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  • Open letter to Jean-Claude JUNCKER regarding the designation of Mr. Tibor Navracsics as Commissioner for Education, Youth, Culture and Citizenship

    2 October 2014  06:50, by Hans L. Schmid

    Citizens all over Europe may express their opinion on the future of Europe directly on www.our-new-europe.eu.

  • Two European institutions, One president, and the Lisbon Treaty

    22 September 2014  08:04, by Emmanuel

    to the Editor: you write “There is also the Council of Europe, an international organisation currently comprised of representatives of 47 European, Asian, and North American countries.”

    I don’t know where you get that from. The US and Canada are only observers. As for northern Asia, that means Azerbaidjan, Armenia, Georgia, but this is still “Europe”, in the “from the Atlantic to the Ural” acception.

    More info on coe.int.

  • Yes or No? We are all Scottish

    11 September 2014  11:03, by Alexandre Marin

    If I were a scottish citizen, I wouldn’t vote independence for the following reasons :

    First, Scotland has a large autonomy. The real matters in which Scotland has no sovereignty are the foreign affairs. If Scotland decides to become independant, it will have such sovereignty only in a theorical constitutionnal reality. Scotland is not powerful enough to have a real independant foreign policy and to have an influence on the international relations (neither is United Kingdom, only a European diplomatic federation is able to carry such power).

    Secondly, as European federalists, we criticize the Member-states because of their national selfishness ; they do not care about long term European interests, but only about their short-term leader’s interests. Therefore, we should avoid praising such selfishness at the regional level when we blame it at the National level.

    Then, if we consider voting independance because of the fear that the U.K could leave the EU, and doing so, force Scotland to leave the EU as well, why didn’t we decide to organize the referendum about Scottish independance after the British referendum about the UK’s withdrawal from the EU ? Scottish people could have saved the UK form such withdrawal, and if the majority of the British citizens had decided to leave the EU anyway, then Scotland would have decided to leave the UK to go back in the European Union.

    Finally, it contradicts two European values, as this articles reminds very well : first, we are stronger together, and this is why the EU has been created. The second one is the unity in the diversity, that is to say the idea that our differences are not a weakness for our unity, but a strength. If we fail to honour these two values at the National level, why would we do so at the European level ?

  • Europe vs. USA: Whose Economy Wins?

    4 September 2014  16:38, by Karl

    Interesting topic and posts. I always enjoy the condescension of Europeans. Lest our European “allies” forget, a lot of the US debt acquired consistents of shouldering 75% of the NATO budget. You know, the “alliance” that has allowed you to build your continental utopia. You can continue to believe that “Russia will never invade” nations such as Germany, France, etc. and live in your fantasy utopia. Naive at best. As history proves, bullies only understand force, and your defense forces are a joke. No wonder Putin invades Ukraine with impunity. Not in our backyard, but yours.

    For may part, as an American, I would agree that we should withdraw from Europe (as you seem to want) and let you fend for yourselves...like you did in 1914 and 1939. Oh wait. My bad. We’ve shed enough of our blood and tax money protecting you since World War II. Grow up and fend for yourselves. While you talk (and regulate) everything to death in Brussels/Strasbourg, we’ll continue to act. Empire? Probably. Decline? That’s been a topic since the 1940’s. I’ll take my chances on this side of the pond. Good luck with your utopia, comrades.

  • JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER for Dummies

    28 August 2014  23:51, by Iwantout

    Thank you for this piece. I had no idea that a law degree was one of the most difficult degrees in Europe, I would have thought that accolade probably belonged to one of the sciences, mathematics, engineering, or medicine etc. Although being fluent in five languages is certainly impressive.

    I did not know that Mr Juncker had only ever worked in politics, albeit for in country only the size of medium sized city. (By the way you forget mention that he was the protégé of Jacques Santer, a previous Commission President)

    Regarding Mr Juncker and the SREL scandal, the Parliamentary inquiry into the affair noted that Mr Juncker had been deficient in his control over the service and that he had failed to report all of the service’s irregularities to the enquiry commission, worrying given his famous quotes “When it becomes serious, you have to lie” and “I am for secret, dark debates.” Let us agree that despite all his supposed experience and hard work he was unable to control the SREL, an organization with 60 staff, let’s hope he does better with the 55,000 directly employed EU personnel. (Although of course Mr Santer couldn’t even control the 15 commissioners he was directly responsible for in 1999)

    We know Mr Juncker had a hand in the creation of the Euro and a central role in the Growth and Stability Pact. The 23.1% of unemployed youth must be pleased that such a central figure has been elevated to a more powerful role.

    His involvement with the Troika and the imposition of policies which have reduced the Greece from the status of developed market to emerging market (the first country in history to make this move) also speaks well of his abilities, although as he was only chairman of the euro group and thus not possibly responsible for much of the resulting policy I am sure we can accept your assertion that he was a “good cop”.

    Who chose him ? Well Mr Juncker was not on any ballot paper across the EU. He avoided campaigning in a number of countries including the UK and his EPP managed to win the grand total of 28,014 votes out of 16,454,950 cast (0.17%) and come twentieth here. Of course the vast majority of EU voters across the continent stayed at home in even greater numbers than ever before and simply refused to engage with the entire process, hardly a ringing endorsement. Finally the European Parliament breached treaty provision and demanded that Mr Juncker be nominated, just another day of EU power grabbing.

    But regardless, we can all agree with your final paragraphs in section 9. He has a clear “penchant for European federalism” which for the majority of us here in the UK is good news. Any move at all in that direction can do nothing other than push us even more decisively towards the exit door, almost certainly a good result for the UK and possibly the rest of the EU, although of course a few countries will have to increase their contributions to make up for our absence.

  • JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER for Dummies

    27 August 2014  00:56, by AndrewTurvey

    Excellent article - many thanks!

  • The unbelievable short-sightedness of British politics

    25 August 2014  23:42, by Iwantout

    Perhaps your writer should stop trying to suggest that the anger in the UK directed at the ECHR and the associated Court (as well as the ECJ) is a matter of Conservative Party politics and instead look at the comments merging from across the political spectrum and more importantly from the most senior judges in the land. A few examples.

    Lord Sumption, a Supreme Court Justice remarked (28/11/13) that the Court had gone far beyond it’s remit into policy making and “most people would regard as inherently political”.

    Lord Justice Law, a senior Court of Appeal Judge in a speech (28/11/13) stated openly that judges in Britain had been too subservient to the Human Rights Court and that this was a mistake. He noted “there may be perfectly properly be different answers to some human rights issues in different states on similar facts”.

    Lord Judge, the former Lord Chief Justice commented (05/12/13) “In my view the Strasbourg is not superior to our Supreme Court.”

    Lord Neuberger, President of the UK Supreme Court, commented (13/02/14) “The idea of courts overruling decisions of the UK Parliament, as is substantially the effect of what the Strasbourg and the Luxembourg courts can do, is little short of offensive to our notions of constitutional propriety”. He has now indicated (and this is a judge not a politician) that British courts will not in the future automatically follow the jurisprudence of the Strasbourg court, instead they will take account of that Court’s rulings but may well end up disagreeing and rule independently.

    Jack Straw, the Labour Home Secretary who brought in the Human Rights Act 1998, wrote a leading article in The Times (14/08/14 entitled “Let’s keep the pressure on this arrogant court, Strasbourg’s climb down over prisoners shows that Britain must retain its independent stance”) roundly condemning the actions of the Human Rights Court and noting that it has far exceeded its remit, as well as totally ignoring legislation that restrains the Court itself, in particular Article 3 Protocol 1. He was clear in his view that UK courts have supremacy.

    The above are not political extremists, but the direct heirs of David Maxwell Fyfe who led the British jurists which as your correspondent notes were amongst the main authors of the ECHR in the first place.

    In short the view appears to be emerging from the judiciary and politicians of all colours that the Court has stretched its remit beyond breaking point and is no longer a body concerned with the implementation of justice so much as politics and policy making over the heads of elected representatives. As such it has become seriously devalued.

  • Germany: the torment of European gender equality

    16 August 2014  11:51, by Jordan

    The article begins declaring Germany’s top position economically and the article doesn’t acknowledge the contribution women make to this economy. Has anyone considered that the aptitude of women and their abilities at home with children by raising them well and the influence of church as contributing factors to economic prosperity? It has and we might do well to worry less about who has which role and focus more so on fulfilling our roles to the best of our abilities for both men and women no matter where they are.

  • European governments, citizens have voted – now respect their vote!

    5 August 2014  16:10, by Iwantout

    Just a quick update regarding the 2014 EP elections; today (05/08/14) European Voice has published the fact that the elections actually saw yet another record low in voter turnout. The 43.09% claimed shortly after the election was apparently based on exit poll estimates, the fully official figure now states that actual turnout was in fact 42.54%, i.e. half a percentage point down; so much for the spitzenkandidaten inspiring the voters to turn out and Viviane Reding’s slightly hysterical tweet that they were a “game changer”.

    (http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/european-parliament-elections-2014-reveal-lowest-voter-turnout-ever/ )

    I wonder how many pro EU sites will inform their readership of this embarrassing fact ?

    For anyone interested since the Parliament has been subject of direct elections public participation has fallen from 61.99% of those eligible to vote to the new low of 42.54%, impressive.

  • Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    8 July 2014  20:39, by Jean-Luc Lefèvre

    Sur le conseil de Charles, j’ai relu ce “Discours de Zürich” du 19 septembre 1946 où Winston parle de “Famille européenne” et d’ “Etats-Unis d’Europe”...Et c’est vrai!!! Grande-Bretagne, Commonwealth et la puissante Amérique étaient invités à “être les amis et les promoteurs de la nouvelle Europe”!!! Spectateurs donc, mais enthousiastes. Ce que n’est pas CAMERON! Il y a bien régression de la perfide Albion!

  • Unemployment in the Globalization Age

    6 July 2014  20:16, by George McDuffee

    While some interesting and important points are discussed, the reality of yet another seismic shift in the socioeconomic tectonic plates, on the order of the shift from hunter/gatherer to fixed agriculture, is never discussed.

    This is critical point in that actions which would indeed correct many of the problems in a “static” environment, will be useless in a “brave new post-post-industrial world.” Several of the driving forces are: Automation, which eliminates the need for many employees; Artificial Intelligence/computerization, which eliminates the need for even more employees; Genetic Modification/bio engineering, and nanotechnology.

  • Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    5 July 2014  13:24, by Charles

    "il devrait savoir que le grand CHURCHILL lui-même, au lendemain de la seconde guerre, appelait de ses vœux les “Etats-Unis d’Europe”.

    Oui.... mais sans la participation du Royaume Uni, si vous lisez bien ce qu’il a dit

  • Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    3 July 2014  22:03, by Richard

    First. we should understand that democracy includes adhering to the rule of law. The Treaties make it eminently clear that it is the Council, and not the Parliament, that nominates European Commission President. The Parliament may, of course, decline to accept. It is worth noting that the Council is comprised of elected persons and is thus just as reflective of the voice of the voter as is the Parliament.

    Second, it is worth noting that less than 10% of the European electorate actually voted for parties who are part of the EPP Group. The other 90% voted for other parties or did not vote at all. I doubt that anyone actually based their vote on a preference for Mr Juncker (or had even heard of him). In Germany, for example, the CSU openly campaigned on a “Vote for us because you like Angela Merkel”. This reflects the fact that most votes are cast in a national sense. There is no true European demos.

    The one clear message from the recent elections is that overall there is no wish in the electorate for more integration or more federalism. Yet Mr Juncker favours both. He is hardly likely to represent voters in the UK or France!

    I am afraid to say that it is delusion to claim that his elevation to President represents any great triumph for democracy. In any case, he is simply a civil servant, he is certainly not the equivalent of Mr Obama, however much the authors of this article might dream of this.

    As to Mr Cameron; first, being in a minority does not make one wrong. I would prefer Mr Cameron have the courage of his convictions rather than the approach by other countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands who changed their position to simply follow the majority.

    Likewise, I do not wish Uk MEP’s to sit with the EPP or any other group/party whose policies they do not agree with simply to have “influence”.

    One should keep in mind how happy Nigel Farage was at the elevation of Mr Juncker. He knows that this will make it far more difficult for Mr Cameron, should he win the elections and call his referendum, to achieve a vote for the UK to remain a member of the EU.

    In response to the comments above (I am afraid my French is insufficient to reply in that language); no one in the UK ever thinks of the Empire, it is long past and a distant memory or simply something in the history books for people here. Also, Winston Churchill did indeed call for a “kind of United States of Europe” but he specifically excluded the Uk from being part of it.

  • Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    2 July 2014  11:17, by Jean-Luc Lefèvre

    “La démonstration que les choses ne sont pas exclusivement décidées à Bruxelles”? Dans la mesure, certes, où la voix du citoyen a été entendue (le président de la Commission est issu du parti qui a obtenu le plus de voix au récent scrutin), mais si JUNCKER l’a finalement emporté, c’est bel et bien “Bruxelles” en tant que siège de l’exécutif européen avec, à sa tête, un fédéraliste convaincu qui, pour la première fois (on se souvient des claques britanniques aux précédents candidats trop fédéralistes comme DEHAENE et VERHOFSTADT) s’est imposée. De cela, on peut à juste titre se réjouir.

    Qualifier l’attitude de CAMERON de “pathétique” me paraît doublement justifié. Pathétique d’abord son manque de lucidité et sa capacité de prendre en compte la réalité du Royaume Uni. Son arrogance insulaire ne lui permet plus, désormais, d’affronter seul que l’Argentine...et encore, pas en football! Ne parlons pas des autres défis posés par une mondialisation à laquelle il est illusoire de vouloir échapper. Pathétique encore quand il qualifie JUNCKER d’ “homme du passé” dans la mesure où CAMERON étale ici son ignorance de l’histoire et son nanisme politique: il devrait savoir que le grand CHURCHILL lui-même, au lendemain de la seconde guerre, appelait de ses vœux les “Etats-Unis d’Europe”.

    C’est aussi à cette amnésie que l’on mesure le déclin d’un Royaume qui n’a plus d’uni que le nom à l’aune de ses relations avec l’Ecosse et même le Pays de Galles pour ne rien dire de l’Ulster.

  • The EU administration: small and efficient

    27 June 2014  13:56, by Iwantout

    Please can we remember when we talk about the size of the EU bureaucracy (and the EU itself says it employs 55,000 civil servants rather than the 33,000 you claim http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/sefcovic/administration/eu_civil_service/the_eu_civil_service_en.htm ) and then compare it with national civil servants we are not comparing like with like.

    For example the British Revenue and Customs may very well employ 80,000 civil servants, but they are collecting taxes both for the UK and also the EU in the UK. In other words the EU has simply instructed national civil servants to undertake a function for them. The EU is an extra layer of officers on top of those the states employ not instead of.

    In addition the EU civil servants create many new tasks for national civil servants through the imposition of regulations, directives etc. Undoubtedly you are correct that if the single market did not exist then each state would employ officials to check goods etc. But what you forgot to mention was that the EU requires all states to employ officials to monitor the passage of goods between states and check that they are of the correct quality; the work of trading standards officers (technically employed by UK local authorities) undertaken for the EU, to therefore claim savings is a little dubious.

    Simply counting the number of officials directly employed fails to give anyone a clear idea of the size of the EU machine. The real question is who is creating the work, what does it cost and who ultimately requires the work to be done?

    An example of the cost of the EU bureaucracy, the UK Regulatory Policy Commission (an independent body) examines the cost to business of changes in legislation originating in both the UK and the EU. For 2013 they estimate that the repeal of various UK legislation saved business £274m pa. New UK Legislation cost £128m, a net benefit to business of £150m. The cost of new EU legislation for 2013 alone amounted to an additional £1.3bn pa. EU legislation repealed saved £2.5m, so a net cost to business of £1.2975bn; hardly the evidence of a lean efficient body encouraging economic growth.

    Never forget many of the EU officials are extremely well paid both financially and with perks (a 70% final pay pension scheme after 35 yrs). The 16 grades of salary range from 2,654 – 18,370 euro per month, with 16% ex pat allowance (minimum of 505 epm), 171 epm household allowance, 626 epm for school aged children etc etc. Tax rates are usually lower than that paid by national employees (generally less than 25% tax for high earners as compared with 40% in the UK). Given this low rate of taxation EU officials in pay band AD 11, mid manager level, take home more per annum than the UK Prime Minister. (£83,000). Just ask yourself, if they were receiving salaries roughly equivalent to what they would get in their home countries why is competition for places so fierce ?

  • The EU administration: small and efficient

    27 June 2014  10:42, by Ana Paula Laissy

    I congratulate you for your informative article and for being brave to ’dare’ defend the European civil service. The work we do seems indeed ’invisible’ for all those who criticize us without even showing the inerest and cusiosity to learn a bit more about the European integration’s real benefits. I would just invite them to look back at the recent wars in the Balkans, the war in Ukaine (just to remain within the European borders)...The peace, the human and social development we collectively managed to achieve despite the ’crisis’ has no price and no comparison in any other part of the globe...

    NB. I suppose you mean 500 million European citizens and NOT 5 million!

  • Dear Britain

    26 June 2014  17:24, by Alex from Carlisle

    ’As a Frenchman living in London ...’

    London =/= Britain

    Britain =/= London

    Really, London in my opinion is the least English place in England and the least British place in the whole of the British Isles. Your observances are thus only really applicable to the London area.

    I’m from the north of England and I vote UKIP. I’m sick of the Londoncentric LibLabCon and the Metropolitan Middle Class elites and their globalist agenda; and like Tolkien and Orwell before me I’m a Little Englander and proud to be one.

  • It’s not about them, it’s about YOU

    21 June 2014  17:24, by Alexander Peters

    Dear Mr. Iwantout,

    thank you for your straightforward and kind reply!

    Yes, I do agree with you – though mournfully - that under current circumstances Britain´s exit from the EU may be the only solution. It will be sad to part from “this precious stone set in the silver sea”. A Europe without Britain - that will be a rainbow with one of the bright household colours missing. A strong, united Europe including Britain would, of course, be more glorious than one without. However, that seems not to be on offer. Cameron-Britain leaves the Continent only with the choice between UK exit and an EU reduced to the confederate disunity irrelevance of, say, the Arab League or the CIS. - The choice should be “exit”, then.

    European nation-states have a uniquely long and proud past behind them, but no more future in front of them. Due to demographics, they no longer belong to the first rank of states and will soon find it difficult to hold on to Security Council seats or G7 membership. If they do not join forces NOW to meet the challenges from the US (NSA), Russia (Ukraine) or the emerging population-billionaires India and China, they will become the globe´s new banana republics – will become weak, pseudo-sovereign states, ruled and exploited by Non-European masters. Our freedom and heritage (both, shared values AND cultural diversity) can only be preserved by a politically united Europe.

    It is therefore vital that the present “intergovernmental” EU, which conflicts with democratic principle, turns every issue into an endless crisis and drives its citizens mad, is replaced by a parliamentary European Republic, which meets the demands of democracy, gets things done and inspires confidence. Whether such a republic extends to all the EU´s present 28 members, is, by contrast, only secondary: The 1956 Europe of the six founders, was really only a rump – but that rump was successful, made progress and proved irresistible to neighbours – among them sceptical Britain. The current EU of 28, by contrast, looks grand on the map, but is paralysed by internal squabbling and in danger of falling apart.

    Britain has already been granted numerous concessions – rebates, opt-outs - to accomodate her within the EU. But while these concessions already severely disfigure the EU´s architecture - e.g. the split between Eurozone and EU proper caused by the Sterling opt-out – they seem to have done nothing to reduce British hostility. At this juncture, Europe should therefore not contemplate any more concessions, but the simpler, stronger, more democratic EU, which UK exit would make possible: No more “no” to real parliamentary democracy or to common social, fiscal, defence and energy policies.

    Europe must show, what it can do – and if it succeeds, maybe even Britain will one day want to join it again.

  • It’s not about them, it’s about YOU

    10 June 2014  20:29, by Iwantout

    Alexander Peters,

    Article 17.7 of The Lisbon Treaty does not give the European Parliament the power to nominate the President of the Commission, this is specifically reserved to the heads of state (under QMV) who are required to take into account the results of the election. If the candidate nominated by the European Council is not elected by the Parliament then the Council shall nominate another within a month and so on.

    What has happened is that the Parliament is trying to usurp the powers of the Council by nominating their own candidate in direct contradiction to the Treaty.

    As has previously been noted none of the spitzenkandidaten ever campaigned in the UK, spoke to any UK voters or were endorsed by any main stream UK parties. Although in fairness Juncker was supported by the 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP) and did achieve 28,014 votes (0.18% of the popular vote) and came twentieth.

    Subsequently Juncker been specifically rejected by the UK Labour Party (socialists) and by the pro EU Liberal Democrats, so to paint this as a Conservative issue and related to neo liberalism is just wrong, Juncker is not acceptable to any mainstream UK party, all of whom seem to believe that the law as set out in the Treaty should be complied with.

    We can argue about where the real democratic balance lies, between elected heads of state who had to campaign and meet real voters and spitzenkandidaten who did not. But I entirely agree with your sentiments in the penultimate paragraph, a British exit would indeed “be the legal divorce from a spouse, who has been living estranged for years”. In most respects the EU can never be acceptable to most of us other than as a “solely economic EFTA”, which as you rightly say is not what was originally intended. It is almost impossible to find anyone in the UK who supports the idea of a political EU as distinct from a trade body, and if the ultimate aim of the EU is to form a federal state through ever closer union (and I am sure we can all agree it is) then it is difficult in the extreme to see how a UK that has steadfastly refused to join so many aspects of the current EU and indeed is actively working under public pressure to repatriate powers can be part of the enterprise.

    Genuinely, I can understand how frustrating and annoying you must find us and believe it or not I am actually sorry. I do believe you should be able to follow your ideals where you have the support and we should not stop you, but after 40 year of membership the UK public are still not in love with the EU and there is no reason to believe they ever will be.

    In that case can we not agree that for all our sakes the prompt use of Article 50 TFEU is ultimately in the interests of all concerned? We rejoin EFTA and continue the trade relationship we both want within the EEA while you progress the political element of the EU.

    Cheers

  • Europe vs. USA: Whose Economy Wins?

    10 June 2014  16:40, by MUNIR KHORAKIWALA

    EXCELLENT OUTPUT & GREAT FEEDBACK

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