9 Dec, 2016 @ 09:09
2 mins read

Careful what EU wish for: Europe is going through a paradigm shift

Charles Gomez
Charles Gomez

PARADIGM is a fine word bequeathed to us by our Greek cousins, the ancestral defenders of Europe (watch the Battle of Thermopylae in Zack Snyder’s Hollywood box office triumph “300”). A paradigm(“paradeignma”) shift is a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.

To my mind the question is not what is changing but what is not changing?

If as recently as 2015 Angela Merkel, Martin Schultz, Jean Claude Junckers  and Donald Tusk were the accepted, if greyish faces of European polity; that has changed. Rightly or wrongly many among the 500,000,000 EU citizens see them and their ilk as woefully detached from their own realities and aspirations.

The shift away from internationalism is happening at great speed. Post the Brexit referendum Theresa May has understood that the tectonic plates are shifting. At the Lord Mayor’s banquet in early November the Prime Minister spoke of “change in the air” and warned the political élites not to ignore the people who she said: “….. see their communities changing around them and don’t remember giving their permission for that to be the case.”

I think that these are only the early tremors of a political earthquake which could shatter the EU as we know it today.

Looming ever closer, it would seem, is a breed of politicians the like of which Europe has not seen for many decades. As I write the Austrian presidential election has not taken place; it is due on the 4th December.  The far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) candidate Norbert Hofer is apparently in with a very good chance of becoming President of Austria.

In France the Front National’s Marine Le Pen seems headed towards the Élysée Palace at elections taking place in 2017. Another right-winger Geert Wilders is hotly tipped to be the Dutch Prime Minister in elections also set for 2017. In Germany, a right –wing party formed as recently as 2013 has already won seats in 10 out of the 16 German regional governments and 6 seats in the European Parliament and in opinion polls has scored higher than Frau Merkel’s Christian Democrats. Then there is Poland and Hungary and so on.

Self-conscious Europeans tend to look across the Atlantic at our colonial cousins (for we have cousins everywhere) for moral justification and support.   In Washington they now see a nationalist President Elect, Donald Trump, vocal admirer of Brexit battler Nigel Farrage.

So what impact will the tilt to nationalism and the right have on the “European Institutions”? They certainly will not remain dominated by the middle of the road folk that now run them. The European Council after all is comprised of the heads of state or government of the Member States. Similarly each member of the European Commission is appointed by a Member State and it is obvious that the current broadly centrist commissioners will not survive the paradigm shift. Judges and Advocates General of the European court of Justice are also appointed on a country by country basis.

Think about it. It would be foolish to think that even as the European pendulum swings to the right, the European Union will remain a bulwark of middle of the road liberalism; it will however be a very powerful machine in the hands of whoever takes over.

Charles Gomez (OP Columnist)

Charles Gomez has been a barrister for more than thirty years and is currently an Honorary Professor of International Law at the University of Cadiz, where he hosts lectures in English and Spanish.
Readers of the Olive Press are invited to discuss this or any other legal matter with Charles Gomez by emailing [email protected]


  1. Hofer has not won the Austrian elections. Le Pen will not become the next French president, but Mr. Fillon. Wilders may win, but the Netherlands are small. AfD in Germany will get 12% of all seats in the German Federal Parliament, but at best AfD may cause a deadlock in the parliament between socialists and conservatives. Finally Mrs Merkel will be the old and the new chancellor.

    The political power within the EU is not with EU Parliament or the EU Comission, but with the EU Council.
    Therefor don’t care Tusk, Schulz and Junkers. Mind, Schulz is written without “t”, we are not in the Blitzkrieg! By the way Schulz has already decided to return to Germany to perhaps become Germanys next foreign minister. So Schulz is a witness for my assessment of the power relations inside the EU.

    Donald Trump will become a catalyst to reunite a confused EU. The only real danger for the EU is a collapsing Italy. Mario Draghi is doing his best to avoid this happening.

    Theresa May has to wait until the British Supreme Court tells her that the Brexit has to be decided in the British Parliament. Only then we may see whether she is a paper-tiger or a lion!

        • Carlos, whatever I say doesn’t affect if the UK remains or not. We need proper legal process for that, so wait for January 2017 to see how it pans out, as you said yourself elsewhere. The reforms will have to come eventually whether the EU likes it or not. Migration, war and climate change are in charge, ultimately.

          • The problem is that the reforms would be too late as far as the UK are concerned and although it required a high court hearing Brexit will happen. It’s unfortunate that the Junker’s and his like are not voted in democratically by the people of Europe which can be kicked out if they overstep their mark.

          • Carlos, agree that the EU needs a total grass-roots up redesign, especially regarding the election of leaders and other presidents. It needs to be understood by ordinary people. The EU has done an awful job of trying to explain its inner workings, mind you, watching the verbal gobbledegook of the UK Supreme Court proceedings is much the same of course.

    • Wolfgang, I think Theresa May will be the “lion” regardless of whatever is the outcome as she has consistently said “Brexit means Brexit” which will happen.

    • In fact Carlos, the UK will have to pay the EU back billions. The cost of Brexit so far is estimated to be between £60 and £100 billion, a most bleak outlook indeed. Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement as Tory chancellor pointed to bleak times ahead, as cost of living is expected to rise (Brexit price rises across the board on everyday items), economic growth to slow, and Brexit to leave a £122 billion black hole in the country’s finances.

      • Fred are you saying that the billions you mention would be wiped off if we remain and are you content in remaining under the conditions that the EU intends to massively divert the UK from being a democratic trading nations to a Federal state under one taxation system and a EU army, a army to fight who, against Russia or to curtail a possible up-rise of the people.
        You have seen the dire consequence of the Euro on certain country’s and how would that work under a one for all taxation system. For a start there would be 28 plus, country’s speaking all different languages and the EU could not follow the American system of being a Federal country purely as America is a democratic nation. Are you saying the EU has democratic idea’s just because the Junker crowd say they are, knocking down country’s that try to resist the Junker crowd movement. We have seen this happen and quite recently. Millions of extra peoples are destined for Europe in the near future and until the Junker crowd realize the damage this will cause without some control of the invasion. As Boris said, “God has not given the right for people to choose where they wish to live. Do you know the total amount of peoples of the 5/7 other new countries wishing to join the EU, possibly hundreds of millions, who would BTW have the right to free travel within the EU claiming their benefit systems. Most of the 28 countries that are already in the EU are on the take accept possibly five or six who are now putting in more then they receive. so who would be paying for the hand outs. Would in the long run the Billions, you say, that the UK is required to dip in which BTW is the hearsay of the EU and not the UK and what if the UK refuses to pay “anything” due to not being a member of this club anymore, Stop trade, declare war. Cameroon had tried his hardest to turn the tables “slightly” but it fell on death ears, but all we keep hearing from people is that the EU needs to change, but WHEN. Fred that was the crux of the Brexit movement and it wont be the last as other countries will realize the EU is a dead duck. Anyway that’s my take on things and maybe different to other peoples thoughts and ideas which I’m quite willing to listen to providing it’s something positive and sensible and not what the financial “loss” would be to the UK but the financial “cost” of staying in which nobody has yet to mention. Surprised you cannot see the benefits of the UK leaving. I would love to see a united Europe which included the UK but under a completely different system which put the well being of the citizens first and not some crack pot scheme of people being controlled under a dictatorship system. Democracy has ruled for centuries but directorship has always failed and we are seeing the beginning of it happening in the EU. Think of the future not today, perhaps like the Duke of Westminster family that plan 3 hundred years or so in advance which chopped Harold Wilson down on one occasion.

        • Carlos, I am just telling you that the UK will have to pay back a very large amount before fully departing the EU. The chancellors statement concludes there is also a massive black hole in UK finances too. I am replying to that specific point. Please, keep on topic.

          • Fred and my point was, which you tend not to answer was, would the Billions you mentioned be wiped clean if we remained in the EU and who decided that amount and was it agreed by the UK government. I believe the UK has ridiculed that amount and what do you think would happen if the UK refused to pay.
            As for the black hole you mention George Osborne was hoping to close this gap by the year 2020 and to do so would impose certain restraints on the British people. But find it surprising you came up with no answers to other comments made. Just a reader and a follower I suppose

          • Carlos, you go off on a tangent of different issues, and then say people are not answering you. The billions mentioned would not be “wiped clear” if we remained in the EU as you have totally misunderstood how money in the union is allocated and dispersed. You make it out to be a simple debit and credit-style transaction – if only it was that simple! Go and read here: “http://ec.europa.eu/budget/explained/myths/myths_en.cfm”.

            I do not know what would happen if the UK did not pay, but it is clear that it certainly would not help the UK with respect to future relations and deals with the EU. Don’t forget that a recent UK poll showed that people who voted to leave the EU want the best exit deal with the EU.

  2. Lets see…
    Austria far-right candidate Norbert Hofer was defeated in presidential poll
    Mr Van der Bellen called the result a vote for a “pro-European” Austria based on “freedom, equality and solidarity”.
    First prognosis: WRONG.

    The truth is, since Brexit, the EU is stronger and more united than ever.
    Nobody wants to be out of the single market, and nobody wants to be isolated when you have to negotiate with China, Russia, NAFTA, etc.

    In brief, nobody wants to be in Britain´s shoes.

    Now, Britain and its colonies are not part of the EU anymore, try to focus on your own problems,

  3. In my opinion the article is missing the point that the issue here is not about political right or left , or nationalism. the core issue here is the fail of the aberrant neoliberal ideology. An ideology that promised prosperity for all by the mean of reducing the legal bounds and the promotion of globalism, has impoverished of the 80% of the population of the indrustial countries and is frightening them because they see that the massive inmigration is provoking huge social and ethnics problems.

    The fail of the neoliberalism is not owed for his wrong hypotesis, is owed to the reality that the global economic system is suffering a terminal economic crisis motivated by the facts that this system not can increase more , and the energetic commodities are diminishing.

  4. Carlos,
    just one point about your post – there is not one system of taxation – do you really think that Juncker would give up on the tax dodging schemes he created. Do you think that Ireland and the Netherlands are going to stop their schemes on minimal corporation tax/Ireland or the Dutch and British with their corrupt nom dom tax arrangements – it’s never going to happen.

    As to what the EU is going to demand I know what a truly strong representative government would do – tell the EU to KOA – problem solved.

    • Stuart, you are talking about the future not the present. It had been mentioned that the EU wishes to have a one tax system but naturally this will not effect the UK cause we will be out.

  5. No Carlos, I’m talking about what exists right now and has done for decades. It’s never going to change. A long time ago I learned to never believe what a politician said, they will promise anything to get elected or to stay on the gravy train.

    Those Remainers at the top will do anything to not lose their particular gravy train. They are the ones who will lose if we decouple from the corrupt business organisation – the EU. Sadly there are serfs who neither gain or lose who will support them – camp followers, who will follow anyone whom promises not to make them take responsibility for their own lives, check out the 20th century for examples – brownshirts,blackshirts and redshirts by the million.

  6. Fred your reply on 11 Dec, 2016 @ 23:13 at 23:13 is exactly what I wanted to hear and to confirm that the millions that may need to be paid to the EU would make no difference if we leave or remained, so I don’t know why you happened to mention that fact, in-fact I would go further. Refusal to pay would completely trash the UK’s status, nobody would lend us money and the rates on outstanding loans, (those that weren’t called in immediately), would rocket up to unmanageable levels. So basically an agreement needs to be reached as to the amount and not the amount stated purely by the EU. Besides one needs to consider it may be worth the cost due to us not being a part of the EU and perhaps many other country’s trade agreements would compensate that payment over the years. What’s that old saying, “Rome wasn’t build in a day” including the name of “Great Britain”.

    • Carlos, please remember that a hypothetical answer is not a fact. Only time will tell if the funds that the UK no longer pay to EU in the future will be worth it in terms of all the benefits eventually gained. Many are still saying that the UK might have to continue paying the EU for a time (unknown as of yet).

  7. Carlos, your wrong. Nobody least of all myself is saying that we would renage on our worldwide debts. If we were going to do that we should have done so in 1945 and told the USA what it could do re. the infamous ‘Leaselend’. The Austrians and Germans got off scot free from all debts or reparations, thanks to the paranoia of the Americans wanting a buffer between them and the Soviets. That was the economic miracle that the Germans boast about.

    The EU deliberately targeted British businesses with ‘pimp’ money to relocate to Eastern Europe. Far from giving this shyster organisation any money we should make them an offer they can’t refuse to pay back money to us – the Luxembourgers/Irish and Dutch can cough up. Logistically the Brits hold all the aces, we control all the access routes into and out of Europe. Let’s make the Swiss and Germans clean up their chemical businesses that have turned the Rhine and it’s tributaries into toxic avenues that then dump into the North Sea. In 10 years I saw the water from the Maas river turn from a healthy colour to something that the Dutch have to forbid anyone to enter due to the toxicity. If you don’t act from strength others will think you are weak and act accordingly.

    • Stuart, Fred and I were talking about the amount that the EU is requesting from the UK not the UK’s Worldwide debt. Besides I thought an agreement would be bilateral and not unilateral that’s the reason UK has said the amount being mentioned by the EU was ridicules. Remember also the UK have Billions invested in the IMF which the UK could withdraw from funding in the future.

  8. Carlos,
    you did’nt read my post, I was completely clear on this point. Actually if a major player like the UK told all who held their paper what to do with it would completely crash the worldwide Ponzi scheme in a moment. Just what do you think would have happened in 2008 if more than Lehmans was allowed to go under.

    I find it hilarious that there are so many dummies who think that fiat currencies actually have any ‘real’ value. Maybe before Bretton Woods, major currencies did but now?

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