Charles Grant

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‘If David Frost and Michel Barnier can strike a bargain, it will lead to a much harder and more disruptive Brexit than most Britons imagine.’ Barnier arrives at No 10. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

After six rounds of talks, the UK and the EU are far from reaching an accord on their future relationship. Both sides are warning that failure – meaning that Britain would leave after the transition period on 31 December without a deal – is a real prospect. Those working for Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, complain that the British have wasted July by refusing to offer meaningful compromises.

Failure is certainly possible. But a deal this year is more likely, for several reasons. First, there has been more progress than one might suppose from the public comments of Barnier and David Frost, the UK negotiator.…  Seguir leyendo »

Britain’s European partners are uniting around a very tough position on the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. At the same time, Theresa May is starting to rule out options that could leave Britain closely integrated with the continental economies. Both her government and the 27 are being driven by politics rather than economic self-interest. This will harm trade and investment and therefore leave Britain poorer.

May has announced that she will invoke the article 50 exit procedure before the end of March, while also rejecting the jurisdiction of the European court of justice. Together with her promise to restrict the right of EU citizens to work in Britain, this precludes staying in the single market with which Britain does almost half its trade.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le Brexit est un événement capital dans l’histoire de l’Europe, et après lui le récit dominant sera non plus celui de l’intégration mais celui de la désintégration. Cela ne veut pas dire que l’UE va s’effondrer, ni même qu’un nouveau pays va s’en détacher. Mais les politiciens centristes qui dirigent la quasi-totalité des Etats membres sont à présent sur la défensive face aux populistes qui leur sont hostiles, à eux et à l’Union européenne (UE).

Cela va affaiblir les « fédéralistes » qui souhaitent aller vers une intégration croissante. La Commission européenne présidée par Jean-Claude Juncker a tendance à réagir aux crises en pressant les Etats membres d’accepter des solutions « européennes » impliquant l’attribution de pouvoirs supplémentaires aux institutions de l’UE.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por qué Reino Unido perdió la batalla

Los partidarios de quedarse padecieron cinco inconvenientes: los mensajeros, el mensaje, las migraciones, los medios y la maquinaria de la campaña.

La campaña de marcharse la dirigieron los mejores vendedores. Michael Gove y Boris Johnson fueron unos mensajeros elocuentes y persuasivos. Los sondeos demostraron de forma sistemática que eran más fiables a propósito de la UE que los principales líderes de quedarse, David Cameron y George Osborne, su canciller.

Pese a haber ganado unas elecciones generales un año antes, la credibilidad de Cameron estaba erosionada por los contradictorios mensajes que estuvo lanzando, durante y después de su renegociación. Lo que significó que sus desesperadas advertencias sobre las consecuencias del Brexit parecieron poco convincentes a sus votantes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russia and China seem very different sorts of countries. One is a pseudo-democracy with an economy dependent on natural-resource exports; the other is a one-party state and the world’s manufacturing superpower. But both suffer from unbalanced economies — and powerful vested interests that are trying to block the reforms that would bring about a rebalancing.

Russia depends on oil and gas, which provide half the government’s revenues and almost 70 percent of export earnings. If the state relaxed its grip on the economy and allowed a more independent judiciary, foreign investment would be encouraged and corruption discouraged. These changes would boost both manufacturing and services.…  Seguir leyendo »

Before becoming president of France, François Hollande did not appear to take much interest in the European Union. However, in his youth he was a protégé of Jacques Delors, the French left’s great European, and his instincts seem to be broadly pro-E.U. Hollande’s arrival at the Elysée has not led to dramatic changes in France’s E.U. policy, but a new approach is emerging. Compared with Nicolas Sarkozy, Hollande has been less hostile to E.U. institutions, more willing to work closely with South European states and, most crucially, keener to demonstrate that France does not slavishly follow German wishes.

A recent round of conversations with officials in the Elysée Palace and the finance and foreign ministries made clear that Hollande knows well that a strong Franco-German relationship is indispensable to sorting out the problems of the euro zone in particular and the E.U.…  Seguir leyendo »

Many problems cannot be solved without international cooperation, yet “multilateralism” — the system of international institutions and rules intended to promote the common good — appears to be weakening. The G-20 has become a talk shop; the Doha round of trade liberalization is moribund; the U.N. climate change talks have achieved very little. We seem to be moving toward a world of balance-of-power politics, competing alliances and unilateral actions.

One reason for these trends is that Europe, always the biggest supporter of international institutions, is economically, diplomatically and militarily weak; another is that the United States has over the past 20 years become relatively weaker and more prone to unilateralism.…  Seguir leyendo »

In February 2009, Vice President Joe Biden called for the reset button to be pressed in the U.S.-Russia relationship, and for the next three years Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev fostered a rapprochement between Washington and Moscow. However, the message I picked up from recent conversations in Moscow was that the reset is unlikely to survive Vladimir Putin’s return to the Russian presidency in May.

The reset brought benefits to both sides. Moscow obtained an accord on sharing civil nuclear power technology, help with its W.T.O. membership application, and an implicit understanding that the United States would not directly challenge Russia’s key interests in its backyard (for example, in Ukraine).…  Seguir leyendo »