WunalaYann
Topic Author
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The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:57 pm

Hello all,

The past ten years have brought their share of failures on the road to political, fiscal and economic integration, for good and not so good reasons.

So where do we go? Some member states have repeatedly stated they would not accept further political integration (aka supranational government), while others have strongly pushed for it.

Considering it is unthinkable to kick countries out of the EU on the basis of their preference for a status quo (if not a return to more sovereignty), could we envision the creation of a "Super EU", a group of core members willing to share more political decisions?

Issues such as foreign policy (especially at the UN and WTO), agriculture, energy, justice and security have been hot potatoes for a long time. Are they still today? Current tensions on commodities, environmental concerns, migratory flows, etc. are becoming hotter issues by the day and national policies may not have reaped too many benefits in a few EU countries.

Disclaimer - these are not blanket statements, and I am fully aware of each nation's preferences and aspirations. I by no means intend to reduce the debate to the issues mentioned above and all concerns and suggestions are welcome, provided respectful and constructive tones are maintained.

 Smile

Let's go - fire away, let's get the ball rolling.
 
SWISSER
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:29 pm

Tough but interesting topic!

The primary function of the EU is to avoid war, ask any european, even today from Russia to Ireland and he/she will tell you a very personal story what happened to there parents/ grandparents 60 years ago.

My generation and my parents generation are the first ones who haven't seen there hometown completely smashed to pieces at one stage of there lifes, but I do have some pictures of it.

There hasn't been a war in europe for 60 years... that never happened before...
Think about it.


Unite, YES, superpower, NO.
What time is top of descent?
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:48 pm



Quoting SWISSER (Reply 1):
ask any european

Don't need to, mate. I am one, and 6 members of my family died in the two WW.

 Smile

Quoting SWISSER (Reply 1):
Unite, YES, superpower, NO.

Understood. But I was not really looking at it from a "let's build a superpower" point of view. I am more thinking in terms of governance efficiency and relevance, and how to deal with global and regional issues. I personally think that to look at global issues, one needs global assets. I just don't think that France is in a position now to have any weight or credit in discussing some of the more acute issues facing the world.

 Smile
 
SWISSER
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:30 am



Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 2):
I personally think that to look at global issues, one needs global assets. I just don't think that France is in a position now to have any weight or credit in discussing some of the more acute issues facing the world.

Well, the issue with the larger member states is that in today's world they are actually a small player. You can point out France as an example, but so is the UK or Germany.
For them it seems still hard to accept that there imperial times are long gone...

Personally I think the biggest recent political failure was in 2003 for the war in Iraq , when France said no, UK yes, Germany no, Netherlands this, Belgium that etc.
At last we had the chance to come together and make a single decision in the interest of the EU, not as a member state anymore.
And then you know what was going to happen to the EU law, which I actually like.

Then at the same time we still have a lot of political influence from over the pond, like Turkey or Poland and Iraq, all promises made, not by a single EU state, but by some republican war cowboys!
Worrying!

Politically I guess it is very complex, and still a lot of work to do but economically there have been leaps of progress I think, the Euro, free movement of goods and persons, they are very good for all of us.
What time is top of descent?
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:44 am



Quoting SWISSER (Reply 3):
Personally I think the biggest recent political failure was in 2003 for the war in Iraq , when France said no, UK yes, Germany no, Netherlands this, Belgium that etc.
At last we had the chance to come together and make a single decision in the interest of the EU, not as a member state anymore.

That's the thing. I don't think there is any point in trying to shove a round keg in a square box. All member states have potentially differing views on foreign policy. And that's perfectly legitimate.

What I think is at the core of any chance of further integration (provided this is the preferred coursed of action) is the willingness of all stakeholders to accept that in majority-driven decision-making environment, there will be times when they are not individually happy with the outcome.

I think at the moment the main problem is the virtual veto right granted to all member states. Political integration cannot succeed that way. At least it hasn't thus far.
 
SWISSER
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 1:21 am



Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 4):
What I think is at the core of any chance of further integration (provided this is the preferred coursed of action) is the willingness of all stakeholders to accept that in majority-driven decision-making environment, there will be times when they are not individually happy with the outcome.

True, and this is where you make the question between superpower or not, it's a pickle.

They have to come at a point where al agreements made are decided in a EU body, with the member states in mind. You might lose or win something this time in your individual interest, but for the whole EU it needs to be a benefit.
Kind of like the constitution worked out in the first place.

Let's see how agreements come along with a unified military, personally I like the Idea, at the same time I can understand as well that the UK and France will have to provide a lot to it... (and from what I heard they already hate the idea) but at the same time have no trouble spending the money with there own wallet for now.

Reforming military's around the EU are already happening for 10 years with interesting results.

The problem as well is where can you see the EU as a citizen except on that blue flag?

One example of this missing unified feeling is in symbols as well, what do we have besides the Euro that makes us visually unified? (even an Airbus is called french)

Maybe a european flag patch on every miltary suit in use in the EU will help a bit already...
Defenitly on decisions to go to a war somewhere...
At least we are all in the same sh*t then and all over the EU they will have to say one yes or one no.
What time is top of descent?
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 7:21 am



Quoting SWISSER (Reply 5):
They have to come at a point where al agreements made are decided in a EU body

 checkmark  This is obviously a key issue. And more important is to decide how such a EU body will emerge - weighted voting mechanisms, extent of the delegated powers, opt-out clauses (?)...

Obviously, there are large countries, and smaller ones. I firmly believe in the rule of majority, but I also understand the need to protect minorities on key issues. Which ones are they? How to protect them?

Discuss away!!

 Smile
 
baroque
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:10 pm



Quoting WunalaYann (Thread starter):
Considering it is unthinkable to kick countries out of the EU on the basis of their preference for a status quo (if not a return to more sovereignty), could we envision the creation of a "Super EU", a group of core members willing to share more political decisions?

Between the power and the money that would inevitably follow the power one way or another, membership of a core would prove immensely attractive and if not attractive enough, just adjust the money a bit!
 
Dougloid
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:24 pm



Quoting WunalaYann (Thread starter):
could we envision the creation of a "Super EU", a group of core members willing to share more political decisions?

I think you already have that, don't you? Remember Orwell's maxim: All animals are equal, only some are more equal than others.

Isn't federalism fun?
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
TWFirst
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:41 pm

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 6):
Obviously, there are large countries, and smaller ones. I firmly believe in the rule of majority, but I also understand the need to protect minorities on key issues. Which ones are they? How to protect them?

I understand the hesitance to mimic or emulate the U.S. on most things... but I've long wondered why the E.U. doesn't consider having a similar legislative and representative structure as the U.S.'.... a bicameral EU parliament, where one body is proportional by population, and in the other body, each member has equal representation? It's worked for us for 225 years... we had the very same issue when our country began as a union of independent colonies, some large, some small, with cultural variations in between.

What the EU has accomplished to date in such a short time is simply amazing... I think all Europeans, cynical or not, should take a step back and truly consider the unprecedented achievements. I understand the vestiges of national pride and wanting to hold on to local customs, language, etc. but from my perspective, that will never go away. I believe it IS possible to be European first and French, Romanian, Maltese, etc. second. It IS possible to keep your language and culture within a Pan-European identity. A more closely integrated Europe is a more influential and powerful Europe... and personally would make me feel a lot better know there's a single, powerful voice on the world stage, embodying the great European point-of-view on life, to counter the other large powerful voices such as China, Russia, the U.S., etc.

Long live the E.U.

(edited for typo)

[Edited 2008-07-11 07:47:22]
An unexamined life isn't worth living.
 
Klaus
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:59 pm

When talking about "sovereignty" there is one important issue to remember:

Even the larger european nations are too small to defend their sovereign interests on the global stage; The EU is designed to pool national sovereignties into a european one so that our shared interests can have an impact on the global stage again.

Bleating about a "loss of sovereignty" is utterly nonsensical when the big players would simply push one's country aside without the EU (as we've seen many times in earlier years) and only a joint EU can actually defend our interests.

We'd simply be a bunch of bit players in the background without the EU. And of course there are many interest groups who'd love to keep us down there, never missing a chance to sabotage and denigrate the EU at every opportunity.

I just think we should keep our shared interests in sight — nobody else will do that for us if we neglect it ourselves.

Quoting SWISSER (Reply 5):
One example of this missing unified feeling is in symbols as well, what do we have besides the Euro that makes us visually unified? (even an Airbus is called french)

The europhobes in France and the Netherlands have seen to that. The Constitution would have officially recognized european symbols, but exactly those elements have now been stripped for the Lisbon treaty to appease the screeching fearmongers (who have been proven wrong with every single of their horrible predictions before).

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 9):
I think you already have that, don't you? Remember Orwell's maxim: All animals are equal, only some are more equal than others.

It's just completely wrong and inappropriate in this context.

Orwell's story described a group (the pigs/communist functionaries) ascending to authoritarian power after first pushing out the former authoritarian ruler (the farmer/king) with a revolution of all the animals/people.

The EU was, is and is clearly designed to remain a union of equals with every member having a vote. Even with specially enhanced votes for the smaller countries, right now even to the point of a universal veto (with the inevitable destructive consequences).

What people tend to forget is that democracy doesn't mean that only they would have their way, but that they'd have to compromise with all the other voters on decisions. And apparently many still can't fathom the obvious implications.
 
Dougloid
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:11 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 11):
It's just completely wrong and inappropriate in this context.

Orwell's story described a group (the pigs/communist functionaries) ascending to authoritarian power after first pushing out the former authoritarian ruler (the farmer/king) with a revolution of all the animals/people.

The EU was, is and is clearly designed to remain a union of equals with every member having a vote. Even with specially enhanced votes for the smaller countries, right now even to the point of a universal veto (with the inevitable destructive consequences).

What people tend to forget is that democracy doesn't mean that only they would have their way, but that they'd have to compromise with all the other voters on decisions. And apparently many still can't fathom the obvious implications.

We'll just have to agree to disagree about the larger implications of Orwell's maxim, Klaus. The EU is very much a work in progress. We've been going at it for quite a while ourselves.

In our country the mice in places like Iowa and North Dakota have to do some fancy footwork to avoid the dancing elephants of New York and California. Politics is, and ever has been, about numbers and it is about locality.

It's also worth noting that the US is not a democracy, strictly speaking and never has been. It is a constitutional federated republic with a large component of representative government and significant home rule aspects.

Nonetheless, when we start talking about democracy and why it's good for people, it's really the ideas of personal autonomy, liberty, representative and responsible government, and accountability at every level.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
Klaus
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:12 pm



Quoting TWFirst (Reply 10):
I understand the hesitance to mimic or emulate the U.S. on most things... but I've long wondered why the E.U. doesn't consider having a similar legislative and representative structure as the U.S.'.... a bicameral EU parliament, where one body is proportional by population, and in the other body, each member has equal representation? It's worked for us for 225 years... we had the very same issue when our country began as a union of independent colonies, some large, some small, with cultural variations in between.

I think we should indeed look at all the good (and bad) examples available to plot our course.

The big difference is just that the historical and cultural diversity in Europe is far greater than in the USA and the roots of the various cultures reach back over millenia — the USA have mainly been a young nation of immigrants with a strong emphasis on building a new and relatively homogenous society.

I think the proposed subsidiarity principle in the Lisbon treaty is the right approach at this time: Pool structures, mechanisms and decisions on the european level where it makes sense but keep everything else on the lower levels.

I don't think a strong european government would be feasible or desirable at this point; Right now we need to make the EU more accessible, more democratic (the Lisbon treaty was designed to do exactly that) and then re-evaluate the issue in the coming decades (or generations).

Quoting TWFirst (Reply 10):
What the EU has accomplished to date in such a short time is simply amazing... I think all Europeans, cynical or not, should take a step back and truly consider the unprecedented achievements. I understand the vestiges of national pride and wanting to hold on to local customs, language, etc. but from my perspective, that will never go away. I believe it IS possible to be European first and French, Romanian, Maltese, etc. second.

Or the other way around. some people identify primarily with their home region or even just their home community first and foremost. It's a matter of personal preference and perspective.

Quoting TWFirst (Reply 10):
Long live the E.U.

I'm right there with you!  bigthumbsup 

(Flame suit strapped tight, visor closed?  cool  )
 
Dougloid
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:25 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 13):
Quoting TWFirst (Reply 10):
Long live the E.U.

I'm right there with you!

(Flame suit strapped tight, visor closed? )

You forgot your flak vest, tin hat, and asbestos BVDs there fella. Get in uniform.

It's a huge improvement from what y'all used to do with your spare time in europe, that's for sure.


 bigthumbsup 
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
Klaus
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:30 pm



Quoting Dougloid (Reply 12):
We'll just have to agree to disagree about the larger implications of Orwell's maxim, Klaus. The EU is very much a work in progress. We've been going at it for quite a while ourselves.

Orwell specifically directed his parable at people (or groups) who — in the guise of leading people's self-liberation — only have their own egoistic advantage in mind, erecting another authoritarian rule just like the one that had been overthrown before.


The tentative idea of a "core EU" is completely different — it is conceived as an emergency measure if the universal veto for 27 members should succeed in paralyzing the entire union (as expected — hence its abolition in the Lisbon treaty for all but the most critical decisions).

It has nothing to do with erecting authoritarian rule over the minority blocking the brakes; The idea is simply decoupling the blocked wagons and getting the train in motion again if that is the only possible way forward.

Everybody is welcome to participate, nobody is excluded except on their own volition. The central issue is to work constructively, trying to reach positive compromise among all instead of pulling the nuclear option and crashing the entire rig.

The Orwell quote is completely misplaced here.
 
Klaus
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:31 pm

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 14):
It's a huge improvement from what y'all used to do with your spare time in europe, that's for sure.

And yet some people would apparently want nothing more than a return to such "interesting" times again...!   

(Oh my — seven years of wasting my time around here today... how time flies...!)

[Edited 2008-07-11 08:33:40]
 
baroque
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:44 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 15):
The Orwell quote is completely misplaced here.

Happy birthday Klaus - you are probably at least seven years older too!

The Orwell analogy cannot be appropriate absent the EU being formed as a result of revolution. It origins were as close to the opposite of that as could be.

There are no doubt traps in the process of EUizing (I don't really know what it is so EUizing cannot be totally wrong), but they do not include large pigs even if they were to be called Napoleon. Those Germans know too well what to do with pigs!
 
Klaus
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 4:51 pm



Quoting Baroque (Reply 17):
Happy birthday Klaus - you are probably at least seven years older too!

Thank you... it sure feels more like an entire decade...!  old 
 
f.pier
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:00 pm

Unfortunately we're going nowhere.
 
Dougloid
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:06 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 16):
(Oh my — seven years of wasting my time around here today... how time flies...!)

How about that. Many happy returns of the day, Klaus.

I have a theory. When someone reaches their fortieth birthday all the people in the neighborhood should gather round him and scream at the top of their lungs "You're too old! Too fucking old! You're decrepit!"

Then, that person could go on about their life as if nothing really happened.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
Klaus
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:37 pm



Quoting Dougloid (Reply 20):
How about that. Many happy returns of the day, Klaus.

Thank you!  Smile

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 20):
I have a theory. When someone reaches their fortieth birthday all the people in the neighborhood should gather round him and scream at the top of their lungs "You're too old! Too fucking old! You're decrepit!"

I don't think that would really help...
 
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DocLightning
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sat Jul 12, 2008 9:26 pm



Quoting SWISSER (Reply 1):

Unite, YES, superpower, NO.

I wonder if a European superpower wouldn't be a good thing. Right now, the U.S. gets to do whatever it wants because we've got all the guns.

Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be good if the E.U. couldn't just say: "In fact, we would very much like you to sign that Kyoto protocol" or "You will please keep your busybody fingers out of Iran" or "You will return our illegally captured civilians, please."

It's amazing how a polite request gains some oomph when you have a large naval battle group backing it up.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan
 
Klaus
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sat Jul 12, 2008 11:28 pm



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 22):
I wonder if a European superpower wouldn't be a good thing. Right now, the U.S. gets to do whatever it wants because we've got all the guns.

Well, there's an exponentially rising cost to this kind of misuse of military power, as even its most ardent proponents have come to learn in frustration.

I don't see any viable perspective in Europe out-gunning the USA, or even attempting a military threat.

Yes, Europe will need to get its act together militarily as well; No doubt about it.

But the outright destructive acting of the Bush administration has already destroyed most of the american influence in international policy matters. We cannot actually force the USA (or anybody else) to adopt policies the respective sitting government vehemently opposes. But the Bush administration has lost (or rather given up) the political leadership role, and the EU has taken the lead in many such matters, gathering a growing number of partners around it.

As ironic as it sounds in view of the rabid denouncements from certain quarters, the EU has actually set an example of how individual nations can pool their resources in a voluntary, democratic and (mostly) transparent way to achieve goals none of them could attain on their own.

Its success story for the first time in history sets a tangible reality against the belief of cynics who could not imagine anything but a brutal struggle among nations to win the future, with everybody fending for themselves and not giving a damn about the damage to others in the process.

History is not linear, but the EU is the first actual role model which could replace hegemony or colonialism as ideas about how the world can work.

The Bush administration has probably done the world a service by proving that even the biggest military power is rather strictly limited if that's all it knows to use. It doesn't say all that much about the USA (other nations have made even bigger messes, obviously), but it says a lot about the idea that guns alone can make policy. They sure can break it, though.
 
Dougloid
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sun Jul 13, 2008 12:07 am



Quoting Klaus (Reply 23):
History is not linear, but the EU is the first actual role model which could replace hegemony or colonialism as ideas about how the world can work.

No it isn't but it's still early in the day for the EU project.

Steady growth can mask a growing mountain of ills that emerge as they did in Germany under the pressure of economic collapse. The best social program is a job you can support a family with, and the reverse is what Germany looked like when the lives of working folks went in the shitter but good. In this country at that time we didn't go over the edge into hell but we could damn sure smell the sulfur.

We had food riots and farmers looted grocery stores. A judge in Primghar who signed too many foreclosures was taken out of town to be tarred and feathered but the farmers relented when it was agreed that he had only been doing his job. Farmers poured out milk and burned grain in their stoves because the price it sold for was not nearly what it cost to produce-which is also why we have farm subsidies today that function as a price support. If I ever write a book it will be about Milo Reno and the Farmers' Holiday Association.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
baroque
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:12 am



Quoting Dougloid (Reply 24):
Steady growth can mask a growing mountain of ills that emerge as they did in Germany under the pressure of economic collapse. The best social program is a job you can support a family with, and the reverse is what Germany looked like when the lives of working folks went in the shitter but good. In this country at that time we didn't go over the edge into hell but we could damn sure smell the sulfur.

I presume you mean the Germany of the 20s leading to the rise of Hitler. In which case, comparisons are a bit dicey to say the least as Germany was still having to pay reparations as well as try to recover from being blockaded for 4 years.

Somewhat tentatively, I would point out that the German economy recovered during the 30s, at a time when the US economy still had major problems. In fact you could argue that Germany was responsible for the US recovery when it did come.  Wow! But most of all, pre WW II has ought to do with the EU as she is NOW.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 23):
But the outright destructive acting of the Bush administration has already destroyed most of the American influence in international policy matters. We cannot actually force the USA (or anybody else) to adopt policies the respective sitting government vehemently opposes. But the Bush administration has lost (or rather given up) the political leadership role, and the EU has taken the lead in many such matters, gathering a growing number of partners around it.

Fair point nothing like trying to make good on a threat to show how it has hollow parts if not being entirely hollow.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 23):
The Bush administration has probably done the world a service by proving that even the biggest military power is rather strictly limited if that's all it knows to use. It doesn't say all that much about the USA (other nations have made even bigger messes, obviously), but it says a lot about the idea that guns alone can make policy. They sure can break it, though.

Well it certainly brings the lessons of a couple of WWs up to date and shows that even if a sole super power, the lessons of the WWs largely hold.

The odd thing is that the US (or at least Truman and Marshall, although probably not Morgenthau) seemed to know these lessons better than other countries at the end of WW II but under Bush certainly seemed to have a lapse of memory. And the poor bloody Iraqis have had to pay most immediately for the lessons although most of the US invoices are "in the post".

Quoting Klaus (Reply 23):
History is not linear, but the EU is the first actual role model which could replace hegemony or colonialism as ideas about how the world can work.

And it is going to have to be a walking (well another word actually) disaster not to be better than those two splendid examples of how (not) to do it! I am sure the EU is not an easy act by any means, but you do have the advantage of a low crossbar to "leap" although the previous models were more limbo dancing than leaping.
 
WunalaYann
Topic Author
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:10 am



Quoting Baroque (Reply 7):
membership of a core would prove immensely attractive and if not attractive enough, just adjust the money a bit!

Correct. Get rid of the CAP as soon as possible!!  biggrin 

Quoting TWFirst (Reply 10):
What the EU has accomplished to date in such a short time is simply amazing...

 checkmark  I agree with you. Although let us not forget that the emergence of the EU is a direct consequence of the near-annihilation of this continent in 1945. I think that crisis has unfortunately proven too many times that it remains one of the strongest incentives to stop being stupid. As much as I am sorry to observe this fact, it remains a fact nonetheless.  Smile

The planets were well aligned back in the late 50s, with the reconstruction beginning to produce results in the Original 6, the understanding that nationalism would never be a solution to social inequalities and discontent, and the rise to power of a few true statesmen such as Adenauer, Monet, Schuman, etc.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 11):
Bleating about a "loss of sovereignty" is utterly nonsensical when the big players would simply push one's country aside without the EU (as we've seen many times in earlier years) and only a joint EU can actually defend our interests.

I could not agree more. And of course the biggest challenge is to make European people understand that a form of "greater good" would be achieved through a joint effort. I hate to sound Big Brother-like, and I think the underlying issue is representativeness.

Why not establish local EU offices in all towns and villages across the Union? Something tangible where people can get information on legislation, policies, rights and duties, fiscal regimes, etc. A bit like a Town Hall at EU scale...

Quoting Klaus (Reply 11):
The europhobes in France

As much as I would like to blame the failure of the '05 referendum squarely on the shoulders of Europhobia among France's elite, the truth is that national political agendas played a much, much larger part in the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty. And after 10 years of Chirac (back then), who could blame French people for saying "NO" to him? I voted yes because I am fortunate enough to be able to see beyond faces and names, but I admit that it would have been very tempting to stick it up the old fart.

 Smile

Quoting Klaus (Reply 13):
think the proposed subsidiarity principle in the Lisbon treaty is the right approach at this time: Pool structures, mechanisms and decisions on the european level where it makes sense but keep everything else on the lower levels.

 checkmark  Agreed again. And this is exactly where we have been atrociously incompetent at. We have not yet been able to explain in reasonably simple and graspable terms what subsidiarity means - I myself struggle with the term and its ramifications.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 15):
It has nothing to do with erecting authoritarian rule over the minority blocking the brakes; The idea is simply decoupling the blocked wagons and getting the train in motion again if that is the only possible way forward.

Everybody is welcome to participate, nobody is excluded except on their own volition. The central issue is to work constructively, trying to reach positive compromise among all instead of pulling the nuclear option and crashing the entire rig.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes again!!!!  bigthumbsup 

Voluntary basis is the key to moving forward here. Voluntary means accepting that there will be subjects/issues on which our individual national priorities will be overlooked (but not ignored), and others where they will over-rule those of other countries.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 22):
I wonder if a European superpower wouldn't be a good thing. Right now, the U.S. gets to do whatever it wants because we've got all the guns.

See, Doc, I think here the issue is not so much guns but €€€. I do not really see the need to create a military superpower, as France has nukes (and Germany could get them before breakfast tomorrow without a sweat). Who would launch a full-on military attack on a nuclear power and see the light of dawn the next day?

I think here it is about reaching critical mass to be of significance at the WTO and the UN. How about France pulls out of the UNSC and offers the seat to the new core EU? How do you justify in 2008 that a country of only 60 million people whose economy has not exactly set the world on fire over the past 40 years would get a seat at the big table? I certainly can't.

 Smile

Quoting Klaus (Reply 23):
But the outright destructive acting of the Bush administration has already destroyed most of the american influence in international policy matters.

I understand it is tempting to draw parallels, Klaus, but it would be great to not turn a EU thread into a White House one...  Wink

Quoting Baroque (Reply 25):
I would point out that the German economy recovered during the 30s

Actually much earlier than that - by 1925, Germany was again the largest (by far) economy in Europe and was seriously challenging the US.  Smile

And all that despite the crippling "réparations" inflicted by the Treaty of Versailles.

Quoting Baroque (Reply 25):
I am sure the EU is not an easy act by any means, but you do have the advantage of a low crossbar to "leap" although the previous models were more limbo dancing than leaping.

Agreed, but the problem is that the previous attempts (not really based on voluntary participation, to say the least) took place at a time when our societies were so vastly different that the comparison is hardly relevant anymore.

Back in the 1930s, France was still an agricultural country, in which most people lived in the countryside. The transformation of Western Europe between 1945 and 1970 was nothing short of staggering. I will not draw comparisons to what India and China are witnessing right now, but it would not be far off.

 Smile
 
Dougloid
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:38 am

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 26):
Quoting Baroque (Reply 25):
I would point out that the German economy recovered during the 30s

Actually much earlier than that - by 1925, Germany was again the largest (by far) economy in Europe and was seriously challenging the US.

And all that despite the crippling "réparations" inflicted by the Treaty of Versailles.

Do you have something you can point to as source material for this? It seems to me that the economies of Germany and the US were different in a lot of ways.

Also, if you have it I'd like to see some source material from the French point of view regarding Article 231 reparations.

I suspicion that the French had a very different perspective on the matter-in part due to the reparations imposed on them by the Germans in the Treaty of Frankfurt in 1871.

(seeing as this week I'm an honorary citoyen)

[Edited 2008-07-12 22:57:42]
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
Klaus
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sun Jul 13, 2008 1:50 pm



Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 26):
Why not establish local EU offices in all towns and villages across the Union? Something tangible where people can get information on legislation, policies, rights and duties, fiscal regimes, etc. A bit like a Town Hall at EU scale...

Those already exist in various forms.

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 26):
As much as I would like to blame the failure of the '05 referendum squarely on the shoulders of Europhobia among France's elite, the truth is that national political agendas played a much, much larger part in the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty. And after 10 years of Chirac (back then), who could blame French people for saying "NO" to him? I voted yes because I am fortunate enough to be able to see beyond faces and names, but I admit that it would have been very tempting to stick it up the old fart.

No dispute there — in the Netherlands and in Ireland that seemed to be a major factor as well: Without the previous irish PM being forced to step down under corruption accusations the referendum might have sailed through.

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 26):
I think here it is about reaching critical mass to be of significance at the WTO and the UN.

At the WTO the EU is already the most influential player now, ahead of the USA.

On the economic level the EU is already a fully formed and operational superpower (with both the positives and negatives which come with that), just not on the military level.

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 26):
How about France pulls out of the UNSC and offers the seat to the new core EU?

Apart from the obvious french national difficulties , that would only be possible if the EU had a concrete military component with centralized military structures. While that could make a lot of sense in principle, I do not see it being politically feasible before one or two decades into the future — or faster in case of a major crisis which made the case for such a change.

Right now NATO plays that military role for most european nations, preventing a transition to EU structures to a point. When (not "if"!) the next US government will come back to the table at NATO I expect this will put a damper on formal military integration on the EU level, even though the practical integration among european nations will most probably continue; But as long as the military command still remains strictly on the national level a formal EU seat in the UNSC doesn't really make that much sense.

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 26):
I understand it is tempting to draw parallels, Klaus, but it would be great to not turn a EU thread into a White House one...

No need to press the point I've made — it is pretty much obvious anyway.
 
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OA260
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sun Jul 13, 2008 1:59 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 28):
Without the previous irish PM being forced to step down under corruption accusations the referendum might have sailed through.

Still would have been a NO vote. Bertie Ahern was not the issue on the ground here.
 
Beaucaire
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:19 pm

I think the EU will in a certain time supersede the Arab Ligue,since it's future in arround the Mediterranean sea..
also look at this thread ..

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...ms/non_aviation/read.main/1940898/
Please respect animals - don't eat them...
 
AustrianZRH
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:31 pm



Quoting SWISSER (Reply 5):
One example of this missing unified feeling is in symbols as well, what do we have besides the Euro that makes us visually unified? (even an Airbus is called french)

I have to disagree there. Most Europeans (if they're not French, and even some of them) call an Airbus a European aircraft. And symbols, like the EU flag, the European anthem are widely known, even if they are not officially recognized by the EU as it is.

Quoting TWFirst (Reply 10):
I believe it IS possible to be European first and French, Romanian, Maltese, etc. second.

 checkmark  I'd even go a step further and say, it IS possible to be European and Austrian (or German or French or whatever) at the same time without needing to make a ranking. At least I feel that way  Smile.

The main problem is that most people have no idea what the EU actually does. Before Austria joined the EU, people from my state always complained about the government in Vienna making everything worse, as they are so far away. And now, everything is blamed on the European Union, as they are sitting in Brussels and people even know less about what they're doing. For instance, they compare 2008 prices in EUR to 2001 prices in Austrian schillings and complain how everything gotten more expensive BECAUSE OF the Euro.

However, maybe the borders in the hearts of the people are too strong to be overcome that fast. You have to consider that the EU in its current form with the strong political ties was founded only in 1992 with the Maastricht treaty. Thus, at least where I come from, the acceptance of the EU is much higher in the younger generations than in the older generations.

The second problem is, now taking into account the results of the referenda in France, the Netherlands, and now in Ireland, that in EU countries, contrary to Switzerland where I live now, people are not used to referenda. As I had the impression, in these votes, nearly noone actually voted on the EU constitution or the Lisbon treaty, but tried to show their insatisfaction with the work of the respective governments. I also think that the Lisbon treaty is a too difficult matter to let the people decide on. I actually tried to read the consolidated version of the EU treaties after being modified by the Lisbon treaty, but I wasn't able to. As I think of myself as one of the higher educated people, I think such a referendum can't be the matter of choice in that case.

Last, I can only say, that while obviously there are disadvantages in a EU membership, the advantages outweigh those disadvantages by a wide margin. Living in Switzerland for almost six years now, I have yet to encounter an advantage of their non-membership in the EU. May the golden stars enlight the blue skies for decades to come! Long live the union!
WARNING! The post above should be taken with a grain of salt! Furthermore, it may be slightly biased towards A.
 
Klaus
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:44 pm



Quoting OA260 (Reply 29):
Still would have been a NO vote. Bertie Ahern was not the issue on the ground here.

Actual issues were not the issue, apparently, so the general level of discontent for whatever reasons always dominates referenda about more complicated issues, apparently. Which is why referenda about complex treaties make no sense (see the remarks about the french referendum above).

Quoting AustrianZRH (Reply 31):
For instance, they compare 2008 prices in EUR to 2001 prices in Austrian schillings and complain how everything gotten more expensive BECAUSE OF the Euro.

Quite similar in Germany.

The main problem is that the changeover basically froze a "reference level" of prices in the old currency which people actually remember, while the same level of inflation had been accepted as a fact of life within the same currency since few people remembered the prices from a few years back...

Quoting AustrianZRH (Reply 31):
However, maybe the borders in the hearts of the people are too strong to be overcome that fast. You have to consider that the EU in its current form with the strong political ties was founded only in 1992 with the Maastricht treaty. Thus, at least where I come from, the acceptance of the EU is much higher in the younger generations than in the older generations.

I think you are right; Up to a point the speed of the EU is limited by older generations having to fade into the background before the next major changes can be made.

There has never been a political project of the scale and dynamic speed of the European Union in peacetime before — it is only natural that many people have a bit of trouble keeping up with the changing times, even if the changes are mostly positive.
 
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OA260
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:47 pm



Quoting AustrianZRH (Reply 31):
Most Europeans (if they're not French, and even some of them) call an Airbus a European aircraft.

Yes to me Airbus is European . It is not French, it is also British,Spanish etc....

Quoting AustrianZRH (Reply 31):
I'd even go a step further and say, it IS possible to be European and Austrian (or German or French or whatever) at the same time without needing to make a ranking. At least I feel that way Smile.

My national identity will always come first. 2nd I am European.
 
WunalaYann
Topic Author
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Sun Jul 13, 2008 10:26 pm



Quoting OA260 (Reply 33):
Yes to me Airbus is European . It is not French, it is also British,Spanish etc....

And it is European to me as well, as I never cease to mention in the Civil Aviation forum. Funny enough, my own general impression of French media on this particular issue is that they have improved a lot - when I was younger, indeed, Airbus was French. But over the last decade or so, national ego has been swallowed a bit and reality has set in.

Airbus is European, full stop.

 Smile

Quoting Klaus (Reply 28):
Apart from the obvious french national difficulties

Which promise to be not as pleasant as a day at the beach but I guess no one gets a free ride...  biggrin 
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 3:58 am



Quoting Klaus (Reply 27):
Those already exist in various forms.

That's the thing - I have never seen a "EU bureau" in the different places I have lived. I think we are touching another core subject here which is the general "concreteness" of it all. In some kind of twisted way, the fact that a lot of people blame the Euro for all their ills, the single currency has the merit of actually existing and being some form of political and social rallying item.

It really exists.  Smile

Now you say that there are such EU offices. Where and what are they? Are they explicitly signaged as such? With the flag and all? Properly staffed by people who can actually answer basic questions - who does what, how, where does the money come from, where does it go, etc. Of course, it is all available on the EU's website but let's be honest - who visits the EU website on a regular basis?

 Smile
 
paulc
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:34 am

Another thing to consider is that what the people of europe want and the leaders of europe want are not necesaarily the same thing.

Yes to stability, trade

No to a perceived loss of national identity, loss of abiitity to self govern, loss of ability to look after their countries own interests first, lack of accountability, corruption, wasting of taxpayers money, loss of border control.
English First, British Second, european Never!
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:40 am



Quoting Paulc (Reply 35):
No to a perceived loss of national identity, loss of abiitity to self govern, loss of ability to look after their countries own interests first, lack of accountability, corruption, wasting of taxpayers money, loss of border control.

And that's where the idea of a voluntary effort to create a core group of more integrated nations comes in handy.  Smile

Only of course, at a certain stage of political integration then trade policy might change... and lead to review of previous trade agreements with non-core members.  stirthepot 
 
baroque
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:58 am



Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 36):
Only of course, at a certain stage of political integration then trade policy might change... and lead to review of previous trade agreements with non-core members.

The only problem there is that the trade policy is close to free between all the EU parties so that would (might/could) mean a penalty. A policy to drive a core would be better if it worked on carrots rather than sticks of ginger.

The Sir Humphreys (of Yes Minister) and their Euro counterparts are still around and can design carrots if asked??
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:45 am



Quoting Baroque (Reply 37):
The only problem there is that the trade policy is close to free between all the EU parties so that would (might/could) mean a penalty.

Or the fact that the core group could leave the EU to form their own independent grouping...

 Smile
 
baroque
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:29 pm



Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 38):

Quoting Baroque (Reply 37):
The only problem there is that the trade policy is close to free between all the EU parties so that would (might/could) mean a penalty.

Or the fact that the core group could leave the EU to form their own independent grouping...

Sir Humphrey would ensure that never happened. Bear in mind that his own main aim is to prevent anything happening! Actually doing something would be more to avoid more serious dictates from his minister.
 
AverageUser
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:15 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 31):
Actual issues were not the issue, apparently

Whenever there's the odd popular vote against the federal Europe people the elitist stance is indeed that people:

-have missed the real issues,
-have been mislead by left-wing/right-wing populists, the Church or whomever,
-are anti-Europe (or waging war, if you talk to those who are over 60 and/or unbelievably naive),
-are unable to cope with the speed of all the positive changes they see around them,
-need more constructive information,
-are just plain stupid
 
Dougloid
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 3:54 pm



Quoting AverageUser (Reply 40):
Whenever there's the odd popular vote against the federal Europe people the elitist stance is indeed that people:

-have missed the real issues,
-have been mislead by left-wing/right-wing populists, the Church or whomever,
-are anti-Europe (or waging war, if you talk to those who are over 60 and/or unbelievably naive),
-are unable to cope with the speed of all the positive changes they see around them,
-need more constructive information,
-are just plain stupid

Interesting. It seems as if there's a real crevasse in public opinion in the EU.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
Klaus
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 4:50 pm



Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 34):
That's the thing - I have never seen a "EU bureau" in the different places I have lived.

If one is really interested there is all kind of information to be had. Of course not budgeted and staffed by the EU (their actually rather limited budget would not allow that) but national, regional and local administrations usually provide all kinds of information in addition to what you can get online.

Quoting Paulc (Reply 35):
Yes to stability, trade

No to a perceived loss of national identity, loss of abiitity to self govern, loss of ability to look after their countries own interests first, lack of accountability, corruption, wasting of taxpayers money, loss of border control.

Your own interests aren't served well as long as you never question your "perception" of the EU but merely reproduce vicious propaganda spread by interest groups and publishers who fear nothing more than a functional and efficient EU. (Which is actually much closer to reality than you seem to realize.)

Quoting AverageUser (Reply 40):
Whenever there's the odd popular vote against the federal Europe people the elitist stance is indeed that people:

It is a consistent result of surveys that verifiable disinformation and europhobia go hand in had. The more correct information people have, the more pro-european they tend to be.
 
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OA260
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:38 pm



Quoting Paulc (Reply 35):
Yes to stability, trade

No to a perceived loss of national identity, loss of abiitity to self govern, loss of ability to look after their countries own interests first, lack of accountability, corruption, wasting of taxpayers money, loss of border control.

You are 100% correct.  checkmark   checkmark 
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:56 pm



Quoting Baroque (Reply 39):
Sir Humphrey would ensure that never happened. Bear in mind that his own main aim is to prevent anything happening!

And he has been doing a great job of it, hasn't he?  Smile

Quoting Klaus (Reply 42):
If one is really interested there is all kind of information to be had. Of course not budgeted and staffed by the EU (their actually rather limited budget would not allow that) but national, regional and local administrations usually provide all kinds of information in addition to what you can get online.

I know, and you are perfectly correct, at least in France. BUT, as you rightly pointed out, most of these EU-related topic are handled by national administrations and civil servants. This causes two big problems:

1) the perception and actual performances of French civil servants and administration are simply dismal. There is no other word, regardless of political leanings. So people are even less inclined to make the extra effort to go talk to these blokes. If you have ever tried to deal with French administration (social security, car registration, land use permits, whatever), you understand French people's reluctance.

2) French (insert German/Dutch/Spanish/Belgian/Italian/Luxemburger/British/Slovakian/your choice) civil servants are, well, French (insert same deal). They do not walk around carrying a European flag. I think symbolic topics, especially the more everyday-life ones, need to be obvious for people to grasp the concept of "Brussels" (God, I love that city and hate the implicit insult it's become).

But again, I am not picking on you at all - just like you, I know that the EU is real and has a profound impact on our everyday life. It's just not obvious to everyone.  Smile

Quoting Klaus (Reply 42):
Your own interests aren't served well as long as you never question your "perception" of the EU but merely reproduce vicious propaganda spread by interest groups and publishers who fear nothing more than a functional and efficient EU. (Which is actually much closer to reality than you seem to realize.)

I would actually much prefer anti-EU people to be upfront and clear about it rather than the skipping, dodging and skirting of issues we have seen in too many countries (starting with mine) over the past 20 years. What I am curious about is why the UK begged the Original 6 for entry in the first place...  confused 

Quoting OA260 (Reply 43):
You are 100% correct.

And we all know Ireland has been so poorly looked after by the EU over the past 35 years...  Wink In all good humour, please don't take offence.
 
Klaus
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:44 pm



Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 44):
I think symbolic topics, especially the more everyday-life ones, need to be obvious for people to grasp the concept of "Brussels"

I think that's not really the key deficiency; The problem so far was that the european institutions with the most influence were primarily formed by delegation from the national governments (the Council and the Commission) — and the national governments usually did promote the benefits of the Union, but they never managed to make the distinction credible.

What Europe needs the most is a separately legitimized power structure which can speak for itself without being tangled up in conflicts of interest, and the Parliament is exactly that; The Lisbon treaty would have further improved its power relative to the national governments, moving it further into the spotlight and giving it a more distinct public voice.

But the europhobes have again succeeded in keeping the EU less democratic and more dependent on backroom deals between the national governments. Great job — as usual!  yuck 

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 44):
But again, I am not picking on you at all

No problem; I didn't perceive it as that.  Smile

Quoting WunalaYann (Reply 44):
I would actually much prefer anti-EU people to be upfront and clear about it rather than the skipping, dodging and skirting of issues we have seen in too many countries (starting with mine) over the past 20 years. What I am curious about is why the UK begged the Original 6 for entry in the first place...

A bout of common sense. Too bad it's been in regression since then.
 
paulc
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:30 am

Why should I question my perception of the EU ? - (do you question yours?) it is what it is - corrupt, unaccountable and increasingly unpopular. (not just in the UK - remember we did not reject Lisbon, the Constitution (first time round), Maastrict or Nice treaties - all of which have been rejected by others)

If the EU is such a great idea then it is up to politicians to make a strong case for it and allow the public to make an informed choice and abide by that result. The Irish govt failed to do this and hence a no result. It would have been very interesting to have seen just how politicians in other countries would have handled this but unfortuately they did not have the courage of their convictions to allow such a vote, hence increasing the reality gap between what the politicians and the public want.

The UK would have rejected the Lisbon treaty but would France, Holland, Denmark or even Germany have done the same if given the chance. The EU leaders will have to listen at some point otherwise it will all end in tears and like any empire it will fall, it is just a matter of when and how.
English First, British Second, european Never!
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:45 am



Quoting Paulc (Reply 46):
it is what it is - corrupt, unaccountable

Do you have any source to corroborate your allegations?  Smile

Corruption? Based on what?

Unaccountable? To whom?

Quoting Paulc (Reply 46):
If the EU is such a great idea then it is up to politicians to make a strong case for it and allow the public to make an informed choice and abide by that result.

 checkmark  Agreed. Although you cannot be naive enough to think that domestic agenda would not play a major role in that...
 
paulc
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:23 am

The Santer commission for starters - mass resignations / fraud cases etc

The fact that the eu accounts have not been signed off for the last 11 years by the eu own auditors is a tad suspicious - if that were a private company then heads would role and legal proceedings started.

Eu commission is unelected - ec commissioners should be taken from the elected MEP's rather than be appointed by respective govt. The UK commissioners (certanly Mandelson / Kinnock) were failed politicians (Mandy had to resign not once but twice over dodgy deals) and Kinnock was unelectable as labour leader. He as transport commissioner approved loans by govt to support certain airlines (air France & Alitalia) which is totally against EU rules yet it still happened.
English First, British Second, european Never!
 
WunalaYann
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RE: The EU - Where Are We Going Now?

Tue Jul 15, 2008 11:52 am



Quoting Paulc (Reply 48):
The Santer commission for starters - mass resignations / fraud cases etc

Maybe. Now what about national governments? Are they any less corrupt? You yourself mentioned:

Quoting Paulc (Reply 48):
The UK commissioners (certanly Mandelson / Kinnock) were failed politicians (Mandy had to resign not once but twice over dodgy deals) and Kinnock was unelectable as labour leader.

So why should the EU be any different from the governments that form part of it?

Quoting Paulc (Reply 48):
He as transport commissioner approved loans by govt to support certain airlines (air France & Alitalia) which is totally against EU rules yet it still happened.

And how come that happened? AF's bail-out in September 1993 consisted in a loan that barely covered wages for a duration of 2 weeks during which the new management team had to draft a salvage plan to be approved by the EU (which it did). Would you expect your government to let a nationalised BA fail without trying to do something to rescue it? Of course not.

One of the conditions for the green light given to the French government was a sped up privatisation process of AF (within 5 years) - commitment on which the French government delivered.

As a side note, the issues you raise, while certainly problematic, are getting old - AF's deal was 15 years ago. Things have changed...

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