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Europe - catching the future

Gavin Hewitt | 18:21 UK time, Monday, 28 March 2011

In the soft light of early spring, Paris seems contented with its war. The face of the enemy hogs the billboards. Libya's "mad dog", looking stern and distracted, is on the magazine covers and revolves in the tabac windows.

There is a warm tinge of righteousness.

An anti-Gaddafi demonstrator on the Trocadero Square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris (19 March 2011)

Thousands of lives were saved, declares President Sarkozy. The activist intellectual-in-chief Bernard Henri-Levy applauds from his Rive Gauche perch in the Café de Flore.

Some admiringly speak of Sarkozy's "blitzkrieg diplomacy". It has led others to point up the failings of multilateralism: the indecisiveness, the dithering, the inconclusive summits, the inability to act. Even in a continent that witnessed the barbarism of Srebrenica, international bodies allowed Gaddafi's forces to get to the gates of Benghazi.

So history turns. Back in 2008, I remember how Barack Obama's election was saluted as the return to multilateralism and nodding in agreement in the front row was the European elite.

Whilst in Paris I was reminded that catching the zeitgeist is often a fool's game. The Eiffel Tower is a symbol to it. Its muscular pig-iron girders caught the imagination of the futurists.

"We exclaim the whole brilliant style of modern times," declared one of their manifestos. "Cars, airplanes, railways, grandiose steamships". The Eiffel Tower was their great totem. For Severini, Boccioni, Delaunay and others it pointed the way to the future. The machine age would change humanity. Within years, the machines they admired so much would be turning in the service of war.

Many years later, Francis Fukuyama eyed the closing of the Cold War as the "end of history". Within a few years we were living with radical Islam. And yet with the revolutions unfolding in the Middle East his view that the Western Liberal democracy may prove to be "the final form of human government" may still have its time.

I mention all this because in the corridors of Brussels there is often a certain swagger about the future. Last year the President of the Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso said that "the EU's decades of experience in transnational cooperation makes it an obvious laboratory for globalisation, a champion of global governance".

Certainly among the alumni of the College of Europe - that finishing school for the European political elite - there is a belief that they have caught the wave of the future; that the nation state is withering, that increasingly we live in an inter-dependent world. It is a belief that runs through the work of the EU's founding fathers: De Gasperi, Monnet, Schuman, Spaak, Delors and Spinelli.

Self-evidently there is an extent to which this is true. The environment, nuclear safety, the inter-dependence of economies and markets (to name but a few) demand international co-operation.

And yet at this moment there is reason to pause, to wet the fingers and detect which way the wind blows.

The biggest challenge facing Europe is growth. It is the holy grail. Without it so much else fails. Last week David Cameron described the EU as a "low-growth area". European officials have toiled away coming up with a new plan for growth. A 2020 strategy has evolved out of the Lisbon Strategy and will be lucky to escape the same fate. The earlier document was canned.

There is a wide consensus that the single market needs expanding and of course it needs to be policed but - in the face of global competition - outsiders are urging a bonfire of regulations.

And this takes us to the spirit of the times. Time Magazine's man of the year was Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. He was a shoo-in; he changed the planet. In an allied essay Richard Stengel said of the Facebook phenomenon: "There is an erosion of trust in authority, a decentralizing of power."

However obscure the motives of Julian Assange, Wikileaks appeals to a similar desire for openness and transparency.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (June 2010)

The zeitgeist seems to be the empowerment of the individual.

There are two questions for Europe. One is obvious and easy - where are the Zuckerbergs? The second is more fundamental. Is Europe still too tied to regulation?

Last week the EU unveiled Euro Plus Pact; a plan to more closely integrate European economies in the eurozone. Other nations are lining up to join. Barroso is optimistic "the economic and monetary union will finally walk on its two legs instead of limping along".

That, too, raises questions. Does centralising control of tax and spending belong in the future or to the past? Critics say it smacks of the dead-hand of central planning.

It is too early to discern the message of the Middle East uprisings. The motives are mixed: freedom, democracy, work, anger at corruption, the desire to live a normal life. Certainly the rise of populist parties in Europe testifies to the resentment with elites.

So much of this is like looking through a glass darkly. Yet for Europe the challenge remains - how to catch the future? Is it on the side of the vast multi-national organisations or does it lie with regulation-lite administrations where power is handed back to individuals and communities?

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    The tide, it seems, is turning against the grand design.

    The grand design was, of course, that all of us - as good Europeans - would jump on the gravy train and head blissfully into a great union of a multicultural, multilingual society in which borders, nationality and identity no longer mattered. Much of it still stands up to examination. There is much to be said in favour of an integrated European entity with real clout

    But the fault lines are there and they cannot be ignored. There is absolute no sign that this Union can come up with anything resembling a common defense policy, still less a foreign policy. Sarkozy's temporary reprieve by applying strong arm tactics to Gadaffi appears to have been short lived as far as his electorate are concerned. Merkel's hammering in Baden Würtemburg would seem to suggest that taking the diametrically opposite view has done her no favours either.

    What actually happened? The current generation of European leaders were so busy charting the future of the grand scheme that did not have the time or inclination to ask the people. There is no democratic mandate for the project in hand and electors all over Europe are busily punishing their national leaders for their disrespect of the democratic mandate they claim to enjoy.

    While the single currency seems to be working very nicely for the core members, it is claiming victim after victim on the periphery and causing much anxiety in some of those countries which are having to foot the bill. These bailouts are, on the face of it, flagrant violations of Lisbon. Imagine that Portugal becomes the next to fall and that the treaty that bears her capital city's name is yet again disregarded by her former prime minister and others. The mismanagement of the European project has gone far enough and it is time for change. The grass roots are capable of that if only someone had the guts to ask them.

  • Comment number 2.

    A poor man in a poor country, that almost sounds to good to be true? All of this huge social democracy where it takes years and tears to get even the most menial of jobs done, does kind of make you want to hanker for those days of counting the pennies while the pounds look after themselves. Wont be long before now, when you have to choose what side of the European Parliament your on!

  • Comment number 3.

    Europe grows slower than the US, that is true. However, quality of life is often better.

    There is significantly less violent crime, drug abuse, prison population, teen pregnancy, etc... in continental European countries (they also clearly surpass the UK), with the usual suspects (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway) at the top of social development. At the same time, social mobility, quality of education and levels of trust are much higher in those continental countries than in the UK or the US (you don't have to believe me, just look it up). The equality trust is a good source.

    So the analysis in this article is very partial, quite flawed. It fits the usual framing, though.

    As to "centralising tax", that's a very colored way of saying things. You could perfectly label the same initiatives as "providing a real level playing field and a real internal market", which, incidentally would do a lot more for growth than any other measure.

    Ireland has a nominal low tax rate at 12.5%. France has a much higher nominal tax rate, but almost no company actually pays it.

    So who could be against harmonizing the calculation and way of presenting tax basis? It would a clear boon for business (with the notable exception of high paid tax consultants - we should have moment of silence for them), who could finally compare like for like.

    The current fear for harmonizing the tax base is quite irrational, to the detriment of the whole EU economy, and keeps red tape in place. Harmonizing it would allow clear comparison, and would significantly reduce the cost of doing business in the EU.

    Unless of course, the dogma that "EU is bad" means we can't be efficient, even (or especially) if the efficiency is proposed by the Commission. (waiting for those who will scream "but the Commission is genetically unable to make proposals that will increase efficiency").

    As to the Euro - it saved several countries from bankruptcy. Those who say that "devaluation would be good", conveniently ignore that it would mean very significant drops in real-term earnings for those countries, in double figures. It is true that they currently also pay through economic downturn (although, in my view, the bankers really should take a haircut, rather than having pensioners pay for their casino-banking), but a lot less than they would otherwise.

    It's actually quite easy to grow: it's sufficient to start from a very low base. So why not make all Europeans a lot poorer, that will surely spur growth, won't it? Seems to be the plan of the financial sector, anyway.

  • Comment number 4.

    #1
    While I agree that the current EU leaders are not the strongest figures in the history of our continent (although you have to be careful there - many "great" historical figures built their reputation on spilling lots of blood), it seems a bit odd to suggest that, rather than saving millions of people in Greece, Ireland (and Portugal, I guess) from losing a lot of wealth and money, those leaders should have stuck to self-imposed legal constrictions.

    What's wrong with saying: "the rule book does not have a solution for the current crisis, and if we do nothing, there will be serious damage - let's all agree to change the rule book so we can avoid that damage" - which is exactly what they did.

    No great vision, I agree. But avoiding calamities is damn good policy from time to time.

  • Comment number 5.

    Manneken wrote:
    "The current fear for harmonizing the tax base is quite irrational, to the detriment of the whole EU economy, and keeps red tape in place. Harmonizing it would allow clear comparison, and would significantly reduce the cost of doing business in the EU."

    Would it?

    What a fascinating postulation.

    Let test this postulation by looking at the facts.

    Europe is currently in the process of "harmonzing taxation". Some call it the bail out fund, others the pack for a stable europe. Whatever you wish to call it, it is happening. Oh, I mean, it happened. Or whatever, the point remains that Europe is pooling its future tax revenue in order to bail out failing economies.

    Let us not mince words about the bailout fund. It is colossal pile of government debt, 700 billion large. All of that, every euro cent, needs to be paid back WITH INTEREST by the "european taxpayer".

    Whenever and however that happens, all the workers of europe are going to feel the taxes that are required to pay for the homogenization of european economies as set forth by the EU. So in this sense, Europe is getting a unified taxation policy.

    You may note that a huge amount of this taxation must service debt, as interest. So that is money lost to the taxpayer, insofar as it cannot pay for roads and schools and police and so on and so forth.

    So it seems to me, looking at the facts that surround a unified european economic policy and the pan-european taxation that must pay eventually for it, that the assertion that "harmonizing" the european taxation revenue structure will reduce the cost of business.

    France is running 90% debt to GDP, with falling revenues do to bond market rises and the subsequent cost of interest on the debt. germany is not much better. The UK is better left out of the analysis, for fear of scaring young persons. Italy and Spain defy both maths and time, in terms of fiscal reason. Who have I left out? Eastern Europe, Ireland, Greece and the Balkans.

    These are the worthies who have pledged their common peoples to more taxation burden in order to pay for the failing economic strategy that it is at the very core of the EU: the euro.

    Yet we are relentlessly told by the EU machine that more debt and more taxation is what we need to reduce business costs in a united europe.

    Well, more taxation is definitely what we are all going to get. the money has already been borrowed and spent. Again. It only remains for us to pay for it, and gauge the cost of business in that environment.

    If we harmonize tax, the choice is obvious and the endpoint clear: If tax is harmonized at a low level, governments across Europe will fall and vast numbers of public sector employees will be on the streets. So that wont happen. If tax is hamonized at a high level, europe becomes a socialist empire to rival the soviet union.

    And that is surely barroso, ashton et al's most dear and fervent wish.

  • Comment number 6.

    "The zeitgeist seems to be the empowerment of the individual.

    There are two questions for Europe. One is obvious and easy - where are the Zuckerbergs? The second is more fundamental. Is Europe still too tied to regulation?

    Last week the EU unveiled Euro Plus Pact; a plan to more closely integrate European economies in the eurozone. Other nations are lining up to join. Barroso is optimistic "the economic and monetary union will finally walk on its two legs instead of limping along"."


    Excuse me, but Europe is facing much more severe problems than that:

    1. a shrinking authochtonous population will be facing massive migration movements of poor and uneducated Arab and African populations, which are reproducing at an incredible speed.

    2. the EMU will collapse, it is just a matter of time. Then, the monetary system of compounded interests will follow suit.
    Whoever thought that money should or could sustainably grow in an exponential function is delusional. No other means of exchange ever increased in number on and by itself.



    Let`s talk about those major developments Europe will be facing, as they actually have the potential of inciting war at our doorsteps.
    Seriously, who cares about Zuckerberg & friends.

  • Comment number 7.

    #5
    Well, I talked about a level playing field between member-states, and you translate it is "higher taxes". Not really very honest, is it?

    At a more fundamental level, I'm afraid you display a total lack of knowledge about economics. Public debt, in of itself, can be a very good thing. It allows to invest in infrastructure, and, as long as it provides return on investment, can be an excellent policy.

    As long as the debt/GDP ratio is OK, and the interest + refund is lower than the economic growth caused, it is a very clever thing to do.

    If we could only buy a house after we saved enough money for one, we'd probably still be living in sheds. It's called capitalism and the modern economy, and debt (including sovereign debt) is an essential part of it.

    By the way, most of the money of public debt is borrowed from our own citizens - it's typically called a "safe investment". We don't pay that interest to aliens, we pay most of it to our own wealthy citizens.

    The problem is that, as we lifted regulation on banks, and allowed them to use depositor's money to go gambling , and to reward the biggest gamblers with the highest, amoral bonuses, the system started to look (and behave) like a giant ponzi scheme.
    Solution? More control on banks at EU level, since individual member-states are too small to do the job. It's called subsidiarity.

    And make large bonuses illegal. If the casino bankers then threaten to go away, let them go and wreck someone else's economy. Good riddance, I would say.

    Don't forget that one person's tax is typically another person's income. It's called re-distribution, the money doesn't go away.

    Let's try to avoid these simplicities, shall we?

  • Comment number 8.

    #6
    I dislike.

  • Comment number 9.

    #4 - Manneken

    ". . . let's all agree to change the rule book so we can avoid that damage" - which is exactly what they did.

    It is exactly what they did not do.

  • Comment number 10.

    @ 1 threnodio

    Frankly, I expected a lot more from you, but I have come to notice that, being a permanent item in this blog, you have started to transmogrify into the (by far) dominant Europhobic tendency in this blog.

    "There is no democratic mandate for the project in hand and electors all over Europe are busily punishing their national leaders for their disrespect of the democratic mandate they claim to enjoy."

    You are over complicating things. What is this mythical 'project in hand' ? Who is claiming to enjoy what?

    You make things more complicated than in reality are. We have an, admittedly, vastly imperfect EU which is run by EU member country governments and is, to that extent, no better than whoever is at the meeting table at any given time. Want your country out of the EU, the euro or Schengen? If you are British you know who to vote. If you are French vote for Le Pen. If you are Dutch vote for Geert Wilders... well perhaps if you vote for this chap you may not get out of the EU but boy he will ban all minarets and Korans and that will satisfy many in this blog.

    The long and the short of it is that the EU is largely an intergovernmental body and the people of the EU have no sovereignty over the EU because the only way for that to be the case is if the EU was a federal state. What is the solution? No idea, don't ask me, whatever I say I will be vilified by the usual suspects who use my nationality for ad hominem attacks given that their own intellect allows them no more.

    "While the single currency seems to be working very nicely for the core members, it is claiming victim after victim on the periphery and causing much anxiety in some of those countries which are having to foot the bill. "

    You are confusing an intervening factor with an original cause. The euro is not claiming any victims because the euro is not the reason for these countries plights for a simple statistical reason: there are countries inside the euro that do not have these problems, and there are countries outside the euro that have identical problems but resort to printing money and other ways of thievery to attempt to navigate their way out. The euro is just an intervening factor: Those countries lived beyond their means for too long and cannot print money or devaluate their way to bananarepublicanisation and, worst of it, happen to be countries that the largely white Anglo-Saxon populated rating agencies and similar self-important money merchants think are populated with lesser beings than themselves and hence are not to be trusted given their condition as inferior beings.

  • Comment number 11.

    Paris seems contented with its war? Pictures tell what words can't:

    https://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-66171-4.html
    https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/bild-753145-195879.html

    This war might be necessary, but there is no cause for joy or self-righteousness. The west, including the UK, helped arm Gaddafi after all.

    https://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=hp_sauce

    This mess will claim too many civilian lives before it is done. I hope that some thought has been put into how to win the peace - if we get there!

  • Comment number 12.

    #3 Manneken

    I cannot believe the naivety of this and your other posts !!! Have you ever been outside your own front door ?

    " I am profoundly knowledgeable about economics and all things pertaining to the European Union . I have read all the theory in books , pamphlets , on the internet and from the EU Europa Propaganda "!!!

    I am so glad that I now live in a " Developing " Third World country , far away from the self inflicted misfortunes that are unfolding in the EU .
    From afar , I feel that I am better informed than you . I am saddended to observe a Europe that I have loved , decomposing , in the manner of a compost heap .

    The EU is blessed with leaders who share your knowledge , intellect and wisdom !!!

  • Comment number 13.

    #10 JorgeG1

    SO ?

    From the previous blog , you questioned why Britain had not had a referendum on whether to participate in the Libya no fly zone .

    Perhaps you hadn't become aware of the 250,000+ march through London demonstrating against the governments decision to send in the RAF at huge cost , when the government should be saving money or could have been spending money to benefit needy people at home .

    You question Threnodio_II on his changing views on the EU . You should have observed that he is a thinking man ; when one intelligently thinks for oneself with an open mind , ones opinions may change .

    #7 Manneken

    " Don't forget that one person's tax is typically another persons income . It's called redistribution , the money doesn't go away ".

    When the money has been borrowed by all the lenders , to the tune of 700bl , when there are huge interest rates ; the money lent only goes to pay debt and interest on the loan , with the further danger that the countries might default ; where is the distribution of wealth ? The Eurozone countries who have lent the money are almost all in debt without this further borrowing ; it is likely that neither the individual countries or their taxpayers will benefit from a cent in return . The stronger Eurozone countries are weakened in order to prevent the weaker ones collapsing . Countries like Germany , Holland and Sweden look likely to end up financing the whole of the EU economy . Like in wartime convoys , " The speed of the convoy is the speed of the slowest ship ". Let's All Be Impoverished Together !
    I think most people would admit that the money has gone away , is lost .

    " Redistribution of wealth "seems to the key to your views on the EU . How is it that so many Europhiles have this Socialist view ? The EUSSR is what you're seeking , come what may .
    Look what happened to the USSR , 70 years on , bankrupt and no longer viable . The USSR did not hold together without considerable bloodshed and genocide .

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi JorgeG1 #10

    "The euro is not claiming any victims because the euro is not the reason for these countries plights for a simple statistical reason: there are countries inside the euro that do not have these problems, and there are countries outside the euro that have identical problems but resort to printing money and other ways of thievery to attempt to navigate their way out."

    Please. For Germany the Euro is undervalued, for Portugal the Euro is overvalued. Germany wins in the export markets, Portugal and other weak ecconomies lose. Because the PIIGS cannot devalue their currency to truly reflect the weakness of their economy they are slowly being suffocated by an overvalued currency.

    "Those countries lived beyond their means for too long and cannot print money or devaluate their way to bananarepublicanisation and, worst of it, happen to be countries that the largely white Anglo-Saxon populated rating agencies and similar self-important money merchants think are populated with lesser beings than themselves and hence are not to be trusted given their condition as inferior beings."

    The rating agencies simply rate risk. What is the risk of default. The higher the risk the higher the rate of return required to compensate investors for their risk. If the rating agencies overstate the risk then someone who can more accurately gauge the risks can make serious money. It is not in the ratings agencies' interests to falsify their risk analysis.

    Much has been said about tax harmonisation. I invite those in the UK to contemplate living in Newcastle on £30,000 a year and then iving in central London on the same wage. The same salary, the same tax but very different lives. The salary is far more attarctive in the place where the cost of living is lower. If tax is harmonised across the EU then nations with lower costs of living will gain and those with higher living costs will suffer; far better that each individual country optimises their tax rates according to their own needs and requirements.

  • Comment number 15.

    #13
    In case of government bonds issued to finance debt, typically the redistribution of wealth goes from poor to rich.

    In other words: state-paid pensioners, unemployed, people on benefits (because they are ill or incapacitated) take cuts to allow governments to finance interest rates of bond-holders (i.e. paying people who already have enough money to invest in government bonds).

    How exactly do you call that socialist?

    It would be nice to have a basic understanding of economics, before you make these posts.

  • Comment number 16.

    Welcome back, DemocracyThreat,

    I know I'm famous for BS given to each person--in ur eyes, but this website needs you, an astonishing intellect. I, myself, miss Marcus, he was the rock that everyone tested their barings with. But, of course, you're a different person with more complex theories (have to read them a few times to get the gist),

    and no offense to CBW (et al) who also has a great intellect. Or others whom might be ...blahhed out by my ..ick..effusiveness. (I DO miss Marcus, huh)

    On topic, "where are the Zuckerbergs?" That sure is a ...missing out... on Finland's contributions (technology flourishing there and in other places)

    Here, also, hmm, early in THIS discussion is my tribute to Liz Taylor with the LAST LINE, a tribute to M Howard (only the Last Line, M. Howard....do not worry),

    Better than late night soliloquies, yes?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0ViPCmr318

  • Comment number 17.

    Not trying to be a troublemaker here ("Im not a monster" as Liz says in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf")

    :)

  • Comment number 18.

    Jorge, I could complain about racism from you.. what do you know about the rating agencies staff--been there, done that--rating or ranting?

    Are you assuming? Most likely--hmmm "liberal racism." How lovely.

    Yes, I'm disgusted

  • Comment number 19.

    Mr Hewitt writes mid-way in his article: "..The zeitgeist seems to be the empowerment of the individual.

    There are two questions for Europe. One is obvious and easy - where are the Zuckerbergs? The second is more fundamental. The zeitgeist seems to be the empowerment of the individual."


    Really, I could have chosen several other quotes from an article resonant with pathos about the dying dream of an Economically successful centralised EU.

    'Where are the Zuckerbergs?'

    Anywhere but moribund Continental EUrope, that is patently obvious.

    Almost the entire region is as dead as the proverbial Dodo in Economic & Individual Enterprise. Stultifying EU Regulation has left the once rich vein of Entrepreneurship staked out on numerous documentation all vision, talent, energy feasted on by EU-Brussels apparatchiks, Commissioners & MEPs who contribute nothing and whose only purpose is to act as leeches on soveriegn States and the Citizen Tax-payers.

    'Is Europe still too tied to regulation?'


    The deadening hand of 20 years on ever encroaching 'one-size-fits-all' Legislation into Economic activity, and the constant intrusion of a supra-National body into sovereign State affairs at all levels of society has so dulled the Entrepreneurial spirit & stagnated Commerce-driven development across the region only a 'Lazarus' Political-Economic liberating miracle could restore it.

    'The zeitgeist seems to be the empowerment of the individual.'

    PLEEEEEEEAAAAAAAASE!

    Is Mr Hewitt having a rhetorical laugh at every ordinary Citizen's expense!?

    'empowerment of the individual' via a supra-National supreme authority that countenances no other 'Democracratic' outlet than its own, that forbids by its own Constitutional arrangements any Political challenge to that Constitution by the Citizens, and whose Court of final arbitration is one of its own Institutions!
    An EU-Brussels entity that has only just confirmed raiding the Citizen Tax-Payers' coffers for multi-Billions to protect their 'political-construct' EUro-zone without reference to the Individual Tax-payer.

    Multiplying every Citizen's 'National Debt' to save the corrupt, un-Representative, Un-Accountable EU entity: So much for Individual choice by Brussels' standards!

    Mr Hewitt was indirectly raising the Question ALL 'anti-EU' have been voicing year-after-year as this Political-Economic-Judicial Leviathon has ploughed over the Rights & Responsibilities of Citizens across 27 Nations:

    Where does 'The Individual' within the EU stand?

    On his/her Politically-impoverished knees on the better days!


    The article concludes: "..Yet for Europe the challenge remains - how to catch the future? Is it on the side of the vast multi-national organisations or does it lie with regulation-lite administrations where power is handed back to individuals and communities?"

    Which reminds me of a considerate message to the Blind local authorities helpfully put on their hand-outs, 'If you would like this in Braille call, this number'!



  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    10. At 23:18pm on 28th Mar 2011, JorgeG1 wrote:

    "..If you are British you know who to vote. If you are French vote for Le Pen. If you are Dutch vote for Geert Wilders... well perhaps if you vote for this chap you may not get out of the EU but boy he will ban all minarets and Korans and that will satisfy many in this blog..."


    Repetition of the same outrageous claims about those who oppose the EU!

    Repeatedly losing argument-points in favour of the EU so launches slanders at those who defeat his perspective!

    Can JorgeG1 name those 'anti-EU' on the blog who've called for banning minarets etc?

    No, of course he can't, because those of us who contribute views opposing the EU do not hold the bigoted views on other peoples. We are not 'anti-people', but anti-monolitihic entity. We do not despise any people for their religion, race or sex unlike some whose preoccupation with the faults of the 'English' becomes more virulent with every comment.

    No, it is the likes of JorgeG1, QOT, MargaretHoward who vilify the English and express opinions drawn largely from prejudiced attitudes about a Nationality.

  • Comment number 22.

    On Sunday the voters of Baden-Württemberg caught the future. The elections in the federal state were in fact a referendum on nuclear power with chancellor Merkel in favour of the industry. Merkel’s party has governed B-W for the last 58 years and it lost.
    Instead the Greens won together with SPD, and the Greens will now for the first time lead a government in a federal state. Actually it is one of the wealthiest in Germany, situated in one of the most productive of all European regions, the corner where France, Switzerland and Germany meet, and where Mercedes has its domicile.

    The perspective of these elections is that nuclear power is facing a phasing out - exactly what chancellor Merkel had try to prevent last autumn. We now expect Germany to speed up the development towards the abandonment of old energy sources to the benefit of renewable energy sources, and to develop more efficient energy technology. It will have a huge impact on European energy policy. It will also change the landscape of Germany, and there will be many new challenges for private enterprises in this field. A political earthquake in Germany.

  • Comment number 23.

    #10. JorgeG1 wrote:

    "The long and the short of it is that the EU is largely an intergovernmental body and the people of the EU have no sovereignty over the EU because the only way for that to be the case is if the EU was a federal state. What is the solution? No idea, don't ask me, whatever I say I will be vilified by the usual suspects who use my nationality for ad hominem attacks given that their own intellect allows them no more."

    The ranting of the anti-Europeans must simply be ignored as they represent the past - indeed an idealised past that did not exist. They hanker fro a world they never did exist and can never exist. The rest of us know that whilst we have ideals we also know that to live in moderate harmony with our neighbours serves both us and them for the best.

    However there is an issue of the lack of democracy in Europe and in my opinion we need more involvement in the political management selection by all the people of Europe. There is a need for us all to elect the President of Europe with everyone having a vote, not just some carve up of buggins's-turn fiddled by the prime ministers of the 27 member states. This will both provide legitimacy for the incumbent and a counterweight for over mighty member states' leaders. Why can't the people of Europe vote for the head of our executive? What are the people who seek to prevent this afraid of?

    I am also a string believer of a cooperative federal state to manage pan-European matters for the benefit of all Europeans. (With local issues being decided locally as appropriate.) We need to make sure that those we send to the European Parliament know that they have a job to do on behalf of their constituents and the people of Europe. The World is a federation of states that sinks or swims together on many global issues and so is Europe. To deny this is flying in the face of reality. Once this is accepted then there must be institutions to manage thing for the benefit of the people and these institutions should be democratic with a strong limitation of powers. It is my opinion the we should work to prevent career politicians by limiting their time is office to no more that eight to ten years - and also bar their relatives from succeeding them. No more dynasties! We need variety and change at all levels including civil servants and not just politicians. To deny the need for democratic federal institutions is to seek anarchy which I abhor!!

  • Comment number 24.

    #20

    Just what is going on mods? My post was expressing my disgust at jorges blatant racism and thats all.

  • Comment number 25.

    #15

    I make no pretences of knowledge of Economics , you do .

    As usual , you quote the theory of what should happen , not what actually is happening or likely to happen in the future . Economy is not something written in a book , that you can simply copy and paste wherever you need to .

    I think you deliberately try to sidestep my comment .

    You are all in favour of " Redistribution of Wealth ", a typically Socialist aim !
    You favour Rich countries in the EU sharing their richies with the poor countries .

    What has that got to do with Bonds ? Many of the bonds have been bought by Chinese as well as banks not necessarily in the Eurozone . All the bond investors could " Lose their Shirt " , including the ECB .

    I cannot see any benefit to taxpayers across the EU who are being asked to foot the bill for the errors of judgement of the EU commission and national politicians .

    " It would be nice to have a good understanding of economics , before you make these posts ".

    I would say that applies to you ! You seem to think that thinking you know the theory is enough . You need to get out in the world and see facts as they really happen .

  • Comment number 26.

    #23 John_of_Hendon

    I am pleased to see you waking up to the fact that not is all well with the EU .

    You have some good ideas for improvement of the EU . If only they could be implemented , we would be going a long way towards an accord between Europhiles and Eurosceptics . We are all in favour of an United Europe , but in its present form it's a disaster .

  • Comment number 27.

    23. At 09:30am on 29th Mar 2011, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    "..The ranting of the anti-Europeans must simply be ignored as they represent the past - indeed an idealised past that did not exist. They hanker fro a world they never did exist and can never exist..."


    Exactly as with JorgeG1: Could You please furnish us with all these anti-EU 'rant' contributions that "..hanker.." for an 'idealised past...'

    Please, go ahead, send them in!?

    Of course we shan't hold our breath as it is very unlikely other than EUPris' (missing recently) angry complaints You'll be able to point to any that even approach such nonsense.
    You write disparagingly of us as though we do not have a memory of 2 world wars begun in Europe, of economic impoverishment, virulent nationalism etc. When of course we do and it is precisely for that reason we see & oppose the wretched EU-Brussels entity which again is over-riding the Citizen and this time its argument is no different from those of the 'Past' - - those in 'authority', those in 'Judgement', the 'elite' bureucracy claim to know better than the Common Man/Woman what is good for them!
    The claim of every tyranny from Ancient times to the present day: It is You that supports the unpleasant 'Past', not those of us who oppose the supra-National EU.


    "..The rest of us know that whilst we have ideals we also know that to live in moderate harmony with our neighbours serves both us and them for the best."


    Well, that 'harmony' has existed for 65+ post-WW2 years and for 50 of them there was no EU.
    I'm fascinated by Your version of 'ideals' too: Are You seriously suggesting that because I do not agree that the Government of 27 Nations should stem from Brussels that my 'ideals' are any less valid than Your own!?
    Do I propose 'war'? No.
    Do I support enmity of Continental Nations? No.
    Do I accept International harmony through negotiated Treaties is eminently sensible & preferable? Yes.

    My abiding difference with Your ideals is that I do not believe it is condusive to the Common Good and to the Rights & Responsibilities of Citizens that in order to achieve that 'international harmony' via 'treaty' every Citizen must be subsumed into a monolithic political-construct.
    An entity which at best pays lip-service to 'Democracy' and by its corporate nature is inevitably in alliance with and answerable to 'big-Business/big-Government'.


    To my mind it is You and those like You who 'hanker' after a 'New' ordering of the 'Past': One in which vested interests as in previous attempted centralised Governance (e.g. Romans, Charlemagne, Napoleon, the Kremlin etc.) will be set in unchallenged control in Brussels.

    Many have tried for that monolithic culture of 'one-size-fits-all', and in due time all have failed: If I 'hanker' after anything it is that the Citizens of Britain & Europe realising the 'anti-Democratic' danger they are being sucked into by deliberate usurping of the Rights of Man will again (peacefully if at all possible) rise and overthrow the entity before it is too late to avoid bloodshed.

  • Comment number 28.

    24. At 09:35am on 29th Mar 2011, champagne_charlie wrote:
    #20

    Just what is going on mods? My post was expressing my disgust at jorges blatant racism and thats all."


    HEAR, HEAR, C_C!

    Once again we start to witness the BIAS OF MODERATION.

    Once again a particular Contributor (JorgeG1) can REPEATEDLY have published Comments accusing Britons/English of supporting Racism & Far Right activities.

    Once again the RIGHT TO REPLY is CENSORED by the BBC MODERATORS!


    Not once in all these episodes have I seen any EXPLANATION for why it is 'FOREIGN' Commentators can denigrate, defame & attempt to humiliate the British/English and yet if any British/English even so much as attempts to write a REBUTTAL still less anything against EUrope their Comment is 'Referred'.

    BBC = Bought By Continentals

  • Comment number 29.

    The economic situation continues to deteriorate in the Euro zone Gavin. Whilst it may be fashionable to concentrate on Libya the situation in Portugal is getting worse and Ireland has further economic problems too.

    Have you lost interest in this?

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Everyone.

    I assume that you've all seen this.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12864413

    Greece to default. The Euro to survive.

    I would have much preffered the demise of the Euro and the survival of the Greek economy but we don't get what we want, we get what we get.

    I would have liked the question to be put to the same economists whether or not there is a sensible way of getting Europe out of the Euro. One that doesn't result in any more defaults.

    All that debt taken on to prop up Greece, what happens to it when Greece defaults? Will anyone apologise to the taxpayers who have to foot the bill, to the people in Germany, France, Switzerland the US and the UK who face cuts in public expenditure as a result of a default by Greece? Will anyone admit that the bail out of Greece could have been a mistake? Come to that will anyone responsible admit that the Euro as a whole has turned out to be something of a disaster?

    Getting out of the Euro would be a positive step; does anyone out there have any good ideas how this could be achieved?

  • Comment number 31.

    @22 Mathiasen::

    "On Sunday the voters of Baden-Württemberg caught the future. The elections in the federal state were in fact a referendum on nuclear power with chancellor Merkel in favour of the industry. Merkel’s party has governed B-W for the last 58 years and it lost.
    Instead the Greens won together with SPD, and the Greens will now for the first time lead a government in a federal state. Actually it is one of the wealthiest in Germany, situated in one of the most productive of all European regions, the corner where France, Switzerland and Germany meet, and where Mercedes has its domicile.

    The perspective of these elections is that nuclear power is facing a phasing out - exactly what chancellor Merkel had try to prevent last autumn. We now expect Germany to speed up the development towards the abandonment of old energy sources to the benefit of renewable energy sources, and to develop more efficient energy technology. It will have a huge impact on European energy policy. It will also change the landscape of Germany, and there will be many new challenges for private enterprises in this field. A political earthquake in Germany."

    An earthquake it was.
    I wouldn`t necessarily call it a referendum against nuclear power, but it definitely was a strong signal against arrogant politicians ignoring the voters.
    Usually, I am opposed to the Green party, but I can`t say that CDU policies in Baden-Württemberg were anything but poor.
    Mappus and his junior partner FDP managed to lose elections in one of the most conservative and liberal dominant states. Traditionally conservative voters just stayed home, while non-voters could be mobilised by the Greens.
    Now that they are the senios partner (in contrast to their participation under Gerhard Schröder), they have the opportunity to show whether they can live up to their promises or turn out to be the same as all the other political rabble-rousers.

  • Comment number 32.

    #30 Ulkomaalainen

    Excellent post .

    As I see it , the concept that if the Euro collapses , so will the EU , is the big fear of the commission ; so keep the Euro going at any price . One fears that the Euro and EU will linger on for years , stopping the the gap from one near disaster to another . From reading expert opinions of the woes of leaving the Euro , I am of the opinion there may not be any easy way out .
    If the EU had the courage to say that on such and such a date the Euro will end and everyone return to their original currencies , it would be a fraction easier . At least everyone would be in the same boat .
    Another posibility might be to allow countries to continue using the Euro , but with the freedom to devalue and change interest rates to suit their individual country .

  • Comment number 33.

    Francis Fukuyama’s basic contention is correct. Even if he is a Hegellian who views progress as being formed by a clash between opposing ideologies, it is a simple fact that classical Western liberalism is the last man standing with the discrediting of the two competing ideologies (fascism and communism) of the 20th century. Islam is a religion and not a political philosophy. It is therefore not a serious alternative to Western liberalism. The future of mankind is a world of liberal democratic states, which recognise areas of individual autonomy for the citizen (including religious beliefs that are no business of a state) and these states must be nation-states because democracy means above all representing the People.

    The EU however remains in existence as a ‘fly in the ointment’ in this otherwise happy picture of the progress of mankind. The EU is not based on liberal democracy, but rather on removing as many political decisions as possible outside of the democratic realm and putting them in the hands of supranational authority. It is largely a German over-reaction to their past over-reactions. The EU is based a flawed Kantian extrapolation of the social contact relationship between state and citizen but applied at international level and predicated on a mistaken belief that states will not do the right thing unless forced to do so by some higher supranational authority. However the analogy between rogue citizens and democratic states is flawed. In a society of many millions of individual citizens there will always be some rogue elements that need to be brought into line by the coercive power of the state. But this is not the case in international society (the society composed of nation-states). The democratic contest for power within each of these states does not produce Hitler’s or Stalin’ or Gadaffi’s that need to be coerced by a higher power, but produces responsible governments who can get along just fine with one another without a higher supranational authority to tell them what to do. Also Kant ignored that any overwheening supranational authority would hold a monopoly of power such that there is no easy way (akin to electing a new government) to correct its errant decisions. The practical effect of this in the EU is poor dysfunctional policy (e.g. CAP, CFP, etc.) which stays on the statute books semi-permanently and which no voter has any hope of changing via the ballot box. This dysfunctional but resistant-to-change policy is the main reason why the EU, and especially its eurozone heart, have become the worst performing economic area in the developed world. Every area where the supranational authorities acquire power exhibits the same tendency to ossify over time; it is merely a matter of time until the policy areas where the Lisbon Treaty has recently given the supranational institutions power becomes as difficult to reform as those like the CAP or CFP where they have had power for a considerable period already.

    The progress of mankind towards a world of democratic nation-states has moved decisively forward in the Middle East in 2011. But history is not quite at an end yet. There is a need for one last clash of ideologies between liberal democracy and Kantian supra-nationalism. When the latter is decisively defeated we really will be at Fukuyama’s “end of history”. The defeat of supra-nationalism is therefore the decisive task of the age.

  • Comment number 34.

    Yet for Europe the challenge remains - how to catch the future? Is it on the side of the vast multi-national organisations or does it lie with regulation-lite administrations where power is handed back to individuals and communities?

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Does that sum up what GH is on about? If so, are they the only options?

    Help gratefully accepted.



  • Comment number 35.

    I would agree with the idea of a single tax base in the EU, but only if all the various national let-outs, differential rates, favourable treatments for various groups/lobbies/national champions/vested interests, etc, are removed. Sadly, I do not see any prospect of this happening; for a start, the German tax advisor lobby(aka the fourth or parasitic sector of their economy) would squeal bloody murder. The French bureaucrats will also be very loath to abandon the idea of an activist state.

    Those of you who fear some sort of federalisation of taxes can rest easy. Mind you, if all EU countries adopted the flat-rate regimes of Estonia and slovakia, most EU citizens would be a lot better off.

    cool_brush_work(no 27) wrote "Well, that 'harmony' has existed for 65+ post-WW2 years and for 50 of them there was no EU".

    Please do not be disingenous. The EU traces itself from the original six states which signed, on 18th April, 1951, the Treaty of Paris. This established the Iron and Steel Community. The European flag dates from December 8th, 1954. The remaining parts of the European Communities, the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom)were founded on 25th March, 1957, by the signing of the Treaty of Rome.

    2011-1957 = 51 years in my arithmetic, or most peoples'.



  • Comment number 36.

    The fundamental issue with the Euro is the presence of a unified currency without unified control in the form of centralised fiscal policy. Ulkomaalainen is entirely correct in highlighting the problems caused by currency valuation between strong and weak economies, but the problem actually pushes far deeper than export/import values to an arguably more profound issue - through membership of the Eurozone small economies like Ireland, Greece, and Portugal have been able to access credit streams at interest rates based on the strength of the Euro which are artificially low in real terms, when compared to their actual GDP to debt ratio - caused by their currency bond to Germany. The main argument which often raises its head as a result of the current crisis, and one trumpeted by Merkel, is that greater regulation and control on the Euro has to be put in place through a centralised fiscal policy to regulate not just taxation and wages, but the way in which credit is bought across the Eurozone. However the reality is that at a nation-state level, this goes way beyond just fiscal policy into a whole raft of other policy areas - if you centralise wage-setting for example you have a direct effect on employment policy, which effects workers' rights and so on. These are issues generally regarded as integral to national politics, often forming the policy differences between national parties, and ultimately manifesting as voting differences across a demographic. I therefore simply do not see how you could begin to achieve the level of fiscal control that would be required to sure up the Euro without federalising Europe (or at least the Eurozone).
    I agree that the Euro is not the cause, but a contributor to the current plight of the PIIGS - unregulated credit uptake, risk taking by national banks, and artificial property bubbles take the biggest share of the blame. However the argument that Eurozone members benefitted significantly from the single currency in the boom years is not enough to pacify the inherent flaws in the Eurozone model, and if anything, serves to uncover the strong growth experienced by Eurozone members in the last decade as being artificial and ultimately unsustainable.

    While the Eurozone's main economies persist with the Euro, it will survive. However if Greece default and with every possibility that Ireland and Portugal will follow suit, the will of the citizens of the larger countries may call time on their leaders' ability to increasingly dictate their tax burden in the name of the single currency. Something will have to give.

  • Comment number 37.

    Gavin, I was pleased to see that Europe now contents itself with international politics. It takes away the neccesity to focus on the financial crisis which will ineveitably bring the Eurozone down to its knees. I'm not saying that the EU is doomed; far from it. The political will still remains strong, however its desire to be a world power is, at best, a joke. Compared to the USA, China, Russia etc, Europe is something that the rest of the world ignores.

    I hope you have enjoyed the spring sunshine in Paris. There is something about being amongst the French that gives a sense of 'future' about Europe.

    It is only once you step outside of the Paris suburbs and start seeing the world from an international perspective that you see how 'irrelevant' Europe is now in the modern world. However it is comforting to know that you can still get good French wine.

  • Comment number 38.

    "European officials have toiled away coming up with a new plan for growth"

    And this neatly summarises why we have a problem.

    Civil servants trying to plan for growth. It is the private sector, manufacturers, service providers who create growth not civil servants. It is down to the private sector to win order, create goods and services in the industry sectors they choose (not the same as govt choosing) and ultimately employ people who will generate the growth that "European officials" plan for.

    In the private sector the best plan European officials could come up with is to get out the way and leave us alone. Let us be a success or failure based on our own efforts.

    In case the various Europhile posters think this is an anti-EU rant, it is not. The UK govt is equally culpable of delusions of planning grandeur - David Cameron has already identified what sectors of private industry will drive the UK into growth mode, it is, to be brutal, nothing to do with him what industry sectors expand over the next few years. He can made our job easier or harder depending on what taxes and regulations he imposes but in the end whether a business succeeds or fails depends on its ability to sell goods or services in the right quantity at a price and quality that the customer wants.

  • Comment number 39.

    35. At 13:14pm on 29th Mar 2011, MacTurk wrote:

    "cool_brush_work(no 27) wrote "Well, that 'harmony' has existed for 65+ post-WW2 years and for 50 of them there was no EU".

    Please do not be disingenous. The EU traces itself from the original six states which signed, on 18th April, 1951, the Treaty of Paris. This established the Iron and Steel Community. The European flag dates from December 8th, 1954. The remaining parts of the European Communities, the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom)were founded on 25th March, 1957, by the signing of the Treaty of Rome..."


    Absolutely no "..disengenuity.." on my part, but some considerable one-sided stretching of the History of Continental Europe post-WW2 by You!

    With Continental Europe & the British Isles on their Economic knees after WW2 the first contribution to peace was the Marshall Plan; the second was the Red Army in 'eastern' Europe.
    Third, and some years later came: those Treaties You mention for a European Economic Community (to which I alluded in my #27).

    Each Treaty undertaken in the shadow of the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and the very massive presence of USA Armed Forces via NATO in the 'west': So, let's have less of the bald statements of what went towards maintaining peace and bit more of the factual reality that lay behind the Europeans ability to start the EEC.

    The EUropean Union is a 'political-construct' negotiated & signed-up to at Maastricht, 1992. Until then there was no EU: For any 'pro-EU' to attempt to write a revised History whereby the EU was all along what was intended by the Treaty of Rome etc. is to be really disinegenuous! Schumann et all did not at any time indicate that the term 'ever closer union' was Orwellian double-speak for 'unbridled centralised political power' at Brussels.

    Until Maastricht then there was no EU: The UK Citizens have never given consent or approval to the EU and as the Referendum in EC 'founding nations' Netherlands & France so clearly revealed neither did the Citizens of 'west' EUrope. Spain did Vote for the Constitution, but apart from that isolated expression of Public Opinion the duplicity & anti-Democratic practises at the core of the EU-Brussels entity become even more glaringly obvious when one recalls with the exception of Your Ireland (made to do 2 Referenda) NOT 1 'western' Nation's Population has given explicit support via the Ballot box to the Lisbon Treaty which confirmed a supra-National Political Union!

    "2011-1957 = 51 years in my arithmetic, or most peoples'."

    Your 'arithmetic' fails the moment You disingenuously try to assert the terms & institution 'EUropean Union' were in the Treaties of Paris & Rome! They were not, by any calculation You care to mention.

  • Comment number 40.

    29. At 10:52am on 29th Mar 2011, LadyEcon wrote:

    Did You by any chance bother to read the above article?

  • Comment number 41.

    22. At 09:26am on 29th Mar 2011, Mathiasen wrote: "..The elections in the federal state were in fact a referendum on nuclear power with chancellor Merkel.."


    AND,

    31. At 12:11pm on 29th Mar 2011, DurstigerMann wrote:
    @22 Mathiasen::

    "..An earthquake it was.
    I wouldn`t necessarily call it a referendum against nuclear power, but it definitely was a strong signal against arrogant politicians ignoring the voters..."



    Must say I'm with DTMann on this Germany Election result.

    I saw some newspaper reports of Polls prior to the tragic Japan 'nuclear' disaster and it seemd as if Merkel & her Party were already in trouble with the Electorate. The principle reason being given by respondents to the survey/s was the use of Germany's Tax-Payers' money to 'Bail-out' the other nations. There was also disgruntlement at a perception of Merkel's high-handed manner of dealing with EUro-zone crisis as a whole.

    Doubtless her flip-flopping over 'nuclear energy' then played a part in the last weeks run-up to the Election, but Merkel & the CDU were already looking at a very tight race which they were likely to lose.

  • Comment number 42.

    33 Freeborn writes:
    "This dysfunctional but resistant-to-change policy is the main reason why the EU, and especially its eurozone heart, have become the worst performing economic area in the developed world."

    Could you substantiate this by giving us an example to show who performs better? By the eurozone heart I presume you mean Germany, France, Italy etc, all among the top ten economies in the world and the wealthiest countries as well.

  • Comment number 43.

    "Will anyone apologise to the taxpayers who have to foot the bill, to the people in Germany, France, Switzerland the US and the UK who face cuts in public expenditure as a result of a default by Greece?"

    How short you memory is! This financial crisis was caused by greedy bankers and shifty business dealers in America and to a lesser extent Britain and not by a default in Greece.

  • Comment number 44.

    John from Hendon wrote "The ranting of the anti-Europeans must simply be ignored as they represent the past - indeed an idealised past that did not exist. They hanker fro a world they never did exist and can never exist. The rest of us know that whilst we have ideals we also know that to live in moderate harmony with our neighbours serves both us and them for the best. "

    Being a sceptic I am never sure whether I qualify as a moderately pro-Eu or a slightly wet anti-EU.

    I totally agree that living in moderate harmony with our European neighbours serves both the UK and EU best, but of course that does not require that we be part of the EU (or Eurozone) any more than being in harmony with my next door neighbour requires that I move in with her.

    I find it interesting the way language is used to label ideas which have nothing to do with the label being attached.

    "progressive" politics appears to be a label used to justify taking more and more money from the electorate and to centralise power (after all you do not want local people actually electing someone they trust do you)

    pro-EU statements are "modernist" and anti EU statements are "rants" or "backward looking" or similar. So when the EU leaders tell a country that they have answered a referendum wrongly so must try again or they have elected a party which the EU does not approve of so they must hold another election to get it right or else lose benefits, how exactly is this modern? Looks like old fashioned dictatorship by a small political elite

  • Comment number 45.

    Margaret Howard (42) asked “Could you substantiate this by giving us an example to show who performs better (than the eurozone core)?"

    The UK has performed better, as have Canada and the USA. The IMF data below shows that the UK rose from 7th to 4th place in per capital wealth in the G7 between 1992 and 2011 (i.e. the period since the EU was established with the Treaty of Maastricht). Germany, France, and Italy were in 3rd, 5th and 6th place in 1992 and went sideways or downwards to 3rd, 5th and 7th in the same period. Meanwhile Canada moved from 4th to 2nd in the last 19 years, with the US remaining the richest country throughout the period, actually extending its lead. The conclusion is clear: Less EUrope = More Prosperity over the long-term.

    https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2010/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=1992&ey=2011&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=156%2C158%2C132%2C112%2C134%2C111%2C136&s=PPPPC&grp=0&a=&pr1.x=42&pr1.y=8

  • Comment number 46.

    GH: "In the soft light of early spring, Paris seems contented with its war. The face of the enemy hogs the billboards. Libya's "mad dog", looking stern and distracted, is on the magazine covers and revolves in the tabac windows.

    There is a warm tinge of righteousness."


    Just as it was during the Algerian War.

    [how soon they forget!]

  • Comment number 47.

    GH: Time Magazine's man of the year was Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. He was a shoo-in; he changed the planet. In an allied essay Richard Stengel said of the Facebook phenomenon: "There is an erosion of trust in authority, a decentralizing of power."

    However obscure the motives of Julian Assange, Wikileaks appeals to a similar desire for openness and transparency.







    So let's ask them: Why has NATO [cut the crap: it's Obama's U.S. really] not intervened militarily in Sudan?

    And does not intervene in Syria, Yemen and Ivory Coast?

    Where atrocities against "innocent civilians" continue as we speak.

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Comment number 48.

    GH: 'I mention all this because in the corridors of Brussels there is often a certain swagger about the future. Last year the President of the Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso said that "the EU's decades of experience in transnational cooperation makes it an obvious laboratory for globalisation, a champion of global governance". '






    Has the former premier of Portugal commented on the predicament of his native country?


    Or would he rather move directly to commenting on an imminent bankruptcy of much larger Spain?

    [German voters in Baden-Wurttenberg have already expressed their opinion about a German participation in yet another Markel-ordered bail out.]

  • Comment number 49.

    GH: "Certainly among the alumni of the College of Europe - that finishing school for the European political elite - there is a belief that they have caught the wave of the future"





    And so it was among graduates of the notorious Patrice Lumumba Int. University in Moscow.

    [where are they now?]

  • Comment number 50.

    Grand Design? Nah, all they can come up with is banning petrol/diesel cars from town centres. What next? Something to do with rectangular bananas I imagine. All they are good at is keeping their machinations secret and democratically unaccountable. Oh, and they manage to pay themselves obscene amounts of taxpayer's money.

  • Comment number 51.

    GHG: " Barroso is optimistic "the economic and monetary union will finally walk on its two legs instead of limping along".




    "FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS B-A-A-A-A-A-D!"

  • Comment number 52.

    Threnodio II wrote:

    "What actually happened? The current generation of European leaders were so busy charting the future of the grand scheme that did not have the time or inclination to ask the people."






    For many decades citizens of Western Europe had been told that that was a predicament of the Eastern (Moscow-enslaved) Europe's citizens. Not theirs.


    And know, finally the chicken have come home to roost.

  • Comment number 53.

    Freeborn John, 33:

    Excellent commentary on the historical context of the EU.

    In my lifetime I've been fortunate enough to witness (albeit through the lens of the media) the demise of numerous autocratic regimes, from communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to right wing and military dictatorships in Greece, Portugal, Spain and parts of Latin America, and apartheid in South Africa. In addition the internet has been a huge boost to freedom of speech, both in autocratic regimes and - when in comes to controversial topics the authorities would prefer to remain undiscussed - in countries that are otherwise democracies.

    I fully agree with your description of the EU as a "fly in the ointment" in this general trend towards democracy. I don't think anyone would regard the EU as it currently stands as being as evil as the regimes I've listed above. But there are some disturbing pointers in this direction - for example the tendency to work around, rather than with, public opinion (the European Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty spring to mind), and the intolerance of dissent (as seen in John from Hendon's remark in 23 that "The ranting of the anti-Europeans must simply be ignored ...").

    I would dread to think what life would be like if the EU authorities were ever to have as much unrivalled power over their fiefdom as the above regimes had over theirs. I would certainly not wish to live under such a regime. I hope the current European nation states - not that they are by any means perfect - will continue to assert themselves as they have done recently with respect to Libya, and that, in due course, I'll be able to add the EU to the above list!

  • Comment number 54.

    "There is significantly less violent crime, drug abuse, prison population, teen pregnancy, etc... in continental European countries (they also clearly surpass the UK), with the usual suspects (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway) at the top of social development. "




    Until thy're flooded with millions of illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa no longer stopped by "the mad dog" Muammar Gaddafi.


    Just like U.S. has been flooded earlier with over 20 milion of illegal immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American failed countries.

  • Comment number 55.

    45 Freeborn writes:
    "The UK has performed better, as have Canada and the USA."
    But that's not what you said when your wrote: ... the EU, and especially its eurozone heart, have become the worst performing economic area in the developed world." Even the link you provided tells us that all the 'worst performing' areas are in fact among the ten MOST SUCCESSFUL IN THE WORLD.


  • Comment number 56.

    An economy works when lots of people are engaged in supplying the stuff to each other that they want and are willing to pay for, and when they place value on those things.

    The EU will work so long as we remember that peace and justice are Very Good Things Indeed, have a correspondingly high value, and we resolve to pay that price.

    Things like the Libya crisis etc., are timely reminders, perhaps.



  • Comment number 57.

    #31. At 12:11e.m. on 29th mar. 2011, DurstigerMann:
    Actually CDU got 200.000 voters more this time than it did in 2006. The fact in Baden-Württemberg is that the participation was over all larger this time.

    Also: There is likely to be a referendum about “Stuttgart 21", and let us explain to the rest: It is the name of a major infra structure project (railways).

    There will in other words be more of what you advocate, only you would like quite some other parties to organize this. I can only guess, what kind of party that is, but clearly participation is not your only criterion. It should also be in your political direction and that does obviously count more.

    Finally, let me mention this to our fellow Europeans: Today, only two days after their defeat, the parties of the German government coalition, in particularly FDP, are announcing radical changes in their energy policy. The change is coming even faster than I would have thought. European energy policy is right now taking a new direction.

  • Comment number 58.

    And whey are we not bombing Iran?


    "Israel intercepts C-704 antiship missile shipment
    A cargo ship intercepted by the Israeli Navy on 15 March was found to be carrying two Iranian-manufactured C-704 Nasr anti-ship missile systems. Israel believes that the ship, which was en route to Alexandria, was due to unload the systems for onward shipment to the Gaza Strip"

    (Janes Defense Weekly)

    [first posted to https://jmr.janes.com - 23 March 2011]

  • Comment number 59.

    French defence exports 'at lowest level in five years'
    French defence exports plummeted to their lowest level in five years in 2010 because of the country's failure to find a buyer for its Rafale fighter aircraft and FREMM (Frégate Européenne Multi-Missions) frigates. Sources at the French Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA) procurement agency have confirmed that French weapons sales fell to around EUR4.5 billion (USD6.4 billion) in 2010, compared with EUR8.1 billion the previous year, in the absence of major deals'

    (Janes Defense Weekly)



    A question: why nobody wants to buy combat tested - over Libya- Rafales? :-))))

  • Comment number 60.

    47 powermeer asks:
    "So let's ask them: Why has NATO [cut the crap: it's Obama's U.S. really] not intervened militarily in Sudan?
    And does not intervene in Syria, Yemen and Ivory Coast"
    -----------------------------------------
    Maybe they're not quite sure where these countries are (remember the Gulf war in the Gulf of Mexico)?
    My paper today reported the following conversation:
    "Coverage of the Libyan military adventure on America's 'fair and balanced' (i.e. boilingly Right Wing) Fox News TV station is often hilarious. Last week, the woman and two men who appear on its morning show, Fox and Friends, were discussing how the Libyan situation could be defined.
    Male presenter: 'They're calling it kinetic' ('active, as opposed to latent' warfare). Woman presenter: 'Connecticut? I live there!'

  • Comment number 61.

    Re# 60

    margaret. Perhaps you can help me to establish whether Mr. Megrahi is safe in Tripoli?

    And has not been bombed yet?

    I assume Scottish authorities would be much better informed about Mr. Meghrahi's condition and well-being that I or anybody else possibly could.

    thank you in advance,




    P.S. I am happy to see that your favourite currency (euro) is getting even stronger against US$ :-)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

  • Comment number 62.

    #28. At 10:46am on 29th Mar 2011, cool_brush_work,

    Quite so, we must never suggest that the heroes of the revolution are fools.

  • Comment number 63.

    #59. At 18:49pm on 29th Mar 2011, powermeerkat,

    "A question: why nobody wants to buy combat tested - over Libya- Rafales? :-)))) "

    Maybe someone can tell me where else they have been combat tested, or is this a great arms sale from Sarko designed to bail out the economy he has wrecked. What next, German arms dealers selling arms to the rebels to boost their exports, that would be highly hypocritical bearing in mind they are not involved but I doubt that will stop Merkel.

  • Comment number 64.

    #50. At 17:10pm on 29th Mar 2011, RW49,

    Know that the greens are running this German state lets see what remarkable schemes they come up with that'll make rectangular bananas look sensible. When the Ecolog's got a big influence in Southern Belgium they blindly caused the removal of the F1 race at the track called Francorchamps and ignored the job and financial effect on the area. The next election they were sent packing, so we'll have to see now what insane schemes they come up with. Mind you if all German nuclear centres get closed they are going to have problems compensating for the lost energy which will reduce their export ability, but never mind they will be more 'green'.

  • Comment number 65.

    To Ulkomaalainen (30):

    If Greece nears too close of default or debt reorganisation, there will just be a bailout by the ECB, if there is deemed need for it. The Fed already bought 600 billion USd worth of U.S. Treasury bonds by essentially printing money. If and when there is political will to do the same in Europe, ECB will move. They will either buy discounted bonds stealthy from the markets or they will buy debt of all Eurozone countries and with some formula decide on how much to monetise each country's debt... Or if the European and World economy continues to get better, Greece could do a debt reorganisation without causing too much collateral damage to the European or world economy.

    In any case, not even near the top list of things that I worry.

  • Comment number 66.

    @ #60

    "Maybe they're not quite sure where these countries are (remember the Gulf war in the Gulf of Mexico)?
    My paper today reported the following conversation:
    "Coverage of the Libyan military adventure on America's 'fair and balanced' (i.e. boilingly Right Wing) Fox News TV station is often hilarious. Last week, the woman and two men who appear on its morning show, Fox and Friends, were discussing how the Libyan situation could be defined.
    Male presenter: 'They're calling it kinetic' ('active, as opposed to latent' warfare). Woman presenter: 'Connecticut? I live there!'"

    Aaaaand in this corner... wearing NO sense of humor...
    It was supposed to be a poke at the President's political maneuvering (renaming of military actions) to avoid calling a duck a duck. Did you really mistake that for sheer stupidity? It seems your disdain for the Brits and Americans forms quite a thick cloud.
    ...
    Wait... Something does not add up. You do not seem like the type to watch "Boilingly Right Wing" programming... Did you watch Fox and Friends to catch this?

  • Comment number 67.

    cool_brush_work(no 39) wrote quite a lot, most of which was either unrelated to what I wrote, or related to things I never wrote.

    "Absolutely no "..disengenuity.." on my part, but some considerable one-sided stretching of the History of Continental Europe post-WW2 by You!" Not so, simply a time line of the development of what is now called the EU.

    "Your comments With Continental Europe & the British Isles on their Economic knees after WW2 the first contribution to peace was the Marshall Plan; the second was the Red Army in 'eastern' Europe." I made no such comments, but feel free to fantasize.

    "Each Treaty undertaken in the shadow of the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and the very massive presence of USA Armed Forces via NATO in the 'west': So, let's have less of the bald statements of what went towards maintaining peace and bit more of the factual reality that lay behind the Europeans ability to start the EEC:. Again, I made no such statement or statements. See above.

    "The EUropean Union is a 'political-construct' negotiated & signed-up to at Maastricht, 1992. Until then there was no EU: For any 'pro-EU' to attempt to write a revised History whereby the EU was all along what was intended by the Treaty of Rome etc. is to be really disinegenuous! Schumann et all did not at any time indicate that the term 'ever closer union' was Orwellian double-speak for 'unbridled centralised political power' at Brussels."

    I am quite certain that both Robert Schuman, and the Treaty of Rome, referred to 'ever closer union'. I am equally certain that Mr Schuman would have refuted your somewhat paranoid definition of the term.

    Also, the idea that by declaring it to be so, you can somehow divorce "the EU"(result of a virgin birth, possibly midwifed by the Maastricht Treaty) from the institutions which both preceded it and were absorbed into it, is another exercise in being, dare I say it, disengenous

    Do please confine your comments to what I actually wrote, not to your own projections

  • Comment number 68.

    For the benefit of certain self-righteous Europhobes, when I state that the only significant parties - I repeat, significant parties, meaning those that routinely have over 10% of votes - that I know of (and of course, I am happy to be proven wrong) in continental Europe that are opposed to the euro and/or Schengen and perhaps also to the EU as a whole, are: a) Front Nationale (I know this for a fact as I was listening to the leader herself on French radio) and b) the party of Geert Wilders (this one I assume it does, as being out of Schengen might help this party's aims of controlling/reducing the Muslim population in the Netherlands). I do not know of any other significant party in the continental vicinity that has similar Europhobic views as these two. Of course I am more than open to learning of any other major continental party, perhaps centre-right or centre-left, that holds these anti-EU views.

    So, to be clear, the views of these two parties about the EU, the euro or Schengen are identical to those that are mainstream in this part of the world. That DOES NOT MEAN that their anti-muslim, racist or xenophobic views are also mainstream here.

    Having said that, I read this piece of research publicised by the BBC and other media which says that:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12362464

    "British people top immigration anxiety table – survey"

    "Britons are the most anxious about immigrants, an international survey of eight European and North American countries has suggested." [However] "Five of the other nations surveyed had a greater proportion of foreign people in their populations than the UK."

    In less politically correct terms, the Guardians says about the same survey last year:

    "British more anti-immigrant and xenophobic than rest of western Europe, survey suggests"

    https://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/dec/03/british-against-eu-immigration-powers

    Which includes this gem:

    "The British are the only people in western Europe who want immigration controls at the national rather than the European level, despite having little confidence in the national authorities' handling of the issue, according to a survey of eight countries."

    Now, I fully expect that the usual suspects launch their irate attacks against the BBC or the Guardian for publishing these outrageous insinuations, if not direct accusations of xenophobia, as per the Guardian, rather than directing their bile against my humble person, i.e. shooting the messenger, and launching ad hominem attacks against myself, particularly focusing on my nationality.

  • Comment number 69.

    66 black night writes:
    "It was supposed to be a poke at the President's political maneuvering (renaming of military actions) to avoid calling a duck a duck. Did you really mistake that for sheer stupidity? It seems your disdain for the Brits and Americans forms quite a thick cloud."
    ---------------------
    Sorry, I haven't got a clue what you are talking about.
    You go on to say:
    ...
    "Wait... Something does not add up. You do not seem like the type to watch "Boilingly Right Wing" programming... Did you watch Fox and Friends to catch this?"

    Never heard of Fox and Friends. As I said, this conversation was repeated in a (British) national newspaper today who interpreted it the way I did, namely making fun of the woman presenter's - in your own words - 'sheer stupidity'.

  • Comment number 70.

    Gavin:

    There is a wide consensus that the single market needs expanding […]


    Would that be wide consensus for internal expansion, or wide consensus for external expansion?

    Mathiasen: For post 57, I was wondering how much of the Greens’ success in Baden-Württemberg was due to having organised effective electoral opposition to Stuttgart 21, as compared to the relatively recent reaction to Fukushima and Merkel’s apparent flip-flop on nuclear energy. Has the German press finished its dissection of the electoral results there yet?

    JorgeG1: On post 68, the only other party that comes to mind which would meet your criteria would be the Danish People’s Party. Another possibility could be the Portuguese Communists, who might meet your criteria in European Parliament elections, but who probably don’t reach the 10% threshold in national parliamentary elections.
  • Comment number 71.

    #65 Jukka Rohila

    I sense that what you mean is ," Do Or Die In The Attempt ".

    I think that what you are suggesting is " Wishful Thinking ".

    All the bailout is borrowed money . The promised bailout fund of 700bl is only promised , but has yet to be raised by member states , again BORROWED , an additional debt for every contributor .

    If Greece cannot create enough growth to sustain it's present debts and repay its bailout fund , how is she ever going to repay a further large bail out fund .
    Futher you run the risk of either a country like Germany saying it won't pay or their doing so arousing the wroth of the people , endangering a fall of the government .

    As I see it the ECB is in danger of bankrupting itself , in order to sustain the Euro and the EU . Unless they are bigger fools than many of us already think ; I believe there will come a point where they decide enough is enough .

    The USA may print Dollars ad infinitum , but I do not see the ECB Eurozone being able to do the same . There would be a danger of bankrupting the whole Eurozone and EU .

  • Comment number 72.

    #68 JorgeG1

    You missed a couple of Anti EU and Xenophobic British parties , Namely
    UK Independence Party and The British Nationalist Party , both represented in the European Parliament .

    I think it very likely that you are right , that the British are the most anti immigrant , xenophobic people in the EU . However fortunately most of the immigrants find their way to big city industrial centres . You may not realise that indigenous British citizens are treated much less favourably than immigrants by social services . Immigrants receive very much bigger cash handouts , housing , furnishing , TV , every comfort . Needy British citizens may be justified in their resentment .
    Many British people feel that immigration should be much more tightly controlled , with NONE of the EU permissive ruling .
    My view is the same . My first wife was American ( 1968 ) , no visa problem at all .
    My present wife is Thai , she came to stay with me in Italy , on the second Schengen Visa application . I fully expect that she might have some difficulty getting a visa to travel with me to England . However we have no wishes or plans to visit either England or Italy , so it's not a problem .

  • Comment number 73.

    #68. At 22:16pm on 29th Mar 2011, JorgeG1,

    A typical post from you, full of inaccuracies and misconceptions. First and most importantly you should read and this time understand the results of the survey in the first BBC link you included.

    The survey found the British were "the most concerned about immigration", how that can be called anti-immigrant or xenophobia is amazing, that you read the Guardian, a Socialist rag, shows that you hold similar distorted views and that like all Socialists you seek to ridicule all opposing views by use of emotive words like xenophobia. The French and Belgium people are also very concerned about immigration from what I know and it's rare I talk to a Belgian here who is not, the comments in the survey match what most here in Belgium where I live also think. That does not make them xenophobic or racist but simply holding the opinion that enough is enough.

    What this survey shows is that most people, whether in the UK, France, Belgium etc hold views different from that of their politicians who blindly continue on their grand mission of saving the world by allowing swathes of unskilled, poorly educated people to enter the EU on the flimsy ground of humanitarianism. That these people have little chance of finding employment, bearing in mind the percentage unemployed across the EU, is forgotten, especially by the Socialist parties who fondly believe poor people vote Socialist.

    Your post started by saying all mainstream parties support the EU and the Euro and that truly is the big problem as without diversity you 'philes cannot claim the people support your grand design since there is no chance of registering an opposing view. Just as turkeys would not vote for Christmas so the mainstream politicians will not vote to take their snouts out of the public trough, even though the EU and the Euro are slowly strangling Europe. It is a matter of concern the even parties like UKIP in the UK are called xenophobic, racist etc due to their opposition to your beloved EU and when they are not holding views that are in any way extreme.

    So JorgeG1, as a pro-EU/Euro fanatic please tell me how the voters of the Eurozone can voice their displeasure and dislike of the EU/Euro without voting for an extreme party which nobody wants to do. People like yourself claim the population support the EU but with the existence of almost an one party system of only pro-EU/Euro parties you fail with that claim. The only thing you've proved is that politicians are out of touch with their voters.

  • Comment number 74.

    #68

    jorge;

    You do realise that the UK you are calling xenophobic allowed Eastern Europeans the immediate right to work in the UK following accession, unlike Germany? Concerns over access to services, housing and employment are legitimate, as provision is entirely based on the number of people living there. If a large number of Eastern Europeans come to East Anglia in a short space of time,what do you want people to do? Pretend it isnt a problem, ignore the queues to see a GP, not get frustrated over lack of housing?

    But if you want to quote the Guardian, a hang-wringing rag whose self-loathing journalists see racists under every rock, then go right ahead. You should be sceptical of any journalist who draws his own conclusions from surveys..

    I would say "look in the mirror Spain" (or anywhere else in Eastern Europe or the Med when it comes to issues of immigration and racism, but unfortunately you believe that accusations and insults should only flow one way.

  • Comment number 75.

    Jorge did not know that what he was ..repeating...was a phrase that in context did seem bigoted (rather than racist, a word now overused, ) but, maybe in anger he showed his inward bias.

    But, still, "Anglo-Saxon" is a word description that seems innocuous on the face of it -- meaning of UK or USA origin. But, its more an accepted sneer, seemingly, and because its used so much, maybe it is meaningless, more or less.

    But, it sounds to me, just a little bit bigoted. Or it makes all one's subsequent remarks (after using "Anglo-Saxon" as an adjective) seem tainted.

    People can seem so flawed and common wisdom is SO common. I'm so disillusioned now....sniff...does this mean that French/European continent usage of "Anglo-Saxon" is bigotry? Could it be? OMG..

    That their theories are tainted? Big surprise.

  • Comment number 76.

    BTW, in America, our Anglos are Asian-Anglos, Hispanic Anglos, and many other kinds of Anglos....so what DOES

    Anglo-Saxon mean exactly? Anything of substance?

  • Comment number 77.

    #70. At 00:41f.m. on 30th mar. 2011, Jan_Keeskop

    Actually, it will take some time before German press - and the coalition in Berlin - has analysed the results of both elections on Sunday, particularly that in Baden-Württemberg. However, analysis of the voting show that the Green party has received voters from CDU and SPD. Even more interesting it is that the Green party has mobilised 268.000 nonvoters.

    It must be declared with the general political situation but probably also with the factor that the new government of Baden-Württemberg will have participation as a keyword.
    It is to some extend to make a virtue of necessity, because the coming coalition of Greens and SPD is not in agreement on Stuttgart 21. It will therefore be decided by a referendum. Still, there is no doubt that the style of government will be another.

  • Comment number 78.

    #41. At 15:39e.m. on 29th mar. 2011, cool_brush_work

    Well, we all realise, I suppose, that cool_brush_work applies his general view on EU on the election in Baden-Württemberg. However, there is no foundation for this interpretation.

    As I have already mentioned Merkel’s party, CDU, got 200.000 votes MORE this time. However, not least because the nonvoters got active CDU received 4.x per cent less of the entire votes and therefore it lost in the end.

    The winning parties, the Greens and the SPD, are strong in favour of German EU policy and European integration, and you should also realise that according to German constitution the government of B-W will have influence on this through the second chamber. Merkel lost no less than six seats in the second chamber that now belong to the opposition. It will force Merkel more into consensus politics.

    The elections last Sunday were a strong confirmation of German EU policy.

  • Comment number 79.

    The European project started by De Gasperi Monnet and company can not be put in question it is valid now as before , for the European continent it is the biggest and most difficult project ever undertaking and in the same time the most successful.
    If any criticism need to be apply is the slow pace we move toward the initial goal one European Nation.
    Yes the current politician lack the vision to create a better future for the people of Europe if we wont retain our European and state by state tradition we need one European Nation now before doctrine and custom of other country bit by bit take over from our noble European Tradition and value.
    John

  • Comment number 80.

    Jorge wrote "The British are the only people in western Europe who want immigration controls at the national rather than the European level, despite having little confidence in the national authorities' handling of the issue, according to a survey of eight countries."

    Well you could always look at a map. Which Western European Countries are islands: UK, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus - that is it

    Ireland is more worried about its economy right now, and given that it is the extreme western edge of EU, any illegal immigrant who ends up there deserves something for sheer persistancy

    Cyprus is more worried about Turkey for long standing historically reasons

    Malta has never been a stopping point for immigrants - too small - more of a staging post at best

    That leaves the UK. The UK has historically (say over last 100 years) been far more welcoming to immigrants than any other major European nation. After all when Eastern Europe joined the EU, the UK was one of the few countries not to impose controls on East European workers. The UK, or more accurately southern England, has one of the highest population densities in Europe

    So it is not anti-EU or anti-immigration to suggest that given we have natural boundaries (normally called seas) it makes sense to control immigration at those boundaries nor is it xenophobic or racist to suggest we might be a little short of living space.

  • Comment number 81.

    67. At 20:27pm on 29th Mar 2011, MacTurk wrote:
    cool_brush_work(no 39) wrote quite a lot, most of which was either unrelated to what I wrote, or related to things I never wrote."


    I'm sorry, I disagree, my reply was to Your specific point that I was being 'disingenuous'.

    Frankly, what You consider a TimeLine doesn't hold up under any scrutiny. IMO there is only the faintest correlation between the 'Economic-Trade' Treaties of Paris & Rome and the 'Political-Judicial' Treaties of Maastricht & Lisbon.

    In the end we come down to a matter of interpretation of the 'unwritten' & 'unrecorded' thoughts & imaginings of Schumann etc.
    You assert he & others all along had a Federal EUropean project in mind.
    I stand by the factual reality that no such statement was written or recorded in any form by the founders of the European Economic Community.

    You claim that I have a somewhat "paranoid defenition of the term" 'ever closer union'.
    I would assert You and so many 'pro-EU' have a totally reckless unconcern for the 'anti-Democratic' institution that has emerged in Brussels based upon exploitation of Treaties which in no way envisaged such flagrant disregard for the Citizen & the State.

  • Comment number 82.

    78. At 08:53am on 30th Mar 2011, Mathiasen wrote:
    #41. At 15:39e.m. on 29th mar. 2011, cool_brush_work

    Well, we all realise, I suppose, that cool_brush_work applies his general view on EU on the election in Baden-Württemberg. However, there is no foundation for this interpretation."


    Yes, of course I put my "general view" across in the things I write. Surely You aren't claiming to do any differently!? If so, I & others have yet to notice any non 'pro-EU' perspective by Your good self.

    That said, I'm not really arguing with the 'anti-nuclear' & 'change' of attitude in Germany among the Electorate that You wrote about. Neither did I suggest the Greens etc. weren't 'pro-EU': IMO they're amongst the worst of such unquestioning offenders.
    All I did was point out as DTMann had that there was more to the result than just the 'anti-nuclear' vote.
    If You are trying to say Merkel & CDU were NOT in trouble with the German Electorate before the crisis in Japan then I cannot agree. It has been clear for months that many Germans are concerned by the vast amounts Germany has committed into the Bail-out scheme & that they were unhappy with Merkel's handling of the situation.

    IMO the real significance not withstanding an increased vote for the CDU is that ultra-conservative Baden-Wurtenburg Citizens have gone 'hard-green' in their political leanings: I.e. they've voted for Parties that will indeed push through very different and more extreme 'green-global' policies as You've indicated in another comment.

    Cheers.





  • Comment number 83.

    74. At 07:28am on 30th Mar 2011, champagne_charlie wrote:
    #68

    "jorge;

    I would say "look in the mirror Spain" (or anywhere else in Eastern Europe or the Med when it comes to issues of immigration and racism, but unfortunately you believe that accusations and insults should only flow one way."


    Very good points, C_C.

    All the more pertinent as I read of the UK Government apology to the family of a girl shot & killed in N. Ireland during the 'Troubles' & recall the UK's lengthy but in the end comprehensive investigation into 'Bloody Sunday' and the ongoing Reviews of some 3,000 deaths in N. Ireland during those dreadful decades.

    However, N.Ireland's 'troubles' pale to insignificance by comparison to the 10s of thousands of dead, injured & tortured during Spain's Civil War & under the decades of the Franco regime.

    Some 30 years post-Franco just how many Spanish investigations never mind apologies for the grievous wrongs done has there been in Spain?

    Easy answer: NONE!

    Oh, but it's UK/England that has Citizens with Far Right extremist sympathies & a problem with immigrants!

    Yeah right, if You say JorgeG1, if You say so.


  • Comment number 84.

    60. At 18:58pm on 29th Mar 2011, margaret howard wrote:

    "Maybe they're not quite sure where these countries are (remember the Gulf war in the Gulf of Mexico)?"


    Oh I recall Your allegation very well dear fragrant lady!

    I also recall that on 2 and let us now make it THREE occasions I've asked You for the quotes/links that back-up Your claim Americans thought the Gulf War was in the Gulf of Mexico AND STILL YOU HAVEN'T PROVIDED ANY EXAMPLE!

    Now, I can't use the short, direct word for Your making it up as Moderators will get upset, but I'm saying You have told an untruth.

  • Comment number 85.

    There are 7 million foreign born people in the UK , about 11% of the population, which is higher than the EU average. That doesnt take into consideration that the UK had significant immigration from the 1950's onwards and therefore their descendents are not counted in that figure. London is by far the most ethnically diverse city in Europe with "whites" now a minority.

    Clearly, Spain and Italy have seen an explosion in immigration in the last decade, and perhaps this is where jorge's problem lies---recency. But that is a case for more controls on immigration NOT LESS!

    When a Europhile tries to evangelise the EU and talk about race , xenophobia and immigration, one needs look no further than the EU Parliament itself..one of the biggest whites-only clubs on the planet, although the US Senate is even worse. In 2007, only NINE MEPs were from ethnic minority groups...five of them were from....the UK of course. Have a guess how many were from Spain or Italy? I'll give you a clue, its less than one.

    The Guardian does an interesting piece on the matter. ;) It really is a great paper if reading about racists hiding round every corner is your bag. My quotes will be limited only to those who made the comments, and will not include any editorial comment.

    https://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/feb/14/race.eu

    "Neena Gill was elected as a Labour MEP alongside Moraes eight years ago. She is the only Asian woman in parliament. "Nobody would believe me when I said, 'Britannique'. Only two nights ago I was at a function and this Belgian found it really hard to accept that I was an MEP because I was wearing a sari," she says. "I hear phrases such as, 'Madame Gill is wearing oriental costume.' When they realise you're Indian, people say, 'Why aren't you wearing that spot on your head?' It is the sort of thing that would have been said in Britain 35 years ago."

    (Syed Kamall) He shrugs. "I'm very lucky to come from London - it's very different from the rest of Europe. I've been to parts of Europe where I've been the only dark face.

    "A German Christian Democrat once told the British Asian MEP Claude Moraes: "We would never have someone like you in our party elected in Germany."

    "As well as being the only Asian woman in parliament, Gill is the only Sikh too. She says she receives "almost weekly" calls from Sikh groups in Italy and France who are attacked because of "the turban issue"."

    " Emine Bozkurt. Born in Holland to Turkish parents, in 2004 she became the first MEP elected from the Netherlands with ethnic minority heritage. "People refer to me as a migrant but I've never migrated apart from when I came to the European Parliament. Then I really felt like a migrant"

  • Comment number 86.

    I am also minded to point out to CBW, regarding his comment in post no 3) that "Until Maastricht then there was no EU: The UK Citizens have never given consent or approval to the EU...."; the fact that he is a citizen of what may be defined as probably the least democratic polity on the European continent has NOTHING at all to do with the EU(or its preceeding institutions).

    It is a self-inflicted injury, which requires a domestic remedy. Also, the fact that there has only been one referendum in the UK regarding the development of the EU is a shameful reflection on the UK, NOT the EU.

    The refusal of English people to seek a more democratic voting system than the First-Past-the Post version in the UK, or for a written constitution to copperfasten their "rights"(at the moment purely privileges which may be revoked at the will of the executive) speaks volumes about their committment to democratic values.

    If, as I suspect they will, they reject the attempt to bring in the AV system in the upcoming referendum, then I will be sadly confirmed in my suspicion that the English love their chains.

    I have specified "English" here, as the various Celtic parts of the UK all use much more representative voting systems in their local parliamentary elections.

  • Comment number 87.

    Hi All

    We now seem to be discussing the xenophobic tendencies of the British. Fair enough....

    The study which was used to support the position of Britains xenophobia is deeply flawed. When pollsters ask the elctorate who they are going to vote for the pollsters realise that the figures they get need massaged. It is not politically correct to declare support for a right wing party; hence when asked people toe the politically correct line and say what they believe the pollsters want to hear and the support for left wing parties is exaggerated. When casting an anonymous ballot the results are differ from the pollsters results. Any poll results you see on the TV or in the papers are not the declared prefferences of the study group but the declared prefference of the study group after filtering through a mathematical process based upon the correlation of earlier results with actual poll results.

    If you ask people about immigrants one must be aware that many people will hold politically incorrect views that they will be reticent to espouse these views to a stranger.

    The poll results could easily be interpreted as: "The British public are less willing to espouse politically correct slogans than their continental bretheren." (Funnily enough the Undercover Economist has commented on a study of European schoolchildren that suggests that there is a great deal of truth in this view.)

    If you want to find out about xenophobia one must look for evidence in what people do and not in what they say.

  • Comment number 88.

    86 MacTurk writes:
    "I have specified "English" here, as the various Celtic parts of the UK all use much more representative voting systems in their local parliamentary elections."
    ---------------
    I am grateful that you make that distinction as so many people assume we are one and the same thing. We Scots and the Welsh and Irish are as different from each other as any other nations on the continent and seem to be lumbered with the idea that we agreed with everything Westminster imposed on us.

  • Comment number 89.

    85 Nina Gill said in a Guardian interview:
    "Only two nights ago I was at a function and this Belgian found it really hard to accept that I was an MEP because I was wearing a sari," she says. "I hear phrases such as, 'Madame Gill is wearing oriental costume.' When they realise you're Indian, people say, 'Why aren't you wearing that spot on your head?'"
    ------------------------------
    I wonder what her colleagues would have said if a Bavarian had come to said function dressed in Lederhosen, white knee socks and schuhplattler boots? There would have been more than just a titter. Or a Scot in full fig with sporran come to that? The rule is if you want to be inconspicuous in a crowd don't dress to stand out.

  • Comment number 90.

    #86 MacTurk wrote "The refusal of English people to seek a more democratic voting system than the First-Past-the Post version in the UK, or for a written constitution to copperfasten their "rights"(at the moment purely privileges which may be revoked at the will of the executive) speaks volumes about their committment to democratic values."

    What this shows is your lack of understanding of democracy in the UK and how our legal system works.

    I guess you prefer a continental system, now I have nothing against the continental system both for constitutions and elections but until you realise that they start from a completely different foundation then it will not be possible to have a meaningful debate.

    The English do not need a constitution, and what you describe as priveleges are nothing of the sort.

    In England, everything is legal unless there is a law restricting it. When we pass laws about "rights" it is not about granting "rights" to anyone but about restricting the economic and sometime military power of government. In Europe the law is different, there is a code which specifies how life should be run, if the code says nothing about something then that something cannot happen. In England we have far more legal freedom than most of Europe

    As for our voting system: I guess you are wanting some form of PR. True PR on a national scale has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with centralising power. Under the English system we do not have a national election we have 650 or so local elections which happen on the same day. In each constitutency the MP is chosen by the votes of local people. The candidates for each party are chosen by the members of the local party not by the national party. There are many examples of local parties de-selecting the sitting MP, of ignoring national party instructions to select a "favoured" candidate in favour of local person and even situations where a small number of local members have de-selected a local MP who has then stood as a candidate and been voted in by the local voters. In other words English democracy is based on control at election time being very heavily biased towards local control not national or party control. FPTP elects people the most number of people in the local constituency actual vote for, the proposed AV system retains the local link but dilutes the requirement to actually be in favour of someone towards a system of electing someone who the local people dislike least.


    Maybe I am biased because I strongly believe that the English legal and political system starts from the basis that power rests at the bottom with people and what we should be doing is ensuring that self-serving political elites are kept under control.

    I appreciate this is heresy for much of Europe who believe that power should belong to a small elite and the people are nothing more than voting fodder

  • Comment number 91.

    #87 Ulkomaalainen

    " If you ask people about immigrants one must be aware that many people will hold politically incorrect views that they will be reticent to espouse these views to a stranger ".

    I own to that in my post at #70 . There were things I started to write , but thought better of and deleted.
    I was not so concerned about airing my politically incorrect views to all of you , but I was concerned that the moderators might not allow my post .

    When I lived in Italy , friends , whose views were decidedly socialist or communist , used to ask me questions about British politics and the British attitude to the EU .
    I always gave them a straight answer , from my conservative point of view , knowing the effect it would have . It made for some very exciting and heated arguments , when wives came to the rescue and told us to leave the subject . I believe that today they might agree that I had been right in my opinion .

  • Comment number 92.

    71 Huaimek writes:
    "The USA may print Dollars ad infinitum , but I do not see the ECB Eurozone being able to do the same . There would be a danger of bankrupting the whole Eurozone and EU ."
    ------------------------
    This doesn't make any sense to me. You suggest that if the Eurozone prints euros it would be in danger of bankrupting itself, but if the USA does it with the dollar, it will be to its advantage! Printing money to get yourself out of a hole surely involves the same dangers if it's done in America or in Europe. Explain this to someone who is not too well acquainted with the peculiarities of your financial wisdom.

  • Comment number 93.

    #89

    mhoward;

    "I wonder what her colleagues would have said if a Bavarian had come to said function dressed in Lederhosen, white knee socks and schuhplattler boots? There would have been more than just a titter. Or a Scot in full fig with sporran come to that? The rule is if you want to be inconspicuous in a crowd don't dress to stand out."

    Funnily enough, Nina Gill wearing a sari out for dinner wasn't the point of the post.

  • Comment number 94.

    86. At 11:11am on 30th Mar 2011, MacTurk wrote:

    "..It is a self-inflicted injury, which requires a domestic remedy. Also, the fact that there has only been one referendum in the UK regarding the development of the EU is a shameful reflection on the UK, NOT the EU..."


    Whilst agreeing the UK Parliament should certainly have held a Referendum on Maastricht/membership/Lisbon/whatever... in the last 2 decades it is again very disingenuous to imply the lack of one is not also down to the duplicitous EU-Brussels.

    Ireland wouldn't have had a 2nd Referendum on Lisbon had not Brussels demanded it!
    Even the first Referendum only came about because an Irish MP insisted on the Irish Constitution being upheld despite numerous attempts to pretend Lisbon would not alter the Irish Constitution.

    Please don't claim any other explanation for the perfectly fair, democratically arrived at result to the FIRST Referendum which would have scuppered Ratification of Lisbon by all the EU. No matter what is said, written or sworn a 'NO' Vote was never, ever going to be accepted by Brussels and 10 months later the Irish were duly made to record the only verdict the EU would countenance.

    Of course You could also back the EU-Brussels' claim Lisbon didn't affect the Irish Constitution: So, the 3 Protocols added to Lisbon prior to the 2nd Referendum weren't EU-Brussels admitting they lied to the Electorate of all 27 nations!

    As for 26 of 27 Nations not consulting their Citizenship about the Lisbon Treaty I expect that was all down individual States too and had nothing at all to do with pressure from EU-Brussels.

    Oh look there go several squadron of flying porkies!

  • Comment number 95.

    89. At 11:54am on 30th Mar 2011, margaret howard wrote:
    Re #86

    "...I wonder what her colleagues would have said if a Bavarian....
    ..... if you want to be inconspicuous in a crowd don't dress to stand out.


    OMG!

    Margaret!

    Just how far from comprehending the point of a comment can one fragrant lady get before she completely disappears as her own caricature of ridicule!


  • Comment number 96.

    #86

    macturk;

    "If, as I suspect they will, they reject the attempt to bring in the AV system in the upcoming referendum, then I will be sadly confirmed in my suspicion that the English love their chains. "

    Yes, I would love to have the political freedom the Scots have, ruled by a minority government that has 30% of the vote on a 50% turnout(ie 15% of the electorate). I'm in awe.

  • Comment number 97.

    90. At 12:00pm on 30th Mar 2011, Justin150 wrote:

    EXCELLENT!

    It is clear many non-Britons have little understanding of the UK's 'unwritten' Constitution and that our Continental friends have even less sympathy with UK Common Law which evolved in diametric opposition to the Codes of Law & Written Rights & Responsibilities imposed on so many of Britain's neighbouring Citizens time-and-again over the centuries.

  • Comment number 98.

    #92 Margaret Howard

    I think that there are some differences between the USA and the EU .
    How many trillions of dollars is the US in debt ? The US is a single federal state and somehow manages to go on , despite debts that they haven't any hope of paying off . Do you really see the EU being able to do the same , bearing in mind that the ECB financial resources are provided by 16 Eurozone sovereign countries . I believe there would be a point at which governments say " Enough Is Enough " and refuse to contribute any more . It is my guess that we are not far from that point now .
    It is not to the advantage of either the USA or ECB to print money .

  • Comment number 99.

    @57 Mathiasen

    "Actually CDU got 200.000 voters more this time than it did in 2006. The fact in Baden-Württemberg is that the participation was over all larger this time."

    Thanks for the info. I read that voter turnout had increased, but thought that most "new" voters were in support of the Green party


    "There will in other words be more of what you advocate, only you would like quite some other parties to organize this. I can only guess, what kind of party that is, but clearly participation is not your only criterion. It should also be in your political direction and that does obviously count more."


    No need to guess: it will be "die Partei".
    That`s how fed up I am with the conservative and liberal parties in Germany.
    I will take a close look at "Die Freiheit", though. They have some potential.


    Anyway, I am in favour of more democratic instruments allowing for more participation of the sovereign. Democratic legitimacy needs to be directed from the bottom upwards and not the other way around.

    A government granting more participation is great, but I`d rather have it implemented so that it doesn`t depend on the party in power.

    If you look at Switzerland, the parties are far weaker and their agendas are far less politically dominant than in Germany. That`s the direction I would like Germany to go.



    As for your accusation that I think of myself as being more equal than others:
    If the people of Germany would vote for the euro in its current form in a referendum, I would accept this as a perfectly democratic decision, even though I personally am against it.
    Would you want to hand the people political instruments to make such a decision and would you accept them voting against the euro?

  • Comment number 100.

    cool_brush_work(no 81)) wote "Frankly, what You consider a TimeLine doesn't hold up under any scrutiny. IMO there is only the faintest correlation between the 'Economic-Trade' Treaties of Paris & Rome and the 'Political-Judicial' Treaties of Maastricht & Lisbon"

    Frankly, this is horse manure. You are entitled to your opinions, but not to your own facts.

    I presented a time line for the development of the institutions of what is now the EU. Nothing more, nothing less. These are facts, not expressions of opinion.

    I did not, at any time, make any references or allusions to any other events which may or may not have been going on at the time(s) the various treaties were signed and ratified.

    You are indulging in an intellectually dishonest exercise. I am sure it is very easy for you to refute things I never said. It may also be an ego-boost for you, but it is a waste of time and energy refuting straw-man arguments.

    You assert that "In the end we come down to a matter of interpretation of the 'unwritten' & 'unrecorded' thoughts & imaginings of Schumann etc.
    You assert he & others all along had a Federal EUropean project in mind.
    I stand by the factual reality that no such statement was written or recorded in any form by the founders of the European Economic Community"

    Your ridiculous denial of facts is most evident here. I have to repeat; "You are entitled to your opinions, but not to your own facts".

    Could I refer you to Mr Schuman's speech in Zurich in 1948, where among other things, he stated that "An economic union implies political cooperation. The ideas of a federation and a confederation are being discussed". Could I ask you to read the "Declaration of 9 May 1950"? Therein, Mr Schumann refers to a "first step for the European Federation". Could I ask you to read his speech in the Festival Hall in Strasbourg, on 16th May 1949? He clearly refers, in line 9, to "..the whole idea of a united Europe".

    Could I refer you to the preamble of the Treaty of Rome? It is clearly stated that HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF THE BELGIANS, THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY, THE PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC, THE PRESIDENT OF THE ITALIAN REPUBLIC, HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE GRAND DUCHESS OF LUXEMBOURG, HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN OF THE NETHERLANDS are "DETERMINED to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among the European peoples".

    These are facts. Denying reality is a poor basis for decision making. Wilful ignorance is very attractive either.

 

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