1. Story of the Week
Didn’t Brexit happen already? The morning after the night before of the 28th March, the UK was still part of the EU. Since then another vote on the Withdrawal Agreement has happened (and failed), another round of indicative votes resulted in no positive vote for any particular result forcing Prime Minister Theresa May to talk to the Opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn to see if they can conjure up a softer version of an already hard pill to swallow. Despite the doomsday scenario being paddled by the press, the threat of no-deal went from ‘almost inevitable’ to a knife-edge vote in the UK parliament last night 313–312 to ask the EU for an extension and effectively avoided a no-deal.
Why it matters
The developments in the past week have seen the 12 April Brexit date as the one to look to seeing that the fourth vote on the Withdrawal Agreement is unlikely to be passed in time before then. The unholy marriage of May and Corbyn might be able to conjure something up in order to ‘save Brexit’ but political backlash to the idea from both parties seems rife. The hectic events have happened in the context of an EU that is growing weary of the UK’s indecision and are, on the ground at least, wanting to rid itself of this British scourge as they tackle populism. On that point, however, a happy unintended consequence of this whole show is that parties around Europe that once campaigned to leave the EU are changing tack in a spectacular fashion and omitting this from their manifestos.
This spectacle of British democracy; the votes, the parliamentary procedure, the heckling has come about from a crisis of British democracy. The crisis stems from the fact that a parliamentary representative democracy is dealing with the potentially devastating consequences of a direct democracy vote. That is why UK politicians cannot solve it. At this point, what the public broke only the public can fix. Any variation of that break, also that of a clean break, or no break at all should be included so that any action going forward can give the politicians the legitimacy currently lacking in every scenario. After this experiment with direct democracy is done, the UK should go back to do what it does best, a parliamentary representative democracy with all the checks and balances that accompany it and take heed from this disastrous experiment of ‘mixed democracy’ at a time when democracy itself as an idea is under its greatest threat in a generation.
2. Tweets of the Week
3. Numbers of the Week
The number of years since the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). 29 foreign ministers are gathering in its birthday celebrations this week in Washington DC amid the recent controversy about the defence mechanism and US President Trump’s reticence in past years to endorse the organisation which he claimed was being bankrolled by the US. His threat might have worked, as Europe is spending more on defence than ever. But is it as a result of or a reaction to the US President’s ultimatums?
The position of everyone’s favourite (and hated) low-cost airline, Ryanair, on a list of Europe’s biggest carbon polluters. Dubbed the ‘new coal’ Ryanair is the only company to feature on the list made up of nine coal plants and the airline. Before you boycott your next Ryanair €10 return trip, it is worth noting that the airline industry is not faring well when it comes to climate making up 3% of the carbon emissions in Europe with the threat of it rising 700% by 2050. Bite into all the carbon data here.
The number of countries in the EU to currently have women in power. This comes after the election of Zuzana Čaputová, a 45-year-old environmentalist lawyer who was elected on Sunday as the new President of Slovakia. She beat former EU Commission Vice President and energy commissioner Maroš Šefčovič in the polls by more than 15 points. Her victory marks a fresh start for Slovakia following recent turmoil such as Prime Minister Robert Fico’s resignation and the murder of a journalist last year.
A Message From Our Partners
Last Friday the EFF — European Future Forum held its first general assembly at the European Parliament in Brussels, bringing together a large variety of NGOs and civil society organisations to share their projects with each other, workshop new initiatives and improve their communication skills and methodologies.
4. Quotes of the Week
“Brexit is a big shitshow, I say that now very undiplomatically”
The words of Germany’s deputy foreign minister, Michael Roth, who said what most people are thinking at this point. In a Freudian masterpiece, he went on to describe that those handling Brexit have no idea of what most working people have to go through as they were “born with silver spoons in their mouths, who went to private schools and elite universities”. Savage doesn’t begin to explain to describe it.
“As with belongings, an institution or other EU mechanism that does not “spark joy”, as Marie Kondo would put it, has lost its meaning.”
The world is in disarray our institutions are too bloated or not authoritative enough. Populism is rife and the EU is under its biggest threat in history. Our eyes, however, are glued on Netflix. Why not use the Marie Kondo, the star Japanese tidying expert to separate the wheat from the chaff and make sure we keep that which “sparks joy” in the European Project. Whilst we’re at it Jean Claude Juncker could also use a visit from the Queer Eye folks in order make his retirement all the more fabulous.
To return to the project of the founding fathers, who wanted a much more united Europe, a Europe with only one foreign policy, with only one defense policy.
The words of geriatric former Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi as he commented on his candidacy for the European Parliament elections. The 82 year old of ‘bunga bunga’ fame is going to Brussels as he comes out of a ban from running for elected office. Before you welcome him in Place Luxembourg, however, a new biopic might shed insight to his colourful past pushing the edges of the law and Italian politics.5. Video of the Week
5. Video of the Week