Friday, June 03, 2005

Random EU roundup

I'm off to Hay on Wye this afternoon for work purposes. Looks like it'll be raining. Joy. I'll also certainly be surrounded by far too many snobby "intellectuals" and wannabe authors for my liking (and unable to tell them that I already am one - twice - without sounding like a tit, as I did just then). Either way, it means no more posts until Monday. In the meantime, have this:

All About Latvia has a bit of background on yesterday's vote by the Latvian parliament which provides a nice bit of context.

Meanwhile, Margot Wallstrom, perhaps inadvisedly, seems to have started to echo Tony Blair - "we have listened and... we have learned something". She's also evidently been reading the comments section of her blog, for there are a fair few concessions/admissions to the sceptics in there: "This has been a project by the political elite" being a fairly major one. Well, she may have learned - but will the rest of them?

Meanwhile, the speculation continues - the Guardian's summary of some (but by no means all) of the possibilities - and Britain is pushing for more delay, apparently, which is the only sensible thing to do considering precisely no one has any idea how the hell to proceed (although is this just a bargaining tactic?).

Some are calling for more prevarication and an official cancellation of the British referendum (Ireland too is pondering halting its own); others - including the eurosceptic Sun - are calling for the vote to happen regardless (but considering Sun owner Rupert Murdoch pays no tax in the EU, what the fuck business is it of his anyway?). Then the equally eurosceptic Evening Standard reveals the Sun's poll that 75% in Britain would vote No should the referendum go ahead. It's high, but plausible.

Others in Europe are not so sure that the treaty is dead, some even arguing that referendum votes should be ignored and ratification continue.

No, no they shouldn't and no it shouldn't. Not unless you want to piss everyone off even more. Listen to Margot for a while.

And more crises threaten, as worries about the euro reach an all-time high, including speculation that some countries may wish to leave the Eurozone. Here's a handy round-up of other economic woes. Germany, meanwhile, looks ready to take one for the team and compromise over the divisive EU budget proposals. If Gerhard Schröder wasn't already going to be out on his arse in the next election, he certainly is now...

The current confusion and in-fighting is for some outsiders making membership a less attractive prospect (Norway) and for others means that the EU is no longer worth watching as a potential new way of working between nations (Canada), while yet others reckon that "the collapse of enlargement verges on national tragedy" (Bulgaria).

For those who hate the EU full-stop, and see this current confusion as a sign that we should disband the whole thing - and especially those who denounced all the "the EU has helped prevent war" stuff a week or so back - check this alternative opinion: "all outstanding issues in our region would be much more difficult to resolve if the EU membership perspective is cancelled".

The EU can be a force for good whether you like it and agree with it or not. At the moment they're confused, they're grapsing around for support. Now is the ideal time to get in there and propose alternative models. Who knows - they may even finally twig that a "one size fits all" is not the way forward...

11 Comments:

Anonymous Hew BG said...

My goodness Nosemonkey!

Your blow to the head seems still to be affecting you: "Who knows - they may even finally twig that a "one size fits all" is not the way forward..."

What on earth is this except the sensible, principled, rational, consistent and long-held belief of the vast - if not overwhelming - majority of Eurorealists, if not actually a commanding majority of the British voting public at large.

In 1975, it was possible to hold this view and still be in favour of the "common market" as we so delighted in calling it.

By the late 80s, this was no longer the case. It was not possible post-Maastricht to hold this view AND simultaneously be in favour of the EC/EU any longer. The two were clearly mutually exclusive, - as indeed remains the case until we can sort this mess out.

This is why I wanted to know your rationale for being pro-EU. It looks to me as though you were never really pro-EU at all. You liked the idea, but this was entirely divorced from the reality.

Welcome back.

6/03/2005 05:38:00 pm  
Blogger The Grinch said...

Hew,

"It was not possible post-Maastricht to hold this view [that one-size-fits-all is not the way forward] AND simultaneously be in favour of the EC/EU any longer."

Interesting perspective, considering that the Maastricht Treaty actually introduced for the first time elements of the multi-speed Europe approach, in the form of the opt-outs from the Social Chapter, EMU and Schengen.

The multi-speed approach was developed under Nice and the Constitutional Treaty would have made it pretty much official. Pity.

6/04/2005 02:34:00 am  
Anonymous Valerie said...

Hew,

I'm 'pro-EU', but critical of it. I don't see the two things as mutually exclusive.

It is possible to 'like the idea' (and be in favour of the constitution) but believe that 'the reality' can be changed (ie that further reform can and should take place). As opposed to being a quitter.

Valerie

6/04/2005 02:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hew,

I'm 'pro-EU', but critical of it. I don't see the two things as mutually exclusive.

It is possible to 'like the idea' (and be in favour of the constitution) but believe that 'the reality' can be changed (ie that further reform can and should take place). As opposed to being a quitter.

Valerie
(not anonymous - just having problems with Blogger)

6/04/2005 02:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Andy said...

I'm a pro-EU as well, but I think the biggest mistake was to enlarge to quickly. This is the same as any large company, if you enlarge too quickly, you will have problems.

The EU didn't have it's own house in order before allowing 10 new members in.

6/04/2005 03:14:00 pm  
Blogger Tim Worstall said...

"I'll also certainly be surrounded by far too many snobby "intellectuals" and wannabe authors for my liking (and unable to tell them that I already am one - twice - without sounding like a tit, as I did just then)."

You’ve only been a snobby intellectual twice? And you call yourself a blogger?

6/04/2005 04:33:00 pm  
Anonymous Valerie said...

Andy - arguably the presence of the ten new members is proving to be a catalyst for it getting its house in order, though...

6/04/2005 07:06:00 pm  
Anonymous Hew BG said...

Valerie:
?????
I am not suggesting for a moment that it is not possible to be pro-EU and critical of it at the same time.


However, it is simply not possible to be opposed to "one-size-fits-all" and simultaneously in favour of the EU as it stands. This would double-think of an epic scale (or just a shallow grip on reality. Now that I come to think of it, maybe....)

The Grinch:

"The multi-speed approach was developed under Nice and the Constitutional Treaty would have made it pretty much official. "

??????????????????????????????
??????????????????????????????

What part of Primacy of EU law is not "one-size-fits-all"?

Our "opt-outs" are increasingly being shown to be shaky at best - cf Working Time backdoor shafting on the Social Chapter, and loss of Immigration control re Schengen.

Sorry to be bolshy, but it is simply fanciful to suggest that the EU as it is, or would have become under the TCE, was anything other than heavily centralising.

6/05/2005 08:57:00 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Primacy of EU law is an existing fact on the ground, going back pre-1957, not an innovation of the TCE. Let us be completely clear. There is a multi-speed Europe: it exists. There are EU members who are not Euro members. There are even Euro users (in the Balkans) who are not EU members. There are members of the EU who are not in the Schengen area, and members of the Schengen area who are not in the EU, and I think Ireland is in the Euro but not Schengen (although I'm not entirely sure).

Similarly, there are members of the EU who are also in NATO, members of the EU who are not in Nato, and NATO members who are not in the EU. There are also countries that are in Nato and will be in the EU, and perhaps also ones in the EU who will join Nato in the future.

One size fits all? Bollocks.

6/06/2005 10:16:00 am  
Blogger Serf said...

When the variances in the EU include permanent opt outs and a chance not to be in the CAP I will believe that it is not a one size fits all EU.

Policies like Schengen and the Euro were designed to be the one size policies of the future, ie. everyone was expected to join in later. The sponsors of these ideas have never accepted the idea of variable geometry.

6/06/2005 11:34:00 am  
Anonymous Hew BG said...

Alex,

" Primacy of EU law is an existing fact on the ground, going back pre-1957, not an innovation of the TCE."

Forgive me, but this is not true. In fact, it is probably the single most pernicious falsehood being perpetrated by the supporters of the TCE and the EU in general. I want a quote of the exact article and paragraph in any of the existing treaties to back up your argument.

Where "primacy" had existed at all, it was either a function of parliament deferring - as in ECA 1972 - or very, very strictly limited to just one of the three pillars established by Maastricht.

In the first case, this is not strictly primacy as Parliament cannot bind its successors and relied on the contuining assent of parliament. See here for the govt view at the time.

"Fact No.3: The British Parliament in Westminster retains the final right to repeal the Act which took us into the Market on January 1, 1973. Thus our continued membership will depend on the continuing assent of Parliament."

To pretend that the Primacy clause in the TCE merely reflects the facts on ground and does not have irreversible and monumental impact - up to and including breaking the most sacred rule of all: that Parliament cannot bind its successors - is laughable at best. I hesitate to assign a less favourable motive.

Prior to TCE, the nation states held the assent and granted power to the EU. The primacy clause in the TCE explicitly reverses that relationship. The TCE is source of power for the EU to which the nation states are thence forward subservient.

This is not a trivial legal nicety. It is THE fundamental issue.

6/08/2005 11:51:00 am  

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