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  • European Democracy enters a new Dimension

    30 April 2014  11:53, by Richard

    I have serious doubts about this “European Democracy”.

    First, let us look at the candidates; in a vibrant and healthy democracy anyone can stand to be a representative and one may expect a broad range of policies and views, often deeply opposing ones. By contrast, the candidates for Commission President are pre-selected by the European Parliament; admittedly, composed of elected representatives, but still for the most part what I will term “euro-enthusiasts” in deep contrast to the electorate. In essence the Presidential candidates are selected by a Parliment that is at the end of it’s term and quite likely to look very different after the elections which are due shortly. Thus, one can hardly describe the Presidential candidates as reflective of the electorate; the essence of true democracy.

    It is hence hardly surprising that the candidates mirror the Parliament; they are all distinguished by the policy of “more Europe”. Watching the debate, it was noticable that whilst candidates attempted to present themselves as having differing policies - what we in the UK call “clear blue water” - the basic and repeated theme was “more Europe”, “more Europe” or...“more Europe”.

    So the electorate is hardly presented with choice - even if they could actually vote for the President, which of course they can’t anyway.

    This is one reason, I think, why there is an increasing detachment with the institutions and the people. The institutions are viewed as arcane, unrepresentative and undemocratic.

    It is hardly helpful to present the Commission Presidential “Campaign” as such, only for the electorate to find that it becomes a choice between a selection of federalists who are hand-picked by the arcane processes of the European Parliament (in itself increasingly also viewed with a mix of indifference at best and hostility at worst) and for whom they are unable to cast a vote anyway.

    The average voter who happened to watch the debates immediately questions:

    How any why were these people chosen? Why are they all euro-federalists - where is the choice here? What’s the point when I can’t vote for them anyway? Why is such a fuss being made when the Commission President is in effect a civil servant?

    It is also hardly helpful that one of the candidates was President of the European Parliament - a process whereby the EPP and PES alternate in the position, depending on whose “turn” it is.

    I would also add that whilst the candidates are obviously sincere, have many admirable qualities and genuinely believe what they say - far from eurosceptics fearing someone “euro enthusiast” as President, they would positively welcome it. It would only serve to inflame scepticism across Europe by appearing to confirm the worst fears - an “unelected” figure, detached from the electorate, who does nothing but propose “more Europe” when it is evident that the public mood is for anything but “more Europe”. A gift to the eurosceptic cause, in fact.

  • Russia annexes Crimea: a new world order?

    13 April 2014  17:39, by Alexander Peters

    APPEASEMENT FOR OUR TIMES?

    “Divergence” from US Policy at this juncture will exactly not lead to the “strong, federal and united Europe” envisaged by the author. Yes, independence from US military protection could - and should! - have been easily achieved after 1989. But due to Europe´s laziness and stupidity there still is no European army that would be a match for Russia´s. Thus, the EU´s highly alarmed Eastern members (Baltic states, Poland, Roumania) will look for their reassurance not to Brussels (Berlin, Paris) but to Washington. If Western EU-countries would under these circumstances attempt an autonomous, NATO-critical diplomacy, that would be perceived in the EU´s Eastern capitals as a betrayal undermining US efforts to assist them. Such diplomacy would therefore not strengthen but split the EU - it would lead to the reemergence of Rumsfeld´s “new Europe” “of the willing” in the East and create a fifth column of US-loyalists within EU-institutions, which in exchange for US-security-guarantees would promote US-interests there - say, with regard to NSA-spying, climate change denial or genetically engineered crops.

    Being a “strong Europe” and at the same time a Europe not willing to take responsibility for its own defence or to confront Putin´s aggression? - A contradiction in terms!

  • Democracy shamocracy - wuthering times in Europe

    10 April 2014  18:19, by Iwantout

    Your readers might find this informative. You start this article “Voters can no longer complain that there is no such thing as choice in politics.”

    Contrast that sentiment with “Juncker and Schulz struggle to find differences in first TV debate. The top two rival candidates to lead the European Commission struggled Wednesday (9 April) to find real policy differences in the first live television debate ahead of European Parliament elections next month.”

    This is the headlines as put out by the Euractiv website which is nothing whatsoever to do with the UK or any eurosceptic grouping but does work very closely with the EU.

    http://www.euractiv.com/sections/eu-elections-2014/juncker-and-schulz-struggle-find-differences-first-tv-debate-301474

    As I asked before, where exactly is the choice ?

  • Russia annexes Crimea: a new world order?

    7 April 2014  22:31, by Alexander Peters

    No, Russia has not invaded Crimea out of fear of Western invasion, but out of a conviction that the West is mentally incapable of efficient action. It knows it has nothing to fear from squabbling EU/ Nato politicians keen to spend less on tanks - and energy - and weary of making a stand. If Putin had ever believed that the EU - three times the population, eight times the economic potential of Russia - would actually DO anything worth mentioning about his aggression, he would never have entered Crimea in the first place. Of course he TALKS about Napoleon and Hitler - but we must not take Putin for a fool: he KNOWS that there is nothing “Napoleonic” about Steinmeier, Barroso or even Obama.

    No, changes of government brought about by months of sustained popular resistance - as on Maidan - are NOT usually “classified” as “coup d´etats” - that term is reserved to surprise take-overs by the military - but as “revolutions”. The lack of solidarity by “knowing” Westerners with the brave Ukrainian people in their our of need and under the threat of foreign attack is one of the most disturbing aspects of the present situation.

    No, we have not been “fed” the story of “free world” versus Russian “authoritarianism” “far too long”. Putin runs a regime based on the denial of human rights, freedom of opinion and free elections. The West - the US - has its flaws, but it is ridiculous to put it on a level with the FSB-Mafia-methods of Putin´s Russia - the Russia of the Chodorkowski imprisonment, the Politkowskaya murder, the Litwinenko poisoning, the Chechen slaughter. Saudi-Arabia MAY be comparable,but that is not what Maidan is about: Can´t the author see that Ukraine strives to become another Poland and NOT another Saudi-Arabia?! If fear is involved in current Russian decision-making, its source should be sought here: What Putin really is afraid of, is not the establishment of Nato structures in Ukraine, but of a working democracy there. For,if Ukrainians - the people culturally closest to Russians - can prosper with free press and rule of law, why not Russians themselves?

    No,this is not the time to display EU/US “divergence”. Yes, “Europe for the Europeans” - but this requires that Europe IS DEFENDED BY EUROPEANS. Since 1989, independence from US military assistance could have been easily achieved - but due to our laziness it HASN´T. There is no European army now, which on its own would be a match for Russia´s. Thus, the legitimate desire of the Eastern EU-nations for military insurance against the Russian menace can only be satisfied by the US. If under these circumstances Western EU-nations should prove lukewarm in their support for a US-policy of reassuring Poland, the Baltic states or Roumania they would thereby not strengthen Europe but split it. They would alienate Eastern Europe and turn it into Washington´s fifth column within the EU - it would be Rumsfeld´s “New Europe” “of the willing” all over again.

  • Unemployment in the globalization age

    1 April 2014  21:28, by Iwantout

    It is stated that the economic crisis is becoming a social due to the austerity policies imposed by the EU. With the wildly differing needs of economies and the inability of euro countries to devalue, the only option left is ‘internal devaluation’ as a means of dealing with the uncompetitive economic position some find themselves in. This was inevitable and was recognised at the launch of the euro.

    Clearly the EU has no central government, there is clamour for one and absolutely no mandate. It was clear when the euro was launched that the lack of central control was a fundamental flaw, the failure of all but one country to successfully qualified for membership was another and the waiving of the Growth & Stability Pact when it was inconvenient a third.

    The jobs we are all looking for have not vanished. A very great many of them have simply moved to parts of the World where the business environment is more favourable, that does not just mean lower wages. The mass of bureaucracy imposed by the EU is a positive brake on investment and employment. This has been recognised repeatedly, even by the Commission e.g. Gunter Verhuegen (Commissioner for Enterprise & Industry) calculated in 2006 that EU over regulation cost the EU economy 5.5% of GDP (approx 600bn euro at 2006 prices, the Single Market at the same time was estimated to add 160bn euro to the economy ie costs exceeded benefits by 440bn euro !) The Sapir Report reached similar conclusions regarding the negative impact of the EU on economic growth. The very last thing you can say about the EU is that it “has abdicated its responsibility to submit the market to rules and institutions.” Given the comment in the final paragraph “the EU is the most intensively regulated region of the world” this is a point the writer ultimately agrees with despite his earlier arguments.

    With regard to the “more equitable distribution of labour” we can see how such a policy works in the EU today. France has restricted the working week to 35 hours since 2000 for the reasons suggested. The result ? Unemployment overall at 10.2%, youth unemployment of 25.4% and an environment where business does not flourish. This does not suggest that such a policy has been at all effective.

    Finally everything is to be funded by a financial transaction tax. The comments of Christian Noyer (Governor of the French Central Bank and ex ECB official) as published on the 28/05/13 on FTT are instructive. “The analyses we’ve done show that the project, as it has been prepared by the commission, will first of all raise nothing at all, there’ll be no revenue.” He goes on to say “The immediate effect will be either to destroy financial sectors……..the cost of borrowing in the real economy will increase for everyone.” Increased borrowing costs are inhibitors to growth and increased employment.

    The EU as a new global social and economic model ? Hardly.

  • Galileo, the UK and China – the wrong trio for the EU?

    1 April 2014  14:30, by akku

    It is a very exclusive report that concludes that the Chinese have taken advantage of the Europeans so that they can get one foot in the stirrup. Really thank you for sharing this shocking news and the details.

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