Posts Tagged ‘Macron’

Macron backs sanctions on EU states that refuse migrants

June 23, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron came out Saturday in support of financial sanctions against EU countries which refuse to accept migrants.

“We can not have countries that benefit hugely from EU solidarity and claim national self-interest when it comes to the issue of migrants,” he said at a press conference in Paris alongside Spain‘s new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

© Ludovic Marin, AFP | France’s President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to the Élysée Palace on June 23.

“I am in favour of sanctions being imposed in the event of no cooperation,” he said.

On the eve of a mini-summit about the divisive migration issue, the two leaders also declared support for the creation of closed reception centres where migrants would be held while their asylum claims are considered.


The centres would be set up near to where migrants often arrive first in Europe.

“Once on European soil, we are in favour of setting up closed centres in accordance with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)… so that each country takes people who are entitled to asylum in an organised way,” Macron said.

There are currently no closed migrant centres where applications are processed, with the exception of a few cases in Greece and Italy managed by the UNHCR.

For migrants not entitled to asylum, they should be returned directly to their country of origin and not via other countries, Macron added.



More Trouble for Germany’s Merkel: Markus Söder accuses Angela Merkel of trying to buy support from EU countries over the issue of asylum seekers

June 20, 2018
Criticism of German chancellor adds to tension between coalition partners

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The CSU’s Markus Söder, left, in effect accused Angela Merkel, right, of trying to buy the support of other EU countries over the issue of asylum seekers

By Guy Chazan in Berlin and Claire Jones in Sintra 

The Bavarian sister party of German chancellor Angela Merkel has attacked her agreement with French president Emmanuel Macron on creating a eurozone budget, opening up a new front in the escalating conflict within her conservative bloc.

Markus Söder, premier of Bavaria and a senior figure in the state’s Christian Social Union, a close ally of Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats, in effect accused the chancellor of trying to buy the support of other EU countries over the issue of asylum seekers by making them financial promises.

He said Berlin should not “try to use German payments to arrive at certain solutions”.

“We can’t now launch additional shadow budgets or try to soften the currency’s stability,” he told reporters.

At a summit outside Berlin on Tuesday, Ms Merkel and Mr Macron agreed to set up a eurozone budget, which they said would strengthen economic convergence within the single currency area.

It was one of a number of reform proposals first set out by Mr Macron last year, aimed at overhauling and strengthening the EU. But many in Ms Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc fear such a tool would lead to bigger financial risks for German taxpayers.

There was, however, cautious backing from Ms Merkel’s CDU parliamentary group. Eckhardt Rehberg, spokesman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group for budgetary policy, said it was in line with ideas Ms Merkel had already put forward for deepening the single currency area.

However, he added that “a lot is still unclear and must be spelled out in greater detail — such as how big the budget will be and how big Germany’s contributions will be”.

Though there were few details on the eurozone budget, the fact that Ms Merkel accepted the concept at all was seen as a big concession to Mr Macron.

In exchange, Mr Macron offered his support on the issue of asylum seekers, saying France was prepared to do a bilateral deal with Germany to take back some refugees turned away at the German border.

The issue is at the heart of a rumbling dispute between the Bavarian CSU and Ms Merkel’s CDU that last week flared up into a full-blown crisis.

The row began when Ms Merkel rejected a proposal by Horst Seehofer, the interior minister and CSU leader, to give German border police powers to turn away refugees who had already applied for asylum in other EU countries.

Ms Merkel said the move would trigger a “domino effect”, endanger the Schengen passport-free area and ultimately undermine the “whole project of European integration”. She has instead called for a pan-European solution to the asylum issue.

The two parties called a truce on Monday when Mr Seehofer gave the chancellor two weeks to strike bilateral deals that would allow for rejected asylum seekers to be sent back to the EU countries where they had first been registered.

The EU will hold a mini-summit on Ms Merkel’s initiative this weekend to discuss the matter. Mr Seehofer has warned that he would unilaterally enforce his new policy if Ms Merkel fails to reach satisfactory deals with other EU states. The chancellor said that would infringe on her powers, a hint that she would be forced to sack Mr Seehofer if he went ahead. Such a move could trigger a split between the CDU and CSU, and bring down a government that has only existed for three months.

Inside Germany’s refugee crisis

At Tuesday’s meeting, Ms Merkel said she expected to win support from her CDU/CSU parliamentary group for all the agreements reached during the summit.

But some officials were sceptical. “Personally I’m concerned that the asylum issue is now being linked to the question of eurozone reform, since the two things are happening in parallel,” said one official. “And that could make it even harder to get it through the CDU/CSU.”

Meanwhile, some economists expressed disappointment with the results of the Merkel-Macron summit. Vítor Constâncio, a former vice-governor of the European Central Bank, said on Twitter that while there were “a few positives on defence and migration”, on economic and monetary union the document that emerged from the summit was “not fit for purpose”.

Gilles Moëc, economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said it was not enough for the proposed eurozone budget to focus on “convergence and innovation”. “What is crucial is cyclical stabilisation and here is falls short of what is needed — especially now the ECB is removing its support,” he said.

Freedom in Society: Why Order is Necessary for Freedom

June 20, 2018

‘Call me Mr. President’: France’s Macron scolds disrespectful teenager

On Monday, it was a French teen’s turn to ruffle President Emmanuel Macron’s feathers.

Macron had stopped to greet fans and snap a few pictures after a visit to the Mont Valérien fort near Paris. The memorial honors the many French Resistance members killed during World War II.

One young man caught his attention.

The teen — on the rope line with some friends — sang a couple of lines from the Socialist anthem the “Internationale,” a jab at Macron’s pro-business overhauls. Then, the middle school student greeted Macron with a cheeky, “How’s it going, Manu?” (Manu is a nickname for people named Emmanuel.)

Macron didn’t think it was very funny.

“No, you can’t do that. No, no, no, no,” the French president told the teen.

The young man offered up an embarrassed, “Sorry, Mr. President.”

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But Macron wasn’t done with his lesson.

“You’re here, at an official ceremony, and you should behave,” he said. “You can play the fool, but today it’s the ‘Marseillaise,’ the ‘Chant des Partisans’ [French Resistance song], so you call me Mr. President or sir. Okay? There you go.”

He also told the student he needed to “do things in the right order.”

“The day you want to start a revolution, you study first in order to obtain a degree and feed yourself, okay? And then you can lecture others,” he said.

It was not the first time the prickly president has used colorful language to lash out at critics. Last year, he called opponents of his labor overhauls, which cut social services and weakened worker protections, “slackers.” In a video last week, he told voters the French were spending “crazy amounts of dough” on social security.

He has chastised journalists for having the audacity to ask questions, lecturing them at news conferences and accusing them of acting without a moral code.


Public order is necessary in order for our society to safely function. Without public order, people would do whatever they wanted to do without regard for the impact on others. Our entire society is based on a concept of doing things based on the public good. If people only think of themselves and their agendas, chaos will result.

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Madonna has said her “blowing up the White House” remarks were taken out of context. Maybe this was something better not said…

Madonna: ‘Blowing Up the White House’ Comment Was ‘Taken Wildly Out of Context’

Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee traded over the top insults recently…

Samantha Bee, host of “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” drew intense criticism after using a vulgarity to refer to President Trump’s daughter Ivanka. She apologized, calling her choice of words “inappropriate and inexcusable.” Credit Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TBS


Freedom in Society: Why Order is Necessary for Freedom

Discussions on the relationship between freedom and authority in American public and academic discourse often neglect the necessary role of embodied social rules in making freedom and rational action possible. Following John Stuart Mill, many think of the history of politics as one of liberty struggling against authority. Freedom and order are understood as zero sum: the increase of the one decreases the other. In important ways, however, the freedom of the individual is made possible by public order sustained by a form of social authority, an authority that transcends the individual. Simply put, individual freedom requires a socially enforced order, and when this enforcement is absent, the resulting disorder severely limits freedom. The common commitment not to harm another (i.e., the no-harm principle) is not sufficient for the maximization of individual freedom. The individual has freedom not despite the presence of others, but on account there being others. The individual finds freedom in society.

I argue here that sharing a common life in community is necessary for freedom of action in public.  The various places of public activity—the parks, streets (including crosswalks), markets, libraries, theaters, etc.—each have rules of behavior and conventions that make such places possible to use, participate in, or attend. What constitutes these places includes a set of activities—a set of human ends, and the rules of these places are ancillary to the ends of these places. The absence, neglect, or flouting of these rules undermines the freedom to achieve these ends. Only when the people of any society have mutual commitment to rules and the order of places and follow a principle of conformity can one achieve the ends constituting those places. Further, any rational action to achieve the ends of these places must include a reasonable anticipation that others will follow the rules.


Places and their rules

The moment we step out into the public sphere we assume the social rules of behavior for the place in which we stepped; and as we go from place to place, we unconsciously assume each place’s rules of behavior. Driving to the grocery store, for instance, requires multiple transitions to different sets of rules as we move from place to place. We prepared to begin travel by clothing ourselves appropriately; we drive according to traffic laws (and various courtesies); we park between the lines in the parking lot and yield to pedestrians; we avoid hindering others’ activity in the store; and we wait in line and follow all sorts of rules at the cash register. Many more rules could be listed, including many that overlap between these places. Throughout this process we are unconsciously following rules and adopting new rules as we go from place to place, and the rules are brought to our attention usually only when someone violates them. Without such interruptions, we transition without conscious decision or deliberation.

These rules are so often concealed by habit that they escape our immediate attention and, for that reason, it might be difficult to recognize exactly what I’m referring to. But consider parenting. Much of parenting is the disciplining and training of children in the various rules of places. Children are a blank slate with regard to rules of behavior in different settings and places. Something as obvious as waiting in line must be taught. Waiting in line is, however natural it might seem, a convention, and children must be trained into it. We let them scream and run around at the park, but not in the library or church or in the classroom. There are rules for each room of the house and different rules for the front and back yards. There are rules for the street, crosswalk, and sidewalk. This training is done by pure parent/child authority. That is, parents do not reason with their children; they simply tell them how they are to behave in these places. Parenting is bringing children into a way of life—into a shared common life. It socializes them. Socialization is, in large part, accustoming children to the social rules, behavior, manners, and customs of public places and to unconsciously transition to a different set of rules when moving into a different place.

These rules make the various ends of public life practically possible. One end of a library, for instance, is facilitating space for quiet study. Hence, libraries have rules on talking and often have separate meeting rooms for louder activities. Condoning loud continuous loud activity undermines at least one end of libraries. Upon walking into a library (or a church with reverent architecture) we assume a quieter tone. To buy groceries (or any other product) we must wait in line. If there were no social convention of line-waiting, purchasing when among fellow purchasers would be impossible. Everyone would rush to the counter to achieve their end. Only after agreeing to “first-come-first-serve” could the end be achieved. Public parks, including playgrounds for children, are for safe recreation and have various rules, written and unwritten, conducive to that end. Some social rules apply to many different ends. For example, a child cannot ride a scooter in a library or a grocery store.

Now, rational action includes (with few possible exceptions, such as valorous actions) the reasonable anticipation that one can achieve any action’s end. Hence, any rational action in the public realm requires such reasonable anticipations. And since the presence of others makes possible the hindrance or impossibility of the achievement of one’s public end, one must take into account whether others will follow the rules conducive to that end. Not only must one know that there are rules and that others know the rules, but also know that others will likely follow those rules. If there are no rules or if one knows that others will not follow them, attempting the action is irrational, since one cannot achieve his end. For example, if a society collectively and completely flouts traffic laws, one will likely avoid driving. Achieving the end—travelling to another place—is likely difficult, dangerous, or impossible. The failure to follow the rules not only undermines the freedom to drive. It also could both undermine rapid transit and the possibility of doing certain activities requiring significant travel. A more likely example is the situation where teenagers take over a children’s playground, making it dangerous or impossible for younger children to play there. Anticipating this, parents would either go to another park or choose another activity. If all available parks are taken over by teenagers (or by drug dealers), then the freedom for parents to take their children to playgrounds is undermined.

This shows that the freedom to do any given public activity requires a mutual commitment from the society at large to the rules conducive to the activity’s end. It is not simply the lack of constraint, but the positive commitment to rules that makes achieving public activity possible. Further, rational action necessarily must include the anticipation of mutual commitment to these rules. Freedom cannot exist in anarchy. Freedom, then, requires public order and social discipline.


Human being as being-with-one-another

For most of our lives, however, we do not intentionally deliberate on whether others will follow the rules for the place of our desired end. We do not approach the cash register wondering whether others will wait in line. We do not even consciously assume that they will. As we encountered and experienced our community and the world, discovering what sort of actions have worked out for us and facilitated the achievement of our ends, we adopt pre-reflective habits of action that make deliberation unnecessary. It permits a sort of thoughtless anticipation, allowing us to conduct business through corridors made familiar by past experience and successes in achieving the same or similar ends. And since there is no need to constantly deliberate over others’ potential actions and their effects on the achievement of our own, our everyday mode of being is a being-with others. In other words, we are pre-reflectively always already going about our business in light of and on account of others. Without reflection, we assume and anticipate what others will do. And, for this reason, our life is usually in a state of confidence. Normalcy is the uninterrupted pre-reflective assumption that others are acting in accordance with the rules of the community.

Further, the “others” in the everyday mode of being are not a concrete set of separated beings as if it were a sum of individuals. It is a type of localized, particularized and collectivized being—what Hubert Dreyfus calls “the one”—and one in which we are integrated and into which we are absorbed—into what one might call the life-world. The people of the community are not a “they” (third-person, plural), but a “we” (first-person plural). Though in the pre-reflective mode of being one has a sense of individuality, there is no conscious distinction between me and them. Hence, most of what we do, we do because that is what one does. Our world in this mode of being is not the universe and its great expanse; it is, rather, the way of life of a particular people—a type of shared world. The ‘I’ does not stand out from ‘they.’ Man is not an ‘I’-thing, some independent thinking thing. Certainly, there is an awareness that I am in the grocery store shopping, but the predication already assumes the facilitation, the lack of hindrance, and the mutually embodied rules of collective action for the activity of shopping. It assumes being with others. The human being is fundamentally a for-others being, one that absorbs the way of life of a culture for the sake of the various activities of a people. Hence, human beings are rule-following and rules-embodying creatures because they and their activity are inextricably bound up with others.



Humans are made for civil community; they are made to share in a common life. If I’m correct about the relationship of freedom and order, freedom can exist only in a community. Freedom is possible only among others sharing a common life. Humans are capable of embodying and absorbing this common life by experiencing the life of the community. Indeed, being human means conducting oneself on account of and in light of others, forming a pre-reflective sense of ‘we,’ not ‘I’ or ‘they’. Life in a community fundamentally involves a communicatio—a sharing and making common—which forms a consociation among men. The 17th century political theorist Johannes Althusius argued that this requires a tacit “pledge” among “symbiotes” (i.e., those living together) to bring together “whatever is useful and necessary for the harmonious exercise of social life.” They then become “participants or partners in a common life” (Politica I.2, 6).

Maximizing freedom in a community is not as simple as rigorously tearing down the obstacles in the way of action, for freedom requires some degree of order. The possibility of any freedom necessitates the conditions for that freedom, which includes others following the rules. And in the performance of a public action, one is already tacitly pledging themselves to (or acting in light of and on account of) others. The attempt to shatter social rules can, depending on the rules, shatter freedom. The most disorderly places in the world are also the least free: people are unable to anticipate the actions of others. Their set of possible actions are diminished on account of a disintegration of unity between the ‘I’ and the ‘they.’

Individualism is inimical to human community. It struggles against that structure of human being that seeks a ‘world’ with others, that which constitutes a shared sense of ‘we’ in the everyday. Though natural to human being, we ought to deliberately emphasis the principle of conformity. I do not mean a conformity to evil, but a recognition that freedom necessitates the mutual conformity to rules of behavior and manners. Our desire should be to conform, not to distinguish ourselves or neglect and reject the patterns of others. Nor is it sufficient to merely pledge ourselves to the tolerance of any and all behaviors or manners. Rather, we must seek, each of us, to the formation and cultivation of shared rules, manners, and behavior for the sake of a common life and freedom.

Given that this social phenomena of symbiosis is somewhat concealed by everyday life and remains only partially understood, the task for the reader is to take up a reflective stance towards his or her pre-reflective experiences. One must seek to see things anew and be called out of one’s everyday mode of existence, to see oneself as always already with others and acting for and on account of others. Begin by recognizing the various rules we unconsciously assume as we move from place to place—in other words, notice how we treat our world not as a series of homogenous sites, but as one of variegated places, each having its own roles, conventions, rules, equipment, and ends.

Why does any of this matter? It matters because political/social philosophy must start with a philosophical anthropology, some answer to the question, what is man? The argument above provides an answer in part: man is a social being that achieves freedom in order, not despite it, and absorbs or embodies the habits of his community people such that he can unconsciously take on and assume roles and rules as he moves from place to place. Additionally, this is the beginning of or at least calls for a phenomenology of place, something that conservatives must consider. (See, for example, Jeff Malpas’ Place and Experience.) It is, most importantly, an alternative to the more individualist approaches that dominate much American conservative political theory.


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From United Liberty: What is “Ordered Liberty”?


See also:

The Founding Fathers Never Intended To Create A Direct Democracy


Most French firms ‘won’t be able to stay’ in Iran: minister

June 19, 2018

Most French companies hoping to continue doing business in Iran after the US imposes new sanctions on the country will find it impossible to do so, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Tuesday.

These companies “won’t be able to stay because they need to be paid for the products they deliver to, or build in Iran, and they cannot be paid because there is no sovereign and autonomous European financial institution” capable of shielding them, Le Maire told BFM television.

The new sanctions announced by US President Donald Trump in May after he pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran would punish any foreign firm operating in Iran which also does business with the US or in dollars.

© AFP/File | Renault is the only big French company do defy Trump’s sanctions in Iran

“Our priority is to build independent, sovereign European financial institutions which would allow financing channels between French, Italian, German, Spanish and any other countries on the planet,” Le Maire said.

“It’s up to us Europeans to choose freely and with sovereign power who we want to do business with,” he added.

“The United States should not be the planet’s economic policeman.”

Le Maire and his EU counterparts have been trying to secure exemptions for their firms, many of which rushed back into Iran after the landmark accord curtailing Tehran’s nuclear programme.

French carmaker Renault, which does not sell cars in the US, has said it will remain despite the sanctions.

But French oil group Total and carmaker PSA have already indicated they are likely to pull out of Iran.

Analysts have warned it would be nearly impossible to protect multinationals from the reach of the “extraterritorial” US measures, given the exposure of large banks to the US financial system and dollar transactions.

The first round of the new sanctions, targeting Iran’s auto and civil aviation sectors, are scheduled to go into effect on August 6.

Le Maire’s calls for reinforced European institutions come as French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Germany on Tuesday seeking a roadmap for eurozone reforms with Chancellor Angela Merkel

Macron is pushing for deeper integration, including a common eurozone investment budget; new fiscal rules for tech giants; a harmonised EU corporate tax; and measures to shore up eurozone banks.

The proposals are on the agenda for a key EU summit on June 28-29.

“We’re at the moment of truth for the Franco-German relationship, and the moment of truth for the eurozone as a whole,” Le Maire said.

“In the next few hours, either the president and the chancellor reach an accord on these four points, and they will have made a major stop toward reinforcing the eurozone, that is to say our economic stability and our financial security,” he said.

“Or else, we’re not able to sign a deal, and we enter — I don’t hesitate to say it — a turbulent time for the eurozone.”

The EU is facing an existential crisis – but it is migration, not Brexit, that will be its undoing

June 18, 2018

Alongside sunburnt Brits, they are one of the modern staples at Southern Europe’s popular tourist spots: Arab and African men selling tourist tat. These men (and occasional woman) come from many places. Some will have escaped conscription or slavery in Eritrea; others have gone in search of a better life from a poor but peaceful village in Tunisia or Senegal.


The Telegraph

If they can raise enough cash and get a spot on a boat crossing the Mediterranean, their odds of getting to Europe are high – 98 per cent make it. That is why people keep trying. But once here, joining society isn’t easy. Even those with strong legal asylum cases have to wait months to be assessed. So they end up sleeping rough and hawking fake designer handbags.

When I was a student, I used to think that a land without borders could be a cosmopolitan idyll, where different peoples exchanged ideas and voted freely for governments with their feet.


Migrants being rescued by staff members of the MV Aquarius earlier this month

Migrants being rescued by staff members of the MV Aquarius earlier this month CREDIT: REUTERS

But now we’re seeing what it really looks like: squalid camps in train stations and ports, a thriving people-trafficking industry and a growing underclass of informal workers in places that already have millions of unemployed. As a result, we’ve seen the rise of far-right parties across Europe and the start of what could well be a gradual erosion of the EU project.

The migration surge has been fuelled by technology and growing wealth, which have for the first time brought the means to flee conflict and migrate economically within the reach of millions.

The EU hasn’t created this situation, but with its migration policies, it has removed from national governments the means to address it and, with its legal structure, it has neutered Brussels’ ability to step in instead, since national politicians can’t agree on an approach. And the more that pro-EU politicians try to collectivise policy, the more they fan the flames of populist revolt.

Italy’s disorderly government has raised the temperature. Last week, new interior minister Matteo Salvini ordered Sicilian ports to turn away a ship of 629 migrants from Africa. “There are no homes and jobs for all Italians, let alone for half the African continent,” he said.

Since the “Balkan route” into Europe was closed by Hungarian and Austrian barbed wire fences, Italy has been the entry point of choice into Europe. Last year, over 172,000 migrants arrived there by sea. This year, it’s 61,000 so far. Italy’s unemployment rate, meanwhile, is 11 per cent.

Ignoring this politically explosive context, French president Emmanuel Macron quickly accused Mr Salvini of “cynicism and irresponsibility”.

When the rejected boat found safe harbour in Valencia, under Spain’s socialist government, Mr Macron promised to allow its passengers residency in France – provided their asylum claims are valid. This, of course, is part of the problem.

Assessing claims can take years and Italy is overwhelmed. Rather than become part of a processing backlog, which may require documents they don’t have, most migrants disappear into the black market when they arrive. Nearly 1 per cent of Italy’s population – or 500,000 people – are now thought to be illegal immigrants, most of whom arrived in the last five years.

Of course, the prospect of life in Italy often isn’t the lure for migrants. Many would prefer to end up in Germany or Sweden: places with plenty of jobs and generous asylum systems. Pointing out the pan-European nature of the problem, Rome has for years been begging Brussels for help in policing the Mediterranean and taking in migrants. But the EU won’t pay up and can’t alter its rules on distributing migrants because national governments won’t agree.

© Michael Kappeler, AFP | German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves the Reichstag housing the Bundestag after a meeting with the leadership of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party on June 14, 2018 in Berlin.

Now, the migration issue is even wearing away the solid consensus politics of Germany. Shaken by the sudden rise of the hard-right AfD party, Germany’s centre-right is fracturing. The anti-immigration hardliners are led by Horst Seehofer, interior minister and leader of the Bavarian CSU party.

He has threatened to pull out of Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition and collapse the government if she won’t agree to start turning away many non-EU migrants at the German border. Ms Merkel is now scrambling to convene a hasty intergovernmental meeting to get agreement on migration reforms before the EU-wide summit at the end of June. She’s unlikely to succeed.

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Angela Merkel is at odds with her interior minister Horst Seehofer over the treatment of asylum seekers © Reuters
Tobias Buck in Berlin and Alex Barker in Brussels

The problem is that on migration, as with the euro, Europe is stuck. Its pro-Brussels politicians would like to share out new migrants more evenly between member states, relieving Italy and Greece and requiring more of Germany and France.

But these same politicians face furious challengers at home who are determined not to let that happen. Anti-EU politicians, meanwhile, fall into two camps. The first, like Italy’s government, castigate the EU for piling the burden into frontline states and refusing to help them.

The second, in power in Hungary and Poland, rage against the EU for trying to make them accept any migrants.

The result is that the EU cannot do much to alleviate the migration pressure, but nor will it let national governments take control. We are therefore likely to see a gradual erosion of the EU legal order as governments take matters into their own hands whether Brussels likes it or not, erecting fences, building detention centres and turning away boats.

Over time, power will move organically away from supra-national EU institutions, back towards governments and the negotiations between them. Ms Merkel’s desire for an intergovernmental migration summit is itself a clear sign of this shift.

The more that Eurocrats resist this trend, the more unpopular they will become. And that will manifest itself in the European Parliament, one of its three main power centres, where voters are likely to start installing more Eurosceptics.

Mr Macron is already scared that Marine Le Pen’s vote share in next year’s EP elections could exceed his. Those elections will be the first held without Britain, but instead of withering away, its Eurosceptic groups will simply start to realign.

I still don’t expect the EU to collapse dramatically, as many Brexiteers have been forecasting for years. But its sacred cows – like free movement and the Schengen zone – will become vulnerable. Its edicts will start to lose force and its authority will shrivel.

Hopefully, this will herald a peaceful and pragmatic transition to a looser, less federal EU. For migrants, more power for national governments will mean a much harsher environment. What’s not clear is whether national governments will have any more success than Brussels in slowing the demographic tide.


Erdogan, Macron discuss Manbij roadmap agreed with US, regional issues

June 17, 2018

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron held a phone call Saturday in which the two leaders discussed the roadmap for northern Syrian town of Manbij, recently agreed with the U.S., in addition to a number of regional and bilateral issues, sources from the Turkish presidency said.

Erdoğan pointed out that the agreement with the U.S. over Manbij could lead to a larger cooperation between Ankara and Washington in Syria.

 FILE photo

The two leaders also discussed the recent developments in Syria, the fight against terrorism and the flight of migrants.

Erdoğan and Macron highlighted the importance of cooperation between Turkey and France in regional issues, and agreed to resume their close contact in the aftermath of the presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24.

Last Monday, a Manbij roadmap was announced after a meeting in Washington between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The deal focuses on the withdrawal of the PKK-affiliated the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the northern Syrian city and stability in the region.

The process will involve a 10-day preparation period that started Tuesday June 5, before YPG militants start withdrawing. They will withdraw in 20 days, after which Turkish forces will be deployed to pacify the region and train local forces to establish security. The YPG will be withdrawing to the east of the Euphrates River.

Ankara has been long criticizing the U.S. on the grounds that Daesh cannot be defeated by supporting another terrorist group such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is predominantly led by the YPG.

Ankara stresses that U.S. arms support to these terrorist groups will create further instability in the region and calls for withdrawal of the groups from Syria in order to pave way for returning Syrians to their country.

U.S. military support for the YPG terrorist group in Manbij has strained ties between Ankara and Washington and has led to fears of military clashes between the two NATO allies since there are roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in the city. On Jan. 20, Turkey initiated Operation Olive Branch in northern Syria to clear Daesh and PKK-linked terrorist groups, including the YPG and SDF, from the region. After liberating Syria’s Afrin on March 18 alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Turkish forces pressed on toward the goal of eliminating all terrorists west of the Euphrates. The U.S., however, along with France, has intensified its military presence in Manbij, providing increased support for YPG-stocked SDF forces in northern Syria.

France to take in Aquarius ship migrants

June 16, 2018

Madrid said Saturday it had accepted an offer from France to take in migrants from the Aquarius rescue ship, currently en route to Spain with more than 600 people on board.

“The French government will work together with the Spanish government to handle the arrival of the migrants” scheduled for Sunday, Spain’s deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo said in a statement.

Image result for Aquarius, ship, photos

“France will accept migrants who express the wish to go there” once they have been processed in Valencia, the statement said.

The vessel is at the heart of a major migration row between European Union member states.

Chartered by a French aid group, the vessel rescued 629 migrants including many children and pregnant women off Libya’s cost last weekend.

Italy’s new populist government and Malta refused to let it dock in their ports, accusing each other of failing to meet their humanitarian and EU commitments.

© Medecins Sans Frontieres/AFP | This handout picture from French non-governmental organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres shows migrants on board the MV Aquarius as it makes it way to Spain after being refused permission to dock in Italy

Spain eventually stepped in and agreed to receive the refugees.

France — who had angered Rome by branding it irresponsible over the vessel rejection — offered Thursday to welcome Aquarius migrants who “meet the criteria for asylum”.

The ship is making the 1,500-kilometre (930-mile) voyage to Spain accompanied by an Italian coast guard vessel, which has taken on board some of the migrants.

High waves and winds forced the convoy to take a detour on the way.

The plight of the Aquarius has again highlighted the failure of EU member states to work together to deal with the influx of migrant arrivals since 2015.

After Rome’s decision to ban the Aquarius, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met on Friday and agreed that the EU should set up asylum processing centres in Africa to prevent “voyages of death.”

They also demanded “profound” changes to the EU’s asylum rules which put the migrant burden on their port of entry to Europe — mainly Italy and Greece.

Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini warned Saturday that other NGO operated rescue ships would also be banned from docking.


Italy bans more migrant rescue boats — No “human cargo” in Italy’s ports

June 16, 2018

Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Saturday warned another migrant rescue mission off the Libyan coast that it would not be allowed to land its “human cargo” at an Italian port.

The new rightwing and anti-immigrant Italian government last week banned the French NGO operated vessel the Aquarius, with more than 600 rescued migrants on board, from docking in Italy, causing uproar and a sharp spat with France.

© SOS MEDITERRANEE/AFP | A migrant onboard the Aquarius rescue ship as it heads towards Spain

Spain subsequently offered to take the Aquarius and it is expected at the port of Valencia on Sunday.

Salvini showed no sign Saturday of softening his position.

“While the Aquarius is sailing towards Spain, two other Dutch NGO operated vessels (Lifeline and Seefuchs) have arrived off the Libyan coast, to wait for their human cargos once the people smugglers abandon them,” Salvini said in a Facebook post.

“These people should know that Italy no longer wants to be any part of this business of clandestine immigration and they will have to look for other ports to go to,” he said.

“As minister and as a father, I take this action for the benefit of all,” he added.

After Rome’s decision to ban the Aquarius, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met on Friday and agreed that the EU should set up asylum processing centres in Africa to prevent “voyages of death.”

At their meeting in Paris, Macron and Conte also demanded “profound” changes to the EU’s asylum rules which put the migrant burden on their port of entry to Europe — mainly Italy and Greece.


Merkel Says Immigration Requires a “European Solution”

June 16, 2018

Migration is an issue that demands a European solution, German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Saturday, giving no ground in a showdown with her Bavarian allies that threatens her three-month-old coalition.

The row is over Merkel’s rejection of plans by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, from Bavaria, for Germany unilaterally to send back migrants who have registered in other European Union countries.

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Defiant Merkel backs Europe migrant policy as Bavaria row simmers

Such a reversal of her 2015 open-door migrant policy would be a huge blow to the authority of Merkel, in power for more than 12 years, and undermine the Schengen open-border system at a time when EU tensions over migration are running high.

In her weekly podcast, three days before talks between Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron outside Berlin, the chancellor hammered home her stance:

“This is a European challenge that also needs a European solution. And I view this issue as decisive for keeping Europe together,” she said.

Merkel wants two weeks to try to strike bilateral deals with partners, such as Italy and Greece, on migrants and to make progress at an EU summit on June 28-29 on an EU-wide policy.

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in Berlin, Germany, June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi/File Photo

Seehofer’s Christian Social Union (CSU), facing a tough state vote in October, doesn’t want to wait. Members say the minister will defy Merkel on Monday if no compromise has been reached by then, and go ahead with the plans alone.

Such an affront to Merkel could force her to fire Seehofer, and there is even talk of the end of the 70-year conservative parliamentary alliance between Bavaria and Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

Without the CSU, the CDU and Social Democrats (SPD), the third party in her “grand coalition”, would lack a majority.

Last week, Merkel confronted the risk of losing the full support of her own CDU, many of whom support the CSU’s tougher line. But she won over a majority of her lawmakers on Thursday and most are now behind her.

Merkel’s refugee policy, which has led to more than 1.6 million migrants arriving in Germany in the last three years, is widely blamed for a surge in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which entered parliament after a September election and is the main opposition party.

In her podcast, Merkel also said Germany and France, the EU’s strongest axis despite some differences, would try to give new momentum to European cooperation on foreign, defense and security policy to contribute to a strong and unified Europe.

She also said the partners would work on further developing the economic and currency union and innovation.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers, editing by Larry King




French special forces on the ground in Yemen

June 16, 2018

French special forces are present on the ground in Yemen with forces from the United Arab Emirates, French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Saturday, citing two military sources.

The newspaper gave no further information about their activities. The Defence Ministry was not immediately available for comment, but its usual policy is not to comment on special forces’ operations.

A French parliamentary source recently told Reuters French special forces were in Yemen.

Forces from an Arab alliance entered the airport in Yemen’s main port city on Saturday, in the biggest battle of the coalition’s war against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

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File Photo

The French Defence Ministry said on Friday that France was studying the possibility of carrying out a mine-sweeping operation to provide access to the port of Hodeidah once the coalition had wrapped up its military operations.

The ministry stressed that France at this stage had no military operations in the Hodeidah region and was not part of the Saudi-led coalition.

France, along with the United States and Britain, backs the Arab coalition in the Yemen conflict and provides weapons to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas and John Irish; Editing by Adrian Croft