Category Archives: Politics

Donald Trump: Personality Type ESTP – The Entrepreneur

press-conference-large_trans_nvbqzqnjv4bqtueon4-yhdlps6wvndiwlgx4djw-yayuone8z0fd6l0

If there is one thing that you can be certain of, it is that the governments of every major country around the world, including the last Obama administration, have done a psychological evaluation of President Donald Trump and it is very doubtful that they like what they see.

I found it quite interesting and revealing that, according to CNN, President Obama asked Theresa May, and Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull, “to form a close relationship with [the then] incoming President Donald Trump”. What Obama appears to have understood is that those that have taken a partisan opposition to Trump, by sometimes perpetuating clearly false and bias stories, not only political opposition but also media opposition, have in the process carelessly discarded any influence they might have had over the Trump administration – in exactly the same way that they were no longer able to influence large swathes of the US public who voted for Trump. Which means that when criticism is due and opposition needed – Donald Trump will not listen.

For Theresa May to play any role as a moderating influence on President Trump, she must not be unthinkingly critical.

In the absence of a professional psychological evaluation of Donald Trump, I’ve decided to post extracts from the description of Trump’s likely personality type ESTP – The Entrepreneur. Further exploration of that personality type  can be found HERE.

As the BBC’s Crimewatch always used to conclude, Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well

 

Introduction

ESTP personality types always have an impact on their immediate surroundings – the best way to spot them at a party is to look for the whirling eddy of people flitting about them as they move from group to group. Laughing and entertaining with a blunt and earthy humor, ESTP personalities love to be the center of attention. If an audience member is asked to come on stage, ESTPs volunteer – or volunteer a shy friend.

Theory, abstract concepts and plodding discussions about global issues and their implications don’t keep ESTPs interested for long. ESTPs keep their conversation energetic, with a good dose of intelligence, but they like to talk about what is – or better yet, to just go out and do it. ESTPs leap before they look, fixing their mistakes as they go, rather than sitting idle, preparing contingencies and escape clauses.

ESTPs are the likeliest personality type to make a lifestyle of risky behavior. They live in the moment and dive into the action – they are the eye of the storm. People with the ESTP personality type enjoy drama, passion, and pleasure, not for emotional thrills, but because it’s so stimulating to their logical minds. They are forced to make critical decisions based on factual, immediate reality in a process of rapid-fire rational stimulus response.

This makes school and other highly organized environments a challenge for ESTPs. It certainly isn’t because they aren’t smart, and they can do well, but the regimented, lecturing approach of formal education is just so far from the hands-on learning that ESTPs enjoy. It takes a great deal of maturity to see this process as a necessary means to an end, something that creates more exciting opportunities.

Also challenging is that to ESTPs, it makes more sense to use their own moral compass than someone else’s. Rules were made to be broken. This is a sentiment few high school instructors or corporate supervisors are likely to share, and can earn ESTP personalities a certain reputation. But if they minimize the trouble-making, harness their energy, and focus through the boring stuff, ESTPs are a force to be reckoned with.

With perhaps the most perceptive, unfiltered view of any type, ESTPs have a unique skill in noticing small changes. Whether a shift in facial expression, a new clothing style, or a broken habit, people with this personality type pick up on hidden thoughts and motives where most types would be lucky to pick up anything specific at all. ESTPs use these observations immediately, calling out the change and asking questions, often with little regard for sensitivity. ESTPs should remember that not everyone wants their secrets and decisions broadcast.

Sometimes ESTPs’ instantaneous observation and action is just what’s required, as in some corporate environments, and especially in emergencies.

If ESTPs aren’t careful though, they may get too caught in the moment, take things too far, and run roughshod over more sensitive people, or forget to take care of their own health and safety. Making up only four percent of the population, there are just enough ESTPs out there to keep things spicy and competitive, and not so many as to cause a systemic risk.

ESTPs are full of passion and energy, complemented by a rational, if sometimes distracted, mind. Inspiring, convincing and colorful, they are natural group leaders, pulling everyone along the path less traveled, bringing life and excitement everywhere they go. Putting these qualities to a constructive and rewarding end is ESTPs’ true challenge.

Strengths

  • Bold – People with the ESTP personality type are full of life and energy. There is no greater joy for ESTPs than pushing boundaries and discovering and using new things and ideas.
  • Rational and Practical – ESTPs love knowledge and philosophy, but not for their own sake. What’s fun for ESTP personalities is finding ideas that are actionable and drilling into the details so they can put them to use. If a discussion is completely arbitrary, there are better uses for ESTPs’ time.
  • Original – Combining their boldness and practicality, ESTPs love to experiment with new ideas and solutions. They put things together in ways no one else would think to.
  • Perceptive – This originality is helped by ESTPs’ ability to notice when things change – and when they need to change! Small shifts in habits and appearances stick out to ESTPs, and they use these observations to help create connections with others.
  • Direct – This perceptive skill isn’t used for mind games – ESTPs prefer to communicate clearly, with direct and factual questions and answers. Things are what they are.
  • Sociable – All these qualities pull together to make a natural group leader in ESTPs. This isn’t something that they actively seek – people with this personality type just have a knack for making excellent use of social interactions and networking opportunities.

Weaknesses

  • Insensitive – Feelings and emotions come second to facts and “reality” for ESTPs. Emotionally charged situations are awkward, uncomfortable affairs, and ESTPs’ blunt honesty doesn’t help here. These personalities often have a lot of trouble acknowledging and expressing their own feelings as well.
  • Impatient – ESTPs move at their own pace to keep themselves excited. Slowing down because someone else “doesn’t get it” or having to stay focused on a single detail for too long is extremely challenging for ESTPs.
  • Risk-prone – This impatience can lead ESTPs to push into uncharted territory without thinking of the long-term consequences. ESTP personalities sometimes intentionally combat boredom with extra risk.
  • Unstructured – ESTPs see an opportunity – to fix a problem, to advance, to have fun – and seize the moment, often ignoring rules and social expectations in the process. This may get things done, but it can create unexpected social fallout.
  • May Miss the Bigger Picture – Living in the moment can cause ESTPs to miss the forest for the trees. People with this personality type love to solve problems here and now, perhaps too much. All parts of a project can be perfect, but the project will still fail if those parts do not fit together.
  • Defiant – ESTPs won’t be boxed in. Repetition, hardline rules, sitting quietly while they are lectured at – this isn’t how ESTPs live their lives. They are action-oriented and hands-on. Environments like school and much entry-level work can be so tedious that they’re intolerable, requiring extraordinary effort from ESTPs to stay focused long enough to get to freer positions.

Career Paths

Restrictions, rules, highly structured environments – these are great ways to drive ESTPs crazy. People with this personality type live life on their own terms, and this makes them brilliant entrepreneurs and freelancers. These roles also allow them to delegate the more tedious aspects of work, the accounting, meticulous research and so forth, to those better suited.

ESTPs are curious, energetic people with a taste for action. There are those who analyze and manage the logistics of public safety resource distribution, and there are those who drive the ambulances, patrol the streets, and save lives with their own two hands – ESTP personalities are the latter. They are highly observant yet impatient, enabling them to take in the whole of a situation at a glance, and act. Any emergency response role is great for ESTPs, whether it be as paramedics, police officers, or soldiers.

Work Place Habits

Management positions are where ESTPs are usually most comfortable, as they often give the most flexibility. Rules and traditions are a bother for people with the ESTP personality type – they’d rather try a bunch of new ideas with a chance of getting things done faster or better than to pay attention to “the way things have always been done” or subordinates’ comfort with experimentation. ESTPs are practical, with a focus on what does, or could, work best.

This can make for a chaotic environment, but ESTPs’ inspiring cult of personality makes them well-suited to handling such a thing. ESTPs enjoy living in the moment. Rather than some broad, intangible future accomplishment like “making customers happy”, ESTP personalities set small, clear, measurable, and attainable goals that keep things on track day-to-day, and hearty congratulations can always be relied on for a job well done. ESTPs keep their eyes on the finish line, but they get there step by step.

Conclusion

Few personality types are as charming and attractive as ESTPs. Known for their ability to improvise and focus completely on the present, ESTPs are great at finding exciting new things to explore and experience. ESTPs’ creativity and down-to-earth attitude are invaluable in many areas, including their own personal growth.

Yet ESTPs can be easily tripped up in situations where their focus on practical matters is more of a liability than an asset. Whether it is finding (or keeping) a partner, reaching dazzling heights on the career ladder, or learning to plan ahead, ESTPs need to put in a conscious effort to develop their weaker traits and additional skills.

 

8 Comments

Filed under News, Politics

STATEMENT ISSUED BY COLIN WALLACE FOLLOWING THE PUBLICATION OF THE HISTORICAL INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE INQUIRY REPORT

colin-wallace

Colin Wallace

STATEMENT ISSUED BY COLIN WALLACE FOLLOWING THE PUBLICATION OF THE HISTORICAL INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE INQUIRY REPORT ON 20 JANUARY 2017

Although I initially offered to give evidence to the Inquiry, I later decided not to mainly on the grounds that the Government repeatedly refused to give it the same legal powers as the corresponding Inquiry in London. I believe that both the perception and the reality of the Government’s decision is one of unfairness to the victims.

Despite my decision, I did, however, provide the Inquiry with 265 pages of comment and supporting documents, drawing attention to false or misleading information contained in the transcripts of the public hearings. My reason for doing so was to enable the Inquiry to investigate and corroborate the accuracy of my past comments about Kincora and related matters, and to provide the Inquiry with the opportunity to correct the relevant errors in the its published transcripts.

None of the information I provided to the Inquiry is new. Although some of it has not previously been in the public domain, it has been in the possession of the Ministry of Defence and other Government agencies for many years and should have been made available by those authorities to the Inquiry. It should also have been made available by the authorities to previous Inquiries and the Government needs to explain why that did not happen.

Even more worrying, is the acknowledged fact that key Army Intelligence files relating to Tara and William McGrath appear to have gone missing after they were handed over by the Army to MI5 in 1989, prior to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s admission to Parliament (30 January 1990) that Ministers had “inadvertently misled” Parliament about my case. There also appears to be no record whatsoever of what became of all the ‘Clockwork Orange’ project files which I handed over to my superiors when I left Army Headquarters in Lisburn in February 1975. Some of those files related to William McGrath. To make matters worse, it is now clear from the Inquiry’s transcripts that a senior MI5 officer, Ian Cameron, falsely accused me of ‘leaking’ information to the press about William McGrath. His claim was that I did so without authority.

The MI5 claim is bizarre because, as my Army superior at the time has confirmed in the press, I was officially instructed by my superiors in Psy Ops, at the behest of Major General Peter Leng, to brief the press about McGrath as early as 1973, in a bid to draw media attention to his activities. I have no doubts whatsoever that because General Leng wanted the press to investigate McGrath, he had very good reasons for doing so and deserves credit for what he did.

It is also significant that MI5 officer who accused me of ‘leaking’ information about McGrath to the press later refused to be interviewed by the Terry Inquiry investigators about why he ordered Army Intelligence officer, Captain Brian Gemmell, to stop investigating William McGrath. Clearly, the Army and MI5 had very different agendas regarding McGrath and his activities.

The astonishing claim by the authorities, including the Intelligence Services, that they knew nothing about the allegations surrounding McGrath’s sexual activities until 1980 is a total travesty. As my documents clearly show, it is simply not credible that I knew more about McGrath and his activities than the combined Intelligence community did in 1973/74. One must conclude, therefore, that the Intelligence Services did not tell the Inquiry all they knew about McGrath during the 1970s. Indeed, most of the information I possessed about McGrath in 1973/74 came from within the Intelligence community and was quite substantial. Moreover, my 1973 press briefing document clearly contains more information about McGrath than the Intelligence Services have claimed to the Inquiry that they possessed at that time! Finally, to suggest that because I gave the press the exact postal address (including the street number of the property) and telephone number of the Kincora home, but did not actually include the name, ‘Kincora’, somehow invalidates my evidence, is an unacceptable attempt to avoid facing up to what I have been saying over the years. That information also shows that the claim made by the Intelligence Services to the Inquiry that they were not aware until 1980 of where McGrath worked is demonstrably false.

Overall, I believe the Inquiry has been a wasted opportunity to establish the full facts relating to this matter and I feel the victims have been let down yet again, as they were by previous Inquiries

20 Comments

Filed under Abuse, News, Politics

Investigatory Powers Act

‘The Investigatory Powers Act is world-leading legislation’
Amber Rudd (Home Secretary)

One might ask, what part of the world are we leading exactly:
North Korea, Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia?

north-korea
Passed into UK law on 29th November 2016 with barely a whimper.
(Replaces the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act – DRIPA)

‘…it establishes a dangerous new norm, where surveillance of all citizens’ online activity is seen as the baseline for a peaceful society.

Collect evidence first, the government is saying, and find the criminals later.’
Jim Killock (Open Rights Group)

At a Glance:
Telecoms providers obligated to retain data on British Citizens web activity (ICR) for 12 months.

Legalises the surveillance and ‘Targeted Equipment Interference’ (hacking) activities undertaken over many years by GCHQ and other agencies, including the collection of metadata and hacking of individuals computers and phones. (As exposed by Edward Snowden in 2013)

Legalises the wider power of ‘Bulk Equipment Interference’ (Mass Hacking) into large groups of computers and mobile phones of citizens overseas.

Provides for access by 48 named groups to the stored data, and establishes a ‘Request Filter’ (Common Database) enabling access through a single source. (Still being defined by the Home Office)

Allows access to masses of stored personal data, even if the person under scrutiny is not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Police can request viewing journalists’ call and web records. (Seen as a potential death sentence for whistleblowing and investigative journalism).

Technology companies and service providers can be asked to remove encryption on a given user’s device or service, where ‘Practicable’.
However, unlike the Apple case in the US, it’s expected that any cases in the UK will take place in private.
‘Any warrants issued to a company to decrypt users’ data will come with a gagging order, forbidding the firm from discussing it. There wouldn’t be any public debate about it.’ Harmit Kambo (Privacy International)

Who can access our data?
Amongst the more obvious police, military, and security services are a few less obvious, including:

Food Standards Agency
Department for Work and Pensions
Department for Transport
Department of Health
Revenue and Customs
English Ambulance Trust
Scottish Ambulance Service
Welsh Ambulance Service
Health and Safety Executive
Fire and Rescue Authority
Competition and Markets Authority

Comments:

‘The UK now has a surveillance law that is more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy.’
Jim Killock (Open Rights Group)

‘We have created the tools for repression.’
Lord Strasburger

‘None of us online are now guaranteed the right to communicate privately and, most importantly, securely.’
Renate Samson (Big Brother Watch)

‘The UK … joining the likes of China and Russia in collecting everyone’s browsing habits.’
Anne Jellema, ( World Wide Web Foundation)

This snoopers charter ‘has no place in modern democracy. The bulk collection of everyone’s internet browsing data is disproportionate, creates a security nightmare for the ISPs who must store the data, and rides roughshod over our right to privacy.’
Sir Tim Berners-Lee Inventor of World Wide Web.

‘It’s sad that the Snowden revelations backfired so spectacularly here. Rather than rolling back powers, they’ve been used to legitimize these practices.’ Harmit Kambo (Privacy International)

‘The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes farther than many autocracies.’
Edward Snowden (NSA whistle blower)

Investigatory Powers Act 2016
Links to all 305 pages;
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/25/pdfs/ukpga_20160025_en.pdf
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/25/contents/enacted

I wonder how many of our MPs have read, and understood, this piece of art?

Other Sources:
http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/23/13718768/uk-surveillance-laws-explained-investigatory-powers-bill
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/19/extreme-surveillance-becomes-uk-law-with-barely-a-whimper
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/governments-snoopers-charter-has-no-place-modern-democracy-says-inventor-world-wide-web-1594092
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/investigatory-powers-act-becomes-law-royal-assent_uk_583d91d8e4b072ec0d60680d
http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/23/13718768/uk-surveillance-laws-explained-investigatory-powers-bill
http://arstechnica.co.uk/tech-policy/2016/11/investigatory-powers-act-imminent-peers-clear-path-for-uk-super-snoop-law/
http://www.jomec.co.uk/blog/how-the-uk-got-a-world-leading-surveillance-law/
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/27/nsa-gchq-smartphone-app-angry-birds-personal-data

4 Comments

Filed under News, Politics, Privacy, Technology

Snap General Election Seems Certain Following High Court Brexit Decision (Barring Successful Appeal)

The High Court has ruled that the Government does not have power to trigger Article 50 without parliamentary approval and a vote from MPs.

Campaigners have won their battle over Theresa May’s decision to use the royal prerogative in her Brexit strategy to start the process of leaving the European Union.

The government have said they will appeal the decision in the Supreme Court. A spokesperson confirmed: “We will appeal this judgment.”

The Telegraph

27 Comments

Filed under News, Politics

HyperNormalisation And The EU

p04c0tsb

If you have not already watched the BBC documentary film by Adam Curtis, HyperNormalisation – the story of how we got here, it is hardly surprising given that it was released on 16 October 2016 on the BBC iPlayer with little or no fanfare. Almost 3 hours long, perhaps the BBC felt that the general public didn’t have the patience, or intelligence, to sit through it and so it wasn’t broadcast on any of the BBC channels as far as I know, which is a great shame because this is a must watch film, in my view one of the most important films I’ve seen in many a year.

The music and imagery are at times haunting and occasionally disturbing, made more so by the occasional inclusion in the film of the familiar and superficial imagery from YouTube and aerobics videos , but this only adds to the powerful and serious historical narrative which Adam Curtis develops.

What I loved about this film was that it doesn’t treat the audience as fools. Big events like the collapse of the Soviet Union and 9/11 feature but only in passing; it’s as though Adam Curtis is saying to the viewer, “I know you already know about these events and I’m not going to patronise you by going over what you already understand – instead I’ll concentrate on events that you may not have known or have forgotten.”  That, as a viewer, is refreshing.

In the film Curtis explains that the West deliberately targeted Libya and Iraq, in the process making Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein ‘super-villains’, as a way of being seen to act when Syria was to blame for the disruption in the Middle East and terrorism which provoked these conflicts. These are not new allegations and Curtis’s case is compelling but nevertheless, unbidden, my subconscious kept throwing up the words of Orwell from 1984: ““The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” Of course, Curtis was not attempting to rewrite history, it was an history which I and most others had already understood, Curtis was just placing it in exquisite context with far greater explanation than I’d seen or read before. Current events, the build up of Russian and NATO forces as a result of the Syrian Civil War had made me wary that an ex post facto justification for war was being made.

If I have one criticism of the film it was that it failed to make explicit the obvious conclusion that the current establishment mindset in the EU and the USA was a form of HyperNormalisation.

Wikipedia describes the etymology of HyperNormalisation thus:

The term “hypernormalisation” is taken from Alexei Yurchak’s 2006 book Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation, about the paradoxes of life in the Soviet Union during the late communist period shortly before it collapsed, when everyone knew the system was failing but no one could imagine any alternative to the status quo, and politicians and citizens were resigned to maintaining a pretence of a functioning society. Over time, this delusion became a self-fulfilling prophecy and the “fakeness” was accepted by everyone as real, an effect which Yurchak termed “hypernormalisation”.

ap_921999068739_wide-e0d52d4b12dcf3f6f3a94ba9dbad98934f212847-s900-c85

Everybody smiles in a hypernormal reality

By any important, measurable, and tangible standard the EU is irreparably and irretrievably  broken. 

It is broken economically – it only has the semblance of solvency due to deceit, fraud, and computerised money printing which will never resolve the problem but only exacerbate the consequences of its inevitable collapse while inexorably impoverishing its citizens.

It is broken socially – just look at Greece where unemployment is at 23%, almost a quarter, and youth unemployment stands at a staggering 51%. but Greece is not alone, only the most serious case.

It is broken politically – the perpetuation of a hypernormal EU status quo is the policy of every ‘moderate’ mainstream political party across the entire EU – effectively driving the electorate looking for an alternative to the political extremes. EU dogma is the cause of increasing nationalism in Europe.

Its security is broken – it can’t even secure its own borders, the primary responsibility of any nation state.

Only a hypernormal mindset can explain why nobody is prepared to recognise just how broken the EU is.

Remember this quote 10 days before the Brexit referendum ?

“As a historian I fear Brexit could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but also Western political civilisation in its entirety,” – European Council president Donald Tusk

The EU was broken long before the UK voted to leave but Brexit demonstrated that the hypnotic hypernormalisation was wearing off in Europe. ‘Fear’ is the important word that Tusk uses. Fear of the unknown, fear of the future.

“Everyone knew the system was failing but no one could imagine any alternative to the status quo, and politicians and citizens were resigned to maintaining a pretence of a functioning society.”

7 Comments

Filed under Personal, Politics

Brexit Aftershocks: An Inside Look at the EU’s Raging Power Struggle

image-1017488-thumbflex-ullu-1017488

I don’t normally lift entire articles, it is  very bad manners but I think this article in Der Spiegel is important for those in the UK attempting to understand the EU and Europe’s position regarding Brexit.

Part 1

For the last supper, quail salad is served. It’s 7:30 on Tuesday evening, and the leaders of 27 European Union countries — without British Prime Minister David Cameron — are scheduled to meet the next morning. A whiff of nostalgia is in the air, even if everyone is angry with Cameron, who because of a power struggle in his party, didn’t just gamble away his country’s EU membership, but may ultimately have triggered a political meltdown in the proud United Kingdom.

Cameron is buoyant, doing his best to avoid appearing as the tragic figure he has now become. His counterparts from across the EU are tactful enough to keep quiet about what they really think of the outgoing British premier. They speak of Britain’s historical accomplishments — at a time when the country, after 40 years of EU membership, looks to be leaving the bloc.

Taavi Roivas, the youthful prime minister of Estonia, who always sat next to Cameron during European Council meetings, expresses his gratitude that British soldiers ensured his country’s independence 100 years ago. French President François Hollande recalls how British and French soldiers fought side-by-side in World War I. The Irish prime minister notes that his country was at war with England for almost 1,000 years and that it was really only the EU that brought lasting peace.

And what about Cameron? He says that he wouldn’t do anything differently if he had it all to do over again. It wasn’t a mistake to hold the referendum, he tells the bewildered gathering, but the EU leaders refrain from contradicting him. Perhaps one important element of the European project is that it is no longer seen as necessary to respond toevery folly. Only at the very end of the evening, when an EU diplomat is asked whether Cameron was presented with a departing gift, did he answer laconically: “He got a warm meal.”

By the next morning, no one is thinking of Cameron anymore. He made history, if involuntarily, but history has now moved on from the British prime minister. The vote in favor of Brexit, after all, hasn’t just convulsed British politics, it has also set the stage for the next monumental power struggle within the EU.

On one hand, that struggle is about the question as to how uncompromising the EU should be in hustling Britain out of the union. For those in favor of a strong and powerful EU, for those who always saw the UK as a bothersome obstacle in their path, the British withdrawal process can’t proceed fast enough. Plus, French President Hollande and others want to use Britain as an example to show the rest of Europe how bleak and uncomfortable life can be when one leaves the house of Europe. Hollande, of course, has good reason for his approach: The right-wing populist party Front National has threatened to follow Cameron’s example should party leader Marine Le Pen emerge victorious in next year’s presidential elections.

Power Struggle in the EU

But there is more at stake than just the treatment of Britain during the Brexit negotiations. The more important question is how Europe will look 10 or 15 years from now — the question as to whether the project of an “ever closer union,” as optimistically formulated in the Treaty of Lisbon, will be continued. Or will Europe pivot back toward the nation-state, possibly even with the return of powers and competencies from Brussels to the governments of EU member states?

It is a power struggle between two opposing camps, both of which see Brexit as an opportunity to finally change Europe to conform to the vision they have long had for the bloc. The protagonists of an institutionalized Europe are Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Parliament President Martin Schulz. On the other side stands the majority of Europe’s heads of state and government, led by Angela Merkel, who has created an alliance on this issue with those governments in Eastern Europe with whom she was at such odds in the refugee crisis just a few months ago.

The battle for Europe’s future begins early on Friday morning, not even two hours after the result of the Brexit referendum became clear. At 7:30 a.m., Schulz joins a conference call with Sigmar Gabriel, the leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), of which Schulz is a member, and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister and also a senior SPD member. Schulz begins by saying that his heart has been broken by the British vote, but then goes on to make clear what is at stake: “If we now allow the British to play games with us, the entire EU will fly apart,” he says.

That sentence sets the tone. It is a strategy not just propelled by the fear that other EU member states could seek to follow the British example. The hope is to get rid of the British as quickly as possible since the country has long been one of the most adamant opponents to all forms of greater EU integration.

At 8:15 a.m., Merkel grabs for the phone in the Chancellery. She spent the morning following the referendum returns at home in her apartment and she is shocked by the result. She doesn’t have a plan B and now Merkel wants to play for time so she can develop a strategy. In contrast to Schulz and Juncker, she doesn’t believe that Britain’s departure from the EU is a foregone conclusion. For Merkel, the British have always been an important ally in the fight against an overly powerful EU and against overly lenient fiscal policies of the kind favored by France and countries in southern Europe. On the other end of the line on Friday morning is Horst Seehofer, the powerful governor of Bavaria and head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Seehofer has a similar view of the situation to Merkel: Treat the British amicably, don’t rush them and play for time. And immediately choke off all efforts aimed at “more Europe.”

Stronger, More Independent EU

At 8:45, the SPD posts a position paper on its homepage called “Re-Founding Europe.” It was written by Schulz and Gabriel before British voters headed to the polls for the Brexit referendum. In the Chancellery, it is interpreted as it is meant: as a challenge to Merkel’s policies. Europe now needs the courage to “risk something grander,” the paper reads. Merkel would like leadership in Europe to run through its member states. Schulz, though, like Juncker, would like to transform the Commission into a “true European government.” “We need an ambitious and powerful thrust and not a timid patchwork,” the paper argues.

Schulz and Juncker have long been working towards limiting the influence of European heads of state and government in the EU, wanting instead to develop a stronger, more independent union. That is the nucleus of a package they agreed to one late night in May 2014. The deal came following months of campaigning ahead of European parliamentary elections, with Juncker as the lead candidate for conservatives across the EU and Schulz in the same role for European Social Democrats. Juncker won and became Commission president while Schulz remained in his role as president of European Parliament. On that night in May, the two pledged to cease working against each other and to join forces to ensure greater powers for the EU — and to ensure that the European Council, made up of EU member state leaders, loses influence. It was a pact against Merkel, who would like to have prevented Juncker from becoming Commission president.

At 1 p.m. on the Friday after the Brexit referendum, Merkel makes a statement to Berlin journalists in which — in contrast to Schulz — she does not demand a rapid British withdrawal. One shouldn’t “draw quick and easy conclusions from the British referendum that could further divide Europe,” she says.

From Merkel’s point of view, the crisis is one for European member state leaders to address. She sees the idea of “more Europe” as being the intensification of cooperation between EU governments, not the transfer of yet more authority to Brussels.

After Merkel speaks with Juncker on the phone that weekend, her belief that the Commission president is more a part of the problem than a part of the solution doesn’t change. The chancellor believes that Juncker’s appetite for power is one of the reasons why the British have turned their backs on Europe.

Merkel coordinates her approach with her powerful finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, who in the past has always presented himself as a passionate European in contrast to Merkel, the technocrat. But now, the two are in agreement. Simply calling for “more Europe” plays into the hands of Euroskeptics, Merkel says at a previously planned Friday meeting of CDU and CSU leaders in Potsdam. Those who are now demanding more integration, particularly in the euro zone, didn’t understand the message of Brexit, Schäuble believes.

No Pressure on Britain

Schäuble wants to present a plan for how the remaining 27 EU members can improve their cooperation and strengthen their cohesion. Included in his list of measures is the completion of the single market and the unhindered, cross-border movement of capital. Schäuble believes it is also necessary to establish common, EU-wide bankruptcy proceedings for companies. Member states should also reach agreement on how to achieve greater economic growth, he says, in addition to improving controls of the EU’s external borders and coming up with a joint asylum policy. If not all 27 member states are willing to pursue such measures, Schäuble says that those prepared to move ahead together should do so.

On Sunday, Merkel meets with a handful of confidants, including Chancellery Chief of Staff Peter Altmaier. The group examines a variety of different eventualities, including a second British referendum and snap UK elections. Merkel and Altmaier want to do all they can to prevent Britain from leaving, with Merkel saying that the EU should avoid exerting too much pressure. “Policymakers in London should have the possibility to reconsider the effects of leaving,” Altmaier says in an interview.

On the same day, Merkel holds a long conversation with François Hollande. The French president insists on a rapid decision from Britain — he wants to get rid of them as quickly as possible. The EU, he says, must be extremely clear about what leaving the bloc entails. Hollande also believes that Britain’s departure represents an opportunity both for himself and his country. Brexit would increase France’s influence in the EU.

In contrast to Merkel, Hollande would prefer a strategy pursuing deeper European integration. Prior to his election, he promised to reshape the EU and to give it a “friendlier, warmer face.” At the time, Merkel understood the message to be: “Allow us to take on more debt!”

Part 2

On Monday, Merkel and Holland meet together in the Chancellery in Berlin along with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Their contrasting approaches to Brexit come up and, in the end, they reach a compromise: Proposals for further EU development in the areas of security, employment, youth and euro-zone cooperation should be presented by September, it says in their joint statement. The hope is that the plan will at least get them through the next several weeks.

When Merkel delivers her government statement to German parliament on Tuesday morning just before the beginning of the EU summit, her tone regarding how the UK should be approached is a bit more severe than in the preceding days. She emphasizes that there can be no secret negotiations with the British before the country officially applies for withdrawal and that London will not be allowed to “cherry pick.” She remains true, however, to her utmost concern: that of giving Britain as much time as possible.

It has become apparent in Brussels too just how vigorously the battle is being fought between those who envision a more powerful EU and those in favor of a nation state-led Europe. The front leads through all countries and all parties. At 8:30 p.m., German members of the European People’s Party — the center-right group in European Parliament — meet. The discussion is focused on the resolution to be passed by European Parliament on Brexit and the atmosphere is heated.

Herbert Reul, head of the German group, laments that the draft resolution was produced only by a small group under the leadership of Schulz and CDU member Elmar Brok. Brok is part of the EU establishment and has for decades been a proponent of taking advantage of EU crises to deepen European integration. Meeting participants complain that now is not the time for a new convention to pave the way for deeper European unity.

There is nothing about a new convention in the paper, Brok objects. “But it does mention treaty amendments,” says CSU member Markus Ferber, and to make such changes, he adds, a convention is necessary. “You’re only telling us half of the story,” Ferber fulminates. “You’re lying to us!”

On Tuesday evening, EU heads of state and government come together for what could be their last supper together with Cameron. On the following morning, they make clear to Juncker that they will be taking the lead in the exit negotiations with Britain. “But that is the Commission’s responsibility,” Juncker protests. “Jean-Claude, we have been elected, you haven’t been,” is the rejoinder from several prime ministers and heads of state.

Waiting Calmly

It’s the age-old European battle over who possesses the greatest amount of democratic legitimacy — and for the moment it doesn’t look like momentum is in favor of Juncker’s Commission and his partner Schulz’s European Parliament.

Europe’s government leaders agree on Wednesday that no changes should be made to European treaties and that there definitely should not be a convention. There also won’t be any fundamental modifications made to the EU and no deepening of integration. “It is not the time for such things,” says Merkel. It looks as though she has won this battle with the Schulz-Juncker tandem and that the concept of Europe as a collection of nation states has won this round.

The severe treatment of Britain demanded by some will also not be pursued initially. Instead, the EU will calmly wait, at least until September, to see how the situation in London develops. Europe is pausing for reflection instead of rushing to implement greater integration.

There remains, however, plenty of room for compromise. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of Poland’s national-conservative Law and Justice party, which currently holds power in the country, doesn’t want “less Europe” in all areas. When it comes to foreign and security policy, he would even like to see the EU play a more robust role. Kaczynski is in favor of the establishment of a European army and would like to see a strong European president with far-reaching authority. It is a demand that many governments in eastern and central Europe agree with.

By contrast, left-leaning governments, primarily in southern Europe, would like to see greater public investment. One idea to promote such investment envisions the establishment of a euro-zone budget, which would automatically grant greater powers to the Commission and the European Parliament, because such a budget would have to be managed and be subjected to parliamentary controls.

Finally, the refugee crisis has produced a third group with shared interests: Countries like Sweden and Germany took in a huge number of refugees in 2015 and are demanding the establishment of a joint asylum system, including the fair distribution of refugees throughout the EU. This too would essentially result in “more Europe.”

An Irascible Juncker

It is true that people in almost all member states have become more skeptical of the EU. But it is also true that this skepticism has a variety of vastly different causes. If every EU member were prepared to make concessions to the concerns of others, everyone could emerge better off.

In mid-September, EU heads of state and government are to meet in Bratislava to consider what the EU’s future priorities will be. Slovakia will hold the rotating EU presidency and the country’s prime minister, Robert Fico, is a proponent of an EU made up of strong nation states, much like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. He promises to be Juncker’s next difficult adversary, although it looks as though the new situation in Europe has already left its mark on the European Commission president.

Wherever he makes an appearance these days, he seems to be under stress. The jocularity and nonchalance he otherwise exudes has vanished. Juncker these days is ill-tempered and irascible.

After the summit comes to an end, a reporter from Austrian public broadcaster ORF becomes the focus of his frustration. She asks a question about CETA, the already negotiated free-trade agreement with Canada. The day before, Juncker has told European leaders that he would like to enact the treaty without the involvement of national parliaments in EU member states — thus feeding into all the stereotypes out there of an autocratic, elitist Brussels.

From a purely legal point of view, Juncker’s approach is defensible, but the timing shows a stunning degree of tone deafness. He “doesn’t really care,” he answers in response to the ORF reporter’s question about the treaty’s legal character. “Stop with this Austrian fuss. As if I would take aim at Austrian democracy.”

His friend Martin Schulz appears more philosophical about the backlash against his vision of Europe. On Wednesday afternoon, right after EU member state leaders left Brussels following the summit, he allows himself a moment to catch his breath. He is sitting in a black leather armchair in his office on the ninth floor of the enormous European Parliament building in Brussels. On a pedestal behind him are an EU flag and a statue of Willy Brandt.

In reference to Brexit, he quotes George Bernard Shaw: “Old men are dangerous: It doesn’t matter to them what is going to happen to the world.” He then addresses the Euroskepticism that he and Juncker have been confronted with in recent days. It doesn’t faze him, he says. He was first elected to European Parliament 22 years ago, Schulz continues. Now, the EU is stumbling from crisis to crisis and he is supposed to refrain from thinking about Europe’s future? Schulz finds the idea absurd. “Everyone always asks: Where are the visions for Europe? And then when you present one, you are told: Now isn’t the time. So which is it?”

Der Spiegel

 

9 Comments

Filed under Germany, News, Politics

Nobody Told Me

Friday Night Song
 

1 Comment

Filed under FNS, Politics