Sunday 19 November 2017


I will start with a health warning that my knowledge of German politics is not extensive, however, I do wonder what lies in store when exploratory talks to form Germany’s next coalition government have collapsed.

One wonders if Germany is reaching a similar state of political exhaustion as the UK where Merkel is, like Cameron was, the linchpin on a similarly fragile political settlement. If that be the case, when Merkel inevitably departs we could be looking at a prolonged period of political disquiet in Germany with very serious existential questions for the EU.

Presently, Poland is in a state of transition where it is difficult to tell which direction politics is travelling in. For all that we are told the UK is turning inward, such commentary seems less credible when compared with Poland. 

It doesn't help when we only really have our own media to go on. That same media has been telling the whole world the UK is undergoing some kind of anti-immigration backlash when Brexit is more a sentiment of overall disatisfaction with the establishment. The same may or may not be true of Poland. I am not minded to give the media the benefit of the doubt.

What we can say, however, is that the fabric of the EU is being tested and this would be a very bad time for German leadership to go AWOL. Should German governance fall into a similar state of dysfunction as the UK then already strained European cohesion goes out of the window. Ultimately it is Germany's moral authority that stops the fringe states doing their own thing.

If the EU does not have coherent direction from Germany then the EU could well be exposed as toothless and impotent and that could lead to a wholesale departure from membership obligations. This not to say the EU is in danger of collapse, rather that there will be too many brushfires for it to any longer pretend there is European unity and the EU as an entity then diminishes in importance among its members. 

In this we must be mindful that the UK was not alone in joining for purely transactional purposes - and a number of accession states saw the EU as a source of funding rather than buying into le grand project. Certainly one does not see any organic appreciation of the EU in Croatia and the only blue flags you will see are on EU funded infrastructure projects. 

As this blog noted over the weekend, this such propagandising actually doesn't work and does little to buy the allegiance of citizens. At best it serves only to buy the affections of European political establishments. One wonders is even this can be sustained with the departure of a major financial contributor like the UK.

As ever, when it comes to an EU crisis the EU's only answer is "more Europe" and in a bid to slow the tide of Euroscepticism the colleagues have decided upon an expansion of "social Europe". Categorically, it will not work. Electorates cannot be bought off with euro-gimmicks. 

If there is a point to this post at all it is that the bravado we see in the EU in the wake of Brexit is pretty thin gruel. The fundamentals are not sound, the politics is drifting, and the UK is not alone in seeking to reinvent. Immigration is not solely a UK preoccupation and the EU is too hamstrung by its own obsolete dogma to offer any realistic remedy. There is only one certainty in European politics right now. With or without Brexit, the post-war settlement is disintegrating. 

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