A deferred failure in Brussels.
It was a long weekend in Brussels. The intention was to agree the 5 year budget and to decide upon a bail out for the economies most affected by the pandemic. At the end more may have been achieved than we dared hope. But the fears remain that this will turn out to be yet another opportunity to lead that was ignored.
The timing appeared propitious. Germany’s long standing Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is about to retire – a chance to reframe her otherwise dull record and end with a major step forward. The French President Macron is looking to become the de facto leader of the European Union, here was his chance to push for a major step as well. And indeed they won a tentative agreement to help fund the fall out from the pandemic – to gift treasure to the feeblest member states. In reality this was a case of the weakest making victims of the strongest.
If ratified over the next few days, well managed nations to the North and West will underwrite free cash as a gift to the badly run economies of the South and East. Most of these members joined the Union for political rather than economic reasons, as part of the enlargement following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR 30 years ago. Since then they have taken large amounts of EU funding, failed to build their economies and increasingly flouted the rules of law and the economic disciplines that lie at the heart of the EU future. Poland, Hungary, and the Baltic States look today more like aspirant dictatorships than wannabe sophisticated economic colleagues of their northern neighbor.
If leadership* implies a coherent and inspiring strategic plan then there is no leadership in the EU today that suggests a positive and complete outcome is in the offing. The pandemic will further weaken those once great nations. Dissent will be covered over, broken rules will go unpunished. Europe need just a couple more bad seasons of immigrants, more bad summers to fall decisively into chaos.
Everyday Brexit looks to have been a more inspired choice than we first thought.
Sell Europe and have a good day, James.
*James Cooke is publishing his master class – The New leadership – at the end of July.