The sweeping election victory of Emmanuel Macron in France cannot come as good news for Britain and the looming Brexit negotiations. The EU will have sighed with relief that the far-right Marine Le Pen was roundly defeated, while at the same time welcoming the arch-Europhile Macron into the integrationist fold.
Macron has repeatedly stated that he was appalled by Brexit and that the UK must receive no favourable treatment in case it encourages other countries, like France, to head for the exit door. A former finance minister in Hollande’s Socialist government, Macron knows how to twist the economic knife. Britain’s divorce bill, rumoured now to be approaching €100bn, is unlikely to be slashed by the new French President, who will now cement the old Franco-German alliance, which had collapsed under the weak and chaotic leadership of François Hollande.
Tomorrow, 9 May, events will take place across the European Union (EU) to mark Europe Day, an annual celebration of peace and unity across the continent.
Thousands of people will take part in visits, debates, concerts and other events to mark the day and raise awareness of the EU. Celebrations will naturally be more muted here in the UK, as we embark on the process of leaving the EU.
Because the UK is embarking on the Brexit process, howevr, does not mean we should not celebrate the EU and its many achievements, the foundation of which the UK played a key role in.
The day is also known as Schuman Day, commemorating the historical declaration 67 years ago on 9 May 1950 by the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman, which marked the first move towards the creation of the European Union.
Its creation has proven to be highly successful in transforming a previously warring continent, the foundation of peace, stability and prosperity after centuries of bloodshed.
Since the Schuman Declaration nations across Europe have forged closer links and come together to reach common solutions to common problems, keeping the peace and enhancing our collective security.
The EU gives the freedom to live, study, work or retire in 27 other EU countries and many millions from the UK have taken advantage of this. EU migration to our shores has in turn benefited our economy and society. Being able to trade with our EU partners via a single market of over half a billion consumers, unfettered by tariffs and trade barriers, is also essential to many Scottish businesses.
It does no harm in being reminded what we have enjoyed, the precious gift of more than 60 years of peace, stability and prosperity in a previously war ravaged continent.
The EU has on the whole proven to be a success story, and in leaving it we are rowing against the tide of history.
One slice of the problem
It’s reassuring to see our supermarkets are taking waste seriously and investing in improvements to cut food and packaging waste (Co-op set to reduce landfill waste with recyclable pizza packaging, 7 May). But voluntary action alone isn’t enough. Earlier this year we heard that billions of “recyclable” black plastic ready meal trays end up in landfill because the black pigment used to make them look sleek and shiny on the shelves makes them “invisible” to most of the machines that sort our recycling.
Without a national strategy and coordinated action to halve waste to landfill by 2030 and drive up recycling rates, we’ll continue to see plastic polluting our rivers and waterways and threatening wildlife. We need the next government to set national targets to slash all forms of waste, commit to support innovative approaches to increase reuse and recycling, and invest in the research and development we need to support improved collection, sorting and processing of recyclable goods.
An easy job for Theresa May
Theresa May has vowed to reduce net immigration to “tens of thousands” after Brexit. She will be helped in this aim by the tens of thousands of jobs that will be relocated in Europe in sectors including banking, education, services and manufacturing.
David J Williams
It is reported that the Tory manifesto is to retain the promise to reduce net immigration to tens of thousands. But why so imprecise? A little thought suggests that this target could be anywhere between 10,001 and 99,999. Just exactly how many tens of thousands is the Tories’ target?
Why does everyone remember the Lib Dem disgrace of betraying their pledge on student fees, but no one apparently remembers David Cameron's pledge not to meddle with the NHS, which was followed by Andrew Lansley's disastrous reorganisation, which cost a fortune with no discernible benefits?
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