Germans expect soft Brexit but want EU to be uncompromising
Warning to London: recent polls reveal that Germans remain committed to the European Union and are concerned about political uncertainty, but they expect Berlin to remain tough on the terms of the UK’s separation
The fragile German-French axis heads toward isolation
Germany and France want to lead the European Union, but their leaders, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron, have adopted policies that endanger the bloc. Calls for greater centralization will alienate other member states, while hypocritical criticism of the U.S. and Russia will leave the Union isolated.
One might expect the Nordic countries, with their strong democracies and economies, to be full-throated backers of the European project. But the differences between them have led to strained relations that are undermining their relationships with Brussels. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the migrant crisis, where Sweden’s approach has unsettled its neighbors and focused attention on security issues. The result could be another headache for the European Union, this time in the north.
Western leadership leaves much to be desired
Huge economic imbalances are weighing on Western economies, while global power shifts threaten the world order. But those are not the problems that leaders in Europe and many politicians in the U.S. have chosen to focus on. Instead, they continue deficit spending to pay for handouts to their supporters and marginalize outsiders who think outside the box. This lack of visionary leadership is a major source of weakness.
Is Brexit inevitable?
Signs are accumulating that the preliminary divorce agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union is starting to unravel, and that a year from now, on March 29/30, 2019, we could witness a “hard Brexit” with no transition arrangements and chaos in areas hitherto regulated by the EU. The damage to both sides’ economies would be substantial, and time for softening the blow is running out.
Socialism is worse than Brexit
Brexit may cause a lot of turmoil if the divorce process is mismanaged by London and Brussels, but economic dislocation in the UK and continental Europe will be much worse if free-market policies are abandoned on both sides of the English Channel. This is truly the worst scenario.
Theresa May’s guardedly optimistic Brexit scenario
Under London’s current proposal, the United Kingdom could quit the European Union at midnight on March 30, 2019 largely unscathed, leaving behind a smaller, but cooperatively disposed community on the continent and the outstanding, complex divorce issues for settling later on. But then, there is the “cliff edge” scenario with not such a happy ending.