Twenty days that may remold the future of Europe

European Parliament. 8th parliamentary term. Plenary session. Discussion on article 50 of the Lisbon treaty; Brexit. Jean-Claude Juncker President, of the European Commission addressing the EU legislative. On his left Michel Barnier, chief EU negotiator for Brexit. Strasbourg, event Date: 05/04/2017. Copyright: © European Union 2017 – Source : EP.

The next few weeks may indelibly stain the future of Europe. There are three issues which can irreparably hurt the Old Continent. Starting from Britain in the extreme northwest, this week the country showed that she risks plummeting into a jingoistic abyss. A confrontation with Spain about the Gibraltar Rock has provoked a wave of dangerously extreme patriotic screams in England. A number of Brexiteer politicians and Press commentators went as far as brandishing war against the Iberian country.

Then, it’s Greece in the far southeast. This EU member state may once more fail to implement the terms provided by her third and latest financial support program. This can trigger a major crisis in the Eurozone. In Athens, the government has grave problems to effectively control its tiny parliamentary majority and to convince all the 153 MPs of the SYRIZA-ANEL ruling coalition in a house of 300, to legislate exactly what the creditors demand. Next June, Greece’s EU partners have to lend her around € 7 billion, in order for Athens to pay back maturing old debts of an equal amount on time and avoid a real time bankruptcy.

Is Le Pen’s threat real?

A third risk that may irreparably damage the EU is the French Presidential election results in the first round. The two candidates who will come first and second on 23 April will cross their wills on 7 May. Currently, the polls give a very tiny lead to the centrist Emmanuel Macron, over Marine Le Pen the extreme right and Putin loving leader of the xenophobic and anti-EU National Front political party. The scandal ridden center-right Francois Fillion is already out of the race.

Everybody agrees that Macron will surely beat Le Pen in the second round and move to the Élysée Palace. However, the percentage she musters on 23 April is very crucial. The extreme right leader says she wants France out from the Eurozone and possibly out from the EU itself. If she beats Macron in the first round and largely surpasses the one quarter of the vote the pollsters currently predict for her, then the country has a problem. Let’s take another round of the next three European predicaments and investigate the details a bit deeper.

The EU slams Britain on Gibraltar

The confrontation with Spain started when Britain realized that Spain after the Brexit can use her veto power in relation to every European Union action, which may directly or indirectly regard the Gibraltar Rock. London considers the Rock as British soil and, logically, after the Brexit it will follow mother Britain outside the EU. However, the 30,000 inhabitants of the 2.5 square miles of rock prefer to retain a special relation with the EU, that is with Spain. In this respect, it’s certain that the Iberian country, having never accepted the results of the 2002 referendum with which the Rock became exclusively British soil, is set to create more problems. Spain never accepted the British full sovereignty in the Rock.

Yesterday, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution about the Brexit, overwhelmingly backing the relevant guidelines adopted by the 27 EU leaders in their last summit. The British conservative MEPs tried to insert a paragraph in the resolution, saying that the Gibraltar Rock inhabitants have voted to remain in the EU. The overwhelming majority of the European Parliament though rejected that, and Manfred Weber the head of the conservative EPP group said “leave is leave”. Incidentally, the European Council President, Donald Tusk, has published a rough copy of the text to be approved by the 27 EU leaders in their 29 April meeting. In it, there is a paragraph saying, “after the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar, without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.”

The Rock is European

So, indirectly, the EU doesn’t recognize full British sovereignty in the Rock and this veto power bestowed to Spain is tantamount to something like advocating a joint UK and Spanish rule. This joint sovereignty thought was rejected by the Rocks voters back in the 2002 referendum with a 98% majority. When the Tusk document was published last Friday, the English Press and Brexiteer politicians went very close to declaring war to Spain, as mentioned above. Of course the government adopted a calm attitude. Prime Minister’s spokesperson when asked if London is ready to send a naval force to secure the British sovereignty in Gibraltar replied “That isn’t going to happen.”

In any case, the Gibraltar issue has instantly triggered in England jingoistic reactions from the Press and some politicians and in certain cases it reached unbelievable levels. There are articles in Brexiteer Press even comparing the fire power of the British and Spanish naval forces. In view of that, impartial political analysts pointed out that it’s highly probable that similarly jingoistic and aggressive reactions may be triggered in case of other important Brexit issues, like trade or UK financial obligations to the EU.

English fury

Of course 10 Downing Street is not expected to follow the extreme chauvinists in such slippery paths, but Theresa May in one way or another will be affected and influenced if that kind of reaction persists. For example, Lord Howard, a high ranking conservative politician and former government minister said that May “would defend Gibraltar the same way that Margaret Thatcher had protected the Falklands”, obviously meaning by declaring war to Spain.

In such an environment, the British PM will certainly be obliged to take account of similar stance by her fellow chauvinist Tory politicians and a belligerent English public opinion. One can easily imagine the devastating repercussions on the Brexit negotiations with the EU, from such a climatic deterioration in London. It may set the entire continent on fire.

It’s Greece again

The next possible risk source is placed in the diametrically opposite corner of Europe. Greece keeps unsuccessfully negotiating with her EU partners and the IMF for months now, about the continuation of the current third financial support program, needed for her to avoid bankruptcy. However, the terms set by the creditors for more loans to the debt stricken economy are becoming everyday all more difficult to fulfill, after seven years of recession and skyrocketing unemployment. The governing coalition of SYRIZA-ANEL comprises 153 deputies in a legislative of 300. Reportedly a good number of them have vowed to reject new deeper cuts in pensions, income tax increases and the demanded removal of the remaining labor protection legislation. Currently, more than half of all new hiring is of the part time kind, but only as far as pay goes.

In case Greece finds it politically impossible to come to terms with her EU creditors and more particularly Germany, Eurozone will find it very difficult to solve the Gordian knot. If MP Tsipras cannot convince his parliamentary group to go along with the demands of the creditors, Greece and together with her the Eurozone will be limbo. Understandably, the spring 2017 situation is not comparable to the summer of 2015 or June 2012. The EU thinks it can now manage a Greek bust, but nobody can tell what the repercussions may be for example to Italy, if Greece runs wild.

The French question

Last but in no way least, the French Presidential elections may also present unpleasant surprises for the entire Continent. The key issue is the percentage of votes Marine Le Pen is to get on 23 April. Most pollsters estimate that at around 25%. If the real time result comes nearer to 30% or God forbid above it, France and of course Europe will have a problem. And this is not Britain or Greece, in the two far away corners of the Old Continent. The Paris-Berlin axis is the founding keystone of the Union and her power house ever since. And unfortunately, it’s now true that Le Pen may be able to put a big question mark on EU’s future in two weeks from now.

The good thing is, though, that after the Brexit vote on 23 June 2016, the other 27 have showed a rare stance for strong unity. This was confirmed again now with their joint position favoring Spain, in her confrontation with Britain on the Gibraltar Rock sovereignty. This unity will be seriously undermined though, if Greece goes wild and Le Pen wins the day on Sunday 23 April.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

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

Why is Grexit again in the news? Who is to pay for Eurozone’s banking problems?

Bankruptcy or referendum: which one is going to be first?

Cambodia: Giving back to UN peacekeeping

We’ll succeed together

From Grexit to Brexit: UK industry now says the in/out referendum is good for your health

Bundesbank’s President Weidmann criticises France and the EU. Credibility at risk?

Why we need a Paris Agreement for nature

More than 80% of adolescents worldwide aren’t getting enough exercise

What keeps me up at night? Two strategists reply

UN monitoring team in Yemen verifies pullout of armed forces from crucial port zones

Commission refers Denmark to the Court for failing to fulfil its obligations in relation to the name “Feta”

Finland is a world leader in clean energy. Here’s what’s driving its success

The European Parliament declares climate emergency

Four ways innovation can help to beat heart disease

New UN Syria envoy pledges to work ‘impartially and diligently’ towards peace

Bosnia and Herzegovina: MEPs concerned by slow progress in EU-related reforms

Mali not fulfilling its ‘sovereign role’ in protecting its people: UN human rights expert

EU Parliament approves CETA: the EU-Canada free trade deal sees the light in Trump’s gloomy era

Now is the time to seize ‘unprecedented opportunity’ of the Sustainable Development Forum, says ECOSOC President

EU elections 2019: Rise of nationalist trends and populism in Europe challenges the EU edifice

Yemen: Major UN aid boost for ‘up to 14 million’ as country risks becoming a land of ‘living ghosts’

Inequality in the delivery of health services

4 essential qualities for digital leaders

Sustainable investment is on the rise – here’s how to connect the dots

UN chief hopes for new agreement after Israel concludes international observation mission

World Food Programme accesses Yemeni frontline district for first time since conflict began

European Commissioner for Youth wants young people to be at heart of policy making

Junker for Commission President: What were the stakes in this affair

New York City has a plan to fight fast fashion waste. Here’s how it works

We must help developing countries escape commodity dependence

Preserving biodiversity vital to reverse tide of climate change, UN stresses on International Day

These countries have the highest minimum wages

China dazzles the world with her Silk Road plan to connect, Asia, Europe and Africa

Madrid is banning high-polluting vehicles from the city centre

UN Afghan Mission ‘outraged’ by deadly Taliban attack in Kabul, as hardline group threatens election violence

Conflicts and extreme climate change threatens access to food in 39 countries – UN agriculture report

‘Foreign children’ in overwhelmed Syrian camp need urgent international help, says top UN official

Here are what UNESCO considers to be remarkable new World Heritage Sites

Food safety: more transparency, better risk prevention

‘Eden bonds’: how rewilding could save the climate and your pension

MWC 2016 LIVE: BlackBerry acquires Encription, talks Microsoft and health

UN agencies ramp up Somalia measles and polio campaign

UN chief sends condolences to families of Malawi flood victims

Costa Coffee products (Copyright: Costa Coffee; Source: Costa Coffee website, Press area)

The start of the “Caffeine rush”: Coca-Cola acquires Costa Coffee days after Nestlé-Starbucks deal

UN chief condemns deadly attacks in Afghanistan

Central African Republic: Guterres says UN mission committed to protecting civilians, helping stabilize country, as violence flares

Migration: Commission steps up emergency assistance to Spain and Greece

‘Continuing deterioration’ leaves Mali facing critical security level: UN expert

UN General Assembly President defends ‘landmark’ migration compact

Impossible Brexit options: WTO or new referendum?

Generalist practicing: is it worth it?

93 million children with disabilities ‘among the most likely to be left behind’: UN rights chief

The EU’s trading partners: US, China and the rest

Robots aren’t stealing all our jobs, says the World Bank’s chief economist

Measles ‘misinformation campaigns’ through social media, fuel rising toll

What the Women’s World Cup can teach us about capitalism

UN Human Rights Council resolution on youth and human rights: a step forward for youth rights

EU Youth Report casts stark light on life for young Europeans

Tech companies are changing, for the better

Statement by Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Trade, on the successful conclusion of the final discussions on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) – Brussels, 08 Dec 2017. (Copyright: European Union; Source: EC - Audiovisual Service; Photo: Georges Boulougouris)

The EU and Japan seal free trade pact that will cover 30% of global GDP

More Stings?

Comments

  1. Spain will never have Gibraltar which it gave away legally to the UK. End Of. The EU has no duristiction in this matter historically. Also the EU is powerless. The UN rules override any power the EU has and any such provocation will have consequences for the EU and Spain. Spain refuses to attend the world court on this matter. Why? The UK is the country with strongest influence and soft power as shown by official statistics something Spanish politicians fail to grasp. Spain is not an outward global trading country. Its influence is limited and it needs the skirt of the EU to look bigger. Already moves are afoot for Catalonian independence and US and UK people will be supporting it and even helping to fund it.

    On a final note Spanish military has been provocatively entering Gibraltan waters and border guards wielding guns. In 2015 Spanish guards were trying to fire on jet skiers. Spain is a 3rd world corrupt country. Its economy is bankrupt. It also cons the EU is not paying into the EU budget. Spain is a leech in the EU and should not be carried by the British or Germans anymore. The British are off so no wonder Spanish politicians are over. They want a free lunch and siestas. The party is over you!

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