With Britain’s exit from the European Union, France sees an opening

I was quoted today in the Washington Post in an article by Paris reporter James McCauley on opportunities for France in the wake of Brexit:

According to Vivien Schmidt, the Jean Monnet professor of European integration at Boston University, the major shift away from a French-led Europe came in the 1990s, when the European single market embraced a host of neoliberal economic polices, including the deregulation of telecommunications and, later, of electricity, both opposed by France.

“Basically, it’s no longer the French leading,” she said. “It’s a set of policies that don’t sit well with the idea of the French state being in control.”

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The Rise of the Fringe: A Threat to Democracy?

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See my comments in Kaitlin Lavinder’s article on The Cipher Brief on the rise of Euro-skepticism and the growing popularity of candidates who are political outsiders:

“Euro-skepticism has been increasing more generally across Europe, along with disenchantment with national political elites,” explains Boston University professor Vivien Schmidt, who is also the founding director of BU’s Center for the Study of Europe.

The Eurozone crisis, the refugee crisis, and the security crisis (that is the heightened threat of terrorist attacks on the continent) all contribute to a loss of trust in mainstream parties and the “steady rise” of populist parties across Europe, says Schmidt.

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Photo: Anna Omelchenko

European Democracy in a Parlous State

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See my op-ed at The Cipher Brief on the state of European Democracy after Brexit:

Democracy in Europe is in a parlous state at the moment. The British vote for exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU) has highlighted deep-seated problems with democracy at both the EU and national levels. But it would be a mistake to think that this means the EU is undemocratic, or that Brexit spells the break-up of the EU. Rather, it shows that in the EU, even more so than in the U.S., politics has become increasingly volatile as citizens punish political elites for gridlocked governing processes and policies that don’t work.

The Brexit referendum was dominated by a populist campaign focused on immigration in order to “take back control” from the EU, which was depicted as an over-regulated, undemocratic superstate.

The same kinds of complaints voiced about the EU in the Brexit campaign are mirrored in most European countries, by the likes of, for example, Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, who have also called for referenda on the EU. Euro-skepticism has been increasing more generally across Europe, along with disenchantment with national political elites. This is evidenced by the loss of trust in mainstream parties, the steady rise of populist parties on both the extreme-left and the extreme-right, and the rapid turnover of incumbent governments. The EU’s other crises have also played their part, including the Eurozone crisis, the refugee crisis, and the security crisis. The EU’s poor management of all of these crises has been another reason why dissatisfied citizens across Europe, not just the British, may be asking why they should belong to such a Union.

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Photo: European Parliament