EU

Hungary to be stripped of its EU voting rights?

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The EU is voting to strip Hungary of its EU voting rights for consistent failure to heed their values, including migrant quotas. Last year an apathetic turnout to a referendum held on the subject said 98.4% of Hungarians were against forced migrant quotas. Putting to one side the altruism of the EU, trying to force a member state to tow the line is absurd, not so much for the country but the migrants.

Let’s not forget this is the EU making up for Merkel’s single-handed poorly executed thought bubble in the first place. She put forward a come one come all rhetoric on her own.

In a sense the EU can rant on all it likes about humanitarism (although 80% are economic refugees (i.e. not fleeing war zones) according to figures by Eurostat) but forcing asylum seekers into a country that doesn’t want them doesn’t seem optimal. We can snigger at Hungary and call them bigoted, racist or worse but the fact of the  matter is migrants on the whole won’t be welcome.

The EU forcing unwanted guests to a Hungarian dinner table has obvious consequences. The embittered host is likely to ruin the goulash and spoil the palatschinke in an attempt to get the visitors to leave.  Many are unaware the third largest political party in Hungary is Jobbik (won 21% of seats in the 2014 election) which has all the hallmarks of Roehm’s SA, right down to the uniforms. Jobbik has a record of roughing up Jews, Gypsies and Roma so before Brussels tells Budapest it must accept migrant quotas perhaps an assessment of the reality would be wise. Jobbik is left to do its ruffian business and Hungarian authorities turn a blind eye. That is the bigger issue at sort before imposing quotas.

Surely if refugees were asked Hungary is the last place they want to go after leaving their homeland. Refugees aren’t cattle but the EU is treating them so. Aren’t they surprised when the majority seek Germany as the end destination because of the relative generosity? Do the EU authorities think these migrants don’t have excellent internal information networks? Of course they do.

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To rachet this down a notch what are EU values anyway? The Brits are leaving because they don’t agree with EU values. The Greeks are being trodden on for refusing to accept EU austerity values. The Austrians were threatened with sanctions and punishment if they democratically voted in a right wing president. Are these worthy values? The Swiss handed back a 30 year free pass to join the EU presumably because they didn’t believe in EU values. The list goes on.

Sometimes it is had not to think of the EU as the Gallactic Senate from Star Wars trying to get aliens from different galaxies to agree on everything.

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We all know how unwelcome visitors are treated in the Star Wars Bar when different backgrounds and cultures literally don’t see eye to eye. The EU would do well to respect the diversity of its members, which includes diversity of thought and culture. It is not to say the EU doesn’t have a point from time to time they are dreadful executors of it.

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Norwegians want a referendum on leaving the EEA & warn Brits not to become like them

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It seems more in Norway are wanting to have a referendum on the European Economic Area Access (EEA). The claims is that their costs have risen 10-fold since signing the EEA 25-years ago. Norway, while not a member of the EU, still pays around £650 million to Brussels to fund the EEA administration and other EU research projects. Two recent opinion polls conducted by Sentio reveals there is a strong majority wanting to have a say on the EEA agreement: 47% are in favour of a referendum on Norway leaving the EEA, with only 20% rejecting such a referendum. 70% of Norwegians do not want to enter the EU and the Labour Party has recently removed it as a policy platform.

Norwegian businesses had duty free access on all exports to the EU before the EEA was signed and this FTA would still apply if the EEA agreement were terminated. Ironically Norway used to export more to the EU as a percentage of total before the EEA than after it meaning that the supposed benefits of the club have not led to bigger trading opportunities within the block.

So to Brexit – Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg of the Conservative Party, sounded a warning before the UK referendum about following a Norway style deal, stating that “you’ll hate it…that type of connection is going to be difficult for Britain, because then Brussels will decide without the Brits being able to participate in the decision-making.”

Austria to go to an early election after OVP falls out with SPO?

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It seems the coalition of the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and the Social Democrats (SPO) has reached breaking point. Austrian Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner (above) announced Wednesday he would quit the post and also resign as leader. Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz is viewed as the most likely successor to Mitterlehner but he said on Tuesday that the ÖVP leadership was not an appealing option when the OVP was in such disarray. The discussion is whether they stay with the Social Democrats or split and seek an early election. The next scheduled election is to be held in September 2018. Der Standard published a poll on March 20 showing the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) on 30%, the SPO on 29%, and the SPO’s coalition partner, the OVP, on 20%.

While Socialist/Green Alexander van der Bellen took the recontested Austrian Presidency  this year over FPO candidate Norbert Hofer, his recent comments have raised eyebrows suggesting Austrian women wear the hijab as a way of integrating with their new neighbours. In any event we could potentially have another election in Europe where the  market must weigh up the risk of yet another shift toward the right,

Macron has boarded a modern day Titanic but Le Pen has stolen over a third of the life boats

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The Titanic was most infamous for being an unsinkable ship. We all know the tragedy of its maiden voyage. Folklore tells us that to calm the passengers, the band played as the ship went down. The cautionary tale is one that fits the EU almost too perfectly. Macron’s win is akin to the EU playing the band (well Macron did play the EU anthem for his victory speech rather than La Marseillaise) all the while the Hard Brexit iceberg has ripped a huge hole below the waterline of SS Titanic II. The problem is the EU continues to behave as if the SS Titanic II is indeed unsinkable. Le Pen’s loss is much like believing the water tight compartments will keep the ship afloat. They couldn’t be more wrong as chief designer Thomas Andrews told White Star Line boss J. Bruce Ismay – who protested she was unsinkable- “She’s made of iron, sir! I assure you, she can… and she will. It is a mathematical certainty.”

The SS Titanic II’s crew treats its customers with varying levels of service. It entertains Lady Merkel and Lord Macron in proper first class fashion but for steerage passengers like the Greeks, Spanish and Portuguese they are kept locked below deck. The Greeks were willingly given passage on the SS Titanic II in full knowledge they possessed forged promissory notes as they boarded. The belief was that when they landed on the other side of the Atlantic they’d be able to work it off. Sadly the crew has finally realized it is futile and are now demanding they hand over whatever they have left before handing out life jackets. Moreover they must promise if they’re let out of steerage they must stay chained to the Master at Arms.

In all seriousness the treatment of the Greeks is despicable beyond words. 36% of Greeks live below the poverty line. 58% youth unemployment. That means many can’t access affordable healthcare because it is generally provided by corporates and when you lose a job you lose the healthcare. This means many are forced to use A&E of major hospitals which are now overcrowded and understaffed as more doctors are leaving to seek better fortune for their services elsewhere.

If that wasn’t enough, mothers who had given birth were being restricted from taking their new-borns home if they couldn’t pay the fees. While the government has banned this practice they have introduced new laws to allow the seizure of assets (e.g. homes) if debts are not settled.

Naturally the EU wishes to keep control over the way Greece handles its economic affairs but using the nation’s defiance of autocratic rule from Brussels as a weapon against it shows how little the federal state truly cares for its members. Deeds, not words. It promised to punish steerage countries, Spain and Portugal, for breaching debt covenants. This is the real EU. It is a supranational. A federation through the back door.

The Brexit vote is without a doubt the most damaging iceberg for the EU. The gaping hole it exposes is far more serious than any perceived phyrric victory through Macron’s win.

The issue here is that if Hard Brexit (May is likely to get the majority she needs on June 8th to push for it) is shown to work for the UK (likely) and the idea of extortionate exit penalties are legally unenforceable (confirmed last week) then the risks of jumping ship are sharply lowered. The problem for the EU is that there won’t be enough life boats to save all the crewreaucrats when more member states realize self preservation is the only viable option.

Le Pen’s 1/3rd of the vote, Hofer’s 46% in Austria, Wilders’ 25% increase in seats in The Netherlands, the Sweden Democrats jump to the top of the polls, Italy’s ousting of Renzi, Brexit, the Swiss handing back a 30yr standing free ticket to join…these don’t look like promising trends for an EU which is already badly listing. Despite ample warnings the EU refused (and still refuses) to change its course or exercise due care.

Will Captain Juncker go down with his unsinkable ship or follow Seamen Martin Schulz off before it is too late?

Brexit Bingo

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If the EU wanted to project cohesion, competence and credibility they would ‘t try to jack up the Brexit bill from €52bn to €100bn. Are EU leaders unaware that they’ve suffered 15 straight losses out of 15 referendums, 100% success record in votes of no confidence yet here they are trumpeting their supposed financial acumen. They’ve had almost 12 months to work out a thoroughly researched punitive sum for the U.K. yet they can’t help playing bureaucratic Brexit bingo. A doubling of a Brexit bill in the space of a month only confirms there is no scienctific basis for the fine. It is now nothing more than a bitter divorce where the estranged wife is going for the hubby’a ‘ jugular. If the EU understood the Brits they’d realize it is one of the few nations whose citizens will tell them directly what they think. Brits hate being told what to do.

However isn’t the UK a shareholder in all of the assets, buildings and infrastructure in the EU having invested over GBP 200bn net during its membership? Shouldn’t the EU have to buy out the UK’s stake in the project?

The EU is now dictating the UK can’t discuss potential trade deals with other countries while the exit process is ongoing. Are they mad? They are now saying that Gibraltar gives Spain the right to veto any trade deal with the UK. The UK is being treated like a hostage with a ransom note being sent to the Queen.

Article 50 must have been written in such a way that they never thought it would be triggered.  Moreover it was probably drafted in crayon. Now that it has been set off the Eurocrats are showing their true colours and likely to hand Theresa May an even bigger mandate. What they don’t realize is the more bullying from Brussels that transpires the more  it accelerates their ultimate demise.

It is the ultimate hubris. Even if Le Pen loses this weekend she is likely to scoop 40% of the vote. Her father achieved a best ever result of 16.9% in the second round. While celebrations might abound with a Macron victory, a strong showing by Le Pen doesn’t remove the underlying shift toward parties which demand change. This is what the EU keeps missing. The Dutch election saw Wilders one of the few parties to gain seats. Right wing parties took most of the gains.

The EU has no choice but to reform but stiff arming the U.K. sends hugely negative messages to member states. While the EU thinks it’s actions will prevent further risk of leavers, the reality is a growing number of citizens are happy to risk it.

Let’s be sure to remind ourselves that the €100bn bar tab won’t be the last number to flash across 10 Downing Street. As it stands Theresa May only needs to tell Juncker, Tusk and Verhofstadt that the cheque is in the mail.

Populism or Finallysomeoneislisteningism?

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The chart above is showing the rise and rise of Front National, the party of Marine Le Pen. While we can be easily dismissive of her father Jean-Marie’s vitriol it is clear a growing number of French support her views. She has garnered 7.5mn votes, well beyond the 5.5mn her father achieved in round 2 in 2002. While she may well end up losing the second round there is no point rejoicing a get out of jail free card. These events are telling. It is not as if Le Pen is going away. Like Wilders in Holland she might be too extreme for some but not for 21.5% of eligible voters.

Is it any wonder the establishment parties were knocked out for the first time ever?  She is listening to a growing number of French fed up  with failure, typified by Hollande. Emmanuel Macron might seem a fresh alternative at 39yo but we’ve seen what a disaster youth can be in the form of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. His popularity is dropping like a stone as he is showing youth doesn’t equate to fresh ideas. Perhaps youth is one of his appeals which frankly is a worry although some might argue he is in touch with the 60s age group too.

Macron was a Socialist under Hollande. Very rarely does one change their party spots. In fact should he win I’m guessing he’ll be more of the same. He’ll pander to soft options and cosy up to the EU but that is unlikely to change the fortunes of those suffering the effects of long term (and youth) unemployment. That just makes Le Pen stronger the next time around. France will continue to suffer more terrorist attacks and weak leadership emboldens an enemy.

Juncker et al will view a Macron victory as a win for the EU but make no bones about the tsunami of discontent that lives inside the union. Now we have an unhinged Turkey which can not benefit the EU in any way. Greece is still a basket case. Italy worsens by the day and is far from a dead cert to avoid Italexit as its referendum concluded indirectly.

The denial from EU flunkies after the Dutch election was staggering. The comments talking of a triumph for the EU couldn’t be further from the mark. The words echoed the type of denial one might find from the England Rugby coach for why his team didn’t make the World Cup play-offs at the home tournament The fans were shaking their heads at the dismal explanation.

In almost every EU country the right wing/anti-establishment parties continue to grow in strength. Even if they haven’t won outright majorities, incumbent parties can’t rest on their laurels. They must adapt. Australians have abandoned the two major parties in droves. The no nonsense One Nation Party is filling the vacuum because they are doing one thing – listening. It is the one thing the EU continues to miss – reform. If they think the Dutch, Austrian and French election results are endorsements this year they’re only accelerating the path to failure. We all know the outcome of national coaches who fail at the highest levels!

Brexit – why the EU shouldn’t treat the UK like a hostage with a ransom note

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Isn’t it ironic that the Bullies of Brussels are already throwing random numbers for Britain to pay to leave the EU. GBP 52bn billion based on thin air. Isn’t the UK a shareholder in all of the assets, buildings and infrastructure in the EU having invested over GBP 200bn net during its membership? Shouldn’t the EU have to buy out the UK’s stake in the project? The EU is now dictating the UK can’t discuss potential trade deals with other countries while the exit process is ongoing. Are they mad? They are now saying that Gibraltar gives Spain the right to veto any trade deal with the UK. The UK is being treated like a hostage with a ransom note being sent to the Queen.

Doesn’t the EU realise that Marine Le Pen is way above what the mainstream polls are predicting? 24% of French youth see her as a viable candidate who promises real change vs decades of failure with mainstream parties. Youth unemployment is over 25% in France and many view increased risks of more terrorism are other reasons to support her France First views.

Brussels still fails to get that IT is the problem. It should be showing humility and self reflection not ramping up the vitriol.