Ideas on Europe

Informed analysis, comment and debate

Author Archives: Albrecht Sonntag

Brexit, the new ‘Arlésienne’?

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Ever heard of ‘L’Arlésienne’, a short story written by French novelist Alphonse Daudet in 1869 and included in his famous ‘Letters from my Windmill’? The title refers to a lady from the city of Arles, who is central to the plot, but never appears on the stage. No one ever sees her, and yet everyone […]

A slow train coming up around the bend

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Drove back from Germany with enough Dylan CDs to cover the ten-hour drive. And had a revelation! This unequalled expert in messy break-ups sounded like he was commenting Brexit in every second song! It’s even possible to put together a full heart-breaking post-referendum dialogue only using Dylan quotes: UK: I’ll make my stand and remain […]

Brexit: reactions in Central and Eastern Europe

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The British vote to leave the European Union on Wednesday 23rd June sent shock waves throughout the Member States and is proving particularly costly for the Eastern countries that joined the EU in the last enlargement rounds (2004, 2007, 2013). The central banks of Poland, Hungary and Romania started the day of the 24th of […]

Brexit: what does France think?

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Not that anyone in Britain cares what the French think. As a matter of fact, even the French themselves don’t care that much. They have other ‘cats to whip’ as they say around here: social unrest, terrorist murders, drunk hooligans. There have been surprisingly little surveys in this normally poll-obsessed country, and while the British […]

Some thoughts on sovereignty, and on ‘The Day After’

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‘We are inextricably part of Europe. [No one] will ever be able to take us ‘out of Europe’, for Europe is where we are and where we have always been.’ These words were pronounced by one of the UK’s most prominent PMs, Margaret Thatcher, on 16 April 1975. This was 2 years after the UK […]

Brexit and the City

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My five years as a PhD student, first in Oxford (Brookes) and then as a post-doc at LSE, have told me that the smart people from the UK, especially those working in the City, see the Euro project thus: European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is like a ship that has been built badly from […]

A little reminder

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Today, May 9th, is Europe Day. Each year it is the day we celebrate peace and unity in Europe. I believe that, on such an occasion, it is worth reminding ourselves of the European Union’s motto, United in Diversity. Diversity is one of the foundations and core values of universities. They share these core values […]

Inspired by Spain?

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Only three months ago, I asked myself in these columns how a politically aware French citizen could you not be jealous of Spain and the renewal of its democracy that it is currently undergoing. Sure, the Spanish learning process is difficult: instead of living with the oh, so convenient binary system and its comfortable pseudo-stability, […]

Of Human Resources and Sheer Luck

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All day long on Friday, the entire spectrum of German media paid tributes to Hans-Dietrich Genscher. They were joined in the evening by the Chancellor, who ‘bowed in deep respect for the lifetime’s work’ of the former foreign minister. All of them referred to the key scene of 30 September 1989, when Genscher appeared on […]

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, … Brexit!

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Remember the spy novels of Cold War times? Where pretty much everybody was suspected of being a ‘mole’? The master storyteller of brilliant double agents was John Le Carré, and one of his very best novels was Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,  published in the spring of 1974, incidentally one month after Willy Brandt had resigned […]

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