Saturday, July 2, 2016

The real reason for the ongoing trouble in the European Union, including the recent vote by the British people to leave the bloc, is that the EU is bankrupt. We know in retrospect that the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union was the real reason the Warsaw pact fell apart, with Poland acting as the first domino. For the same reason, we can predict England was the first domino in the collapse of the European Union.  The emerging consensus view is, as Pentagon analysts put it, “Brexit may lead to Frexit (French exit), the collapse of banks, populism, nationalism and anti-globalism.” This is also likely lead to an end to Khazarian mafia sponsored Muslim immigration. The situation in France has already become so chaotic that French police say they are becoming too exhausted to deal with the daily, violent demonstrations taking place throughout the country. French President Francois Hollande, who has only 11% public support, is trying to ban demonstrations but it is hard to see who will enforce his “ban.” In other words, France is headed for revolution.  “This is the worst period I recall, there is nothing like it,” is how former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan described the general situation and the market chaos that followed the Brexit vote.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The European Council has offered a narrow window, saying that Britain has not left until Article 50 is activated formally by the Prime Minister, “if it is indeed the intention of the British government.” Mr Cameron has left it to his successor to activate it. Mrs Merkel is in no hurry. Senior EU sources say they can wait until Christmas, but prevarication would trash Britain's credit-worthiness. There are two problems. Firstly, to not activate Article 50 would be a rejection of democracy on a scale that could only be described as a coup, and would poison British public life for generations.
Secondly, a wave of movements demanding referendums on the terms of membership, given a huge boost by Mr Cameron, is tearing across Europe – in France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Italy, Hungary.  Marine Le Pen could will run rampant in French elections in the spring.
Leaders anticipated that Boris Johnson would pursue a 'vote leave for a better deal' strategy, and ruled it out from February, precisely to prevent this scenario.  Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday: “The repercussions of the British referendum could quickly put a stop to such crass rabble-rousing, as it should soon become clear that the UK was better off inside the EU.” Britain simply has to go, on bad terms, pour encourager les autres.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

As far as Brussels is concerned, Britain has left.  At home on Friday morning, Britons were dumbstruck, agog at the result, or chuffed at having taught Brussels a lesson.  We now see street protests to overturn the result, internet petitions, suggestions that the UK or Scottish Parliament could revoke it or somehow make it go away. Westminster is occupied by Labour coups and Tory successions. Few seem to believe we are going.   In Brussels, they have been ready to say goodbye for a long time. Britain had been half-way out the door for forty years. David Cameron had announced this referendum in January 2013. He had won an election on the back of it, and many expected him to lose it. He, and they, repeated many times that it was final and binding. Patience is exhausted.  On Friday there was grave sadness, but no panic. The timetable for the talks was announced days before the vote. Martin Schulz, the president of the Parliament, spoke at dawn; Donald Tusk, the president of the Council, delivered a statement at 07.40 GMT. The founding members' foreign ministers met on Saturday; sherpas for the 27 remaining states will meet today to sketch out the months ahead.  Leaders have demanded Article 50 is activated immediately, to create certainty. Realistically, Mr Cameron has until Christmas.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

At least two explosions and gunfire have rocked Istanbul's Ataturk international airport, with reports of "multiple" people injured.  Gunfire was directed from an airport car park, according to a witness quoted by Reuters news agency.  Taxis were ferrying wounded people from the airport, the witness added.  In December, a blast on the tarmac at a different Istanbul airport, Sabiha Gokcen, killed a cleaner.  Recent bomb attacks in Turkey have been linked to Kurdish separatists or the Islamic State group.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Although inflation in Italy has slowed to next to nothing, it is still saddled with the effects of earlier inflation and so is uncompetitive. What the advent of the euro has done to Italy – and also to several other countries – is to impose Germanic values in one sphere while having very little effect on performance in most others. It is the combination of Germanic money and Italian practices that is so devastating.  One clear lesson from this is that the EU is far from being the only factor affecting economic performance in Europe. Within the EU, it is possible to do things relatively well, and it is also possible to do things relatively badly. (The same is true for countries outside the EU.) But the Italian experience also makes it clear that the various things the EU supposedly does to improve economic performance aren’t worth very much. Yes, Italy is in the single market and enjoys all the much-vaunted advantages of that arrangement: it has a seat at the table when regulations and standards are framed; these rules apply both in Italy and across the single market; no customs forms are needed when Italian goods head northward; no tariffs are encountered.  Similarly, when Italian goods and services are sold to other eurozone countries there are no problems about exchange rate uncertainty or the cost of changing money. Yet Italy has not been carried forward on a wave of prosperity brought about by the absence of form-filling at borders and the convenience of operating in a common currency. Funny that. It may have had some very successful companies, but Italy has rarely been blessed with stable and effective government. This is why Italy has traditionally been an extremely europhile country. Most Italians felt quite relaxed about Rome ceding power to Brussels. But now, in reaction to recent appalling economic performance, coupled with the EU’s imposition of an unelected “technocratic” prime minister in 2011, more and more Italians are thinking radically about the future. In a recent opinion poll, 58pc of Italians said they wanted a referendum on EU membership and 48pc said that they would vote to leave the EU.  Leaving the euro would be a good start. If the new lira dropped by 20pc-30pc, as it probably would, within a couple of years Italy would be enjoying an export boom as it retook market share from other countries, mostly in Europe. The result would be a resumption of decent economic growth and a fall in unemployment.  Come to think of it, is that a key reason why many business leaders in the countries to the north are pretty keen to keep Italy in?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the EU must not fall into "depression and paralysis" after the UK voted to leave the bloc.  He made the comments arriving for an urgent meeting of the six EU founder members to discuss the decision.  They will consider the process and speed of Britain's exit, and are also likely to discuss how to dissuade others from doing the same.  Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will step down by October.  The six countries attending the talks in Berlin - Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - first joined forces in the 1950s and still form the core of the EU.  The first summit of EU leaders with no British representation will be held on Wednesday. The EU has urged the UK to start negotiations to leave quickly.  European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker stressed the "Union of the remaining 27 members will continue".  Global stock markets fell heavily on the news of the so-called "Brexit", where the UK voted by 52% to 48% to leave the EU. The value of the pound has also fallen dramatically.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The European Commission is set to present a new draft of its data-exchange pact with the US, the Privacy Shield, in early July.  EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova told EUobserver in a recent interview that the most contentious issues had been agreed by Washington and Brussels.  These concerned access to data by US security services and bulk collection of people’s personal information.  “We reached an accord on more precise listing of cases when bulk collection can occur and a better definition of how our American partners understand the difference between bulk collection which may be justified and mass surveillance without any purpose, which is not tolerable”, she said.  “These specific points have already been finished and put down in written form”.  The shield is to replace the 15 year-old Safe Harbour pact that failed to protect the privacy of EU nationals whose data was transferred to firms, such as Facebook, based in the US.  The EU Court of Justice (ECJ) invalidated the harbour treaty last year, due in part, to revelations by Edward Snowden, a former US intelligence contractor, of mass-scale US snooping on Europeans. The EU commission and the US, after two years of talks, proposed the shield treaty as a replacement earlier this year. But the EU's main regulatory body on privacy, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, criticised the draft in the strongest possible terms.  The body is composed of EU states’ national data supervisors and EU officials.  Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, its chair, said in April that the shield would fail to protect people's data. “The possibility that is left in the shield and its annexes for bulk collection … is not acceptable," she said.  She sent the draft back to the EU commission, which is now set to present the updated version. That text becomes binding the moment it is adopted by the 28 commissioners, with no subsequent input from the EU Council or MEPs.