Skip to main content

"Events...." in Europe

Christmas, the season of Saturnalia, has come and gone.

The days are drawing out- albeit that it will be weeks before we notice the longer daylight.

It is impossible to know what 2007 holds. We can talk about trends, but this forgets the "black swan" events that are by their nature unpredictable. The Grim Reaper can confuse many calculations- as he seems to have done in Turkmenistan with the death of the brutal dictator Niyazov, leaving no obvious successor. New ideas can gain purchase rapidly and then turn into the Conventional Wisdom. So I make no serious predictions about the passage of events.

So I will devote this fallow period before real work restarts to some unserious thoughts about the kind of events that may shape the coming year.

"Unseriously", we could think of many things that might happen in 2007- Iran may go nuclear, or may go moderate. North Korea may collapse or linger on. China may reform or crack down. Each seems about equally likely at the moment.

Yet many things will inevitably change- Tony Blair is committed to leaving office, for example. It remains to be seen if his heir presumptive, Gordon Brown, can maintain the success of the power machine that the Labour Party has become. Yet whoever becomes the Prime Minister will face new and different challenges, not least from the changing European environment.

The European Union continues to struggle to establish the ground rules for a Union of 27. Now it does seem that an attempt will be made to resurrect the constitution in 2007. The defeat of (and in) France may prove to have been a transitory one, and in fact it is Britain- rejected by the United States and increasingly riven by separatist factions- that may face the greatest problems in the coming year. After all, it seems very likely in 2007 that France will have a replacement for her discredited leader, Jacques Chirac. In the likely honeymoon period that the new President may have, much may be achieved- at home as well as abroad. Quietly the ratification process of the constitution has continued- and 17 countries have ratified the treaty.

The problem is not what the Constitutional treaty is, the problem is what it represents. In fact, it is a series of compromises set out with the aim of reducing the cumbersome fabric of the European Union. Yet the political nature of the document has made it a domestic football in France and the Netherlands, and a total deal breaker in the United Kingdom. In short, the stance of the British Press and the Conservative Party would make it extremely difficult for the UK to ratify the treaty at all under most likely scenarios.

So, a first unserious prediction: Europe will return to the forefront of the political battleground in 2007

Comments

Anonymous said…
I think Russia will be our rival once again in 2007. Supremely overconfident, with a growing Fascist legion called "Nashi" behind them, the Kremlin will push for more and more influence despite the lack of development around the country. Chauvinism will return. China will become more dependent on hi-tech Russian weaponry and Russia will sell more resources to China. The two will create a bloody pact to diminish the US, EU and Japan. They'll fight it out afterwards.

The Orange peril (red+yellow) shall bite us soon enough...

Popular posts from this blog

Cicero ReDux

By Special Request of Baroness Scott and Mark Valladares... Cicero's Songs returns: bigger, longer and uncut.
October 1st marked the half way point of the Estonian Presidency of the European Union.  Perhaps for many people such an anniversary is of passing interest at best.  Yet the conduct of the Estonian Presidency is reinforcing just how forward looking and innovative the most northerly of the Baltic States has become.
Estonia is a country that wants to live in the future, and with its openness and innovation, that future seems a lot closer than almost anywhere else in Europe
It is not that Estonia does not “do” the past: the picturesque cobbled streets of old Tallinn have tourist crowds a-plenty enjoying the mediaeval architecture in an Indian summer of sunshine and blue skies.  The real point is that Estonia refuses to be a prisoner of its past. Lennart Meri, Estonia’s President in the 1990s- who spent years of his childhood in Siberia- once told me that the country had to conc…

The American National nightmare becomes a global nightmare

It is a basic contention of this blog that Donald J Trump is not fit for office.

A crooked real estate developer with a dubious past and highly questionable finances. he has systematically lied his way into financial or other advantage. His personal qualities include vulgarity, sexual assault allegations and fraudulent statements on almost every subject. 

He lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes.

He has, of course, been under criminal investigation practically since before he took the oath of office. The indictment of some of closest advisers is just the beginning. His track record suggests that in due course there is no action he will not take, whether illegal or unconstitutional in order to derail his own inevitable impeachment and the indictments that must surely follow the successful investigation of Robert Mueller into his connections with Russia.

However, all of that is a matter for the American people. 

It is also a matter for the American people that Trump is cheating…

In praise of off-shore tax havens

The last few years has seen a spate of "scandals" about the use of off-shore tax havens. The hacking and subsequent leaking of data about who does and does not hold assets in off-shore jurisdictions has become an old perennial in the British press, rather like the "COLD weather happens in winter and QUITE HOT weather happens in summer", whose alarmist capital letter laced headlines are such a lazy part of contemporary "journalism". 

The increasing sophistication of the hackers, whether Russian-inspired or not, has resulted in a steady trickle of information becoming a torrent. After the relatively filleted release of data in the so-called "Panama Papers", the data release of the "Paradise Papers" is even larger.  Of course, just natural curiosity dictates that the off-shore ownership, or even just "ownership", of assets is of general public interest.  Celebrities, from the Royal family to the cast of Mrs Brown's Boys, are …