19 June 2017
With the start of Brexit negotiations following hard on the heels of Emmanuel Macron’s huge election victory in France, the European Union is entering a period when it could be radically reshaped. Macron is offering hope that the bloc can find a new direction, but several countries, especially in Central Europe, are far from wedded to his vision of ever closer integration.

Alan Philps

Editor, The World Today


Will the EU end in tiers?

In our cover story, economist Brunello Rosa sifts through the EU’s challenges to conclude that the best hope is a three-tier Europe: a hard core of the eurozone countries in the inner circle, surrounded by the EU member states which reject the straitjacket of the single currency. Beyond these, in the outer circle, would be countries with a loose association to the EU such as Turkey, Albania and presumably Britain. The key is that countries could move between these three circles, thus providing a way to close the endless saga of Greece’s bailouts.

Our illustrator, David McMillan, depicts the new Europe as a three-tier cake, taking shape despite the efforts of populists and nationalists to destroy it. Meanwhile a blond-haired British politician – who could that be? – has his slice of cake and is eating it.

Simon Fraser, a former head of the Diplomatic Service with deep experience of trade negotiations, assesses the British government’s chances of success in pursing trade opportunities beyond Europe. With diplomatic understatement he argues that the context is not helpful. President Trump’s America First preference suggests there won’t be any easy wins for Britain in the US market. 

As for boosting trade with India, Vidya Ram suggests that dropping the tone of colonial nostalgia sometimes heard in Whitehall would be a good start. For the moment, she writes, the global perception is that Britain is keener on ‘clamping down on its borders than trading beyond them’.