Ideas on Europe

Informed analysis, comment and debate

Category Archives: Democracy & Citizenship

Running down the clock as a strategy in Article 50

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As we all wait with baited breath – possibly – for Theresa May’s Florence speech, I’d like to explore one aspect of Article 50 that’s been visible but somewhat under-considered: the time constraint. Having talked with various people in Brussels and London in recent weeks, I’ve been struck by how time is seen both as a help […]

Catalonia: Headlong into the unknown.

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Come October, something with high political voltage will happen in Catalonia and, therefore, in Spain. The main question is that nobody knows exactly what will be. The Catalan Government is strongly committed to holding a referendum on Catalan independence, while the Spanish central government is just as strongly committed to preventing anyone from taking part […]

Brexit and the German Elections: a Tale of Two Countries

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1. In early August, FT columnist Simon Kuper dedicated his weekly piece to the three ‘enduring flaws’ of British politics as revealed by Brexit. His (rather devastating) diagnosis – ‘substance-free, hot air’ rhetoric instead of political debate, ‘the ruling class’s insularity’, and ‘delusions of grandeur’ – was accompanied by a delicious illustration by Harry Haysom. […]

Probably, shading to possibly: the chances of a Brexit deal

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I’m in Brussels this week, getting a practitioner counterpoint to last week’s academic reflections on the whole Brexit business. While it’s reassuring to see that the two views are not so different, it is not an inspiring picture and it invites an obvious question about whether Article 50 is going to get to a deal or not. […]

The great and the good of Brexit

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I’m just back from the UACES conference in Krakow, which was filled – like last year’s – with much talk of Brexit. I came away 12 months ago with a lot to get out of my system (here and here), but this time I am filled more with weariness: 90% of what I wrote 12 months ago still applies. […]

A tentative model of the EU27’s approach to Brexit

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As everyone (semi-)winds down for the August break, and the pace of events slows, it is a useful point to consider Article 50 and Brexit once more. While I have usually looked at this from the British end, this time I’d like to look at it from the EU’s perspective, not only because I’m now […]

The ballad of Jean-Claude and Yoko: understanding euroscepticism

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Last week, I snuck in an extra posting, as part of my reflections on a workshop I attended at Sussex on Brexit and euroscepticism. As I mentioned in passing, there were other ideas that floated around my head that day, including this one. One of the more persistent ideas that I have tried to communicate to […]

France 2017: La grande coalition

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Ever since I started to talk to the French about their political system and listened to their perceptions of what was going wrong in the Fifth Republic – a little more than three decades now – I had this impression, unbacked by any robust statistical evidence, of a quite large majority at the centre of […]

How newspaper lies led to Brexit

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In October 2015, I gave a speech to international journalists in Germany called, ‘Newspaper lies can cost lives.’ Less than a year later, Britain voted for Brexit, with one of the main reasons cited as ‘too many migrants’. How did such a fear and dislike of migrants develop? Newspaper lies played an enormous role. Video; […]

France 2017: The Charisma Bonus

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It’s time to take your good old Max Weber out of the shelf again. His definitions of sources of authority are as pertinent as they have ever been. What did he write about ‘charisma’ again? ‘The exemplary character of an individual person’, ‘endowed with specifically exceptional qualities’, and by whom ‘new normative patterns are revealed’ […]

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