The ideas monitor column presents weekly overviews of the public intellectual debate on social Europe, as it emerges from traditional as well as online media outlets. Published on EuVisions.eu.
Brexit, one year on
One year after the UK referendum vote of June 2016, and in light of the European Council of last week, the editorial board of The Guardian evaluates the prospects of Brexit. According to the newspaper, the decision made by the UK electorate turned from one causing “shock” to generating a sentiment of “pity” among other EU Member States. The Guardian argues that the UK Prime Minister Theresa May was almost humiliated in the last European Council meeting, given that no EU colleague backed her proposal on the treatment of EU citizens in the country.
Writing for The Guardian, Paul Mason underlines how the UK’s plan about EU citizens’ rights in the UK fell short of expectations. More precisely, Mason claims that May’s proposals – which would require EU citizens to apply for a “settled status” and could limit voting rights in local elections — does nothing but deepen the democratic deficit within Europe. Mason writes that the latter course of action would disenfranchise the most precarious workers from public life.
On The Independent, Thom Brooks argues that Theresa May’s approach is leading the negotiations towards a so-called hard Brexit scenario. More precisely, Brooks suggests that the PM is making up most of her stances “as she moves along”, putting the whole negotiation at risk. On the same outlet, Gina Miller writes that the “clinical swiftness and efficiency” with which EU leaders dealt with Brexit-related issues during the last European Council shows that the EU will eventually dictate the final Brexit deal.
The perils of Social Democracy?
The destiny of Social Democratic parties in Europe triggered wide reflections all over the Continent over the last week. Speaking of the Labour Party, on The Guardian, Owen Jones argues that, contrary to widespread scepticism, Jeremy Corbyn is showing an unexpected ability to speak to middle as well as working class voters. Drawing on the success of Corbyn’s speech at the Glastonbury festival, Jones argues that it is “pampered middle-class hipsters that power Labour’s surge”. Corbyn’s pledges appeal to the working class and middle class alike, because both would enjoy from high earners in society to pay a bit more in taxes to foster investments in education, welfare services and infrastructures, Jones claims.
However, the editorial board of Le Monde wonders whether Social Democratic parties are able to govern on the basis of radical platforms. More precisely, Le Monde argues that the recent history of both the German and the French Social Democratic parties show that “the ability to govern”, on the one hand, and “to defend their identity and electoral base”, on the other one, seem to be in mutual opposition rather than complementary aspects.
A similar view is expressed on El Pais by Xavier Vidal-Folch, who rounds on the Spanish Socialist party (PSOE) as the latter announced that it might abstain from voting on the trade deal between the EU and Canada (CETA) in an upcoming Parliamentary vote. The renewed opposition against CETA is due to the recent victory of Pedro Sanchez in the primary elections of the party. Sanchez won against his competitors running on a radical platform aimed at winning back voters from Podemos. According to Vidal-Folch, Sanchez’s stance are similar to that of right-wing protectionist leaders across the globe. More importantly, according to Vidal-Folch, if the PSOE were to eventually abstain, it would compromise its credibility in the eyes of Spain’s European allies and partners.