Dutch Hope for Smooth Brexit, Russians Have Little Faith in Trump
Mehreen Khan reports for the Financial Times that the Dutch are lobbying both sides in the Brexit negotiations: They are pleading with the Brits to decide what they want and trying to ensure in Brussels that the United Kingdom is given plenty of room to reverse course or rethink red lines, whether it be on the customs union or anything else.
The reason: close relations across the North Sea.
Britain’s erstwhile continental ally has been a reliable partner on everything from EU budget contributions to the single market but is now uniquely exposed to the economic and emotional side-effects of Brexit.
In France, by contrast, attitudes have hardened. Since Emmanuel Macron’s election last summer, the share of French voters who wish Britain would change its mind has fallen. Tony Barber argues that Brexit is now seen not a loss but a potential gain to France. Read more
Ruud Lubbers Played Small Role in East-West Nuclear Diplomacy
Former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers died on Wednesday at the age of 78. A Christian Democrat, he was the country’s longest-serving prime minister, leading three coalition governments between 1982 and 1994.
I had a chance to interview Lubbers when I interned for the Dutch weekly Elsevier in 2012. We were working on an India edition and Lubbers was known to have a relationship with the Gandhis.
In his flat in Rotterdam, Lubbers told me about his first meeting with Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian prime minister, in 1985. Read more
Avoidable Resignations in DC, An Unavoidable Resignation in Germany
Donald Trump has recently lost two more staffers: Rob Porter and David Sorensen. Both have been accused by ex-wifes of domestic abuse.
The reason this is a big story is that the president and his staff have given contradictory statements about what they knew, when they knew it and whether or not Porter in particular deserved the benefit of the doubt.
The specifics are of little political consequence, but the scandal does underscore what a terrible manager Trump is (although we already knew that) and what a terrible effect he has on the people who work for him.
David A. Graham argues in The Atlantic that Team Trump doesn’t have a chaos problem. It has a dishonesty problem. “Insofar as the administration is engulfed in chaos, it is a result of its inability to tell the truth.”
Conor Friedersdorf writes in the same magazine that Trump has corrupted the conservative movement. “I expect that its moral failures will echo across American politics for years, undermining the right’s ability to credibly advance its best and worst alike.”
Ezra Klein blames Trump’s volatility in Vox. “No one knows quite what he will do or say or want, and so staffers spend their days working on deals and plans that they know could be wrecked by a tweet or a late-night phone call or something the president saw on Fox & Friends.” Read more
Merkel Pays High Price, Dutch Intervene in Caribbean
Germany’s Social Democrats have played a losing hand extraordinarily well, the Financial Times reports.
Despite winning only 20 percent support in the election — their worst result in postwar history and 13 points behind the Christian Democrats — the center-left will have six ministries in the new government, including finance, foreign affairs and labor, and it extracted significant spending concessions from the conservatives. Expect the pro-business Free Democrats, as well as rightwingers in Merkel’s own party, to pounce.
And yet it may not be enough. Among the 460,000 Social Democratic Party members who need to approve the deal before it can go through, there is reluctance to partner with Merkel a third time. Their fear is that the two centrist parties are becoming indistinguishable. Read more
Netherlands Has Responsibility to Lead After Brexit: Rutte
The Netherlands has a responsibility to lead after Brexit and worries that Germany is putting too much faith in “more Europe”, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said.
In an interview with the Sunday morning talk show Buitenhof, the liberal party leader pointed out that he had recently held summits with other Benelux nations, the Balts, Central Europeans and Nordics.
Unusually, he took a stab at Germany, where the next government is expected to be more integrationist.
“Of course, Germany can transfer more money to Europe,” Rutte said in jest. “I have no objection to that. We take a different view.” Read more
Brexit and Fear of Populism Inform Rutte’s Opposition to Macron
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is leading the opposition to Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for closer European integration, warning a liberal conference in Amsterdam this weekend that “integration for integration’s sake” will undermine public support for the EU.
“The EU needs to solve problems that we, as individual member states, cannot solve alone,” he said. “A federal Europe is not the answer to those problems and neither is a politics based on symbolism.”
There are two reasons Rutte is skeptical of Macron’s ideas, which range from creating a common eurozone budget to harmonizing tax rates and social security fees: fear of anti-EU populism and Brexit. Read more