Author Topic: Why Europe Keeps Failing........ merged with "EU Seizes Cypriot Bank Accounts"  (Read 482770 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

Offline Chris Pook

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 185,600
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 11,856
  • Wha daur say Mass in ma lug!
Quote
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers, said that the U.S. Department of Justice's demand that Deutsche Bank pay $14 billion for its role in the sub-prime mortgage crisis is too big and will undermine financial stability.

"Let's hope it is an opening bid," Dijsselbloem said on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Washington. "These kinds of fines are completely oversized, and they are damaging to financial stability."

http://www.express.co.uk/finance/city/718862/Eurozone-financial-EU-economic-stability-US-fine-Deutsche-Bank

Quote
Why Apple's $14.5 Billion Tax Fine Is Worse for Shareholders Than it Looks

http://fortune.com/2016/08/31/apple-eu-tax-fine/

So the EU thinks that 14.5 BUSD is an excessive fine for Deutsche Bank but is proportionate for Apple.

Apparently a private company can come up with that kind of money but the Bank on which the economy of Germany rests, and in consequence the economy of Europe, can't afford that kind of charge.

Apparently Europe is in worse state than I thought.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

Offline Chris Pook

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 185,600
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 11,856
  • Wha daur say Mass in ma lug!
http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/721061/CETA-eu-canada-trade-deal-justin-trudeau-european-union-commission-brexit

CETA held up by Wallonia.

The article suggests the Brits should take this as a warning about being able to do a deal with the EU.

Others might suggest that the EU should take this a a warning about the EU being able to do a deal with anybody.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

Offline Chris Pook

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 185,600
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 11,856
  • Wha daur say Mass in ma lug!
An interesting article on what Europe needs to do to come together in the absence of the US and the UK (and France?) and in the face of Russia.

Quote
Europeans Will Now Decide What Europe Will Be
By Josef Janning
November 17, 2016

This article was created in collaboration with the European Council on Foreign Relations. Josef Janning is the head of ECFR's Berlin office. The views expressed here are the author's own.

Despite his celebration this weekend with British politician Nigel Farage -- in a Trump Tower golden elevator, no less -- the president-elect of the United States is not an anti-European in the sense we in Europe are most familiar with.


And despite his “Brexit plus, plus, plus” predictions, Donald Trump’s presidency does not necessarily presage an attempt to disrupt or to destroy European integration. Trump is no Farage or Marine Le Pen. In fact, President Trump will care little about Europe and whether it rises or falls. What Trump wants is to right the imbalance between the commitments and returns he sees in the United States’ foreign relations. Like the now-wealthy nations in East Asia, EU countries fit Trump’s dictum about self-defense and American support: The United States should not provide to them what they could afford themselves.

What this means is that what Europe is to become will be for the Europeans to decide.

This could hardly be news to European policymakers. No president has ever spelled out the link between burden-sharing and the U.S. security assurance in such drastic terms as has Donald Trump, but several have looked at the issue in similar ways, particularly since the demise of the Soviet Union. Other presidents have muted their criticism because of the value of U.S.-led alliance systems to America’s global role. Now, the precondition for partnership with the United States will be Europe's ability to defend itself, and no longer its inability to do so.

In the 1990s precious years were wasted during which Europeans could have developed, debated, and implemented a defense structure of scale. Instead of using the momentum of change to devise an efficient European scheme of territorial defense -- the contingency they had spent so much money on when Europe was divided -- they set about spending the peace dividend internally. Now, building a collective European defense seems next to impossible -- it runs counter to the intergovernmental trend that has shaped European security over the past two decades. To be sure, much more is done in terms of cooperation, joint development, and procurement than was 20 years ago, and some remarkable projects of integration of forces exist. But it still looks like a set of warm-up exercises to a marathon, rather than the real run.

Policymakers in European capitals for the most part know that committing to spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense will not by itself solve the puzzle, even if the target is reached by 2020. Roughly two-thirds of Europe’s defense spending comes from just Britain, France, and Germany, the first two of which evince little interest in helping other European countries achieve more bang for their euro in defense spending. Another part of the problem is that at least one-third of that spending would mostly go to subcritical or redundant structures. It would be spent on an inefficient deployment scheme and on paying, equipping, and commanding too many soldiers in uniform while underspending on research and development. Such a vast asymmetry cannot be addressed through voluntary intergovernmental cooperation with very little in the way of common assets. Such is the lesson of the past decades of defense cooperation within NATO and the European Union.

The answer for European countries in the age of Trump lies in genuine integration of territorial defense. Europeans may differ over the strategy and operations of projecting military force beyond Europe, but they are all bound by clear-cut solidarity articles on territorial defense in NATO and the European Union. After changes to Russia’s foreign and and military policy, to many Europeans the threat to integrity coming from Moscow is no longer merely a residual challenge.

Yet the political conditions in Europe put such integration far out of reach. A coalition of willing nations could, and should, make it their goal -- a goal pursued in the name of Europe, but one that would require its own formal agreement if the permanent structured cooperation clause of the EU treaties is too cumbersome for the cause. In normal times, British opposition, French frustration with Germany’s unwillingness to adopt Paris’s strategic parameters, and German historical trauma around building a big territorial army in the center of Europe would kill any such initiative at inception.

Genuine defense integration thus seems improbable right now. But as we have recently learned, the improbable can quickly become the inevitable. With 28 or 27 members there is no agreement on how to proceed, so the new world of European defense will be built from the bottom up. Instead of launching a European Defence Community as was tried in the 1950s, this time integration should begin with two or three countries taking the initiative of pooling their defense, with the option of bringing in neighbors later on. Essentially, such an approach involves Germany and … which other European country? France, the nuclear power focused on force projection beyond Europe? The Netherlands, whose army is mostly organized in joint structures with the German army already? What about Denmark, Austria, or the Czech Republic? There is a lot of history to overcome. What about Poland, equally driven by fear of Russia and distrust of Germany? Berlin and Warsaw launching such an initiative would constitute another “Schuman moment” in European politics. Neither Warsaw nor Berlin, however, seem right now to feel the spirit that drove Robert Schuman to propose the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor to what is now the European Union.

The second real challenge of an American retreat from the European theater runs even deeper: Rather than spurring closer cooperation, such a dynamic could lay bare the underlying weakness of Europe. To the fore may come the many differences and rivalries among the nation-states of Europe, the mistrust and the animosities between them, the cleavages between north and south, east and west, between the rich and poor, the large and the small, and between the large as well as between the small.

Since the end of World War II, the overwhelming presence of the United States and the forward march of European integration have together worked to relax intra-European tensions. Alas, the moment in which a Jacksonian is elected to the White House finds the European Union already struggling with forces that threaten to tear it apart. It is now likely that neither U.S. presence nor EU integration will be there to halt the diverging trajectories of EU member states. European countries will need to undertake clear-eyed assessments of security threats and respond accordingly. How they respond could define their collective future for decades to come.


http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2016/11/17/trump_eu_nato_europeans_will_now_decide_what_europe_will_be_112125.html
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

Offline E.R. Campbell

  • Retired, years ago
  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Myth
  • *
  • 456,460
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 18,087
So, the Italians voted "No," in their referendum, effectively ending the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Italy, which has a long history of unstable governments has just entered a new era of instability.

See: https://beinglibertarian.com/italians-vote-no-referendum-european-union-dealt-new-blow/  and  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/italian-prime-minister-matteo-renzi-faces-big-referendum-defeat/article33202003/  and https://www.ft.com/content/9b9d9ad0-ba6d-11e6-8b45-b8b81dd5d080

This might do more long term damage to European unity and the Brexit does.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
----------
Like what you see/read here on Army.ca?  Subscribe, and help keep it "on the air!"

Offline daftandbarmy

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 173,830
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 10,717
  • The Older I Get, The Better I Was
So, the Italians voted "No," in their referendum, effectively ending the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Italy, which has a long history of unstable governments has just entered a new era of instability.

See: https://beinglibertarian.com/italians-vote-no-referendum-european-union-dealt-new-blow/  and  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/italian-prime-minister-matteo-renzi-faces-big-referendum-defeat/article33202003/  and https://www.ft.com/content/9b9d9ad0-ba6d-11e6-8b45-b8b81dd5d080

This might do more long term damage to European unity and the Brexit does.

The only thing consistent about Italy is how inconsistent its politics are. Yet another change of government will probably not even be noticed.

How Italy became this century's 'sick man of Europe'

https://www.theguardian.com/business/blog/2016/dec/05/italy-euro-economy-competitiveness
« Last Edit: December 06, 2016, 00:30:50 by daftandbarmy »
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Chris Pook

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 185,600
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 11,856
  • Wha daur say Mass in ma lug!
The only thing consistent about Italy is how inconsistent its politics are. Yet another change of government will probably not even be noticed.

How Italy became this century's 'sick man of Europe'

https://www.theguardian.com/business/blog/2016/dec/05/italy-euro-economy-competitiveness

But they have this electoral reform thing down to a science

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_electoral_law_of_2015
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

Offline Chris Pook

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 185,600
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 11,856
  • Wha daur say Mass in ma lug!
Here I noted the link between Merkel and Trudeau pushing back against Trump's call for the 2% commitment.

http://navy.ca/forums/index.php/topic,82898.msg1476774.html#msg1476774

Merkel now noising about the possibility of relaunching the Deutsche Mark ( a good thing, in my opinion)  because the Euro "isn't working for Germany".

Quote
...During a press conference Mrs Merkel said: "We have at the moment in the euro zone of course a problem with the value of the euro.

"The ECB has a monetary policy that is not geared to Germany, rather it is tailored (to countries) from Portugal to Slovenia or Slovakia.

"If we still had the (German) D-Mark it would surely have a different value than the euro does at the moment.

"But this is an independent monetary policy over which I have no influence as German chancellor."

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/769045/Angela-Merkel-Euro-Deutsche-Mark-Mike-Pence-Munich-Germany-ECB

At the same time we have Sigmar Gabriel, Social Democrat and German Foreign Minister, calling for a good Brexit:

Quote
"We should resist the temptation to treat Britain overly harshly - not out of pity but in our own interest,"said Gabriel at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, as reported by The Daily Mail.

"We need Britain, for example, as a partner in security policy and I am also convinced that Britain needs us."

http://www.businessinsider.com/germanys-foreign-minister-and-vice-chancellor-sigmar-gabriel-at-munich-on-brexit-2017-2

And we have Wolfgang Schaeuble, Christian Democrat and German Minister of Finance, suggesting a Greek exit from the Euro

"Schäuble told ARD television on Wednesday that the EU’s Lisbon treaty ruled out a debt reduction for Greece. “For that, Greece would have to leave the monetary union,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/09/greece-hopes-deal-eu-debt-german-warning-single-currency

The real battle for the EU is going to be between Martin Schulz and Angela Merkel. 

The French election is a mess - and the politicians there are going to have to listen to the locals one way or another.  And despite the fact that Geert Wilders is a decidedly unsavoury candidate, a whole lot of people seem to be buying what he is selling.

I wonder if 2018 will look like 1918 or 1968.   For the Europeans, 1918 and 1919 were not good years.  1968 was a fun year for many of the current politicians.  They got to riot in the streets.



« Last Edit: February 18, 2017, 19:11:11 by Chris Pook »
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 182,745
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,223
  • Freespeecher
An interesting and nuanced look at the results of the elections in the Netherlands. We tend to look at things on a very macro level (or at east may of our information sources do, unless we read specialist press), so deconstructing the wave of populism and its causes will allow us to understand the changes sweeping Europe much better than we do today:

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-dutch-delusion/19575

Quote
THE DUTCH DELUSION
Europe
For Europe, Against the EU

No, Dutch voters have not tamed 'the Brexit spirit'.
 
f you want to know how detached, even otherworldly, Europe’s political and media classes have become, look no further than their response to the Dutch elections. That Geert Wilders, the stiff-haired leader of the Islam-panic outfit the Party for Freedom, didn’t do as well as expected is being celebrated as a ‘blow to [Europe’s] populist surge’. The Dutch people have stood up for decency, the anti-populist set claims, and said ‘Halt!’ to the post-Brexit era of weirdness. This is delusional. Let’s call it the Dutch delusion: the idea that politics as it once was has been defended in Holland, and might be brought back to life across Europe.



No sooner had the exit polls for the Dutch election been published than the Twitterati and opinion-formers were hailing the resuscitation of pre-Brexit ‘normalcy’. ‘Global populist surge halted’, claimed one report. This ‘Dutch snub’ could be the beginning of the end for the ‘far right’, said another. Dutch PM Mark Rutte, leader of the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) that won most seats, says Dutch people have said ‘whoa’ to Brexit and Trump, to ‘the wrong kind of populism’. Watch out, you tens of millions of American and British voters: your allegedly nasty politics is heading for defeat by the Dutch and other people nicer than you.



There are two delusions here. The first is that Wilders is the same as Brexit. That there’s a continuum of populism, starting with Brexit and running through Trump, Le Pen and Wilders: an indistinguishable blob of ‘far right’ sentiment that clings like a tumour to Europe. This continuum of populism is pure invention, a construct of increasingly tetchy anti-populists in the media. These people either lack the nuance to understand that the growing opposition to the old politics takes different forms around the world, or are keen to tar every new political sentiment with the same brush of ‘FASCISM!’ in order to make their task of demonising it, and avoiding looking at what’s behind it, that bit easier.



The truth is that the Wilders worldview is a million miles away from Brexit. That both the Moroccan-bashing, Koran-banning Wilders and millions of working-class people in formerly industrial parts of England and Wales oppose the EU is neither here nor there. It’s like saying the Olympian who waves the Union flag after winning a race is the same as the BNP skinhead who waves it as he stomps menacingly through an Asian suburb. Where Brexit was a clean, positive rebellion against the EU – not for UKIP, not for clampdowns on immigration, and certainly not for the persecution of Muslim immigrants – the Wilders outlook comes with all kinds of backward ideas. His party wants to ban the Koran, a deeply reactionary idea. It wants to shut down mosques: an intolerable assault on freedom of religion. He wants to ban Muslim immigration. There was no such reaction or illiberalism or shrillness to the broad Brexit vote.



Indeed, as made clear by the post-referendum Ashcroft polls, a majority of Brexiteers voted Leave from a belief that laws should be made in the nation that must live by them. They voted on democratic principle. The second most common reason given for the Leave vote was concern over immigration levels, but even this is nothing like the Wilders outlook. A large majority of Brexit voters want EU migrants to stay in Britain and want immigration to continue, albeit in a thought-out fashion. It’s wrong even to compare Trump with Wilders, for the simple fact that Trump is utterly unable to enact Wilders-like policies, even if he wanted to. The US, being a constitutionally liberal republic, in which the state is expressly forbidden from interfering with freedom of religion and speech, could never ban the Koran or close mosques. Trump is not Wilders.



The invention of a continuum of populism shows how disconnected is the political class. The idea that there’s a far-right movement in Europe, connecting one-time Welsh miners who don’t like the EU with elderly French people planning to vote Le Pen with the genuinely reactionary people who run something like Pegida, is a fantasy. It makes moral connections where none exist. If there’s a ‘theme’ in Europe today, it’s a feeling of exhaustion with the old, technocratic elite, and a desire for a different politics. How this theme works itself out differs from nation to nation, and takes different forms even within nations. It is the political class’s abject unwillingness to grapple with this growing sense of public agitation that makes it cry ‘FAR RIGHT’ at anyone who dares question the old status quo. How easier that is.

Then there’s the second delusion: the idea that the result in Holland was good for ‘normal’, supposedly progressive politics. Rutte talks up the election result as a victory for goodness against hate, for him against Wilders, and Trump, and Brexit. Is he serious? His VVD lost eight seats, down from 41 to 33. His coalition partner, the Labour Party, was all but wiped out: it lost 29 seats, reducing it to just nine. If the election confirms anything, it isn’t that populist politics is waning: it’s that social democracy in Europe remains in a state of terminal decline; that the rupture between the left and voters is now vast. The surprise beneficiary was GroenLinks (GreenLeft), which won 10 new seats, taking it to 14. This looks like a variant form of the rejection of the old politics, only instead of expressing it by voting for an anti-EU party, many did it by switching from social democracy to environmentalism. Also, Wilders hardly did terribly: his party gained five seats and is now the second largest.



Far from scuppering the new populism, the Dutch elections seemed to include its key ingredient: that public feeling of fatigue and anger with the old, zombie-like, bureaucratic politics, with a left-right divide that seems to mean little. That the main centre-right party lost seats and the social democrats got thrashed suggests the Brexit spirit, as we might call it, exists as much in parts of Holland as it does in Norfolk or Stoke or ‘the Brexit states’ in the US, as some referred to those parts of America that most keenly rejected Hillary. It’s just that this spirit takes different shapes in different places; it’s moulded by local and historical factors; it’s positively expressed in some places, less positively in others. For leftists to celebrate the Dutch election result is bizarre. Many left voters have shifted from social democracy to green politics, from ideas based on class to concerns about nature. The old left should worry about this. But those of us who want a new politics should not.



Indeed, to my mind, this is one of the positive things about the Dutch election. Because the more that social democracy and technocracy and other modern political outlooks that are utterly incapable of meeting people’s basic desire for greater autonomy and comfort are swept aside, the more space we will have for discussing and forging a new, better, more genuinely liberal politics. Brexit, nothing like Wilders, pushed us closer to that new politics; let’s keep pushing.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Chris Pook

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 185,600
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 11,856
  • Wha daur say Mass in ma lug!
Charlemagne WOULD be pleased.  Of course his empire didn't outlast him. 

Quote
New European Order: Angela Merkel pledges to shape EU future in GERMANY'S image

ANGELA Merkel has refused to give up on her ambitious plans for the European Union and has pledged to push forward her relaunch plans.

By OLI SMITH

PUBLISHED: 10:04, Mon, May 15, 2017 | UPDATED: 15:30, Mon, May 15, 2017
   
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she will use close cooperation with Emmanuel Macron to restart the European Union and shape the continent's future.

Mrs Merkel doubled down in her commitment to the European project in remarks to voters on the campaign trail.

She told an audience of cheering supporters over the weekend that Germany and France will drive through close integration and transform the EU bloc.

The Chancellor was speaking in Aachen, where she finished her party's campaign ahead of the last state election on Sunday before the nationwide vote in September.

The CDU saw a strong surge of support in Germany's most populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia on Sunday, which is home to one in five German voters and has often been a national trend-setter in elections.

The day after the result, the German leader will meet with Mr Macron, a fellow europhile.

Merkel faces a tough electoral contest tomorrow

The French president will holds talks with her in Berlin a day after his own inauguration, with the aim of the talks to relaunch the European project.
 
Mrs Merkel told the audience: "We will do everything not only to help France but also to shape the future European path with France.

"We are happy that Mark Rutte and Emmanuel Macron, people who make efforts for Europe, won their elections.

"We will lead the new European project together and shape its future through our cooperation."

The pledge to restart and relaunch the European project comes as experts believe the wave of anti-EU populism has peaked.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/804182/Angela-Merkel-European-project-Macron



And in other news:

Quote
EMMANUEL Macron’s victory in the French presidential election as been welcomed by European Union neighbours such as Belgium, Germany and Holland but Eastern European member states fear his vision could push them to the political and economic sidelines.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/804647/French-President-Emmanuel-Macron-European-Union-vision-Eastern-Europe-Poland-Hungary



Quote
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras aims to send Greeks to the polls to vote on whether the electoral system should be changed.

With his approval ratings plummeting, critics argue the vote is a cynical attempt to secure a victory over the rival New Democracy party.

The referendum would also include questions regarding energy spending, water resources and the organisation of the Greek presidential election.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/804629/greece-referendum-alexis-tsipras-constitution-new-democracy-eu


Quote
“We must find another balance with the British, I think we will arrive at it.”

However, he then warned: “But we can never, never create a state for the British or any other country outside the EU which is more favourable than being inside the EU.

“Otherwise there’s no point to the EU. There must be an advantage to being a member of the EU and that’s the foundation of the mandate for the negotiations for the commission and the EU Parliament.”

http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/804800/Brexit-news-Guy-Verhofstadt-Britain-must-end-up-worse-off-outside-EU

Quote
He added: “So we very much need an agreement between France and Germany about which direction we can go in. We, the Benelux, have the habit of rallying around the project inspired by Paris and Berlin.

“That gives us an impetus because if the Benelux is in agreement, the countries of the north and the countries of the east become more interested because it’s not just a diktat from Paris or Berlin.

"It’s like that we can advance the European machine and reform it. And Don’t forget that the southern countries will have a more important role after Brexit than before.

“They are ready to take that responsibility - Spain, Portugal, Italy - they are ready to give an impetus to the European project which is very good news.” 

Belgium and Luxembourg are the heart of the old Carolingian house and, before it, the Merovingians.

Culture matters.



I can't get over the mindset of Verhofstaedt that readily admits that the institution of the EU has no point unless it confers advantage and in the same breath he says active measures must be taken to  ensure that Brexit is not a success.  He seems to fail to grasp that he defeats his own argument by making the point that Brexit could be a success unless the EU drags it down.  That doesn't demonstrate much confidence in the EU.  It seems to indicate that, left to its own devices, there is no advantage to being in the EU.  It is not an organic attraction, a co-operative venture, that has people clamouring to belong but rather a herd that must be whipped and corralled. 
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

Offline jollyjacktar

  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *****
  • 132,542
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 5,530
  • My uncle F/Sgt W.H.S. Buckwell KIA 14/05/43 22YOA
The Germans appear to be going to give Merkle another mandate.  Wow.  I wouldn't let her take out my garbage.  I can't believe they're that stunned.  But then l think Wynn might get another term here too come next election.

Quote
Merkel favoured to win historic 4th term as Germans head to polls

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/world/germany-election-2017-1.4304659
I'm just like the CAF, I seem to have retention issues.

Offline Chris Pook

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 185,600
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 11,856
  • Wha daur say Mass in ma lug!
More of the same .... but perhaps a more appropriate thread.   :pirate:

Quote
FEATURES
Michel Barnier’s arrogant inflexibility over Brexit comes from a long Gallic tradition
When it comes to negotiation, the French and the British are worlds apart
Robert Tombs
 
21 October 2017
9:00 AM

If Michel Barnier and David Davis, in their regular dialogue of the deaf, seem to be inhabiting different mental universes, that is because they are. The British and French have often found each other particularly difficult to negotiate with. Of course, Barnier represents not France but the EU, and he has a negotiating position, the notorious European Council Guidelines, on which the veteran British diplomat Sir Peter Marshall has recently commented that ‘I have never seen, nor heard tell of, a text as antipathetic to the principle of give and take which is generally assumed to be at the heart of negotiation among like-minded democracies’. But, as a senior German politician recently commented off the record, its most important clause is the one that says it can be ‘adjusted’. This is the sort of language the British understand, the language of bargaining. But that is not how the French understand negotiation or texts, and alas for Davis, he has to deal with a Frenchman.

We have been meeting this problem for at least two centuries. The most damaging occasion was when the British encountered a far more formidable duo than Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker: Napoleon Bonaparte and his foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, atheist bishop turned tricky politician. In 1802, to end a long and indecisive war, the two sides had signed the Treaty of Amiens, best remembered for Gillray’s cartoon showing William Pitt and Bonaparte cutting themselves slices of the globe.

This compromise could have given Europe a generation of peace. But after a few months of wrangling and bad temper, relations broke down, and 13 years of bloody and devastating conflict ensued. Napoleon tried to destroy the British economy by stopping its trade with Europe. Britain retaliated, evaded the restrictions, and hugely increased its global trade. The saga ended at Waterloo, and the defeated Napoleon blamed ‘all my wars on England’.

The disaster came about because the two sides had very different conceptions of what signing a peace treaty meant. The British took it to be a first step towards acceptable coexistence, implying future concessions and confidence-building measures on both sides. George III aptly called it ‘an experimental peace’. But the French took it as a rigid text which the British must execute to the letter — the end, not the beginning of a process, with no other issues on the table.

The French moved troops into Holland, expanded their power in Switzerland and Italy, took measures to damage British trade and began unconcealed preparations to invade the Ottoman empire. When the British objected, Talleyrand insisted that these matters were not covered by the Treaty of Amiens, and persistently delayed discussion of them. The final break came over Malta, which the British had liberated but were due to evacuate under the Treaty. They delayed both for practical reasons and as a precaution against the French threat to Turkey. This caused the French angrily to insist, with Napoleon shouting publicly at the British ambassador, that Britain must fulfil its treaty obligations in full and at once. The British, deciding that no deal was better than a bad deal, gave France an ultimatum and then declared war.

Misunderstandings continued over the generations, even when the two countries were on good terms. The British wanted a broad but undefined relationship based on practical cooperation. The French wanted binding written agreements based on defined principles. The great Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston stated that ‘it is not usual for England to enter into engagements with reference to cases which have not wholly arisen’, and his successor Lord Granville a generation later echoed that British practice was to ‘avoid prospective understandings to meet contingencies, which seldom occur in the way which has been anticipated’.

Lord Curzon was less stoical: after a long and fruitless meeting with the obdurate French prime minister Raymond Poincaré, he staggered out of the room in tears saying, ‘I can’t stand that horrible little man. I can’t stand him!’ The French, for their part, repeatedly complained that the British could not think logically. In the 1920s, André Tardieu, a future prime minister, deplored the ‘repugnance of the Anglo-Saxon to the systematic constructions of the Latin mind’. Nothing had changed by 2003, when a British diplomat commented that ‘the French are most comfortable when they can define a set of principles… the British shy away from principles’.

This difference has deep roots. Roman Law, going back to Emperor Justinian and in its modern form to the Code Napoleon, works by applying unchanging general principles. Common Law seeks practical outcomes; indeed, judges may begin by finding a solution and then seek legal justification on which to base it. As the celebrated American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes expressed it, ‘the life of the Common Law has not been logic; it has been experience’.

British ways of thinking are also shaped by the empiricism propagated by Sir Francis Bacon, a pioneer of modern scientific method. He was suspicious of ‘men of theory’ or ‘reasoners’ who put metaphysical ideas before practical experience: ‘the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance’, whereas ‘men of experiment are like the ant; they only collect and use’. A contrasting influence in France was the rationalism of René Descartes. For Cartesians (which educated French people proverbially regard themselves as being), understanding begins with ideas in the mind. Hence theory comes first, applications follow.

These basic differences are deeply inculcated by the British and French education systems from primary school to university. The British are encouraged to try to find things out for themselves, to come up with practical answers, and to be original even if they make mistakes. The French, from tiny tots copying teacher’s handwriting to the erudite authors of magisterial theses, are required to accept and apply the correct models and ideas. Moreover, arguments have to be expressed in a set form: if the ideas are good but the form is bad, you fail. Every leading French official and most politicians have gone through the most intense form of this disciplined training, which at every stage eliminates those who fail to meet its standards. Those who win through are what the French call bêtes à concours — ‘examination animals’ to whom this system has become second nature. Few are more brilliant than Michel Barnier, graduate of a leading Parisian grande école.

All this makes the British and French approach any negotiations in a very different spirit. The British are reluctant to define a priori aims, because for them negotiation is an experimental process to discover a mutually acceptable deal. As a senior British official has described it: ‘The British put themselves in the position of the person they are negotiating with… the French are not interested in getting inside the thought of others.’ Rather, the French adopt what seem to them a logically coherent set of principles and then defend them rigidly. In the words of one French diplomat: ‘When one is right, one does not compromise.’

As poor Harold Macmillan found with General de Gaulle, ‘he does not apparently listen to argument. He merely repeats over and over again what he has said before.’ The British find this inflexible and arrogant, if not deliberately obstructive. But the French consider the British reluctance to define principles proof of lack of preparation or, worse still, an attempt by la perfide Albion to pull the wool over their eyes. The situation is not helped by further cultural differences. The British try to be relaxed and friendly, and to lighten the atmosphere with humour — David Davis’s natural style. The French are much more formal and hierarchical, and often take backslapping and jokes as a sign of disrespect and superficiality. Moreover, they are willing to show anger, be confrontational and exaggerate — none of this being intended personally, but seen as a display both of authority and conviction. As de Gaulle told his subordinates, in dealing with the British ‘you have to bang the table, and they back down’.

These frictions extend into business relations too, and having learned about them the hard way, the French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain published in 2014 an admirably concise handbook to oil the wheels of Franco-British trade, optimistically entitled ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’. It notes that the British ‘prefer a faster pace’, while the French ‘dislike being hurried’. The British ‘emphasise solutions’, the French ‘emphasis problems’. For the British, ‘compromise is viewed positively and is linked to pragmatism’; for the French, ‘compromise can be viewed negatively, as it implies that a position was not well reasoned’. To crown it all, while the British are ‘proponents of “win-win”, and will compromise in an effort to build long-term relationships that benefit both parties’, the French are ‘proponents of “I win-you lose”, appearing not to care if it risks the breakdown of the relationship’.

However, if they find that their interlocutors refuse to accept their impeccable logic, the French, in a different application of logic, will often cut a last-minute deal. But if Michel Barnier’s Cartesian cobweb–spinning exhausts the patience of our Baconian ants, perhaps we should give up fruitless bargaining over the ‘divorce bill’ and propose a Cartesian solution: to accept binding international arbitration, perhaps using the permanent mechanisms that exist at The Hague. With that obstructive issue out of the way, we might then get on with seeking a mutually acceptable deal over future trade.

The Spectator
https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/10/michel-barniers-arrogant-inflexibility-over-brexit-comes-from-a-long-gallic-tradition/
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

Offline Chris Pook

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 185,600
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 11,856
  • Wha daur say Mass in ma lug!
The above commentary reminded me of this extract -

Trudeau on Adam Smith per Max and Monique Nemni (William Johnson) - Young Trudeau.

"Smith initiates us in how to analyze the problems of society, he shows us how to grasp the interdependence of phenomena, he fashions a framework for sorting out the complexity of institutions and grasping the central issue ..... True, this is English-style thinking and perhaps not the compressed appearance of French thinking, where the principles are hard diamonds.  But I have learnt that there is not only the French way of being condensed.....(For Smith) The system came after the study of the facts, and did not drive it. Moreover, Smith himself never claims to have attained the Absolute,...."

The Nemnis' comment:

"Implicitly, and perhaps without fully realizing it, Trudeau was contrasting Smith's empiricism, which took as its starting point concrete facts to end with a theoretical system, with the scholastic method of the Jesuits (who had trained Trudeau - Edit), which took as its starting point a pre-established system postulated as True and Good because created by God, and with the facts made to fit accordingly. At the age of twenty-five, he was delighted to discover the scientific method."

Or in other words, one might say that Trudeau was enlightened in 1944 when he was given dispensation by the Church to read the works of Adam Smith, on the list of prohibited books, so that he could pursue his studies at Harvard - a school whose first graduates were Congregationalist and Unitarian preachers - a decidedly non-Jesuitical seminary.

Criticism is not implied and should not be inferred.  Difference is noted.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 182,745
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,223
  • Freespeecher
Change is coming in Austria, as a new government which is certainly leaning in the Nationalist/populist mode is elected to office. It will be interesting to see the effects of this on the EU:

https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/10/19/new-start-austria/

Quote
A New Start for Austria?
FRANZ CEDE & CHRISTIAN PROSL
Austria’s next Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz has managed to do what Germany’s Angela Merkel couldn’t.

The October 15 parliamentary elections in Austria have produced a remarkable outcome. After 15 years the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) returned to number one with 31.6 percent of the vote (62 seats). The Social Democrats came in second, with some 27 percent (52 seats), just barely outpolling the right-wing populist Freedom Party (FPÖ), which won 26 percent (51 seats). Meanwhile, the Green Party electorate followed the advice of their socialist friends, voting for the Social Democrats instead in order to block an ÖVP-Freedom Party coalition. They failed in that goal and in the process committed political suicide: The Green Party will not be represented in the Austrian Parliament—only a tiny green splinter group that broke ranks with the party leadership just before the elections. And the business oriented “Neos” once again achieved more than the 4 percent minimum required for entering Parliament.

That, in a nutshell, is what happened according to the votes and the numbers. But what really happened beyond the numbers, and what will happen next?

After a very dirty campaign, for which the Social Democrats bear the main responsibility, the young and charismatic leader of the ÖVP, Sebastian Kurz, prevailed. He is the clear winner of the elections, in particular if one remembers that some two years ago his party polled less than 20 percent of the vote. According to Austrian tradition, Kurz will receive the mandate from the Federal President to form a new government, and it is fairly obvious what he will do with that mandate. After the rows during the election campaign, and in view of the stalemate within the previous government formed by the two parties, there will be no new “Great Coalition” with the Social Democrats, but instead most likely an ÖVP-FPÖ coalition.

That is no surprise. What is at least a bit surprising, however, is that Kurz managed to portray himself as a challenger against a government in which he himself served as Foreign Minister. In a sense, he pulled a Macron: a young party insider who transforms himself through smoke and spin into a virtual outsider. Kurz did not jump totally outside his party as Macron did, but he transformed the ÖVP into a movement accented heavily by his own personality. He concentrated the campaign on himself as a young and outspoken leader, and at 31 years of age he will soon be the youngest head of government in Europe. For that he secured the approval of the various old hands of his party who grudgingly accepted their loss of influence (at least so far), because they realized that without a dramatic change their party would soon be out of business—a fate that has befallen many other establishment conservative parties in Europe. He also appealed to the many non-voters of the previous election, and to those of his party who had voted for the Freedom Party last time around.

The Social Democrats, who had feared finishing third behind the Freedom Party, succeeded in a last-ditch mobilizing effort that prevented disaster. At the end of the day, they did not lose votes despite the scandals connected to their dirty campaigning and the serious infighting between the left and right wings of the party, leading to the resignation of their Secretary General just two weeks before the elections.

The Freedom Party improved their score (by 5.5 percent), although not as much as they hoped, and not quite enough to gain second place. And the reason is that Kurz coopted the Freedom Party’s plank, but without their xenophobic rhetoric, increasing its take by 7.6 percent over the time before. In short, Kurz was able to do what fellow conservative Angela Merkel failed to do in Germany some weeks earlier; the Chancellor lost some 7.5 percent of the CDU’s support, yet still managed to remain at the head of the leading party.

Like Merkel, Kurz realized that the main concern of his fellow citizens was immigration: Austria had accepted some 90,000 immigrants in 2015, more than 1 percent of its population. For the United States this would amount proportionally to some four million immigrants in a single year. In Germany the “socialdemocratization” of the CDU/CSU under Merkel, which could not be reversed enough or fast enough before the election, left space that the right-wing AfD eagerly filled. Kurz managed to position his middle-of-the-road party farther to the right (and did it more quickly), appealing to many of the voters that the party had lost to the FPÖ in the past. That difference in right-leaning flexibility explains the ÖVP’s success in Austria (as well as that of Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy [VVD] in the Netherlands back in mid-March) compared to the CDU’s poorer showing in Germany.

What will happen now?

The most probable outcome by far is a coalition of the Conservatives with the Freedom Party. However, a Social Democrat/Freedom Party coalition cannot be totally excluded. After all, Christian Kern, the current Social-Democratic leader, had broken the long-standing rule that his party would never form a coalition with the Freedom Party. On a regional level this had already been the case. If Kern actually enters a coalition with the FPÖ in order to stay in power, a split among the Social Democrats will be inevitable.

Another possibility that might dilute the impact of the Freedom Party in a possible coalition would be to include the pro-business Neos. This could apply to both options: a Social Democrat/Freedom Party coalition or the more likely Conservative/Freedom Party coalition. That would also reduce the dilemma that the Freedom Party faces: They lack enough qualified personnel capable of leading government agencies (already proven in 2000 in a similar coalition under Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel).

The new government, however it is composed, follows a coalition that has been unable to get much done. There is widespread support for action on long overdue reforms of Austria’s economic and social system, of its pension arrangements, its education system, and more. But there is no firm consensus on what the reforms should be. The new government therefore faces major tasks in its five-year tenure, and it will be judged by its results.

Whatever the outcome of the forthcoming coalition negotiations, no major change in Austria’s foreign policy or position with respect to the European Union is in store. Not even the Freedom Party wants to leave the Union; it only wishes to be free to scrutinize it, so it claims.

Austria will continue to abide by the moral and legal standards of the European Union. Kurz is also on record as showing zero tolerance for any form of anti-Semitism, and he appears to be utterly sincere in this. If the Freedom Party tests his meddle here too boldly, it could put an ÖVP-FPÖ coalition at risk. At the same time, Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen has committed himself to keeping a close eye on candidates for ministerial posts, and he has the constitutional power to refuse a candidate who does not espouse European values.

Sunday’s elections might well be a starting point for overdue reforms in Austria, and a higher Austrian profile within the European Union. If the government under Sebastian Kurz succeeds in calming communitarian concerns over immigration, he may set the high-water mark of Austria’s less benign political traditions. That would be all to the good.

Published on: October 19, 2017
Franz Cede served as Austrian Ambassador to NATO and Russia, among other places. Christian Prosl served as Austrian Ambassador to Germany and the United States, among other places.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.