Meet El Presidente

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The EU council’s overly long-winded debate to choose a Commission president made a bit of a mockery of its own convoluted structures. Tim Stanley wrote an interesting piece in today’s Telegraph about how these structures of the EU are designed to be deliberately confusing and long-winded as to obfuscate the fact that a small cabal of leaders are calling the shots. It’s these structures that I’ve always had an issue with.

In essence the EU is made up of the Council, the Commission and Parliament. The Council decides, the Commission encodes, and Parliament negotiates and approves. Sounds like a sensible structure, until you realise that it’s designed in a way that, for the most part, is completely unnecessary and cannot hope to keep things together as they move forward.

As Tim argues, most Remainers want the same as the Leavers. We all love the vast and wondrous continent of Europe with its multitude of languages and cultures. Most would want free movement and free trade with all of these people. But to wrap that up in some ideological governmental structure, while noble, is flawed and I cannot see how it will be sustainable, as Western Europe languishes in liberalism, while Eastern Europe becomes generally more dictatorial.

Something will have to give sooner or later. I suspect Ursula von der Leyen will have her work cut out in the next five years.

Hit the Brakes

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Nick Timothy writes in the the Telegraph today of the hypocrisy of those who marvel at the wonders of the EU and berate the ‘beast’ that is the US. But when you look at the stats, he says, the US has done far more for international peace and the environment than Germany has in recent years, despite Trump’s apparently inward looking agenda.

He argues that Germany and the US both operate at a national level, and that their decisions are based on maintaining a balance between their own interests and relationships between countries, but generally will always put the former first. Neither countries, he says, is better or worse on it’s own merits that the other, and both are important allies to the UK.

The implicit argument is that national interests will usually trump the wider, international order, and so despite all of the EU’s calls for ever tighter integration, there is only so far people will allow it to be taken before they put the brakes on. The UK, never really part of the EU project in the same way as rest of the EU 27, hit the brakes early. But others will, sooner or later have their feet off the accelerator and hovering over the brake pedal.

To me, it feels like the European project is floundering, not because the dream is to be a United States of Europe, as was perhaps, I think, the original vision. If you look at how much more decentralised the US has compared to the way the EU is going, the vision, in reality is the giant State of Europa.

This is what, instinctively, the Leavers have picked up on and are balking at. Rather than finding the balance between national interests (like setting regional legislation that works for that specific country, much as each US state has its own legislature) and working together just on things that make sense to share, the EU wants a one-size-fits-all solution for everything.

There was plenty of talk at the time of the EU referendum around the fact that he US had been key players in getting the UK to join the EU back in the day (to point where De Gaulle kept vetoing our application because he suspected or knew this). But at some point, the goal changed, or at least the alleged US vision of a mirror to the USA, became something much bigger entirely.

I wonder if this was inevitable because in Europe we are so entrenched in our various diverse nationalities, that we naturally scale that national mentality upwards. We forget (or fail to understand) that the US was built by primarily libertarian thinkers from the top down, devolving power to the individual states.

Perhaps, if the EU had stuck more to the US model, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now in the UK, and the dream may still be alive.

Me! Me! Me!

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And so begins the great race to find the next leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. So far, so vacuous, with various levels of boswelox floating around as people announce their intentions to run for the post.

Several (well, the ones I’ve looked at anyway) have gone down the ‘we must leave without a deal’ route. My issue with this is there is no real explanation as to how they are going to talk round a government that is terrified of a future outside of the EU, has no belief in itself or the people of this country to pull it off, and has every intention of pulling some kind of Letwin/Cooper-esque move to get No Deal ‘taken off the table’ at the last moment (if not sooner) or just pull a vote of no confidence and go for an election.

Many have said that changing the Prime Minister won’t change anything, but I suspect removing Messrs Robbins and Barwell from the driving seats in number 10 will be a good start. A shuffle of the cabinet to more leave-minded person heading up the Treasury would also go some way to at least proving to the EU we’re vaguely serious about leaving on WTO terms. How anyone ever expected the EU to play ball with the old regime in charge, I have no idea. Perhaps now we can do some proper negotiations.

The EU do seem genuinely scared of Boris in charge, although so do half the population of the UK. I suspect (at least for the EU) it’s for similar reasons outlined above. They knew they were on to a good thing with Theresa May at the helm, with the setup she had around her.

So let’s see what the next few weeks of moving and shaking and general nonsense brings…

First up tonight, though, the EU referendum results!