Dispirited Europe, part IV: Economics, populism & Brexit

 •  Filed under EU

Low blood pressure? One remedy is reading news from Europe:

Macroeconomic problems

Populism across the continent

  • Germany blames Mario Draghi for rise of rightwing AfD party
  • Reuters: Founding members say European Union is in bad shape
  • Djankov and Zilinsky | RealTime Economic Issues Watch: "Slovakia reaps large monetary benefits from its membership in the European Union, yet anti-Brussels rhetoric proved effective throughout the electoral campaign. Several parties courted voters with anti-EU messages. Nearly seven in ten Slovaks trusted the European Commission in 2010, but only 46 percent held a favorable opinion of the Commission when surveyed in 2015."
  • President Andrej Kiska at Globsec Conference: "Extremism and nationalism have grown stronger in the recent years. And so has mistrust in governments. These trends can be as dangerous to our security as any outside threat. The disinformation campaign uses these trends. It supports cynicism by telling lies about Ukraine, about the EU policy, and about the NATO. It has one clear goal: to destroy unity in the EU. It aims to paralyze decision-making by importing confusion."
  • Shlomo Ben-Ami: "This represents a sea change from the last several years, during which Poland emerged as the poster child for the EU’s eastern expansion. If Poland leads an axis of wayward member states, the EU’s capacity to protect civil liberties within its borders, much less sway other countries, such as Russia – will be severely diminished. And, given the lack of binding instruments to stop member states from moving toward authoritarianism, avoiding such an outcome will not be easy.
  • Poland’s ‘rule of law in danger’ – POLITICO
  • The Lilli-Putins of the EU by Nina L. Khrushcheva: "For the EU, handling Russia, which has lately positioned itself as the West’s nemesis, would be hard enough. Now it has to address the anti-democratic Putin emulators within its own ranks, at a time when European unity is being undermined at every turn."
  • Washington Post: "“There are fault lines emerging that we thought we had overcome,” said Peter Wittig, Germany’s ambassador to the United States, who described the situation as an existential threat to Europe."
  • Bloomberg: Hungarian Ballot Blocked as Opposition Sees Democracy Undermined : "While a referendum to reverse a ban on Sunday store closures may seem mundane, in Hungary plebiscites have often had an outsized impact on politics. In a 2008 referendum, organized by Orban, voters rejected a symbolic 300 forint ($1) co-payment for doctor’s visits, triggering the fall of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and opened the way for Orban to win a landslide two-thirds parliamentary majority in 2010."
  • Is Hungary’s Leader Giving Up on Europe? | Foreign Policy: So does all this mean that Orban really is maneuvering for an exit? Probably not. Taking Hungary out of the EU altogether would almost certainly prove hugely unpopular among voters. What Orban does seem to want is more space between Budapest and Brussels. He is clearly keen to resist greater political and economic integration among the EU’s current members.


Simeon Djankov, Financial Times: Europe was slow to assist the front-line countries that received the first waves of immigrants & Orban is exploiting Europe’s weak response to the crisis.

FT op-ed: The demagogues destroying Europe’s ideals

FT letter, Péter Szabadhegy, Ambassador of Hungary to the UK: Hungary is ready and willing to address the migration crisis

Sir, Is Hungary the saviour of Europe, as one British citizen wrote to me in his email last week? Perhaps not, but my embassy has been inundated with letters from the British public, with a continuously increasing ratio coming from those who support Hungary’s handling of the migration crisis. I must emphasise that Hungary is not closing its borders: those migrants who wish to enter Hungary may lawfully do so at official border crossing stations. The observance of the Schengen Agreement and the protection of EU’s external borders is not a matter of consideration; it is a legal obligation for every member state. If we fail to follow the rules, the whole of the European Union will sink into a state of chaos.

Dalibor Rohac: A borderless Europe under siege

In short, the ideal of a borderless Europe, long taken for granted, now seems very fragile. There is only one solution: to recognize, just like in the United States, that the Schengen border and the EU's asylum policies are the EU's common problem, an EU-wide “public good,” to use economic parlance.

Britain in Europe

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