Opinion: Yellow Vests are a symptom of France’s dysfunctional democracy
With the Yellow Vest protests, France has finally fractured between its metropolitan areas and a resentful low-wage periphery. What started as a tax revolt has become a diffuse and unstructured uprising against an unaccountable ruling caste. Many of the movement’s demands would only perpetuate France’s administrative and social centralism, yet its appearance shows that this political model may no longer be sustainable.
GIS Dossier: Angela Merkel
When Angela Merkel finishes her term as German chancellor in 2021, it will mark the end of an era. Love her or hate her, this shrewd political operator has had a huge impact on Germany, Europe and the wider geopolitical scene. This GIS Dossier compiles our experts’ analysis of her policies and the effects they have had across the globe.
Migration and Europe
Judging by the declining numbers of new migrants, Europe is no longer facing an acute immigration crisis. But you would never know it from the decision by the European Council in June to set up holding camps for asylum seekers. Instead, the get-tough policy of EU leaders is increasingly driven by domestic political pressures.
Redressing the European position
In urging Europe to become stronger, politicians like French President Emmanuel Macron and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas are right. But their statements sound more like expressions of defiance toward Washington than serious declarations of intent.
In Western capitals, shifting attitudes on China
Washington and Europe’s major capitals are taking a more critical view of China, and concern about the implications of Chinese investment is on the rise. The question is whether these governments can align their policies to formulate a coordinated response to the challenges posed by China’s rise. The international rules-based order is at stake.
Is the North Atlantic partnership in danger?
Over the past couple of decades, Europe has been quick to criticize the United States – especially when the man in the White House was not someone to European leaders’ liking. Nevertheless, Europe has not shied away from accepting U.S. protection. This hypocrisy is taking a toll on the Western alliance and undermining European and American interests around the globe.
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.
New narratives emerging on EU finances
The European Union’s inflexible budget process – constrained by seven-year Multiannual Financial Frameworks (MFFs) – has left the bloc almost incapable of handling major crises. The resort to ad hoc solutions over the past decade has only made the situation worse. Now, reformers are considering new revenue sources, and even more revolutionary steps such as EU taxes or a separate eurozone budget.
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.