Europe 2.0. – The Path Forward

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Hi everyone,

so it is clear that we have been all quite shocked on Friday by Brexit. I certainly was. As an EU citizen I think the UK has chosen a very strange path for itself, but it is a strong country and it will surely do well. I only regret the opportunities lost for young Britons in the next few decades. Nevertheless, we Europeans should now focus on ourselves rather than Britain. As in an actual marriage, if your spouse asks for divorce, it is for the best if you start pursuing your interests instead of crying over the broken pot. It might be painful, but it should be you who walks away with grandma’s silver plates. As Chancellor Merkel has said we don’t need to be nasty about it. We just have to do it with what’s best for us in our minds.

The British trade policy will undoubtably be to turn towards the world and gain greater piece of the trade pie in China, India and the old colonies. That way the UK could get ahead of the EU and negotiate deals with Europe from the position of strength. We should not idly stand by. The UK might be the 5th largest economy, but the attractiveness of the EU’s common market is still far greater. We should immediately send people to all countries that the UK is interested in and negotiate better deals that the UK in order to limit their reach. It is in our interest to negotiate from the position of strength as well. As we all know, big dogs needn’t to bark.

Secondly, we must stand our ground and not give away anything for free during the EU-UK negotiations. The UK has gotten used to receiving special treatment and exceptions from EU laws. That practice must be ended in order to attract multi-national companies across the channel into France and Germany. Let’s not forget about the planned merge of Deutsche Börse and the London Stock Exchange (i have written an article about it before). According to the original deal it should merge and move to London, but the deal hasn’t been approved yet and this might be the right time to bring the trade over to Germany. Even better so if the UK loses its right to make exchanges in euro. We are certainly not talking about crippling your spouse during the divorce. We want her to be happy, but at the same time we should make sure our next spouse won’t get the same ideas or get jealous. Russia is masking its joy over the decision well right now, but they must be pretty excited. The UK has never been in favour of the EU sanctions on Russia and I am sure it won’t be that hard to ship Russian goods over to England, repackage it and ship it to the EU as UK export. That is one of the reasons to make trading with the UK a peg less interesting for potential investors. You might suggest that EU companies sell lots of goods to the UK and they will protest against tougher rules, but let’s not forget that many of the traditionally ‘British’ brands like Rolls Royce or Bentley haven’t been in British hands for a long time (p.s. if you are British I advise you not to start looking up real owners of your revered companies since I do not want to be responsible for your upcoming depression) and I am sure it won’t be hard for them to lobby out good deals in Westminster and Brussels.

Thirdly, we should support Scotland and Northern Ireland in their possible struggle for dissolution of the United Kingdom. I know that sounds particularly nasty, but if you think about it, not doing so can get us in trouble and makes sense politically. Northern Ireland has just managed to broker peace in conflict that has lasted hundreds of years. It has been an exceptionally difficult process and it hasn’t been so long since the time when the IRA (Irish Republican Army) was detonating bombs around the UK and Europe. If new borders have to be raised in Norther Ireland it can hardly end well. With the trouble we are facing in Greece and Italy right now I don’t think we can afford another conflict there. Independent Scotland and it’s oil would surely receive warm welcome in the EU and it would push England into a political corner, so why not.

As many have said already, there is no turning back if the UK actually leaves the EU. We should not be nasty about it, but we also must not be overly nice or we are risking the integrity of the Union. As time goes by, people change their minds and maybe if we set the conditions right now, then one day, when the English people have sufficiently played out their egos, they might realise  that they could play much more significant role within the Union if only they wanted it and if they decide to rejoin in the future, however improbable it seems now, we would have upper hand in  negotiating all conditions including applying the euro and having them join at their full potential.

Europe has just had an heart attack. It’s time to go on a strict diet, discipline ourselves and in the end … what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.

Michael

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Europe – Good neighbours in the same street

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Hi everyone,

the hottest issue on the plate this week (if you are European) has been the Brexit. I do not wish to speak so much about Brexit itself since the BBC is doing quite enough already, but I would rather look at Nigel Farage’s statement from one of his recent appearances. His vision for Europe is to be “good neighbours” living in the same street.

UK’s secession from the EU would be much bigger deal than it seems on the surface. Not so much for Britain itself (despite what you think Britain, we won’t leave our wives for you), but for the precedent it sets and ideological shock it could send through Europe. As we all know that the political spectre has been tilting towards the right wing lately throughout the world. Europe has seen the rise of far-right parties and sometimes even outright neofascist parties. That means our post-Soviet era fairytale has ended and divisions are starting to deepen. If the UK decides to leave the EU, I am sure Scotland will not stand by quietly. The Scots are mostly in favour of remaining and I think we can say with a degree of certainty that Brexit could wipe out the word “United” from United Kingdom. In addition to that, other countries like Sweden have started debating whether to go with EU or the UK in case Brexit really happens.

We do not have to think in such nightmarish terms here, but we should think about the fact that secession of states from larger unions rarely result in periods of prosperity and peace. Among examples of that we could name the dissolution of Yugoslavia and Soviet Union. These dissolutions were certainly not peaceful and resulted in conflicts that still burn today. I can almost hear you thinking “those were dissolutions, not secessions”. To that, I would like to point out the secession of southern states from the United States. The main issue there was a policy. Today the big deal is immigration, then it was slavery and that disagreement lead to a civil war we have all heard about.

Now back to the “good neighbours” story. No country in Europe has ever demonstrated any signs of being able to act as a “good neighbour”. When we couldn’t agree on a king, we went to war (e.g. 116 years of war between England and France). When we couldn’t agree religion, we went to war (e.g. Protestants vs Catholics in Thirty Years’ War). Most of our issues over independence of nations, trade and ideology were dealt with by means of war.

Today we tell ourselves that we are smarter, more educated and better than those before us. We have our clever cliches like “history repeats itself” and we feel superior to our ancestors, because we would never do such things, right ? The British Leave Campaign is claiming that it is fighting for British national sovereignty and independence. In its extremes it imagines Europe free of this nonsensical EU ‘project’.

Adolf Hitler could toy with Europe as he wished exactly because each country cared about its sovereignty more than about the prosperity of the whole. The Soviets took advantage of us exactly because of our inability to stand together and it seems like we are starting to forget about it. We have had wars over religion, statehoods and ideology. The issue of today is the fight over what it means to be European. The idea of war in Europe seems unimaginable, but imagine that the union is broken and some countries remain alone, isolated and poor. How long will it take before these countries take up arms or let others do it for them ? There are many right outside our borders who are waiting for just that.

Michael

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Donald Trump – The star that’s not so bright

Donald Trump Hosts Nevada Caucus Night Watch Party In Las Vegas

Hi everyone,

Donal Trump seems to be considered as a unique, wild factor in politics at the moment by his supporters and even by those who cannot stand him. I am not going to did into his policies (if we can call it that) or the content of his platform. I would like to talk about the style of his campaign.

Donald Trump is well experienced in entertainment. He has a rich background and always seems comfortable in the spotlight. As some have pointed out, he knows well the rules of rhetoric, showmanship and persuasion. We are all mesmerised by him, no matter whether we agree with him or not.

Well, I want to bring up an old cliché that history repeats itself, but we always tend to not notice when it happens. Donald Trump is not the first to enter the race on platform of money and glamour. In fact one of the most revered presidents in US history did very much the same. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a man of money, charm and fame. In all his political races he was a voter magnet due to his personal charm, but if we dig deeper, we find that it was not the only thing that always got him elected. The one particular case that I want to point out is his race against Hubert Humphrey in presidential elections of 1960. In that race JFK picked up a rumour that H.H. might have dodged the draft during the WWII. and made sure it stuck. The same labelling strategy is working for Donald Trump today. Just as Donald Trump, JFK had a personal plane to fly him around the country as well. JFK was very comfortable with cameras and knew all too well how to work them as it showed during the first-ever televised debate against Nixon. With friends like Frank Sinatra he surely wasn’t a stranger to showbiz.

Of course there is a significant difference between the content of the Kennedy campaign and Donald Trump, but the truth is that JFK wasn’t shy to pay off informants against the Nixon campaign and since in the end it was such a narrow win it is undeniable that his ‘dirty’ tricks worked for his election quite well. In addition, celebrities in the US have had quite a good chance of success when reaching for political office. To name just a few : Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Fred Thompson, Clint Eastwood, Al Franken.

America should really think about what is so fascinating about giving celebrities power. If we cannot see through the ordinary glamour and base our vote on reason and real agenda, then we should skip voting the next time around and simply choose Morgan Freeman for president. I mean, in movies it always works out great when he’s at it.

Michael

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