• Ηow do Greeks vote?

    Last Tuesday, by Dimitra Sarvani

    Choosing political parties and candidates in today’s gloomy Greek reality and in the actual economic and social circumstances is undoubtedly one of the most responsible and at the same time difficult decisions a Greek voter is expected to make. This choice becomes even harder, having in mind that the forthcoming double (...)

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  • Europe and the British media

    29 November 2013  21:12, by Iwantout

    There are clearly pro and anti EU journalists in the UK. It is interesting in this item that you had an even number of journalists and might therefore be expected to have an even balance between the two camps. But no, it was skewed to the pro side.

    The BBC has repeatedly accepted (most recently as this summer in the Prebble Report) that it has consistently taken a pro EU line and failed to report negative EU stories. The Financial Times and the Economist are also noted for pushing a solid pro EU agenda regardless of the facts. The FT being famous for such predictions as ‘With Greece now trading in euros, few will mourn the death of the drachma. Membership of the eurozone offers the prospect of long-term economic stability.’ Lex column 08/01/2001 and ‘European monetary union is a bumble bee that has taken flight, however improbable the celestial design, it has succeeded in real life.’ Leader column July 2008

    Finally we have the Telegraph which is certainly in the anti-group.

    You build up the image of a considered consensus between the first three journalists that there is something seriously wrong with UK reporting of the EU with an implicit conspiracy of editors / proprietors to pedal false EU stories. The single voice against the EU is dismissed as an archetypal British eurosceptic, oozing mistrust, and loaded with preconceptions. Nothing judgmental or pejorative about those words!

    Is this what passed for unbiased journalism in the EU ?

    I would remind you that in 1975 every newspaper and journal in this country except the Morning Star was pro EU and campaigned actively for continued UK membership of the then EEC. Why do you think over the space of 40 years some of them have decided to take a contrary stance

  • Should we fear the exit of a European Union Member State?

    26 November 2013  23:45, by passerby

    The UK debate about EU membership often is a simple cost-benefit analysis: how much do I pay and how much do I get in return. In comparison, the UK debate about renewal of its fleet of nuclear submarines is mainly political: the UK wants a seat at the top table, and this requires having nuclear capacity, no matter the cost. The symmetry is striking: EU membership is seen as having economic, not political consequences, while Trident renewal is seen as politically necessary, no matter what the economic consequences. Only time will tell whether the UK’s asessment is correct.

    The UK and the EU going their separate ways is not something to be feared. In a way, the UK leaving the EU became unavoidable once the UK decided not to participate in the euro. I merely wish the British would get on with it.

  • Bulgaria: the other refugee crisis

    18 November 2013  02:59, by pete samuels

    You can support asylum seekers by playing the Citizenship Board & App Game http://www.citizenshipgame.com to test your chances of gaining citizenship in your own country, and raise awareness of the rights of asylum seekers at the same time. All profits go to agencies helping asylum seekers gaining refugee status.

  • The UK in the EU Single Market: what next? Opportunities and challenges

    1 November 2013  22:13, by Iwantout

    Every time anyone wants to pretend that the EU is about economics rather than a structure intended to deliver a fully-fledged federal state regardless of the complete lack of any popular mandate we have the ‘Single Market’ trotted out. The realities of the ‘single market’ are ignored and we simply have the mantra that it is essential.

    Can we please examine this claim? Let me first agree that the EU is an important market for the UK and the UK is an important market for the EU. But can we remember that the single market applies almost exclusively to manufactured goods. So in the case of the UK that means it is potentially a positive driver for 15% of the entire economy. But only about a third of our output is actually exported, the remainder being consumed within the UK. So now the single market is impacting on approximately 5% of our economy. But of our exports, slightly less than half go to the EU (the UK being unique amongst EU states in having a greater trade with the rest of the World than the EU), so the entire importance of the single market to the UK economy amounts to about 2.5% of our activity.

    I could point out that the trade deal the EU signed with South Korea in 2011 gave the Koreans access to 98.7% of the single market (EU figures quoted by Karel DeGucht Commissioner for Trade 01/07/11). If for one wild moment you assumed that the UK, as a much more important trading partner to the EU than South Korea, was given the same deal, allowing reciprocal trade to the EU of course, then full membership of the EU benefits 0.0325% of our economy. (2.5% of our economy X the 1.3% of trade excluded by the terms of the South Korean trade deal.) Is anyone seriously claiming 0.0325% of our economy amounts to ‘essential’?

    Next we have the “3.5m British jobs are linked to the single market”. This figure originates from a report commissioned by the by the pro EU (but now defunct) Britain in Europe pressure group from the European Institute at the South Bank University in 2000. Yes you read that right, it is 13 years old, but the data they used dated back to 1997 with elements going all the way back to 1990, so it is relying on information that is 23 years old !!! The EU has got bigger since 1997 so surely we are even more reliant on this trade for our jobs? Well no actually, in 1997 UK trade in goods with the then EU of 14 other states made up 55.8% of all UK exports, today as I have already pointed out the EU of 27 other states account for about 50%.

    The theoretical loss of these 3.5m jobs is actually dependent on ALL trade between the UK and the EU ceasing immediately and totally if the UK leaves the EU, how likely is that? In fact Prof Iain Begg (one of the authors of the original report and now professorial research fellow at the European Institute, London School of Economics) has gone on record frequently and very recently saying exit from the EU would not cause the loss of any jobs in the UK at all. But has gone further, saying in relation to a cost benefit analysis of UK membership of the EU “If anyone tried to do it completely objectively, you would probably find that the economic plus or minus is very small.” (31/10/11) So no loss of 3.5m jobs then.

    Then we have “according to the Confederation of British Industries, 80% of British firms want the UK to stay in the EU.” Absolutely correct, that is 80% 0f the 200 firms that the CBI surveyed (Euractiv 14/10/13). One has to ask why the CBI surveyed so few companies. The poll run by the British Chamber of Commerce (31/07/13) showed that 61.4% of their 100,000 members want to stay in the EU but only if a much looser arrangement can be negotiated. Problematically for the EU only 17% wanted closer integration, worse still, if a looser agreement cannot be agreed the overwhelming majority of the businesses wanted to quit the EU entirely.

    In addition just to show how divided big business is, 56 business leaders signed an open letter in The Times on 24/01/13 supporting Cameron’s stance of a looser relationship with the EU. Even John Cridland the Director General of the pro EU CBI has said categorically “closer union of the eurozone is not for us.” (23/01/13).

    To quote Daniel Moynihan “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts”. Perhaps Michael Barnier should consider the facts.

  • Why the EU’s Response to NSA Leaks Spying Scandal is Contradictory… and Vain

    26 October 2013  22:52, by Axt

    Sloppiest research right there.

    Albrecht wants those rights conferred to the individual citizen. The NSA just wants to swoop up everything regardless of constitutional protections etc. No dementis does mean the facts are correct, even short of believing the documents.

    Privacy is not dead. We have rights. Those rights are there for a reason. If they are breached systematically, what worth are our laws and constitutions if we as a society don’t put up a fight to protect them? Last time I checked, copyright breaches were still being policed.

    So even if Europeans ought to have known before, media and public outrage are necessary to create the kind of pressure without which none of these spying appartuses can be broght back under control (or dismantled if control proves impossible).

    So please, try and understand the issue, and then participate at the search of solutions. How can we safe the internet? It is brand new, the century barely begun. Getting the internet rihgt is vital for generations to come. I don’t want to live in a dystopia.

  • A broken taboo

    23 October 2013  11:00, by Jorge

    “it is quite obvious that the main barrier to federalism in Spain is a gross and widespread misconception of what it stands for” Well, coming from Spain I would not say that your article has a clear conception of what federalism stands for. Are the different nationalists parties of Catalonia and the Bask Country the federalist heroes of Spain? Is the recognition of nations what federalism stands for? In my opinion to federate is to join, to unite; so federalism can never be based on nationalists, it can only be supported by cosmopolitans who give more importance to equality and fraternity than to difference and privilege. I consider myself a convinced Spanish federalist with quite a clear conception of what federalism and cosmopolitanism means. And I feel much closer to the ideas of Union Progreso y Democracia than to the ones exposed in this article. Thank you for opening the debate in any case.

  • Europa and the bull: The significance of the myth in modern Europe

    21 October 2013  13:23, by Gilles Gateau de Poisson

    Like all ancient Greek myths, it has many levels of meaning. But, in the context of the modern EU, it’s message is clear: an oligarchy, which presumes to a divine right, has duped the peoples of Europe into handing over their democratic rights. The upshot is a bull-headed monster which wanders the subterranean labyrinth, devouring tributes, until someone eventually summons up the nerve to slay the beast. What could be more apt?

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