German Uncertainty, British Opportunity

GERMAN UNCERTAINTY, BRITISH OPPORTUNITY. Germany, long the economic and political engine room of Europe, has had a greatly weakened government since its last election in September 2017. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel has spent months trying to stitch together a coalition. She has held extensive talks with various parties, most recently with her former coalition partners, the SPD. 

The SPD suffered heavy losses in the election and had been resigned to going into opposition. The youth wing of the party seems still to prefer the latter option.

The SPD membership begins a voting process today on whether to go ahead with another term as a junior coalition partner. 

Meanwhile, President Macron of France has been making moves to establish his nation as the power centre within the EU. 

Reportedly, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission,  has told his officials that “whatever Macron wants, Macron gets".

There is, it seems, something of a power vacuum at the heart of the EU experiment. This is convenient for Britain, as it may provide an opportunity for a harder line in Brexit negotiations.

To this point in time, Britain's  negotiating position has been hampered by uncertainties about its internal political situation and by the perceived relative unity and stability of the EU. 

I say  "perceived" because the EU is still riddled with challenges which don't seem to get much press in the UK and which the EU are loath to air.

For example, relative crises in the Eurozone are far from resolved, partly because of cross-cultural resentments and ongoing differences in approaches to such things as taxation and vacation time. 

Meanwhile, Poland is challenging the EU's right to impose some of its laws, which has led to strong exchanges of words and a political standoff.

The UK needs to step up to the plate now and start making clear its baseline positions on things like law, migration, travel, security and trade. 

Our government needs to stop behaving like Oliver Twist begging for more food. It needs to start acting like a sovereign nation with a proud history and a representative government which has clear and justifiable objectives in the negotiations. 

© Copyright with Mal Fletcher

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