Cross-Border Raison d'Etre

Cross-Border Raison d'Etre

by Pininvest Analysis

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Pin-insights

The agenda of the European Union  (EU) might be driven by shifting alliances in a complex interaction between the states and Parliament, crossing party boundaries and forcing unusual compromises

However, the commonality of a few underlying currents such as environmental protection, food safety, or social guarantees could surprise by their strength – they are in fact testimony to a shared destiny in Europe

On their own momentum and because of deep popular support, environmental sensitivities are bound to spill over - more and more aggressively - into the EU's strongest held 'common policies'  - trade and agriculture

Purposeful, the EU regulatory push could turn out to be a shared concern beyond the continent's borders and weigh on the two other 'rule-makers' worldwide - China and America

 

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The note on New Leadership in Europe described the complex interactions between political party representations in European parliament and member state interests, in the somewhat messy selection of the Union’s key representatives

The careful balance of the final choices sought to reflect the major strands of European political sensitivity in a tradition of hard-earned compromise, a credible performance in the end

As we observed however, the Greens, among the major winners of the May ’19 European elections, have been left out precisely because their principled opposition on many fronts – and especially in areas closest to European engagement (trade and agriculture) – appears to leave little room for positive contribution

Vocal commitments to radical change may be the Green’s fallback strategy on national level in many countries, but there is a paradox in this posture

Beauvais tapestry - XVIIIth century (France)

The paradox is that, precisely because of the strong democratic foundation of the European Parliament, engagement of the Green representation might need to be actively pursued – and difficult to reject wholesale for reasons of principle by its members…

A further reason for expecting a strong slant in favor of ‘eco-sensitive’ programs could be found in national political realities, uniting country leaders around shared climate change and environmental protection to cement voter support

 

European agendas

National country representation is – and remains – at the foundation of the European construction, recognizing the political dimension of the nation-states with the Council of Ministers, where all the Union members engage their country on an equal footing

For many years, a fairly homogeneous representation in Parliament, facilitating compromise between center-right and center-left, and the dominant influence of the EU's largest countries – France, Germany and the UK (notwithstanding the wrongful assertions of fringe British politicians to the opposite) – have been the twin-engines powering the Union

In a more fragmented Parliament, and because of national priorities grouping various combinations of member states , the agenda might be driven by shifting alliances in a complex interaction between the states and Parliament, crossing party boundaries and forcing unusual compromises

National interests – and their popular support – vary undoubtedly across time and space, but the commonality of a few underlying currents such as environmental protection, food safety, or social guarantees could surprise by their strength – they are in fact testimony to a shared destiny in Europe

 

Cross-border rules

Environmental concerns have emerged as possibly the clearest cross-national commitment

  • Climate change issues and protection against environmental depredation are obviously a challenge confronting the entire European continent, which no country can address on its own
  • In national elections, vocal Green parties become key to often fragile governmental coalitions

This is why ‘green’ policies can be expected to broaden the close partnership of Europe’s largest states (Germany and France) to the committed Northern countries (from the Netherlands to Finland)

Dutch River Landscape - van Goyen (1596-1656) - credit Museum of Fine Arts (Houston)

All-encompassing, environmental sensitivities are bound to spill over - more and more aggressively - into the EU strongest held 'common policies' 

  • trade agreements will be held up to sharply raised environmental standards as Brazil is recognizing belatedly - putting the Mercosur deal, negociated in very different times, back on the drawing board
  • powerful agricultural lobbies, beneficiaries of the common agriculture policy for decades, will have to be careful what they are calling for: intensive use of agrochemicals is under a cloud  as environmental protection is ratcheting up more and more constraining regulations

With massive regulatory power and unflinching popular support, led by the Union's key states but shared across the continent, Europe will be setting the rules well beyond its own borders

  • for the UK, in case of departure, we predict that nothing will change - except for the fact the country will become a 'rule-taker' instead of a 'rule-maker'. The paradox will not be lost on anyone that, ultimately, the British consumer will put more trust in Europe's consumer protection than in any loose alignment with other regulators - whether American or Chinese
  • importers from the Americas and from China will be under growing pressure - either forswearing sales on one of the world's major markets or accepting constraining regulatory frameworks

 

In sum, for all the talk about Great Britain's ill-conceived policies and about the frailty of the common Euro currency, the 5-year agenda of the European Union  will be dominated by something different

  • with protective rules on the environment as well as on working conditions, trade policies can be expected to rebalance priorities, skewing the terms of future agreements
  • their common purpose could turn out to be popular beyond the continent's borders and weigh on the two other 'rule-makers' worldwide - China and America....

The risks to the environment and the abuse of workforces in less developed countries could lead to hard-hitting policy developments in the European Union, with strong commitment from its key founding members and a profound impact on trade flows across the world

 

Athough environmental challenges and social protection are expected to frame Europe's cross-border action for years to come, our follow-up report will broaden the scope with the continent's further geopolitical challenges and the shifting country alliances in support, making strange bedfellows...