Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 13.2.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
            Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
  • The latest development in the Franco Corpse Saga.
  • Here, here, here, here and here - Are All you need to know about the Catalan separatists' trial. I believe the last 2 are from a Catalan perspective, which might not be shared by all readers . . .
  • A surprising report on domestic travel. Perhaps we don't really need that ever-elusive AVE high speed train from Madrid. Oh, hang on. Vigo has just lost some flights.
The EU 
  • In the couple of days which have passed since I suggested that Brussels possibly underestimated the depth of British affection for their 'ancient freedoms', the phrase has come up twice. Firstly, it was used in an article from a British cabinet minister. And then I read that, during his time in the London, Voltaire had told his French friends back home of 'this strange people . . . fond of their liberty, learned, witty, despising life and death, a nation of philosophers'. Plus ├ža change . . .
  • There's an echo of this fondness for liberty in the Daily Telegraph leader posted below.
The UK and Brexit 
  • Economist Robert Peston: Most MPs tell me they believe a no-deal Brexit is a remote prospect. They are wrong. I would argue it is the most likely outcome – unless evasive action is taken much sooner than anyone expects. Reasons for this view here.
  • Richard North today: There can rarely have been a time when the MP collective has been regarded with such profound contempt by the public at large. . . If contempt solved anything, we would be well on our way to a rapid solution for Brexit. Sadly, that is not enough.
The UK
  • Political journalist Adam Boulton: The party system provides the foundation for parliamentary democracy; now it's broken, our unstable hung parliament in Westminster is wobbling more and more. Whatever route MPs choose over the next few weeks - no deal, Theresa May's deal, a softer Brexit or delay - all roads will probably lead to an early election.
The World
  • You'll recall that the Oxford researchers had concluded that the 7 shared rules of societies around them world are.- 1. Help your family; 2. Help your group; 3. Return favours; 4. Be brave; 5. Defer to superiors; 6. Divide resources fairly; and 7. Respect the authority of others. Re-reading the article, it struck me that there was/is no need for a religion to bind society  together, even if some faith systems include some or all of these precepts. Truth to say, religions have undoubtedly more often served to divide rather than unify societies. 
Finally . . .
  • An amusing tale of a wayward nun, evdencing the the truth old adage that: There are nun so horny as those . . . 

It's no wonder Europeans hold the EU in contempt when it flagrantly ignores its own rules.

The EU is often called a rules-based organisation, which is ironic given the alacrity with which it breaks them. A recent example of this cavalier attitude to the regulations it imposes upon others was the appointment of Martin Selmayr as Secretary-General of the European Commission, one of the most powerful positions in the bloc. Mr Selmayr had previously been chief of staff to Jean Claude-Juncker, the Commission president, and is reputedly determined to see the UK suffer for having the temerity to vote for Brexit.

The German’s elevation to such a key post last year was a surprise, not least because no one else appeared to have been considered for the role. An investigation by the EU ombudsman has now found that the appointment “did not follow EU law, in letter or spirit, and did not follow the Commission’s own rules”. Yet it seems there are to be no consequences for this blatant piece of favouritism, other than to request the Commission to look again at their appointments procedures.

It is hardly surprising that disdain for the EU as an institution and for its practitioners is growing across the continent. This will be evident in the elections to the EU parliament in May when populist parties are expected to gain significant ground, though doubtless even that shock will be ignored by the powers-that-be in Brussels.

Brexit is the most powerful manifestation of the public’s contempt for the undemocratic nature of the EU. In the Commons yesterday, Theresa May asked MPs to give her more time to negotiate the terms of the UK’s departure, gambling on the institution’s propensity to refuse to do something until the very last minute, at which point concessions are made. Hers is a high-risk strategy that may yet be undone by the EU’s intransigence or its willingness to damage itself in order to make a point. But as the Selmayr case demonstrates, the idea that they have a set of inviolable rules from which they cannot depart is for the birds.

The test of the EU’s ability to adapt will come after Brexit. As Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor said, Britain’s departure was a “leading indicator” of the fundamental pressure to reorder globalisation and ensure democratic accountability. “It is possible that new rules of the road will be developed for a more inclusive and resilient global economy,” the governor said. If they are, then the EU must learn to stick to them.

I wouldn't hold your breath . . .


Alfred B. Mittington said...

"I wouldn't hold your breath"...

How could you? Can I hold yours?


Perry said...

Another AEM Rick O'Shea; no double entendre too obtuse. I like it.