Friday, December 21, 2018

Mark Leonard — The Coming Franco-German Bust-Up

The partnership at the center of European integration is unraveling just when Euroskeptic forces are coming together. If French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel cannot start rebuilding the political center, next year's European Parliament election will produce the biggest victory yet for anti-EU populists.…
Entering the endgame?

Project Syndicate
The Coming Franco-German Bust-Up
Mark Leonard | Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations

1 comment:

Konrad said...

“If Macron and Merkel cannot start rebuilding the political center, next year's European Parliament election will produce the biggest victory yet for anti-EU populists.”

Excellent article. Let’s clarify why . . .

It is often said that the European Parliament has no power. All the real power lies with the European Commission in Brussels, plus the ECB in Frankfurt, and (to a lesser extent) the IMF in Washington.

This is not accurate.

The European Commission is the executive arm of the EU. It proposes legislation, which the European Parliament then considers. The situation is analogous to the USA, where the President proposes a budget, which the Congress then considers.

The central bank is the ECB. (There is no equivalent to the US Treasury or the UK Exchequer, since the EU has no fiscal union; only a debt union.)

If the European Parliament has no executive power, then why are the bankers worried about the Parliament election on 23 to 26 May 2019? Reason: the European Parliament nominates and approves the membership of the European Commission. If the European Parliament shifts toward populism / nationalism, and away from EU tyranny, then the bankers will have a problem, as will neoliberals and rich oligarchs. They use the EU as a trans-national weapon to crush the masses.

Immigrants will also have a problem, since they rely on the European Commission to protect them by ordering EU member states to accept more immigrants (always more).

The election happens every five years. A very strong showing by populist / nationalist forces in the European Parliament could put populists in a position to complicate or even block the formation of a new European Commission.

So, potentially, the elections of May 2019 could cripple EU tyranny. This is why Macron postponed his latest fuel tax increase until after the European Parliament elections in May 2019. It is why everyone will be watching the election very closely. The results will show how strong the euro-skeptics really are.

Italy is already nationalist. If the Franco-German marriage falls apart, then the nationalists will make huge gains. EU tyranny will be weakened, perhaps irreparably. Macron sought to please his masters in Germany and Brussels by relentlessly crushing French workers, but this is not going well for him.

Theresa May is worried about the election, and doesn’t know what to do. She has fouled up the Brexit negotiations in order to stall for time.

Steve Bannon, the former White House strategist, has set up an organization in Europe called “the Movement” to rally anti-EU forces. Opposing him in the European Parliament is the Liberal party, which is neoliberal, and is pro-EU.

The May 2019 election will be interesting.