• The European Nation

    30 September 2015, by Ludger Wortmann

    Europeans are bound together by geographical proximity, economic and political interdependence and common values. This requires common institutions. In order for them to be democratically legitimate, we have to form a community of equals - something like a nation. But we have to watch out carefully which type of nationalism we choose.

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  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    13 June 2015  12:40, by Iwantout

    Dear Giuseppe Marrosu

    Politicians can put their views forward and try to persuade, but ultimately they are there to represent the electorate. A refusal to listen to voters or knowingly making false promises is not democracy. Many of us believe for years politicians have mislead us over the EEC / EC / EU which is why they are not trusted on this matter.

    Blair tried to get the UK into the euro, he was stopped by the polls that showed insufficient public support and by the economic view that it was too dangerous without the supporting political structures.

    Regarding trade, both sides will try to maximise advantages, neither will get everything but the value is too great not to arrive at a deal. We are the largest market for the EU in the World, are you suggesting your leaders would want to damage that? E.g. the UK is the biggest market in the World for German vehicles. Even if a deal was not done, it simply makes trading with the EU the same as trading with the US or any other country and remember the UK is unique in the EU, we trade more outside the EU than inside.

    To quote the German economic commentator Wolfgang Munchau “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.” Financial Times 13/01/13 (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/659572a6-5b57-11e2-9d4c-00144feab49a.html#axzz3YaLYuHZP ) Note he does not mention free movement of people.

    No I was not suggesting we would want to be like Switzerland, just saying that they have achieved far better trade deals than the EU, so could the UK negotiating for itself rather than with 27 countries. (And do you really want to be feared? Is the EU feared ?) Personally I would want to see the UK like South Korea, almost total access to the single market, none of the EU fees, no social legislation etc. You see, there are very real alternatives to those the EU tell us are available.

    “Yes I am a dreamer”, fine but dreams need to be based in reality. I would say your dreams have led directly to annual growth of 0.8% since the launch of the euro, horrific unemployment (22% for youth and 11% overall) significant social problems and yet still there is not a single agreed view on the mainland continent of how a federal state will work. Will you have the hard economic German version, the more social French version etc.?

    Quoting a deceased rich singer living in his own privileged world as a source of wisdom is fine, but I would rather look at the situation we find ourselves in.

    Clearly you and I will both campaign for a No vote in the referendum, but for opposed reasons.

  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    12 June 2015  20:25, by giuseppe marrosu

    Dear Mr. Iwantout, I’m still waiting to know your name. “I do not think your future can be reached by ignoring the responses of the people today.” Neither do I. In my opinion there is a democracy deficit in the EU and in many “Europhiles” and I view that as one of our worst problems. But if it is wrong for politicians to ignore public opinion it is also wrong to be dictated by it. A good politician should try to persuade voters to support the policies he/she thinks are best even when they could make him/her unpopular. Otherwise he/she is just a puppet.

    “You believe that politicians have not tried to persuade UK people to support the EU.” Did I really write that? Honestly I think that what your politicians try to sell you is your problem as a British, not mine. Citing your words, this IS an internal issue. The british have been cheated by their own politicians? Too bad for them, they should have known better.

    “We have had many senior leaders who are fervent supporters of the EU, David Cameron...” Really? All these guys were just trying to assure the UK had a strong influence in the EU so that the EU could never become so strong as to threaten the UK’s undeserved place in the world. As for Blair, I suspect that if he had spent his credibility for the Euro a tenth of what he has spent for the war on Iraq you would not have the Pound today.

    “The EU trade balance with the UK is far greater than that with Korea. Why would you not want a similar deal with us ?” I don’t know... maybe just because the trade balance is so big... both negotiating sides will try to maximize advantages. And the UK will be in a weaker position than the EU-27. Also, the UK is one of the main if not THE main pro-free trade members of the EU. A UK-free EU would not be as nice when negotiating a trade agreement as the EU that dealt with Korea. “Outside the EU we can negotiate our own trade deals, Switzerland...” So your model is Switzerland: a rich, tiny, specialized-economy, isolated and irrelevant country, trading with everyone (including drug lords, tax dodgers, dictators) and feared by no one. Good luck.

    “the bottom line is we see our relationship with the EU in terms of a cold economic cost / benefit exercise. You see it as a political dream beyond economics.”

    Yes I am a dreamer and I am proud of it. Some of us, you know, believe in something other than money.

    As an englishman said: “you may say I’m a dreamer/ but I’m not the only one/ I hope one day you will join us/ and the world will be as one”


  • Irish Marriage Equality Referendum

    12 June 2015  18:18, by duodecim stellae

    The Irish vote outcome has been a really big issue in German media. Now many people are arguing that we need gay-marriage here in Germany. So far we only have registered life partnerships, which are not 100% equal to marriage (no adoption right).

  • We Need to Talk

    12 June 2015  17:58, by duodecim stellae

    Very good article! Thumbs up from german Europe! You have some good ideas. Keep following your goals!

  • Macedonia: democracy in crisis or “democracy in bloom”?!

    12 June 2015  03:57, by Makedonetz

    It’s true lost of UN explained events but look at the timing! Perfect alignment with big business pipelines... Who has interest in these businesses Soros has been backed by all the Bush presidents Clinton Obama and a large list of media/ investor’s he robbed England’s banks pillaged in Poland helped take down USSR and also Yugoslavia... read up on him and his “friends” who profit from the loss and suffering of humans!

  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    11 June 2015  21:48, by Iwantout

    Dear Giuseppe Marrosu, I believe a majority in the UK are against membership of a centralised EU state. I accept your view that this is true in other countries. I agree you (and Alexander Peters) are free to campaign for your view of the future. But I do not think your future can be reached by ignoring the responses of the people today. (Cancelling referendum results, breaching treaties, ignoring the Parliamentary D’Hondt system when voters elect eurosceptics etc)

    You believe that politicians have not tried to persuade UK people to support the EU. We have had many senior leaders who are fervent supporters of the EU, David Cameron, Tony Blair and John Major to name three. They have campaigned hard for the EU.

    Emotion does play a part in the debate and ignorance is wide spread. But no I do not think ignorance is more prevalent on the Eurosceptic side. The Pro EU side regularly makes claims that are on examination untrue, e.g. the infamous 3.5m jobs in the UK are dependent on membership, you have to be in the EU to benefit from the Single Market, the Single Market is a huge boost to the economies of member states etc. None are true and all are used to instil fear.

    So 28/10/13 Business for Britain published poll of 1000 business leaders, 46% believed cost of Brussels regulation outweighed benefits of membership, 37% thought it was worth it. Remember the average tariff for goods into the EU is 5.5% and services are tariff free, not exactly prohibitive levels. Where they are high, agriculture, we can trade much more cheaply outside the EU.

    With regards to a trade only agreement. The EU has a deal with South Korea which removed tariffs on 98.7% of all industrial and agricultural goods. No membership fees, no uncontrolled migration, no social legislation etc. The EU trade balance with the UK is far greater than that with Korea. Why would you not want a similar deal with us ?

    Outside the EU we can negotiate our own trade deals, Switzerland has some of the same deals as the EU, but they also have deals with China, Singapore, The South African Customs Union, Japan etc., the EU does not. The EU in contrast has deals with Syria, San Marino, Algeria, Central America and Andorra. Which do you think are more valuable?

    I have no love for the EU and little respect because it has consistently refused to listen to the people. When we joined the Common Market the word Union was nowhere in sight. The Government specifically said there would be no loss of sovereignty in the information leaflet they sent to every house in the country in 1975. It was sold to us as a pure business club.

    Most of us believe we give considerably more to the EU than we get back. We can argue that all day, but the bottom line is we see our relationship with the EU in terms of a cold economic cost / benefit exercise. You see it as a political dream beyond economics. It might be that that is actually the real difference between us.

    All the best.

  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    11 June 2015  19:21, by giuseppe marrosu

    Dear Iwantout (by the way, is that your real name?!), we sure have in common the idea that people should decide democratically about their future. But that’s about the only thing we can agree on. You seem to think that, since present EU treaties rule out central decision-making, and since most European are also against, then those like me who say we should head that way are wrong and mean. Instead, I think that treaties and minds can and must be changed in the interest of the next european generations. It makes no sense forcing the public in a direction they do not agree. It reveals a deep distrust in the people and it often backfires when they totally lose confidence in their rulers. However it is also wrong to give poison to the people if they ask it, without even trying to convince them it’s bad for them. Politicians today do not defend the European project, not because they believe it is wrong, but because they are afraid they would lose votes if they did. And this not only reveals the same distrust in the people but it also shows a total lack of interest for their well-being. We both know that Pro-European ideas are unpopular. But we also know that many people are simply afraid of the new, are ill informed or do not understand what the whole thing is about. Ill informed, emotion-driven voters are on both sides, that’s sure, but be honest, don’t you think most are on yours? After a thorough, free debate, the vision would be clearer for all and there will be surprises. You say the EU should be just a free trade agreement. I say it shouldn’t and it can’t. The EU carries the dream of political union from the beginning but now it is even in the name: it used to be “European Economic Community” (makes you think of some sort of a business club). Now the U stands for Union. It is like a marriage between 28 Countries. If you have no love and respect for the rest of us and if you do not want equality between partners just leave, but don’t say you did not know what you were doing when you joined, because you just had to read the name “EU”. I also think the UK would go against its own interests in leaving the EU. You say that with a good trading agreement you will have more advantages and less headaches than you have now. But what makes you think you can negotiate a new agreement with us that is better for you than the present one? You have many privileges now, that you have negotiated as EU member with your fellows: Euro and Schengen opt-outs and the contribution rebate, while keeping voting rights, EMPs, full access to EU markets. Summing up the economic and political balances you managed to get from the EU more than you give. When you negotiate alone as a potential former EU member with 27 EU members that are not thinking of leaving, you should at the very least expect a deal where you get just the equivalent of what you give instead of more.

  • Macedonia: democracy in crisis or “democracy in bloom”?!

    11 June 2015  18:44, by Hoosier

    Since ’77. But more so after Tito passed away.

  • Macedonia: democracy in crisis or “democracy in bloom”?!

    11 June 2015  18:20, by SBogat

    Hey Hoosier,

    I’ve got a question for you - For how long have you been living in Macedonia? If not, then I have another question - For how long have you been following Macedonian politics?

    Best regards from Macedonia

  • Macedonia: democracy in crisis or “democracy in bloom”?!

    11 June 2015  18:06, by Hoosier

    Yep. How did that go yesterday with the extortionist Zaev?

  • Macedonia: democracy in crisis or “democracy in bloom”?!

    10 June 2015  14:29, by Damir

    Hey Hoosier, look at what the New Your times have to say about this, they must be paid by Soros as well.


    Kind regards from Skopje,

  • Macedonia: democracy in crisis or “democracy in bloom”?!

    10 June 2015  04:08, by Hoosier

    This article is nothing but Soros propaganda spin. It doesn’t state that the socialist opposition leader has been recorded on video demanding a bribe. So, he is desperate to destabilize the country in order to avoid jail with his party cronies.

  • Polish Presidential Elections: Analysis and Implications

    31 May 2015  00:27, by Aleksandra Sawa

    Thank you for the feedback, Michal! To address your comment: firstly, the last header is a question, as I wanted to show that I indeed doubt some of the voters know what/who they vote for. It is a fair point that you make about people voting against Duda or against Komorowski rather than FOR one of them - I briefely referred to this earlier in the article, when I said Komorowski was the ’last resort’ for some left-wing voters in the second round and also in the next paragraph when I wrote on how Komorowski focused his campaign on ’how different he was from his opponent’ in that he was not radical, especially in socio-cultural issues - aiming for those against Duda’s approach. And also when I mentioned that Duda got some additional support from the dissatisfaction of the society with recent bills of the current governement - so again, there he got the voters who voted against Komorowski and the Civic Platform. However, I didn’t want to put too much focus on this, since you can only feel this trend (of voting against rather than in favour) somehow in the atmosphere of the elections and it’s not really tangible or backed by any data (I hope you know what I mean by that). As to the second case: well, I suggested ’people voted for Kukiz’ because they did. He got 21 percent, so people DID vote for him. And I did raise the point of him being just a’tool’ - ’a yellow card. for Komorowski and Duda’. Lastly, ignorance of the voters as to what the SMCs are and what their introduction would cause is exactly what I meant by the ’lack of awareness’. I hope this clarifies a bit, as I do in fact agree with the points you made. As to Law and Justice, I guess we will have to wait and see (and vote) in October :)

  • Polish Presidential Elections: Analysis and Implications

    30 May 2015  20:42, by Michal Jarski

    Great article! But I think you are wrong in two cases: last header suggests that people vote “for” someone, whilst in Poland it looks mainly like we vote “against” someone. The campain is more about what other site didn’t do, and not about what we did. The second case is that you suggest that people voted for Kukiz. I think that they mainly voted against Komorowski and Duda, and Kukiz was only a tool to demonstrate their dissatisfaction- most of them don’t even know what SMCs are... So it shouldn’t be called “lack of awareness” :) And now the Law and Justice party is too confident of its victory in the parliamentary elections (like the Civic Platform was during this presidential elections) and their predictions are based on nothing (a lot of people voted for Duda, because they didn’t want Komorowski to be re-elected, not because they wanted Duda and “Law and Justice” party to rule the country...).

  • PRESS RELEASE: 10 Years Later Youth Takes Back the European Debate #10yearslater

    29 May 2015  13:01, by Iwantout

    Good and bad memories. A period when at least some people were asked for their views on EU direction, but were then just ignored. A time when the true nature of “democratic deficit” was revealed.

    As a matter of elaboration, while Luxembourg and Spain (the latter after the EU contributed 7.5m euro to the Yes campaign) did vote Yes and France and the Netherlands No, six other countries that were scheduled to hold referenda (Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal and UK) with strong likelihoods of rejecting the Constitution cancelled the vote. Most political analysts agree that it is entirely possible that all would have rejected the Constitution.

    The reassuring (for federalists) idea that the people simply didn’t understand what was under discussion, were misled and only need more information to come to the correct decision is called ‘false consciousness’ by Marxists and tells you more about the mind set of those invoking it than is comfortable for democrats. A comment immediately prior to the vote from Laurens Brinkhorst (D 66), the vice prime minister and economics minister for the Netherlands illustrates this view admirably “It would have been better if no popular vote had been agreed to. The topic is too sensitive for the population.” (By the way, why are Spanish and Luxembourg voters implicitly assumed to have voted on The Constitution while the French and Dutch voted on national matters?)

    Subsequent polling by Maurice De Hond in the Netherlands showed the largest proportion of No voters voted for reasons related to the Constitution itself. In addition the aggressive style and tone of the Yes campaign together with the imposition of the euro without a public decision were also seen as contributing to the large No majority (61% v 38%).

    In France of course many high profile Pro EU campaigners actually fought against the Constitution because they believed it was insufficiently protective of the French economic model and was too ‘Anglo-Saxon’. They presumably knew what the Constitution was all about.

    All sides had access to the media; copies of the Constitution, simplified explanatory notes together with official pamphlets were widely available and it was the main news story across the countries. Any lack of knowledge by the voters was then surely a positive decision on their part, ie they didn’t want the broad thrust of what was being offered and thus felt the fine detail was irrelevant.

    Still in the end the Constitution was foisted on everyone regardless under the guise of The Lisbon Treaty, so no harm done. Of course for Lisbon care had to be taken that referenda were not to be used, except in the case of the pesky Irish and even then they had to have two goes, but so what. I assume the closing comment in your article “Furthermore, both organisations stress that a democratic Europe needs to be built with the consent of its people” is meant to be humorously ironic.

  • New Finnish government: mixed feelings about Europe

    27 May 2015  14:24, by Juuso Järviniemi

    Sipilä, Stubb and Soini’s press conference where the 39-page government platform was discussed finished a minute ago. Contrary to expectations, Stubb will be Minister of Finance while Soini is going to be appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. Soini will also have the post of the Minister of European Affairs.

    Sylvia Bjon of Hufvudstadsbladet, the leading Swedish-language newspaper of Finland, reported from the conference. She quotes Soini (my translation from Swedish): “The European Union must be reformed so that it can better benefit the citizens. Finland respects common rules and expects others to do so, too. We are pragmatic.”

    The terms of the British EU membership were briefly discussed by Soini. He suggests that the Finnish government would understand Cameron in the upcoming negotiations, referring to the ECR Europarty.

    Stubb has messaged commitment to balance the budget and tackle Finland’s debt issues. As the Minister of Finance, he will now have a chance to turn words into action.

    Even though the appointments were surprising, in my view the nature of the government’s actions when it comes to Europe aren’t necessarily different from what they could have been if the rumours had turned out to be accurate. It appears that the website of the government is down so I can’t access the platform :/ Anyway, despite the aforementioned surprises, I can’t expect Finland to be too pro-Greece or pro-integration in the Eurogroup or, on the other hand, a notorious CFSP criminal.

  • Brexit: a danger for both EU and the UK

    25 May 2015  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

    21 May 2015  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

    21 May 2015  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

    21 May 2015  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!

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