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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
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We Aren't Out of the Woods Yet

The absence of a pan-European fiscal union combined with the departure of the United Kingdom have left European finances is disarray. This has been exacerbated by a crisis that has sown divisions in a frail union with poorer states demanding that richer countries foot the bill to save the Union. When Germany's constitutional court questioned the proportionality of the bond purchasing programme, both the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) were dealt a blow, shaking the union's foundation. This is the perfect storm.


Context

Italy is broken; Lombardy's economy is in tatters, re-igniting the country's north/south divide. The ECB's bond buying programme is in full swing for now, but will it be enough?


Spain is politically unstable; successive elections have not yielded much stability whilst the presumed far-right party Vox is surging in polls. Tensions are still running high in Catalonia indicating that gagging pro-independence movement has not been successful. It is hard to see why in this context Spain has set its sight on Gibraltar.


France is a mess; between yellow vest protests and Emmanuel Macron's poor handling of the pandemic, the embattled French president is leaping from one crisis to the next with no end in sight and no money in the bank. If it were not for the police, he would probably not have survived politically. The beleaguered president is leading the charge for a fiscal union recently announcing €500bn European Recovery Fund, with Les Echos and New Europe describing this the Hamiltonian moment for Europe. This Dutch MEP remains unconvinced.


The United Kingdom entered a transition period on 1st February 2020, which as the law of land states, will end on 31st December 2020. The European Union cannot afford to lose one if its biggest contributors hence the latest kerfuffle about Dominic Cummings, which came months after Home Secretary Priti Patel's ability to manage her own department was brought into question by career mandarin Philip Rutnam, who later resigned.


The fact that Tories have publicly demanded the head of the Boris Johnson's political adviser as we have yet to fully resolve the issue of the European Union is simply nonsensical. Therefore, political scoring should be avoided at all cost to present a united front geared towards realpolitik. Any divisions will be exploited by the European Union, and others so everybody must stay alert.

  • Let us focus our effort on the pandemic: anticipate the second wave by carrying out a 'post-mortem' analysis how we dealt with the outbreak. We must learn from our mistakes and ensure that staff in nursing homes and hospitals are protected. We should ensure that education staff are prepared for September because in the absence of a vaccine, people will be reluctant to go to work or send their kids to school.
  • The European Union cannot be granted a diplomatic status in the United Kingdom because the European Union is an association of Sovereign States, and each state already has diplomatic status so there is no need to grant one to the EU (refer to judgement in Karlsruhe on 30th June 2009).
  • All states visits should be paused (where possible): there is no need to expose this country to any additional risks with a state visit because Emmanuel Macron has invited himself. There should be no audience with the Queen, and certainly not with the Prime Minister who has bigger fish to fry.
  • Invest in ports, roads, infrastructure; strong supply chain will be key.

The United Kingdom cannot afford any domestic distractions as it exits the union. In 2016, we voted to leave the European Union and Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. Almost four years later, we left the European Union and Donald Trump is running for a second term.


We are in the middle of a geostrategic storm as domestic and exogenous forces utilise divisions to shore up their power. The balance of power is shifting, and it will be up to us to decide where the wind blows. 

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