Elections in Europe: No risks for the EU, leaders readying to face Trump-Brexit

Visit of Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States (on the left), to the EC. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission received Pence in Commission’s headquarters in Brussels. (Date: 20/02/2017 Location: Brussels - EC/Berlaymont. © European Union, 2017/ Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Etienne Ansotte.)

Visit of Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States (on the left), to the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, received Pence in Commission’s headquarters in Brussels. (Date: 20/02/2017 Location: Brussels – EC/Berlaymont. © European Union, 2017/ Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Etienne Ansotte.)

Some political analysts in mainland Europe but many more in Britain and on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in the US, have rushed to call 2017 the year that can make or break the European Union. They basically argue that the three crucial legislative elections due in Holland next month, in France in April – May and in Germany this September can produce high-risk Eurosceptic governments. The argument continues by envisaging a widespread unwillingness to uphold the European project.

A possibility is discussed that one or more political leaders who may win the elections this year might vie to disengage their country from the European venture and, why not, leave the EU altogether, as Britain did. Of course, Germany is exempted from all those ‘far-sighted’ analyses. Not even these clairvoyant writers can visualize the eventuality that ‘Alternative für Deutschland‘, the extreme right wing, xenophobic, anti-immigrant and Eurosceptic party wins the September election.

The British want company

It’s understandable for the British analysts to look out for company in the solitary Brexit voyage of their country (Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t want to leave the EU). It’s equally understandable why some extreme right wing people in the Donald Trump team are so negatively disposed towards the European Union. For example, the White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, an extreme right wing populist, fear mongering and false news spreading media businessman has undermined Vice President’s Mike Pence’s amicable visit to Brussels. Bannon rushed to emit his totally negative views about the EU to European channels, only a few days ahead of the trip. Obviously, the semi fascist champions of the ‘alt right’ and the ‘tea parties’, who have recently been called to Washington by Trump, cannot tolerate the democratic European way of doing politics.

In detail now, last Monday in Brussels, Pence told the EU leadership that Washington’s pledge for the European Union is “steadfast and enduring”. Bannon, however, only a few days ahead of Pence’s visit to Europe, reportedly told Peter Wittig, the German ambassador in Washington, exactly the opposite. According to Reuters, in that meeting, Bannon said that “he viewed the EU as a flawed construct and favored conducting relations with Europe on a bilateral basis”. But let’s return to Europe.

What about the elections?

The English language commentators, who brandish the three legislative elections in mainland Europe this year, as presenting fatal dangers for the European edifice, forget that the EU is not an international body; it’s a structure of, in many respects, fused nations. Nineteen out of the 27+1 member states also share the common European currency, the euro. Brussels, authoritatively, constitutionally and collectively represents, elaborates and decides through the EU structures: Commission, Council and Parliament – about all the financial and economic functions of the entire 27 member states club. What Bannon said about bilateral relations is only possible in the case of Britain. Every other EU country has first to leave the club in order to discuss bilateral relations with the US.

Let’s see, though, what are the real electoral dangers that Europe has to face this year? Starting from Holland’s Geert Wilders, the Eurosceptic, extreme right wing, xenophobic and anti-Islamic Freedom Party leader, it’s obvious that he may win the next election. However, since the present electoral system was introduced in this affluent and easy going country, no political party has ever managed to win an absolute majority. So, even if Wilders wins the election he will have to cooperate with at least one or more political parties, in order to form a viable government.

Incumbent Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rute, and leader of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, hasn’t ruled out a government partnership with Wilders, again only if the latter breaks the tradition which wants him doing much better in polls than in the ballot box. The possibility of a Dutchexit with Mark Rute in government, even with Wilders as Prime Minister, is nonexistent. On top of that, Holland is vitally dependant on her economic relations with the EU and the prevailing feeling amongst voters is not anti-European. Wilders may lash out against the Muslims as Trump does, but, again, the Dutch courts will remind him of the constitutional boundaries.

Stronger Franco- German axis

Passing on to France, the next President of the Republic will either be Emmanuel Macron or Francois Fillion. The former is strong supporter of a faster advancement of the European project, through a closer cooperation with Germany. The Franco-German axis has always been the power house of the EU. As for Fillion, he has never expressed the slightest doubt about the EU edifice. Those who want to view him as some kind of Anglophile forget that France’s financial industry has a lot to gain from a full and hard Brexit. No wonder if Fillion will be equally harsh as Macron has promised to be in the negotiations for the UK’s exit from the Union. Not to say anything about Scotland’s and Northern Ireland’s strong willingness to remain in the EU, even if it takes a separation from the Kingdom. London has no easy answers about that.

In any case, both Macron and Fillion are expected to beat chauvinist and anti-EU Marine Le Pen in May with a very comfortable majority of double digit headway in the second round of the election. So, the European Union has nothing to fear from this spring’s Presidential election in France. It’s Britain which is bound to suffer from the inauguration of a freshly elected French President, eager to show he is working for the interests of his country in the negotiations for the Brexit. If Brexiteers and American Trumpists in a kind of a package go on contesting EU, the new French President, whoever he may be, is to confront this Anglo-American alliance in a much more effective way than Francois Hollande.

Germany stands for the EU

In neighboring Germany’s legislative September elections, the possibility of the Social Democrat Martin Schulz beating Angela Merkel is music to the ears of the federalist European idealists. Schulz, having served as President of the European Parliament for six years is committed to enhance the European project, and has vowed to promote the unity and the effectiveness of the EU. Again, even if Angela Merkel wins a fourth term in the Berlin Chancellery, the EU will also be rather on the winning side.

Not to underestimate the fact that Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union appears ready to try hard for Germany to gain from the US turn to protectionist and the retreat from the global horizons. Currently, Berlin readies to profit from Washington’s decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This agreement, extending over almost half of the earth’s surface – excluding China – is meant to create a level playing field of free trade and investment in the entire Pacific and South-East Asia area. Undoubtedly, Germany can stretch her wings more effectively in this vast region, by using the highways the European Union has already paved around the world.

In conclusion, A.D. 2017 is not expected to present any existential threats to the European Union. On the contrary, the Anglo-American partnership is already tested in the eastern provinces of Ukraine, with London strongly opposing any conciliation between Washington and Moscow.

As for Trump, his administration has so far proved impotent to draft a structured agenda on crucial strategic issues. The resignation of his National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, after three weeks in office, and the rise in the White House team of the disorderly Steve Bannon, prove that Trump cannot put together a well performing administration, with clearly defined roles and targets. Already, James Mattis, the US Defense Secretary, has openly opposed Trump on crucial issues, like NATO and Iraq. Undoubtedly then, the American dysfunction may be the only source of risks for the European Union, not her own well organized internal workings.

 

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

A Europe that Protects: Commission calls for decisive action on security priorities

How the diaspora is helping Venezuela’s migration crisis

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Latin America, in association with The European Sting

1 million citizens try to create a new EU institution

Can free trade deliver cheaper renewable energy? Ask Mexico

On the first day of 2019, over 395,000 babies to be born worldwide: UNICEF

Qualcomm to be the next target of EU antitrust regulators? China might be the answer

Scoring for the environment: what Mathieu Flamini’s top-flight football career taught him about leadership

CEOs in these countries are more likely to go with their gut

Pandemic mental health: the urgency of self-care

Financing fossil fuels risks a repeat of the 2008 crash. Here’s why

Changing how we produce and consume: New Circular Economy Action Plan shows the way to a climate-neutral, competitive economy of empowered consumers

Your smartphone may know more about your mental health than you

Future Forces Forum: Prague will be hosting the most important project in the field of Defence and Security

Gig workers among the hardest hit by coronavirus pandemic

EU budget: Reinforcing Europe’s cultural and creative sectors

Stepped-up efforts needed to combat pneumonia; save nearly nine million children’s lives

COVID-19: What to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 6 April

Brexit and migration dominates the debate on October’s EU summit

EU-Turkey relations: Will Turkey manage to revive the EU accession process talks?

European Semester Autumn Package: Creating an economy that works for people and the planet

Burundi: Inclusive dialogue ‘only viable option’ for resolving country’s political crisis says, UN envoy

EU Youth Conference in Amsterdam: enabling young people to engage in a diverse, connected and inclusive Europe

Africa-Europe Alliance: first projects kicked off just three months after launch

Here are 4 of the most politically charged World Cup games ever played

This chart shows the total number of COVID-19 cases and recoveries so far

Supporting the recovery: MEPs adopt budget priorities for 2021

This is how the Western Balkans will become more innovative

EU out to conquer African Union summit

Nearly half a billion people can’t find decent work; unemployment set to rise: new UN labour report

With potential to boost profits by up to 20 per cent, a woman’s place is at work, says UN labour agency

Junior Enterprises as a solution for Youth Entrepreneurship

Spring 2019 Economic Forecast: Growth continues at a more moderate pace

UN chief condemns suspected Boko Haram attacks targeting Eid al-Fitr celebrations in Nigeria

IMF: The near-term outlook for the U.S. economy is one of strong growth and job creation

Capital Markets Union: Making it easier for insurers to invest in the real economy

Germany loves a strong euro; the new Fiscal Councils can deliver despite the Greek chaos and a wider questioning of austerity

Can Greece’s devastating economy deal with the migration crisis?

Do men and women really have different leadership styles?

We can build a carbon-neutral world by 2050. Here’s how

New identity cards deliver recognition and protection for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

These 11 EU states already meet their 2020 renewable energy targets

International Court of Justice orders Pakistan to review death penalty for Indian accused of spying

Mother of all mergers between Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram: EU Data Privacy restrictions against Facebook’s imperialistic plans

Antibiotics are contaminating the world’s rivers

New ECB boss quizzed for the first time by Economic Affairs Committee

MEPs back update of rail passenger rights across EU

Batteries included: how better storage can transform renewable energy

Venezuelan crisis: MEPs reaffirm their support for Juan Guaidó

‘Reasons to hope’ for sustainable peace in Central African Republic – UN Mission chief

Four million Syrian children have only known war since birth: UNICEF

Germany fears that Americans and Russians want to partition Europe again

Radio still a powerful worldwide tool for ‘dialogue, tolerance and peace’: Guterres

More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges

Stronger partnerships with post-conflict countries needed to ensure ‘path towards durable peace’: UN chief

I accidentally went viral on TikTok. I learned we failed our youngest generation.

Code of Practice against disinformation: Commission calls on signatories to intensify their efforts

To retire at 65, American millennials need to save almost half their paycheck

New EU rules cut red tape for citizens living or working in another Member State as of tomorrow

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. Anglian Rose says:

    As a Greek (one assumes) you more than anyone should be able to see the abject failure of Europe. It may also come as some surprise to you to learn the British couldn’t really give a damn about what other European Countries stay or leave Europe. Whoever stays will be picking up a massive tax bill down the road, whoever leave will need to have the courage and guts of the British – there are few in Europe (if any) who have the courage. The British have stood against the world many times, now is no different, we are best when we stand up for the principles of free speech; democracy and the right to manage our own destiny. For the British we already feel liberated to be free from the chains of the EU a most unpleasant and suffocating clubs of self servers – the UK looks forward to rejoining the world and becoming a thriving nation once again.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s