Italy Backs Down from Budget Fight with EU

Italian labor minister and Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio eyes Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during a news conference in Rome, July 3
Italian labor minister and Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio eyes Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during a news conference in Rome, July 3 (Governo Italiano)

The leaders of Italy’s ruling populist parties have backed down from a fight with the European Commission over their 2019 budget.

Luigi Di Maio, the labor minister and leader of the Five Star Movement, and Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and leader of the far-right League, said after a meeting on Sunday that they had given their blessing to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s revised spending plan, which reduces next year’s shortfall from 2.4 to 2 percent of GDP. Read more

Europe Once Again Proves the Doomsayers Wrong

View of Brussels, Belgium from the Mont des Arts, May 20, 2010
View of Brussels, Belgium from the Mont des Arts, May 20, 2010 (William Murphy)

Matthew Karnitschnig argues in Politico that the doomsayers keep getting Europe wrong.

As another annus horribilis draws to a close, he writes, “it’s difficult to deny that Europe has once again survived more or less intact.”

This matches an argument I made here two months ago: that the remarkable thing about the EU is not that it has problems, but it’s been able to muddle through despite its problems. Read more

Northern Irish, Scots Would Rather Stay in EU Than UK

Flags of the United Kingdom and Scotland in Sumburgh on the Shetland Islands, July 3, 2014
Flags of the United Kingdom and Scotland in Sumburgh on the Shetland Islands, July 3, 2014 (Julien Carnot)

Without an agreement to regulate Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, a majority of Northern Irish and Scots would rather remain in the bloc than in the United Kingdom.

Even with the deal Prime Minister Theresa May has negotiated, which provides for a two-year transition out of the EU and avoids a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a majority of Scots would prefer to break away from the United Kingdom. Read more

Loss of Control: What Moderates Get Wrong About Migration

Red Cross workers provide first aid to migrants in Hungary, September 4, 2015
Red Cross workers provide first aid to migrants in Hungary, September 4, 2015 (IFRC/Stephen Ryan)

Immigration into Europe and the United States is down, yet the far right continues to monopolize the debate.

The EU faced a one-time surge in asylum applications from Afghans, Iraqis and Syrians in 2015-16 as well as four years of high numbers of mostly African migrants (PDF) trying to reach Italy by boat. The numbers are down, yet the far-right League is the most popular party in Italy.

In the United States, asylum applications from Central American countries plagued by violence are up, but Mexican immigration is down. Donald Trump nevertheless won the 2016 election on a virulently anti-immigrant platform.

Fake news and media echo chambers are part of the problem. It is difficult to expose voters to the facts when they can find “alternative facts” just a click away. But this does not fully explain the appeal of the populist message. The bigger problem is that moderates do not have a coherent migration policy to fix systems that are obviously broken. As a result, they do not have a strong story to tell. Read more

A Futile Leadership Challenge from Brexiteers in Denial

British prime minister Theresa May speaks with the American defense secretary James Mattis at Lancaster House in London, England, May 11, 2017
British prime minister Theresa May speaks with the American defense secretary James Mattis at Lancaster House in London, England, May 11, 2017 (DoD/Jette Carr)

With Brexit only four months away, its biggest supporters are still in denial about what it must mean.

They have called a confidence vote in Theresa May, believing that a different prime minister could negotiate a better deal from the EU.

They’re wrong. Read more

Theresa May Survives Leadership Challenge from Brexiteers

British prime minister Theresa May attends the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017
British prime minister Theresa May attends the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Jay Allen)
  • British prime minister Theresa May has survived a confidence vote called by members of her party who feel she has mishandled Brexit.
  • In a sign of how deeply Britain’s departure from the EU has divided Conservatives, 200 lawmakers voted for May and 117 against. Read more

May Delays Brexit Vote. European Court Rules Britain Can Cancel Article 50

View of the Houses of Parliament in London, England, December 21, 2011
View of the Houses of Parliament in London, England, December 21, 2011 (Ben Sutherland)

British prime minister Theresa May has delayed a parliamentary vote on Brexit on the day the European Court of Justice ruled the country can unilaterally cancel its withdrawal from the EU. Read more