Europe neo-tribalism trending

Anna van Densky OPINION Concluding the second decade of the 21 century, the special attention is given to the major events and trends, which will shape the years to come.

The departure of the UK from the European Union, commonly known as Brexit, undoubtedly is the major historic happening of the past decade, which has modified the DNA of the entire European project, setting the trend to follow. The Brexit effects are beyond the financial blow to the EU pocket, but are representing the major failure of cosmopolitism and globalism – the Britons are shifting away from the geography wise close and economically lucrative Europe to focus their sight over Atlantic to achieve proximity with their former colony – the United States of America.The knock down to cosmopolitism from triumphant neo-tribalism, when ethno-cultural identities win over economic and other considerations.

The Brexit calamity has effected Europe in many ways, inspiring wide-spread rise of tribalism. The last decade the nostalgia shrouded Warsaw and Vilnius reminiscent of the greatness of their historic Unia – the Union between the Lithuanian and Polish Kingdoms, – reflected in their joint attempt to launch Ukraine to the EU orbit, subsequently causing Russians to remember about their own Orthodox universe and Byzantine roots.

As a result of this ravaging tribalism, the Europeans have been startled by seeing Russians ready to die, defending their identity in Donbass, and voting for re-unification with Russia in Crimean referendum.

However the are not only EU newcomers who succumb to tribalism – there is deep concern of France with the destiny of their former colonies, receiving the absolute priority of foreign policy. This year the President of the Vth Repubic has celebrated Xmas together with French troops in Cote d’Ivoire, underlining the significance of Sahel for the Hexagone. Clearly the historic symbiosis between France and Africa is prime, the rest is secondary. Emmanuel Macron has not been hésitent while criticising NATO, indicating to its existential crisis, echoing President Trump claim of Alliance being “obsolete“, the same time he has underlined the vitality of ties between former African colonies and the metropole. The historic colonial heritage has been not abandoned but re-formatted – the west French Colonial Franc CFA currency became new “Eco”, aiming to become an African equivalent of euro (€). However the name was not even Africanised, reminding of old French coin “ecu”, descending from Spanish escudo of Golden Age. Isn’t the renewal of the “monde francophone” also the effect of nostalgia for cultural tribalism?..

The evidences of Europe scattered in fragments by ethno-cultural thinking are all over the place, but the most emblematic European figure of the neo-tribalism trend, the challenge to all globalists and cosmopolitans is … yes, Madame President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who refused to settle in Brussels, where she was born, preferring to travel weekly to her home in Hannover.

Von der Leyen decision to stay in the adjacent to her office apartment during the week, and travel home on weekends, has been falsely dabbed as “bunker mentality”. No way!Madame President has an open mind, but to her tribe only.

Cosmopolitism is dead, long live TRIBALISM!

Brexit Deal II fate in hands of Westminster

While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president JeanClaude Juncker consider the agreed Brexit deal “fair” outcome. There is no need to extend the Brexit deadline EU top executive added.

‘We have a deal so why should we have a prolongation?” Juncker raised a rhetoric question. However the biggest challenge is ahead in Westminster, where the the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland declared its opposition to the reached Article 50 Agreement.

Prime Minister Johnson called Members of the Parliament to “come together” and “get this excellent deal over the line”.

Now is the moment for us to get Brexit done and then together work on building our future partnership, which I think can be incredibly positive both for the UK and for the EU” he underlined.

In spite of the enthusiasm of the EU leadership about the new deal, the experts consider the chances it is endorsed by Westminster on Saturday are slim because of opposition of Labor and DUP parties, who consider the deal to be even worse than Prime Minister May previous Agreement.

Boris Johnson as EU antidote

Anna van Densky OPINION Newly elected by the Conservatives Prime minister Boris Johnson throws a glove in the face of “the doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters“, vowing to lead the country to the decisive Brexit on October 31. However, for fair play, he should have thanked them for their huge contribution in his swift ascendance to power, because they have created the situation of a protracted political crisis blocking the way to the implementation of the decision of the referendum.

Even more so Boris Johnson had to thank the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who dabbed Theresa May requests  as “nebulous“. Many thanks to the European Council for the rejection of re-editing the Withdrawal Agreement, and personally to Michel Barnier, who stood like a rock defending the each letter of the text. All of them were indispensable for Theresa May downfall.  From now onward the “moderate”, “orderlyBrexit scenario is off the shelf.

The EU has the entire record of the successfully corrected “errors” like reshaping the European Constitution into the Lisbon Treaty, and subsequent imposition of the second referendum on the Republic of Ireland, generously offering an opportunity to the citizens to chose the “right side of history“. However in this particular Brexit case the application of pressure caused the results opposite to expected: Boris Johnson came as Brussels antidote, promising to his compatriots to resolve the problem with slicing the Gordian knot. Who can do it better than a professional in Classics? 🙂

Alexander The Great

 

Europarl: Ann Widdecombe furore

Anna van Densky OPINION The passionate speech of British MEP Ann Widdecombe had a highly unpleasant  novelty for the European Union: the doyen of Brexit party political group associated the protracted process of exiting from the EU with national liberation movement. She openly threw into face of Guy Verhofstad – the European Parliament representative for Brexit talks – the accusation of treating the UK as “colony“.

Guy Verhofstadt answered in via his Twitter micro blog, regarding Widdecombe as a “clown”. It means he failed again to understand souverainist’s influence on public opinion, and the interaction between Brexit party (former UKIP) and larger groups of electorate, initially perceived as “marginal“, but in reality numerous enough to impose Brexit referendum, and win its outcome. Verhofstadt did not answer to in a meaningful way to Widdecombe criticism of democratic deficit in EU procedures either. He also didn’t answer to her criticism of protracted withdrawal process, comparing Brussels to metropole, reluctant to give away rip on its rich colony.  However the strategy of brushing off criticism of Brexiteers is in essence myopic because it allows their vision to hover high, and spread around engaging new groups, and not only from UK electorate, but the other old EU member states.

The feeble attempt of BBC journalist to argue Ms.Widdecombe’s point of  view through pointing at her high MEP salary incomparable with “slave” status looked like faux pas.

BBC did not manage to address the issue, and attempt, dabbed by the MEP as “silly”, just re-enforcing her speech, demonstrating absence of meaningful counter-argument.

 

 

EU elections 2019 final day

Anna van Densky On Sunday May 26 Europeans vote in an election expected to further erode traditional Eurocentric parties and boost the nationalist movements across the continent, resulting in a drastically different and difficult composition of the European Parliament – once a champion of compromise, – effecting the entire range of politics. (Image above: European Parliament, Strasbourg).

Polls opened at 7 A.M. (0400 GMT) in the east of Europe and will finally close at 11 P.M. (2100 GMT) in Italy. Seven states have already voted, with 21 joining in on Sunday in what is the world’s biggest democratic exercise after India.

Many feel it is odd, that three years after the referendum, Britons are back to the European Parliament, and there are certain fears, that the entire EU political agenda will be “hijacked” by Brexit.

However it is universally understood, that after Brexit the EU project will never be the same. Departure of the oldest European parliamentary democracy feels like an amputation.

EU in transit. Tempora mutantur – times are changed, we also are changed with them.

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European Parliament, PHS building, Brussels

 

EU Brexit charade

Anna van Densky from EP, Brussels. The Members of European Parliament (MEP) raise concerns about perspective of the UK remaining for upcoming European elections, being “one foot in, one foot out”, as Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, Belgium) said.

The perspective of electing even more Brexiteers is definitely not inspiring  MEPs, open to endorse additional political declarations, if necessary, however standing firmly by the EU Commission, and Council, refusing the revision of the endorsed deal.

While the attempting to convince Westminster to endorse the deal the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker repeated the UK can have one more extension on condition of the Article 50 Agreement (Withdrawal Agreement) endorsement, and proposing clear plans of moving forward with the implementation. The prolongation of uncertainty is not an option.

The tone of the EU top executive was dead, and while he was offering more political declarations. Juncker’s  glances were gloomy, while he switched to the part of speech, describing damages to EU, and even more so to British economy if the no-deal scenario takes place by default. He admitted to read the speech first time during his intervention in Europarliament, because “every word is important“.
If the UK is able to approve the withdrawal agreement with a viable majority by 12 April, then the European Union should accept an extension until 22 May“, Juncker concluded.

Responding to the worst fears of MEPs, Gerard Batten (UKIP, UK) called Britons to vote massively for UKIP in case the country participates in European elections in May.

 

#Brexit: pessimism reigns in Europarl

Anna van Densky OPINION The European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy VERHOFSTADT (Belgium, ALDE) cancelled his press-conference, so did his major ally – Esteban GONZALES-PONS (Spain EPP). There are no traces of optimism in the corridors of power in spite of British Prime Minister Theresa MAY the last minute spontaneous visit to Strasbourg, attempting to obtain compromises on the Article 50 Agreement.

However the legally-binding interpretations of Brexit deal will be hardly enough to convince the Westminster to accept it in tonight’s vote.

In case of voting down the Article 50 Agreement the relations between the EU and UK will be entering the uncharted waters, as Prime Minister May has stated already. The extension of the deadline (March 29) is possible in the framework of the agreed Brexit only to avoid legal vacuum. The Remainers already threaten to sue their government in the European Court (CURIA) for breaching the Article 50, which clearly describes the timetable, and does not foresee any prolongations.

Originally there were two fixed deadlines: Brexit date on March 29, and the latest date of its possible extension on May 24 (European elections), before which the UK should leave, or it is obliged to participate, according to the Treaties to ensure the right of the citizens to elect their representatives to the European Parliament. In any case the status of the incumbent MEPs could not be extended beyond July 2, when the newly elected Parliament will be constituted.

However there are very few politicians eager to model possible developments in case tonight of House of Commons will vote down the deal. It will be not only the downfall for Theresa May, and her government, but also considered as a major failure for the EU27 to secure orderly Brexit, preserving from blow economies, jobs, and citizens rights. The  failure will certainly reflect on upcoming European elections disfavoring predominant political forces, unable to preserve mutually beneficial relations with one of major European economies.

 

Amorphous Macron’s LaREM in identity crisis?

Anna van Densky OPINION All new political parties and movements, who have not yet declared their intentions are categorised as “other” in the first chart of the European Parliament projection for the composition of the upcoming in May 2019 assembly. The Movement of the President of France Emmanuel Macron LaRem is among “others” – the political entities, who have not decided upon their political family 100 days before the European elections.

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Monsieur Macron has an ambition to lead Europe, but he is not able to decide his political color?... An identity crisis or “felix culpa”?

The European Parliament has published a first set of projections on how the next chamber would look like based on national polling data taken up to the beginning of February 2019.

However Macron’s LaREM “En Marche” is not the only”amorphous” European political entity: the other indecisive congregation is the Italian Five Star Movement  (M5S) also labeled with grey color on the chart. However one should not conclude that the grey color in Europe is a disadvantage: Europeans have a penchant for grey since it was noted once upon a time by Marquis de Custine. And even within grey they are able to distinguish many sophisticated shades:)

Undoubtedly there will be voters dropping ballots for amorphous entities, which allow them to stay in grey  zone of comfort, avoiding clear choice between classical political right and left, but in the end with the UK leaving the bloc, the identity crisis of the President of France political party is not a major challenge for the EU27. The turn out will be the major indicator for the life expectancy of the bloc. Will it stay or decline? Up to the European to decide.

Pedro Sanchez Gibraltar ‘Chandelier Bid’

Anna van Densky  OPINION  It would be utmost naive to believe Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is eager to enter history books as a man, who derailed Article 50  deal, and destroyed the the EU27 collective effort to avoid ‘hard Brexit’ over such a ‘eternal‘ issue as Gibraltar ceded to  British crown in 1713. Even more so, the derailing of Brexit deal would be senseless facing the solid support of the leadership of territory unequivocally given to British government both by the Chief Minister and opposition.

However Spanish veto threats hanging as Damocles sword over the final draft deal to be presented for endorsement on the EU Brexit Summit just in a day is an ideal opportunity for Sanchez to raise his own stakes politically in Europe and gain a considerable capital at home, boosting his own popularity.  Virtuoso of public relations, formed in Brussels institutions, Sanchez mastered modern communication strategies and has no intention to miss an opportunity Brexit offers.

In profound need of electoral support,  Sanchez, whose ascension to power happened though elaborate parliamentary chess combination, but not the citizen’s vote, finds himself in a need of political capital,  and voters sympathies, he has been chronically missing. The struggle for Gibraltar status is a ideal subject to raise media and public attention in Spain to gain so much needed  for the Socialists popularity.

The other paramount issue is the Spain‘s shattered image within the EU over the Catalan  referendum oppression – the last minute compromise Sanchez will offer to the bloc will be undoubtedly  presented as an ultimate sacrifice on the alter of collective European good to be exchanged in the future on ‘carte blanche‘ in some sensitive issues and benefits  for Spain to obtain from Brussels.

Pedro Sanchez will definitely not bloc the EU27 Brexit deal, and destroy the fruit of Michel Barnier elaborate arrangement to be delivered at the historic EU Summit, however there is a price for Spanish generosity the Brussels will discover later when leaders gather for the final say. Meanwhile the Article 50 game of nerves will go on, reminiscent of classic ‘Chandelier Bid‘, in order to create the appearance of greater demand or to extend bidding momentum for a piece on offer – #Gibraltar, whose inhabitants have already  twice in referendums supported status quo.

This Millenium Gibraltar sovereignty referendum was held on 7 November 2002 within the British overseas territory on a proposal by London to share  the sovereignty of the territory between Spain and the United Kingdom. The result was a rejection of the proposal by a landslide majority, with only just over one per cent of the electorate in favour.

Juncker versus Italian corruption

Anna van Densky. OPINION. This week Brussels institutional  freedom of speech reached a new low, when the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has been confronted with the demands of withdrawing his comments on corruption in Italy.  During a public  exchange of views, the top EU executive referred to corruption and insufficient efforts as  the key obstacles,  blocking the development of the poorest regions in the south of Apennines peninsula.

Italians have to take care of the poor regions of Italy. That means more work; less corruption; seriousness,” Juncker said. “We will help them as we always did. But don’t play this game of loading with responsibility the EU. A country is a country, a nation is a nation. Countries first, Europe second”. These words caused the whirlwind of emotions from newly endorsed vice-prime minister Matteo Salvini, numerous political personalities, and even the president of the European Parliament (from Italian origin) Antonio Tajani, – all of them indignant about Juncker referring to the well-established facts. Yes, objectively speaking, there is a huge problem of corruption in Italy,  regarded as plague first of all by the Italians themselves.

According to the official statistics corruption, including political one, remains a major challenge, particularly in southern Italy, affecting Calabria, Campina, and Sicily, where citizens suffer from its consequences at most.  Transparency International   annual reports indicate Italy has been consistently assessed as one of the most corrupt countries in the Eurozone.  While 2017 Corruption Perception Index ranks Italy 54th place out of 180 countries. Scoring on a par with Montenegro, Senegal and South Africa. Yearly the crime of corruption causes Italians a damage of €60 billion .

However an attempt to smother Juncker with ‘politically correct’ banning from public debate the tensions in eurozone is not a unique episode in European political life, it is a chronic syndrome. A year ago then the chair of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem came under the fire for his criticism of abuse of solidarity by heavily indebted countries of the  EU south. The degree of indignation had  amounted to demands of resignation put forward by Spain and Portugal. However the most striking in rude tone was the comment from Italy: “He has missed a perfect opportunity to shut up,” former Italian Socialist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi wrote in a Facebook post. “The sooner he goes, the better.”

The entire calamity was caused by the Dutchman remarks to a  German newspaper: “As a social democrat, I think that solidarity is extremely important. But whoever benefits also has duties,” he added. “I can’t spend all my money on booze and women and then ask for your support.” It was the allegory implied to illustrate  the role of corruption and tax evasion in ongoing Greek financial crisis that caused the indignation, not the depressing reality. The Transparency International estimated Greek tax evasion figures between €11 – €16 billion per annum ‘not collectable’, and the corruption also played ‘massive role’ in an outbreak of financial crisis.  Dijsselbloem survived the criticism, so  did his corrupt foes.

One year later the situation of tensions between the north and south of eurozone reflected in Dijsselbloem polemics has not improved in a meaningful way, but instead of fighting grim realities of corruption, the Italian politicians almost unanimously prefer to put some makeup on a face touched by leprosy, while the northern societies reject to accept the trick, requesting accountability. Dijsselbloem then, and Juncker now said what millions of taxpayers in the north of Europe know and think, and silencing them one guarantees the rising pressure of their discontent, because they are the ones to endorse the checks.

Obviously, the expected contemporary modus operandi of the presidents of European institutions, reserving them a role of modern royals – smiling to cameras and shaking hands, plus signing big checks for charity – will not please the EU taxpayers from the northern countries. Being the donors to the southern economies,  where a portion of their transfers is systematically disappearing in the pockets of the corrupt, they are increasingly concerned about the profile of the recipients of their funds.

With the upcoming departure of the UK, the second net contributor to the EU budget, the monitoring of funds transferred from donors to recipients in the bloc will be much more keen. It is possible to smother the heads of the EU institutions by ‘politically correct’ reserving them a public role of mute modern royals, but it will hit back,  undermining the trust in EU institutions, unable to defend the European values.

Sans la liberté de blâmer, il n’est pas d’éloge flatteur”, Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (“Where there is no freedom of blaming, there can be no genuine praise”).

Bruxelles, 3 june 2018