26 may 2014, eurosclerosis

So the results are in, as expected (see the tide rises, the tide falls, below) but more so. The front nationale's win in france is spectacular, as is ukip's, for all that it was predicted. There are other big stories, though overall the mainstream pro-european parties keep a clear majority and the extremes are unlikely to unite. This suggests that beyond a high-pitched media period, europe will set about its new cycle of work, starting with key appointments, which the national governments (not "europe") make. Well-known to me as former head of the eurogroup, jean-claude juncker (see in celebration of, 18 june 2011) may or may not get the most important post of commission president. It is worth noting he is a former prime-minister and a man of the council (governments), not the parliament, despite their laying claim. The election results head off the risk that the commission will be more politicised: this will remain a grand coalition at the eu-level. These landmark elections though are significant, but its transmission mechanism is through national politics. Even merkel will be warier of her eurosceptic flank (in germany mild-mannered professors took a stunning, though still small, 7 seats), let alone hollande, anyway-sceptic cameron and a further dozen states, making progression on federalism in this term, even for the euro area, harder. It raises the chances of a uk-led decentralisation getting traction, for which all eyes will be on merkel, especially if cameron starts deploying his caucus to shore up merkel's epp in the parliament, despite leaving a few years ago. Compromising on free movement (on which sarkozy looks to be making his comeback pitch, saying much about france's solidifying outsider status) is surely off the table, but even there, things like alternative transitional controls for future members will be ok, as might other things that genuinely represent less europe, such as justice or agriculture (a natural anglo-german alliance). From a little englander perspective though, all that is just eurobabble, and if anyone thinks it might swing a referendum in 2017, they are wrong. On the contrary, every event seems to move the uk inexorably toward ending its 40-year experiment with eu membership (see sleepwalking towards the exit, 27 february 2014). Beneath the colourful commentary, that is the simple, strong and searing conclusion of the uk election results.