Friday 9 December 2016

Brussels plays risky game in post-Brexit world

Published 01/09/2016 | 02:30

Former president of the EU Commission Jacques Delors. Photo by Rafa Samano/Cover/Getty Images
Former president of the EU Commission Jacques Delors. Photo by Rafa Samano/Cover/Getty Images

It is over 21 years since French political strongman Jacques Delors stepped down as president of the EU Commission. Delors's 10 years at the helm were a period of innovation and creation, including agreement on the creation of a common currency. The two decades since then have been, at kindest estimate, a period of consolidation, and by a more frank judgement, a time of sclerosis, mistakes and downright chaos.

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Suffice to say now that it has been a long time since the EU policy shapers were so clearly trying to set a global agenda in either economics and politics. But the Apple €13bn ruling changed all that with one fell swoop.

Just hark at this extraordinary statistic. The EU Commission has delivered verdicts in 254 cases since 2000. The total value of all those 16 years' worth of corrections and/or penalties comes to under €11bn. That is a nice bit short of the one case involving Apple, which has launched Ireland into the middle of a huge EU legal battle; a domestic political row; and the grave risk of this country becoming the meat in the sandwich of a bitter transatlantic war between the EU and the USA.

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