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Friday, August 01, 2014

Annus horribilis? 2017 could become the EU’s most challenging year to date

We don’t want to be over-dramatic, but 2017 could shape up to be the toughest year for the EU in a very, very long time. Perhaps ever.

If David Cameron gets re-elected, there will be an In/Out EU referendum in the UK in 2017 (though it could perhaps be delayed). With the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as new European Commission President and the symbolic defeat that involved, the risk of Brexit is now arguably higher than ever. The UK could leave the EU in 2017.

At the same time, there’s a growing possibility that Front National leader Marine Le Pen – who’s said she expects “nothing from Europe apart from destruction” – could win the French Presidential election due in April/May 2017. According to a new IFOP poll for French weekly Marianne, Le Pen would finish ahead in the first round of the 2017 presidential election with 26% of votes – followed by former President Nicolas Sarkozy on 25%, and President François Hollande or Prime Minister Manuel Valls on 17%. This means Le Pen and Sarkozy would make it to the final run-off. Although, the chances of her winning the run-off are relatively slim, it is notable that her closest challenger could yet be drowned in a corruption investigation.

As we noted yesterday, Swiss voters will likely be asked to vote again on the country’s relationship with the EU “at the latest by the end of 2016, or the beginning of 2017,” according to Swiss President Didier Burkhalter. It could be a “take it or leave it” vote in response to Swiss voters' opposition to the current free movement arrangements and the EU’s refusal to budge on the issue. If the Swiss vote “leave it”, there will be a huge crisis between Switzerland and the EU.

This wouldn’t be pretty at all. Now, we still don’t see this triple-whammy as a central scenario, but it’s hard to find a more ample illustration of why the status quo in Europe is the biggest threat to its survival.

Get on with EU reform. Now.

8 comments:

Jesper said...

France looks to be about:

1. Cleaning up one party to become more pleasing to the general public.
or
2. Changing the politics of one party to become more pleasing to the general public.
or
3. Continue as before.

Then add in some external pressure from EU-institutions on the incumbent and the outcome might be an as of yet difficult to see fourth option.
But maybe there won't be much pressure as the incumbent supported the new commission president who'll surely not forget about that help?

Anonymous said...

"If David Cameron gets re-elected.." - probability 20%

Marine Le Pen could win the French Presidential - probability 10%

Swiss vote could be a “take it or leave it” - 75%

2 out of 3 of these potential issues are unlikely to happen.

Anonymous said...

your blog just represents the english position.

Which is to force change London likes on large majorities in Europe opposing them.

What is needed and will happen is regime change in Londonium : - )

Anonymous said...

20% seems an awfully low number to assign to the probability a fresh incumbent PM gets reelected on their first reelection attempt. It's been 35 years since such a failure happened. (Admittedly n is small here but nonetheless 20% seems low.)

Rollo said...

The eurozone crisis has not even grown to maturity yet. The very thing that made it balloon and burst was low interest rates, only possible because of the seeming guarantee of belonging to the Euro and tied to the German wallet. And now the same thing is being repeated, with the official approval of Draghi; but not of Germany.
And the Russian crisis is going to jeopardise the ‘recovery’, if there is one, even further.
Spanish bond give lower yields than UK bonds, and Italian damn close. French bonds far lower. All because they are apparently guaranteed secure.
The Annus Horibilis you look at is a tiny part of the total horror.
Rollo

johnlandseer said...

So, couple of points to chew on.

If there is a referendum in 2017 AND the UK vote to leave, there is not a snowballs chance in hell of our leaving the EU in 2017.

In order to leave, we have to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - this gives us a period of 2 years to negotiate our way out. You would do well to understand what Article 50 is, and what its implications are - you will be a) more educated b) re-gain some credibility with your readers.

Your tagline - the EU must reform - is, a bit of an oxymoron - history shows that the EU and all that it stands for is one of the least reformable institutions - it takes, it never never gives.

Apart from that, a quasi reasonable article :-)

Open Europe blog team said...

@johnlandseer Thanks for your comment. We've looked at Article 50 in detail. See, for example, here: http://www.openeurope.org.uk/Article/Page/en/LIVE?id=19820&page=PressReleases and here: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/matspersson/100026967/leaving-the-eu-how-article-50-could-make-the-divorce-very-tricky-for-britain/

Anonymous said...

European Union stands strong in Europe and there is really no political threat against her. It is true that there are a growing number of Euro-Sceptic and far-right political parties on both national and European level but they maybe constitute around 15 percent in the European parliament a number that is similar to what these parties have in their national parliaments. Just as Scotland will never leave United Kingdom – United Kingdom will never leave the European Union. The British elites will never allow it and the English Conservatives have no intention or will to leave the European Union. Front National will never win the second round in any presidential election. Socialists rather vote for neo-liberals than on nationalists or national-conservative parties. When it comes to Switzerland – it is pretty clear that they just as Iceland and Norway will not join the European Union. The fuzz in Europe is that traditional socialist and neo-liberal political parties are losing voters– mostly to the far-right, Euro-Sceptic and populist political parties. They are far from being a threat and they have been disarmed through Cordon Sanitaire (Sweden), through normalization (Denmark) or just been replaced with a softer mainstream alternative (Belgium). Still, the alternative right has today a share of the hegemony over the media, financial institutions, academia and bureaucracy and so they a part forming the political discourse in European countries.

It seems that France and Front National that seem to be the “ghost” the European elites worry about. FN got significantly more votes and a higher percentage in the 1997 election to the National Assembly than in the 2012 election. The only difference was that they were able to send two representatives. They did a slightly better presidential election in 2012 than in 1997 in the first round but that was not enough to take them to the second round as in 1997. The “biggy” is that FN got 24.86 percent in the election to the European Union. What we see is that Front National growing back to their strength of the 90s and maybe a bit more. What we saw in the EU-parliament was that socialists, liberals and neo-liberals have entered a new political relationship – just as the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats have done in Austria. What will unfold is a new political landscape – with the far-left and far-right and an establishment in the middle. That is the future of Europe but there will be no change in power – because socialists, neo-liberals, liberals and some conservatives rather join hand than let alternative parties inside.

The 2019 EU-election will of course boost Front National and (depending what happens in United Kingdom in 2017) UKIP to 30-40 percent. What we may see is that the alternative right (and left) will have 20 and even 25 percent of the seats in the European Parliament – which will press the others into the three alternatives – which is adopt their opponents principles, put them in Cordon Sanitaire or try to replace them with an alternative. Most likely they will choose the second alternative – which of course will be difficult to explain to their voters but nothing more. If United Kingdom would leave the European Union – than other countries may follow but such scenario is not likely.

BB