Winners and Losers in Europe
Europe and the EU have undergone great changes in recent times. Here are five winners and five losers.
- Europe and the EU have undergone great changes in recent times. Here are five winners and five losers.
- The EU of Juncker was reserved for men. Now the EU has two women holding top global posts in the world’s biggest economic block.
- Rightist xenophobic parties in Europe have all proclaimed their moment was arriving. It didn’t.
- There will be no hand extended to help a Johnson-Farage UK from Brussels.
1. The French language. All five of the new presidents of the Commission, Council, Parliament, and Central Bank as well as the High Representative are fluent French-speakers.
2. Old Europe. Founding members of the European Community — Germany, France, Italy, Belgium — are now in the saddle along with the historic nation of Spain.
3. Centrists. There are two center-right big cheeses – Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde running the Commission and Central Bank, two socialists – David-Maria Sassoli and Josep Borrell heading the European Parliament and EU foreign service and one liberal – Charles Michel presiding over the European Council.
4. Emmanuel Macron. Derided by the Anglo-Saxon press as failing and flailing under pressure from the Gilets Jaunes protest movement and a confident Marine Le Pen Macron has played the EU game effectively with a win for what he calls “les progressistes” against “les nationalistes” in both the European Parliament election and now in the formation of the new EU leadership team.
5. Women. The EU of Jean-Claude Juncker and previous Commission presidents was reserved for men. Now the EU has two young sexagenarians — Ursula von der Leyen, 60 and Christine Lagarde, 63 — holding top global posts in the world’s biggest economic block. Add in Macron’s closest advisor, Brigitte Macron, 66, and this troika of ladies is the most powerful group of women in global politics.
1. Steve Bannon and his two year long demagogic populist campaign against the EU. Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage, the AfD in Germany, FPÖ in Austria and other rightist xenophobic parties in Nordic Europe have all proclaimed their moment was arriving. It didn’t.
2. New Europe. The turn of nationalist populism in Poland and Hungary or the endemic corruption involving politicians and business in countries like Romania, Bulgaria or the Czech Republic left leaders like Viktor Orban or Jarosław Kaczynski friendless and without influence outside Hungary or Poland.
3. Brexit. All the new EU leadership team are on the record saying Brexit is bad for the EU and none is willing to make concessions to Boris Johnson who has denigrated and told lies about Europe over his 30 year political-journalist career. There will be no hand extended to help a Johnson-Farage UK from Brussels.
4. Putin. The Russian president grandly announced on the eve of the G20 summit that the era of liberal democracy was over. All the new leadership team in Europe are committed to liberal values – respect for rule of law, media freedom, rights for women and for LBGT community.
Putin spent money campaigning for anti-EU parties in the European Parliament election but they lost support. Von der Leyen shares with her mentor Angela Merkel a cold anger at Putin’s Anschluss of Crimea and his military interventions on the Donbass, and other intervention in the sovereignty of a European UN member state – Ukraine.
5. European democracy. The Spitenkandidat system was flawed and weakened by the choice of Manfred Weber as a possible European Commission president. He was simply unacceptable to too many others and the CDU-CSU political machine should have seen this.
But the return to Berlin and Paris deciding everything behind closed doors with other EU member states having to accept Macron’s fait accompli is a reversion to exactly the back-room fixes and trades that gave the EU a bad name.
The Greens in particular who scored very well in the EP elections and are now ahead of the SPD in Germany and strong in other countries can feel justifiably aggrieved at being kept out of any EU leadership position.