, 17 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
#Brexit continues to dominate UK debate and indeed our own coverage. But what about #EU risks in 2019? Thread for us EU watchers: @CER_Grant @JeremyCliffe @MMQWalker @MehreenKhn @pmdfoster @aqbyrne @PedderSophie @tom_nuttall @clichfield1 @FSanti_ @BBCkatyaadler
1/ % of May’s deal passing are rising. DUP/Eurosceptics sounding more conciliatory; big mood change yesterday. But still v long way to go. ERG suspect May will hide behind Commons on A50 extension. Peace moves could be overtaken by events (backbench amendments)
2/ EU’s concern with Brexit is growing; no longer simple occupation of TF50, WPA50, COREPER and Sherpas; many more voices now involved as clock runs down to no-deal. But #Brexit still not biggest concern for EU—yet. So what is?
3/ First, Macron. Not economics, but politics; concessions to pacify Gilets Jaunes still keep deficit overshoot close to 3%; as one-off and likely reversed next year, no risk of EDP
4/ Yet while politics looking slightly better (Macron up 4 points, engaged in demanding consultation process), still lots of scepticism in Bxl and beyond he can now use #EP2019 to reboot his Presidency and EU reforms—his original plan
5/ Second, #EP2019. Populists unlikely to gain a majority; won’t organise into a single political family. But we expect more co-operation at EU-level (Salvini/Kaczynski meet took lots of prep; fact they went public has raised concerns in Bxl there’s some minimal agreement)
6/ Risk of fragmented @EU_Commission also real. Key will be strength of new Com President and his/her team to manage internal debate within a College comprised of more populist Commissioners
7/ Spitz probs dead. As @CER_Grant rightly points out, no support for it in Paris. Berlin also sceptical. EP institutionally has incentive to support process, but parties within EP hold mixed views; #Socialists playing compensation game, don’t think #EPP should be given free ride
8/ Connecting above three points: no decision in Elysee regarding whether they’d prefer top job at Commission or ECB. But will Macron have agency to push through someone ambitious (@vestager), or will he have to accept default candidate (@MichelBarnier)? A question being pondered
9/ Third, Italy. Risk history repeats itself in Autumn. Basis for recent standoff/EDP was 1) Rome’s failure to meet 2017 EU debt/structural deficit targets and 2) 2019 budgetary plans. But April Eurostat data will make clear 2018 EU debt/structural targets have again been missed
10/ 2019 budget execution also likely to be a problem, especially if growth falters significantly. So risk of another Brussels-Rome spat remains. Recent deal has at least 3 dissenting camps within Commission (let alone Council), but still likely new College will pick up mess
11/ Salvini led-right wing Govt might be easier for Bxl to deal with than 5S-League coalition, but this certainly not a given
12/ Fourth, Poland and Hungary. PiS will use populist measures to broaden support but is unlikely to gain a majority in Autumn’s elections; what are implications of a more vulnerable PiS in a coalition Govt with other right-wing parties?
13/ Protests had Fidesz Govt on backfoot, opposition more organised. But Orban likely to make his numbers and agenda count after #EP2019. Presents biggest risk for MFF, but progress on other areas too
14/ Other things to watch, but not top of mind: 2019 Southern Europe election cycle (early elex likely in Italy, Spain and Greece; elex also in Portugal). All create policy risk
15/ Germany: Autumn important, as SPD review their participation in Grand Coalition; smooth transition also still probs requires Merkel to step down early (as if AKK not next Chancellor, Merkel allies suspect she won’t survive CDU infighting)
16/ Seems there’s still lots for EU to be thinking about besides #Brexit
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