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  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    Last Monday  22:25, by Alexander Peters

    Dear Mr. Iwantout,

    you seem to mistake me for a government implementing policies. As such I would need the “mandate”, you inquire after. However, I am merely an ordinary European citizen holding political views and trying to win over fellow citizen to those views by participating in public debate, neither of which activities requires a “mandate”. Indeed, it is my conviction that a EU as weak as now or even weaker would be a disaster in the medium term and that it would be folly to choose that option. But democratic electorates, of course, are entirely free to do exactly that.

    As for the politicians: As long as both national as well as European Parliament elections in individual countries return MPs/ MEPs which in their majority belong to parties known for their long-standing support of European integration, I do not think that it would be illegitimate for them to work on reforms aiming, e.g., at strengthening the EU in the field of foreign policy. This, I think, is the case in most EU countries - though not in Britain, of course.

  • What Cameron’s Victory means for Europe

    Last Thursday  23:16, by Iwantout

    Cameron certainly does have a mandate for EU reform, the question is whether the EU chooses to reform and to what extent.

    In this and previous articles you compare UK membership of the EU and the Scottish Independence vote. We are likely to be about two years from a referendum. With only a year to go before the Scottish vote, 52% were against independence and 32% were in favour. This 20% lead in the polls was pretty static until early August 2014, then as we all know it got ‘very exciting’ in the last month, with people who had previously had little involvement in politics suddenly becoming energised to change the status quo. An energy that has continue and even grown.

    The establishment had to make major changes in the conditions of Scottish ’membership’ in order to win that referendum and yet demands for more powers continue. Now we have 56 of 59 MPs belonging to the SNP and the question of Scottish Independence has not gone away. You rightly see the earthquake in Scottish voting as causing long term problems for Cameron, what would a similar situation do for the EU in the 2019 elections?

    As you say the pro EU side currently have a lead of 9% but are ultimately dependent on the Government selling any deal to the public. A Government which you acknowledge is likely to be unpopular due to austerity. Additionally you fail to mention the major problem of uncontrolled migration, increasing levels of public anger on the subject and the complete inability of the Government to do anything about it whilst in the EU.

    With regards to the list of backers for EU membership, it is far from as comprehensive or as solid as you suggest. For example some big business voices have already spoken out against EU membership, eg JCB, Digby Jones ex DG of the CBI. Oh and don’t forget that in all the referenda the EU has lost, the EU side has had the support of the political parties, business, unions, press etc. But this time a lost referendum will not be casually rerun.

    Yes it is all to play for, using your parallel I suppose the question is what devo max for the UK within the EU look like? (21/05/15)

  • What Cameron’s Victory means for Europe

    Last Thursday  09:31, by Richard

    The Conservative Manifesto said nothing about withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights.

    What they have said is that they would abolish the existing Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights. Both of these codify the Convention rights into British law - one of the original reasons for doing so was to limit the number of cases brought before the European Court, instead they could be brought before British courts for judgement. The only real bone of contention might be that which says the British Supreme Court shall indeed be supreme, taking precedence of the European Court.

    Of course the European Court is foreign; it is not British, it does not sit in Britain, most of the judges are not British.

    The Lords will not block the legislation, under the Salisbury convention the Lords do not block manifesto commitments. In any case, the Commons are supreme; they can over-rule the Lords with the Parliament Act.

    It is worth noting that the majority of NATO members do not meet the 2% requirement. We do not see endless criticisms of these countries.

    So pro-Europeans express a deep sigh of unhappiness at the prospect of a referendum? It all seems to stem from an attitude that it is better to not ask the question just in case you get a wrong answer. The EU is averse to referenda and inclined to insist on reruns until it gets the “correct” response.

  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    Last Thursday  06:43, by Hans L. Schmid

    What kind of Europe do the citizens want? What is their opinion? Let’s ask them on www.our-new-europe.eu!

  • The outcome of the UK elections: towards a federal UK?

    18 May 2015  10:43, by Richard

    “Pro-Europeanism” in Scotland does not stand up to close scrutiny. It is largely a fiction created by the Scottish National Party - part of their relentless drive to convince the Scots that they are fundamentally different from the English living a few miles further south than themselves. Only if the Scots are convinced of such differences will they ever vote for separation. This is in fact the same technique used by UKIP who seek to convince the British they are not culturally European and therefore have nothing in common with other Europeans.

    Moreover, of course, the SNP recognise that should Scotland separate from the UK, it would immediately require the European Union to provide things like free trade with England - the destination for 80% of Scotland’s exports.

    However, every social attitudes survey has shown that the Scots are virtually identical to the English in most regards. Certainly the Scots are little more enthused about “Europe” than the English. For example, the White Paper produced by the SNP as a blueprint for independent Scotland rejected membership of Schengen and the euro - and a survey of Scots conducted by the SNP in regard of currency options indicted the euro was by far the least supported, gaining only 6% approval. Hardly a Scotland fired by a burning desire for “Europe”, then.

    Of course, as we might expect, the Nationalists will use the Eu referendum as an opportunity to justify a second independence vote. They will portray, as ever, Scotland as the unwilling victim of English bullying, “dragged out of Europe” - just like UKIP’s vision of the perfidious French and Germans ganging up on the British.

    The regionalist parties in the UK are regarded as a joke. Unlike the SNP, such parties cannot play on themes such as historical grudges and grievances, nor can they claim anyone “stole our oil”. There is certainly no desire within England to see our country divided up into faceless “regions” that hardly anyone identifies with. I do not see the English supporting “regions” they have already so thoroughly rejected simply to appease Scottish inferiority complexes.

    In the same way, the European Union does not demand that large member states divide themselves into smaller units: Germany is the member state as is Luxembourg - try telling the Germans they must instead become a handful of Luxembourg size members in order to not frighten the neighbours. Of course, as you say, the online petition is a joke - it should be regarded as nothing but a joke. There will always be a minority who favour petty tribalism, a retreat into nationalisms and particularly in times of economic trouble.

    The siren song on the Nationalist is always that “we” are better than “them” and that all of our problems are caused by “them” - with separation being a quick and painless solution. It was ever thus. Once independence happens, of course, the lies are exposed...but by then it is too late.

  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    18 May 2015  10:11, by Iwantout

    Hi Alexander Peters,

    We have both made our opinions clear through repetition.

    Our difference keeps coming down to essentially the same point. You want to fundamentally change the way the EU operates, moving towards a more federal integrated state, QMV decided foreign policy and single military force, I do not.

    Several times I have asked where you are drawing your mandate from for this massive growth in EU power? You simply ignore this question and continue to state yours is the only way to go. Without clear direct agreement from the electorate that such powers should be ceded to the EU, I believe there can and should be no movement in these areas. We will have to agree to disagree.

    Using Tony Blair (the most pro EU British politician in generations) as an example is inherently unsound. Yes he took us to war and it now seems entirely possible that he did so using evidence that was at the very least highly unreliable. But he did so for his own reasons, I have never seen any suggestion that he was ‘strong armed’ into it by George W Bush or indeed that he did so because of the alleged ‘special relationship’. The attached interview (http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/dec/12/tony-blair-iraq-chilcot-inquiry ) gives some insight into what you might describe as “Blair’s thought processes.” The Chilcot Inquiry may give us some more information but who knows.

    The counter argument is of course the refusal of the UK, rightly or wrongly, to become involved in action in Syria despite clear US indications that this was the path they supported. I have even seen claims that the refusal of the UK to become involved impacted on US policy and options. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10275381/Syria-crisis-US-reacts-to-British-vote-and-setback-for-Obama.html ) Who can tell.

    Regards

  • The outcome of the UK elections: towards a federal UK?

    16 May 2015  18:32, by Iwantout

    Some facts for your readers

    An analysis by a Scottish academic and published by the respected LSE examining how ‘Scottishness’ impacts on voting behaviour. Interesting it shows “Scottish identity or sentiment has not been increasing, but decreasing gradually since the advent of devolution.” Remember Nicola Sturgeon stressed again and again that SNP success in the election would not lead to a new referendum. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/there-was-no-rise-in-scottish-nationalism-understanding-the-snp-victory/

    We are told how pro EU the Scots are, indeed it is virtually taken as a fact. It is simply not true, over the last 14 years a significant majority of Scots have indicated they want to leave the EU or have a looser relationship. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2014/03/29/25009/

    A position re-emphasised in this poll by the BBC (08/04/15) showing more Scots wanted a vote on EU membership than a second independence vote http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-scotland-32194983

    With regards to regional parties, yes they exist, but the level of support is slight. Last week Mebyon Kernow (Cornwall) managed 5,675 votes across the entire county (pop 536K) and every seat returned a Conservative MP, this despite being in existence for 45 years. The Yorkshire First Party managed 6,811 votes in a county with 5.2m voters. Plaid Cymru increased their vote by a whole 15k to 185k, less than they managed in 2011 and pretty much on the same level as they have achieved every election since 1970, despite contesting elections since 1925

    The rejection of regional government in 2004 was largely seen as a refusal of the electorate to accept yet another layer of government. They also have also rejected the opportunity to have elected mayors in a number of cities. There is very little evidence that this view has changed, certainly not from the response to regional parties you mention.

    Ultimately there may be some form of federal arrangement with Scotland, (although I see Ms Sturgeon is currently backing away from full fiscal autonomy, nothing to do with the £10bn black hole I am sure http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/scottish-politics/scotlands-black-hole-under-snps-fiscal-autonomy-plan-would-balloon-to-alm.123849628 ) but I would be exceptionally careful regarding how far it will go. Likewise the ‘English votes for English Laws’, is possible, but remember, SNP MPS have previously refused to vote on English only matters and the number of occasions in which Scottish Labour MPs did vote to support the Labour Government was extremely limited.

    As for the comment regarding abandoning eurosceptic rhetoric, I would remind you of the 3.8m people who voted UKIP across the entire UK, as well as the 11.3m Conservatives (434k in Scotland), a significant majority of whom seem to be Eurosceptic. They want to be heard.

  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    15 May 2015  21:10, by Alexander Peters

    Dear Mr. Iwantout,

    - NO, I am not advocating “aggressive war” against Russia. I am advocating a “campaign of severe and lasting economic sanctions” - as I clearly stated in item 10/ April 25/ 22:18. The necessity for unanimity has made the EU´s response both slow and weak, and furthermore left Putin with the hope that he may shake the sanctions off soon by just bribing one Orban or Tsipras into vetoing them when they come up for extension again in June. Because of the unanimity principle, Europe is prevented from fighting Putin´s imperialism effectively by non-military means at an early stage and may find itself left with no option but to go to war at a later stage - e.g. if Russia should conclude from its present easy conquests in Ukraine that it will get away with a Baltic adventure as well.

    - NO, I do not want to go to war with the US either. I want Europe to be able to stand up to the US and, for example, to end NSA spying or CIA torture on European soil. - You are “not aware of situations where EU states have been forced into supporting the US?” - Strange; - in contrast to you, I remember vividly, how the British people were taken into Bush´s Iraq war by their government in 2003, despite the fact that the people in their great majority opposed this war and that the government internally was not convinced of the „reasons“ officially given for it. So, why then, did Tony Blair defy the will of his voters, ignored the biggest steet protests in British history - two million people! - and joined a war against „weapons of mass destruction“ in the existence of which he did not believe?! Well, apparently out of an enormous urge on his part to please the White House and earn „special relationship“ favours, an urge overiding all other considerations, such as party creed, common decency, reason or democracy, an urge, ultimately caused by Britain´s desire to embody that world power - security council seat, Trident and all that - which the country has ceased to be a generation ago. If anything, the example of Blair´s disgrace demonstrates the dangers awaiting the medium- to small-sized European nation state, pretending to still be an “independent” player - great power - in world affairs.

  • The European perspective – opinions of the UK General election

    11 May 2015  20:02, by Alexander Peters

    THE BRITISH MATRYOSHKA

    This election has yielded a real Matryoshka doll of separatism. Tory-governed BRITAIN wants to leave the European Union, while SNP-governed SCOTLAND wants to escape from British Union. Tories deny being “European” and do not want to be governed by Brussels, while Scottish nationalists tell Westminster that - there being no such thing as “British” identity - it has no business to rule them.

    The one amusing aspect of this situation is the impossible Jekyll-and-Hyde posture into which it forces David Cameron. In Edinburgh he reproves the Scots for the very kind of petty-minded, tribal selfishness which he himself employs so unhesitatingly, when dealing with his fellow Europeans in Brussels. In Edinburgh he is the noble advocate of higher “common endeavour” values and trans-regional solidarity, while in Brussels he plays the part of the greedy “everybody-for-himself” hooligan, who only wants the best deal for his country without any regard to the well-being of Europe as a whole. - Cameron DESERVES the SNP: Now he can experience for himself the pain of having to watch helplessly as separatist fools destroy a political union dear to one.

    Otherwise, the whole thing is merely depressing: While dangers and war are encroaching on them from all sides - the Euro, Ukraine, Syria, Libya, the Mediterranean refugee crisis - Europeans frantically strive to transform their political world into a chaos of helpless, outdated dwarf states.

  • Translation: UK election: penalty shoot-out to decide the outcome?

    11 May 2015  10:29, by Iwantout

    It IS the relationship of the UK and the EU which I was discussing. I suggest you read my comments again, there is single ‘maybe’, in my analysis and two assertions.

    Assertion 1. - Cameron will be under pressure from his own Party regarding the renegotiation. Given the history of the last Parliament and the 1992 – 97 experience this seems a reasonable prediction.

    The maybe - In 2017 the government that is trying to win the referendum MAYBE unpopular due to its promised austerity programme. Not a hugely contentious suggestion surely ? Many governments are unpopular mid term even without austerity. The degree of unpopularity will impact on the way people vote regardless of the question put. This is a widely recognised phenomenon

    Assertion 2. - The EU will have to decide what it is prepared to change in the relationship with the UK in order to have a better chance of winning the referendum. They are perfectly entitled to make no concessions at all but this is likely to impact on the result. Simply statements of fact.

    I would be extremely interested in knowing which of the above three points in my analysis you regard as unrealistic and why?

    Optimism is a good characteristic. I accept elsewhere (http://www.thenewfederalist.eu/the-european-perspective-opinions-of-the-uk-general-election#comment21069 )that it is entirely possible that we will remain in the EU, but I really struggle how it will be on the same basis as is currently the case.

    As to who needs who the most, that is a contentious claim. There are well argued papers on both sides but most seem to suggest that the economic aspect of full membership is marginal at best and I would be happy to debate the cost / benefit of membership. If I might quote a respected German economic commentator “In macro economic terms, EU membership is virtually irrelevant for a member state that is simultaneously large and not in the euro zone. The EU budget is tiny, and free trade and free capital movement would continue under any conceivable scenario. There may be reasons to stay in the EU, but whatever they are they are not macroeconomic.” Wolfgang Munchau FT 13/01/13 http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/659572a6-5b57-11e2-9d4c-00144feab49a.html#axzz3YaLYuHZP (Please note, no mention of freedom of movement)

    With regards to the political aspects a very light summary of some of the political impacts on the EU of UK exit is found in the following article. http://www.europeangeostrategy.org/2014/06/brexit-european-union-without-united-kingdom/ 10/05/15

  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    10 May 2015  16:31, by Iwantout

    Hi Alexander Peters,

    Sorry it was not clear to me that you were suggesting QMV for foreign policy. I doubt anyone would agree to this as I do not believe any country would be prepared to be told what their policy should be on a given subject when they have been elected by their own voters perhaps with a specific pledge on the subject. Certainly the need for unanimity on foreign policy is clear in the Lisbon Treaty.

    With regards to Moldova etc., you seem to be suggesting that we should intervene in order to let them join the EU (always assuming that is what the majority of Moldovans etc want to do) Good luck persuading people that we should go and fight Russia on what you seem to be portraying as ethical grounds with no legal basis at all. Personally for me the word ‘defence’ says it all. NATO is a defensive organisation and what you are suggesting is tantamount to aggressive war. I believe the options available are seriously constrained by realpolitik, you seem to take a contrary view, fair enough.

    We can agree that the EU is dependent on the US for defence, largely because as I indicated before (and you have not challenged) the vast majority of EU states are happy with this position. They demonstrate their happiness by refusing to spend the necessary amounts on their armed forces.

    I am not aware of situations where EU states have been forced into supporting the US, indeed on several occasions they have condemned the US for its actions. I am a little concerned about the comment “You cannot have a serious conflict with someone on whom you depend for your very survival.” It seems to suggest you could envisage conflict with the US as well as Russia !

    We will have to disagree regarding the appeal of fighting for the EU (with presumably QMV foreign policy) as opposed to a country you identify with. Other than the June – Sept 2003 mission in Congo and possibly the anti-piracy actions off Somalia, virtually all the EU missions under CSDP that I am aware of have been training or policing missions with often very few personnel committed.

    In the final analysis the difference between us is that in my view at most the EU should be an intergovernmental organisation concentrating on trade and I suspect yours is that it should be a supra governmental one developing eventually into some form of federal state. (Apologies if I am making a false assumption.) But I ask again where is your mandate for such fundamental changes? Put the choice to the people in new treaties and demand that they be ratified by public vote rather than the political elite. I hope at the very least we can agree on that. (10/05/15)

  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    10 May 2015  16:25, by Iwantout

    Giuseppe Marrosu, I know how it can take this site a long time to publish comments.

    I don’t think you and I have a fundamental disagreement. I want the UK out of the EU and just good trade relations. We both seem to believe that the people should be consulted and that at the moment that simply is not happening.

    You are right in that the various opt outs etc deforms the EU and creates further difficulties but they seem to have been necessary in order to get even this far. I suspect after the recent UK election result we will find all sorts of new ‘flexible options’ will be made available to the UK to try and keep us in (the price to win the 2017 referendum) and these will exacerbate the problem you describe. Whether or not this is blackmail as opposed to negotiation following demands of the electorate is dependent on your perspective. Whatever it is, such discussions will clearly now have to take place.

    From a perfectly selfish personal view I would love the EU to present the UK (and the other reluctant states you mention, as well as those that sign agreements and do implement them fully) with an ultimatum, ‘become a full member and obey the rules or leave’, but I doubt that will happen because of the inevitable result.

    As I have already said, I wish you good luck with your ambitions and agree absolutely that many non British citizens of the EU would like the awkward UK to leave so they can concentrate on their own plans, and frankly I do not blame them. (10/05/15)

  • The European perspective – opinions of the UK General election

    10 May 2015  10:02, by Iwantout

    You may be right that my views are towards one end of the spectrum, as indeed may yours. But I note that UKIP got 12.6% of the votes and were third, far ahead of the nominally pro EU Lib Dems. Read the manifestos of the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems, all are from an EU perspective massively Eurosceptic and I suspect unlike anything you would find in the programmes of main stream parties on the continental mainland.

    It is entirely possible we will not leave the EU, but all the conversation now emerging from the EU is of how they can provide a “fair deal” for the UK and what is and what is not negotiable. In short the relationship will change and will move towards a looser less engaged and integrated point.

    I am perfectly happy to be corrected, but I have never seen any poll or other evidence that suggests anything other than a small minority in the UK want closer ties, membership of the euro, membership of Schengen, etc. In short we have reached the point where the options seem to be a looser less integrated membership or possible exit. The idea of ‘ever closer union’ is now off the table.

    As the EU increases integration (without any form of mandate) to protect the euro, inevitably the UK will be ‘left behind’. As such I would suggest that over time the necessary new opt outs etc will mean that formally or informally we will largely have the trading arrangement we originally signed up for and be outside the political aspects of the project.

  • Translation: UK election: penalty shoot-out to decide the outcome?

    9 May 2015 20:26, by Chris Powers

    A lot of ’ifs’ and ’maybes’ here but it IS the future of Britain and its relationship with the EU of which we talk. I’m more optimistic than you and think people will realise come judgement day that the UK needs the Union, and needs it more than the Union needs the UK.

  • The European perspective – opinions of the UK General election

    9 May 2015 20:23, by Chris Powers

    Do remember that each article written is representative of the author at the time and not necessarily the Editorial Team of The New Federalist &/or its other language editions.

    But, as a pro-European living in the UK, I do think your views on the extent to which people want to take the country outside of the EU is over-exaggerated. :-)

  • The European perspective – opinions of the UK General election

    9 May 2015  16:16, by Iwantout

    What progress we make, 02/09/12 you published an article “Could a referendum on Britain’s continued EU membership become a reality?” Your considered view at that time was no as “holding a referendum on EU membership is too riskier a gamble for the government to take.” Which seems to imply you accept people may vote NO and therefore they should not get the chance.

    Now it is quite clear we will be holding a referendum on EU membership within the next 30 months. As we have no idea what sort of deal the EU and UK can negotiate no one can know how the vote will go. But the simple observation is that while the Government may well feel such a referendum is risky, they have been forced to accept the fact that as far as the public are concerned, to quote Cameron in his Bloomberg Speech, “democratic consent for the EU in Britain is now wafer thin.”

    The nature of the negotiation and referendum will be based on the presumption of reduction of EU power on the UK and return of powers. It really is a question now of how much the EU can offer to persuade people to remain in. It is interesting that Jean Claude Juncker has repeatedly said he wants a “fair deal”for the UK, seemingly accepting that the current arrangement is unfair. From an EU perspective it could be that the best available deal will be UK associate membership, and as Marcel Wollscheid notes, the result has strengthened Cameron’s hand.

    With regards to loss of influence etc., please give us credit for understanding the reality. In the EEA / EFTA under comitology we would be able to influence new laws as much as any member state, as Norway etc does. Under QMV since the 01/11/14 non EZ countries cannot prevent EZ rulings, ie we are already powerless. In the European Parliament we are significantly under represented in relation to population size (as are all the larger countries), ignoring the fact that of course the EP is not able to initiate, amend or repeal any legislation. The EU simply takes our view as one amongst 28 when negotiating with external bodies, we are perfectly able to arrange our own affairs concerned with our own aims, ie we would actually have significantly greater influence over our own affairs.

    In closing, Franziska Pudelko says “….a Brexit seems unlikely “, two years ago you couldn’t credit the holding of a referendum, don’t now believe we will not leave, many of us are desperate to do so. We may in the end have to accept some form of looser version of today’s membership rather than the total exit we want, but the idea that matters will stay as they are (let alone “further integrating the UK”) seems unlikely. (09/05/15)

  • Translation: UK election: penalty shoot-out to decide the outcome?

    8 May 2015  22:25, by Iwantout

    Whoops, it seems that David Cameron is the Prime Minister after all. While he is pro EU what does the result mean for the EU?

    With a small majority Cameron will have to respond to the demands of the Eurosceptic element of his Party to a far greater degree than in the previous parliament. That means that the results of the negotiations with the EU will be subject to close supervision and any suggestion that he is not delivering will be front page news. So the renegotiation will have to be substantial and real.

    By the time of the 2017 referendum the Government will be about half way through its term. It may well be highly unpopular due to the austerity policies that are necessary. Yet it is this very government that will be trying to sell any deal with the EU to the British public. So again the changes will have to be very real if they are to stand any chance of being accepted.

    The EU will have to decide whether it can make the required changes to win the support of the UK public and so keep the second biggest economy of the Union in place. Indeed it needs to decide whether it actually wants to make such changes, it may well decide not.

    For what it is worth, the only option I think has any chance of success is some form of associate membership. (As suggested by Jacques Delors 28/12/12 Handelsblatt ) Such an arrangement would have to revolve around trade with the political aspects reduced to the minimum and no suggestion at all of integration. The remainder of the EU could then develop as it wishes with the awkward British very much on the side-lines happily trading but taking no part in the other aspects of the EU.

    With the result of today the ball is now firmly in the court of the EU. The clock is ticking. (08/05/15)

  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    8 May 2015  19:50, by Alexander Peters

    Dear Mr. Iwantout,

    a late answer, as a previous one apparently got “lost”:

    - Qualified Majority voting on foreign policy does not mean that “some leader will not have a voice”. It merely means that leaders who have a voice - and vote - can be outvoted, if they fail to convince a sufficient number of their colleagues; that is not an outrage but democracy. Its also a necessity: The EU will never be able to stand up to adversaries if no more is needed to paralyse it but a gas contract bribe to just one tiny, veto-wielding member state.

    - NATO is not the “solution” to the Ukraine challenge. Russia now claims property of some 59 million people in Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus. “Do not try to join the family of European democracies”, Putin tells them, “or you will be punished.” On this outrage NATO has been AS powerless as the EU.

    - As to the protection of EU-teritory istself, NATO does not “work satisfactorily” there either. Yes, one may rely on US protection instead of defending oneself. But such dependence comes at a price. It requires that European governments aquiesce or even take part in US policies abhorred by their electorate (Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, drone killings, NSA spying etc.). You cannot have a serious conflict with someone on whom you depend for your very survival. Therefore, as long as Europe does not defended itself, its politicians cannot effectively pursue the policies in internatianal affairs their voters have elected them for.

    - Dying “to defend an artificial construct” instead of “their country” - well, that is, what European soldiers are doing now. To please their US protector/ master our governments have sent them to remote places such as Bagdad or Kabul, where they died not so much for their country but probably for Halliburton and provided military cover for American war crimes. I think, that after all this dirty Foreign Legion work, European servicemen would find it rather appealing, to be employed, for a change, for something as decent and meaningful as assisting fellow Europeans next door.

  • 7th May - Election Day, 8th May – Negotiation Day

    6 May 2015  13:32, by Iwantout

    Just a quick point, the fixed term under the Parliament Act can be revoked very easily if Parliament decides. Indeed Nick Clegg said yesterday (5th May) that another election before Christmas is entirely possible. (06/05/15)

  • UK General Elections: Implications for Britain’s Relationship with the EU over the Next Five Years

    5 May 2015  23:03, by Iwantout

    The election has been overwhelmingly about the economy, the balance between cuts and higher taxes coupled with the speed of deficit reduction together with matters that fall from this debate, NHS, benefits etc.

    To claim UK membership of the EU has dominated headlines and been a key focus for party manifestos is difficult to reconcile with the facts. It is on page 72 (of 84) in the Conservative manifesto, P76 (83) for Labour and P147 (158) for the Libdems. Except for a brief flurry when Tony Blair spoke it has hardly been raised because in most regards the Parties have similar positions despite the bluster.

    All three specifically agree in their manifestos on the need for reform of the EU, reducing EU bureaucracy, completing the single market, reducing CAP and most importantly and least acceptable to the EU that the UK Parliament must have a red card over proposed EU legislation.

    The Libdems in addition want to tighten up benefits for migrants (including no benefit for children not resident in UK) and support the TTIP. They boast (P149) “Liberal Democrats in Government have already secured significant reforms like cutting the EU budget by £30 billion.” Remember this is the pro EU Party in the UK !

    Labour says (P76) “we will work to change the EU, so that it operates in the best interests of our country” (EU spirit ?). They want to launch a zero based review of spending on EU agencies as well as restrict migrant access to benefits. Membership of the euro is specifically ruled out.

    Both Labour and the Libdems agree that there can be no further transfer of powers to the EU without an in out referendum so the UK will not be involved in anything requiring transfer of sovereignty. Yes the Conservatives are offering an in out referendum in 2017 after renegotiation but this is pretty much the only distinction between them and the ‘pro EU’ parties. The question boils down to a referendum in 2017 under the Conservatives or around 2019 when the next treaty is discussed. Either way we get our vote. In the UK the EU debate seems to be largely over, all mainstream Parties are from an EU perspective highly Eurosceptic and unable (unwilling) to deliver any movement at all on “Ever closer Union”.

    The question of foreign investment if the UK leaves / loosens links with the EU is interesting. Despite the UK relationship with the EU being uncertain since Cameron’s Bloomberg Speech in January 2013 the UK continues to attract 20% of all foreign investment into the EU, despite representing only approx. 14.6% of EU GDP and 12.5% of the population. The Ernst & Young Attractiveness Survey 2013 found that European companies do indeed see UK integration into the EU as important for investment decisions, but those in the US and Asia do not. 72% US companies thought reduced UK integration in the EU would actually make the UK more attractive and 66% of Asian companies felt the same way.

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