Ruta de navegación
COMMENTARY / Jairo Císcar
Since the end of the Second World War, collective security on the European continent and with it, peace, has been a priority. The founding fathers of the European Union themselves, aware of the tensions that resulted from the First and Second World Wars, devised and created security structures to prevent future conflicts and strengthen relations between former enemies. The first structure, although not purely military, obeys this logic: the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), essential for the creation and maintenance of industry and armies, was created by the Treaty of Paris in 1951, introducing a concept as widely used today as "energy security". This was arguably the first major step towards effective integration of European countries.
However, for the issue at hand, the path has been much more complicated. In the same period in which the ECSC was born, French Prime Minister René Pleven, with the encouragement of Robert Schuman and Jean Monet, wanted to promote the European Defence Community. This ambitious plan aimed to merge the armed forces of the six founding countries (including the Federal Republic of Germany) into a European Armed Forces that would keep the continent together and prevent the possibility of a new conflict between states. Ambitious as it was, the project failed in 1954, when the deeply nationalist Gaullist deputies of the French National Assembly refused to ratify the agreement. European integration at the military level thus suffered a setback from which it would not begin to recover until the present century, although it continues to face many of the reluctances it once did.
Why did the European Defence Community fail, and what makes the European Armed Forces still a difficult discussion today? This is a question that needs to be analysed and understood, for while political and economic integration has advanced with a large consensus, the military problem, which should go hand in hand with the two previous issues, has always been the Achilles' tendon of the common European project.
There are basically two factors to take into account. The first is the existence of a larger defence community, NATO. Since 1948, NATO has been the principal military alliance of Western countries. Born to counter Soviet expansionism, the Alliance has evolved in size and objectives to its current configuration of 30 member states and a multitude of other states in the form of strategic alliances. Although NATO's primary purpose was diluted after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it has evolved with the times, remaining alert and operational all around the globe. The existence of this common, powerful and ambitious project under U.S. leadership largely obscured efforts and intentions to create a common European defence project. Why create one, overlapping, structure if the objectives were practically the same and NATO guaranteed greater logistical, military superiority and a nuclear arsenal? For decades, this has been the major argument against further European integration in the field of defence - as protection was secured but delegated.
Another issue was the nationalism still prevalent among European states, especially in the aforementioned Gaullist France. Even today, with an ongoing and deep political, economic and, at a certain level, judicial integration, military affairs are still often seen as the last bastion of national sovereignty. In Schengen Europe, they remain for many the guarantee of those borders that fell long ago.
Other issues to take into account are the progressive detachment of the population from the armed forces (a Europe that has not seen war on its own territory in 70 years, except for the Balkans, has tended to settle into peace, nearly oblivious to wars) and its progressive ageing, with a future with fewer people of military age, and who, as we have mentioned, often have an ideological and motivational gap with previous generations with respect to the concept and utility of the military.
It was not until relatively recently, with the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999, that the embryonic mechanisms of the current Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), supervised by the European Defence Agency, began to be implemented. In the 2010s, with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, these mechanisms were established. The Military Staff of the European Union (EUMS) is one of them. It constitutes the EU's first permanent strategic headquarters. The final impetus came in 2015, with the European Union Global Strategy. This led to the creation of various far-reaching initiatives, most notably the Permanent Structured Cooperation(PESCO), which since 2017 has been pursuing the structural integration of the Armed Forces of all EU countries except Denmark and Malta. It is not only limited to proper integration, but also leads capability development projects such as the EU Collaborative Warfare Capabilities (ECOWAR) or the Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA), as well as defence industry endeavors such as the MUSAS project, or the CYBER-C4ISR capabilities level.
Although it is too early to say for sure, Europe may be as close as it can get to René Pleven's distant dream. The EU's geopolitical situation is changing, and so is its own language and motivation. If we used to talk about Europe delegating its protection for years, now Emmanuel Macron advocates 'strategic autonomy" for the EU. It should be recalled that just over a year ago he claimed that "NATO is brain-dead". Some voices in the EU's political arena claim and have realised that it can no longer delegate the European protection and defence of its interests, and they are starting to take steps towards doing so. Despite these advances, it is true that it is not a shared interest, at least, as a whole. France and other Mediterranean member states are pushing towards it, but those in the East, as Poland or Latvia, are far more concerned about the rise of Russia, and are comfortable enough for U.S. troops to be established in their terrain.
Having said that, I truly believe that the advantages of the European Armed Forces project outweigh its negative aspects. First of all, a Europe united in defence policies would not imply the disappearance of NATO, or the breaking of agreements with third countries. In fact, these alliances could even be strengthened and fully adapted to the 21st century and to the war of the future. As an example, in 2018 the EU and NATO signed collaboration agreements on issues such as cybersecurity, defence industry and military mobility.
While NATO works, Europe is now facing a dissociation between U.S. interests and those of the other Allies, especially the European ones. In particular, countries such as France, Spain and Italy are shifting their defence policies from the Middle East, or the current peace process in Afghanistan (which, despite 20 years of war, sounds like a long way off), to sub-Saharan Africa (Operation "Barkhane" or EUTM Mali), a much closer region with a greater impact on the lives of the European citizens. This does not detract from the fact that NATO faces global terrorism in a new era that is set to surpass asymmetric warfare and other 4th generation wars: the era of hybrid warfare. Russia's military build-up on the EU's eastern flank and China's penetration into Africa do not invite a loosening of ties with the United States, but European countries need to prioritise their own threats over those of the U.S., although it is true that the needs of countries to the west of the EU are not the same as those to the east. This could be the main stumbling block for a joint European Army, as weighting the different strategic priorities could be really arduous.
It is true that this idea of differing policies is not shared in the EU as a whole. Countries such as Poland, those in the Balkans or the Baltic have different approaches and necessities when talking about a European Union common security strategy. The EU is a 27 country-wide body that often is extremely difficult to navigate within. Consensus is only reached after very long discussions (see the soap opera on the COVID relief package negotiations), and being defence as important as it is, and in need of fast, executive decision making, the intricate bureaucracy of the EU could not help with it. But if well managed, it could be an opportunity to develop new strategies for decision-making and reforming the European system as a whole, fostering a new, more effective Europe.
Another discussion, probably outdated, is the one who claims that the EU is not capable of planning, organising and conducting operations outside the NATO umbrella. In this case, apart from the aforementioned guidelines and policies, one simply has to look at the facts: the EU today leads six active (and 18 completed) military missions with close to 5,000 troops deployed. The "Althea" (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and "Atalanta" (in the Indian Ocean) missions are particularly noteworthy. It is true that these examples are of low-intensity conflicts but, given the combat experience of EU nations under NATO or in other missions (French and Portuguese in Africa, etc.) combat-pace could be quickly achieved. The NATO certification system under which most European armed forces operate guarantees standardisation in tactics, logistics and procedures, so that standardisation at the European level would be extremely simple if existing models are taken into account.
Another issue is the question of whether the EU could politically and economically engage in a long, high-intensity operation without getting drowned by the public opinion, financial administration, and, obviously, with the planning and carrying out of a whole campaign. This is one of the other main problems with future European armed forces because, as mentioned earlier, Europeans are not prepared in any way to be confronted with the reality of a situation of war. What rules of engagement will be used? How to cope with casualties? And even more, how to create an effective chain of command and control among 27 countries? And what will happen if one does not agree with a particular intervention or action? How could it be argued that the EU, world's leading beacon of human rights, democracy and peace, gets engaged in a war? Undoubtedly, these questions have rational and objective answers, but in an era of social average, populism, empty discourses, and fake news, it would be difficult to engage with the public (and voters) to support the idea.
Having said that, there is room for optimism. Another reason pointing towards Europe's armed forces is the collaboration that exists at the military industrial level. PESCO and the European Defence Fund encourage this, and projects such as the FCAS and EURODRONE lay the foundations for the future of European armed forces capabilities. It should not be forgotten that the European defence industry is the world leader behind that of the United States and is an increasingly tough competitor for the latter.
In addition, the use of military forces in European countries during the current coronavirus pandemic has served to reinforce the message of their utility and need for collaboration beyond the purely military. While the militarisation of emergencies must be avoided and the soldier must not be reduced to a mere "Swiss army knife" at disposition of the government trying to make up their own lack of planning or capacity to deal with the situation, it has brought the military closer to the streets, and to some extent may have helped to counteract the disaffection with the armed forces that exists in many European countries (due to the factors mentioned above).
Finally, I believe that European-level integration of the armed forces will not be merely beneficial, but necessary for Europe. If the EU wants to maintain its diplomacy, its economic power, it needs its own strategic project, an "area of control" over its interests and, above all, military independence. This does not preclude maintaining and promoting the alliances already created, but this is a unique and necessary opportunity to fully establish the common European project. The political and economic framework cannot be completed without the military one; and the military one cannot function without the former. All that remains is to look at the direction the EU is taking and hope that it will be realised. It is more than possible and doable, and the reality is that work is being done towards it.
[Pablo Pérez López, Charles de Gaulle, el estadista rebelde (Ciudadela: Madrid, 2020), 218 pp.]
review / Jairo Císcar
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's death and the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in the Second World War, Professor Pablo Pérez López publishes this new biography of "the most illustrious of the French", as he is sometimes referred to. When one undertakes to write a biography, and even more so when it is about a figure about whom countless books and articles have been written, one runs the risk of becoming diluted in what has gone before and contributing nothing new. However, this volume presents the character from a different perspective: his rebelliousness. Rebelliousness understood as a fight for what one believes to be just, as an active non-conformism that pushes one to overcome mediocrity, as love and service to France in its darkest moments. I believe that this is precisely one of the book's greatest achievements: to present, in barely 200 pages and in a friendly and direct style, a new portrait of the French general, who - beyond the excusable chiaroscuros of any person - is a model to be followed and an example of courage that is fully up to date.
The book presents De Gaulle's life chronologically, from his childhood to his death. An analysis of his early life is fundamental to understanding the great man he would later become. We are presented with a restless and dreamy young man, a devout Christian from a very early age. A young man who, at the age of just 14, discovered a vocation, that of military life, which would mark his whole life and the lives of millions of his compatriots, and who would apply himself to it to the point of becoming a leader A . Also noteworthy in the book is the extensive use of passages from his memoirs or handwritten texts of the protagonist, which reveal the most unknown facet of the character: his psyche, his love, his devotion, his rebelliousness. For it must be stressed that sample is a self-aware (but not overbearing) De Gaulle who is clear that he has a mission statement.
We soon move on to introduce the then captain, who excelled during the Great War for his keen analysis and foresight, his love of France never clouding his judgement when it came to pointing out his own and others' failings. A young man who, despite the humiliation of being taken prisoner (despite his heroic efforts that earned him the Legion of Honour), never ceased to learn and examine the enemy, making the most of every moment of his 32 months in captivity.
We follow his development after the Great War, already as a promising member of Petáin's entourage. But it was not all success. De Gaulle's life is marked by the greatness of men who know how to overcome difficulties. Perhaps the most special, and where his true character can be seen, is in the life of his daughter Anne, who suffered from Down's syndrome, and with whom de Gaulle developed an extraordinary bond and closeness. It was with her that the thoughtful general dressed as an affable and affectionate father.
This training of his character seems to me essential to understand the rest of the book, and therefore the rest of his life. Without wishing to end up making a complete summary of the volume (which, as mentioned above, covers his entire life, with special and necessary emphasis on his "political life"), I felt it necessary to reflect the singular proposal and goal of this book, which is none other than to show that more unknown side of the French general, that rebelliousness and non-conformism that led him to play a very important role in the creation of the current form of the French Republic and whose imprint, 50 years after his death, is still alive in Europe and in French politics.
Personally, I was very attracted by the style and organisation of the writing. It makes proposal enjoyable and easy to read, while at the same time a very serious and profound work , which invites constant reflection. sample the intimacy and loneliness of a man faced with the incomprehension of his contemporaries, with respect to whom he was always ahead of the curve. A man who, at final, always put the greater good, his beloved France, before his own. An expert tankman who knew how to lead his country at such different times: the Free French government in London, the parade on the Champs Elysées, the revolt in Algiers, the birth of the Fifth French Republic, May '68 and his final resignation, as a man of honour, after losing the referendum on the Senate and the regions which he called, in one of his last acts of rebellion, against all his advisors.
Finally, de Gaulle was a rebel to the death, refusing any state funeral and resting, with his beloved daughter, in a small French village. His tombstone - which simply reads: Charles de Gaulle, 1890-1970 - merely shows his final rebellion. The man died, but the myth was born.
Electricity connection between Ceuta and the mainland: a matter of energy and environmental security
The route of a submarine cable for electricity transmission to Spain's place has been stalled since 2016.
The route of a submarine cable for electricity transmission to Spain's place has been stalled since 2016.
The project electricity interconnection between Ceuta and the Spanish mainland, of the network Eléctrica Española, is already five years behind schedule. Its execution should be a priority in order to integrate the autonomous city into future Europe-Africa connection routes.
article / Ignacio Urbasos Arbeloa
In 1997, the submarine electricity interconnection between Tarifa and Punta Fardioua in Morocco was completed. This new connection joined the gas pipeline inaugurated in 1996 that crossed Morocco from Algeria to Spain and Portugal, forging a Spanish-Moroccan energy alliance that would enable the economic development and security of energy supply for both partners. This infrastructure, with a capacity of 700 MW, was capable of supplying Morocco with nearly 50% of its annual electricity needs. It was a strategic link for the Maghreb country, which experienced a 5.8% annual growth in electricity demand during the 1990s. In 2006, this interconnection doubled its capacity to 1.4 GW, the first international interconnection between two continents in the world to reach this size. Despite recent frictions between Spain and Morocco over illegal immigration, fishing agreements and above all the Perejil incident, the recently arrived Socialist government led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was committed to strengthening ties between the two sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, continuing with the energy interconnection. Although at the beginning the submarine cable was mainly used to export electricity from Spain, in recent years bilateral exchanges have been balancing out, result of Morocco's strategy of energy autonomy.
From Ceuta, the route of the submarine cable has always been considered a lost historical opportunity. The autonomous city produces electricity from old diesel generators, which apart from being inefficient and expensive, have high levels of particulate emissions in the air and greenhouse gases. The city of Ceuta is the only region in Spain without renewable electricity production, status with little room for improvement considering the scarcity of space for it development. From network Eléctrica Española there is already a plan to develop a submarine cable between La Línea (Cádiz) and Ceuta, which has encountered civil service examination from environmental groups in Cádiz and the mayor of the area himself, which has forced a delay in its installation from 2016 to the present day. In February 2021, at the request of network Eléctrica Española, the CNMC granted the character of project singular to this interconnection, which should facilitate the start of the installation, which already proposes alternative routes in order to reach the necessary social consensus. The submarine cable will have a rapid payback period, as it will eliminate the costs associated with Ceuta's isolated electricity system, and will enable the City to reduce its carbon emissions, in line with Spain's Climate Strategy, which aims to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The cable will join other similar interconnection infrastructures in Spain, such as those between the Balearic electricity system and the Spanish mainland or the submarine cable linking the Bay of Biscay with the French region of Aquitaine.
The cable will also diversify future interconnections between Spain and Morocco, which should grow as Morocco increases the amount of renewable energies in its electricity mix. Morocco, which has an ambitious decarbonisation strategy, is committed to the development of renewable energies as a driver of future national economic growth and as a lever to guarantee its regional leadership. Morocco already has interconnections with Algeria of 1.2 GW, and is planning a connection line with Portugal and Mauritania.
In any case, it is clear that Spain is a necessarily vital partner for Morocco's green project , which aims to export both electricity and renewable hydrogen to the EU in the future. Spain 's position as a necessary energy bridge should serve as a strong argument in bilateral negotiations. In this sense, Ceuta should become a strategic point for future extensions to the electricity interconnection on both sides of the strait. Morocco's strategy of implicit pressure on Ceuta and Melilla by closing cross-border trade or allowing illegal immigrants to cross is a move that clearly meets the definition of a grey zone offensive. The Alawite dynasty has for decades, since independence in 1956, made public and palpable its traditional longing for and strategic interest in Spain's only two non-island territories in North Africa. Connecting the mainland electricity system with Ceuta should be considered as a strategic project for the benefit of national energy security, the reduction of greenhouse gases and the improvement of air quality. In addition, proposing Ceuta as a necessary crossing point in future electricity interconnections between Africa and Europe would offer Spain the capacity for dissuasion and negotiation against a Morocco that does not hesitate to use direct pressure on the cities of Ceuta and Melilla to achieve its objectives in bilateral Spain-Morocco relations.
WORKING PAPER / Jokin de Carlos Sola
During and after the fall of the Soviet Block the three countries of Germany, Denmark and Sweden saw an opportunity to increase their influence on the region that centuries before they had possessed. They did this through diplomatic support of the opposition and communication strategies and once the new countries were either independent or liberal democracies, they used their economic and political power to attract them. This was done by buying and investing in the new privatised assets of these countries, soft power and in some cases diplomatic pressure. By this way Germany, Sweden and Denmark did not only got new investment hubs and markets for their products but also support in the Governance of the European Union.
A brief outline of the European defence system, integrated into the European External Action Service and its importance to the Union
The European Union will launch the Conference on the Future of Europe on May 9th, marking the beginning of the event that will feature debates between institutions, politicians and civil society on several topics that concern the community, including security and defense. It is clear that the majority of the European Union favors a common defense effort, and the Union has taken steps to ensure a solid structure to lay the framework for a possible integration of forces. Following the efforts to unify foreign policy objectives, a unified defence is the next logical step for European integration.
Course for the Somali National Armed Forces, led by a Spanish Colonel with instructors from Italy, Sweden, Finland and Spain [EUTM-Somalia].
ARTICLE / José Antonio Latorre
According to the last standard Eurobarometer, around 77% of Europeans support a common defense and security policy among European Union member states. The support for this cause is irregular, with the backing spanning from 58% (Sweden) to 93% (Luxembourg). Therefore, it is expected that security and defense will definitely take a prominent role in the future of the Union.
In 2017, the European Commission launched the "White Paper on the Future of Europe," a document that outlines the challenges and consequently the possible scenarios on how the Union could evolve by 2025. In the field of security, the document considers three different scenarios: Security and Defense Cooperation, Shared Security and Defense, and Common Defense and Security. In the first scenario, the member states would cooperate on a voluntary basis, similarly to an ad-hoc system. The second scenario details one where the tendency would be to project a stronger security, sharing military and economic capabilities to enhance efficiency. The final scenario would be one where members expand mutual assistance and take part in the integration of defence forces; this includes a united defence spending and distribution of military assets to reduce costs and boost capabilities.
Although these are three different predictions, what is clear is that the enhancement of European security is of greatest importance. As former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in the 2016 State of the Union address: "Europe can no longer afford to piggyback on the military might of others. We have to take responsibility for protecting our interests and the European way of life. It is only by working together that Europe will be able to defend itself at home and abroad". He was referring to the paramountcy of a strategic autonomy that will permit the union to become stronger and have more weight in international relations, while depending less on the United States.
The existing framework on security
The European Union does not have to start from scratch to achieve these goals, since it currently has a Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) branch. The bureau is situated within the EU Military Staff, part of the European External Action Service in Brussels. This operational headquarters was established on June 8th, 2017, with the aim of boosting defence capabilities for the European Union outside its borders. It was created in order to strengthen civil/military cooperation through the Joint Support Coordination Cell and the Civil Planning and Conduct Capability, avoiding unnecessary overlap with NATO. Its main responsibilities include operational planning and conduct of the current non-executive missions; namely the European Union Training Missions (EUTM) in Mali, Somalia and Central African Republic.
A non-executive mission is an operation conducted to support a host nation with an advisory role only. For example, EUTM Somalia was established in 2010 to strengthen the Somali federal defence institutions through its three-pillar approach: training, mentoring and advising. The mission is supporting the development of the Somali Army General Staff and the Ministry of Defense through advice and tactical training. The mission has no combat mandate, but it works closely with the EU Naval Force - Operation ATALANTA (prevention and deterrence of privacy and protection of shipping), EUCAP Somalia (regional civilian mission), and AMISOM (African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia), in close cooperation with the European Union. The mission, which is located in Mogadishu, has a strength of over 200 personnel, with seven troop contributing states, primarily from Italy and Spain. Non-executive missions have a clear mandate of advising, but they can be considered as a prototype of European defence cooperation for the future.
The Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) is the framework for cooperation between EU member states in order to conduct missions to maintain security and establish ties with third countries through the use of military and civilian assets. It was launched in 1999 and it has become a bedrock for EU foreign policy. It gives the Union the possibility to intervene outside its borders and cooperate with other organisations, such as NATO and the African Union, in peacekeeping and conflict prevention. The CSDP is the umbrella for many branches that are involved with security and defence, but there is still a need for an enhancement and concentration of forces that will expand its potential.
Steppingstones for a larger, unified project
Like all the European Union, the CSDP is still a project that needs construction, and a European Union military should be a priority. In recent years, there have been efforts to implement measures to advance towards this goal. Firstly, Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) was launched in 2017 to reinforce defence capabilities and increase military coordination at an interoperable level. Participation is voluntary, but once decided, the country must abide by legally binding commitments. So far, 25 member states have joined the integrated structure, which depends on the European External Action Service, EU Military Staff and the European Defence Agency. Presently, there are 46 projects being developed, including a Joint EU Intelligence School, the upgrade of Maritime Surveillance, a European Medical Command and a Cyber and Information Domain Coordination Center, among the many others. Although critics have suggested that the structure will overlap with NATO competences, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that he believed "that PESCO can strengthen European defence, which is good for Europe but also good for NATO". It is important to add that its alliance with NATO was strengthened through common participation in the cybersecurity sector, joint exercises, and counterterrorism. Secondly, the launch of the European Defense Fund in 2017 permits co-funded defense cooperation, and it will be part of the 2021-2027 long-term EU budget. Finally, the mentioned Military Planning and Conduct Capability branch was established in 2017 to improve crisis management and operational surveillance.
Therefore, it is a clear intention of the majority of the European Union to increase capabilities and unify efforts to have a common defense. Another aspect is that a common military will make spending more efficient, which will permit the Union to compete against powers like China or the United States. Again, the United States is mentioned because although it is an essential ally, Europeans cannot continue to depend on their transatlantic partner for security and defense.
A European Union military?
With a common army, the European Union will be a significant player in the international field. The integration of forces, technology and equipment reduces spending and boosts efficiency, which would be a historical achievement for the Union. European integration is a project based on peace, democracy, human dignity, equality, freedom and the protection and promotion of human rights. If the Union wants to continue to be the bearer of these values and protect those that are most vulnerable against the injustices of this century, then efforts must be concentrated to reach this objective.
The Union is facing tough challenges, from nationalisms and internal divides to economic and sanitary obstacles. However, it is not the first time that unity has been put at risk. Brexit has shown that the European project is not invulnerable, that it is still not fully constructed. The European way of life is a model for freedom and security, but this must be fought for and protected; it can never be taken for granted.
Europe has lived an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity due to past endeavours at its foundation. It is evident that there will always be challenges and critics, but the only way to continue to be a leader is through unification; and it starts with a European Army. There are already mechanisms in place to ensure cooperation, such as those explored with non-executive missions. These are the stepping-stones for defence coordination and partnerships in the future. Although it is a complex task, it seems more necessary than ever before. For the protection of Western values and culture, for the promotion of human rights and dignity, and for the defense of freedom and democracy, European integration at the defense level is the next step in the future of the European Union.
The former ECB president takes the helm of Italy with a diary of reforms and a return to Atlanticism.
After years of political instability, in mid-February Italy inaugurated an in principle stronger government headed by Mario Draghi, former president of the European Central Bank. His technical profile , his prestige after eight years in European governance and the formation of a government with a certain national unity character are an opportunity for Italy to overcome the current health and economic crisis and undertake the reforms the country needs.
Mario Draghi, accepting the task of forming a government in February 2021 [Presidency of the Republic].
article / Matilde Romito, Jokin de Carlos Sola
For more than a year, the government of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had been strongly contested from within, especially by the disagreements of Italia Viva, the party led by Matteo Renzi, at subject economic. The straw that broke the camel's back was Renzi's civil service examination over Conte's proposed plan for the use of aid from the Recovery Fund set up by the European Union to deal with the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Conte lost his majority on 13 January following the resignation of three ministers belonging to Italia Viva and on 26 January presented his Withdrawal. On 3 February the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, entrusted the new government to Mario Draghi, former president of the European Central Bank (ECB), with the task of leading the new government training .
At the start of his mandate, Mario Draghi set out his objectives. He stressed the importance of the country maintaining a certain unity at such a difficult historical moment and indicated that his priority would be to provide more opportunities and to fight against the status quo that prevents the implementation of reforms.
On 17 February, Mario Draghi won the confidence of Parliament, one of the largest majorities since the Second World War. purpose management Draghi then formed a government made up of different political forces, with the aim of tackling the consequences of the pandemic in a framework of national unity: in addition to various technical ministers (8), the 5 Star Movement (4), the Democratic Party (3), the Lega (3), Forza Italia (3), Liberi e Uguali (1) and Italia Viva (1) are represented in the Cabinet. This internal diversity, which on some issues manifests itself in opposing positions, could lead to some governmental instability.
Domestic politics: recovery and reforms
The Draghi government has made the vaccination campaign and economic recovery a priority, as well as reforms to the tax system and to public administration and the judiciary. The former ECB president has shown a certain capacity for both innovation in organisational Structures and the delegation of tasks, all of which will be tackled swiftly, according to his maxim that "we'll do it soon, we'll do it very soon".
As for the vaccination campaign, Draghi is applying maximisation and firmness. First of all, he reformed the administrative summits in charge of the vaccination plan and appointed General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, a military logistician, as the new extraordinary commissioner for the Covid-19 emergency. By then, the daily doses provided reached 170,000, but Figliuolo, together with the director of the Civil Protection, Fabrizio Curcio, and the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, have set as goal to triple this number issue. To this end, new vaccination sites have been set up, such as businesses, gyms and empty car parks, and a mobilisation of staff has been promoted for vaccination work.
The Draghi government has also become more assertive at the international level, such as the decision to block the export of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia. Although supported by the EU, the measure took many countries by surprise and made Italy the first EU member to apply such a legal mechanism. On 12 March the government announced the possibility of future production in Italy of some of the already internationally approved vaccines.
The new government's economic diary will be characterised by structural reforms to promote productivity, as well as by the implementation of economic aid targeted at those most affected by the crisis, with the goal aim of relaunching the country and combating new social inequalities. The government is finalising the Recovery Plan to be submitted to Brussels in order to obtain the EU funds.
During his term as ECB President Draghi promoted structural reforms in several European countries; therefore, his leadership will be core topic in promoting reforms aimed at increasing productivity, reducing bureaucracy and improving the quality of Education. The government promises more expense on Education and the promotion of a more sustainable and digitised Economics , as called for by the EU Green Deal.
Through the "Sostegni" legislative decree, the government is implementing an aid plan. Some of them are aimed at defraying the modification of the framework redundancies implemented by Conte, but this requires a more consensual negotiation.
Streamlining of public administration and Justice
The reform of public administration has been entrusted to framework D'Alberti, lawyer and professor of Administrative Law at La Sapienza in Rome. The reform will follow two paths: greater connectivity and an update of the competences of civil servants.
In relation to Justice, the purpose is to implement several of the recommendations forwarded by the EU in 2019 and 2020. Among other measures, the EU calls for greater efficiency of the Italian civil justice system, through a faster work of courts, better burden-sharing work, the adoption of simpler procedural rules and an active crackdown on corruption.
Foreign policy: Atlanticism and less enthusiasm for China
One of the first consequences of Draghi's election as prime minister has been the new image of stability and willingness to cooperate that Italy has come to project not only in Brussels but also in Washington, both politically and economically. Nevertheless, many aspects of Conte's foreign policy will be maintained, given the continuity of Luigi di Maio as foreign minister.
Beyond Europe, Draghi's priorities will be mainly two: a new rapprochement with Washington - at framework of a convinced Atlanticism, within multilateralism - and the reinforcement of Italy's Mediterranean policy. Draghi's arrival also has the potential to break with Conte's rapprochement with China, such as the inclusion of Italian ports in the New Silk Road. While this may secure Italy as a key US ally, any decision will have to take into account the Chinese investment that may be committed.
Contribution to European governance
Italy is the third largest Economics in the EU and the eighth largest in the world, so its economic performance has some international repercussions. Draghi has assured his commitment to recovery and his contacts with European elites may help ease tensions in discussions with other EU members on the distribution of funds, especially the so-called Next Generation EU. During the Euro Crisis Draghi was one of the main advocates of structural reforms and now these are again vital to avoid a rise in expense that could cause debt to grow too high or cuts to budget that would damage growth.
Draghi has declared that "without Italy there is no Europe, but without Europe there is less Italy" and intends to make Italy a more active and engaged player in Europe, while trying to balance the interests of France, Germany and the Netherlands. Merkel's departure at the end of 2021 opens the possibility of a power vacuum in the European committee ; with France and Italy being the second and third Economics her partnership could bring stability and ensure the persistence of the Recovery Fund. This in turn may end up causing governance problems with Germany and the Netherlands should there be disagreements over the use of the funds. However, Draghi has been reticent about France's geopolitical proposals to establish Europe as an actor independent of the US. This could end up poisoning the potential new special relationship between Rome and Paris.
The advertisement willingness to engage in dialogue and concord with both Turkey and Russia may end up causing problems in Brussels with other countries. In Turkey's case, it could jeopardise relations with Greece in the Mediterranean. However, the strong criticism of Erdogan, whom he called a dictator, for having diplomatically humiliated Ursula von der Leyen in his visit to Ankara, seems to rule out counterproductive approaches. On the other hand, his desire for dialogue also with Moscow may end up sitting badly in the Baltic capitals, as well as in Washington.
The Mediterranean: immigration, Libya and Turkey
Draghi also referred to strategic areas outside the EU that are close to Italy: the Maghreb, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Regarding the latter, Italy's priorities do not seem likely to change: the goal is to control immigration. To this end, Draghi hopes to establish cooperation with Spain, Greece and Cyprus.
In this area the stability of Libya is important, and Italian support for the Government of National agreement Government (GNA) established in Tripoli, one of whose main advocates in the EU has been Luigi Di Maio, who remains at the helm of Foreign Affairs, will continue. Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has declared his readiness to collaborate on immigration issues with Draghi, but Draghi seems sceptical towards bilateral deals and would prefer this to be done at a European framework .
This runs counter to the policy of Greece and France, which support the Libyan National Army, based in Tubruk, because of the GNA's Islamist connections and Turkey's support for them. These differences over Libya have already caused problems and hindered the possibility of sanctions against Ankara.
Seizing the opportunity
The new Draghi government is an opportunity for Italy to achieve some political stability after a few years of ups and downs. The integration in the same government of people from different ideological backgrounds can contribute to the national unity required by the present status. The emergency and exceptional nature of the Covid-19 crisis gives Italy an opportunity to implement not only anti-pandemic measures but also radical structural changes to transform Economics and public administration, something that would otherwise be too much of a hindrance.
On the other hand, although within a certain continuity, Draghi's government represents a change in the international strategic chessboard, not only for Brussels, Berlin and Paris but also for Washington and Beijing, as more Atlanticist tendencies will distance him from both Russia and China.
Italian governments are not known for their longevity, nor does this one offer any guarantee of permanence, bearing in mind that the unity effort made is due to the temporary nature of the crisis. Nevertheless, Draghi's own profile projects an image of seriousness and responsibility.
Spain, although affected, is not as badly affected as other European partners.
The UK's exit from the European Union finally materialised on the last day of 2020. The compromise on fisheries was the last point of the arduous negotiations and the differences were only overcome some conference before the unpostponable deadline. The fisheries agreement reached provides that for five and a half years EU vessels will continue to have access to fish in British waters. Although affected, Spain is not as badly affected as other European partners.
Fishing fleet in the Galician town of Ribeira [Luis Miguel Bugallo].
article / Ane Gil
The Brexit-culminating withdrawalagreement ran aground in its final stretch on the issue of fisheries, despite the fact that the UK's fishing activity in its waters contributes only 0.12% of British GDP.
That discussion, which nearly derailed the negotiations, centred on the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the area beyond territorial waters - at a maximum distance from the coast of 200 nautical miles (about 370 kilometres) - in which a coastal country has sovereign rights to explore and exploit, conserve and manage natural resources, whether living or non-living. The UK EEZ is home to fish-rich fishing grounds, which account, with a average of 1.285 million tonnes of fish per year, according to a 2019 study by the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee, for 15% of the EU's total fish catch. Of these catches, only 43% was taken by British fishermen, while the remaining 57% was taken by other EU countries. The European countries that had access to fishing in British waters were Spain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden.
Therefore, the entrance in force of Brexit would mark the UK's withdrawal from the Common Fisheries Policy, which defines the access of European vessels to the Exclusive Economic Zone.
During its membership of the EU, the UK was part of the Common Fisheries Policy, whereby all EU member states' fishing fleets have equal access to European waters. In the EU, fishing rights are negotiated annually by the ministers of each member state and national quotas (the amount of fish of each species that each country's fleet can catch) are set using data historical data such as reference letter.
The Spanish fishing fleet followed the negotiations closely, as it had a lot to lose from a bad agreement. On the one hand, a Brexit without agreement could mean a reduction in income of 27 million euros related to fishing in British waters; it would also entail a drastic reduction in hake, megrim and mackerel catches for Spanish fishing boats specialising in these species. On the other hand, the employment would also be affected if the agreement established a drastic reduction in catches. Eighty Spanish vessels have licence to fish in British waters, which means almost 10,000 jobs for work related to this activity.
Until Brexit, British waters and their exploitation were negotiated jointly with the rest of the European Union's maritime areas. Brussels tried to maintain this relationship even if the UK left the EU, so the position of European negotiators focused on preserving the system of fishing quotas that had been in place, for a period of fifteen years deadline . However, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson always ruled out any trade agreement that would grant European vessels access to British waters in exchange for better conditions for British financial services in the single market as offered by Brussels. London wanted to implement a regime similar to the Norwegian one, which negotiates year by year the catches of EU fleets in its waters, with the difference that in the Norwegian case the pact refers to average dozen species, compared to almost a hundred in British waters.
We should bear in mind that the service sector accounts for 80% of the UK's GDP, while fishing activities account for only 0.12%. It is therefore quite clear that London's positions on the fisheries section were more political than economic. Although fishing activities have little impact on the British Economics , the fishing sector does have political importance for the Eurosceptic cause, as regaining control of the waters was one of the promises made in the Brexit referendum. Thus, this issue became a symbol of national sovereignty.
The starting point for the negotiations was the UK government's demand to repatriate up to 80% of the catches in its waters of control, while the EU offered refund to the UK between 15% and 18%. Johnson wanted to keep management from exploiting its waters and to negotiate with the EU as partner preferential. He expressed his initial intention to establish, from January 2021, more frequent negotiations on how to fish in his EEZ. This resulted in a finalagreement which implies that European vessels will continue to be able to fish in British waters for five and a half years, in exchange for refund 25% of the quotas EU vessels fish there, estimated to be worth around 161 million euros. In return, fish products will continue to enter the European market at zero tariff. After this transitional phase, the EU and the UK will have to renegotiate year after year. If the agreement is violated, there are mechanisms in place to ensure compensation, such as tariffs.
Consequences for Spain and its European neighbours
The agreement provoked discontent in the UK fishing industry, which accused Johnson of caving in on this agreement. The National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations expressed disappointment that only marginal changes had been made to quotas and that EU fleets would continue to have access to UK waters up to the six-mile limit. The prime minister responded that the UK could now catch "prodigious amounts of extra fish".
For the time being, the UK has already encountered some problems. The new customs agreement has been causing delays and lorries have to be checked at the borders. With a sudden overproduction, there will not be enough veterinarians to make the necessary export health certificates. Therefore, the new bureaucratic requirements has led to several cases of seafood rotting on the docks before it can be exported to the EU. It is estimated that the fishing industry is losing 1 million pounds per day due to these new requirements, which has caused many fishermen to reduce their daily catches.
But EU fishermen will also be affected, as until now they have been catching fish in British waters with a total annual value of 650 million euros, according to the European Parliament, especially at position from Danish, Dutch and French vessels. In addition, Belgium is one of the countries most affected, as 43% of its catches are taken in British waters; it will now have to reduce its catches by 25% over the next 5 years. Moreover, Belgian fishermen used to land their fish in British ports and then truck it to Belgium. However, this will no longer be possible. Alongside Belgium, other countries that will suffer most from the loss of fishing rights due to Brexit are Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands.
As for Spain, the fishing sector has acknowledged its unease about the annual negotiation that will take place after the initial five-year period, as well as the consequences for the future distribution of the rest of the fishing quotas, for the Common Fisheries Policy itself, for the exchange of quotas between countries and for the sustainable management of marine stocks. However, in the short term deadline the Spanish fleet does not seem to be so affected in comparison with other European countries.
In fact, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, gave a positive assessment of this agreement, considering it a "good agreement, which provides stability and legal certainty". Planas argued that the 25% reduction in the average value of catches by the eight European countries fishing in British waters has limited effects on Spanish fishing activity and, by way of example, he stated that hake catches will only be reduced by 1%. In other words, the current quota of 29.5% would fall to 28.5% in 2026. In addition, other species of greater interest to Spain (such as mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) have not been included in the agreement and there are no reductions in deep-water species in high demand (such as black scabbardfish or grenadiers). In conclusion, Planas said that Spain has only conceded on 17 of the 32 fishery resources allocated to the country. However, it is up to Brussels to go into the details and decide on fishing quotas during the transition period that opened on 1 January, in which the eight countries fishing in British waters will have lower quotas.
In conclusion, Britain now has the ability to dictate its own rules at subject on fishing. By 2026, the UK can decide to completely withdraw access for EU vessels to British waters. But the EU could then respond by suspending access to its waters or imposing tariffs on UK fish exports.
A last-minute minimum agreement avoids the chaos of a no-deal Brexit agreement, but further negotiations will have to take place over the next few years.
Fragment of Brexit mural [Pixabay].
ANALYSIS / Pablo Gurbindo
After the United Kingdom officially left the European Union on 31 January 2020 at midnight, with the agreement Withdrawal entrance in force, it seemed that the issue that has practically monopolised the discussion in Brussels in recent years had been settled. But nothing could be further from the truth. The "political Brexit" had been resolved, but the "economic Brexit" still had to be resolved.
To avoid chaos, agreement provided for a transition period of 11 months, until 31 December 2020. During this period the UK, despite being outside the EU, was to continue to be subject to European legislation and the Court of Justice of the EU as before, but without having a voice and a vote in the EU. The goal of this transition was to give both sides time to reach a agreement to define the future relationship. All parties knew that 11 months would not be enough time. Only a new trade agreement takes years to negotiate, the agreement with Canada took 7 years, for example. For this, the transition period included a possible extension before 30 June, but Johnson did not want to ask for it, and promised his citizens to have a trade agreement by 1 January 2021.
With the fear of a possible no-deal Brexit agreement, and the serious consequences it would have for the economies and citizens on both sides, agreement was finally reached on 24 December, just one week before the end of the transition period.
This agreement entered into force on 1 January 2021 provisional, as there was not enough time for it to enter into force within a week C. The question now is: what does this agreement consist of, what have been the sticking points, and what have been the first tangible consequences during these first months?
The agreement for Trade and Cooperation (TCC)
What needs to be made clear from the outset is that this is a minimum agreement . It is a hard Brexit. Brexit has been avoided without agreement which would have been catastrophic, but it is still a hard Brexit.
The PCA between the UK and the EU comprises a free trade agreement , a close association on subject on citizen security and a general framework on governance.
The most important points of agreement are the following:
Trade in goods
The PCA is very ambitious in this respect, as it establishes free trade between the two parties without any subject tariffs or quotas on any product. If there had been no agreement in this sense, their trade relationship would have been governed by World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, with their corresponding quotas and tariffs. However, there is a catch to this free trade. This absence of any subject tariff or quota is only for "British originating" products, and this is where the complexity lies.
The rules of origin are detailed in the PCA, and although as a general rule the agreement is generous in qualifying a product as "British", there are certain sectors where this certification will be more demanding. For example, for an electric vehicle produced in the UK and exported to the EU to avoid tariffs, at least 45% of its added value must be British or European and its battery must be entirely British or European. From now on, proving the origin of each shipment in certain sectors is going to become a bureaucratic hell that did not exist before 31 December. And the re-export of unprocessed foreign goods from British soil to Europe will now be subject to a double tariff: one from entrance to the UK and another from entrance to the EU.
However, even if there is no subject tariff or quota on products, the usual trade flow will not be maintained. For example, in the area of trade in agri-food products, the absence of agreement in the UK's sanitary and phytosanitary regime means that from now on, trade in these products will require sanitary certificates that were not previously required. This increase in "red tape" may have important consequences for products that are more easily substitutable, as importers of these products will prefer to avoid this extra bureaucracy by switching from British to European suppliers.
On subject services agreement is rather poor, but the lack of agreement for financial services, a very important sector for the UK, which alone generates 21% of UK services exports, is notable.
While the UK was part of the Union, its financial institutions could operate freely throughout the EU thanks to the "financial passport", as all Member States have agreed similar market regulation and supervision rules. But this no longer applies to the UK.
The UK government unilaterally decided to maintain easy access to its markets for EU entities, but the EU has not reciprocated.
In the absence of agreements at subject financial, the European rules and regulations referring to third country entities, as a general rule, simply makes it easier for these entities to establish themselves in the Union in order to be able to operate in its markets.
One of the EU's objectives with this lack of reciprocity may have been the desire to wrest part of its capital from the City of London, Europe's leading financial place .
Most of this section was resolved with the agreement Withdrawal, which guaranteed for life the maintenance of acquired rights (residency program, work...) for European citizens who were already on British soil, or British citizens who were on European soil.
In the PCA it has been agreed to abolish the need for apply for visa bilaterally for tourist stays not exceeding 3 months. For these cases it will now be necessary to carry a passport, a national identity card will not suffice. For longer stays, however, visas will be required from residency program or work.
As for the recognition of professional and university degrees and qualifications, despite the UK's interest in maintaining them automatically as they have been until now, the EU has not allowed this. This could mean, for example, that qualified professionals such as lawyers or nurses would find it more difficult to have their degree scroll recognised and be able to work.
data protection and security cooperation
The agreement will allow police and legal cooperation to continue, but not with the same intensity as before. The UK will no longer be part of the instructions of data on these matters. Exchanges of information will only be made at written request either by requesting information or by sending information on its own initiative.
British relations with Europol (European Police Office) or Eurojust (European Agency for Judicial Cooperation) will be maintained, but as an external partnership .
Participation in Union programmes
The UK will continue to be part of a number of Community programmes such as: Horizon, the main European scientific cooperation programme; Euratom, through a cooperationagreement external to the PCA; ITER, an international programme for the study of fusion energy; Copernicus, a programme led by the European Space Agency for the development autonomous and continuous Earth observation capability; and SST (Space Surveillance and Tracking) a European programme for tracking space objects for collision avoidance.
But on the other hand the UK will not continue in other programmes, notably the important Erasmus student exchange programme. Johnson has already announced the creation of a national student exchange programme named after the British mathematician Alan Turing, who cracked the Enigma code during World War II.
Negotiation sticking points
There have been certain points that, due to their complexity or symbolism, have been the main points of friction between the Union and the United Kingdom. They have even jeopardised the success of the negotiations. The three main sticking points for the negotiations have been: fisheries, the level-playing field and governance.
The disproportionate importance of fisheries in the negotiations is surprising, given that it represents only 0.1% of British GDP, and is not an essential sector for the EU either. Its importance lies in its symbolic value, and the importance given to it by Brexit supporters as an example of regaining lost sovereignty. It should also be borne in mind that it is one of the points on which the UK had the upper hand in the negotiations. British waters are home to some of Europe's main fishing grounds, which have accounted for 15% of total European fishing. Of these fisheries, 57% were taken by the EU-27, with the remaining 43% taken by British fishermen. This percentage greatly infuriated the British fishing sector, which was one of the main sectors that supported Brexit.
The UK's intention was to negotiate annual access quotas to its waters, following Norway's example with the EU. But in the end a 25% cut in catches has been agreed on a progressive basis, but maintaining access to British waters. This agreement will be in force for the next five and a half years, after which new negotiations will be necessary and then on an annual basis. In return, the EU has retained the possibility of trade retaliation in the event that European fishermen are denied access to British waters.
The topic of the unfair skill was one of the issues of greatest concern in Brussels. Given that from now on the British do not have to follow European legislation, there was concern that, just a few miles from the Union, a country of the size and weight of the United Kingdom would considerably reduce its labour, environmental, tax and public aid standards. This could result in many European companies deciding to relocate to the UK because of these lower standards.
The agreement establishes a monitoring and retaliation mechanism in cases of discrepancies if one of the parties feels aggrieved. If there is a dispute, depending on the case, it will be submitted to a panel of experts, or it will be submitted to arbitration. For the EU, a system where tariff compensation would have been automatic and if not interpreted by the CJEU would have been preferable. But for the UK one of its main negotiating objectives was not to be under the jurisdiction of the CJEU in any way.
The design governance of agreement is complex. It is chaired by the committee of association Joint which will ensure that the PCA is correctly implemented and interpreted, and where all issues that may arise will be discussed. This committee will be assisted by more than thirty specialised committees and technical groups.
If a dispute arises, it will be referred to this committee of association Joint. If a solution is not reached by mutual agreement agreement , then an external arbitration will be used, the decision of which is binding. In case of non-compliance, the aggrieved party is entitled to retaliate.
This instrument allows the EU to cover its back against the risk of the UK breaching part of the agreement. This risk gained momentum during the negotiations, when Johnson presented the Internal Market Act to the UK Parliament, which aimed to prevent any internal UK customs subject . This Act would go against the "Irish safeguard" agreed by Johnson himself and the EU. This bill would go against the "Irish safeguard" agreed by Johnson himself and the EU in the agreement Withdrawal, and would go against international law as a clear contravention of the "pacta sunt servanda" principle. In the end this law was not passed, but it created great tension between the EU and the UK, in the UK's civil service examination to Johnson and even within its own ranks by calling the country's international credibility into question.
During the first few months of the PCA's entry into force, entrance , several important consequences have already become apparent.
The UK's controversial withdrawal from the Erasmus programme has already been felt. According to UK universities, applications for programs of study from EU citizens have fallen by 40%. The pandemic has played a role in this significant reduction, but it should also be noted that fees university applications in the UK after the exit of the programme have increased by a factor of four.
In terms of financial services, the City of London has already lost degree scroll as Europe's leading financial centre to Amsterdam in the first few months of the year. Daily equity trading in Amsterdam in January amounted to 9.2 billion euros, higher than the 8.6 billion euros managed by the City. London's average last year was 17.5 billion euros, well ahead of Europe's second largest place , Frankfurt, with average of 5.9 billion euros. Last year, Amsterdam's trading figure average was €2.6 billion, making it the sixth largest European financial place . The EU's lack of reciprocity in financial services has been able to fulfil its goal for the time being.
One of the most curious anecdotes demonstrating the changes that Brexit has brought about during these first months was the viral video of Dutch customs authorities confiscating ham sandwiches from transporters arriving by ferry from the UK to the Netherlands. With the PCA in force, entrance , animal products are not allowed to be exported without the corresponding health certificates.
Despite the absence of tariffs and quotas, the increased bureaucracy was expected to affect the trade exchange and it has. According to data from the UK Road Transport association , UK exports to the EU via the ports fell by 68% in January compared to the same month last year.
It seemed that the British fishing sectors could be among the main beneficiaries of agreement, but after these first few months British fishermen are not satisfied. New bureaucratic requirements are slowing down deliveries and some fishermen are complaining that their catches are going to waste because they cannot be delivered on time to certain European markets. According to Scottish fishermen's representatives, delays due to red tape are causing the industry to lose £1 million a day. It should be borne in mind that UK fish exports to the EU accounted for 67% of the total in 2019. In response to complaints from the sector, the British government has already announced a £23 million financial aid .
The agreement reached is undoubtedly a better result than no agreement, but it is an incomplete agreement , and further negotiations will be necessary. The future of the PCA will depend on the change of position of the UK, which during the negotiation has prioritised regulatory autonomy and regaining its "lost sovereignty". The agreement is also fragile as it allows either side to terminate the negotiated relationship if 12 months' notice is given.
The European Union and the United Kingdom are doomed to understand each other. The EU will have to learn to live with a neighbour with a lot of power and influence, and the UK will have to learn to live in the sphere of influence of the 27.
But, when the time comes, the UK will always have the option of the article 49 of the EU Treaty, which regulates the accession of new countries to the Union.
The nascent English kingdom consolidated its power across the English Channel at civil service examination , giving rise to a particularism that is particularly vivid today.
With no turning back now that Brexit has been consummated, Britain is seeking to establish a new relationship with its European neighbours. Its departure has not been supported by any other country, which means that London has to come to terms with a European Union that remains a bloc. Despite the drama with which many Europeans have greeted Britain's farewell, this is yet another chapter in the complex relationship that a large island has with the continent to which it is close. Island and continent remain where geography has placed them - at a distance of particular value - and are likely to reproduce vicissitudes already seen throughout their mutual history.
Fragment of the Bayeux tapestry, illustrating the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
article / María José Beltramo
The result of the 2016 referendum on Brexit may have come as a surprise, as the abrupt manner in which the UK finally and effectively left the European Union on 31 December 2020 has undoubtedly come as a surprise. However, what we have seen is not so alien to the history of the British relationship with the rest of Europe. If we go back centuries, we can see a geopolitical patron saint that has been repeated on other occasions, and also today, without having to speak of determinism.
Although it is worth mentioning some previous moments in the relationship of insular Britain with the continent next to it, such as the period of Romanisation, the gestation of the patron saint which at the same time combines linkage and distancing, or even rejection, can perhaps be placed at the beginning of the second millennium, when the Norman invasions across the English Channel consolidated the nascent kingdom of England precisely against the power of the other side of the Channel.
England in Norman times
Normandy became a political entity in northern France when in 911, following Viking invasions, the Norman chief Rolon reached an agreement with the Frankish king, agreement , guaranteeing him the territory in exchange for its defence. 1] Normandy became a duchy and gradually adopted the Frankish feudal system, facilitating the gradual integration of the two peoples. This intense relationship would eventually lead to the full incorporation of Normandy into the kingdom of France in 1204.
Before the gradual Norman dissolution, however, the Scandinavian people settled in that part of northern France carried their particular character and organisational capacity, which ensured their independence for several centuries, across the English Channel.
The Norman-English relationship began in 1066 with the Battle of Hastings, in an invasion that led to the Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror, being crowned King of England in London. The arrival of the Normans had a number of consequences. Politically, they brought the islands into the European relations of the time and brought English feudalism into line with Norman feudalism, a mixture that would lay the foundations for future English parliamentarianism instructions . In terms of Economics, the Normans demonstrated their Scandinavian organisational skills in the reorganisation of productive activities. In their different conquests, the Normans knew how to take the best of each system and adapt it to their culture and needs, and this was the case in England, where they developed a particular idiosyncrasy.
With this takeover of contact with the continent, England began to consolidate as a monarchy, while retaining its links with the Duchy of Normandy. However, with its strengthening after the fall of the Plantagenets in France, England gained the momentum it lacked to finally become an independent kingdom, completely separate from the continent, detached from a Normandy whose lineage was weak and in a critical state. Indeed, the Kingdom of France's absorption of the Norman duchy facilitated the development and consolidation of the English monarchy as an independent and strong entity.
The separation from the European continent brings us back to Ortega y Gasset's analysis of European decadence and the moral crisis it is going through. The continental powers, being in a status of geographical continuity, and therefore in greater contact, are more likely to spread their status among themselves and to be dominated by another major power. England, having broken the bridge of feudal ties that connected it with the rest of Europe, finds no difficulty in distancing itself when it sees fit, always in its own interests, something we see repeated several times throughout its history. This is particularly evident in the vicissitudes that punctuate the UK's relationship with the continent throughout the final decades of the second millennium.
The English status since 1945
The Second World War greatly weakened the UK, not only economically but also as an empire. In the process of decolonisation that followed, London lost possessions in Asia and Africa, and the Suez Canal conflict confirmed its decline as a major player to its successor as the world's leading power, the United States. The post-war confrontation with the Soviet Union and the US presence in Europe meant that the transatlantic relationship was no longer based on Washington's preferential link with Britain, so the role of the British also declined.
In 1957 France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg created the European Economic Community (EEC). The Conservative Harold MacMillan, British Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963, refused to include the United Kingdom in the initiative, but aware of the need to revitalise the British Economics and "the difficulty of maintaining a policy that was alien to European interests", he promoted the creation of the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) in 1959, together with Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria and Portugal.
The Common Market proved to be a success and in 1963 the UK considered joining, but was blocked by de Gaulle's France. In 1966 the British again submitted a proposal application, but it was again rejected by de Gaulle. The French general's conception of Europe did not include the Atlantic bloc; he still envisaged building Europe on a Franco-German axis.
The 1970s saw a directional shift in European politics. The British Conservatives won the 1970 elections and in 1973 Britain joined the EEC. The international economic crisis, which was particularly difficult in the UK, led Labour, back in power, to propose a review of the terms of membership and Premier Harold Wilson called a referendum in 1975: 17 million Britons wanted to remain (67% of voters) compared with only 8 million who called for a first Brexit.
However, when the European Monetary System (EMS) was launched in 1979 to equalise currencies and achieve "economic convergence", the UK decided not to join this voluntary agreement . Europe was experiencing a gradual economic boom, but the UK's Economics was not keeping pace, which partly led to the early elections of 1979. These were won by the Conservatives with Margaret Thatcher, who remained in Downing Street until 1990. The Thatcher revolution "marked the way out of the crisis of the 1970s". In 1984, London reduced its contribution to EU funds and Thatcher, very reluctant to accept EU budgets and other procedures that reduced national sovereignty, again called for a review of the agreements.
In 1985 the Schengen Agreements were signed (the opening of borders between certain countries creating a kind of much wider second border), which came into force ten years later. Again, the UK stayed out of it. As was also the case in relation to the euro, when the single currency came into effect in 2002, maintaining the pound sterling to this day.
Immigration from Central and Eastern European countries following the 2004 EU enlargement, accepted by Labour's Tony Blair, and the acceleration of financial harmonisation mechanisms in the wake of the 2008-2011 crisis, met with displeasure by the Conservative David Cameron, provided arguments for the anti-EU speech in the United Kingdom. This led to the rise of the anti-European UKIP and the subsequent adoption of its positions by broad Tory sectors, eventually amalgamated by the controversial personality of Boris Johnson.
In an interview with the BBC in 2016, Johnson referred to many of the arguments used in favour of Brexit, such as the UK's dialectical vision of its relationship with the continent or the fear of losing sovereignty and the dissolution of its own profile into the European magma. The premier returned to these ideas in his message to the British people as the country prepared to begin its final year in the EU. His words were in some ways an echo of a centuries-old tug-of-war.
As we have seen, England has always maintained its own rhythm. Its geographical separation from the continent - far enough away to be able to preserve a particular dynamic, but also close enough to fear a threat, which was sometimes effective - determined the distinctly insular identity of the British and their attitude towards the rest of Europe.
We are dealing with a power that throughout history has always sought to maintain its national sovereignty at all costs and whose geopolitical imperative has been to prevent the continent from being dominated by a rival great power (the perception, during the 2008 crisis management , that Germany was once again exercising a certain hegemony in Europe could have fuelled the Brexit).
Perhaps in the medieval period, we cannot link this to a thought-out political strategy, but we do see how unintentionally and circumstantially, from the outset, certain conditions are in place that favour the distancing of the island from the mainland, although without radically losing contact . In more recent history we observe this same distant attitude, this time premeditated, in pursuit of interests focused on the search for economic prosperity and the maintenance of both its global influence and its national sovereignty.
 Charles Haskins, The Normans in European History (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1915).
 Yves Lacoste, Géopolitique : La longue histoire d'aujourd'hui (Paris: Larousse, 2006).
 José Ortega y Gasset, La rebelión de las masas (Madrid: Alianza publishing house, 1983).
 José Ramón Díez Espinosa et al., Historia del mundo actual (desde 1945 hasta nuestros días), (Valladolid: Universidad de Valladolid, 1996).
Attempt by both to reposition France at the geostrategic centre of Europe, with civil service examination from Germany.
Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew and the current president of the French Republic are not entirely parallel lives, but there are some suggestive similarities between the two. It is often said that French presidents revive some of the longed-for packaging of the decapitated monarchy; in Macron's case there is probably a lot of that, but also the assumption of geopolitical imperatives already evident in the Second Empire.
Napoleon III in uniform in an 1850 portrait, and Macron in his New Year's Eve 2019 televised message.
article / José Manuel Fábregas
Emmanuel Macron's decision to hold the G7 summit in the French Basque town of Biarritz in August 2019 brought about a symbolic rapprochement with the figure of Napoleon III. The emperor, and nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, transformed the former fishing village into a cosmopolitan holiday resort where European aristocrats and members of the international political elite gathered. Macron, for his part, has put Biarritz back on the stage of the world's major political discussions.
Thus two personalities come together who, with the attraction of having been the youngest heads of state in the country, share two fundamental aspects in their understanding of French politics. First, the influence that their childhood has had on both of them in developing a personalist way of understanding the head of state. And second, how both have tried to reposition France at the geostrategic centre of Europe and have been blocked by Germany.
What is the role of the head of state?
Born fifth in the order of Napoleon I's succession, the young Louis Napoleon Bonaparte never foresaw that he would become heir to the imperial house in 1832. According to his biographer Paul Guériot, his mother, Hortense de Beauharnais, instilled in him from an early age the idea that he was destined to rebuild the now-defunct Napoleonic Empire. His mother's insistence that he had a perfect intellectual and military training transformed Louis Napoleon - who received Education from the Jacobin, and follower of Robespierre, Philippe Le Bas - into a solitary, shy and megalomaniacal person obsessed with restoring Napoleonic France.
The revolution of February 1848, according to Jacob Talmon, was inevitable "although it was, nevertheless, an accident". The Israeli historian explains that the uprisings in various parts of Europe were a direct reaction to the territorial reordering of the Vienna congress (1815). In this context of discontent or disillusionment with the Restoration system, the figure of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte may have benefited from the image of a romantic revolutionary assigned to him by the newspapers and opinion writings of the time. After failed coup attempts in Strasbourg (1836) and Bologna (1840), the future emperor spent a brief period in prison. This was a determining factor in the construction of the romantic hero character that aroused such admiration in a society that loved the novels of Alexandre Dumas. The exploitation of this personality by means of a huge propaganda apparatus enabled him to win the elections of December 1848 by a landslide. Thus, it could also be said that the establishment of the Second Empire - ratified by a popular plebiscite in November 1852 - was the next step in his main political project : the revival of Napoleonic France.
For his part, the current president of the French Republic also experienced an overprotective childhood that forged, like the last emperor of France, a solitary personality and an individualistic way of understanding politics. Anne Fulda stresses in her biography of Emmanuel Macron that, being born a year after the death of his older sister and after a complicated birth, his birth was considered a miracle. This may have fostered, along with a competitive Education in which he excelled as a 'child prodigy', his self-conviction that he was destined to rule the country. However, his election as head of state was not the fruit of a long-term strategy deadline, but rather, like Louis Napoleon's, a tactical move. Macron's image of renewal was cleverly exploited in an election in which he faced rivals with certain communicative weaknesses, such as those with a low profile like François Fillon (Republican) and Benoît Hamon (Socialist), or others with more extremist tones like Marine Le Pen (National Front) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Unsubmissive France).
In 2015, while still minister of Economics, Emmanuel Macron made an interesting reflection for the weekly Le 1 on the role of the president in France. He understood that French citizens felt a lack after the fall of the monarchy, which they had tried to fill by strengthening the figure of the president. This excessive weight of personalism in Macron's understanding of politics has also been demonstrated recently in the replacement of Édouard Philippe as prime minister. Because the latter's popularity had grown over the last year as he had shown himself to be more charismatic and calm in contrast to the president's overacting and abusive protagonism, Macron chose Jean Castex as his replacement, with a more technocratic profile that does not overshadow the president in the face of his re-election.
What role France should play in Europe
This firm commitment by both leaders to give greater importance and visibility to the position head of state transcends the borders of France. Napoleon III and Emmanuel Macron also share the desire to place France at the centre of the European balance.
Having won the elections with a speech against the order inherited from the congress of Vienna, Napoleon III had his own European project based on the free integration or separation of the different national identities of the old continent. A clear example of this was the Crimean War (1854-1856). Fearing that the declining Ottoman Empire would end up as a vassal of Russia, the emperor defended, together with the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Sardinia, its independence from the Ottomans in a conflict that would temporarily separate Russia from the other Western powers. 5] The Treaty of Paris (1856) would not only end the war, but also motivate Napoleon III to initiate an interventionist policy in Europe.
Napoleon III's imperial dream forced him to develop an active foreign policy focused on expanding France's borders and reordering the continent with two main values in mind: nationalism and liberalism. However, Henry Kissinger rightly remarks that his diplomatic work was so confused that "France got nothing". By supporting the unification of Italy at the cost of the Austrian Empire's loss of territory, Napoleon unwittingly favoured the creation of Germany. These events severely weakened France's geostrategic influence in the new European order to which he aspired. In contrast, it was Bismarck's clever diplomatic tactics that would really put an end to the Vienna system, hastening the fall of the Second French Empire at the Battle of Sedan (1870).
Alongside this, Emmanuel Macron is presenting himself as the saviour of the European Union in a context marked by the rise of populist and Eurosceptic movements. However, his ambitious reform projects have met with Angela Merkel's reluctance.
In a recent interview for The Economist, Emmanuel Macron said that NATO was "brain-dead" and that Europe was "on the edge of a precipice" because of its dependence on the United States and lack of independence in terms of defence. Macron opted for greater EU integration in the strategic field, going so far as to propose a single pan-European army. In response, German Chancellor Angela Merkel objec ted that Europe does not currently have the capacity to defend itself and is therefore dependent on the Atlantic Alliance. In addition, Macron has also challenged the apparent agreement among EU member states over membership and the relationship with Russia. The French president's veto of Albania and North Macedonia's possible membership, on the grounds that they did not comply with EU corruption clauses, has even been described as a 'historic mistake', leaving the future of the Balkan countries at the mercy of Russia and China. This position is not shared by Russia, with which he is willing to ease diplomatic relations and even suggests further integration of the country into Europe.
On final, Emmanuel Macron and Napoleon III share an excessively egocentric vision. The overexposure of certain personal characteristics in matters of state and the excessive claim to leadership in Europe are two aspects common to these two young leaders. While historiography has already judged the mistakes that precipitated Louis Napoleon into exile, it remains to be seen whether or not Macron is doomed to repeat the history of his predecessor.
 Guériot, P. (1944). Napoleon III. Madrid: Ediciones Técnicas.
 Talmón, J.L. (1960). Political messianism. La etapa romántica. Mexico City: Ed. Aguilar.
 Guériot, P. (1944). Napoleon III. Madrid: Ediciones Técnicas.
 Fulda, A. (2017). Emmanuel Macron, the president who has surprised Europe. Madrid: Ediciones Península.
 Milza, P. (2004). Napoleon III. Paris: Éditions Perrin.
 Kissinger, Henry (1994). Diplomacy (First Edition). Barcelona: Ediciones B.