secure the agreement of Fianna Fail to a continuation of their "Confidence and Supply Arrangement" to abstain from votes of No Confidence in order to allow the minority Fine Gael government to remain in office. Several Independent ministers will also have to renew their agreement to support the Government.

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British Election Update

by Zwackus Sun May 28th, 2017 at 02:18:09 AM EST

It seems that yet another election campaign built on inevitability is sputtering and gasping in the home stretch. Just a few weeks ago, pundits were wondering whether Labour would lose as badly as it did in 1983 ... or worse. The polls around then suggested that Labour would be lucky to do as well as in that epic defeat. Oh, what a difference a few weeks can make.

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (109 comments, 1029 words in story)

Youth unemployment

by Colman Wed May 24th, 2017 at 12:02:19 PM EST

The Independent have taken the trouble to explain a little more about the structure of youth labour markets than we normally see:

There are two ways of measuring youth unemployment: the youth unemployment rate and the youth unemployment ratio. And in the examples above reporters are referencing the first.

But this may be misleading. The youth unemployment rate is the number of the country’s youth (defined as those between 15 and 24) who are unemployed as a share of the numbers of young people in that age bracket who are considered part of the active labour market, meaning they are actively seeking work.

The youth unemployment ratio is the number of the country’s youth who are unemployed as a share of the total number of young people in that age bracket, regardless of whether they are seeking work or not.

This is a particularly important distinction for this age group since so many of them tend to be in higher education or vocational training and are thus not part of the active labour market.

The upshot is that France is about the same as the UK (though you can argue that people go into education rather than work because there aren't jobs. Or not. Maybe they go into further study because they can.) and Greece and Spain are bad, but not as bad as the unemployment rates would make you think.

As we've discussed before, comparing unemployment rates across economies with different structures is fraught with all sorts of problems: changes in rates are more interesting, but don't generate click-worthy headlines.

Comments >> (5 comments)

The problem of German hegemony

by Frank Schnittger Sat May 20th, 2017 at 09:17:29 AM EST

One of the impacts of Brexit on the EU will be to remove one of three most powerful and influential members of the bloc. That can only have the effect of increasing German hegemony unless the other EU and Eurozone members take concerted action to prevent this from happening. So far they have shown little sign of doing so. German led austerity policies remain in the ascendant, particularly in Greece, although economic trends have been improving elsewhere. But politically, German conservatism, inertia, complacency and a sense of entitlement appears to rule the roost.

So why do the other EU member states not take more concerted action to ensure the EU and Eurozone are managed more in their collective interests?

Read more... (14 comments, 791 words in story)

Leo Varadkar early favourite to succeed Enda Kenny

by Frank Schnittger Fri May 19th, 2017 at 03:54:56 PM EST


Simon Coveney and Leo Varadker, chief rivals to replace Enda Kenny.

Enda Kenny has finally resigned as leader of Fine Gael some months after it became clear his days in office were numbered following Fine Gael's disastrous performance in the 2016 General Election. Leo Varadkar has become the early favourite to succeed him as Leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach or Prime Minister of Ireland.

Read more... (5 comments, 1105 words in story)

Can Merkel and Macron renew the EU?

by Frank Schnittger Mon May 15th, 2017 at 09:39:23 PM EST

Far be it for me to write a diary on French politics when there are French bloggers here far more qualified than I to do so. But the election of Macron as President, and now his appointment of a conservative as prime Minister are events of EU wide significance. He has been welcomed with open arms by Chancellor Merkel, and has disabused those who thought he might favour Eurobonds or more radical measures to counter the imbalances within the Eurozone.

So is he just a French version of Tony Blair, come 20 years later? Certainly his abandonment of the Socialist party, his creation of a new centrist En March party, his embrace of liberal democratic market led reformist policies, and now his appointment of a conservative prime Minister are reminiscent of Tony Blair's "third way" policies of the 1990's and early 2000's.  

But what made Tony Blair so deeply unpopular in left wing circles was not just his penchant for liberalising markets and privatising public services, but his poodle like craving for approval from establishment figures like the Queen and US President George W. Bush, and eventually his total complicity in the establishment of a false Casus Belli for war with Iraq.

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Labour's leaked manifesto

by Zwackus Fri May 12th, 2017 at 04:39:41 AM EST

A document, which is claimed to be the election manifesto for the (perhaps doomed) Labour party, has been leaked to the media at least a week early. Let's take a look.

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (18 comments, 592 words in story)

Farage's farrago of fake facts

by Frank Schnittger Thu May 11th, 2017 at 07:04:39 PM EST

Nigel Farage has always had a good sense of timing, retiring from the leadership of UKIP three times to avoid some shit storm or other.  However far from retiring from politics, he has been indulging in his favourite pastime: causing trouble for political establishments wherever he can.  His latest venture is to try to persuade Ireland to throw in its lot with the UK and leave the EU.

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Towards no Brexit deal on citizens' rights

by Migeru Sun May 7th, 2017 at 09:12:15 AM EST

On Friday Michel Barnier, the chief EU negotiator on Brexit, gave an important speech on the EU's position on citizens' rights.

In short, free movement of people is one of the four essential freedoms. These four freedoms are indivisible. This is how our Single Market works.

And let me be clear: the integrity of the Single Market will never be compromised in these negotiations.

But this point fell on deaf ears during the referendum campaign.

While the EU's position is reasonably plincipled, it seems to me it's a non-starter given Theresa May's stated positions. It also seems to me Barnier understands this.

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French elections: Second Round Open Thread

by Bernard Sat May 6th, 2017 at 07:29:14 PM EST

What do you know: it's Saturday and voting has already started. Polling stations are open in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, French Caribbean islands like Guadeloupe, Martinique or St Martin (the French half that is), French Guyana, French Polynesia and also in various French consulates across the Americas. Situations seems to have improved in Montréal were the voters had to stand in line for several hours two weeks ago.

Moving westward, tomorrow, polling stations will open in New Caledonia, Wallis & Futuna and French consulates in Oceania, Asia and Europe. Polling stations in mainland France will be open at 8:00 CEST (UTC+2) and will close at 19:00 CEST in most places, 20:00 in "big cities". As for the first round, two weeks ago, all polls are under embargo, by law, until the 20:00 closure time. Of course, the embargo doesn't apply to Belgian and Swiss media.

frontpaged - Bjinse

Read more... (41 comments, 313 words in story)

The Macron Leak

by Zwackus Sat May 6th, 2017 at 04:27:08 AM EST

So, this is all over the news. No links, for reasons I will explain below.

Read more... (69 comments, 210 words in story)

So what could a United Ireland look like?

by Frank Schnittger Thu May 4th, 2017 at 10:33:23 PM EST

Newton Emerson has long been one of the few articulate Northern Ireland unionist commentators on Irish politics, North and south. His latest screed, in the Irish Times, seeks to pour cold water on the increased discussion of the prospects for a United Ireland in Irish political discourse in the wake of the EU declaration of the "Kenny Text," which states that Northern Ireland can rejoin the EU post Brexit if it becomes part of a United Ireland in accordance with the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

His main point appears to be that the "Kenny Text" might actually make the prospect of a United Ireland more distant by clarifying what it would actually entail: a takeover of the North by the south.

My view, which I have articulated in a comment on his article, is that it does no such thing. I reproduce that comment below together with some further commentary:

Read more... (19 comments, 1200 words in story)

Could the EU be about to sacrifice Ireland?

by Migeru Thu May 4th, 2017 at 12:25:49 PM EST

After the Juncker leak of his dinner with May, I think it is the Republic of Ireland that should be filled with a sense of foreboding.

The odds of no deal being reached just shot up considerably.

The EU had earlier made it known that its negotiating priorities were "People, Money, and Ireland". Note that money comes before Ireland. And the insistence on the UK paying an "exit bill" and just this week apparently raising it, stands in the way of a deal on Ireland.

Read more... (33 comments, 474 words in story)

United EU Negotiating mandate and a United Ireland within EU

by Frank Schnittger Sat Apr 29th, 2017 at 04:23:47 PM EST

Brexit summit: EU accepts united Ireland declaration

EU leaders have agreed Northern Ireland will automatically become part of the European Union if its people vote to join a united Ireland in a future Border poll.

At a summit in Brussels which concluded shortly before 3pm (Irish time) on Saturday, the leaders of the 27 remaining EU states also unanimously approved guidelines for how the bloc will conduct its Brexit negotiations with the UK

Read more... (18 comments, 787 words in story)

French elections: First Round Open Thread

by Bernard Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 at 08:58:25 AM EST

Polling stations are open since 8:00 this morning in mainland France. Polls are also open in overseas territories like Réunion island, New Caledonia and various French consulates throughout Asia, Oceania, Africa and Europe: pretty much all places west of the International Date Line up to the eastern shores of the Atlantic (including UK, Ireland, Portugal, Morocco and western Africa). For instance, there are 54 polling stations in the UK (42 in London - source).

For the Americas, Caribbean and Pacific islands east of the International Date Line, the polls were held yesterday, due to the time difference. At the French consulate in Washington DC, voter registration was up 30%. In Montréal, only a single polling place was open and the line stretched for more than 1 km; same in Toronto where the voters had to wait in line for more than 2 hours.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (37 comments, 317 words in story)
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News and Views

 26 June - 2 July 2017

by Bjinse - Jun 26, 13 comments

Your take on this week's news

 19 - 25 June 2017

by Bjinse - Jun 19, 45 comments

Your take on this week's news

 Open Thread 26 June

by Bjinse - Jun 26, 7 comments

When we are threading, we are alive

 Open Thread 19-25 June

by Bjinse - Jun 19, 25 comments

You're bound to get threads if you go thinkin' about stuff

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