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Greece: Bankruptcy hovers

Gavin Hewitt | 16:21 UK time, Friday, 9 April 2010

Athens stock exchange, 7 Apr 10The fix was in. The deal done. Just a couple of weeks back Greece had been saved. The leaders of the eurozone countries had conjured up a rescue package if Greece needed it. The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, beamed at breakfast the following day. He expressed himself "a happy man".

Yet today Greece finds the costs of servicing its debt are even higher.

As I sat at breakfast that morning a thought nagged away at me. I could not think of a serious economist who did not believe the euro was a flawed currency. Even friends of the euro had shaken their heads; you couldn't have monetary union without fiscal union. The differences between countries within the zone were too great. Under the patina of European unity there could be no disguising that countries ran very different ships. There was a German way and, as some unkindly described it, "the Club Med way".

Now at the recent summit it was agreed to set up a task force to examine some of these fundamental problems, but much was left vague.

As had happened before in this crisis, there was an absence of detail even with the rescue package. When exactly would the EU step in to aid Greece ? What would be the terms of any loans? All eurozone countries would have to approve a loan and the Germans would therefore have a veto. Berlin appears to have a different timetable to others on when the rescue teams would be activated. That would only be when Greece actually fails to raise funds from the capital markets.

There is a pattern here. European officials make optimistic statements which are detail-lite. They believe, in effect, they can spin the financial markets. If investors believe Greece has solid backing from other countries then the cost of borrowing will subside and the crisis will ebb. But the market players are wary of what some see as the Brussels fudge factory. So they stress-test the product, which is what they were doing yesterday. And so the crisis continues.

Jean-Pierre Jouyet, who is head of France's financial markets, said "the markets are testing Europe, its organisational strength and its capacity to apply the rules of economic governance and its commitments made with regard to Greece".

Sometimes it is unclear whether the priority is to save a currency or to save the European project. Of course the two are entwined but much of the indecision and confusion of recent weeks lies in the uncertainty over the priorities of Europe's leaders.

Paul De Grauwe, an economist who advises President Barroso, said "this is no longer a financial issue. It is about politics and nationalism, and it is a real setback for those who believed in a united Europe."

If it was purely a financial issue Greece would have gone to the IMF weeks ago and its borrowing costs would have been slashed. Many of Europe's leaders would not countenance that because of pride. It would signal there was a weakness with the currency and it would sow a doubt as to where Europe was heading.

Much time and energy has been spent on ensuring there is European control of any rescue package.

The Greek agonies have also brought to the surface deeper questions. How do the euro's "flaws" get sorted out?

Some are suggesting that the answers lie in greater "economic governance" within the European Union in the future. It is a phrase that means different things to different people. Some see it as meaning the rigorous enforcement of existing rules. Others see it as paving the way for eventual "fiscal union".

That brings with it a problem. There is no evidence the people are for it. As Berlin has pointed out, there would be difficulties in running a single market where some countries are in a monetary and fiscal union and some are not.

The longer the crisis continues the more Germany is put under pressure to help resolve it. In the past appeals to European unity would have papered over the cracks. This time the German taxpayer has indicated an unwillingness to bail out the weak and, in their view, irresponsible. They want a strong, stable currency like the D-mark they gave up. If the choice is between the European ideal and a strong economy based on wage restraint and discipline then realism wins out.

Now if the euro was a company, the Greek division would be closed or sold off. The product line had not lived up to expectations. It was important therefore to protect the core business. Other weaker divisions might have to go too. Now some economists like Paul Krugman, who is an admirer of Europe, opined recently that the problem was that Greece had joined the Euro before it was ready. We are now living out the consequences of a fudge ten years ago.

The idea of a smaller, more stable eurozone is blasphemy to some, because the currency was a step towards the goal of political union. No major politician is talking of a smaller eurozone at the moment, although Angela Merkel has allowed for countries that persistently flout rules to be expelled.

But one of the hallmarks of this crisis, and in the approach towards Europe's sluggish growth, is that leaders sometimes seem torn between pragmatism and promoting further European integration.

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  • 1. At 5:12pm on 09 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    "But one of the hallmarks of this crisis, and in the approach towards Europe's sluggish growth, is that leaders sometimes seem torn between pragmatism and promoting further European integration. "

    This sounds as if being pragmatic and promoting European integration were opposites. They are not. More than 40 years of a successfull Union are testament to that.

    The problem is that some countries have been cheating. Their leaders, who could not manage an economy to save their lives, told the European Union figures that weren't true.

    Let's not throw the baby (the E.U.) out with the bathwater (Greece).

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  • 2. At 5:35pm on 09 Apr 2010, cogitoergosum wrote:

    It seems to me there is very little innovative thinking going on with Greece’s debt problems. So in an effort to stimulate such a debate here’s the following:

    Greece should partially default on it’s obligations to … Greeks.

    The Greek state and society has for years been bearing gifts to itself of which it did not beware. Now when we look the gift horse in the mouth not only is there a prodigious stench, but every indication of a growing cancer, undiagnosed and untreated. Here are some suggestions for survival, understanding that treatment will always be very unpleasant, but the alternative is even worse.

    Instead of paying ruinous interest rates to the bond market Greece should pay them to it’s own people. It should take somewhere between 5% to 30% of all government salaries, pensions, unemployment insurance, baby bonuses, etc. and pay them, not in cash, but in IOU’s bearing the handsome interest rates the bond market is demanding. Call them ‘Drachma obligations’ out of sentimentality for the previous currency. And pay interest on a quarterly basis in cash so that you are giving something back quickly on this enforced investment.

    Further it should pass a law that these IOU’s are legal for settling all inter-Greece debt obligations such as mortgages or credit card debt. This action will immediately have a positive effect on Greece’s situation.

    First, it will significantly reduce the external cash needs of the state, causing the bond market to lower interest rates immediately and making Greece much less of a victim of the markets. And Greece will avoid actual default with all the attendant loss of faith, injury to commerce and investment flows, which are all necessary to the long term health and growth of their economy.

    Secondly, it will be seen as dramatic, creative and Greek-initiated, with the costs borne by the Greeks, which will play well with the self-reliant Germans and others outraged at the idea that they should pay for Greek profligacy. This will enormously increase goodwill, which as we all know is that hard-to-price, but still valuable budget line.

    Finally, this bold action would align the interests of the Greek people with their government. Right now, quite a few Greeks seem to be under the illusion that the Greek government is their enemy and must be resisted, as it begins the painful reforms that the Greek economy must undertake.

    Right now the government in international circles keeps trying to talk up it’s situation, minimizing the crisis talk and its debt needs, and insisting that it is nowhere near default, in a futile effort to fool the bond market vigilantes. We can see by the rising interest rates on Greek debt that this strategy is simply not working and may be confusing the Greek population.

    By simply stating that they do not have and cannot get the money needed to pay all the obligations owed to the population, they clarify the issues. The unions can protest all they want but where do they propose to get the money. The printing presses for the Euro are not available, something that was at least a short term solution for Argentina and other broke countries who had control over their own currencies.

    This may all seem draconian but there are many powerful positive developments that will immediately flow from this. For one, by making all Greeks, in-effect, bond owners of Greek debt, this will align their interests with the necessary reforms being undertaken, as well as making them understand what the bond market is feeling about Greek debt. When it’s your own money that is at risk you see things very differently. The whole population now has ‘skin in the game’ and this will increase social solidarity and co-operation.

    Greeks may now be more likely to insist that the enormous ‘invisible economy’, which pays no taxes and gets a free ride, be massively reduced, as that will make it more likely that they will see their IOU’s repaid. The same with unaffordable retirements at age 63 or the bloated vastly over-manned civil service.

    The bond markets will also like these developments. They will understand that these actions will make it much easier for Greece to husband cash and remain current on their bond obligations. When the bond markets price that in, the resulting drop in interest rates should decimate some of the Greek debt short sellers and make betting against Greece a much riskier proposition.

    The Greek government may also begin to regain some respect in the markets, for telling the truth and taking bold action. Confidence, once lost can only be regained by showing fundamental and dramatic changes. The markets will also like the fact that the interest paid on the IOU’s will remain in the Greek economy, rather then being paid out to foreign investors.

    And finally, as with all successfully conquered diseases, there is the potential for a return not only to not being sick, but actually being much healthier than before. The Greeks who have individually often done very well outside Greece, can now begin to do so within a Greek economy that is structured to reward energetic and legal entrepreneurial zeal. The potential of a much brighter and more affluent future will help the bitter medicine go down more easily.

    There is also every possibility that the enforced investment in Greek debt may actually prove to be profitable for the Greek population, maybe sooner rather than later. Anyone who thinks that an impossibility need only look at how well the enforced investment of the U.S. government in it’s major banks has done, as soon as the fever of a financial crisis has passed. As bond yields fall the ‘Drachma’ IOU’s should increase in face value and may even be traded on an exchange for a profit.

    These proposals will bring some temporary hardship to the Greek population, but there is probably enough ‘rainy day’ money for them to survive, even if not in comfort. Many of us have just been through the experience of seeing our incomes slashed dramatically, whether from job loss or investment losses and though it hurt like hell, we’re still here and things are getting better slowly.

    Such dramatic action will also have a salutary effect on Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland and make it more likely they will address their economic problems with unsustainable debt.

    In Canada in the early ‘90’s the ever-rising deficits and huge debt were leading us to become a version of Greece without the sunny weather. The bond market started beating up on us too, but our federal government decided to finally do something about it.

    Yes, everyone screamed about the cut-backs and how endless deficits were inescapable. We did go through some serious tough times, but we are thanking those politicians today.

    The Greek Prime Minister should note that the populace rewarded Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and the Liberal party with four election wins in a row. Sometimes taking the tough and necessary decisions can actually make you popular with the electorate.

    For Greece, these proposals could be the beginning of the turn from a vicious circle downwards to a virtuous circle upwards. If nothing else they may widen the debate and bring some new ideas to the table.


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  • 3. At 5:39pm on 09 Apr 2010, Tasos wrote:

    On 'Now if the euro was a company, the Greek division would be closed or sold off. The product line had not lived up to expectations. It was important therefore to protect the core business. Other weaker divisions might have to go too.'

    >> The problem is that the EU was NEVER a company, or if anyone thought it were ther are out of this world!

    The main concept behind a company is that ALL units want the same thing - growth and stability of the company - i.e. ALL have a COMMON/SAME Target.

    Within the EU there have always been CONFLICTING/OPPOSITE targets - i.e. the Euro goes bad and next day Germany Exports is seen to have 5% + growth!

    And yes, there has been a lot of cheating in Greece and it IS a big problem. Do you want to mention Even Bigger Cheating in the UK, Germany or even the same US-based 'financial institutions' that are playing Greece's 'big bad daddy' daily? Please, people in Greece ARE aware of the world outside no matter what is written or braodcast by anyone, the big mistake is the Traitor politicians who we vote and have not created Jobs/Investements in Greece since ... our EU 'allies' prefer to invest OUT OF the Eurozone and in India, China etc etc.

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  • 4. At 5:40pm on 09 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    'Paul De Grauwe, an economist who advises President Barroso, said "this is no longer a financial issue. It is about politics and nationalism, and it is a real setback for those who believed in a united Europe." '

    Those who believed in a united Europe should have made "progress" by persuasion and sound arguments* .

    They chose to progress by lies, manipulation and dictatorship.

    They are not fit to run a sweet shop.

    * If they have any!?

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  • 5. At 5:43pm on 09 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    'Some are suggesting that the answers lie in greater "economic governance" within the European Union in the future.'

    Are we supposed to give yet more power, perks and palaces to the disgusting people who have abused us for so long?

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  • 6. At 5:45pm on 09 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    * Previous
    * Next

    # 1. At 5:12pm on 09 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    " ...
    This sounds as if being pragmatic and promoting European integration were opposites. They are not. More than 40 years of a successfull Union are testament to that "

    It has NOT been a success.


    It has cost the citizens of the UK billions.

    It is a damn nuisance.

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  • 7. At 6:29pm on 09 Apr 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "A leading ratings agency has downgraded Greece's credit rating amid growing fears the country is struggling to overcome its debt problems.

    Fitch cut Greece's rating by two notches, from BBB+ to BBB-, as the cost of Greek borrowing continues to rise.

    The downgrade comes as leading investors call for Greece to seek financial help from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)."




    Call me in a month re euro versus 'worthless US$" exchange rate.


    "Good night, and good luck!"

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  • 8. At 6:38pm on 09 Apr 2010, frenchderek wrote:

    @ cogitoergosum: what a super scheme. Much better than the idea I read elsewhere - of EU nations agreeing on the issue of bonds to the Greece at an "average" rate of interest.

    This "average" was, though, the point of contention. Should it be an average of Greece's borrowing rates (and if so, over what time period), or the average of all EU states (again, over what time period), or the average of other countries in a similar parlous state (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland)?

    Your idea requires that the Greek government has the guts; the "EU" solution requires that all (but all) EU nations agree. Which is the tougher route?

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  • 9. At 6:41pm on 09 Apr 2010, DiscoStu_d wrote:

    Where's the deus ex machina when you need it?

    "this is no longer a financial issue. It is about politics and nationalism, and it is a real setback for those who believed in a united Europe"

    And because Merkel is answerable to the German electorate she doesn't 'believe in a united Europe'? If there is one thing Brussels is good at, that is the guilt trip.

    Until the EU elites can figure out a way to bury the nation-states of Europe and break the link where national/EU leaders are answerable to national electorates I would not expect these leaders to subjugate national interests to the whole, especially during times of crisis.

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  • 10. At 6:42pm on 09 Apr 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #1

    "Let's not throw the baby (the E.U.) out with the bathwater (Greece)."


    Chris the issue is not throwing EUSSR out with the bathwater, but that the Eurozone has been created withouth considering huge discrepancies between it's member's economies, mentality and corruption levels.

    No, PIGS can't fly. And they won't.



    BTW. Brussels is lucky that such hugely corrupted countries like Bulgaria and Romania are not in the eurozone yet.

    Otherwise it would it be goodbye to Giscard d'Estaing's and Jacques Iraq's pipe dream of the United States of Europe as a counterbalance to the United States of America.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "MAN CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT DREAMS" (V.I. Lenin)

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  • 11. At 6:43pm on 09 Apr 2010, JorgeG wrote:

    "That brings with it a problem. There is no evidence the people are for it. As Berlin has pointed out, there would be difficulties in running a single market where some countries are in a monetary and fiscal union and some are not."

    This is a bizarre sentence which betrays that the writer has not much understanding about what he is writing about. Whether "the people" are for or against an eventual "fiscal union" is irrelevant to / has nothing to do with Berlin's comments reported in the last sentence.

    What this means is very simple:

    - Greater "economic governance" and/or fiscal union apply/will apply to the Eurozone alone, not to the EU as a whole. It is beyond doubt that "the people" in the UK "are not for it", but "the people" in the Eurozone are less dogmatic about it. Having a fiscal union is a logical corollary to having a monetary union and if the latter has been implemented and generally accepted in the Eurozone countries it is illogical to say that "the people" would have any problem with the former. It would be like someone who has just got married but then has a problem with the idea of having to live in the same house with their spouse.

    - But this brings the issue "pointed out" by "Berlin": THERE WOULD BE DIFFICULTIES RUNNING A SINGLE MARKET WHERE SOME COUNTRIES ARE IN A MONETARY AND FISCAL UNION AND SOME ARE NOT. Does this apply to Greece? Does this apply to the Eurozone? No, it applies to the countries that have so far refused to join the Eurozone: Only three out of twenty seven. The UK, of course, being one of the three.

    The eventual outcome of this entire saga IMO is one that is never imagined, let alone reported, by Mr Hewitt or the rest of the British media: The Eurozone will survive and greater fiscal union within the Eurozone will happen, slowly but surely. Then the problem "pointed out" by "Berlin" will stare at everyone in the face and will have to be confronted. Some countries, e.g. the UK, will continue to benefit from full participation in the single market but will not have to make any sacrifices or commitments and that will mean they have a clear advantage: They enjoy the benefits but do not have to abide by the same rules as the rest (monetary and fiscal union) or commit to obligations (other than paying membership fees).

    The eventual outcome of all this IMO is that the Eurozone will become more and more the real EU and the real single market and those countries outside will be asked to either put up or shut up, i.e. join the fiscal and monetary union or they will face barriers (i.e. tariffs or other restrictions) to continue their "free trade" with the Eurozone.

    Exactly the same thing applies to the British opt out from Schengen, something which appears unrelated to the issues mentioned above but it is not. It is about the fact that the current asymmetric EU where the vast majority of countries are (or are commited to be) members of the Eurozone and Schengen and a small minority are not (the UK, a minority of one, is out of both) is doomed to break up. This is where the breakup will take place, not inside the Eurozone.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/5187032/Calais-mayor-blames-Britain-for-immigration-problems.html

    "She said the fact that Britain had not signed up to the Schengen agreement – which allows people in Europe to travel from one country to another without a passport – made life very easy for the UK. "

    "Although Britain has signed the Dublin Convention, which streamlined the application process for political asylum, France still had a duty to try and keep illegal migrants out of the UK. "

    These above words are a mirror image of "Berlin's" words quoted by Mr Hewitt: "there would be difficulties in running a single market where some countries are in a monetary and fiscal union and some are not"

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  • 12. At 6:53pm on 09 Apr 2010, Mickalus wrote:

    2. At 5:35pm on 09 Apr 2010, cogitoergosum wrote:

    Hi cogitoergosum

    Thanks for a very thoughtful post. There is a lot of interest and of value in what you outline.

    I'd be interested to hear Greek commentary on your suggestions.

    Mickalus

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  • 13. At 6:53pm on 09 Apr 2010, KennethM wrote:

    #2 cogitoergosum

    What a great idea. I can't see a flaw in it.

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  • 14. At 7:03pm on 09 Apr 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    The UK and Ireland had a monetary union from 1928 until 1978 without there ever being fiscal union.
    There has been a currency in Africa (West African Franc) since 1946 currently used by 14 countries without them ever being part of a fiscal union.
    Federalists have been saying “you can’t have monetary union without fiscal union” because they want fiscal union as a stepping stone towards a European state. Euro-sceptics warned that monetary union would lead to fiscal and political union not because of any fundamental law of nature, but simply because this was the obvious political ambition (even if they would not admit it) of those behind the Euro project. But as 50 years of Anglo-Irish and West Africa monetary union shows you can have monetary union without fiscal union.
    The EU is the elephant in the room of this British general election which the LibLabCon politicians try to tip-toe around by campaigning exclusively on the few remaining areas (like tax) where Westminster still decides. Meanwhile politicians on the Continent discuss fiscal union! What will the next election be about if tax is decided in Brussels? Time to wise up Britain and reject the LibLabCon while your vote still means something.

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  • 15. At 7:09pm on 09 Apr 2010, cogitoergosum wrote:

    frenchderek wrote: "Your idea requires that the Greek government has the guts; the "EU" solution requires that all (but all) EU nations agree. Which is the tougher route?"
    Certainly my route is tougher, but I think the question should be, which is more likely to succeed, at a faster speed and at a lower cost over-all? There I think my idea has the edge, but I am at this point just trying to widen the debate as to what practical steps can be taken. The present debate runs the gamut from A to B. Let's go from Alpha to Omega instead.

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  • 16. At 7:18pm on 09 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    There is absolutely no doubt at all Germany will "..put EUrope first.."!

    Only those deaf, dumb & blind to the History of Europe since about 1864 could seriously propose Berlin has ever done anything other in its Foreign Policy than put EUrope first in its sights!

    'Reap as you sow', some say: Well, in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome, France, Italy & BeNeLux took on post-WW2 Germany in the symbolic belief that shared responsibility in an Economic partnership (EEC) would alleviate all the difficulties of the previous generations.
    A noble cause that has been seen to work at most levels of EUropean culture-society.

    Even the UK got involved! G.B. fell for the same implausible 'one-size-fits-all' rhetoric and under the same unfeasible 'strength through unity' spell. It was believed for so long as 'ever closer union' was pursued that nice, but immensely larger and more powerful Germany in the centre of EUrope could be subsumed within the rest of EUrope. Like all the rest, successive UK Governments post Maastricht (1992) can be held equally to blame for the plight supra-EUrope now finds itself in.

    Admittedly, the Nation gambling the most Political credibility over the years and by far the biggest loser in all this is France. All the hopes of the Elycee Palace down through the years dashed by the frailties of Greek Finances!
    Paris is powerless - - it would have saved Athens if it could have - - instead, like the UK and 25 other Nations it must look on from the sidelines and follow whatever Policy Berlin decides will be adopted.

    So much for EU solidarity and the idea of Brussels being the decisive factor after 50+ years - - EUrope is right back at square 1 - - reliant on the whims of Leadership in Berlin!

    Where have all those efforts of 1958 to 2010 got EUrope?

    Beholden to Germany for its EUro-zone salvation; dependent on Germany for its Economic 'union' being 'ever closer'; in thrall to Berlin for every decision/policy of any importance affecting the lives of 500+ million; 26 Nations utterly unable to act independently of, or, without consultation/reference to the requirements of Berlin.

    Congratulations EUrope!

    The EU certainly tamed that Central European tiger.... NOT!

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  • 17. At 7:20pm on 09 Apr 2010, kaybraes wrote:

    Did anybody seriously expect the Eurozone countries to help out one of it's members ? This is totally alien to the European nature. Each of the more powerful countries looks after itself to the exclusion of the rest and the smaller countries hang on to their coat tails in the hope of crumbs dropping their way. As a political entity, the EU is a fragmented hotchpotch of self seeking unelected bureaucrats toeing the line of their respective political masters, with the object of perpetrating an impossible and unattainable ambition of political supremacy at any cost.

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  • 18. At 8:02pm on 09 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    jorgeG1

    Re #11

    Not to coin a phrase: With advocates like You who is the EU's enemy!?

    Quote, ".. 'greater Economic Governance'.. will apply to the EUro-zone.."

    Meaning, to avoid even more of the centralising control of Brussels and Frankfurt a Nation should make every effort to retain its own Currency.

    Quote "..Some countries, e.g. UK, will continue to benefit from full participation in the single market but will not have to make any sacrifices or commitments and that will mean they have a clear advantage.."

    So, if I am reading the above properly, as a seriously 'pro-EU' lobbyist, You are actually admitting there is no advantage to being in the EUro-zone etc., and all the advantages remain with Nations whose Government is sensible enough to remain outside!?

    It would seem the same with Your Schengen remarks: Quote, "..France still has a duty..". Therefore it is to the UK's advantage to stay out of it as being in Schengen would mean France would not have to try and prevent 'illegal immigrants' crossing to the British Isles!?

    So far as I can tell from Your #11 there would seem to be categoric factual reasons for the present Foreign Policy (contrary to former PM Tony Blair view) of the UK to be 'in' but not at the 'heart' of EUrope.

    I.e. After what You have written why would any UK Government consider it sound National 'political' sense to attempt to push Britons into accepting even closer ties with the EU?
    No British Political Party is going to risk 'political-electoral' suicide by promoting strengthened membership of the EU.

    Thanks for putting the case so well on behalf of those of us Britons who oppose 'ever closer union': Now if You could just see Your way clear to spelling out the disadvantages of CAP, Directives, the ECJ etc. we could all rest easy in the knowledge the UK/England is safe from further EU intrusion.

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  • 19. At 8:06pm on 09 Apr 2010, JorgeG wrote:

    @ FBJ

    "The UK and Ireland had a monetary union from 1928 until 1978 without there ever being fiscal union."

    "There has been a currency in Africa (West African Franc) since 1946 currently used by 14 countries without them ever being part of a fiscal union."

    Have you changed tack? I thought you were part of the standard Europhobic school of thought that says that you cannot have monetary union without fiscal union and hence the Eurozone is doomed to collapse. It seems that you are quoting examples where this is not the case.

    "The EU is the elephant in the room of this British general election"

    Yes and no. The real elephant in the room is the fact that there is a consensus among major British parties regarding a Kafkaesque EU policy: They want the UK to remain a member of an EU that only exists in history books. The EU of today includes the Eurozone and Schengen as its two most basic and fundamental pillars and, without them, what remains is the EEC of the eighties with a new shop front (e.g. Van Rompuy and the British Baroness)

    Why on earth your (ex?) party the Tories, NuLab or LibDems would want to wake up the elephant in the room? Why on earth would they want to do that? They know perfectly well that thanks to the marvellously democratic British FPTP system, UKIP has not a hope in hell of getting a single MP (or in the most improbable scenario a tiny handful of MPs) elected to represent their beloved British people at their beloved British parliament. For that reason alone, they keep the elephant well and happily asleep.

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  • 20. At 8:18pm on 09 Apr 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    The EU Project can only 'work' by fudging difficult decisions.

    The real world - including investors - doesn't.

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  • 21. At 8:20pm on 09 Apr 2010, Nik wrote:

    Ca va... no big deal, it is an expected outcome if it comes. Given that most often Greeks pay with their lifes, if they will have to pay a bit more it is no catastrophe. The worst part of it is that none is using this crisis in Greece to get rid of the ruling system (that British and Americans) have established for so many years now. Last relatively independent governor had been Metaxas. Google his name to find out when was that (and before him, the one before the last, Kapodistrias...). Check out what end both of them had (for the second you have to look beyond "medical error"...).

    If things go worse, Greece has to get out of the euro, close its borders, shut off the rest of the world, buy lots of Russian rockets and give them a base and become a mafia hub for Russians and Chinese. It is a country so small and with an economy so inexistig that can live only with that. Becoming such will be much more respectable than what it presents right now... being in that crisis led by a 1/10th-greek origins US-passport holder...

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  • 22. At 8:22pm on 09 Apr 2010, MaxSceptic wrote:

    cogitoergosum @2

    A logical plan that should work well with a rational government and a rational people.

    But you are talking about Greece.

    Can you really see the Greek unions accepting even short-term pay cuts of 5-30%. It is more likely they will literally tear their own society apart.

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  • 23. At 8:32pm on 09 Apr 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    The "markets"i.e., investment bankers who had governments assume their bad debts and shove them off on taxpayers, would like to make a large profit out of the economic crisis they created.

    As J. M. Keynes said: Captialism is the astonishing belief of the wickedest of men, doing the wickedest of things, for the good of everybody.

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  • 24. At 8:54pm on 09 Apr 2010, David wrote:

    Let the U.S. into the EU and let Paul Krugman deal with all this. But, that will never happen. Who knows what will happen when Greece comes out of this?

    People always focus on the negative and that will get us all negative returns. Like Nik says, Greece has a future. It knows what is wrong, now, and is better off, now than it was. The truth came out and it will bounce back, sooner probably rather than later.

    When the Euro bounces back, people will say what was all that angst about? Quit your twitchin' and pull up ur britches and just get on with everyday money making.

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  • 25. At 8:55pm on 09 Apr 2010, David wrote:

    Excellent quote, ...Sichuan. Didn't he come up with other ideas, too? Like deficit spending?

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  • 26. At 9:26pm on 09 Apr 2010, JorgeG wrote:

    @ CBW

    "So, if I am reading the above properly, as a seriously 'pro-EU' lobbyist, You are actually admitting there is no advantage to being in the EUro-zone etc., and all the advantages remain with Nations whose Government is sensible enough to remain outside!?"

    "It would seem the same with Your Schengen remarks: Quote, "..France still has a duty..". Therefore it is to the UK's advantage to stay out of it as being in Schengen would mean France would not have to try and prevent 'illegal immigrants' crossing to the British Isles!?"

    Your imagination is just as great as your Europhobia / Immigrant-phobia. No you are not reading anything that I said properly. You are just doing what you do best, distorting what other people say/write.

    Imagine this example:

    There are 20 countries in a football league, for example. One of them, a very powerful team, said that they wanted to be exempted from the offside rule. Not happy with that they said that two yellow cards = 1 red, would not apply to them, but rather four yellow cards = 1 red, and so on. Reluctantly the others agreed for complex reasons.

    Is the off-side rule inherently bad or is the yellow/red card system inherently bad? It would seem to me they are just rules of the football league. Of course, it would be unimaginable for that to happen in a football league but in politics, even more European politics, driven by inter-governmental 'trading', everything is possible.

    On my previous post I quoted an article from the Torygraph, of which this is another extract:

    "Mrs Bouchart, who made her comments at a Calais press conference, said: "The British signed the Dublin accords but did not ratify Schengen. That places them in an easy situation.""

    She is saying exactly the same thing as I am saying. Is she saying Schengen is a bad thing? Please go and ask her.

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  • 27. At 9:37pm on 09 Apr 2010, MACEDNVS wrote:

    "If investors believe Greece has solid backing from other countries then the cost of borrowing will subside and the crisis will ebb."

    So the only rational thing to do would be to give Greece the solid backing she requires. That it is not forthcoming suggests that some in Europe are skimming a neat profit off this crisis.

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  • 28. At 9:59pm on 09 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Mr Hewitt, looking back I just wonder if you would care to address the memorial & memorable word-imagery you presented in your Article entitled, 'Relief of Athens'.

    You know, where you wrote news of the 'rescue package' for Greece seemed to be greeted almost like "..Bastogne is relieved," or, "..Malta is holding out..".

    My reason for asking you to revisit those picturesque-mood descriptions is that you based them around the main EU-Brussels players in the farce which only 2 weeks later is fast becoming an epic tragedy.

    There was pontificating EU Commission President Barroso and his "..extremely happy..", "..common sense..", "..had prevailed"; and EU Council President von Rompuy's robust assertion of the "..courageous act.." thus saving the EUro-zone.

    Do you have the nerve to ask the 2 of them if they would care to repeat those fine words?

    And how about Pres Barroso's "..EUro.. 1 of the greatest achievements of EUropean integration..".

    Go on Mr Hewitt, I double-accounting dare You: Have You the bottle to ask these sanctimonious economic inumerates if they NOW understand all their fantasing gibberish may go unchallenged in the numbskull EUropean Parliament political environment, BUT, in the real World of Fiscal-Economic measurement they are less reliable & believable than an interview with a Hobbit from Middle Earth on the 10 o'clock news!?

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  • 29. At 10:06pm on 09 Apr 2010, j wrote:

    @cogitoergosum

    Here is a comment from a greek (me):

    I am an engineer not an economist, but i was excited reading your comment. I think if our leaders here thought what you propose here. Anyway i copy-pasted your comment in some ministries in the hope that someone may read them (!)

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  • 30. At 10:10pm on 09 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    1. At 5:12pm on 09 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    ' ...

    More than 40 years of a successfull Union ...'

    EUpris: You forgot Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, The Three Bears and the Tooth Fairie.

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  • 31. At 10:16pm on 09 Apr 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    JorgeG1 (19) said "I thought you were part of the standard Europhobic school of thought that says that you cannot have monetary union without fiscal union and hence the Eurozone is doomed to collapse."

    i think you will find:
    (i) the above is the standard federalist school of thought, used to justify the next round of EU self-aggrandisment  
    (ii) We EU-sceptics can think for ourselves (which is why we spank you federalist drones red-sore in debate time after time after time)

    The UK stayed out of the Euro because it was obviously a big step towards a destination (political union) that we have no intention of ever going to. The decision has been fully vindicated on that ground alone.   

    But for countries that decided to use the Euro it has led to economic problems and my criticism of it has been limited to that. The Euro is directly responsibe for a decade of unprecedented borrowing in countries like Ireland, Spain, etc. that were not used to low interest rates. This led to a runaway boom and a bust of unprecedented severity. These countries are now in a debt-trap from which there is no escape (so long as they stay in the euro) other than a decade of deflation where they try to outdo German frugality to make up for the past debt binge. And 'fiscal union' is of absolutely zero relevance in getting out of that massive debt. 

    When you have a huge debt your ability to pay it down is affected by the interest rate and your income. The tax rate does affect your take-home pay but it being set in Brussels has no impact whatsoever. So 'fiscal union' is no answer to the debt problems created by the Euro in so-called PIGS countries. It is just something that federalists want for their superstate construction folly which they try to justify with the "no montetary union without fiscal union" mumbo jumbo.     

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  • 32. At 10:28pm on 09 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    JorgeG1

    Re #26

    No thanks, whilst flights of the imagination do have their place I really do not see the purpose of that line in this debate.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but did your #11 not directly state the UK is better-off outside the EUro-zone & Schengen?

    As for "EUro-phobia" and "Immigrant-phobia"! What on earth are You on about?

    It is not a phobia to argue that UK/England membership of a particular Currency that would make 'ever closer union' all the more impossible to disentangle is not the best Economic-Fiscal way forward for the Union Nations (though I leave it to Scot, Welsh, Irish to make their democratic decisions). Ture enough, I may be psychologically averse to spiders, snakes, bananas... whatever, but that has nothing to do with a National debate on the relative merits of the EUro and POund as viable currencies.

    The 'immigrant-phobia' remark is beneath contempt - - I'm descended from Belge-Dutch-Germans and am married to a Finn - - You need to get some sense of reality about what informs people and activates their opinions. It is very rarely the blind prejudices you seek to label us with!

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  • 33. At 10:38pm on 09 Apr 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    I've been skeptical of the bailout since it was announced. I've said for years that something like this would happen so I am not surprised. I said it is like the Titanic going down in the first storm it encounters. The entire idea of the Euro and the EU as a superstate was absurd. Now it is coming unglued at the seams. The question is how do the constituents who still have viable economies get out and will their populations force their governments to escape before it is too late? Can they get out? I also said Germany would not likely fall on its sword for Greece, especially when there are more swords to fall on looming in the wings even if Greece is rescued. The only hope the EU has is massive devaluation of the US dollar before its own economic chickens come home to roost. Now that seems unlikely at the moment, especially if the US actualy starts comig out of recession and there is job growth.

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  • 34. At 11:30pm on 09 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    cogitoergosum

    Re #2

    Your 'Drachma-obligations' or Greece Rescues Itself Package:
    Imaginative, thought-provoking, entirely alternative. Well done.

    Unfortunately Your proposals are also illegal under EU/EUro-zone regulation, completely at odds with 'Market-driven' Fiscal terms, and as You hinted yourself, the Greek People are very unlikely to accept anything of the sort.

    All the same, I do hope somebody in the EUro-zone cloud-cuckoo land actually takes a look at the ideas: Maybe fleshes out some sort of plan based on them. As you say, for sure it is no worse than the nonsense Greece's EUro-zone 'partners' (will that expression go down as one of the least believable since 'peace in our time'!) have set in motion for the Greek Citizens.

    EU is probably the biggest drawback to the whole thing - - the inertia and stagnation of bureacracy within EU/EUro-zone itself - - surely by now You have realised that lot are as likely to take an initiative and be progressive as the extinct Dodo hatching an egg.

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  • 35. At 00:10am on 10 Apr 2010, Peter David Jones wrote:

    You have rather changed your tune Gavin as on the 26th March your blog was entitled The Relief of Athens.Perhaps you should let us know what changed your mind after writing phrases like."The immediate result of this deal is that Greece is given some space to breathe" which lets face it could not have turned out to be more wrong.

    There is a lot to consider from todays events where another rescue plan for Greece from Europe has been announced. However I tend to feel that the best analysis of this is that Greece deparately nees IMF help but the IMF needs to reform the way it helps in the way suggested on the notayesmanseconomics web blog. Otherwise these plans are likely to fail.

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  • 36. At 00:26am on 10 Apr 2010, Jen wrote:

    I don't fully understand all the ins and outs of European Union although I loath the fact that we seem to pay a huge amount to them and in return they tell us our bananas should be small and straight and black pudding should be banned!

    However, I do remember reading an article many years ago quoting Mrs Thatcher warning against the Germans trying again to conquer Europe and the UK - this time financially.

    Was she right I wonder?

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  • 37. At 00:28am on 10 Apr 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    cogitoergosum;

    I see at least two problems with your plan. First, under EU law it is probably not legal for the Greek government to issue a secondary interal only currency. Secondly, outside investors and lenders might worry that if the Greek economy continues to deteriorate, they will be offered payment in these Drachma IOUs instead of Euros. This would raise interest rates even higher in Euros to them and reduce investment. The whole scheme in other words could backfire. It isn't clear that the Greek population would accept beig paid in a currency that is worthless outside Greece. It might also be seen as discriminatory to those who are forced to accept it when compared to those who aren't even by Greek courts. I don't think that will fly.

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  • 38. At 00:47am on 10 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    I am also enchanted with cogito ergo sum idea.
    Began thinking can we apply it in Russia.
    We can't - nobody will trust government to ever pay people back. Not because they won't have money :o)))

    So, trust into own government should be considered.

    Then began thinking if I may be apply this somehow on the personal level :o)))) Suppose dog agrees to eat 20% less :o))))), for which patience I issue him salami snippets :o)))), as interest, from time to time :o))))
    And then he has all dinners missed in one great go! :o)))))
    Well, pets aren't appliccable they can't save dinners, it'll only work with money. And money which doesn't depreciate with time. To consider.
    Also one would need a wide base of agreeable ? those, to who you are in debt to (acting in the capacity of a mini-government) :o)

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  • 39. At 01:07am on 10 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    powermeer and V.I.Lenin, @10

    "MAN CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT DREAMS" (V.I. Lenin)

    American education, ticking boxes. :o))))))
    an ordinary proverb, no nothing "Lenin". A man can't live without dreams as a bird can't live without wings.

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  • 40. At 01:12am on 10 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Nik, @21

    "If things go worse, Greece has to get out of the euro, close its borders, shut off the rest of the world, buy lots of Russian rockets and give them a base and become a mafia hub for Russians and Chinese" :o))))))))))

    And just to think :o)))))))), that we complained about Ukraine black-mailing :o))))) the last winter :o))))))))

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  • 41. At 06:10am on 10 Apr 2010, cogitoergosum wrote:

    Well, I am delighted that so many folks see merit in my ideas. Please circulate to any site that you think might help create a public discussion of these proposals, especially in Greece or Germany. Unfortunately, politicians and bureaucrats tend to be punished for thinking outside the box, so it falls to those of us who have no real professional stake in the outcome to advance new and risky thinking.

    As to how Greeks would never support it, I am cheered by J’s post:

    “Here is a comment from a greek (me):
    I am an engineer not an economist, but i was excited reading your comment. I think if our leaders here thought what you propose here. Anyway i copy-pasted your comment in some ministries in the hope that someone may read them”

    I know a poll of one is not statistically significant, but I’ve worked and lived with Greeks and find them quite hard-headed and practical and very bottom line oriented, just like my proposals. There is also a real possibility of their ‘investment ‘ yielding a profit and Greeks both like profits and are not averse to risk taking. And, never underestimate the appeal to pride of cleaning up your own mess.

    Regarding the legality of the proposal, surely cooking the books for years was a much worse example of ignoring the law and I don’t think the grateful EU would have a reason to complain. As if the EU could ever come to any consensus to prosecute! I am a Croatian by birth and in the 90’s agonizingly followed the inability of the EU to come to any kind of agreement re: the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, while insisting that because the conflicts were in Europe, only they could act to stop them. Sound familiar? I feel for the Greeks.

    As to outside investors losing confidence, I think they would quickly see that both the Greek economy and government would now be much more capable of servicing their Euro debt, in Euros. This leads to lower interest rates, not higher, but, in truth, none of us really knows how markets will react, until they do. The proposal is not without risk, certainly.

    Also remember, the government would still be paying anywhere between 95% to 70% of all pensions, salaries, etc in Euros, so the “Drachma obligations” need not be used at all as an ’alternative currency’, but merely considered enforced ’investments’. The Greeks would be investing for both personal profit and in the future of their own country, much like buying war bonds. In fact, “Break the bonds of the market with Drachma Freedom Bonds”, has a nice populist ring to it.

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  • 42. At 06:39am on 10 Apr 2010, Cyanus wrote:

    @ cogitoeregosum

    Your views on Greek "drachma freedom" bonds have already been circulating in Greece for weeks if not months now to a very interested audience, since most Greeks have realized the way things are going with the bond markets.
    The fact remains that such bond purchases are not yet available to the common citizen, and the question most people ask of a government whose capabilities many distrust is, when will they realize that they need to change the current course and
    1)finally break some (deficit-producing) eggs,
    2)start selling some debt to the people who will patriotically buy it, especially if they are given to understand its importance for everyone involved.

    Wonderful commentary by the way.

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  • 43. At 09:25am on 10 Apr 2010, Erlindur wrote:

    @cogitoergosum(2)

    I'm away from home with no internet access (I'm highjacking an unknown wifi connection right now), so I can only give you a brief answer.

    Your idea is nice but it only highlights the real weaknesses of Greek economy. The entire public sector payroll for the whole 2010 is around 14 billion euros. And that was before the February cuts. That is the real amount that you can save by using IOUs and it is nothing against the deficit we have to address. You cannot pay interest on existing debt with IOUs and this is about half the payments. You cannot pay pharmaceutical companies with IOUs cause they need hard currency for their imports. You cannot pay Siemens and ThyssenKrupp Marine with IOUs. German government will crucify us. It is not the unions that will create problems to your solution, but the market itself.

    This is the real problem with the Greek economy. We import way more than we export and that cannot be solved with IOUs.

    Till I'm home again next week, have fun.

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  • 44. At 10:07am on 10 Apr 2010, dougdevos wrote:

    Rule 1 for creating a currency:
    firstly create an homogeneous fiscal area.

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  • 45. At 10:22am on 10 Apr 2010, TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship wrote:

    #5. At 5:43pm on 09 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    'Some are suggesting that the answers lie in greater "economic governance" within the European Union in the future.'

    Are we supposed to give yet more power, perks and palaces to the disgusting people who have abused us for so long?"


    We are meant to be discussing Greece and the EU, the the UK parliament...

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  • 46. At 11:14am on 10 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    TigerJayj

    Re #36

    "..Mrs Thatcher warning against Germany again trying to conquer EUrope and the UK - - this time financially.."

    Was Thatcher right?

    Well, the wretched, vandalising stateswomen had eventually to get something right amongst all the ill-thought out, viciously anti-social notions she brought into play.

    Unfortunately for the UK and EUrope I fear on this topic she was spot on!

    Do dogs bark? Sheep bleat?

    Oh yes, the bleating of sheep!

    From Dublin to London to Stockholm, Warsaw, Rome, Prague, Athens, Paris, Lisbon and all points in between... the ruminant species 'EU-Ovis' can be seen and heard chomping fecklessly around their fields of idealism.

    I think You and millions of others are finally starting to discern the supposedly retrained barking dog at the centre, once more let lose from its kennel and of course, reverting to its natural controlling instincts!

    Some of the sheep bleat louder than others, but unfortuately it is still just useless bleating of a flock. The shearing shed will ultimately take every size & shape.

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  • 47. At 11:45am on 10 Apr 2010, Nik wrote:

    So many people say here "the Greeks will never support this, the Greek people will never support that"....

    What are you saying? Greek people are the people that have accepted most "bull's waste". They will accept anything on earth.

    All Workers' Unions of all fields are politically conducted and most of them are controlled by the PASOK party anyway. What is the problem with it? Don't you know that in 1993 there were people almost killed in the streets in huge protests against the ND government that wanted to privatise Telecommunications and Electricity and then 3 years later, the PASOK government privatised them (under an even worse scheme) and there was none on the streets, in fact people had not even noticed (as the press is controlled by the same people at a rate of 80%).

    So all that discussion about "The Greeks won't accept this" is farscical. They have accepted for so many decades things 10 times worse, they will easily accept measures 2 and 3 times worse than what you propose.

    I have told you a 100 times here. The whole issue is NOT financial. Greece had the same deficit 10 years ago but then it was good to take more loans do the most expensive Olympics in the history of the event up to 2004 and at the same time enterring the euro.

    Guys, please get serious. See the reality face to face.

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  • 48. At 12:18pm on 10 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    cbw - that nostalgic British conspiracy theory that Germany is still trying to "take control" of Europe or that it is trying to "win World War 2 through financial means" does not hold any water.

    Each E.U. nation joined on its own accord. They can leave anytime they like and if and when they leave, no other country, including Germany, is going to make a problem out of that. Germany did not have a "plan to bankrupt Greece" so that it would be able to take control of it. The Greeks bankrupted themselves, which is a problem for every European nation, including Germany. It is in Germany's (and Britain's and France's and Italy's) interest to be in an E.U. of functioning economies, as all the other economies are now suffering from the Greek bankruptcy. It is nonsense to believe that Germany wanted this to happen.

    It is time to kiss some of the old clichés and nostalgic ideas goodbye and say hello to the 21st century. Times have changed. European economies are interconnected, which is a result of globalisation, not some sinister German plan to take control of everything.

    So I advise you to take one more longing, nostalgic look at World War 2 and how we beat then Germans. Take your time. Then, when you're finished, I would like to welcome you to the present because the present is what we are having to deal with right now.

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  • 49. At 12:30pm on 10 Apr 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    If the greek government ever asked for the 22 Billion promised by Euro zone countries , would that sum ever materialise ? Unless most of it coming from Germany and France ? In any case I cannot see that Italy , Spain , Portugal and Ireland are in any position to contribute .

    Never mind the Percentage borrowing rate ; I think that this Eurozone offer has no real foundation . The EU will hope that Greece never asks .

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  • 50. At 12:35pm on 10 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    48. At 12:18pm on 10 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    " ...

    Each E.U. nation joined on its own accord ..."

    EUpris: That is not true. The British were lied to and tricked again and again and again. The Lisbon Treaty disgrace is the latest and clearest example of that.

    Give us the referendum we were promised!

    Don't expect us to forget!

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  • 51. At 12:38pm on 10 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    45. At 10:22am on 10 Apr 2010, Boilerplated wrote:


    " ...

    We are meant to be discussing Greece and the EU, the the UK parliament..."

    Don't try any more "EU"-lovers dictatorship with me. I have had more than enough of it in the last forty years.

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  • 52. At 12:41pm on 10 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    39. At 01:07am on 10 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "

    American education, ticking boxes. ..."

    EUpris: I have taught for a good American University. A good American education is very good.

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  • 53. At 12:44pm on 10 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    I don't claim that Lech Kaczynski was murdered because of his lack of enthusiasm for the "EU"-Dictatorship.

    I don't claim that he wasn't.

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  • 54. At 1:19pm on 10 Apr 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    The latest is: Mrs. Merkel won't do much, because German public is vehemently opposed to any bail-out.

    Unless the German Supreme Court in Karlsruhe determines that it's the only way to prevent euro from collapsing and the government in Berlin is obligated to do so. Which is not very likely at this point.

    First comments from my friends in BRD:

    "We should have never given up our beloved D-mark!"


    P.S. Please, stand by for financial updates from Portugal, Spain, and Ireland. Come Monday.

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  • 55. At 1:21pm on 10 Apr 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    Since this blog concerns Europe, I take the change to express my dismay by the air plane crash at Smolensk killing a large number of official representatives of the Polish people.
    The crash is a tragedy to the Poles, our neighbours, and a catastrophe to the Polish nation.
    Here in Berlin we send our deep felt condolences to the Poles, and it goes without saying that the chancellor has already expressed her sorrow and consternation over the events at Smolensk.

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  • 56. At 1:48pm on 10 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Chris Camp

    Re #48

    Just as you know well my concerns over centralised Berlin-Paris-Brussels hegemony of EUrope so I am used to Your 'Germany calling' lobbying and unsurprised by your prompt defence of Berlin.

    Time will tell.
    History is NOT a poor Teacher: It is Humans' poor interpretation of memory that condemns them to repeat the mistakes of the past.

    Nothing you wrote in any way denies or contradicts the cold, factual reality of any analysis of EUropean 'geo-politics' & 'geo-finance' at this juncture of the 21st Century.

    In 1992 with the inception of the Maastricht Treaty all of EUrope inc. UK began a steady evolution into one 'political-economic' entity. Some may choose to describe it, or liken it to 'ever closer union', but the hard facts of RealPolitik do not bear this out. 18 years further along the calendar of EUropean integration the overwhelming authority and power of Berlin is once more the pre-eminent force shaping Continental EUropean geo-political-economic systems.

    Paris! Brussels! Those 2 romancers: Forever destined to portray themselves as the centre of Europe - - doomed for eternity by force of economic-financial circumstance to concede that aspiration to their eastern neighbour! Quel tragedie formidable!
    Paris, as ever claims a sentient voice, however, as always emblazoned with idealism and short on pragmatism and practicality. Yet again it has fallen short in its objectives; more reliant every passing year on others for rescue from an entanglement brought about by its own conceited, grandiose geo-political machinations.

    You are comfortable within a framework of 'ever closer union': It is no more or less than the collaboration one must expect amongst a largely acquiescent and utilitarian Citizenry.

    IMO this is a tragedy that will inevitably result in strife at some stage in the decade ahead.

    You and many others do not agree: Most certainly the subservient Political Leadership (should it be 'Vested Lackeys'?) will go to any length to avoid such unrest - - collaboration is a way forward - - how else to protect their gains & profits than by providing the wherewithal in human and material resources as requisitioned by the central power?
    Collaboration: It is not my way and I strongly suspect it will not suit a good many Citizens in the future. More and more will come to realise just how far under the heel of Berlin their Nations have fallen.

    One of the recorded Historic ironies of all great imperialist movements is that just as they reach their climax of ostensibly bringing ALL under a one-size-fits-all formula so the divisions and splits begin to realise themselves.

    The restoration of National sovereignty is an undertaking that throughout Centuries has seen Peoples from all corners of Europe rise-fall-rise again. Who could have doubted in 1980 the Soviet Union would be the paramount authority in Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, East Berlin etc. in 2010!? Is there any prospect of 2020 EUrope being entirely different from that presently insisted upon by Paris-Brussels-Berlin?

    Humanity is a remarkably credible, thoughtful, optimistic entity: Therefore, there is always an 'alternative' in prospect!

    Churchill once said, 'The Hun is either at your throat or at your feet.' He was a long way from being right on many things - - at present it would seem all EUrope is prostrate before Berlin - - however, he said it at the darkest hour and repeated it in the sunlight after an enormous, heartrending effort by all EUrope finally broke free.

    You live in the belief it is different this time around: I live in hope.

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  • 57. At 1:59pm on 10 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Chris Camp

    Re #48

    Oh, and by the way.

    Just for Your historical enlightenment.

    G.B. did not beat Germany in World War Two. That took the combined efforts of the People from the USSR, USA, UK, Europe and a good many from the Commonwealth of Nations.

    Why would I take a 'last look' at WW2? You do your cause no good at all by pretending this is a re-working of WW2!

    It is 2010 and my children/grandchildren's future that concerns me.

    Look at my previous comment - - re-read the quote from Churchill - - that is not a quote about WW2: If You cannot get that point then You have not understood the argument about the efficacy of a supra-National EUrope.

    To put it more simply for You: My children/grandchildren are entitled to a choice & voice in their 'political' future. It should not be decided for them by an all-powerful entity that does not allow for alternatives.

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  • 58. At 2:10pm on 10 Apr 2010, ElEnfadado wrote:

    23. Ghost, as usual, spot on!

    Sure, Greece fiddled the books. We all know this. But everyone else is cooking their books, too. Greece is simply an easy target for 'the markets' at the outset of their 'Let's try and smash the Euro' scheme.

    The US is determined to remain number one by all means possible and keep their dollar as the world's primary currency. They do not want a strong euro and so wish to break its back. They use the too-big-to-stop financial terrorists - JP Morgan, Goldman Sucks et al - to do their bidding for them and have rigged 'the market' to their advantage.

    After Greece they'll move on to the next victim - just like any other predator - until the euro has been all gobbled up and their dollar resumes its rightful position as the biggest stick on the block.

    Then 'the market' will take down the Pound Sterling - simply because it can - and the Rouble and any other titbits they find on their way to the great feast of the yuan.

    It is nothing more than an extension of the economic warfare they have been practicing since the end of WW2 in pursuit of being the unique superpower.

    And the end result? War, of course.

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  • 59. At 2:24pm on 10 Apr 2010, generalissimo wrote:

    @ 55 Mathiasen
    I join all the Poles here present and in Poland in their grief. In my youth I have called many times in Polish ports and I still keep very warm souvenirs from that lovely, civilized country. Besides, the Poles /along with the Checks, the Slovaks, the Russians, etc./ were omnipresent at summer time all along the Bulgarian Black Sea littoral, and, we were accustomed to their presence, as if the whole the Slavic world were there...
    Sofia, April 10th 2010

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  • 60. At 2:28pm on 10 Apr 2010, Benefactor wrote:

    Go to the IMF, easy, done, problem solved. Lets not let Sarkozys pride destroy Greece.

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  • 61. At 3:10pm on 10 Apr 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    cogito

    "Regarding the legality of the proposal, surely cooking the books for years was a much worse example of ignoring the law and I don’t think the grateful EU would have a reason to complain."

    The EU either didn't know or was successful in pretending not to know there was massive fraud. It wanted plausible deniability because the entire point of creating the EU superstate and integrating it through the mechanism of an ever widening Eurozone was to establish itself as a world political power on a par with the US. Ergo, the ends justified the means. The Drachma Obligation bonds would not be able to be plausibly denied, it would not be legal until the EU said it was and I think that would require a treaty modification.

    In addition to my other concerns about it, generally non convertable currencies create a black market speculating in what that currency is actually worth in convertable currencies. Generally, that tends to drive their value down. Look at the speculation of the Russia ruble during the Soviet era for example. The official exchange rate was aroud 1.1 to 1 but on the black market it was 7 to 1, 10 to 1, maybe even much higher at times. I'm sure WA could tell us what the internal markets thought the ruble was really worth in terms of real money.

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  • 62. At 3:18pm on 10 Apr 2010, Alhemistis wrote:

    Your article mentions that Europe likes to put a spin on things to soothe the nerves of, among others, the financial markets. You also explain that what the financial markets are doing is that they are subjecting the Euro currency as well as Greece (and its ability to service it's debt) to a stress test. I thoroughly agree. However the financial markets themselves are driven by spin, speculation and momentum. For example, Greece's debt to GDP is at 112%, how is it that Japan who has a debt to GDP ratio of over 170% and Italy who are at 114% debt to GDP, are seemingly able to walk between the torrent of market driven rain drowning Greece at the moment? Spin, spin and more spin.

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  • 63. At 3:37pm on 10 Apr 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Several weeks ago, when this subject was the focus of public attention, the Greek government said it didn't want or need a bailout, just lower interest rates for its currency. Now the suggestion that an alternate non convertable currency might be necessary reveals that the truth is that Greece really is in the dire financial straits its worst detractors said it was. Another veil has dropped from the EU's face as the dance progresses. If other EU members had any conficence at all in Greece, they would underwrite the difference between the actual rates Greece would have to pay on the world market and what it feels is a fair competitive rate. This could be financed though member central banks or through the EU's central bank itself. The terms could be arranged so that payback wouldn't begin until well after the crisis is expected to be over. That they don't considering what is at risk proves that they don't have much confidence or optimism in Greece's economic future either. I expect a last minute bailout cobbled together out of bits of twine, chewing gum, paper clips, pocket lint, and other assorted financial bits and pieces. When push comes to shove, it's hard to believe that the EU will let Greece go into default putting the entire Euro in dire peril.

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  • 64. At 4:22pm on 10 Apr 2010, Doctuer_Eiffel wrote:

    "Greece: Bankruptcy hovers"

    It hovers over the entire global economy. It is all going to continue crashing. Greece today the rest of the world next. The bankers and investors went straight back to their same old game after being bailed out.

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  • 65. At 4:33pm on 10 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    cbw - that simply doesn't make any sense. Paris and Brussels aren't political entities.

    By the way, some people - particularly journalists - are in that lazy habit of name-dropping capital cities to avoid careful political analysis - "Beijing seeks stronger ties with Washington." Really? How so? The two mayors? Some senators of each of the two cities? China and the U.S.? But which politicians in China and the U.S.? It's a sloppy habit and usually a way of avoiding profound analysis of intricate political processes.

    So if by "Paris" you mean Nicolas Sarkozy and by "Brussels" you mean Charles Picqué, then what do you think constitues Sarkozy's lack of pragmatism and his excessive idealism? How is Charles Picqué a romantic?

    Winston Churchill is best-loved by those who prefer quoting his witty lines over analysing his political philosophy. Churchill, like his imitative successors Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, was a leader of a country whose golden age was long gone. He, like his successors, sought to salvage some of his nation's glorious past, which, by the way, could hardly have been more checkered (unless one rationalises away the usual tactics of the British Empire, colonise countries all over the world, machine-gun a few Ottomans here, bomb a few Kurds there etc...). But the Empire, like all empires past their apex, was in terminal decline and Britain's effort in world war 2 was, amongst a number of other things, a last-ditch effort to halt the inevitable decline. His many humorous remarks (e.g. about the Germans) were often uttered from this inferior perspective. His characterisation of what he viewed as typical German behaviour was more a result of wishful thinking than of real knowledge of any real German national character (if there is such a thing). The reasoning was that Germany had to be kept at everyone's feet to keep them away from people's throats. Well, the Americans had different plans for Germany and Britain, the ex-superpower, had no choice but to play along. Now, Germany is a powerful nation at the heart of Europe and it is not threatening anyone. The less aggressive and more reticent Germany's behaviour becomes, the more hysterical do those get who wanted Winston Churchill to be right about the Germans. Now, those people have no choice but to retreat into a state of self-delusion and mental parallel universe where today's Germany is an aggressive power and "at people's throat" just because the Greeks just ruined their economy. Or it is "at people's throat" because it exports more goods than other European nations. Or Germany is "at people's throats" because European leaders are having some trouble finding a way forward for Greece.

    Churchill and Thatcher and, to a lesser extent, Tony Blair, wanted to return Britain to an age of unabashed power politics. Every time, a British leader tries to do that, he or she has to confront the British public with the stark contrast between his/her nationalistic ambitions and the reality of geopolitics. Post-war Britain was forced to give up almost all of its overseas colonies. Only five years after the the glorious Falklands War (Margaret Thatcher's bash at playing Imperial Britain in the late 20th century), Black Monday reminded Britain of the fact that Britain was now nothing more than just another mediocre European nation and a small cog in the global economy. And Tony Blair, who led Britain into so many wars, was only able to play power politics if and when he latched onto the U.S., which he always did without fail. In order to give himself and his nation the illsuion that Britain was still a powerful country, he even followed Clinton and Bush and led Britain into wars that were diametrically opposed to Britain's national interests (the 1999 war against Yugoslavia being the most prominent example of this).

    Churchill's quotes about Germany (and a few other nations) must be seen for the expressions of nostalgic yearning that they were. Britain's nostalgics do not resent Germany for its belligerence. At this point, there would be very little to resent in that respect. They resent Germany for its increasing pacifism. They want Churchill to be right about Germany, because if Churchill was right about Germany, then perhaps Churchill was also right about Britain having the power and ability to re-instate the British Empire. Every time, history proves Churchill wrong, Britain's chances of re-emerging as a global player seem to decrease.

    This constant British hysteria about German ambitions to subjugate Europe has nothing to do with the real Germany. Rather, we keep telling ourselves those ludicrous stories because we have a problem with ourselves and our place in history.

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  • 66. At 4:51pm on 10 Apr 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    Oh, I so look forward to the G-20 Summit in June, in Canada!

    April 10, 2010, Finance ministers from the eurozone are in the process of discussing the technical details of a bailout plan for debt-ridden Greece. The ministers will hold a conference call at 2:00 pm (1400 GMT) with the aim of "finalizing".
    The EU (as a whole, excepting Germany) does not appear keen on allowing the IMF to play even a supporting role. The EU Finance Ministers are working on the details.
    (What’s really puzzling is that Greek bond yields recently soared to record levels (7.58%, which is more than twice the rate on German 10-year bunds). I’m not sure what’s going on with that.)
    Back to the Greek problem:
    Greece is struggling to refinance 22B in debt that will mature by the end of May.
    EU officials seem agreed that loans provided to Greece will have interest rates "well below those prevailing in the market."
    Details will probably be enlightened (that is cease being detail-lite) when EU Finance Ministers and central bankers meet.
    (Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings may have downgraded Greece to the lowest investment-grade rating, but the Athens Stock Exchange had closed before the downgrade. The Greece ASE Composite rose 3.4% before it was told that wasn't possible!)
    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has been on the phone with several EU leaders. The telephone exchanges have already involved
    - EU President Herman Van Rompuy,
    - European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet,
    - EU Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso and
    - Eurozone Finance Chief Jean-Claude Juncker.
    Moratinos said Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose country currently chairs the European Union, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had also been chatting.
    You will likely note the absence of any IMF officialdom.
    Earlier Friday, Van Rompuy gave Greece his support. He told that the Greek Government was fighting a courageous battle and was breaking with the past.
    Sarkozy said the EU was ready to activate its rescue plan, coming to Greece's aid whenever called; this position also holds with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
    (Germany alone is still calling the rescue scheme “EU-IMF”.)
    Fitch said it cut Greece's long-term foreign ISSUER DEFAULT RATINGS to BBB- from BBB+. Ratings assigned by Fitch are opinions based on established criteria. Ratings are not facts, and therefore cannot be described as being "accurate" or "inaccurate".
    The facts are: Greece has to find around 11B euros by next month to cover its obligations and another 32B over the balance of the year.
    How did Greece get into this situation:
    American traders of credit default swaps who bet against Greece's debt and are now raising its borrowing costs, making default more likely. Why?
    Because these unregulated companies make their money off default!
    Greece has lamented that claims trading of swaps is racking up big profits for Wall Street & hedge funds at Greece's expense. Greece favors banning "naked" credit default swaps on a country's sovereign debt. Too late the hindsight!
    In naked trades, the buyers of the swaps don't actually hold the underlying debt; yet, they still profit on the bet.
    Papandreou likened this practice to buying insurance on a neighbor’s house and then burning it down to collect. Without naming names, he said some US banks that were bailed out during the financial crisis are using naked swaps to make "a fortune out of Greece's misfortune."
    Such speculation, he warned, could trigger a "domino effect" of higher borrowing costs for indebted countries AROUND THE WORLD.
    President Barack Obama offered a "very positive" response to European ideas for restricting currency trading. He said the issue would be discussed at the next meeting of the G-20 in June.
    The Federal Reserve is investigating how Goldman Sachs and other banks used credit default swaps and other derivatives. A Federal Reserve investigation is like asking the arsonist to investigate how the house burned down.

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  • 67. At 4:58pm on 10 Apr 2010, margaret howard wrote:

    I would like to join Mathiasen and generalissimo in sending my condolences to the Polish people contributing to this blog and to their fellow countrymen. The tragedy is made worse when you know the reason for their flight to Russia. Our thoughts are with you.

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  • 68. At 5:07pm on 10 Apr 2010, rhwdj101 wrote:

    I predict that Greece and many other unstable EU states will be ousted from the Euro. What will be left is a stronger Euro with more stable economies. So strong, that the UK may even join!

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  • 69. At 6:04pm on 10 Apr 2010, Dan Allen wrote:

    Europe, as always, is just selfish, greedy and cheap. Compare yourselves to the USA. You have higher salaries, higher standards of living, higher social safety net, and more convergence between your rich countries and poor countries. Try traveling through West Virginia after a fine sojourn through Connecticut.

    So, waiting it out for your poorer countries like Greece to converge is pure folly. You have more convergence now than the USA ever will. Greece is not going to sell laser chip units tomorrow. Greece will get back to shipping and tourism, and that's it. It's called a union for a reason.

    But European selfishness simply can't imagine existing in such a union. The amount you send onto Brussels for redistribution is 1% of the total Euro GDP, and a lot of that pays for governance. That's nothing. New York state, for instance, gets back $1 in federal taxes for every $2 that it pays out. The richer American states give out 50% of wealth to be distributed elsewhere, while Germany--your richest country--does not even contribute 5%.

    Get over yourselves and go back to the fractured Europe of old, and don't let Germany enjoy monetary convergence if they're going to be so selfish. Indeed, the USA should never have bailed out Germany (with the Marshall plan) nor with the bank money from TARP last year. Ingrates and hypocrites.

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  • 70. At 6:10pm on 10 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Chris Camp

    Re #65

    I'm very sorry, but what does not "..make any sense.." is your absolute blind-spot loyalty to a EUropean ideal that simply does not exist when the EU is looked at in the cold light of practical, everyday politics and economics. Especially when you wrap it up in some spurious viewpoint of what constitutes the background reasons for opposition to the EU.

    Churchill's quotes!

    The quote IS from WW2!

    It is the inference I was drawing about how 1 Nation, be it Germany or any from Europe's long list of would-be tyrannies, inevitably will emerge to attempt to call the political-economic tune on the Continent. Intentional or not the EU is wide open to just such a development. The debacle over Greece is one more illustration of how Europeans are exposed as incapable of the 'unity' that You would claim for the EU as its abiding strength.

    "..constant British hysteria.."!?

    Are You for real?

    What 'hysteria'? The UK has been a part of the EEC/EU since 1973 - - there is no frantic fear of Germany - - are You simply unable to follow logical argument? European WW2 ended May 1945: That is 65 years ago - - only Briton aged 70+ have a living memory of it - - no one of normal working age in G.B. in 2010 has any knowledge of it other than through books, films etc. (and frankly the movies of the 50s-60s have long since stopped being repeated even on the BBC!). When Corporal Jones told Captain Mannering, "..they don't like it up 'em, Sir!" Britons were laughing - - not nodding in profound sympathy - - Britons are not afraid of Germany and do not hanker after this 'spirit of the Blitz/WW2' emotional twaddle that You keep trying to apply to the British Citzens!

    It is true Britons sing at Wembley internationals v Germany about 1,000 bombers etc., but if You stood amongst them (as I have) everyone is in hysterics (not hysteria) as we try to recall the next number down... Some PC Citizens home & abroad take offence - - to which I would just remark I have yet to see the German cartoon analogy of Britain that didn't involve a Bowler hat or Britannia & Lion at bay! They don't signify Germany's real attitudes anymore than the song does British sentiment in the real World.

    It is my contention and that of many other 'anti-EU' the UK/England will do better as a Nation outside the political construct called the EUropean Union. Among many reasons is that a nation in this case Germany will tend to dominate political-economic-fiscal policy-making in ways that are not condusive to the best interests of the UK/England.

    "..our (Britains?) place in history.."? We don't care about the past 'empires'! We are concerned with the present: In mine & other's opinion it is not a positive contribution to the future generations for the UK/England to tie itself too tightly into a supra-national organisation in which the basic principles of 'Democracy' are under considerable pressure. We read Yours and other 'pro-EU' comments and the EU Leadership (plus National leaders too) telling us Citizens this is all 'too complicated' for us ordinary folks to understand - - hence the Lisbon Treaty etc. should be left to those clever intellectuals etc. - - THAT superiority-attitude is what sends an ironically 'collective' shiver down our spines!

    I'm not sure if You were just feeling a tad inadequate with your main points (I can easily believe that - - they were so wide of the mark), but the opening stuff about Paris-Berlin not being 'entities' & 'lazy' journalism was symptomatic IMO of lack of grasp of the depth of issues being raised.
    Not to put too fine a point on it if You do not get it isn't 'laziness', but 'Political shorthand' when such terminology is used then everything else we debate becomes problematic.

    Sorry, but I believe I am making sense.

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  • 71. At 6:58pm on 10 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    "Get over yourselves and go back to the fractured Europe of old, and don't let Germany enjoy monetary convergence if they're going to be so selfish. Indeed, the USA should never have bailed out Germany (with the Marshall plan) nor with the bank money from TARP last year. Ingrates and hypocrites."

    the U.S. gave all of Europe a portion of the patents it confiscated from Germany after world war 2 (10 billion dollars then, 100 billion in today's money). This constant whingeing about the Marshall Plan and how everyone is being so terribly ungrateful to the Americans is getting old. America got filthy rich in Wolrd War 2 and it would not have invested in re-building Europe if it had not profited from it.

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  • 72. At 7:10pm on 10 Apr 2010, JorgeG wrote:

    @ CBW, my apologies if contrary to expectations you do not suffer from immigrant-phobia.

    Perhaps I jumped to the wrong conclusion. I think I could be forgiven for having done that as I remember that on several occasions you crucified the Spanish government for having declared an amnesty on illegal immigrants.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4242411.stm

    You said the actual figure was around 5 million although the BBC reported this as 800,000 but the actual figure is by the bye. You said it was shameful, preposterous, ludicrous, contemptible, outrageous, etc. that Spain should have granted an amnesty for so many illegal immigrants.

    I beg to disagree, I think that is a sign of maturity and of a grown up country, a country not scared of its own shadow, very much unlike the UK, a country so scared of its own shadow that it is the only country out of 30 EEA countries (i.e. the single market that the British political elite seem to love so much) that has refused to remove its picket fences with border police separating itself from the rest of EEA countries.

    "Hoping for a British defeat at the borders of insanity" (*)

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/hoping-for-a-british-defeat-at-the-borders-of-insanity-1601508.html

    (*) An extremely rare breath of fresh air, enlightenment and common sense in the British media, even if it's 15 years old and written by someone whose name sounds suspiciously Irish...

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  • 73. At 8:00pm on 10 Apr 2010, viewcode wrote:

    "...that's how it always starts...but later, there's running and screaming..."

    OK, everybody's shouting, everybody's riding their hobbyhorses. Let's look at the numbers and see what's happening

    01/01/2004
    USD: 0.090607 grams of gold
    EUR: 0.095019
    GBP: 0.146071

    01/01/2007
    USD: 0.049038
    EUR: 0.064584
    GBP: 0.096178

    01/03/2010
    USD: 0.027857
    EUR: 0.037677
    GBP: 0.041554

    01/04/2010
    USD: 0.027768
    EUR: 0.037398
    GBP: 0.042264

    09/04/2010
    USD: 0.026898
    EUR: 0.036000
    GBP: 0.041285

    (source: fxtop.com)

    So what do these numbers mean? None of the three currencies have done well over the last six years. The Euro has done best, currently trading at ~38% of its 1/1/2004 value, compared to USD (~30%) and GBP (~28%). However, when we look at the last six weeks, the picture is different. EUR is currently trading at ~96% of its 1/3/2010 value, USD at ~97%, GBP at ~99%.

    So we can say that EUR has done comparably well, but that the recent crisis has hurt it. USD advocates may wish to consider that the dollar has not done well either.

    Hope that helps, regards, viewcode

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  • 74. At 8:13pm on 10 Apr 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "So what do these numbers mean?"

    It means that there is no correlation between the value of currency and the amount of gold held by a nation's government. No currency is backed by gold, that was obsoleted a long time ago. Gold is being sold off for industrial and commercial use such as jewelery. There is no reason to hold on to it when it can be so easily sold off for money. When it's all gone, governments will sell off other things they don't need...like Big Ben and the Tower of London. And one of the biggest white elephants of them all, the Millenium Dome. I'll bet Britain gets at least fifty dollars for that one :-)

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  • 75. At 8:21pm on 10 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    72. At 7:10pm on 10 Apr 2010, JorgeG1 wrote:


    "@ CBW, my apologies if contrary to expectations you do not suffer from immigrant-phobia. ..."

    EUpris: I certainly don't claim to speak for CBW. "immigrant-phobia" is too vague and too emotional. The UK is overloaded with immigrants.

    I will have to cut out the swear words. A black African lady who had drunk quite a lot said to me recently: "You are a very educated man. People like you are dying out. There are too many [***] Africans here. I didn't come here to be with all these [***} Africans. I didn't come here to be with all these [***] Nigerians. I didn't come here to be with all these [****] Europeans. I came here to be with people like you!"

    Even immigrants recognise that we have too many immigrants in the UK.

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  • 76. At 8:26pm on 10 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    72. At 7:10pm on 10 Apr 2010, JorgeG1


    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/hoping-for-a-british-defeat-at-the-borders-of-insanity-1601508.html

    EUpris: I want border controls. There are many reasons to want to leave the "EU". Excessive ease of movement is just one.

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  • 77. At 8:32pm on 10 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    72. At 7:10pm on 10 Apr 2010, JorgeG1 wrote:


    "@ CBW, my apologies if contrary to expectations you do not suffer from immigrant-phobia. "

    EUpris: "immigrant-phobia" is too vague and too emotional.

    I will have to cut out the swear words. A black African lady who had drunk quite a lot said to me recently something like

    "You are a very educated man. People like you are dying out. There are too many [***] Africans here. I didn't come here to be with all these [***] Africans. I didn't come here to be with all these [***] Nigerians. I didn't come here to be with all these [***] Europeans. I came here to be with people like you."

    Even immigrants recognise that we have too many immigrants in the UK.

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  • 78. At 8:55pm on 10 Apr 2010, voiceofreason wrote:

    cool_brush_work, before you go on with your feeble little rant about world domination by Germany (some Brits really can't get themselves to update their world views more than once in a century ) - have you actually asked yourself why any of this nasty business with Greece has got anything to do with Germany at all? Surely not because the ECB is in Frankfurt, the French have made sure that it is run by one of theirs ;-)

    It's because the Greek need money urgently... so where else go begging than to the country which has been paying for the whole show ever since its inception (i.e., the EC/EU - look up net contributions by country)?
    Now that they they need an extra 'private' gift urgently on top of the annual subsidies, they are begging Germany (and France) to take on extra debt of their own so that they can pass on the money raised to Greece.

    So the fact that the rest of the EU is not directly involved in this, is not because Germany is too imperialist, but because the others are not paying the bill, geddit??
    But maybe Germany should subtract the costs of such private bailouts from its EU contributions. Or invite the UK to join in - after all it already has an annual deficit larger (%) than Greece's so what difference do a few bob make to its taxpayers, so used now to bailing out banks 'worth' more than whole countries!

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  • 79. At 9:31pm on 10 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    JorgeG1

    Re #72

    Hmm, trawling the archives I see in quest of a valid point-of-order - - and still coming up short!

    Your own Spanish Government declared it had made 'legal' some 4+million formerly 'illegal immigrants' to Spain - - it was Mr Zappatoro's policy mid-last decade - - it wasn't a good idea then and it is not a good idea now (as the EU record level unemployed 16 to 25 year old indigenous Spaniards will testify).
    We can dawdle over the term 'illegal' and 'immigrant' if You like, however, 4+million residents in Spain in 2004-05 did not have the legal right to remain in Spain and Mr Zappatoro gave them that 'legal' right of residence.
    It therefore follows that when the present Economic debacle descended on Spain (through little fault of its own & certainly nothing like the responsibility of the UK Government for a disastrous state of affairs) the mass of newly 'legal' residents employed in the Spanish boom building industry were among the first to get the heave-ho.
    Spain gave them legal entitlement: That much is Spain's fault - - Spain must now pay for their upkeep despite their negligible period of contribution to Spain's Economic-Fiscal accounts - - it is much the same in UK (who too late introduced Border Control-policing) and across EU-Schengen which (Brussels proclaimed) has been such a boon to everyone that all Europeans who lived and worked there for the last 30 to 40 years are now paying for 12+ million 'legal/illegal' immigrants of the last decade who have paid little or nothing into the system.

    As I have often written in contributions on here concerning the EU and all its wonderful structures: EUropeans reap what they sow - - amongst 500 million that 12 million is not so many - - but then, the 12,000,000+ are the 'declared ones', and as Schengen has 9,000+ recognised external border entries I leave it to You and other 'pro-EU' to yet again come up with numerous dives & ducks to explain it all away as really nothing much to be concerned about. As 'qualification' for the EUro-zone has shown the EU is so reliable in these statistical matters, isn't it!?
    Then there's Brussels' reassuring proclamations: A bit like the Greek fiscal crisis was solved 6 months ago, no wait, 4 months ago, oh hang on 2 weeks ago, today...

    Repeat after Barroso: "EU is good, All else is bad!'

    Go on, I know You want to believe...

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  • 80. At 10:36pm on 10 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    voiceofreason

    Re #78

    "..rant.."?

    "..world domination by Germany.."?

    "..update world views more than once a century.."?

    Well, thanks for your contribution. I will say, though limited in scope, the first paragraph does amount to a considerable diatribe of unsubstantiated innuendo about me.

    I'm unsure if you actually meant 'rant' or only that what I had written got up your nose because You did not agree with it?
    Of course I apologise if I have written bombastically: My intention was to enable the 'pro-EU' such as yourself to avoid falling in to the trap of stereotypying 'anti-EU' - - a trait all too common and unappetizing among the so wise and intellectually gifted fellow-traveller 'pro-EU'.

    'World domination'? Well, as I dealt strictly with the issue of the UK & EUropean Union, You either need to quote from my text something to back You up, or admit you just made it up!

    'Update..century..'? Struggling to follow the debate? There is a fine line between a clever put down & a downer! No matter, though I had thought (see #28 & #56) I had presented a fairly straightforward account of how the EU/UK arrived at its present situation I will endeavour to put things in perspective for You:

    1) I have consistently written the UK/England should not belong to the EU.
    2) I wrote UK should not belong because IMO the EU is likely to be answerable to 1 Nation more than any other, i.e. Germany.
    3) I suggest Germany because it is the Economic & Fiscal centre of the EU.
    4) Furthermore, as this centralisation gathers pace I believe the EU is unable to sustain its present course without losing already alarmingly limited 'Democratic' accountability.
    5) Also, in response to others who mistook my concern about a dominating Nation as somehow a reference to WW2 (I know - - weird, isn't it!?) I took time to allude to a common misapprehension among 'pro-EU' that all 'anti-EU' such as myself are besotted with anachronistic memories of 'war' & 'empire' (I mean - - go figure - - how could anyone rational conceive of Britons as being obsessed by a war 65+ years ago whilst everyone else under 70 in EUrope has moved on - - it just cracks you up with the absurdity, doesn't it!?).
    6) Thus, I wrote IMO the UK would do better to follow a path of its own choosing, and, on a personal level,
    7) I identified factors concerning UK Membership of the EU I believe are detrimental to the future 'political' & 'economic' welfare of my children/grandchildren.

    True enough, I have used the debacle of Greek finances etc. as a part of the reasoning/explanation for my standpoint, though I'm bound to say I also referred to several other key issues (which curiously You overlooked, along with all those other 'pro-EU', as You decided what I had written as opposed to reading what I had written).
    Something in the Blog-ether, do you think!?

    I trust by giving this numerated account of my previous contributions You have been able to follow the line I have taken - - or not to coin a phrase - - did You "geddit", by any chance?

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  • 81. At 10:50pm on 10 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    JorgeG1

    If the UK is annoying you, then please, please, please work to get us thrown out of your "EU".

    The comments you read here are mild compared with what people say "on the street."

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  • 82. At 11:04pm on 10 Apr 2010, viewcode wrote:

    MAII (#74).

    Your remark "...there is no correlation between the value of currency and the amount of gold held by a nation's government. No currency is backed by gold, that was obsoleted a long time ago. Gold is being sold off for industrial and commercial use such as jewelery..." is true but a non sequitur.

    When comparing three or more currencies, it's best to use a non-currency as a yardstick. Gold is a good one because the amount in existence doesn't vary much and it's better understood than the alternatives (Silver? Platinum? Palladium? Bread? Penicillin? Oil? Big Mac?).

    Regards, viewcode

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  • 83. At 11:19pm on 10 Apr 2010, margaret howard wrote:

    74 Homer Simpson
    "No currency is backed by gold, that was obsoleted a long time ago."
    Is that why Fort Knox is reputed to be empty?

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  • 84. At 11:24pm on 10 Apr 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    I must say I am fascinated by the widespread outpouring of affected grief due to the crash of the Polish presidents plane. Obviously it is unfortunate when anybody dies in a plane crash, or in any accident for that matter, but folks usually don't express their public dismay unless the dead are famous for being musicians or comedians or other celebrities who endeared themselves to ordinary folks.

    I mean, let's be real. These were politicians, bankers and high ranking military personal. All party members. The idea that they were the cream of any soup, except the most foul broth of ambition and self service, is slightly incredulous.

    Anyway, cue the hysteria at nasty DT who doesn't value societies most important and respectable individuals.

    More people probably died in accidents throughout Europe since the crash, many of them really nice folks who teach children and assist the disabled and so on and so forth. Do we express an outpouring of affected grief for these casualties? No.

    What a curious thing it is to die in the spotlight, on stage, in front of an audience who thrill to each emotion drawn from them by the thespian cabal.

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  • 85. At 11:26pm on 10 Apr 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    42. cyanus
    Back in the day the US had what was at the time called "war bonds". Americans bought the bonds to support the war effort. The interest rate was rather low but nearly 200 billion dollars was raised in the 40's. I'm not quite sure how Americans would respond to something like that now. Probably not much.

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  • 86. At 11:35pm on 10 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    JorgeG1

    Re Your #72 & further to my #79

    I have looked back to my comments in the Blog several months ago about the Spanish 'legal immigrants' issue.

    It concerned me that You portray my remarks as an attempt to 'crucify' Spain: It troubles me You believe this as it is not my usual method of debate.

    I cannot find a contribution by me in which I used "..shameful.. preposterous.. ludicrous.. contemptible.. outrageous.." etc. as You alledge in #72.

    I may be wrong & it could be I have not delved deep enough, however, unless You can substantiate my using such vitriol please do correct the misleading impression made in your #72.

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  • 87. At 00:26am on 11 Apr 2010, viewcode wrote:

    democracythreat (#84)

    It doesn't work like that.

    The problem with the multinational nature of this board is that systems of government vary between nations. Ireland (directly elected head of state, indirectly elected head of government, different people), UK (unelected head of state, indirectly elected head of government, different people), USA (directly-ish elected head of state, directly-ish elected head of government, same person), Switzerland (Federal Council is considered a collective head of state, although there is a President of the Swiss Confederation), and there are others as well. So what may seem insignificant to some may resonate hugely with others.

    Poland (like many other countries) has a head of state, and this post is frequently seen synechdochally as the symbol/voice/spokesman of the nation. The death of Poland's head of state (President Kaczyński) therefore resonates amongst Poles in a way that the death of the head of government (Prime Minister, currently Donald Tusk) may not.

    Combine that with the fact that the same plane crash killed many members of Poland's military and upper and lower houses, and that's quite the hammer-blow.

    I hope this explains why the plane crash is actually quite big news.

    Regards, viewcode

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  • 88. At 04:55am on 11 Apr 2010, jose estevao wrote:

    All this doom a gloom talk will sound so silly in a few months time. I doubt that the greek people would be better off outside the eurozone. Economists say a devaluation of 20% would be helpful and greeks should inflate their way out of this problem. But wouldn't this policy recommendation result in a massive loss of purchasing power in a single shot? Wouldn't it be better to bite the bullet cutting spending and hiking the vat tax while enjoying the stability of the eurozone. Either way the next 10 years are going to be tough but were I greek I'd rather stay in the eurozone. Look what happened in Iceland (so much for nordic virtue).
    Also let me remind you that the USA bailed out mexico in the 90s and made money out of it. Modern day Germany should once and for all shake off its dark history and lead the rest of europe in assisting greece and still make a little money in the end. Contrary to what people think a bailout doesn't have to be a money loser.

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  • 89. At 05:13am on 11 Apr 2010, burtine wrote:

    Thanks guys, some wondeful comments and articles. Many are spot on, or at least very interesting to read (thanks #2, cogitoergosum). And luckily most nonsensical anti-EU or whatever remarks, which have nothing to do with the topic, have been left out. Except of course the always off-topic rants from EUprisoner (#3,4,5, 50, 51, 53, 75,76, 81), but let's just continue ignoring these comments as thankfully happened in this thread.

    A pleasant improvement of previous blogs!
    B

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  • 90. At 05:29am on 11 Apr 2010, george kamarinos wrote:

    I wonder, all of you who speak with such authority about Greece, how much do you know about Greece? It is quite surprising how many 'experts on Greece' have come forth from nowhere recently!

    One guy talks about 'drachma bonds' and considers that nearly impossible.
    Ok, pal, read you history. We have done it. In 1922. No big news. We can provide some know how on the topic also, case anybody is interested!.

    Another expert predicts that a pay cut of 10% to 30% will signal Armageddon for the Greek society with the Unions on the barricades. Well, FYI, this is exactly what has happened already and the place is far quieter and far safer than Soho after 9pm.

    A third wise man suggest we turn ourselves into a sort of international 'Tavern of Jamaica' inviting the scum of the earth to set up shop here so we can chew on some bones thrown to us in the process. Well, we cannot do that, can we? I mean Lichtenstein, Luxemburg, The Channel Islands, even Austria and the City have beaten us to this. They offer this kind of services for centuries and can claim real high standards on this game.

    So, hold your horses, do not get so excited! Greece has a debt problem, but if we take into account Central Government debt, municipalities debt, social security liabilities, company debt and household debt, then Greece is not the champion. Not by far. Others lead the parade.

    Greece will have to get back to, say, 2005 level of income, but I lived in Greece in 2005 and nobody suffered. Greece might be in better position in a few years for the very simple reason that we started reigning in Central Government Expenditure sooner than the rest of the pack.

    What really surprised us, is the ease with which everybody in the North jumped to racist stereotypes. We are supposed to be 'goat herders', 'cheats', 'lazy', 'insignificant', you name it. I try to understand what kind of total idiocy is fanning these flames of hatred.

    I am amazed how fast an economic issue turned into such a blatant racist attack on ten million people you hardly know. The grotesque element in this is that the noble gentlemen of the North who so readily want to burn a whole people at the stake, are the very people who since the Middle Ages have, times and and times again, strewn untold misery to hundred of millions in Europe and all over the world with the sole purpose of plunder.

    People who traded slaves like cattle, people who made roast of human flesh, people who filled the environment with radiation and poison, take the high moral ground and have the temerity to preach to us on 'moral issues'. What a farce! Read your own history and beg dear God for your collective forgiveness, for you are the Nations of cold blooded looters.

    We will survive. We have done it so many times we stopped counting. This is what we are good at!

    As for you, I humbly suggest, do brush up on your Mandarin. Your children will have to be really good at Chinese to scrape a living in a few years time. This should be your urgent preoccupation!

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  • 91. At 06:12am on 11 Apr 2010, David wrote:

    I think Greece should focus on working, working, working, on touristy things and starting new industries ...like Ireland...technology is the money making thing these days...Invite foreign investment, this seems the best way out. And Greece is the port of the EU. That is quite a exclusive benefit...they will grow their way out of this mess.

    Postive thought is actually more realistic than negative thought...proven... well....a theory that I think is quite true....I read about depression (alot a while back in my 20s) being a form of filtering that allows negative thoughts dominate ones life.

    One needs to change ones behavior and have goals...Greece now has a goal...get real and use their strengths to advance in the future.

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  • 92. At 08:16am on 11 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    George kamarinos

    Re #90

    I sympathise with your general annoyance at the predicament Greece finds itself in.

    However, I do wonder if You read these Blog debates based on Articles written by Mr Hewitt or did You write your comment more as an attempt to condemn unfair stereotyping of Greek Citizens in other media outlets?

    The litany of "..goat herders..." etc. is not the description I recognise about this present Blog debate or previously on the 'Relief of Athens' article.

    Surely You realise it is proud Greeks such as Nik, Tasos, Cogitoergosum etc. who have also contributed to these comments?
    They have put forward views on how Greece might deal with this crisis and their reactions to the EU/EUro-zone partners' method of dealing with the issues.

    Others, have therefore responded: Your justified anger with certain characterisations made almost entirely in parts of Germany's media should not prevent You from realising the BBC's European Editor Blog Debate has in almost all cases risen way above that level.

    As a British 'anti-EU' I am very familiar with being the target of stereotypical slants, however, they are only an unfortunate portion of the comments and it seems to me this is true of the comments on Greece.
    E.g. It is perfectly feasible for someone to suggest 'Drachma bonds' as a way forward & for someone else to state they are not a good idea. If the reasons given for doubting 'bonds' are to do with the limitations of Financial Markets, EU Regulations etc. and refrain from personalised remarks about the Greek Citizen then the comments IMO are entirely fair.

    So, it is with all these debates: People can claim my 'anti-EU' view is wrong for a variety of reasons and I must accept they are entitled to their point of view - - however, like You on the Greek debate, I do not have to accept stereotypical abuse about my Nationality and/or what people imagine/create as being versions of my lifestyle.

    I hope all goes well for Greece (though with the EU involved it will be a totally uphill struggle): Good luck with your contributions.

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  • 93. At 08:30am on 11 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Burtine

    Re #89

    You will not be surprised to read that I totally disagree with your assessment of the debate & the background.
    How anyone could seriously propose that a BBC European Editor Blog Article entitled, 'Greece: Banruptcy hovers', is NOT relevant to the various views on the European Union is beyond my understanding!?

    The whole article refers to how Greece & its EU/EUro-zone partners are attemtpoing to resolve the crisis; parts of the article naturally allude to the previous one, titled, 'Relief of Athens'.
    This second article ONLY exists due to the failure of the EU/EUro-zone partners resolving the crisis, as Brussels claimed it had, at the previous stage when a 'rescue-package' deal was supposedly in place.

    Therefore it is entirely proper for those of us who doubt the validity of the EU to have joined in this debate on the dubious EU ability to handle such matters: Given the months of wheeling & dealing upto this juncture it is also fair comment to suggest there is evidence the EU has withstood the test Financial Markets have put it under, but the crisis continues.

    I can only assume your, ".. a pleasant improvement on previous blogs.." is another attempt by You to imply a Blog on EUropean topics should not include those who do not share your 'pro-EU' views.

    This Blog, like all others, reveals that exclusion is never going to occur.

    So, from my perspective I do agree: Good Blog so far!

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  • 94. At 09:09am on 11 Apr 2010, EuroScepticInYourMidst wrote:

    You have to have some sympathy for the Germans. As the EU's biggest contributor, they already pay through the nose to keep the whole EU afloat - and ironically, get threatened with fines when they exceed the Eurozone 3% borrowing limit in order to subsidise so many other countries.

    But it all really goes to the heart of how things are done in the EU. Say one thing, do another. It starts with countries who say Amen to everything at EU level and then take years to implement the legislation nationally.

    How could a country in the Euro get away with ignoring the rules for so long?

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  • 95. At 11:32am on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    89. At 05:13am on 11 Apr 2010, burtine wrote:

    " ... but let's just continue ignoring these comments ..."

    EUpris: Behind that comment is the arrogance of the "EU" and "EU"-lovers in ignoring the wishes of the hundreds of millions of "Citizens of the EU" who do not want the post-Lisbon "EU".

    If I remember rightly, Mandelson was reported as saying that the only way to stop the continual criticism of the "EU" in the UK was to get the Lisbon Treaty implemented. So did it work? It is important to get it across to "EU"-lovers that we ain't gonna stop.

    When Helmut Schmidt was German Chancellor, he said that in fifteen years time all the anti-"Europe" feeling in the UK would be gone. Many years later, I turned on the radio and there was Helmut Schmidt saying that he had been wrong and that he had given up on the British. That second hearing was now many years ago.

    Schmidt is an intelligent man. You be intelligent! You recognise that in the long run the UK is not going to tolerate your "EU"-Dictatorship.

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  • 96. At 11:41am on 11 Apr 2010, ridoca wrote:

    @94 - EuroScepticInYourMidst

    "You have to have some sympathy for the Germans...[because] they get threatened with fines when they exceed the Eurozone 3% borrowing limit..."

    True, Germany is the largest net contributor, but not the only one: notably the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Italy, and Austria are also net contributors. THe amounts roughly depend on the size of their economies so it is normal that Germany's contribution is larger in absolute terms.

    However, it was Germany itself that arrogantly IMPOSED a rigid 3% limit rule, to make sure that "others" would be kept in check, and BTW also imposed heavy fines to enforce the rule.

    So, no, I don't feel sorry if the country that imposes a rule on others thinking that they are better then the rest, then falls flat on its face because it cannot live up to it, and decides to simply modify it to their advantage when it is faced with the realistic probability of having to pay those same fines that they devised. Ah with France as an accomplice of course, given that at the time they were in the same boat: a stunning example of the real meaning of Franco-German collaboration.

    MMhh, come to think of it, unlike today when the problem does not involve them, in that occasion they did't seem all that preoccupied with changing the EU "rules"!

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  • 97. At 11:54am on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    89. At 05:13am on 11 Apr 2010, burtine wrote:

    " ... the always off-topic rants from EUprisoner ..."

    EUpris: I draw your attention to my post as follows:


    '6. At 5:45pm on 09 Apr 2010, you wrote:

    ...

    # 1. At 5:12pm on 09 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    " ...
    This sounds as if being pragmatic and promoting European integration were opposites. They are not. More than 40 years of a successfull Union are testament to that "

    It has NOT been a success.


    It has cost the citizens of the UK billions.

    It is a damn nuisance. '

    EUpris(realtime):

    Chris Camp stated that the "union" had been successful for more than forty years. I dispute that. If my reply is off-topic, then so his original statement. Have you criticised Chris Camp for being "off-topic"? Did I miss it?

    There was a book published in Germany in the seventies "Skandal Europa." Unfortunately I had to get rid of stuff and gave mine away. It detailed the way in which the "EU" and above all the CAP was a disgraceful waste and shamble. It appears that nothing has changed. In a recent article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (South German Newspaper) a reporter in Greece wrote* "The Greek olive farmer pays no taxes but he expects subsidies."

    They have had a lot of time to sort it out. The disgusting "EU" has not done so. I think it is reasonable to assume that they never will. It isn't worth hanging around to find out.

    I am entitled to dispute Chris Camps assertions.

    Loads of assertions are which I dispute are made here by "EU"-lovers. I am entitled to dispute them and I intend to do so.

    I have no intention of allowing this blog to become a propaganda instrument for the dark, anti-democratic forces sullying our fair Europe.

    Europe would be a wonderful place if it were not for the "EU".

    We could have a Golden Age here. The peace which we have is not an achievement of the "EU".


    * Going from memory! Slightly dangerous, but I think I am right.



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  • 98. At 11:59am on 11 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    @cool_brush_work

    I respect your scepticism about European integration, but as a staunch proponent of a European federation I do have to bring forward some arguments in the hope they might make you reconsider your stance.
    In my opinion, the nation-state as the basic unit of an international system is too inherently limited to cope with the challenges ahead of mankind. While these looming challenges are by and large the result of the predatory nature of Western civilisation and its economic development, they will have to be met by everyone. Furthermore, the various processes of globalisation should lead to the realisation that Planet Earth is a single system with interdependent subsystems; all problems related to the system as a whole consequently have to be addressed as such. The Copenhagen climate conference last year has provided ample proof for the assertion that in an international system based on the nation-state concept global solutions are unlikely to emerge. The number of actors (nation-states) is simply too large. Thus, there need to be new and fewer units of an international system- politically integrated regions.
    From a European (and my native German) perspective I may add that Europe as the birthplace of nationalism and nation-states should be aware of boon and bane inherent in those concepts. The project of European integration was necessitated by the horrors of WW2 as the only viable way to ensure Europe would not destruct itself.
    In your various postings you seem to bring forward two main arguments against (further?) European integration (at least from a British perspective). 1) You feel that German influence is ever- growing and that a European state would likely be dominated by Germany, and 2) the undemocratic and bureaucratic nature of the EU.
    While it is certainly true that Germany has become much more assertive in European affairs, I believe in the long term Germany's influence in Europe is rather likely to decline: our population is shrinking and shortly there will be a massive skilled labour shortage. Be that as it may, my main point is that Germany can be best kept in its place from within Europe. If Britain were to decide to embrace European integration this would automatically reduce German influence.
    I completely agree with you on the undemocratic nature of European integration and institutions. European integration needs to be transformed from an elite project into one of its people. Again, a federation based upon clearly demarcated areas of power for the union and its constituents and with a government that would be responsible directly to the European people. The European Parliament elects from its members the European government (commission), and the presently all-powerful council would become a true federal chamber in a bicamerial system with the sole purpose of representing the interests of the federal units.
    The notion that Europeans have to take control of European integration first and foremost implies a Europe- wide discussion about what kind of Europe people want, and what policy areas Europe should be responsible for. Any further change with regard to European integration must be approved by ALL people of Europe, albeit not unanimously. While every nation should have the right to opt out, more integration could neverthelesss continue among states where a majority was in favour of it. I realise that at present there probably wouldn't be a majority in favour of a European federation in any one EU member state. But once people start to realise that a federation would mean less interference from Brussels, as well as democratic and accountable institutions that would operate within a limited political scope leaving the affairs of every-day life in the hands of the federal units to regulate (or not), this could hopefully change. The European federation I envision would be responsible for foreign policy, security, education, basic infrastructure, overall economic policy and social welfare, and would of course have taxation power to cover these fields independently. This would guarantee that the basic promise of a federation is fulfilled: to achieve unity in diversity, a guideline not just for Europe, but for Planet Earth, the only home of mankind.


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  • 99. At 12:04pm on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    I just had a French bloke ring me up telling me he was from the Labour Party and asking me about my voting intentions. He was French or at least he told me he was. He sounded VERY French.

    Has anybody else had that?

    Does anybody know anything about a French connection?

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  • 100. At 12:28pm on 11 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    EUprisoner, without the E.U., there might not be a common market today. Only a prosperous Germany would have been able to pick up the bill for nearly all American wars since 1944. Would Germany have been able to do so without the common market, enabling it to export as much as it did and continues doing? So much of the prosperity Europe and America enjoy today are, to a great degree, thanks to the E.U.

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  • 101. At 1:43pm on 11 Apr 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #55


    Mathiasen.

    There's a specific thread in HYS portion of BBC portal dealing with the Polish civilian and military leadership's decapition in a Russian buiilt and recently Russian-overhauled Tupolev-154.
    [Katyn redivivus.]


    You may be interested in some comments posted there.

    Particularly by Russian posters.

    It seems, Germans have reconciled themselves to their past, took full responsibility for it and therefore can move forward, unburdened.

    Whereas Russians, on the other hand, just as guilty as Germans as far as WWII is concerned, seem to be still largely in a "state of denial".

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  • 102. At 2:23pm on 11 Apr 2010, voiceofreason wrote:

    cool_brush_work, I think the rest of Europe (and most readers of this blog, about Greece and its particular predicament) get a bit tired of why you think the UK should not be in the EU.

    If you think that the UK govermnment is not representing the wish of the majority of the British people, by having put you into the EU against your will, then the problem lies clearly with the structure of democracy in the UK. Maybe government isn't interested in representing us all, but rather just the London financial elites (perish the thought...)?

    But back to the subject of this blog - Greece. It seems interesting that some countries are willing to help Greece (not without own interest, for sure), while others are notably absent. For example, why isn't London offering help? The financial sector seemed all too keen to invest in any dodgy offshore scheme - so much for European solidarity indeed!

    You are arguing so vehemently why there isn't enough in it for the UK to stay in the EU, but deny countries like Germany who already pay for a large part of the EU budget that they ask questions and make conditions before they give more money? When the UK had a chance to help a European neighbor (Iceland), they used anti-terrorism law against them instead.

    That attitude is disgustingly self-centred and selfish, and confirms the worst stereotypes which Europeans have about the UK. So give Germany a break, they have all the right in the world to ask some questions, since they are paying the bills (as usual).

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  • 103. At 2:27pm on 11 Apr 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #99


    Have no fear. It took just one American half-drunk war correspondent
    (Ernetst Hemingway) to 'liberate' Paris.


    So if you think at some point, that the vector should be reversed, just give me a call. :)

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  • 104. At 2:43pm on 11 Apr 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    GK;

    "One guy talks about 'drachma bonds' and considers that nearly impossible.
    Ok, pal, read you history. We have done it. In 1922.

    In 1922 Greece still had sovereignty over its currency. When it joined the Euro, it effectively signed a contract that gave that sovereignty up. IMO based on that contract issuing drachma obligation bonds would probably be illegal unless all those who also entered into that contract agreed to amend it, something very unlikely and hardly within the time fame left. I also gave you reasons why IMO even if it were legal and done, it probably wouldn't work. Greece's bonds are already rated just one step above junk by Fitches. How about arguing the issues instead of the other posters, how about taking your emotion out of it and puting your intellect into it. This has nothing to do with high moral ground or beating on Greece, this has to do with economics.

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  • 105. At 3:38pm on 11 Apr 2010, george kamarinos wrote:

    reply to 104

    You see, you really know bl***y nothing about the situation in the country.
    'Drachma' bonds in the form of (of course) euro bonds in small denominations with low interest rate is an instrument already proposed in Greece by political groups. They have suggested that bonds in value up to 15.000 euros could be issued for the 'natives' and sold over the counter by the Greek banks at very small commissions without the intervention (read: profiteering) of wholesalers and the like. The government has not decided to use this tool of financing, yet. In 1922, the bonds were forced on the people. This is a variation that could happen today. Actually it did happen some years ago. Government suppliers had to settle for specially issued bonds for their claims.No Maastricht or Lisbon treaties had to change then, or would have to change now, for these instruments in one form or the other to be employed. So, indeed, do read your history, or even your newspaper before you pass judgment!

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  • 106. At 3:39pm on 11 Apr 2010, burtine wrote:

    QUOTE: "99. At 12:04pm on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:
    I just had a French bloke ring me up telling me he was from the Labour Party and asking me about my voting intentions. He was French or at least he told me he was. He sounded VERY French.

    Has anybody else had that?" END QUOTE

    Burtine: hm, what was that I just wrote about EUpris ranting of topic... Please EUpris, do yourself (and everyone else) a favour and stop making a fool of yourself and just try to write something about Greece?

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  • 107. At 3:52pm on 11 Apr 2010, Menedemus wrote:

    Chris Camp at #100

    You have it tail wagging the dog .....

    You wrote, "EUprisoner, without the E.U., there might not be a common market today. Only a prosperous Germany would have been able to pick up the bill for nearly all American wars since 1944. Would Germany have been able to do so without the common market, enabling it to export as much as it did and continues doing? So much of the prosperity Europe and America enjoy today are, to a great degree, thanks to the E.U.

    Try this instead and you will find it more true to say the following with careful transposition (although I am not sure where you get the idea that Germany has funded America's wars?):

    EUprisoner, without the Common Market, there might not be an E.U. today. Only a prosperous Germany would have been able to pick up the bill for nearly all American wars since 1944. Would Germany have been able to do so without the common market, enabling it to export as much as it did and continues doing? So much of the prosperity Europe and America enjoy today are, to a great degree, thanks to the Common Market.

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  • 108. At 3:55pm on 11 Apr 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "You see, you really know bl***y nothing about the situation in the country.
    'Drachma' bonds in the form of (of course) euro bonds in small denominations with low interest rate is an instrument already proposed in Greece by political groups. They have suggested that bonds in value up to 15.000 euros"

    Are they paid back in Euros or Drachmas? Big difference. If they are Euro bonds, then that is one matter. Why would anyone in Greece accept these low return instruments voluntarily when the outside world won't? Because Greeks will have it forced down their throats that this is the only way to save their corrupt nation? That is if it is a Euro bond. If they are paid back in Drachmas, they are in effect worthess outside Greece. They become an incovertable second currency which would inevitably create a black market for them as I said, one which would place a very low value on them when converted into a convertable currency like the Euro. Nobody outside Greece would accept them, and those inside Greece would be furious. Inflation in Drachmas would soar unless Greece's economy made a remarkable and surprising recovery. It is a very dubious prospect. How much time would it take to create and impliment this scheme? Probably more than is left between now and midnight when the next economic atom bomb explodes in May.

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  • 109. At 4:15pm on 11 Apr 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    #101 Powermeerkat;
    Thanks for the tip. Like other media BBC has now published an article on the TU 154, and the general picture is that the air craft is old now indeed but also that it has been realiable.

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  • 110. At 4:29pm on 11 Apr 2010, Mathiasen wrote:

    Bloggers;
    Get updated on Greek economy and the decisions made in the Euro zone today here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8614062.stm

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  • 111. At 5:29pm on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    100. At 12:28pm on 11 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    " ...Only a prosperous Germany would have been able to pick up the bill for nearly all American wars since 1944. ..."

    EUpris: How on earth do you justify that assertion?

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  • 112. At 5:45pm on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    100. At 12:28pm on 11 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    " ...Would Germany have been able to do so without the common market, enabling it to export as much as it did and continues doing?..."

    China sells a massive amount into the "EU". China is not in the "EU".
    The last time I checked, Germany sent about 50% of its exports into the "EU". So did South Africa. SA is not in the "EU".

    The last time I checked, Switzerland sent something like 70% of its exports into the "EU". Switzerland is not in the "EU" but sends a higher percentage of its exports into the "EU" than Germany.

    Before Austria joined the "EU" I checked up on this sort of stuff. As I remember it, Austria sent 65% of its exports into the "EU" and Norway 85%.

    I also remember reading stuff about unemployment rates in Europe in the seventies. As remember it, unemployment was lower in the EFTA countries than in the EEC or whatever it then called itself. If my memory is correct, only Portugal had a higher unemployment rate than the "best" EEC country, which was Germany. All other EFTA countries had a lower unemployment rate than Germany. I believe that we should have stuck with EFTA.

    Even if the Common Market was good, we still didn't need and don't need the CAP, the "European Commission", the "EU parliament", the "EU" flag, "EU" passports, Europol, an "EU"-Army, the metric system, "European Gendarmes", the Channel Tunnel, and loads more Euro-trash.


    " So much of the prosperity Europe and America enjoy today are, to a great degree, thanks to the E.U."

    EUpris: I do not accept that.

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  • 113. At 5:51pm on 11 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    powermeerkat, @101 and everywhere.

    WHEREAS RUSSIANS, ON THE OTHER HAND, JUST AS GUILTY AS GERMANS AS FAR AS WWII IS CONCERNED,
    (seem to be largely in the state of denial.)

    Disappointing condition indeed. For a man of the world, throwing easy phrases about. Common place, a banality, you know, "Russians as guilty as Germans in the 2nd world war..."

    A casual phrase, tossed by an American passing by. In the hope that if you say it a hundred times - people will get used to it; repetition is Mum of study.

    Why do you always pass by. Stop over.

    We are inviting over your likes since 1820, it's a standing invitation, read a visa.

    "So, chatter-boxes, do, do send us
    Your angrified sons.
    There is a place for them, in fields of Russia,
    Among old coffins - not entirely alien to you."




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  • 114. At 5:58pm on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    106. At 3:39pm on 11 Apr 2010, burtine wrote:
    " ...

    Please EUpris, ... just try to write something about Greece?

    EUpris: I did. I wrote:

    "In a recent article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (South German Newspaper) a reporter in Greece wrote* "The Greek olive farmer pays no taxes but he expects subsidies."

    EUpris: burtine! Now that I have done you a favour, please could you do me a favour. If you are French, the please could you write to your disgusting, arrogant, anti-democratic President and tell him that we in the UK are entitled to a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty? Could you also tell him that if he thinks we are going to give up, he is mistaken? You might like to copy the stuff about Helmut Schmidt which I wrote above. Thank you.

    Greece!

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  • 115. At 6:01pm on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    102. At 2:23pm on 11 Apr 2010, voiceofreason wrote:
    " ... When the UK had a chance to help a European neighbor (Iceland), they used anti-terrorism law against them instead."

    EUpris: I was very unhappy about that as were many British people.

    Greece!

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  • 116. At 6:05pm on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    102. At 2:23pm on 11 Apr 2010, voiceofreason wrote:

    " ...

    If you think that the UK govermnment is not representing the wish of the majority of the British people, by having put you into the EU against your will, then the problem lies clearly with the structure of democracy in the UK ..."

    EUpris: Not alone! It is quite clear that there was an anti-democratic conspiracy involving Blair and Sarkozy and others. It is quite clear that "important" people in the "EU" like Merkel and Barrosso supported this anti-democratic stitch up.


    Greece!

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  • 117. At 6:17pm on 11 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Voiceofreason

    Re #102

    Granted somewhat of a contrast from your #78 diatribe against my views.

    Though, even when You attempt to change your tune you get all the notes in the wrong order!

    Am I supposed to take seriously that some, "..get a bit tired of why you (me) think the UK should not be in the EU.." ?

    Please, did You think that opening sentence through? This is a Blog Debate on an Article written about a crisis involving the EU & Europe!
    It's about as far off reality as the previous one You made claiming I had written about "..Germany.. world domination..": You made that up too, didn't you, but won't admit it!

    Totally agree about what 'London represents', but then that is no different from the much vaunted one-size-fits-all EU: I've written many times the EU as a political construct is entirely at the service & disposal of 'Big-Business/Big-Government'.
    It is an enormous issue made even more critical as EuropeanFederalist wrote in his #98 by, "..the undemocratic nature of EUropean integration and institutions.." (and that is from another ardent 'pro-EU').

    In all honesty several 'pro-EU' allude at times to wishing the EU were more 'Democratic': However, I diverge from them and You because they think staying-in will bring about enlightened political reform. Whereas I believe the EU is inherently framed to always favour/persue Centralisation and to undermine/deny the Democratic Rights & Responsibilities of Individual Citizens in all 27 Nations.

    Germany does indeed pay the greatest share towards the EU: No surprise, it is by far and away the largest Member Nation - - though of course, the real reason Germany is in its pre-eminent position is because France thought to bind it into Europe by the terms of 1957 Treaty of Rome - - a ploy that worked for so long as the 'west' and 'east' of Europe and Germany were divided. A unified Germany wasn't on the 'political' cards. Now, it is 20 years down the path and there is nothing anyone, least of all the duplicitous EU founde(r)ing mother la belle France can do about it.

    And if You think for one moment Paris is content with how events are turning out concerning their giant neighbour's rapidly developing central control of all-things EU then You have no understanding at all of international 'Continental' politics!

    As for Your assertion of the 'disgusting' & 'self-centred' UK attitude to the Greek crisis: Let me ask, why doesn't Germany offer Financial assistance to the UK - - (as so many 'pro-EU' enjoy to remind us) its financial difficulties are immensely greater than Greece - - afterall, Your self-righteous indignation classifying the British as "..selfish.." could equally apply to the rest of the EUro-zone15 or EU26 - - WHERE is the solidarity, strength through unity, all-in-it-together rallying cry of the post-Maastricht 'ever-closer-union'!?

    You "..vehemently.." demand I give "..Germany a break.."! Astonishing really: The Nation of 80+million, with an Economy greater than all bar the next Top5 put together, has people pleading its misunderstood, and we are being ungrateful or not playing our part in full!

    Well, there is an element of factual reality in all that: Only trouble is the other part of the truth is Germany gave up its own Currency and joined the EUro-zone club of its own volition - - furthermore, Berlin did that despite serious reservations amongst its Citizens who were not consulted via the Ballot box, the German Chancellor knew or at least must have surmised other EUro-Nations were cooking their books because some of those Economies never made any Fiscal sense even before the EUro-zone was in place.
    The final & clinching factor for my reply that it is indeed tough on Germany, but mostly it is tough because it is Germany's own fault is that Berlin took the decision to abandon its Currency in partnership with Paris - - nobody forced their hand - - they went into the EUro policy eyes wide open and believing the 2 of them were capable of dealing with any crisis that came their way. However, as many of us warned back then and have done ever since, France never was and never will be the equal of Germany and in this Greece debacle that becomes patently clear. Only Germany is in a position to make the decisive Fiscal steps - - France is an also-ran, every bit as much as the lame-duck British Economy.

    The one abiding difference: All UK Citizens 'know' their Nation has made a total cock-up of its Finances whereas Pres Sarkozy still parades around taking the general salute (or is that p##s) from all & sundry and in order for the whole rotten, venal cabal not to fall apart Your Germany has to carry on pretending there is actually more to the Elysee Palace than a very pretty, charming facade (called Carla)!

    That I am very much afraid is the EU You have arrived at. Yes, true enough the foolishly ambitious & venal post-Maastricht UK Governments of each Party have also landed themsleves in this dire political morass. Thus, from Dublin to Helsinki to Budapest, Athens, Valletta, Rome & Madrid... all Leadership eyes turn toward Berlin for direction.

    Hence my comment almost at the start of this particular Blog debate: 'EU really tamed that Central EUropean tiger... NOT!'

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  • 118. At 7:09pm on 11 Apr 2010, voiceofreason wrote:

    #117 actually your central assumption in the 2nd half of your post is wrong ("Germany gave up its own Currency...").
    It was France's condition that they do that and swallow the bitter pill called ECU (later, Euro) as a condition for their agreement with re-unification. It probably couldn't demand money, unlike the UK and US which demanded that it paid billions, along with Japan, to bankroll the first Gulf War in Kuwait (which in part answers #111 - Germany did indeed pay massive amounts towards the US' and its poodle's wars until the 2nd Gulf War, when it famously didn't). Russia also got tens of billions for 'relocating their soldiers' so in fact Germany had to pay out billions to be allowed to re-unify, and had to agree to the Euro
    (a French idea!)

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  • 119. At 7:34pm on 11 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    EuropeanFederalist

    Re #98

    Thank you for taking the trouble to write in such a thoughtful manner on the various points I raise in this debate. It is all the more pleasing as you are 1 of very few 'pro-EU' to be good enough to recognise there is a serious debate to be had & not simply attempt by arrogance and/or denigration to dismiss the 'anti-EU' argument.

    Some of my answer to You is actually in my #117 to VoiceofReason as some aspects of the issues are similar.

    To take up halfway down so to speak: Quote, "..the notion that Europeans have to take control of European integration first and foremost implies a EUrope-wide discussion about what kind of Europe people want..".

    Admire the optimism and at the same time I am completely baffled as to how You (& some other 'pro-EU') can write such stuff whilst fully aware of how the EU-Brussels presently functions!?

    Please, other than the 3 Referendum (Spain, France, Netherlands) on the defunct 'Constitution' point me in the direction of an opportunity afforded by the EU powers-that-be for their Citizens to be consulted never mind actually participate in the 'political' direction of Continental EUrope & the British Isles since the Maastricht Treaty. I am at a loss to see how You can suggest "..Europeans have to take control.." when every single piece of 'political' evidence since the collapse of the 'constitution' proposals reveals Brussels has absolutely no intention of ever again allowing European Citizens a voice or choice in any part of the EUropean project!

    Yes, the Lisbon Treaty has been visited many times by us all, but it does bear repeating as it is the most recent expose of the refusal to grant any "..discussion.." by Citizens of EU affairs. 27 Nations Ratified Lisbon and only 1 Government asked its Citizens for a Mandate/Consent to 'ratify'.

    "..Any further change with regard to integration in EUrope must be by approval of ALL people of EUrope, albeit not unanimously..".

    My gast has never been so flabbered as they say when actually completely lost for an appropriate reponse!
    Have I missed something? Did the EU Commission & Parliament pass some new legislation forcing National Governments and Brussels to CONSULT the 500+million Citizens? Is there some hidden 'Protocol' attached to Lisbon that actually identifies the Citizen as paramount in all considerations of EU policy-making?

    Look, I'm sorry, but I have no idea how someone who thinks as You do about 'democratic' Rights & Responsibilities can possibly still support the EU!?
    That EUropean Union You "..envision.." bears absolutely no resemblance to the reality of how the EU is set-up, how it functions and how it envisions its relationship to the Citizens within it.

    The EU does not believe in the Citizen's right to participate in decision-making.
    The EU does not believe in the Citizen's right to approve or reject proposals made by it.
    The EU claims a Mandate for its present policies with 43% Voter turnout in 2009; it has pressed forward over the last 4 EU Parliament terms with unaltered policies despite a lower Voter Turnout at eqach EU Election(except for the 'constitution' - - the last time EU Citizens were consulted - - and even then it stopped the process after only 3 Referenda - - TERRIFIED OF EUROPEAN CITIZENS EXPRESSING THEMSELVES).
    The EU Commission & Parliament do not respond to and are not accountable to the EU Citizens.
    The EU has never indicated any intention to change/reform/improve its 'Democratic' processes despite the obvious lack of Citizen involvement.

    Therefore, whilst I may be persuaded that a 'Federation' is not a bad ambition, I have to say that You have abolutely no chance of attaining it in the form You have indicated as the EU simply does NOT CARE IN THE SLIGHTEST WHAT YOU, I, OR ANY OTHER CITIZEN THINKS OR WANTS FROM IT.

    The EU is a centralising, venal, corrupt, anti-democratic political entity: It is a danger to the Civil Liberties of every Citizen. For so long as People such as your goodself stand idly by wishing & hoping for some mystical 'democratic-reform' apparition within Brussels the EU will continue on its present path as there is no REASON FOR IT TO EVEN CONSIDER CHANGING COURSE from the dangerously over-mighty bureaucracy it has evolved into since 1992.

    I'm sorry EuropeanFederalist, I wish & hope for You to be right - - for I & others who think as I do, cannot do much either - - however, it is my belief in the end History is going to repeat itself and there will be a tragedy as the EU clings to authority & power it has never received by consent of the Citizens. Therefore Citizens will need to reclaim their abused & disgarded Rights & Responsibilities from the EU.

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  • 120. At 7:58pm on 11 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    EUpris: "How on earth do you justify that assertion?"

    I am sorry, it was an honest mistake. A typo. What I meant to say was 1945, not 1944.

    Eupris, about your second point regarding imports to Europe from non-EU countries - of course! European nations have always been importing things. What the common market and the common currency do is they eliminate money wasted on currency exchanges and limit excessive taxation in imported good. Of course countries would still import and export goods outside a common market, but it would be so much more more expensive.

    I am surprised you are throwing the metric system into the mix of all those things that are allegedly bad about the E.U.. When I was still living in England, I found the metric system to be an excellent and very welcome replacement of the byzantine, convoluted, tangled and knotty imperial system used before, One metre is one 40 millionth of the curcumference of the earth. A yard? A yard does not have an absolute orientation like that. You've got your anti-E.U. and I wish you good luck with it, but for goodness sakes let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater and bring back the imperial system just because we didn't like the E.U.. That's like an Indian person saying, "we don't like the fact that the British occupied us, so let's get rid of democracy". The imperial system with its caveman units chains, stones, pints, gallons, poles, links, furlongs, yards, miles, inches, hogheads was just a mess and the metric system is superior in every single way - there's a clear system to it: there are 10 millimetres in one centimetre, 100 centimetres in one metre, 1000 metres in a kilometre and so forth. Same goes for volumes: 1000 millilitres make up a litre - for masses: there are 1000 grammes in one kilogramme and so forth. The imperial system doesn't have that decimal elegance, it's just an antiquated folly.

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  • 121. At 9:24pm on 11 Apr 2010, Faisal wrote:

    I believe the European Union could and should learn alot from the Premier league (football).Greece should be treated very much the same as Portsmouth
    and kicked out of Premier league of European countries.
    One country, due to bad book keeping and corruption should not drag everyone else down.With great power comes great responsibility, and to sacrifice one to save the many seems ethical.

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  • 122. At 10:01pm on 11 Apr 2010, Mickalus wrote:

    119. At 7:34pm on 11 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    EuropeanFederalist


    "Please, other than the 3 Referendum (Spain, France, Netherlands) on the defunct 'Constitution' point me in the direction of an opportunity afforded by the EU powers-that-be for their Citizens to be consulted never mind actually participate in the 'political' direction of Continental EUrope & the British Isles since the Maastricht Treaty. I am at a loss to see how You can suggest "..Europeans have to take control.." when every single piece of 'political' evidence since the collapse of the 'constitution' proposals reveals Brussels has absolutely no intention of ever again allowing European Citizens a voice or choice in any part of the EUropean project!"

    Hi EuropeanFederalist, CBW, EUPris

    CBW, in your posting above I'm sure you refer to the portions of the British Isles which are part of the UK. If not, then I can count six Irish referenda on EU matters in the time frame you posit. Ireland France and Denmark held referenda on the Treaty of Maastricht, Denmark twice.

    Ireland and Denmark also held referenda on the Treaty of Amsterdam (1998). Ireland held two referenda on the Treaty of Nice (2001,2002), and then the Lisbon treaty)again two votes (2008,2009). Ireland didn't vote on the Constitutional treaty, although France, the Netherlands, Spain and Luxembourg did.

    The point CBW and EUPris is that Irish domestic law stipulates when a referendum is to be triggered - not EU law, not the Irish government, though it may request a revote if the Supreme Court agrees relevant nw information exists and warrants a revote.

    If you want your referenda - UK law must provide the when and the wherefore. The EU simply has no competence to interfere in UK internal affairs where not mandated by competences transferred to it legitimately by properly constituted and enacted UK law.

    There in much in the UK government system that is eloquent and time-honoured. It translates poorly across frontiers. That you are denied a referendum is not the fault of anyone beyond or within these frontiers - your political process simply will not accommodate true referenda as it is then at best merely consultative and called at the whim of your PM.

    As this ability to trigger referenda had not been transferred to EU competences, there is no such role for the EU.

    Best,

    Mickalus

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  • 123. At 10:03pm on 11 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    @ cool_brush_work

    re#119

    well what can I say, I can pretty much agree with everything you wrote. If your opinions are reflective of those of most Eurosceptics I am even more hopeful that the European project will succeed eventually. While we obviously agree on everything regarding the current state of the EU the main difference seems to be about its future. Furthermore, I support European integration despite its weaknesses while you seem to suggest that at least the current set-up of the EU necessitates a pullout (of Britain from the Lisbon Treaty). Let me admit at this point that much of what I have written in my previous posting reflects little more than pure idealism. Nevertheless, the idea of a European federation by the European people and for the European people as expressed in Spinelli's and Rossi's 1941 Ventotene Manifesto is very much alive all over Europe, and the European federal movement is a grassroot, not an elitist one. What is needed is more critical minds like you if you could only turn your justified apprehension of Europe into positive developments. Europe is something that we as Europeans should conveive of as a project that has for too long been an elitist one. The outcomes of the referendums in France and the Netherlands were portrayed as anti- European, yet I believe the French and the Dutch simply wanted to demonstrate that the people had enough of imposed integration. The project of Europe has to be one of the European people, and it can never be complete without the British. So basically what I am hoping for is that the justified criticism of the EU that is shared all over Europe leads you to try to reform it ( with the help of all of us) rather than to reject it. A truly democratic and liberal Europe won't be possible without the contributions of the nation that has for the first time in human history passed a bill of individual rights.

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  • 124. At 10:18pm on 11 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    I have not really given an answer to your question how a truly democratic European federal state could be achieved. The answer in my opinion is precisely such a European federation based upon constitutional principles, but those principles need to be approved by the European people. I know this will be a long and difficult project, but what are the alternatives?
    All I am asking is that you use your ideas to advance the European project rather than to dismiss it.

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  • 125. At 10:45pm on 11 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    @Mickalus

    The problem is precisely that whenever a referendum about European integration has been held it has been rejected. What have been the consequences? The Lisbon Treaty had only be to be approved by the Irish in a public referendum, and they rejected it only to be confronted with yet another referendum in which the true question was whether you want to be the spoilers of Europe or not. In my opinion, elitist European integration has come to a point where any further progress cannot be achieved without the consent of the European people.

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  • 126. At 11:34pm on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    125. At 10:45pm on 11 Apr 2010, EuropeanFederalist

    EUpris: Thank you for that!

    BUT not only can no further "progress" be achieved without a referendum, the "progress" that has been "achieved" is illegitimate since we in the UK were promised a referendum which we did not get.

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  • 127. At 11:43pm on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    '111. At 5:29pm on 11 Apr 2010, you wrote:

    100. At 12:28pm on 11 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    " ...Only a prosperous Germany would have been able to pick up the bill for nearly all American wars since 1944. ..."

    EUpris: How on earth do you justify that assertion?'


    120. At 7:58pm on 11 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    'EUpris: "How on earth do you justify that assertion?"

    I am sorry, it was an honest mistake. A typo. What I meant to say was 1945, not 1944.'


    EUpris: Even with the revised date, I still cannot see how you justify that assertion.


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  • 128. At 11:53pm on 11 Apr 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    120. At 7:58pm on 11 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    ' ...
    I am surprised you are throwing the metric system into the mix of all those things that are allegedly bad about the E.U.. When I was still living in England, I found the metric system to be an excellent and very welcome replacement of the byzantine, convoluted, tangled and knotty imperial system used before, One metre is one 40 millionth of the curcumference of the earth. A yard? A yard does not have an absolute orientation like that. You've got your anti-E.U. and I wish you good luck with it, but for goodness sakes let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater and bring back the imperial system just because we didn't like the E.U.. That's like an Indian person saying, "we don't like the fact that the British occupied us, so let's get rid of democracy". '

    EUpris: I have been through this before in the past and it is getting near to my bed time.

    Your "definition" of the metre is no longer current. That definition was totally impractical. They changed it to the length of a metal bar in Paris. They have now changed it to something else. The yard is now defined in terms of the metre and I don't have problem with that. I believe that I am correct here but it doesn't matter too much. When I bought potatoes by the pound I wasn't worried about to much about the definition of the pound as long as there was one. Every time I am forced to use the metric system in the UK I am reminded of the anti-democratic nature of European integration.

    I am very familiar with both systems in away in which few people are. I have studied physics at a British university and PE in the UK and Germany and taught PE in Germany and the UK and taught the metric system to British kids and American university students. I believe that the British system is superior.

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  • 129. At 00:09am on 12 Apr 2010, Mickalus wrote:

    125. At 10:45pm on 11 Apr 2010, EuropeanFederalist wrote:

    Hi EuropeanFederalist,

    Interesting point. Not all referenda were rejected by the populace - the problems arose when people are asked to approve nebulous proposals couched in impenetrable legalese. I agree such language is required in the case of Treaties, but make for very poor referendum fodder.

    I feel that one way to address this is use of single issue referenda - precisely because it is more difficult to confuse electors and introduce spurious arguments when issues are limited and clear.

    You make interesting points in relation to a multinational federation. I'd be interested to know more about how you believe such an arrangement could be put in place?

    Mickalus

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  • 130. At 01:06am on 12 Apr 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    "I am very familiar with both systems in away in which few people are. I have studied physics at a British university and PE in the UK and Germany and taught PE in Germany and the UK and taught the metric system to British kids and American university students. I believe that the British system is superior."

    Euprisoner, isn't it ironic that the imperial system is a continental invention while the metric one is British? I find it amusing.

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  • 131. At 01:08am on 12 Apr 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    EuropeanFederalist - I pretty much agree with everything you said about the need for a Federal EU.

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  • 132. At 05:15am on 12 Apr 2010, ninetofivegrind wrote:

    @ MA II # 74

    "When it's all gone, governments will sell off other things they don't need...like Big Ben and the Tower of London. And one of the biggest white elephants of them all, the Millenium Dome. I'll bet Britain gets at least fifty dollars for that one :-)"

    News update, it's not called the "Millennium Dome" anymore - it's called the "O2 Arena", has been for a few years now - O2 (a telecoms company) pays 6 mill a year for the naming rights alone...oh yeah, an American outfit called Anschutz Entertainment Group currently operates it. Led Zep played last year and there's going to be a regular season NBA game played there apparently. If you’re keen to throw some shapes (dancing to you, MA) then look no further than Matter club at the O2 (although please don’t look like a sterotypical American, you know...bad clothes, hair...general uncoolness, you understand).

    So it looks like the O2 is making money, well more than 50 dollars (or 32 pounds) anyway. ;)

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  • 133. At 07:58am on 12 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    VoiceofReason

    Re #118

    Sorry, but this more-or-less constant refrain from 'pro-Germany/pro-EU' that Germany was made to 'pay' the International Community for 'reunification' is a tiresome & almost entirely unfactual re-working of History.
    Germany was already reunified - - the Germany people did that - - there was no 'bill' owed to the 'western'/'eastern' powers. Other than that of post-WW2 Occupation Zone arrangements (of which more later).
    All this stuff about Germany being forced to pay the 'west' for its agreement to unification is utter political-economic falsehood: The reason 'west' Germany's economy staggered for awhile was the 'cost' to it of investing in the industrial 'reawakening' of the infrastructure of the 'east' and almost nothing to do with claims made on it by USA/UK/France etc. post-Berlin Wall.

    It is untrue that Russia got billions for 'relocating' its forces: At least in the manner You would like to portray it - - lest You forget - - those Armed Forces had been there since 1945 for a reason all to do with Germany (as were the US-UK forces in the 'west')! Let us not have an attempt at the rewriting of 1944-45: The once 'Red' Army was in East Europe & East Germany for a very good reason - - it had to be there after Operation Barbarossa gave the USSR the validity to move 'west'!

    Linked with the demise of the Soviet Union & its retreat from the 'east' a unified Germany was in the ideal position. Unified Germany benefitted more than any other EU Economy, as did the whole EU12, from the 'expansion' to the east of the 1990s. Without that East Europe economic gift-horse of investment opportunities/cheap labour the already stagnating 'west' EU Economies would have had an even more dire time earlier in the economic cycle.

    As for the 1st Gulf War, endorsed at every level by the UNO inc. most of the Arab Nations, as Germany was precluded (post-WW2 treaties) from using its Armed Forces in a combat role it did 'pay' a 'contribution' towards the international communities' costs of the campaign to free Kuweit. Again, You may try to re-write the history, but as part of reunified Germany's policies to become an equal member State of the now 'Free World' Germany wanted the recognition of playing its part in the international effort - - it could not do it militarily - - it did a good bit of restoring its credibility by its Financial assistance to the Gulf War effort.

    The 'poodle' jibe is well-rehearsed, utterly meaningless, and of course I could respond that at least the UK stood by the greatest ally of all Europe in the last 100 years. Whereas Germany, the nation owing more than any other to the USA for its new found liberty/unity, continued as the poodle of Paris and trotted alongside in a betrayal of principle and morality the like of which has not been seen since the UK-France-Israel connivance at Suez in 1956.

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  • 134. At 08:21am on 12 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Mickalus Re #122 & EuropeanFederalist Re #123

    The point about the Referenda in Eire/Ireland is that it has nothing to do with the EU.
    If the EU could have got away with it (& a large chunk of Irish Polticians wanted to get away with it too) there would have been no Irish Referendum on Lisbon or any other previous EU agreements.
    In any case, as we all know (at least those prepared to own up to reality) the 'No' Vote was never going to be allowed to stand - - Ireland would be made to Ratify by Popular concensus - - so, why hold the 1st Referendum when the EU was already determining what the Irish Voter decision would be!? Political sophistry - - in a sense the Irish Referendum even helped the EU out - - it allowed Brussels to claim some sort of Public legitimacy. We can read such comments on here: 'pro-EU' saying, 'there you are, the EU does allow public consultation..' When all the time the EU allows bug##r-all of the sort unless it gets to decide what the final Ballot result will be!

    E.g. The Irish Referendum was FPTP: Did the Result stand? No!
    So, if after this UK FPTP Election Brown, Cameron etc. say we don't like the Result we'll have a second, third until the Public get what WE POLITICIANS want then what is the point of any so-called consultation!?

    In #117 I was referring not just to the UK, but to the EU27 (minus Ireland) whose enitre Populations since the 'Constitution' Referenda were 'lost 2 - 1', have been totally denied a voice & choice in the political future of their Nations.

    It is not sufficient for EuropeanFederalist to promote a wish-list of what the EU might be like!

    Frankly, the EU is not going to change in favour of Citizens having a voice or choice as Brussels is in too deep with 'Big-Business/Big-Government' for whom the idea of People 'controlling' their destinies (or even having a participatory Vote) is anathema to all their greed-driven, corrupt, anti-Democratic instincts.

    IMO infact it is inexcusable for a 'pro-EU' to write that they know the EU is very undemocratic and then support it in the fantasy hope of some sort of Brussels on the Road to Damascus seeing the Political-Democratic-Citizen Light (errrr... got carried away even more than usual.. but you get the drift.. I hope).

    Cheers.

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  • 135. At 08:45am on 12 Apr 2010, Dempster wrote:

    Mr Hewitt wrote:
    As I sat at breakfast that morning a thought nagged away at me. I could not think of a serious economist who did not believe the euro was a flawed currency. Even friends of the euro had shaken their heads; you couldn't have monetary union without fiscal union.


    Oh yes you can.
    Providing you accept either default or one member giving another member money is how it works.

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  • 136. At 11:21am on 12 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    @Mickalus#129

    You are right, there have been referendums that went through instantly, but, correct me if I am wrong, these were about EU membership while referendums about furthering integration were rejected. This would support my argument that most Europeans do not reject European integration, but want to have a say in shaping its future course.

    also @cool_brush_work#134

    A wish list is not enough, but if we want to achieve a democratic European federation wish lists of Europeans should be the starting point, shouldn't they?
    There are two possible strategies for implementation: 1) the "big sweep"- create a federation through Europe-wide referendums on a federal constitution that would replace existing EU institutions all at once; and 2) gradual reform within the existing framework
    Regarding the second option I share cbw's scepticism that reforming the EU from within will be next to impossible. How do you reform a bureaucracy that keeps itself busy determining the sizes and shapes of bananas and cucumbers?
    The first option obviously needs a lot of preparation. Europeans first have to realise that a federation would NOT mean an extended EU, it would NOT result in a European superstate, but would be the institutional framework of the European people who constituted it through their freely expressed will.
    There is an ever-growing movement with precisely that goal (http://en.federaleurope.org/), there are several drafts for a federal constitution, there is an underlying vision (Ventotene Manifesto). What is needed is for people like you cbw to turn their outrage an anger at the current EU into something more constructive.

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  • 137. At 11:30am on 12 Apr 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Ninetofivegrind;

    O2 Arena or OZ Arena?

    6 million a year? With operting costs, interest, that should pay it off by the year 2525.

    Rest assured, a visit by me to the UK is not in the cards. Too many typical Brits. (You know....drunk and vomiting in the street, bad manners, arrogant know it alls with their superior airs, and those accents that hurt my ears.)

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  • 138. At 11:30am on 12 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    and to finally write something more related to the original topic:
    I think we all can agree that the current scenario would have been impossible in a federation. What angers me most is that politicians and irresponsible media have succeeded in playing the European people against each other (in this case Germans and Greeks). What we all should realise is that the public debt problem is a European one (actually one of Western civilisation), and instead of pointing fingers at the Greeks we should search for sustainable solutions.

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  • 139. At 11:37am on 12 Apr 2010, Mickalus wrote:

    134. At 08:21am on 12 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    "If the EU could have got away with it (& a large chunk of Irish Polticians wanted to get away with it too) there would have been no Irish Referendum on Lisbon or any other previous EU agreements.
    In any case, as we all know (at least those prepared to own up to reality) the 'No' Vote was never going to be allowed to stand - - Ireland would be made to Ratify by Popular concensus - - so, why hold the 1st Referendum when the EU was already determining what the Irish Voter decision would be!? Political sophistry - - in a sense the Irish Referendum even helped the EU out - - it allowed Brussels to claim some sort of Public legitimacy. We can read such comments on here: 'pro-EU' saying, 'there you are, the EU does allow public consultation..' When all the time the EU allows bug##r-all of the sort unless it gets to decide what the final Ballot result will be!

    E.g. The Irish Referendum was FPTP: Did the Result stand? No!"

    Hi CBW,

    Of course I'm going to disagree - but the points you make about Irish politicians are in large part correct - they are after all politicians and will invest so much more in glamours and deceits and self-flattery than graft.

    The first Lisbon vote was No in large part in protest at a Government whose attitude to the Treaty was "Oh yes by the way you'll be voting in a referendum on a treaty - vote yes", and on the ground of untruths from superficially credible sources. This latter point prompted the entry of the independent Referendum Commission to enter the debate second time around and deny the untruths.

    Quite simply the Government of the day (be it of it's own volition or as you would have it under duress from the EU) can call for as many referenda as they wish. It is the people and the Supreme (Constitutional) court will have the final say on the measure, and it's legal validity - not the politicians. And if a measure is highly unpopular in a referendum, it will fail successively.

    I agree with you and EuroFederalist that the Union is not currently democratic. As viewcode and others point out it currently exists to facilitate politicians engaging each other (hence treaties and protocols and bluster and glamours). However, it is evolving. With each and every Treaty this evolution is towards a more democratic, inclusive and accountable structure. In it's final form I believe this form will be very palatable and familiar to the overwhelming majority of it's people.

    Mickalus

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  • 140. At 12:06pm on 12 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    "All this stuff about Germany being forced to pay the 'west' for its agreement to unification is utter political-economic falsehood: The reason 'west' Germany's economy staggered for awhile was the 'cost' to it of investing in the industrial 'reawakening' of the infrastructure of the 'east' and almost nothing to do with claims made on it by USA/UK/France etc. post-Berlin Wall."

    "All this stuff"? Who made up all this stuff in the first place? You are arguing against allegations that have not been put forward by anyone. In other words, your presenting a straw man argument.

    Your argument for the red army moving west, essentially holding all of eastern Europe hostage and amputating huge pieces of land from Poland (under international law, it is impermissible to acquire territory by war) is particularly weak. One could argue (although I would not do it) that the Soviet subjugation, which, according to the official narrative, began with a year long rape of Berlin women and an children, was a legitimate "punishment" for Nazi crimes in Russia. This argument does not hold water, however, because the red army committed the same acts of wholesale rape against Ukrainian and Polish women on their way to Berlin. The only reason they raped less Polish and Ukrainian women than German women was they were just passing through. Where ever the red army went, the suicide rate of women went up and in Berlin is skyrocketed for two years.

    The USSR was just as bloody and aggressive during World War 2 as Nazi Germany. The best example of this is the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact which preceded the Russian-German aggression against Poland. Britain declared war at Germany for that, but maintained normal relations with Russia. Don't get me wrong, I realise that Churchill would not have won a war against both Germany and the Soviet Union, so he had to be pragmatic and declare war at the weaker one of the two aggressors but declaring war at both aggressors would have been the principled position. After the war, Russia was allowed to steal huge portions of territory that was traditionally Polish. In this entire mess that was the end of world war 2, Britain comes out the only country looking half-decent and principled. But this insistence on white-washing the Russian aggression against all of Eastern Europe, 65 years after the conflict is over, is just delusional and immoral.

    I also realise the need to allow the disgusting mass-murderer and mass rapist that the Russian army was, to play policeman in eastern Europe and keep millions of innocent people prisoner for 40 years. The United States and the collapsing British Empire had no choice but to humour Russia. But from a moral perspective, it's like making Ian Huntley the head teacher of a nursery school.

    So if you want to be a cynic, go ahead and say that all German women and children got everything they deserved from the Russians. But the Poles? The Czechs? The Slovaks? The Ukrainians? The Lithuanians? The Latvians? The Estonians? The Bulgarians? The Romanians? The Russian were allowed to steal from them and keep them hostage for 40 years because the Germans attacked first?

    I do not understand your point that the western economies were "stagnating" around 1989/90. Wasn't the whole reason the Russian system collapsed due to the fact that the west defeated the Russians economically?

    "from using its Armed Forces in a combat role it did 'pay' a 'contribution' towards the international communities' costs of the campaign to free Kuweit. Again, You may try to re-write the history, but as part of reunified Germany's policies to become an equal member State of the now 'Free World' Germany wanted the recognition of playing its part in the international effort - - it could not do it militarily - - it did a good bit of restoring its credibility by its Financial assistance to the Gulf War effort."

    I do not understand why you are putting "pay" and "contributions" in quotation marks. Germany, Japan and Saudi Arabia payed 97 percent of the expenses resulting from desert storm. Germany did not only do that. Sometimes covertly, sometimes openly, Germany contributed hugely to the majority of all American adventures since 1945. Having a strong Germany on its side was the whole reasoning behind saving western Germany from the Russians, as the Americans were absolutely correct in thinking that the confrontation with Russian would be much more difficult and much riskier if Europe's most economically potent region fell in Soviet hands.

    The last thing I have to take issue with is the silly "poodle" comment. France's poodle? If you check the history of the build-up to the Iraq war (a military operation that I supported), then it becomes quite clear that the then-German chancellor Gerhard Schroder was the first one to dissent from the war and declare that his country would not participate. Jacques Chirac of France simply followed Schroder. It had nothing to do with being "principled" or "unprincipled". It was pragmatic for Germany to stay out of it. Schroder thought that Bush did not have a clear idea of how to get American troops back out of Iraq once the conflict was over.

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  • 141. At 12:36pm on 12 Apr 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    European Federalist (98): Inter-governmental co-operation between nation-states is all that is needed to address global problems. Supra-nationalism (international federalism) is (i) unnecessary and (ii) inherently undemocratic. The essence of international federalism is a strong central-authority (like the Brussels institutions) that will force entire nations to do what they do not want to do, and indeed lock them into things they disagree with in-perpetuity by a force of supra-national law higher than that of their own democratic law-making institutions.

    You quote one failed inter-governmental meeting (Copenhagen) as “ample proof” that inter-governmentalism does not work. But Copenhagen was just one meeting and the success of previous inter-governmental efforts in climate change (Kyoto), or multiple GATT/WTO trade agreements, shows that intergovernmentalism does work, even with 150+ countries involved.

    You also try to denigrate the nation-state by linking the pathological nationalism of the former Nazi-Germany with the benign liberal nationalism of a community aspiring to self-government. But Nazi-Germany was a not a nation-state. One of the first acts of the Nazi regime on coming to power was the “Enabling Act” of 1933 by which Hitler introduced rule by personal decree without the need for votes in the German Parliament, thus breaking the link between German nation and state. The correct diagnosis for the problems of the 1930s was an almost total lack of any democratic nation-states in Continental Europe. But because of your fundamental misunderstanding of this lesson you demand “fewer units of the international system”, by which you mean replacing liberal democratic nation-states by new forms of international federal government in which the leash by which a nation may restrain the state is once again broken.

    International federalism is both unnecessary and dangerous. The rest of the world is moving towards more and more liberal democratic nation-states that voluntarily co-operate with one another using the tried and tested inter-governmental method. Europe has been going in the wrong direction.

    There is now a pressing need to reverse the undemocratic European political union, to take back powers usurped against the peoples’ wills by Brussels, and re-join the progress of all mankind towards a world of peaceful democratic nation-states and inter-governmentalism. The British contribution to Europe in the early 21st century is clear. We must be the 'pilot fish' that guides the Continent out of the EU cul-de-sac into which it has turned. European federalists must be sought wherever they are to be found, confronted with their nonsensical arguments, and permanently broken as a political movement.

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  • 142. At 3:04pm on 12 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Chris Camp & #140

    Re "stuff" & "Germany".

    Well the 'stuff' comes from: See VoiceofReason #118 plus other comments, inc. I would add, extracts of your own & other 'pro-EU' from previous Blog article debates.

    Not quite sure why you have to launch into the 'straw man' analogy - - everyone was getting along just fine - - debating points back & forth.

    I have written before do again: As an 'apologist' for Germany You struggle on the key points because the facts simply don't match your version.

    E.g. Nowhere would I cynically or otherwise suggest German women, children, men got "what they deserved" from the USSR.
    All I would Humanely suggest is the basic, undeniable reason for the Red Armed Forces being in a position to occupy East Europe is because the Fascist regime of Germany had already put its Armed Forces in them. I know it is very uncomfortable for all would-be re-writers of History: However, the actions of Hitler's Germany led to the actions of the Soviets and created the situation in which Stalin could 'cynically' claim he was 'liberating' the Czech, Hungarians & even the East Germans!
    There are no 'ands', 'ifs', 'buts', or 'maybes' about it: The Red Army advanced into Eastern Europe (inc. with especial cynicism, Poland in 1939) because of Fascism and that Fascism was centred on Berlin.

    E.g. The 'west' did not outspend the USSR, that was the USA, but of course as a 'pro-EU' any acknowledgement of the USA is going to be hard for You. Again, it was the Fascist regime in Berlin that led to the USA Armed Forces being in western Europe and even West Germany: I'm afraid the lesson is the same whether from East or West - - 'reap as is sown' - - only for Europe it seems the memory of the lesson has got lost in the EU-Brussels 'ever closer union' chicanery!

    Statistically the 'west' EU Nations' Economies were all slowing circa 1989-91 and economic data now shows it was the 'west' that needed the fortuitous 'east' expansion every bit as much as the 'east' for the recovery from the Soviet-led 'ever closer union'.
    By the last decade of the 20th Century the EU 'one-size-fits-all' blanket Directives across the 12 were significantly affecting entrepreunism and progressive economic development: It is just part of the overall 'con' of supposed/claimed EUropean Union success - - the unity bringing about Economic gains was for the 1960s to mid-80s - - from then on it became evident Continental EUrope was falling behind the other developing regions.
    Maybe 'stagnation' is a trifle strong, but as the World emerges from this Recession You will witness again the sluggishness of the pan-EUropean Economic recovery compared to other areas. It is no good laying the blame at National Government level (as 'pro-EU' & Brussels have attempted over the EUro-zone/Greece debacle) - - the EU has been in place 50+ years & has to shoulder responsibility for its Economic-Fiscal policy-making.

    Unsure how to put this, so, I'll just be blunt: Nonsense! 97% of the costs of the 1st Gulf War were not paid by Saudi, Japan & Germany. By UNO figures released in 1994 it is much nearer 60%: Oh and by the way - - as I am asure You will agree it must be mentioned - - many Kuweiti Citizens & UNO Armed Forces personnel 'paid' an additional amount for which the price-tag is not measured in EUros, Dollars or Pounds and our squabble on here should always keep that 'contribution' in mind.

    It is the same with the 2nd Gulf War: Unfortunately the eminently successful invasion campaign has been followed by years of catastrophic civil strife for which USA-UK Governments/Military must take the undoubted blame. The suffering of the Iraqi people is a tragedy & will be a stain on the USA-UK for years to come.
    Nevertheless, it is also evident that had the France-Germany axis come in with the USA policy on Iraq there are grounds to believe a much less bloody post-Saddam era would have ensued. Instead, Paris-Berlin's unprincipled reneging on commitments to their greatest ally gave propaganda & succour to anti-west strands of Islam/Mid-East factions. By being able to claim it was 'satan America' etc. and not the World Community (unlike with Gulf War 1) it enabled these vicious malcontents easier recruitment. That in no way diminishes the ultimate blame attached to USA-UK policy.
    Of course, had there been no invasion then there would have been none of these devastating events: But then You & the rest of the 'liberal' do-nothing EU would still be complaining, 'what is going to be done about tyrannt Saddam & his family?' still ruling Iraq in 2010!

    I'm sorry, but if the UK can be accused of being the 'poodle' of the USA then when the itchy loin-cloth fits another I will attach it. So, no, have to differ from You on the EU attitude to the 2nd Gulf War: An attitude of course wholly decided by the axis-of-ill-intent based in Paris-Berlin. They were in it together: Utterly betrayed the NATO ally that had stood by them for 60+ years and it will be a stain on France & Germany for many years to come. And for what? So they could press harder for the foolish gamble & enormous expense of their own EDF!
    Explain 'principle' however You may wish: It is my belief the West relied on the USA keeping to its principled commitments (& National interests) in Europe from 1944 onwards & never shirked that awesome task whilst also having similar commitments elsewhere. When the 'west' of EUrope was called upon to honour its commitments it lamentably failed & France-Germany were the main instigators.

    Now, just to return to Greece & Germany and the EU role for a moment (TeeHee!).
    Germany should bear the brunt of the cost of saving Greece because Germany is the only Nation that can do it. Germany does not have to save Greece - - afterall, what is a principled commitment if it can't be reneged on when the going gets tough & a partner asks for assistance!? The EU-Brussels does have a role: Pres. Barroso & Pres von Rompuy must come up with a particularly conniving form of words (even by their duplicitous standards). A Statement excusing the entire EUro-zone 15 for past gross dereliction of Accountancy, admonish all 15 to never, ever do such a thing again, and in the final paragraph explain how it is Germany is going to do exactly what has just been promised not to do again - - i.e. save Athens by grossly dodging the Economic-Fiscal rule-book!

    Oh, and of course, whatever else is in it - - there will be no mention of the Citizens of Germany, Greece, the EUropean Union because that really would be entering a parallel realm where the People matter - - 'Democracy' & Citizens' Rights, something the EU long ago found far too arduous to contemplete never mind act upon!
    Even were Germany not assist Greece it is very evident that it has become the EU pay-master. I would liken it to the 18/19th Century Toll-Gate system: From now on whenever an EU Nation wishes to advance in any area of its Economy it will need first to pass through the EU-Checkpoint of Fiscal viability; however, as only Germany actually has the wherewithal to do anything about a Nation that can't or won't pay-up there is only one place to which Brussels26 will look for support or sanctions: Berlin, toll-master supreme.

    So, keeping to the roads analogy, I foresee a very, very bumpy decade of road maintenance & an increasingly annoyed German Citizen workforce expected to turn out in all weathers/conditions to pay for the repair of the EU infrastructure! Most will conclude that was not what they were led to believe or signed upto with the EUro-zone & abandoning of their precious National Currency.
    Some 'pro-EU' take great delight in telling 'anit-EU' Britons that they should have read the Treaty of Rome before singing up in 1973 & 1975.
    It will be interesting to see if the 'pro-EU' are so bold and tell the Citizens of Germany they should have read the EUro-zone small-print too before they gave away their birthright!?

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  • 143. At 3:14pm on 12 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    @Freeborn John#141

    We can certainly discuss the advantages and disadvantages of federalism, but your argument ("The essence of international federalism is a strong central-authority (like the Brussels institutions) that will force entire nations to do what they do not want to do, and indeed lock them into things they disagree with in-perpetuity by a force of supra-national law higher than that of their own democratic law-making institutions.")is simply false. Either you know nothing about federalism, or you make a distinction between "national" federalism and "international" federalism based solely on the experience of the EU. The EU is an international organisation with both supranational and intergovernmental decision-making procedures and an organisational structure that contains federal elements. But it is far from being a federation. Other regional organisations such as ASEAN are almost exclusively intergovernmental in character. The undemocratic nature of the EU can be addressed through MORE federalism, not less. Give more powers to the EP, let it elect the commission, turn the council into a federal chamber. In any case there need to be clearly defined areas of competencies of the union and the states to ensure transparency and accountability.
    If intergovernmentalism can solve global problems remains to be seen, I have my doubts but accept your argument that one example is insufficient.
    Your argument about liberal democracies reflects the essence of democratic peace theory. One of its founders, Immanuel Kant, indeed believed that "Perpetual Peace" can only be achieved among states that respected individual liberties and the rule of law. However, he also argued that these states should form a "federation of free states"- as opposed to a federal state which would contradict the right of nations. A European federation constituted by the European people would be a federation of free states as every single member state could freely decide to join or not and could leave the federation at any time. Intergovernmental treaties on the contrary are subject to International Law and can only be revoked before they expire if all parties to it agree.
    I accept your argument about fascism/ nationalism in Germany- it shouldnt be employed to discredit the nation-state concept.

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  • 144. At 3:22pm on 12 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Mickalus

    Re #139

    Quote, "..However, it (EU) is evolving. With each new treaty this evolution is towards a more democratic, inclusive and accountable structure.."

    Yes, I see what You refer to:

    1992 - The Maastricht Treaty bringing together & amending the Treaties of Paris, Rome & Single European Act to enable a 'political union' in addition to an 'economic union': Approved by EU-wide Citizen vote? No.

    However, everything evolved and was so fundamentally different by the end of the intervening 2 decades.

    2010 -The Lisbon Treaty bringing together & amending 5 previous treaties to establish legal obligation on every member Nation for the political supremacy of the EU Law: Approved by EU-wide Citizen vote? No.

    EU Democratic Evolution: Maybe it's me, but I'm unconvinced!

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  • 145. At 4:36pm on 12 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    coolbrushork, I am afraid, you are ill-informed about the Hitler-Molotov pact. Russia did not annex Polish territory in reaction to German annexation of western Poland. It was a concerted Russian-German effort. That does not sit well who would like to live in a world where history can be explained in black and white terms indefinitely. So the Russian aggression against Poland was not a reaction to anything. It was just an aggression.

    And you are getting confused about the gulf wars, as well. The first gulf war was an altercation between Iraq and Iran, during which Iraqis under Saddam were American retainers. The second gulf war, the one I was referring to, was indeed paid for by Japanese, Saudis and Germans (and, indeed, I neglected to mention Kuweitis and in much smaller numbers South Koreans). The biggest chunk of it was paid for by the countries I mentioned.

    The third gulf war was a military internvention that I supported, although unlike you, I did not do so for some sentimental pipe dream like the supposed eternal transatlantic friendship or "debt" to the U.S. (et al.). I supported it because I was concerned about the Iraqis who were suffering under Saddam Hussein. Now, it seems that my approach to this is more thought-through and complex than yours, because whilst I do support the military intervention in Iraq, I can understand the objections of people like Chirac and Schroder. I disagree with their ultimate conclusion, but unlike you, I do not feel the need to demonise them. Some people get hot under the collar very quickly and then start developing fetishes and pet hates like "the evil EU" or "those ungrateful Germans" or "those imperialistic Americans" or "those damned Muslims".

    I understand Schroder's objection, which, to this day, seems like a valid objection. Bush did not seem to have a plan to get out of Iraq. At the same time, I stick by my initial assessment of the situation:_the Iraqis had to be liberated. I do not see any conflict in that.

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  • 146. At 5:20pm on 12 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    EuropeanFederalist

    Re #136

    Have to part company with You on this.

    The Federalists have not a hope in hell of achieving the type of Federal EU that You and they appear to envisage.

    I just do not get how You and they after all that has gone on in the creation of the present set-up can for a moment seriously contemplate that Brussels EUrocrats, the Commission & Parliament are ever going to give away all the authority & power plus the immense wealth they have connived at for 30+ years!?

    Quite apart from my jaundiced condition about 'reform' and the EU, I also happen to believe the UK and more especially England will do much better Economically-Culturally-Politically if it removes itself at the first opportunity from this wholly anti-Democratic institution.

    IMO the EU is heading for a massive Civil crack-up within a decade: I do not want the British Isles and most importantly my family to be on the receiving end of what is ahead on the Continent. My wish-list is for England to extract itself before the catastrophe takes hold. In that sense I plead guilty to any amount of selfishness.

    You believe the EU has a future: I live in the hope England is not part of it because it won't be pleasant.
    In my mind I see it as doomed if it does and damned if it doesn't! Membership of the EU will lead to 1 of 2 things - - involvement in terrible Civil Unrest on a scale equivalent to the Hungarian Uprising, or, the EU prevails & Democracy is nullified to the point it does not matter/exist to any Citizen in a meaningful manner.

    By the accident of Geography the British Isles has a better chance than most of breaking out of the strait-jacket the EU is fast installing.
    "..What is needed.." is for the English to wake-up & realise time is short if anything is to be done about saving their future generations.

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  • 147. At 6:56pm on 12 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Chris Camp

    Re #145

    It is tough on You I know, but I am afraid I must disabuse You of yet more of your faulty Historical knowledge.

    The Russo-German Non-Agression Pact was signed on 23rd August, 1939. The Pact contained several secret protocols and the pertinent one here is that Fascist Germany and Communist Russia agreed 'spheres of influence' in eastern/baltic Europe. Among these nations was Poland which was to be 'shared' between Germany & USSR.
    Hitler anticipating Stalin would want to be as prompt as he in 'expanding' into the 'spheres' within a week had sent Nazi Germany Armed Forces into Poland. Stalin had not expected so quick an action and it was several days before Red Armed forces invaded east Poland. Thus, the factual reason (as opposed to wishful rewriting of History) for the Red Army in Poland is that Nazi Germany had already attacked Poland.

    There is no 'confusion' over the Gulf Wars if, as I have done, the references are entirely to those conflicts involving USA-UK-France-Germany etc..
    Thus, the 1st Gulf War was instigated by Saddam Hussein's Iraq invading & conquering Kuweit on 2nd August 1990. This led to a unanimous UNO Security Council Resolution for the Iraqis to be removed: A Coalition of World Armed Forces commanded by the USA during January - March 1991 attacked and forced the withdrawal of Iraq forces from Kuweit.

    So, the 2nd Gulf War was the USA-UK & 'Coalition of the Willing' (Pres Dubya Bush's terminology) was from mid-March to 1st May 2003.

    I have no idea what your "..sentimental pipedream.." reference is about!?
    At best it is part of another wholly unsubstantiated version of my grounds for believing the NATO & TransAtlantic Alliance are the best preference for the future security of the 'west' in general. Certainly when compared to some obscure military mirage stemming from the Elysee Palace's overweaning ambition to 'be' relevant!

    "..my approach is more thought-through and complex than yours.."! And there we have the sneer & snide slipping through in all too familiar arrogant 'pro-EU' style whenever the 'anti-EU' stand their ground and use fact as opposed to EU flights of fancy.

    What always amazes me about so many of the 'pro-EU' lobbyists is their unique quality for assuming they know best & anyone who does not concur with their views has misunderstood or simply isn't clever enough!

    Thus Gerhard Schroder is held up as an example of someone who did not lamely follow France in 1 Comment and low & behold in the next Comment he apparently took exactly the line of Paris at the time of the Iraq debate - - hmm, seems strange & unedifying to me - - Schroder & Chirac in tandem was an appalling exercise in international grandstanding. They opposed the USA for 'big-Business' & a Mid-East audience whose profits & investments were imperilled if Paris & Berlin had stood alongside their principle ally, the USA. Venality & corruption: EU down to the last detail!

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  • 148. At 7:17pm on 12 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    cbw, #146

    I suggest we stop here. I realise that historically Britain/ England had usually been better off if it didnt get too entangled with (continental) European affairs. And, as you said, being an Island nation you may have more options. From a German perspective, I see no alternative to European integration whatsoever.
    The Lisbon Treaty to my knowledge established an exit clause, so while a British referendum could not undo the Treaty I suppose Britain could leave the EU easily. I hope that won't happen though! All the best and greetings from Berlin!

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  • 149. At 7:34pm on 12 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Chris Camp

    Re Your #140

    Just so You know. I referred your #140 to the Moderators: Infact I referred 1 particular sentence & suggsted it should be removed.

    I believe it is an inappropriate comparison of an exceptionally nasty criminal & the 'stuff' we are debating.
    You may be intersted to learn BBC Mods got back to me & disagreed with my opinion and so it stays put.

    Personally, I abhor censorship except in specific areas. Even more personally I am utterly amazed that this sentence was allowed to stand.
    I recently wrote describing my experience on the border between North & South Ireland when one of my troop was shot & killed by a sniper.
    That was removed by Moderators though I used no names of people or places.

    Apparently child-murderers are okay, but we mustn't risk offending the Irish!

    Sorry Mickalus, but its exactly how the Moderation process went!

    Anyway, I didn't want to hide in case you were aware of the referral - - it was me - - no apology as I stick to my belief on the usage, however, we move on...

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  • 150. At 7:51pm on 12 Apr 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    European Federalist (143): More federalism will make (and has made) the EU less democratic. Federalism is simply one way to distribute functions within a state, but the democratic legitimacy of any state depends entirely on it being a nation-state. The political institutions in Washington DC (or Berlin) are federal, but their democratic legitimacy is completely dependent on them being national institutions. The federal institutions in Brussels are not national institutions, and hence have no democratic legitimacy of their own.

    Democracy requires that the people doing the voting consider themselves a united group that will agree to be bound by their majority, but this requires a strong solidarity between the members of that group which only exists when they are united by language, culture, shared history and the other factors which contribute to a strong shared sense of national identity. Without the strong sense of national identity, any attempt at rule by majority leads to dissenting minorities breaking off to create their own nation-state. This is the sentiment behind the rising number of nation-states in the world, which has increased from around 60 in 1945 to near 200 today.

    No nation will accept that the policies they vote for in national elections can be over-turned by an international majority. That is why the majority in the EU Parliament is meaningless and has failed for 40 years to add democratic legitimacy to EU decision-making. Indeed we have seen that every EU treaty since Maastricht has given the EU Parliament more and more power, yet the EU crisis of democratic legitimacy has got worse and worse with every new treaty. This clearly shows that decision-making by majority at international level is incompatible with democracy when it leads to outvoted nations being obliged to implement measures that the national majority disagrees with. European federalists like yourself completely ignore these 40 years of failure by the EU Parliament, and suggest all will be well if there is one more EU treaty to increase the powers of the EU Parliament yet again to decide the make-up of the EU Commission! But when something (more power for EU Parliament) has failed for 40 years to solve the EU democracy problem you can be sure that trying it again would only result in one more failure, and the EU crisis of democratic legitimacy getting even worse.

    The democratic legitimacy of international organisations can only be preserved by decision-making by unanimity. This is the only way to prevent nations being obliged to do things that their majority does not agree with, which would not be democratic at all. The only way to restore the democratic legitimacy of the EU is therefore to re-introduce the decision-making mode (unanimity) used by the WTO, NATO and all other international organisations (many of which have a larger membership than the EU) and which have all avoided federalism and the breakdown of democratic legitimacy which it has caused in the EU.

    P.S. I do not believe that Immanuel Kant was proposing a federal European state in "Perpetual Peace". Rather he was proposing a limited organisation for the specific purpose of keeping the peace, similar to the Congress of Vienna that emerged in the 19th Century, the League of Nations of the early 20th Century, or UN Security Council that exists today. Indeed Kant specifically ruled out a federal 'state of nations'.

    --------------------------------
    “Peoples as states, like individuals, may be judged to injure one another merely by their coexistence in the state of nature (i.e., while independent of external laws). Each of them, may and should for the sake of its own security demand that the others enter with it into a constitution similar to the civil constitution, for under such a constitution each can be secure in his right. This would be a league of nations, but it would not have to be a state consisting of nations. That would be contradictory, since a state implies the relation of a superior (legislating) to an inferior (obeying), i.e., the people, and many nations in one state would then constitute only one nation... This league does not tend to any dominion over the power of the state but only to the maintenance and security of the freedom of the state itself and of other states in league with it, without there being any need for them to submit to civil laws and their compulsion” (Immanuel Kant, “Perpetual Peace”)

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  • 151. At 7:53pm on 12 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    EuropeanFederalist

    Re #148

    Many thanks for your considered and considerate remarks.

    Best regards from Finland... I'm retired & couldn't resist a sauna!

    Cheers.

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  • 152. At 8:54pm on 12 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    @ cool brush work - perhaps you misunderstood my comment. I did not make a favourable remark about the child murderer Ian Huntley, which the moderators obviously understood. I am not aware of your comment about your time in Ireland, so I do not know what was said exactly, but if one of your men was killed, then that is obviously an awful thing to happen.

    As to your byzantine attempts to be the last-worder on the Hitler-Molotov pact: now that I have proven to you, that the aggression against Poland was a concerted Russian-German enterprise, you ow claim that Stalin was "surprised" at the speed at which the Germans attacked Poland. Thus, your tortuous argument, the Russians are less guilty of aggressing against Poland than the Germans. How do you know? Did Stalin tell you he was "surprised"? You are clinging to straws.

    Your allegation that France or French governments have an obsession with trying to be relevant seems like projection, if I may say so. We have only been able to keep intact the self-delusion of being "relevant" by latching onto the Americans. A fly sitting on the head of an elephant is not an elephant. Once more: I support NATO and I support the war in Iraq. I just do not agree with people who demonise the E.U., the French or people who don't mind the E.U. or like the French, just because they just happen to have a different opinion. My answer was neither snide nor sneering. It was just the kind of answer you should expect if repeatedly arrogate "facts" that simply aren't on your side and constantly claim that the person you are debating with is "wrong" without backing up your claims.

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  • 153. At 9:13pm on 12 Apr 2010, Mickalus wrote:

    CBW,

    I'd very much like for you to reread this sentence. Then I would like to ask you to ask your Finnish friends and family to read it.

    "Apparently child-murderers are okay, but we mustn't risk offending the Irish!"

    Please substitute any nationality of your choosing for 'Irish'. Ask persons of that nationality please if that redrafted sentence causes gratuitous offence. It does for me. I cannot accept that this is a misunderstanding - you surely preview and read your comments before posting.

    I have never ever been so casually offended before, and I earnestly hope to never again be. As I write this my skin is crawling with disgust. Was it actually necessary to make that remark, and to juxtapose Irish and child-murders notions adjacent to each other in an international public forum? What value did it give or what good did it serve?

    I have worked in the mainland UK and here in Ireland with a great number of Britons who have impressed me with their vision, their intelligence, willingness to engage, their receptiveness, their humour and above all their politeness and tolerance to others.

    I accept that in service of your country in Northern Ireland, you have probably experienced horrors of a kind I should never hope to see on film, let alone live through. I ask you to Google the referendum results on the Belfast agreement and confirm that in a referendum, 96% of my people sent a very clear and unambiguous message about respect, tolerance, an unequivocal instruction to end terrorism and about ownership of politics when they cast their franchise, in abhorrence of violence.

    It has frequently been a pleasure to debate with you. I genuinely believed that when we had unintentionally caused slight before and had each apologised, that that had ended the matter. You however have drawn a comparison here that is repugnant, and represents a line I will not cross. You have previously issued quotes of a belittling nature to me and to my people and I no longer want anything more to do with this.

    I have, in spite of profoundly unfortunate antecedents in our mutual history, nothing but the best of regards for the future of the UK and it's components, for Europe, and for the whole human family. Those antecedents engendered for me a profound respect for the tolerance and mutual respect at the heart of the European process. That is my vision. It actually hurts that there has been such an abject failure to communicate with someone with whom I share a mother tongue.

    This is not robust debate CBW. This is IMHO sick, tasteless and offensive.

    Would that a sauna could remove the dirty feeling your sick comparisons have engendered.

    Have a nice evening.

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  • 154. At 11:40pm on 12 Apr 2010, debunker wrote:

    Having noted the commentary in the German press where the attitude is "why should we bail out Greece?", I would like to say the following because Germany is a contributor to this crisis:

    1. Greece has never invaded or bombed Germany. Not in modern or ancient times. But Germany bombed Greece in World War I and World War II and Germany took Greece's national gold reserves during World War II.

    2. Greece has reneged on its obligations to pay war reparations to Greece due from World War II. Germany's excuse was, prior to the reunification of Germany, but why should West Germany pay all the war reparations. Now that Germany is reunited it continues to fail to recompense Greece for World War II. Nor has it made any effort whatsoever to return national gold reserves.

    3. Despite the above. Greece has done enormous amounts of business with Germany, in good faith, and this includes a German company taking over the international airport at Athens on a long contract (a couple of decades); it also includes the outright purchase most of the public buses, trains and trams (mostly manufactured in Germany), and the vast majority of taxis in Greece are diesel Mercedes cars. All of that is only the tip of the iceberg.

    It appears to me, that despite Greece's good faith in Germany, that Germany is not reciprocating.

    Let's not forget that Greece was the first country to defeat an axis power during World War II abd only Greece resisted, under occupation, throughout World War II right through to the bitter end. Clearly, having Greece on side is an asset.

    It wouldn't surprise me that Greece would still have economic problems if it had not been bombed by Germany in both world wars. But the fact is that it was. It wouldn't surprise me if Greece were still in an economic mire if Germany had not defaulted on war reparations to Greece. But the fact is that Germany has.

    Germany needs to recognise that it has contributed to the problem and to stop behaving as though it can't afford to do the right thing.

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  • 155. At 00:14am on 13 Apr 2010, ninetofivegrind wrote:

    @ 137 MA II

    "Rest assured, a visit by me to the UK is not in the cards. Too many typical Brits. (You know....drunk and vomiting in the street, bad manners, arrogant know it alls with their superior airs, and those accents that hurt my ears."

    Sounds exactly like what the locals of Cancun must experience during the US spring break invasion....

    Lighten up dude.




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  • 156. At 01:46am on 13 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "As to your byzantine attempts to be the last-worder on the Hitler-Molotov pact: now that I have proven to you, that the aggression against Poland was a concerted Russian-German enterprise, you ow claim that Stalin was "surprised" at the speed at which the Germans attacked Poland. Thus, your tortuous argument, the Russians are less guilty of aggressing against Poland than the Germans. How do you know? Did Stalin tell you he was "surprised"? You are clinging to straws."

    cool_brush_work is not clinging to straws.
    Chris Camp you live in Germany means can read German.

    You will find the confirmation that NOTHING WAS AGREED BETWEEN GERMANY AND USSR WHATSOEVER in the Military Diary (daily day-keeper) of the head of the German ? how to say in English ?

    "Chef des Generalstabes des Heeres" - Head of Headquarters of ? non-airplane, non-Navy but Ground troops of Hitler.

    His name was F. Halder.

    The diary is called "Kriegstabebuch". Includes years 1939-1942.

    Printed in Stuttgart, by the publishing house W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1962-1964.

    He was there in Poland, when we were dividing it, according to the "pre-agreed plan" three ha ha.

    And he was a very important man in Germany at the time, I think the second after Hitler.

    If Germany and USSR had really agreed "the secret protokols" where all was split, and the map, and all - what he writes in his diary is extremely idiotic, because as late as the end of September, he writes about "political discussions", writes down numerous possible development plans "if we do this" "if USSR does that" then "we do this" then they might reply by"

    Territories are shifted there like in caleidoscope, absolutely nothing
    is pin-pointed, "Historical Russian Poland", "Historical German Poland" is one and the same side :o))))), "Western Ukraine" - is everywhere spoken of as German territory (while by "secret protokols" is is, I suppose, is supposed to have been "stamped" as USSR's?)

    In other words the man keeps planning what they will grabatise and when as if he never heard of the Secret Protokols, which is possible only
    1. if he was not informed by Hitler
    2. if they never existed
    3. if they existed but were so vague that nobody on Earth could say when and what is "due" by them to who on Earth :o))))

    It is easier for you on the German side to find out who the man was and was he really important as "Chef" of that "des Heeres".
    Because his diary is one full justification that he knew nil.

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  • 157. At 01:51am on 13 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Look up 7 September 1939. He is damn sure that Western Ukraine/Eastern Poland is Germany's.

    How could that be, if we are supposed to have signed it is "USSR's sphere of interest" a month before.

    It's called "Tägliche Aufzeichnungen des Chefs etc. " which I understand is daily scribbles. :o)))

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  • 158. At 01:56am on 13 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And how he dared, not to know, commanding the German operation in Poland?

    As the very minimum, the absolute minimum, what follows from this, is that if something was agreed - then in awful vague terms type
    "we might grabatise this and then do what you want, grabatise something -if you can!"

    I really think UUSR was in a reactive mode.
    Unless of course you think 17th in the calendar comes earlier than 1st.

    :o)))))))

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  • 159. At 02:27am on 13 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    To say nothing what Yakovlev here forged (falsified. cooked. I want to make sure you understand me correct)

    Yakovlev - "ideologist of Perestroyka" - official title here, the man organising it, our engine

    I think was done in order to realease USSR on some "formal" as if legal grounds, get a justification, and the justification was to carve a hole in, and a good legally, solid hole, which was that the Baltic States were annexed not as a result of our army there LOL, and their Parliaments' voting (which I personally think is good enough :o)))) one would think? :o))))) as a real reason :o))))) -

    but that all this Parliament-through Baltic States procedure followed in time the initial "Secret Protokols" to the Agreement between USSR and Germany.

    by which "Secret Protokols" the fortune of the Baltic States was already pre-decided by Stalin and Hitler, and therefore - vote their Parliaments for entering USSR - not vote for entering USSR - becomes kind of irrelevant. They were simply voting for fun and own ? peace of mind :o)))))
    As a shallow in content procedure.

    So our Yakovlev (a very famous locally chap; you know Gorbachyov only, but Gorbachyov mostly bla-bla- ed, there were real people working to make it happenn. It's not that easy, as you think.
    I mean, not "worked behind the scenes, secretly" but I mean "worked" in terms of making documents, and real that paper-work, following every country, how to say, release and reformation.

    It was all papered all over :o)))), our divorce looks very ? "coherent" (on paper) and beautiful :o)))). Credit to Yakovlev.

    Anyway the original of the "Secret Protokols" he came up with :o)))))
    - for on the Western side - and anywhere in the world side but USSR - until Perestroyka it exists only as a film-copy, of Germans, who gave it to the British, who gave it to Americans.

    Though the man, LOL, who tried to make a speech with that micro-film, the German, to build his defence of Germany of it, at Nurenberg, he was unable to say the source - where he got it from, in Germany, and therefore was unable to make his speech, and protect Germany with that micro-film, because he said he choses not to tell where he got micro-film from. And was denied the word with the film in hands.

    And years later was quoted saying he got the micro-film with the "help of the United States". They "helped him :o))))) to find the micro-film of the "Protokols" :o))))), in Germany.

    So the protokols - until our Yakovlev came up with "the Russian copy" in Perestroyka - existed in the world exclusively as that micro-film. First published from it on paper in some god-forgotten small US provincial newspaper. (which name I heard of before, its correspondent we already caught once, on Elbe :o)))) the girl). Saint-Lous post despatch courier, I think, something like that, that US newspaper name.

    Anyway :o)))) Awful disappointingly :o)))) The Russian "original" that we "confessed" with - differs with the micro-film approximately 10 times :o))))

    Some typist was awful lazy :o)))) copying it from the US original :o)))))
    One has "Molotov" the other "Molotow" , and in some foreign books, "copied" from the micro-film :o))))) Molotov simply signed in Russian. Like clinical idiot :o)))))

    The words are transferred from line to line differently broken into syllables.
    It's like 2 children's pictures - "find 10 differences".
    And all of them are ORIGINALS. :o))))))

    Ours is also supplied with a good map, dated 23 :o))))) (oj, by the way, there are published - in very respectful editions, "protokol originals" signed on the 26th :o))))))

    which is the map part of the 28th (I think. can check) of September 1939 Agreement, that we signed with Germany post-factum.
    That later Agreement map - is simply hopped over and clipped to the 23rd
    "Secret Protokols".

    They are so secret, dear me.

    They are titled as "Secret Protokols" (for the idiots :o))))
    Not a single other document in Russia is titled "Secret" in the title.
    Stalin signed "secret ones" - kilos.

    It never goes into the title. It is stamped on the side "Top secret", and when it is later ? un-secreted? made disclosed? the stamp is pressed over by another stamp "Info Released".

    Only those "secret ones" are called "secret".
    But, OK, that's poetry.
    Though, at the end, the "sides" reapeat again, so that there wouldn't be any mistakes in future :o)))), "we agreed to keep it secret" :o))))

    The Ministry mentioned in the "Protokols" - didn't exist in the USSR, when the "Protokols" are dated. It never existed, any "Ministry" - written in Russia "Ministry" - mind it - until far later times.
    I don't know when we got "Ministries". Can look.
    But back then, at Stalin - we had "Narkomats" - Narodny Komissariates - People's Comissariates.

    Anyway, don't worry :o))))
    We are not going to take Baltics back.

    Where the "Ministry" from - beyond

    Anyway that is words, he didn't sign for getting them from Americans.

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  • 160. At 03:38am on 13 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    I'll summarise it like this:

    CAn be foreign "Protokols" are original. "Blue Book of War" French "Yellow Book", US State Department editions 1948 and 1949-1964 "Nazi-Soviet relations: documents from the Archive of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs", "Documents of German Foreign Politics 1918-1945", "Avalon Project of the School of Law of the Yale University"

    - but our own "original", discovered in 1993, is definitely forged!
    :o))))
    It has got "a secret map", signed by Molotov and Ribbentrop, about division to-be, between USSR and Germany.

    This "secret map" is /was was published in Pravda Newspaper 28 September 1939. Front page. Says: "About conclusion of Soviet-German agreement about Frienship and border between USSR and Germany". Published the whole agreement (without any "Protokols", naturally), titled "Declaration of Soviet and German governments of 28 September 1939".
    Under the Declaration text newspaper says: "The map, mentioned in the Article 1 of the German-Soviet agreement of friendship and border between
    USSR and Germany see on page 2.
    Then, naturally, goes Pravda's next page (2), turning the page over (opening the newspaper).
    In the upper left corner "Letter of V.M.Molotov to the German Minister of Foreign Affairs Ribbentrop (currently in Moscow)"

    And then below on page 2 the whole very map, with fat broken line, marking the border.
    Under which is written:
    "Border of mutual state interests of USSR and Germany in the territory of the former Polish State".

    Sounds ugly but absolutely openly published.
    Post factum, Poland was already divided.

    Of course one can make out of it the "Secret map" and date it a back date.

    Or can be also that as agreed secretly - absolutely one to one had divided, and published it openly, later on, in Pravda.
    But then why to keep the "Protokols" secret for years if they were published openly in Pravda?
    Kind of mad.

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  • 161. At 06:43am on 13 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Chris Camp & #152

    Unfortunately for You and I am sure any 'pro-German' who is persuaded to attemtp the rewriting of History the Molotov - Ribbentropp Pact of Aug. 1939 is specific.
    There was no agreement for any sort of joint military ventrue in Poland by the USSR & Germany.
    That invasion of Polish soil by Nazi Germany' forces began on the Night of 29th Aug. & became common knowledge within hours. As all documents now show Stalin was indeed surprsied by the readiness of the German Forces and also (as was all EUrope), by the swiftness of the advance.

    Nothing 'Byzantine' about any of that: Nazi Germany brutally invaded a Neighbouring Nation, flagrantly breaching all international law and in breach of its own agreement with the USSR & with Poland!

    The rest as they say "is History": Except of course for apologists for a past Germany such as yourself who would seek to re-write that History and transpose portions of the Nazi regime War Guilt onto other Nations in order to change & improve the light shone onto dark deeds of the past generations.

    My father fought in WW2: He was at Dunkirk, D-Day, the liberation of Belgium. My mother also fought WW2 as 1 of millions of Belgian women who lived through the occupation of Brussels (where I'm headed to day, btw): The irony being, she had Dutch - German parents & the German ones were fighting on the side of the Nazis (no surprise - - people stand up for their Nation).

    Now, enough of this - - the Greeks, yet another Neighbour crushed under the German heel - - must be wondering how the World turns that it is now dependent on Germany's largesse 60 years later & yet 2 Britons are arguing over 1939!

    Cheers.

    WebAlice: Thank you for taking up the cudgel of explaining real History to our fellow contributor - - It is in my long experience always difficult for Germans & pro-Germans to come to terms with what is a shocking past event in the nation's annals.
    Much as it is for the British with 'empire' & I have to say as the Russians still find with the period 1941 onwards and east Europe.

    Only MAII is oblivious of everything - - cocooned as he is by an image of the USA striding the World doing good unto others... Oh well, some things never will change!

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  • 162. At 07:55am on 13 Apr 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 163. At 08:24am on 13 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    @coolbrushwork - as I said, you are clinging to straws. Now you are doing that well-rehearsed routine of "Nazi apologist" or "German apologist", along with the standard "my dad served in the army". My dad served in the army too and my grandfather served during world war 2, but I, unlike some other people do not use this detail of my family history as an ersatz argument when I haven't got any real arguments. Anyone who knows how to read will find I did nothing in the way of making apologies for Germany. I condemn the German aggression against Poland. I condemn the Russian aggression against Poland. The trouble is that for reasons well known to those who have seen these types of discussions many times before, you are making excuses for Stalin and the Russians.

    "There was no agreement for any sort of joint military ventrue in Poland by the USSR & Germany."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molotov-Ribbentrop#The_Molotov.E2.80.93Ribbentrop_Pact_and_its_secret_protocol

    These are the facts, you cannot argue with the facts. There was a plan to divide eastern Europe between Germany and Russia. The only part I am willing to concede to the Stalin apologists is Stalin's "surprise" at the velocity of the German operation. "Blitzkrieg", a military technique first used by the Germans (and last used by the Americans in the liberation of Iraq) was a thing unknown to the world at the time. That was the only "source" of Stalin's surprise. The Russian army did not know the technique. That does not make them any less complicit in the Russian-German aggression against Poland.

    The only morally justifiable and sane approach to this: one must condemn both Germany and Russia for what they did.

    It is interesting to see that you are now "thanking" a fellow user for "explaining real History" - a user who routinely fudges figures (she claimed to know the exact body count of the victims of German crimes, down to the very last person, and gave a figure that by far exceeded the number of world war 2 dead in total). This is why you have to tread softly when talking about world war 2 - before you know it, you find yourself in bed with neo-Nazis (if you make start making excuses for Germany's role in ww2) or neo-Stalinists (if you start making excuses for Russia in ww2).

    About the Greece comments - the Greeks should thank their lucky stars now. They have by now bankrupted their nation several times. They have been the main recipient of EU funds throughout the entirety of the time of their membership. And now they are being bailed out again. It's not being "dependent" on Germany's donations. The fact that Germany invaded Greece in ww2 does not have anything to do with its current calamities. The whole country is rife with corruption and tax evasion. No country with those fiscal ethics could hope to be a prosperous nation, regardless of whether they were invaded and occupied 65 years ago. Germany invaded and brutalised Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and France and those countries prospered after ww2.

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  • 164. At 08:35am on 13 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    debunker, I read your comment and I have to say it is a very strange choice for a nickname when it is your own comments that are in serious need of debunking.

    "Greece has never invaded or bombed Germany. Not in modern or ancient times. But Germany bombed Greece in World War I and World War II and Germany took Greece's national gold reserves during World War II."

    The Greek national bullion was saved by the British ship HMS Dido, shipped to London via Egypt and returned to Greece after World War 2. There was one member of my family member who worked on that ship by the way (hello coolbrushowrk :-) )

    "Greece has reneged on its obligations to pay war reparations to Greece due from World War II. Germany's excuse was, prior to the reunification of Germany, but why should West Germany pay all the war reparations. Now that Germany is reunited it continues to fail to recompense Greece for World War II. Nor has it made any effort whatsoever to return national gold reserves."

    Germany renounced any ambition to fully re-unify. This means any claims of compensation have to be negotiated specifically on a case-by-case basis. About the Greek gold myth, see HMS Dido.

    "It appears to me, that despite Greece's good faith in Germany, that Germany is not reciprocating"

    Germany has been the main contributor toward the E.U. budget and Greece has been the main recipient. The recent deal to help Greece is mainly backed up by German monies. By the way, a Greek buying a Mercedes car is not an act of generosity to Germans. Its wanting a certain type of car and paying for it. That's all.

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  • 165. At 10:00am on 13 Apr 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re164: Chris, you said:
    ""Germany has been the main contributor toward the E.U. budget and Greece has been the main recipient.""

    I have repeatedly spoken on this, especially in the past thread:
    ""Blame it on the Germans"", 210, 213, 224

    using the BBC link:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8036097.stm#start

    EU taxation % = 1,35%
    EU taxation % = 0,9
    EU taxation % = 0,65%

    1 is Greece, 1 is Germany, 1 is Britain. I want you to put the country next to each percentage...

    Who is contributor? Who?

    Now go to spending:

    Greece arguably receives a lot. It receives really a lot in relation to its population. Why? EU gives money for several areas. 80% of the money it gives around are:
    1) Agriculture
    2) Development aid

    Of these two the biggest is aid on agriculture which forms of course the majority of money Greece receives. But that is not of course any aid since it is simply money to balance the absence of import taxes that normally would exist to protec the farmers (which is the natural measure - the unatural is the absence of taxes!). I.e. contrary to common understanding (extremely naif), the agricultural aid is NO aid at all. Greece, like just any other country does not benefit from it. Take a country like France and see what happens there too.

    The other aid is development aid. This is given to develop the less developed areas of EU. Greece has quite many of them. However, that is by no means money given to the country: that is money given for specific projects in the country chosen by the EU (i.e. guess who!). And what was the choice for Greece? Bridges in the middle of nowhere? Olympic wrestling stadiums? No wonder there is no break even - that was the idea, anyway: EU puts 50%, Greece 50% on an initial budget always resulting in being the 30-40% of the total costs with Greece ending up paying 200% and 300% of what it was initially agreed.

    What is extremely funny is that Greece receives virtually no money for any other real aid package like the "Foreign Aid" and "Crime and border control", two funds that are special for countries bordering with non-EU countries receiving less than countries like Danemark on the first and Ireland on the second!

    I have explained in the above messages why Greece should rather pay the 50% of what it receives to the EU in order not to receive anything at all, and it would be much better for the Greek economy, either you want to believe it or not.

    Chris, you said:
    ""The recent deal to help Greece is mainly backed up by German monies.""

    Chris, the US firms suggested Greece should borrow at a rate nearly 7%. Now Germans say "we do you a favour, 5%". As far as I know Germans borrow around 3%.

    Excuse me, but is it me seeing stars or is it really possible for Germany to borrow and 3% and lent Greece at 5% thus making money out of thin air? If Greece borrows 30 billion, Germany will make 600 million euros out of thin air, out of nothing, nada, nul, rien, miden. I really do find hard to sport the aid part of this "aid". Perhaps Germans think they lose money for not profiting at the full 7%-3%=4% extend and not making 1,2 billion euros out of Greece.

    Now, if they sell you in Germany other stuff and tell you "you are going to pay" know that they fool you and they fool you for good. That is not the first time the German leadership fools German citizens anyway. Germans should start to question their own leadership.

    Chris you said:
    ""By the way, a Greek buying a Mercedes car is not an act of generosity to Germans. Its wanting a certain type of car and paying for it. That's all.""

    Exactly. But giving them the construction and exploitation of the brand new main international airport of Athens to Germans and not to Russians, Chinese or Brazilians is huge generosity. Not being able to sign a proper deal with Russians on gas and Chinese on ports is huge "generosity".

    And Mercedes bribing everything that moves to have the Greek state bying their overly expensive cars for function cars (whose quality over price is questionable anyway nowadays) over the much better offers of Toyota or Nissan, that is called corruption.

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  • 166. At 10:50am on 13 Apr 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    Gavin wrote:
    The idea of a smaller, more stable eurozone is blasphemy to some, because the currency was a step towards the goal of political union.

    Whose goal is that? It is the goal of the political elites and most definately not of the peoples. Here in the Netherlands there is not anything near a majority for more integration. Oh yes, maybe you could command a small majority amongst politicians of the 'main stream' parties but certainly not amongst voters.
    Do not let polls deceive you into thinking that people who support 'some form of cooperation on European level' automatically equates 'support for unlimited integration'. Many support cooperation but not integration. This distinction is often lost on politicians and the press.
    Chris Camp wrote:
    This sounds as if being pragmatic and promoting European integration were opposites. They are not. More than 40 years of a successfull Union are testament to that.

    The 'union' exists since 1992 (without popular consent), before that it was EEC/ECSC. And yes, being 'pragmatic' and wanting to ram through integration against popular opposition are indeed opposites. The EU-elites have always been arrogant, elitist and most decidedly anti-democratic. Why else would they ignore referendums or force them to be run again and again until the desired result was generated?
    DiscoStu_d wrote
    And because Merkel is answerable to the German electorate she doesn't 'believe in a united Europe'? If there is one thing Brussels is good at, that is the guilt trip.

    Indeed, anyone who doesn't want what the undemocratic EU wants is always accused of being 'anti-EU'. But I'd rather be 'anti-EU' than be like those pro-EU folks who are 'anti-democracy'.

    And as for the discussion of whether or not the EU knew that many countries (particularly Greece) were cooking the books regarding Eurozone entry. To paraphrase Ted Heath: of course they bloody knew.
    The very idea behind pushing the Euro currency was never any economic purpose. The sole consideration was to use it as a force to further political integration. They knew there would be a crisis someday, and they (the pro-EU/anti-democracy EU-federalists) would then be ready to 'abuse' said crisis in order to further integration. Political integration would be proposed as the 'solution' to the Eurozone's 'obvious flaws'.

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  • 167. At 11:01am on 13 Apr 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    161. cool_brush_work wrote:
    There was no agreement for any sort of joint military ventrue in Poland by the USSR & Germany.

    O yes there was. However not in the treaty itself (the main text was publicized, after all). But the treaty contained a number of secret protocols which carved central and eastern Europe into 'spheres of interest' for Germany and the Soviet Union (ie areas to be invaded and annexed or occupied). And one of the main points in those secret protocols was the unwritten agreement between Ribbentrop and Molotov that 'Poland had to disappear'. Oh by the way, the invasion started on september 1st, 1939.

    In the protocols, Finland was allocated to the Soviets and that set the stage for what was to become the 'Winter War' in which they failed to overcome Finland. An interesting thing was that Finland, upon being invaded, requested military aid from Britain and France who were under treaty obligation to give it.

    If Hitler had not beaten Britain to Norway, Britain might well have been sending troops to Finland to help them fight the Soviet Union. And France had proposed bombing Russian oil fields in the Caucasus. This could have led to a situation where Britain and France might have been at war with the Soviet Union.

    I really wonder what would have happened had Hitler delayed his Norway/Denmark attacks by three months and the BeNeLux/France attacks also. What if he had indeed waited and then said to Britain and France, we will now help you by attacking the Soviets early 1941 ourselves. Now that would produce quite an interesting historical situation.

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  • 168. At 11:14am on 13 Apr 2010, mvr512 wrote:

    Freeborn John wrote
    ...multiple GATT/WTO trade agreements, shows that intergovernmentalism does work, even with 150+ countries involved.

    In fact, intergovernmental action through GATT/WTO has achieved far more than the EU customs union has. In fact, the EU customs union puts up tariffs and trade barriers to prevent, for example, African farmers to be able to compete with French ones. One always wonders whether there isn't some racist/anti-African agenda behind the Common Agricultural Policy, I strongly suspect such sentiments are certainly not entirely absent.
    Why the suspicion? Simple, the CAP isn't the only EU policy to have had disastrous consequences for Africa (in this case the livelyhood of African farmers). The Common Fisheries Policy is also such a policy.
    But hey, let's not bother the pro-EU types with such 'inconvenient truths'. Speaking of 'inconvenient truths', did you know that climate change is a natural phenomenon upon which mankind has no discernable influence? Of course you did. But that doesn't stop the EU to try and abuse the issue in order to grab even more powers for itself. The EU desperately wants to have its own taxes, and a climate tax might just be the wedge-issue by which they can gain access to this policy area upon which national states are still sovereign (more or less).
    Ask yourself, is it a coincidence that the people who belief in more integration (more EU, less democracy) also believe that a natural phenomenon isn't a natural phenomenon anymore just because the EU says it isn't?

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  • 169. At 11:15am on 13 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    @Freeborn John #150

    Immanuel Kant rejected a federal state, but did propose a federation of FREE states, which is exactly what I wrote in #143.

    "The public right ought to be founded upon a federation of free states...
    Nations, as states, like individuals, if they live in a state of nature and without laws, by their vicinity alone
    commit an act of lesion. One may, in order to secure its own safety, require of another to establish within it a
    constitution which should guarantee to all their rights. This would be a federation of nations, without the people
    however forming one and the same state, the idea of a state supposing the relation of a sovereign to the people,
    of a superior to his inferior. Now several nations, united into one state, would no longer form but one; which
    contradicts the supposition, the question here being of the reciprocal rights of nations, inasmuch as they
    compose a multitude of different states, which ought not to be incorporated into one and the same state.” (Kant, Immanuel. 1939 (1796). Perpetual Peace. New York: Columbia University Press, 18.)

    Kant does indeed share your belief that a nation is the ultimate form of identity. But what is illegitimate if those nations freely decide to cooperate which each other in specific and limited policy areas and create institutions for this cooperation? No one suggests that a European federation should replace the nations constituting it, and these nations would be free to leave whenever they wish to do so.
    So it seems to me that our discussion comes down to the point that you believe that there are no policy areas that require a level of cooperation between states that would justify a permanent transfer of sovereignty whereas I disagree with this assertion as long as cooperation takes place in clearly defined and limited policy areas, the transfer of sovereignty is reversable at any time and supranational institutions are democratically elected, transparent and accountable.
    We agree about the problems and shortfalls of the current EU in this regard.
    I do not share your argument that the increased powers of the EP have actually led to less democracy. One recent example: The EP has rejected the Swift agreement between the EU and the USA that was undemocratically drafted by the Commission and the Council and would have given the US access to data about all outgoing banktransfers from Europe (albeit not to transfers taking place within Europe). I personally view that as a tremendous success as the EP has protected the privacy of Europeans. I do know that there will be a new agreement so too much celebration may be premature.
    Greetings

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  • 170. At 11:24am on 13 Apr 2010, Nik wrote:

    Re167: How did we end up there? Anyway, in case you did not know Britain WAS in war with USSR even in the 2nd world war as it was in the first. You should know that Britain does not do war only by attacking, but does war also by allying. Britain attacked along with the Nazis Greece in 1940 by pretending to be an ally.

    You live and learn mate, live and learn.

    PS: What is funny is that when the Germans were about to flee Greece British troops rushed in, in fear of losing control of Greece using as a nexcuse the communists, themselves (!!!) had given rise in the country in a mere 2 years (1941-1942) from their obscurity up to 1940... And they made sure that Germans flee Greece safe and healthy prohibiting Greeks to chase them off, trying to concentrate Greeks fighting each other. Why I say all that? Cos Britain went up to great legths to protect the Nazis and the few local Nazi collaborators who became British collaborators of course! Famously, the Nazis leaving had punished a couple of Nazi-collaborators than British (Germans had weird ethics, they sought collaborators but never respected them either, they killed them pre-emptively to prohibit them passing to the other side)! The memory of the British in WWII, at least in relation to Britain it has rightly to be remembered that British were no different than Germans, perhaps worse since they hid themselves good behind the alledged alliance.

    I guess there is nothing worse than being allied to Britain... This of course has nothing to do with the bulk of British people themselves, its only the sad reality of British politics. And its funny, that after 60 years and with 10 times more means, American external affairs seem amateur in front of British ones.

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  • 171. At 11:30am on 13 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    @mvr512#166

    I am open to all kinds of arguments and certainly to criticism about the current EU, but please do not portray federalists as being anti- democracy.

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  • 172. At 11:46am on 13 Apr 2010, Nik wrote:

    ... anyway, Britain, France and Germany against Russia in WWII would not change much. If 300,000 German aristocrats, playboys and rocket scientists on some useless V2 rockets could give such resistance to the millions of British, US, Canadian, ANZAC and Free-French forces I guess US analysts were right - the western armies had it wrong: the had to be at least 3 times* more than Germans to be certain of victory (and that imagine, while Germans had no defensive dogma!!!). Now the real German army was all in Russia, best men with their best stuff. 2,7 million soldier, the greatest campaign in known human history. It resulted in every single German woman raped. What would the addition of 300,000 playboys from France could do to Germans in Russia? And what would the addition of 1 million British and French to Russians? Delay them?

    For your info, it had been tried back in the Crimean war. British, French, Italians, everyone... all they could do is attack and annoy the Russians. Nothing more. If they took 1 coastal town, they could not move 10km inside.

    You should know that there are things that are independent of technology, peoples' capacities, nations fighting spirits and disciplines... and these are geography, geomorphology, gestrategy and such. You cannot invade half the Eurasia's surface in one go, that is a fact.

    * The only WWII army that beat the Germans having less than double the German force was the Greek army. In fact not only they were not double than the Germans but they had there nearly 7 times less army than them! It was 5,000 soldiers and 2,000 local villagers defending the Metaxas line in the Greek-Bulgarian borders. They were sent there by dissident Greek military officers (while the rest remained royal to the British - forced - alliance and British command that dictated retreat in the south...).

    So in the Metaxas fortresses battle, after three days fighting, 45,000 Germans and Bulgarians (50-50% - note Bulgarians though low-tech, were better fighters than Germans due to the local interest...) had managed to breach if I remember well 3 fortresses... out of the 125? In one, they defenders let the Germans enter, and blowed it up with them. In another, a quite open one, Germans managed to use chemicals to kill the defenders inside, in the third the ammunition of the defenders had finished so they had to surrender... all 3 of them.

    ... all that was happening while 55,000 ANZAC forces present in Greece were dragging another 30,000 Greek reserves force (according to the - forced - alliance command was on the British) in retreat in front of 12,000 Germans riding bikes and lorries in mountainous road-less Greece... what can I say more?

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  • 173. At 11:48am on 13 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    @mvr512#168

    I am not sure whether GATT/WTO agreements are good examples for the success of intergovernmentality. Do you consider the current international trade system fair? Isn't it rather that here intergovernmentality means the strong dictate the weak with the latter only having the option to not sign anything at all? What about the Doha Round that has not produced any results?

    That having said, I agree with you on everything you wrote about EU policy in this regard.
    I am not sure what to make of the second half of your posting.

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  • 174. At 11:59am on 13 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Chris Camp, @163

    " The trouble is that for reasons well known to those who have seen these types of discussions many times before, you are making excuses for Stalin and the Russians."

    1.
    "Excuses" you make when someone is guilty.

    Justifying "Stalin and Russians were guilty" with "because they were guilty"
    won't take you far, say, in court.

    Clear up your thought, how to say, path.
    This type of "justification" is no good in a dispute, is merely blind bombasting your point through. "I want it to be so - therefore it is so".

    2. Russia took on board USSR heritage, Stalin included, therefore we feel obliged "to explain", what it was. In our modest understanding.
    I feel obliged. To people like you are.

    When someone - like cool-brush-work - joins the discussion and puts forward his point of view - it is his right. How you dare to question it?
    Dismiss the opinion automatically, because it doesn't fit your picture of the world. You try to shut him up by "remember you are crossing a dangerous division line, any next moment and you are a Russiphile or save God a Stalinist."

    I don't think a Briton - any one - is ever in danger :o)))) of becoming either :o))))

    You simply bully him, try to tar him, and have him shut up.
    Which has nothing to do with the issue in question - "the secret protokols" and the "reactive versus pro-active Russian invasion into Poland".

    Don't be a swindler, mixing up discussion with "what I want it to be."

    3. What's wrong with protecting Russia, may I ask?

    I have seen how the type of "history" that is appealing to Russophobes is made up. Just the past two days, on BBC's front page.
    Forget temporarily of "Katyn'-1", we just had history in making for "Katyn'-2".

    The BBC front page, telling of the airplane catastrophe, had the whole day throughout, as most fitting illustration to the crash - Putin's big photo. Behind him, in the distance - plane's left-overs - and in front - all have a look - "the main character". He did it - look, the main hero.
    A criminal standing over smoking results of his hands' making.

    That's building a line - KGB - Katyn - Putin - KGB - Katyn-2.

    Only an idiot wouldn't have seen that.

    That's how public "opinion" - that people like you are - later on will be bombasting as "all the world knows", "universal truth" is made.
    About Putin. About Russians.

    Neither of who should be "protected", in your view.

    Then the message was further enhanced in the page of condolences, "what the world has said about the catastrophe".

    First was quoted Polish Premier Tusc, saying many proper and sad words, a large paragraph.

    Then it was Putin, who, according to BBC, has said "Nothing like that has ever happened before".
    No condolences, no emotions, no regrets or wishes to the Polish, no consolation, no nothing. Dry shrewed note "never happened before"

    Then we have Medvedev, to who BBC is more symathetic, as he was "allowed" to say a large paragraph as well, "Poor Polish people we all sympathise with you, how awful that it happened, we feel responsible, will help" and all.

    Then, in the same style - paragraphs of what other world leader have said, how they commented and sympathised the Polish.

    The only "comment" that clearly stood out was Putin's.

    If my info sources were limited by BBC, I would have thought "what a hard-hearted suspicious man, not only did it, but stayed absolutely cool after".

    However I watched Russian TV where Putin was addressing Polish TV, and there, addressing Poland, he surprise surprise :o)))) never said "nothing like that have ever happened before". But said quite hearty things, and seemed moved. Like a normal person.

    That's how "history" is made, Chris Camp. Yesterday. Anti-Russian, anti-Putin history.
    Nicely, elegantly, un-obtrusive.

    I don't wonder that 50 years later someone will have to step up for Putin and write "No! It wasn't like that!"

    To which a new edition of Chris Camp will reply "Beware! Any next minute and you are a "Putinist! Think what you are saying."

    So don't give me this "Stalin and Russia of 1939 can not be protected because they can not".

    People are not idiots. Sooner or later someone will point out the inconcruences to you, that it doesn't add up.

    If you want an "incongruency test" for "Katyn-2", history in making - check up the Polish reaction to Putin's expressions of sympathy.
    Strangely, they didn't find him cold and hard-hearted.

    Why so? If all he said, according to BBC, was "Nothing like this has ever happened before."

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  • 175. At 11:59am on 13 Apr 2010, Nik wrote:

    Ok, lets move to more up to date things.

    Re171: EuropeanFederalist, the problem with the EU is that it does everything from the inverse. Perhaps it has to do with the birth of the idea but then Europeans did nothing to try and set things right.

    You do not build a common construcito starting from petty financial issues, social issues and culture and other such hippy-naiveties. You do build a common structure by

    1st: building a common defense dogma
    - replacing ALL existing ones
    2nd: building a common defense military corps
    - replacing to at least a 50% of all natotional armies
    3rd: building a common external affairs office
    - dealing major issues
    4th: developing a common energy policy
    - everyone to agree on a coherent common policy
    5th: developing a common approach for space
    - from France, Germany, Italy down to Portugal, Greece and Ireland, let everyone pay for it. It is matter of strategic interest to be joined to the military dogma.

    That is where you start:
    ... agriculture, development, human rights, culture and other hippy-love stuff could as well be dealt within national policies.

    Where is EU on the above? It cannot even defend its own borders from 3rd world countries, let alone be in position to impose its will in the world. And for this reason it will continue for long to buy its ressources in petrodollars for really long so forget about having any coherent financial policy.

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  • 176. At 1:05pm on 13 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    @ Nik, to be quite honest with you, I do not know and do not care how the Greeks use the funds given to them by other E.U. members. If they squirt it up the wall, then that is hardly a surprise, given how they managed to bankrupt their economy.

    About your second point - you have made the objection that Germans borrow at 3 percent interest and Greece borrow at 5 percent interest. Well, interest rates for lending rise and fall according to how trustworthy the debtor is considered based on his/her reputation (fiscal ethics, past debts, likelihood of success etc...). Let me ask you this: what kind of a world do you live in? Do you expect banks (doesn't matter where they are, Germany or anywhere else in the world) to grant a corrupt and bankrupt nation the same credit conditions as a financially austere one? And how is it Germany's fault that Greece was only given 5 percent? As you pointed out yourself, the IMF had a much worse opinion of Greece's debt servicing ethics. So with 5 percent, the Germans are actually taking a risk for Greece.

    "Exactly. But giving them the construction and exploitation of the brand new main international airport of Athens to Germans and not to Russians, Chinese or Brazilians is huge generosity. Not being able to sign a proper deal with Russians on gas and Chinese on ports is huge "generosity".

    And Mercedes bribing everything that moves to have the Greek state bying their overly expensive cars for function cars (whose quality over price is questionable anyway nowadays) over the much better offers of Toyota or Nissan, that is called corruption."

    Well, why did Greece not give the job to Brazilians, Chinese or Russians if they were going to do such a great job at it? The fact that the Greeks have not been able enough to strike any foreign deals with Russia or China is "generosity"? I think I need to check my dictionary and make sure I am aware of all the definitions of the word "generosity" because I was unaware of the meaning #2: "incompetence". Are Nissan and Toyota banned from selling cars in Greece? Really? Greek people cannot buy Nissan or Toyota?

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  • 177. At 2:24pm on 13 Apr 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    European Federalist (169): As i pointed out, the United Nations is today the closest thing today to Kant’s 'League of Peace'. As recommended by Kant, the UN has no power to replace the law-making power of the nation-state, being only a mechanism to prevent military conflict by bringing overwhelming military power to bear against any rogue state that might start a war. There is no need for a European version of the UN today, and that is not what the EU is, so stop pretending that this is the type of European federation you want.

    The EU is an entirely different beast. Contrary to Kant’s recommendation, the EU has (unlike the UN) a binding federal law superior to national which can now be imposed by QMV on nations that disagree with it. Every new European law created by the EU obliges each national parliament (even when they do not agree with the EU law) to withdraw any of their own law that conflicts with the EU law and never legislate in that area again. This mechanism was specifically designed by Monnet to gradually replace and ultimately eliminate the legislative power of national parliaments and lead to a single European nation-state. You say that “No one suggests that a European federation should replace the nations constituting it” but Kant does in the very publication you refer to. The EU treaties are a pre-programmed mechanism to gradually eliminate the legislative power of national parliaments with a new higher body of EU federal law which only grows (because of the Commission’s monopoly on all proposed changes) in size. No less an authority than Kant says “many nations in one state” (i.e. where the nations are obliged to obey the same EU laws) “would then constitute only one nation”.

    It is not good enough for you to reject my explanation for the growth of the EU democratic legitimacy crisis since 1992 without providing an alternative explanation, and one which fits the observed fact that increasing the powers of the EU Parliament since 1979 has simultaneously resulted in the growth of the EU democratic legitimacy crisis. I strongly suggest that majority voting at international level is incompatible with democracy (which is why we have nation-states in the first place or the Chinese and Indians would rule us) and therefore that European federalists like you who naively equate democracy with majority voting (even in the absence of a united people) are indeed true enemies of real democracy. ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people’ requires a people, and the EU does not have one. As ‘ample proof’ (to use your phrase) I point out that:

    1. Of ALL of the international organisations in the world only one (the EU) has suffered a break-down in its democratic legitimacy. The WTO, NATO, etc. have no such problem.
    2. The beginning of the EU legitimacy breakdown can be dated PRECISELY to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty when the systematic replacement of intergovernmentalism with federalism (i.e. more qualified majority voting, with reduced blocking thresholds, and with greater co-decision powers for the majority in the EU Parliament) began in the more politically sensitive policies areas beyond the so-called ‘1st pillar’ of common market regulations. Before Maastricht there were few if any defeated EU referendums; since Maastricht they are the norm.
    3. The crisis of democratic legitimacy has GROWN with each of the European Treaties since Maastricht, all of which made the European Union MORE FEDERAL.

    There is therefore a clear correlation between increased European federalism and the growth of the EU democratic legitimacy crisis. No European federalist has ever been offer to offer an alternative explanation for this which fits the observed facts above. All they propose is to carry on regardless with an approach that four European treaties have proved not to work in practice. The time for listening to federalists is over. The objective now is to fix the problems they have created by restoring political powers to the democratic arena of the nation-state, and replacing the common market with a larger Global Free Trade Area that has no ambition to become our government.

    -----------------------
    P.S. I do not agree that the EU Parliament (or other EU governments in the EU Council of Ministers) should have any access to my bank details or say in where those details are passed on to.

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  • 178. At 4:33pm on 13 Apr 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    To those who quote Soviet/Russian "Pravda" [Truth] rather than "Izvestia"[News] as an authoritative source of information. :-)))))



    There's a famous old Russian saying:

    'W "Prawdie" nyet izvestii, no w "Izvestiach" nyet pravdy."

    [There no news in " Truth", but no truth in "News"]

    Oh, my youth is coming back!

    It's just like during Khrushchev and Brezhnevs' era. :-))))))))))))))))))

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  • 179. At 7:02pm on 13 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    @Freeborn John#177

    Please show me a quote from one of my previous postings where I have "pretended" a European federation would be similar to the UN or be based upon intergovernmentalism. On the contrary, I have always argued for supranational institutions. Kant's key phrase imo is "federation of free states"- I dont see how supranational institutions are contradictory to this as long as they meet certain requirements: 1) they were brought into being through a constituting act of the European people on the basis of their respective nations- there is a Europe-wide referendum on a federal constitution, for it to be approved a majority of 60% or more is required- at least 60% of Europeans participating would have to vote "yes". Furthermore there needs to be a majority within each nation-state for this particular nation to join, the necessary majority can be determined by each state individually- thus it could be 50%+1 vote in Germany, but 60% in Britain. With this method, there is absolutely no way a federation could be imposed on any one nation- but it would also be impossible for one or few nations to prevent it- these nations would simply not join.
    2) membership in the federation can be revoked at any time by the national parliaments; 3) supranational institutions are democratic, transparent and accountable and their power is limited to certain policy areas- in a federal constitution these would be enumerated in the "union" list.
    Obviously, this has very little to do with the current EU, so please stop putting a European federation on a level with the EU.
    It is correct that a federation would require some sense of "Europeanness"- some sort of European identity, but a limited one (congruent with the policy areas for which the federation is responsible).
    This identity could emerge from common interests as Nik has suggested in #175 (similar to Monnet's functional approach although Monnet recommended to start in low-key policy areas) or it could be based upon common values.

    The lack of democracy in the current EU results from a lack of transpareny, from complicated and always- changing decision-making procedures, from an enormous body of rules and regulations and insufficiently defined institutions and their powers all of which are the result of intergovernmental treaties. You need to be an expert to understand how the EU is functioning and what its competencies are. This can by and large be attributed to the reluctance of national governments to clearly define EU powers and then stop interfering with them.

    Intergovernmentalism usually produces international treaties that are subject to international law. Such treaties often contain a time clause, they expire after a certain period of time and then can be renegotiated or renewed. Within this time period however, it is extremely difficult to revoke them. The 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties stipulates that
    “the termination of a treaty, its denunciation or the withdrawal of a party, may take place only as a result of the application of the provisions of the treaty or of the present Convention.” Furthermore,
    “the termination of a treaty or the withdrawal of a party may [only] take place: (a) in conformity with the provisions of the treaty; or (b) at any time by consent of all the parties after consultation with the other contracting States.” (Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969, Articles 42, 54.)
    A good example for what this means in practice is the Lisbon Treaty. As it has been ratified by the current Labour-led British parliament it cannot be revoked by any future British government unless all other parties (thus all other EU members) agree. So much for intergovernmentalism and democracy- basically entire future generations are bound by treaties an earlier government signed (one they didnt even vote for or if they were to young or not even born didnt even have a chance to vote for).
    Fortunately for the British, the Lisbon Treaty did introduce an exit clause- but this is rarely the case in international treaties as this would undermine faith and hence stability.

    A European federation freely joined by European nations based upon common values or interests and with the right to secede at any time is clearly more democratic than any international intergovernmental treaty could ever be!

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  • 180. At 7:51pm on 13 Apr 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    powermeer, you need an upgrade.

    There is no news in The Truth, no truth in The News, and CNN simply never knew either :o))))))

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  • 181. At 10:54pm on 13 Apr 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    European Federalist (179): I notice that you have no alternative explanation than mine for the established fact that more European federalism always results in a DECREASE in the democratic legitimacy of the EU institutions. Given my challenge to explain the real world you prefer instead to retreat to a fantasy world where there is a majority support in every country in favour of European federalism.

    The EU’s own polling (Eurobarometer) shows that even in Luxembourg (the nation most enthusiastic for more European integration) less than 20% of the population describe themselves as more European that Luxembourger. In Germany it is about 11%, and in the UK, Ireland, Austria, Finland, etc. is between 3 and 4%. Those figures show that there is no European people. Indeed these levels of support are as low as it is possible to go in opinion polls. 4% of people tell pollsters they think Elvis Presley is alive, which is more than the 3% of Britons who tell pollsters that they want a European federal government. Furthermore, the strength of European identity relative to national (as measured by Eurobarometer) has been declining since 1992, showing that your fantasy European federation with a democratic legitimacy is retreating ever further.

    Even by Monnet’s own theories there will be no European nation. He predicted Europeanization of the economy would automatically lead to a transfer of allegiance from national to European institutions. This has not happened, but globalisation has now overtaken Europeanisation of the economy.

    All that we have left is European federalists like yourself who cannot explain the real world unpopularity of the EU, who cannot sustain even 1 argument for international federalism, and who quote Kant and the Vienna Convention without understanding them. European federalism is intellectually bankrupt, and the unwanted institutional detritus it has left behind needs to be swept into the dustbin of history where it belongs.

    ---------------
    P.S. Lisbon does not introduce a new right to leave the EU that was not there before. As with Kant, you quote the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties without understanding what you are talking about. There has never been any doubt that the UK parliament could vote to leave the EU, just as Greenland left it in the past.

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  • 182. At 10:42am on 14 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    @Freeborn John#181

    As long as you keep ignoring my arguments that a European federation would be entirely different from the current EU this discussion will go nowhere.

    I have constantly pointed out that with regard to the current EU I almost completely agree with the criticism brought forward by you and others.

    We completely disagree about the consequences. And while there are valid arguments against a European federation as proposed in previous postings, the one that it would be undemocratic is simply not correct.

    The fact that you have increasingly resorted to denigrating and even insulting language leads me to the conclusion that your justified disaffirmation of the current EU has resulted in blind hatred towards anything related to European integration.

    I am very well aware that at present a European federation wouldn't have the slightest chance of being approved in a public referendum in any European country. I am attributing that by and large to the undemocratic character of the current EU. If European federalists will not succeed in convincing people that a federation would be the perfect remedy to most of the shortfalls and problems of the EU then there will be no federation and for you nothing to worry about. But even you have to admit that this is the essence of democracy: there is a vision, originating from either common values or interests or both, that is presented to the people in order to gain their support, ideas etc. until it finally materialises into a draft constitution that incorporates all those ideas and is then presented to the people for ultimate approval in a public referendum.

    The example of Greenland leaving the EU is a special case as Greenland gained full autonomy in internal affairs in 1979 but continues to be represented externally by Denmark. Thus when Denmark joined the EEC in 1973 Greenland did automatically, too. As this allowed other members to fish around Greenland protest arouse and resulted in a 1982 referendum and a 1985 EEC exit. But this did not affect the original party to the treaty, Denmark, and all other then- members had to agree. Maybe Scotland or Wales could have done something similar, but for Great Britian to legally leave the EU the consent of all other members would have been required prior to the Lisbon Treaty. In practice of course, if there ever had been a referendum in Britain with the result that Britons want to leave the EU I am sure this consent would have been expressed.

    So I suggest you educate yourself a little more before you employ insulting accusations against others as the example of Greenland proves my point about intergovernmental international treaties, not yours. And with Kant, if you have an otherworldly connection to him so you can ask him about his "federation of free states" then please let me know. Otherwise, its an exchange of interpretations and I am sure mine can absolutely hold its ground.
    Greetings

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  • 183. At 3:32pm on 14 Apr 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    European federalist (182): When European federalists talk junk, it must be pointed out. It is absolutely not the case that prior to Lisbon the consent of every other member-state of the European Union would have been required if the UK wanted to leave the EU.

    Article 56(1) of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties (which applied to the EU as defined by the Nice Treaty) says:

    1. A treaty which contains no provision regarding its termination and which does not provide for denunciation or withdrawal is not subject to denunciation or withdrawal unless:
    a) it is established that the parties intended to admit the possibility of denunciation or withdrawal; or
    b) a right of denunciation or withdrawal may be implied by the nature of the treaty.


    A leading text on the law of treaties says ‘the constituent instrument of an international organisation…almost certainly falls within paragraph (b)’. In other words a signatory state is free to leave an international organization even when the treaty setting up that organisation has no specific provision on withdrawal. That was the case with the EU as defined by the Nice Treaty. What Lisbon has done (in Article 50 TEU) is include a specific provision on withdrawal. The addition of this procedure means that Article 54 of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties (below) now applies to any state wanting to leave, rather than Article 56(1).

    Article 54 of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties (applicable now under Lisbon) says:

    The termination of a treaty or the withdrawal of a party may take place:
    (a) in conformity with the provisions of the treaty; or
    (b) at any time by consent of all the parties after consultation with the other contracting States.


    So the change in Lisbon on withdrawal is not to grant a new right of withdrawal but to set out the procedure (i.e. Article 50 TEU) to be followed should any state want to leave. The question then arises as to whether the procedure of Article 50 TEU is more onerous than that implied by Article 56(1) of the Vienna Law of Treaties quoted above which allowed the state to leave unilaterally. I would suggest Lisbon makes the situation slightly worse for the withdrawing state in that it sets out a two-year negotiating period during which the member-state will be excluded from the EU Councils on decisions concerning its withdrawal and the withdrawing state will obliged to follow all EU rules during those two years, before finally being able to do what it was free to do at any time under Nice; i.e. walk away on its own terms.

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  • 184. At 5:23pm on 14 Apr 2010, View from Germany wrote:

    @Freeborn John#183

    As you have obviously simply copied and pasted something you had written nearly two years ago I will just put the link in here in case anyone else except the two of us is still following this and a fitting reply to your remarks is given there also:

    http://www.politics.ie/lisbon-treaty/99456-lisbon-treaty-text-article-article-50-teu-withdrawal.html

    Whats the point in forcing a country to retain its memberhsip in an IO if it wishes to leave? Hence an "implicit" right that as you failed to point out nevertheless couldnt be exercised with immediate effect.
    With all other international intergovernmental treaties there is no such implicit right.


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  • 185. At 7:50pm on 14 Apr 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re: powermeer, you need an upgrade.

    There is no news in The Truth, no truth in The News, and CNN simply never knew either :o))))))






    Since it never monitored RT. :-))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

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  • 186. At 8:51pm on 14 Apr 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    EuropeanFederalist (184): Why criticize me for understanding the issue during the Lisbon II referendum campaign in Ireland (8 months ago) and having the same (correct) understanding of it today?

    You on the other hand write comments quoting Kant and The Vienna Law of Treaties and Lisbon when you plainly have no knowledge whatsoever of what you are talking about. Congratulations though for being able to use Google.

    You are typical of what I mean when I say European federalism is intellectually bankrupt. You don’t understand what you advocate (federalism), cannot even say what it is (except some self-contradictory remarks about supposedly ‘free’ states that must never-the-less obey your international federal law) and you can’t explain why European federalism has, in practice, led to the breakdown of EU legitimacy. When you can’t explain yourself you just blind yourself to all except that which you want to see and say (post 148) that “from a German perspective” you “see no alternative to European integration”. This is truly the tunnel-vision that has led Germany to disaster so often in history.

    You need to open your eyes to the reality that representative political institutions must reflect the contours of community and not some rigid artificial pattern in your mind. It is an abomination to say (as you do in post 98) that the “number of actors (nation-states) is simply too large” and that there must be “fewer units of an international system”. What you suggest is the elimination of entire nations’ right to self-government simply to fit in with some limitation of your own imagination to understand why those communities prefer to govern themselves! One thing Kant did say was that “Out of crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing ever grew”. That certainly includes state borders which must always be drawn around the natural contours defined by national identity (which simply does not exist at a European level) and not the limited patterns that fit inside a federalist's mind.

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  • 187. At 1:29pm on 16 Apr 2010, Nik wrote:

    Well I can explain it better Freeborn...

    What is the interest of Austria and Hungary having two different armies and two different energy policies in the modern world? Or is it cheaper for Germany to act on its own as it comes to stategic energy agreements?

    You live in a fantasy world. Britain, yes, it has US from behind to push so it does not worry. Other European nations have their worries.

    The thingie is clear, whoever does not want to join should opt out, the rest should go on. The problem with the EU is not the integration that some fear but the way it is integrated.

    The lack of democracy is the least. All big formations are not democratic on the upper level. US is democratic on the lower level, it is not democratic on the upper level (where bankers & investors chose the leading figure in the party to become ruling party between the traditional 2 main parties, when they think they did an error they do not hesitate to kill it too, hehe). Russia similarly is not democratic, nor is China. Perhaps of the large ones India and Brazil are the most democratic on the upper level.

    The problem of Europeans is not having not voted for Mr. Rompuy. If they had voted for someone what would be the difference? Why, would he had told what he would do in reality or would he keep his promises so that the vote could be taken as democratic? No, of course not.

    The problem with the EU as it is, it is that it serves only the international financial sector's interests and none's else. Certainly not the interests of the European citizens. As it is, it would be better to break it up and leave the countries divide in a pro-US and pro-Russia and neutral approach (but that is against the interests of the US - oh, and Britain! - of course... as a surprising number of European countries would flock to Russia lured by cheap standardised energy and a financial model more close to what they really wish: i.e. free market but with heavy state control).

    The whole idea of Europe is to protect its own interests. Not to serve others. It should break up and re-define itself as a strategic alliance on the military, energy & spatial sector first prior to uniting economies and justice systems and other such hippy things...

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  • 188. At 08:17am on 18 Apr 2010, Chris Camp wrote:

    The E.U. should aim to become energy-independent. This way, it would be able to keep the alliance with the United States without this alliance beion compromised by its dependence on energy from dictatorships and quasi-deictatorships in the east. Nuclear fission would be key in this new European ability to cater for its own needs.

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  • 189. At 12:47pm on 18 Apr 2010, Nik wrote:

    Chris you touch the main issue there. Huge issue.

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  • 190. At 06:53am on 26 Dec 2010, michel johnson wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 191. At 8:18pm on 05 Mar 2011, Joseph Pearl wrote:

    Thanks for the article. Very beneficial to my practice as a Bankruptcy Lawyer in Bakersfield, California.

    Joseph Pearl
    Bakersfield Bankruptcy Attorney
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 192. At 09:19am on 12 Mar 2011, Luiza Thomson wrote:

    In fact, financial situation and economic issues are not clear enough in the whole world. A lot of countries have huge national debts and this fact is strongly reflected on consumers who struggle with their personal finances every day of their life in order to make ends meet till the next payday. Besides, most of them even have no opportunity to save at least a bit for their future as the whole income usually comes for paying taxes, covering bills and expenses, repaying debts on loans etc. Actually, Greece is not the only country in the world that experience financial difficulties. I have recently read that even such developed country as United States faced tough financial times and the current US debt reached $14 trillion that is almost the ceiling.

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