After 17 years, this will be my final column for this newspaper.
Instead of ruminating about the past and repeating what has been said before, I think this is a moment to bring a unifying perspective to the issues that informed my writing in the later years. This column never quite fitted into the categories of pro or anti-European discourse, left or right, pro or anti-government. I must have left some readers confused about whether I am a European federalist, a Eurosceptic, or a cynical contrarian.
I find these classifications useless. I think about Europe and other current issues as a power struggle between insiders and outsiders. European integration started off as an outside challenge to national political and corporate cartels. But the EU, too, has displayed some cartel-like behaviour, for example in the way it dealt with small countries during the financial crisis.
I find this insider-outsider classification more useful than, let us say, establishment versus anti-establishment, or liberalism versus populism. I do not believe that populism will endure. But the rules-based multilateral order is crumbling for reasons that have nothing to do with populism. Many traditional power centres of our democracies — centrist political parties, the mainstream media, some industries —…