Ideas on Europe

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A problem for 2024? Consent in the Northern Ireland Protocol

Simon Usherwood |

Given the amount of political anguish caused already by the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) since its conception during the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) talks, it might seem odd to write today about one provision that can’t be used until late 2024 at the earliest. However, the Art.18 provisions on consent represent a key safeguard for the […]

France 2022: Stumbling blocks in collective memory

Albrecht Sonntag |

The first and so far only international football match between France and Algeria took place twenty years ago, on 6 October 2001. The starting point had been the sustained euphoria around the multiethnic character of Les Bleus, the French national team, winners of the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship, and their emblematic leader […]

France 2022: And then there was war.

Albrecht Sonntag |

French election campaigns are usually desperately navel-gazing. Foreign policy issues are all but absent from the debate. And even in ‘ordinary’ times, all mainstream evening news programmes consider international news a toxic audience killer. But the war in Ukraine has swept everything else in the background and changed the campaign dynamic. It has also put […]

France 2022: The credibility gap

Albrecht Sonntag |

There is no doubt that French politics have been ever strongly tilting to the right for months now. It’s not even exaggerated to claim that the political discourse is dominated, if not polluted, by far-right vocabulary and semantics. Want to study first-hand the mechanisms of the Overton window? This is the place. Paradoxically, at the […]

France 2022: Why June is more important than April

Albrecht Sonntag |

In France, the presidential election monopolises all the attention. Of candidates and non-candidates, activists and voters, media and pollsters, domestic and foreign observers. That’s understandable. The playbook is irresistible: rhetorically overblown visions of society collide in a dramaturgy replete with plot twists and cliffhangers, the absence of any post-election compromise allows for a merciless showdown, […]

Timelining Brexit

Simon Usherwood |

As I seem to find myself regularly explaining, Brexit is a process, not an event. Which is all well and good, but also a bit problematic when you want to work out the appropriate context for that process. At one level, it is evidently simply part of a much longer process of developing British European […]

France 2022: That elusive cohesion

Albrecht Sonntag |

“What unites us better than Les Bleus?” (“Qui nous unit mieux que les Bleus ?”). Good question. TF1, Europe’s largest television channel and long-standing partner of the French national team, used it as teaser during the European football championship last summer. An excellent promotional slogan, underpinned by an emotional video of suffering and celebrating the […]

A new year of Brexiting

Simon Usherwood |

The arrival of 2022 has brought both continuity and change to the UK’s relationship with the EU. The resignation of Lord Frost in December has precipitated a major reorganisation (possibly still on-going) of the government’s management of EU and Brexit affairs, but the new point on the relationship – Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – has […]

France 2022: Back on the couch

Albrecht Sonntag |

How fitting: this spring, ARTE, the brainy French-German TV channel, will broadcast a second season of ‘En thérapie’, the French version of ‘In Treatment’ (itself based on the Israeli TV hit “Be Tipul”). 35 new episodes of people on the psychiatrist’s couch, composing what Le Monde called ‘an immobile travel across French society in the […]

Making sense of the UK's approach to the Protocol

Simon Usherwood |

Just a short post this week, since I already wrote about this in a Twitter thread earlier in the week: The thread was an attempt to make sense of what the UK is doing and whether it might work. As you’ll see, I’m not that confident that it will. Conversations with people on both sides […]

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