June Newsletter: ‘The Sands of Time – Europe Needs to Shift’

25 June 2024


As Europe commemorated the Allied landing on the beaches of France in early June it is difficult to quantify the success of those landings on the lives we live today.  It is also unimaginable that those men and women of 1944 could have foreseen the riches and stability of the European world today. The riches and stability their bravery paid a part in. One of the most complex military operations ever succeeded beyond its dreams.

Not only that. It cemented Europe’s relationship with the United States. For decades since, Europe has existed in the shadow of the US. Trusting its leadership and relying on its economic and military might. To some extent entranced by the US’s sacrifice to save the ‘old’ continent it has imported its culture, its brands and now its energy. But Europe’s reliance on the US has allowed this band of small countries to continue to bicker and squabble. On the world stage it has been protected by its big friend. But as time moves on and those sacrifices of D-Day fade from the collective memory the sands of time shift. Europe is beginning to understand it needs to stand on its own.

Evidence of the shifting of the sands is everywhere. From the Ukraine War to the China led BRICS coalition. It targets Western dominance. But the biggest test to the enduring western Allies relationship will come in the form of elections this year.

The UK election is a side show. The possible election of Trump with his ‘my second term will be a term of retribution’ talk is more meaningful. A Trump presidency is likely to mean the US-European partnership will break. Finally forcing Europe to chart its own course. To do that Europe will have to stop the squabbling and bolster its internal cohesion and economic resilience! Perhaps that is an absurd dream. But it is almost like siblings growing up in their parents’ home. When they leave and have to fend for themselves something happens. Usually, the bickering stops. The kids work well together. And they forge lives their parents can only stand back and admire.

The much-maligned Euro has given the continent a chance. The common currency has created a common edifice to rally around. The strength of sharing the same currency from Dublin to Dusseldorf, from Athens to Amiens is a unifying factor that should not be underestimated.  However, the chance of further cohesion has been put to an early test. President Macron, the EU’s cheerleader, following a poor showing for his party in the European elections has called for a snap general election. At the moment it seems the Far Right may get into power. Not an inspiring thought. Markets have panicked at this unexpected election and its likely result. However, the Far Right in France as in Italy no longer call for a withdrawal from the EU.

Eighty years after the D-Day landings, it is time for Europe to emerge from the shadows of the US. It seems a risky moment. It was much riskier for those soldiers on the beaches. Macron lives by the motto ‘Il faut prendre son risqué’. You have to take your risk. His election call has created risks by confronting an untenable situation head on. Markets are concentrating on the immediate turmoil. They are wrong if Europe finally lives up to its longer-term potential. Liberté, égalité, fraternité.