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

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

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

“As German Chancellor I want to be able to cope with the merger of the real and digital economy”, Angela Merkel from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Business could learn plenty about cybersecurity from the secret state

EU–US: What is the real exchange in a Free Trade Agreement?

How to rebuild trust and integrity in South Africa

Investing in working conditions and quality jobs

EU Youth Conference concludes in Luxembourg with concrete plans on how to create real youth participation

Paris is building the world’s greenest business district. What can other cities learn from it?

Prolonged economic crisis and drought demands urgent response for Zimbabwe’s ‘hardest hit’: UN relief chief

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

The Shifting Rhythms of Harmonious China: Ancient, Modern & Eternal

Do electronic cigarettes produce adverse health effects?

How to stop plastic pollution at source

Who is culpable in the EU for Ukraine’s defection to Russia?

5 ways to boost sustainable trade in the world’s poorest countries

UN rights chief calls for international inquiry into Kashmir violations

EU agrees on Ukraine – Georgia visa-free travel amid veto risks and populist fears

Climate change and its adverse impacts on health

Brexit: political groups discuss options for an orderly withdrawal

National parks transformed conservation. Now we need to do the same for the ocean

‘Business as usual’ will not achieve global education goals

Marco Polo’s Dream

Parliament supports plans to improve quality of tap water and cut plastic litter

EU invests in green projects and bans single-use plastics while climate change requires more to be done

UN chief sends condolences to families of Malawi flood victims

Empathic AI could be the next stage in human evolution – if we get it right

Indigenous peoples ‘lag behind on all social and economic indicators’: UN deputy human rights chief

Service and Sacrifice: For Ghana, UN peacekeeping is a ‘noble opportunity to serve humanity’

Can the US-Iran rapprochement change the world?

A Sting Exclusive: “Europe needs decisive progress for stronger cybersecurity”, EU Commissioner Gabriel highlights from Brussels

Barriers to healthcare: are they real?

Why did Cameron gain absolute majority? What will he do now? Will he vote ‘yes’ in Britain’s in – out EU referendum?

Is a deal over EU budget possible today?

More than just a phone: mobile’s impact on sustainable development

“A sustainable economy, low-carbon, resource-efficient, resilient and more competitive on the global stage”, EU Commissioner Vella in a Sting Exclusive

Assembly of European Regions @ European Business Summit 2014: Made in Europe – Made of Regions

Children are so hungry in one British town they are eating from bins

Summertime Consultation: 84% want Europe to stop changing the clock

Single-use plastics: New EU rules to reduce marine litter

UN, global health agencies sound alarm on drug-resistant infections; new recommendations to reduce ‘staggering number’ of future deaths

One year on from #MeToo, what’s changed?

Why Europe’s high productive performance is discredited?

Millions of young people need better job skills. Here’s how businesses can help

Progress against torture in Afghan detention centres, but Government needs to do more, says UN report

Climate change is exacerbating hunger in some of the world’s poorest countries. And those most at risk are the least to blame

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

The Netherlands is paying people to cycle to work

EU Member States test their cybersecurity preparedness for free and fair EU elections

United States: UN human rights office welcomes California moratorium on death penalty

UN rights chief Bachelet appeals for dialogue in Sudan amid reports ‘70 killed’ in demonstrations

Security Union: political agreement on strengthened Schengen Information System

UN’s AIDS agency ‘greatly encouraged’ by latest scientific breakthrough showing cure is possible

Pharmaceuticals conceal drug side effects with the EU’s Court blessing

Gender Equality in Medicine: are we now so different from the Middle Ages?

Antitrust: Commission fines Google €1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising

What has a year of experiments taught us about basic income?

IMF: How To Deal With Failed Banks

Millions of people eat octopus- here’s why we shouldn’t

Tsipras imposes more austerity on insolvent Greece; plans to win new early election soon

It’s time we took a seat ‘at your table’: Guterres calls on world youth to keep leading climate emergency response

Trump’s pounding of Iran less harsh than expected, leaves arrangement open

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