1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 > ...

What's new on the Web

1 2 3 4 >

Latest comments

  • European Candidates’ debate round 2: back to old habits

    16 May 2014  12:20, by De Benny

    I am not sure what you refer to with “the first debate”. I am not aware of a debate prior to this one. Maybe only in a certain member state? But what I wanted to comment is your sentence:

    the standard European citizen can reasonably be expected to speak and understand a bit of English, but not English, French and Greek.

    This, especially the first part of it, is absolute crap. I am happy to speak English besides my mother tungue. But if I look at the other people in my family, friends and other people I know, this becomes doubtful. The generation of my grandparents (80+ years) hardly speaks English, except those few who come from richer families and had a better education. But still, back then people rather learned Latin and Ancient Greek in school than modern languages... My parent’s generation (around 60) learned English in school, but not all teachers were good and not all pupils could get a grasp of the language, at least not enough to follow such a debate. My father’s English is not bad, he could well talk with you in person about various issues, but he would run into severe problems following a TV debate, because he is not used to different accents. My generation (30-40) is better in English, I don’t think most people from my old class in school would have been able to follow the debate. Though I am not sure, I had to use English over the years, others might have forgotten big parts of it. And then there are also the exceptions. My younger sister never got a good control of English, she had bad teachers and wasn’t too interested in languages altogether. She’s a nurse, what would she ever need foreign languages for? Now remember that this is the situation in a western member state of the EU, with the national language not being too different from English, the situation could well be even worse in the Eastern member states, where people oftentimes had Russian language class instead of English... So now, I must disagree completely, that the “standard” (who would that be anyway?) European citizen knows English. Maybe a bit, words like “yes”, “no”, “love”, “queen” or “Beatles”. But that is hardly enough to follow a debate.

  • European Democracy enters a new Dimension

    2 May 2014  13:16, by Alexander Peters

    EUROPE´S GREATEST DANGER: SUBSIDIARITY SURREALISM

    Richard is right in observing that a horror of “more Europe” is now felt by a substantial part of the electorate. Many voters would approve a statement such as the following:

    “Europe nowadays decides on matters, that national governments would deal with much better”.

    This approval is worrying, given the ample lessons to the contrary Europeans have had in recent months.

    We have NATIONAL data protection, which means NO protection: Europeans just helplessy watch as their civic rights are infringed by NSA, Google or Facebook. - We have NATIONAL energy supply strategy, which means NO strategy - due to the nations´ uncoordinated approach, Europeans are now threatened by the Gazprom threat of a - literally - “cold” war with Russia. - We have NATIONAL Defence, which means NO defence - the bunch of 27 tiny, badly equipped armies is no deterrent against the Russian military; thus Europeans, despite their expensive armed forces are still 100% dependent on US protection (and accordingly vulnerable to US pressure). - We have NATIONAL foreign policy - which means NO voice in international affairs: while a squabbling Europe is paralysed, Russia and the US redraw the map of Eastern Europe - “Fuck the EU!”.

    Europe prevents nations from making valuable contributions?! - No, the opposite is true: Nations now govern numerous areas, where their contribution is utterly worthless, thus endangering the future well-being and liberty of Europeans. EUROPEAN data protection, EUROPEAN defence, EUROPEAN energy planning and EUROPEAN foreign policy are as vital to us as is the oxygen to breathe!

    The subsidiarity surrealism of the Europhopes, which strive to constrain a EU even further, which already is not sufficiently equipped to deal with the challenges ahead, is the greatest political threat of our time. European politicians OUGHT to fight this threat with all their energy - OUGHT to fight against the hold the “Less Europe”-Propaganda has got on the electorate. Instead people such as Martin Schulz nowadays waste a lot of precious campaign time appeasing the Brussels-Paranoia of voters - “Europe needs not to regulate everything”. Does it make any sense to dwell on the virtues of local management at a time, when our world is falling apart around us - NSA, Ukraine - due to the local mismanagement of matters only Europe is fit to handle? Pro-European candidates feed the Anti-European prejudice and deception which they ought to starve.

    We need “more Europe”, we need an electorate that wants “more Europe” and we need democratic majorities that solidly vote for “more Europe”. - Appeasement towards the Europhobic drive to destroy our future is no option.

  • European Democracy enters a new Dimension

    2 May 2014  01:44, by Artus Galiay

    Dear Richard,

    Indeed, the candidates talked a lot about “more Europe”, but most of the time it was from an efficiency angle rather than an ideological one: all the evidence shows that integrated energy markets across Europe would reduce the energy costs and improve Europe’s stance versus Russia; and on that point Europe would clearly have to play at least a coordinating role. Furthermore, some of them might label themselves “federalists”, if you listen carefully (in particular Verhostadt), they do not argue in favour of an EU superstate that would decide on everything, on the contrary. The argue for “a Europe that is big on big things and small on small things” like it is often said.

    Then, if you focus on the content of policies, you will see the very typical divide between the socialist approach of Schulz (focus on public spending, get tough on big banks), the focus on structural reforms by Juncker, Verhofstadt somewhere in the middle, and Ska Keller being sanguine on energetic transition. I particularly appreciated this debate because candidates acknowledged that they were part of a wider governance process, the higher-up layer in the broad ladder that is Public policy (Town, Region, Country, Europe) - a layer that craves and needs public accountability.

    Another important point: these candidates were not chosen by the European Parliament but by respective European parties. This makes a huge difference: political parties play an essential role in democracies, and for the first time, they worked at the European level - almost - like they do at the national level.

    Another factors which explains why there was little contradiction in the debate was the absence of extremes, and here we cannot do anything about it: Alexis Tsipras (extreme-left candidate) refused to participate, and extreme-right parties did not put any candidate forward. It is actually interesting to see that they are the ones now refusing to debate, opposing democracy at that level: this is why Marine Le Pen (extreme-right leader in France) refused to debate against Schulz a few months ago. In fact, I cannot wait for the day when Nigel Farage himself will be candidate for President of the European Commission, just like he is today the leading European figure of a specific message, and this is compulsory for European democracy to exist! The more Farage argues against the EU, the more he brings contradiction within the European debate, and the more strongly he builds precisely what he thinks he is destroying: a European democracy.

    Thank you Nigel!

    All the best, Artus

  • 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.

< 1 2 3