Archive for the ‘European Union’ Category

UN and EU have forgotten that nationalism is the basis for internationalism

September 20, 2017

The part comes before the whole.

Without a definition of the number “one” there is no Number theory. Without the establishment of a single cell there is no life. No bricks no house. When an atom overwhelms an electron, it leaves and the atom is no more. Without weather there is no climate.

Multinational institutions are particularly prone to forgetting what their fundamental building blocks are. To be global one must first be local. To apply universally means first applying to each of the 7.5 billion on earth. Without a strong and healthy nationalism there is no internationalism.

The EU and the UN are excellent examples of how the “large” loses track of its roots. The EU much more than the UN tries to bully its smaller member countries and that cannot be sustained.


 

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Time to say goodbye …

March 29, 2017

The EU will try and make the exit as painful as possible to dissuade others but the reality is that the EU needs to figure out a “retention policy” for members.

That can only start by first abolishing the European Parliament and second decimating the European Commission.

Telegraph cartoon


 

EU language war is about to begin

March 22, 2017

After Brexit, English will have no legal status in the EU. But without English, the EU language wars will surely begin. It would be a horrible loss of face for the EU if they continued to use English after Brexit. Maybe the UK could claim a royalty if they did.

Each member state of the EU nominates and registers a primary language. Only the UK has registered English as a primary language. Ireland has registered Gaelic and even Malta chose Maltese.

The European Union has 24 official and working languages. They are:

Bulgarian             French Maltese            
Croatian German             Polish
Czech Greek Portuguese
Danish Hungarian Romanian
Dutch Irish Slovak
English Italian Slovenian
Estonian Latvian Spanish
Finnish Lithuanian Swedish

The first official language policy of what was then the European Community identified Dutch, French, German, and Italian as the official working languages of the EU.

Since then, as more countries have become part of the EU, the number of official and working languages has increased. However, there are fewer official languages than Member States, as some share common languages.

On the other hand, some regional languages, such as Catalan and Welsh, have gained a status as co-official languages of the European Union. The official use of such languages can be authorised on the basis of an administrative arrangement concluded between the Council and the requesting Member State.

Part of the ridiculous bureaucracy in Brussels is a permanent staff of 1,750 linguists, 600 support staff, 600 full-time interpreters, and a further 3,000 freelance interpreters.

French MEP’s are already calling for the removal of English after Brexit. Before the UK joined the EU (1st January 1973) the EU had Dutch French, German and Italian. Spain only joined in 1986. For English to remain a “working language” would require agreement by all member states. French dominated until Sweden, Finland and Austria tilted the balance in the 1990s. With the Eastern European members now established the resistance to French and German will be all the more obvious.

English is the most spoken second language in the EU and even in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The dominance of English as a second language in Scandinavia and in the low countries is accompanied by a very high level of fluency in English. Without English as a unifying factor, the existing cracks and splits in the EU will not only be all the more visible, they will be positively encouraged.

map by https://jakubmarian.com/map-of-the-most-spoken-foreign-languages-of-the-eu-by-country/

map by Jakubmarian.com


 

Fertility rates increasing in Eastern Europe but still below replacement level in all European countries

March 9, 2017

Eurostat has released fertility statistics for 2015.

Birth rates in Eastern Europe countries, since 2001, are rising fastest, though from very low levels. Birth rate also increased strongly in Sweden over this period.

Overall fertility rates are well below the replacement level and immigration is necessary to prevent a population implosion and an unsustainable ratio for supported population/working population. Eastern Europe is most resistant to immigration and is particularly vulnerable. Even though fertility rates have risen significantly, they are still among the lowest in Europe.

The age of women having their first child is also increasing (29 years) but surprisingly, is highest in Italy and Spain (31 years).

In 2015, 5.103 million babies were born in the European Union (EU), compared with 5.063 million in 2001 (the first year comparable statistics are available).

Among Member States, France continued to record the highest number of births (799 700 in 2015), ahead of the United Kingdom (776 700), Germany (737 600), Italy (485 800), Spain (418 400) and Poland (369 300).

On average in the EU, women who gave birth to their first child in 2015 were aged nearly 29 (28.9 years). Across Member States, first time mothers were the youngest in Bulgaria and the oldest in Italy.

Overall, the total fertility rate in the EU increased from 1.46 in 2001 to 1.58 in 2015. It varied between Member States from 1.31 in Portugal to 1.96 in France in 2015.

A total fertility rate of around 2.1 live births per woman is considered to be the replacement level in developed countries: in other words, the average number of live births per woman required to keep the population size constant without migration.

Total fertility rate below the replacement level of 2.1 in all Member States

In 2015, France (1.96) and Ireland (1.92) were the two Member State with total fertility rates closest to the replacement level of around 2.1. They were followed by Sweden (1.85) and the United Kingdom (1.80).

Conversely, the lowest fertility rates were observed in Portugal (1.31), Cyprus and Poland (both 1.32), Greece and Spain (both 1.33) as well as Italy (1.35).

In most Member States, the total fertility rate rose in 2015 compared with 2001. The largest increases were observed in Latvia (from 1.22 in 2001 to 1.70 in 2015, or +0.48), the Czech Republic (+0.42), Lithuania (+0.41), Slovenia (+0.36), Bulgaria (+0.32), Romania (+0.31), Sweden (+0.28) and Estonia (+0.26).

In contrast, the highest decreases were registered in Cyprus (-0.25), Luxembourg (-0.19) and Portugal (-0.14).

For the EU as a whole, the total fertility rate increased from 1.46 in 2001 to 1.58 in 2015 (+0.12).

First time mothers youngest in Bulgaria, Romania and Latvia, oldest in Italy and Spain.

In 2015, the mean age of women at birth of their first child stood at 27 or below in Bulgaria (26.0), Romania (26.3), Latvia (26.5) and Poland (27.0).

In contrast, this age was above 30 in Italy (30.8), Spain (30.7), Luxembourg and Greece (both 30.2).

Highest growth in number of births over last 15 years in Sweden, largest drop in Portugal.

In the EU, 40 217 more babies were born in 2015 than in 2001 (+0.8%). Across Member States, the largest relative increases were in Sweden (+25.6%), the Czech Republic (+22.1%), Slovenia (+18.1%) and the United Kingdom (+16.1%).

In contrast, the highest decrease was in Portugal (-24.2%), followed by the Netherlands (-15.8%), Denmark (-11.1%), Romania (-10.4%) and Greece (-10.2%).


 

Bilateral is always preferable to multilateral (and the EU is not smart)

January 24, 2017

This continues my thesis that the age of global, multi-lateral agreements is counter-productive (see previous post). Multi-lateral agreements are part of a centralisation paradigm which is becoming obsolete. It is time to shift to smart, distributed, networks which build on bilateral agreements.

An agreement with the EU as a whole (28 countries, or 27 after Brexit)  is always more rigid and less flexible than making individual bilateral agreements. Over time, in a changing world, the mutli-lateral deal always ends up as a barrier to growth. It is my contention that since 2008 when the financial crisis was triggered, the rigidity of the EU has been a brake not only on the recovery of individual member countries, but has also acted as a brake on other countries having agreements with the EU.

The Canada – EU trade agreement (CETA) is an illustrative example. Negotiations started in 2004. The terms were agreed in 2014. It was signed in October 2016. It has still to be ratified by all the EU parliaments. It has taken that long because of the differences between the EU member countries. What has been signed is already obsolete since the world has moved on. But the agreement cannot be changed without all the EU countries agreeing. The possibility of renegotiation is an essential requirement for any agreement, but for CETA it is virtually impossible. Canada, and each of the EU member countries would have been far better off, with 27 bilateral trade agreements. Instead of a faceless Brussels negotiating for all 27 as a group (lowest common standards and minimum level of internal disatisfaction applying) each country could, instead, have used a common core agreement as a basis for variations for each country and being negotiated by its own representatives. It would have taken less time than the 13 years for CETA.

GATT was and the WTO is equally inflexible and unfriendly to changes. The WTO rather than allowing free trade has ensured that some countries (mainly the rich countries) can maintain high import duties and quotas in certain products, blocking imports from developing countries. The injustices are enshrined and renegotiation (for example by a country moving from developing to developed status) is virtually impossible. The WTO ensures that there is inbuilt protection of agriculture in developed countries while developing ones are pressed to open their markets. The less developed countries have neither the expertise or the money to fully participate in the negotiations which is dominated by the developed countries. The developing part of the world would have been – and still would be – far better off with making bilateral agreements only as needed with relevant partner countries, rather than being coerced to sign up to grandiose, global agreements.

It is good that Trump has withdrawn the US from the 12 country (China excluded) Trans-Pacific-Partnership (TPP). Apart from being another inflexible multi-lateral agreement it was actually just a political response to the  Asia-Pacific-Trade-Agreement (APTA) and the RCEP which China was putting together, both excluding the US. APTA started with Bangladesh, China, India, Lao PDR, Mongolia, South Korea, and Sri Lanka, but has all the disdavantages and inflexibility of multi-lateral agreements. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand)”.

There are many multi-lateral agreements in Asia Pacific and are more talking shops than any real promoters of trade:

  • ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA)
  • South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA)
  • South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)
  • Pacific Islands Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA)
  • Bay of Bengal Initiative for MultiSectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)
  • Commonwealth of Independent States Free Trade Agreement (CISFTA)

The divide between developing countries and the developed world is blurring. Intelligence is available at each sovereign country. Each country, individually, is best placed to know and to look after its own interests. With a bunch of “idiot” elements, there is strength in “unity”, but when each entity is intelligent, forcing the intelligences to join groups and comply with the lowest common standards is counter productive and “not smart”.

In the EU, for example, forcing the member countries to forego their sovereignty, ignore their own intelligence in favour of some bureaucratically defined “common intelligence” is definitely “not smart”.


 

Will the EU fall in line when Trump joins with Russia and Turkey in Syria?

January 22, 2017

In 2011 the US, many EU countries (especially France), Turkey and Saudi Arabia started financing and providing weapons to anti-Assad groups in Syria. Many of these groups were, or were allied to, terrorist groups which have in turn warped to become ISIS or al Qaida or the Al Nusrah front. This support was instrumental in helping ISIS to grow into the monster it became. The focus was entirely one of regime change and the downfall of Assad. The EU countries even “encouraged” some of their more radical Muslim groups to send “freedom fighters” to Syria expecting that Assad would soon disappear. Instead these “freedom fighters” soon became willing recruits for ISIS and other terrorist groups. At that time the Russians and Iranians supported Assad but rather passively and through surrogates rather than directly.

Russian support (along with that from Iran and Hisbollah) kept Assad alive in a shrinking territory. Neither the US nor the EU was willing to put its own troops on the ground. With Obama’s risk aversion (indecision) and shifting red lines Assad was spared any knock-out blow. With the growing ISIS threat the Russians finally intervened directly (2014) and turned the tide for Assad and against ISIS. The beginning of the end for ISIS was when Turkey left the US strategy and joined the Russians (and Iran). Aleppo was retaken. ISIS still holds Mosul in Iraq.

Now it looks like the new US administration may very well acquiesce with, if not fully join, the Russian strategy. The US will probably now stop supporting the rebel, anti-Assad factions even though some of them are not allied with the terrorist groups (though many are).

As Trump takes over, a diminished ISIS awaits

ISIS’ caliphate shrinks in 2016 ISIS is losing ground across its self-proclaimed caliphate, according to a new report. Global intelligence and analysis firm IHS Conflict Monitor, which uses open-source intelligence including social media and on-the-ground sources, estimates that ISIS lost 17,600 square kilometers (6,800 square miles) of the land it held in Iraq and Syria over 2016. ISIS’ caliphate in the two countries shrunk by 23% over the course of the year, according to a survey and map released by IHS. The group lost 34% in the same region compared to January 2015. The US-led coalition say ISIS has lost 27% of its territory in Syria — and 61% in Iraq — from its peak. 

In addition to ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa, the militant group retains patches of land not far from Homs and around the ancient city of Palmyra — control of which it regained from the Syrian regime late last year. It also has a presence in the countryside around the eastern city of Deir Ezzor. IHS reported spikes in territory lost by ISIS when the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, took control of the strategic city of Ash Shaddadi in March, moved on to Manbij in May, and in mid-October when Euphrates Shield, Turkey’s ground operation against ISIS in Syria, retook the symbolically significant town of Dabiq.

But what will the EU do now?

I expect that the UK will align itself behind Trump (and that alignment in other areas has already started as Teresa May starts implementing Brexit). With elections coming up in France, Hollande may not have much room to continue with his misguided support of his favourite rebel groups. Merkel is also facing elections and her open door policy has allowed – or is perceived to have allowed – many of the European Muslim, ISIS murderers to return to Europe. Nice and Berlin can be connected to that. My guess is that a splintered and fractured EU will do little and just gradually allow its once strong support of rebel groups to wither away.

Mohamad Bazzi has an insightful commentary in Reuters:

Islamic State lashes out as Turkey flirts with Russia

…. Islamic State is also lashing out at a new and burgeoning Turkish-Russian alliance, which is one of the main factors reshaping the Syrian war today. In late 2016, Turkey backed away from supporting Syrian rebels in Aleppo, which helped the Assad regime and its allies – including Russia, Iran and Shi’ite militias from Lebanon and Iraq – to force rebels from their strongholds in eastern Aleppo and regain full control of the city. In mid-December, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he was working with Turkish leaders to negotiate a new ceasefire between Assad and rebel groups, and to organize a fresh round of Syrian peace talks without Washington’s involvement. The talks are scheduled to start on Jan. 23 in Kazakhstan.

The Syrian conflict has turned into a proxy war that involves regional and world powers – including the United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – whose interests sometimes overlap, but at other times lead to multiple conflicts. Soon after the war began in 2011, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United States started sending weapons and funds to rebel groups trying to topple Assad’s regime. Some of these rebels were forced into battlefield or tactical alliances with al Qaeda affiliated groups and other jihadists. More recently, Washington has shifted its focus to fighting Islamic State rather than ousting the Syrian regime. Assad’s two main backers, Russia and Iran, are mainly targeting rebel factions opposed to the regime, rather than trying to defeat Islamic State. ……..

…….. Turkish troops and allied rebels are trying to push Islamic State fighters from Al-Bab, a town north of Aleppo, and one of the jihadists’ last holdouts near the Turkish border. But Turkish forces are bogged down in an unexpectedly grueling battle: About 50 soldiers have been killed since Ankara sent its forces into Syria in August, including 16 killed in a single day during an Islamic State counter-attack in Al-Bab.

The battle for Al-Bab is causing other complications and setting up a potential battle between Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and American-supported Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (known by its Kurdish acronym, YPG). The YPG is part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of rebel groups, which is leading a ground offensive of 30,000 fighters to oust Islamic State from the city of Raqqa, capital of its self-proclaimed caliphate. The campaign is supported by U.S. air strikes and more than 500 special forces who are helping the rebels gain ground.

In late December, Turkish leaders complained that Washington was not providing similar air support to help Turkish troops advance in Al-Bab. Within days, Russia began coordinating with the Turkish military and carrying out air strikes in the area.

In flirting with Russia, Erdogan’s government is sending a message to the incoming Donald Trump administration that Ankara has other options if the United States continues its support of Syrian Kurdish factions. But as it gets closer to Russia and more deeply involved in fighting Islamic State, Turkey risks incurring the group’s wrath.

Left wing and socialist governments in Europe have been particularly supportive of Palestine and anti-Israel to the verge of being anti-Semitic. (All European socialist parties have a strong anti-Semitic thread which has been hiding under a pro-Palestine, anti-Israel cloak). This support has not only been political but has also provided money for would-be terrorists from Europe. If Trump now moves the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the balance will shift away from the two-state solution, which cannot work, and the EU will face another dilemma.

A US / Russia alliance in the Middle East is a game changer and the EU is too slow, too fractured, too smug and too self-righteous to even realise when the game has changed.


 

A “no” in the Italian referendum would be the beginning of the end of the Euro

November 18, 2016

The Italian referendum on 4th December is actually about the constitution. The intention with a yes vote would be to reduce the size and limit the power of the upper house to make it easier for governments to govern. But it is indirectly also a referendum on the Euro. While a “yes” vote would allow Matteo Renzi to continue as Prime Minister, and though it will be a great relief for the Eurocrats, it would be far from a ratification or an approval of the EU or the Euro. A “no” vote on the other hand would be a Brexit-like, hammer blow to the Euro and to the misguided concept of a Holy European Empire. I suspect it would be the beginning of the end of the Euro.

The Spectator:

Though he is a big fan of the European Union, Barack Obama brings bad karma to it. …… His farewell visit is, if not a kiss of death, surely a bad omen for the EU and most immediately for one of those present in Berlin to bid him goodbye: Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, who has called an all–important referendum on constitutional reform for 4 December. If he loses, as looks ever more likely, it could cause a run on Italy’s sclerotic banks that could engulf the eurozone. ….

….. In essence, Renzi wants to curtail the powers of the upper house, the senate, and to cut the number of senators — who would no longer be elected, but appointed by regional governments — from 315 to 100. If he succeeds, his economic reforms should be easier to pass. ……… 

Grillo has dismissed the referendum question as ‘incomprensibile’. His movement and most of what remains of media tycoon Berlusconi’s party, Forza Italia, will vote ‘no’ in the referendum. So too will the right-wing populist Northern League party, which also wants Italy out of the euro and illegal immigrants out of Italy. On top of that will be a significant tranche of Renzi’s own party.

So this has become a referendum not just on constitutional reform but on Renzi — and if not on Italian membership of the EU, certainly on the euro. The Brexit vote, the triumph of Trump and the populist spring tide sweeping Europe are sure to convince many Italians to vote against Renzi.

The connection between a constitutional question (almost imcomprehensibly phrased) and the Euro is obscure but real.

Italy: Performance in the Eurozone (graphic via Forbes)

Italy: Performance in the Eurozone (graphic via Forbes)

ForbesKnow this: The European Monetary Union does not work very well, if at all, without Italy. A “no” vote would be the death knell of the euro. …….

……… If he loses, Renzi has promised to step down—a pledge that has turned the referendum into a popular vote of confidence in the unelected prime minister, his Europhile policies, and—by extension—Italy’s membership of the eurozone itself. As a result, a “no” vote in October will not just precipitate the fall of Renzi’s government; it could throw Italy’s long-term membership of the eurozone into doubt, plunging the single currency area once again into crisis. 

Italy’s fundamental problem is that it’s stuck in a policy no man’s land. Its old economic model, in place for much of the last three decades of the 20th century, relied on a combination of currency devaluation to maintain international competitiveness together with fiscal spending to support the poorer regions of the country’s south.

Signing up to the euro put an end to all that, preventing devaluations and prohibiting budget deficits at 10% of gross domestic product. However, the design of Italy’s bicameral parliamentary system, in which the upper and lower house—the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies—wield equal legislative power, made it almost impossible for any government to push through the structural reforms necessary for Italy to compete and prosper within the eurozone. The result has not just been depressed growth and relative impoverishment, but an outright decline in living standards as Italy’s real GDP per capita has slumped to a 20-year low.

Such a below-par economic performance has led to a build-up of bad assets on the balance sheets of Italy’s banks, where 18% of all loans are now classed as non-performing. In turn, this bad loan overhang has eroded the ability of the banking sector to extend new credit to the thousands of small businesses which are the engine of Italy’s economy and which normally power employment growth. The result is stagnation. ……..

………. All this means that the possibility of a “No” vote in Italy’s constitutional referendum ……. is the biggest clear and present danger to the euro’s survival. …… the only economic choice for Italy would be between continued stagnation, or a return to the old economic model of successive devaluations. The latter course would naturally mean exiting the eurozone anyway. ……..

…….. If Renzi wins ……. the eurozone has fresh hope. But if he fails, Italy fails—and very likely the eurozone fails too.


 

Brexit is still some way away – as a way opens to stop it

November 3, 2016

It was already clear in July that constitutionally, a non-binding referendum result needed an explicit parliamentary vote to trigger the formal Brexit process. The High Court in the UK agrees with that view – though the Supreme Court will still have to have its say.

Back in July, I posted:

Brexit is not going to happen any time soon.

If it happens at all.

It seems according to constitutional law experts that any government with any Prime Minister will need a vote in parliament to give authority to an Article 50 notification of intention to withdraw from the EU. Once triggered, withdrawal is inevitable and time-bound. But there is no majority in the current parliament for leaving. And it could be the best part of a year before such a vote in parliament can even be held. For any chance of such a vote being passed it will need a General Election fought on precisely such a question and that the party or parties in favour of an exit win such an election. But it is also possible that such a vote can not, in the reasonable future, be passed. ….

….. (It occurs to me that if Nicola Sturgeon wants to postpone, if not block, Brexit she should get the European Court of Justice to rule on whether or not a parliamentary vote is needed to give authority to a government to invoke Article 50. Even EU bureaucrats can not quibble with that).

Now the High Court confirms that opinion.

BBC:

Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the European Union, the High Court has ruled. This means the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – beginning formal discussions with the EU – on their own. Theresa May says the referendum – and existing ministerial powers – mean MPs do not need to vote, but campaigners called this unconstitutional. 

The government is expected to appeal.

Ministers were given the go-ahead for a further hearing to take place at the Supreme Court, which is expected to take place before the end of the year.

The prime minister has said she will activate Article 50, formally notifying the EU of the UK’s intention to leave, by the end of next March. This follows the UK’s decision to back Brexit in June’s referendum by a margin of 51.9% to 48.1%. The EU’s other 27 members have said negotiations about the terms of the UK’s exit – due to last two years – cannot begin until Article 50 has been invoked.

Gina Miller, who brought the case, said outside the High Court that the government should make the “wise decision of not appealing”.

To what extent the referendum would compel UK MP’s to follow the referendum results remains to be seen. Probably the government will not be quite brave enough to hold a free vote among MP’s. Whether the EU will shoot itself in the foot (again) or actually take on much overdue and much needed reform is perhaps even more interesting.

I have a theory that while representative democracies used to, from time to time, throw up genuine leaders, the current trend of giving in to mass demonstrations and calling a referendum for any and all questions only allows space for sheep-like followers. The point in this case is whether a government is to be one of sheep or one of leaders?

Stop Brexit - image Market Watch

Stop Brexit – image Market Watch


 

What value an EU/Canada agreement if Wallonia has to be coerced to accept it?

October 24, 2016

It is reported that the EU is putting intense pressure on Belgium and its regional parliament of Wallonia to coerce them to accept the trade deal with Canada (CETA). Maybe they will suicceed, but it only emphasises for me that the EU is built on oppression of minorities “for the greater good” as defined by Brussels.

EU democracy has degenerated to be the oppression of minorities – and whole countries can constitute such minorities. Minorities are coerced wherever there is a majority even if it is a majority of fools. If Brexit succeeds in putting a break on this rampant disregard for local opinions it would have achieved a great deal for the future of Europe.

France24:

Pressure has mounted on the Belgian government to save a landmark EU-Canada free trade agreement after the small French-speaking region of Wallonia essentially torpedoed the deal by voting to reject it. …. 

Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel was left scrambling to find a solution after Wallonia’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject the agreement on Friday, but officials stressed that it was local governments rather than parliaments that would have the final say. Under Belgium’s complex political system, the government cannot approve the deal without support from assemblies representing the country’s three regions and three linguistic communities.

“I will not give powers to the federal government and Belgium will not sign CETA on October 18,” Paul Magnette, the Socialist head of Wallonia’s government, declared on Friday. “I do not intend this as a burial but as a demand to reopen negotiations.”

The move has threatened to derail CETA, which is backed by Canada and all 28 EU national governments, including Belgium’s. The deal is due to be voted by European trade ministers on Tuesday, who must unanimously approve it before it can be officially signed by EU leaders and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

France also stepped up pressure on its neighbor to the north by inviting Magnette to talks in Paris later on Friday with fellow Socialist, President François Hollande. After the meeting, Magnette hinted he was ready for a solution. “I am a natural optimist and very willing. What we are asking for is very reasonable,” he said.

Personally, I think CETA is a good thing but many people don’t. It is the EU method of suppressing minority views that I find despicable. Far better if Wallonia/Belgium could opt out and make their own agreement.

CorporateeuropeBehind the PR attempts by the Canadian Government and the European Commission to sell CETA as a progressive agreement, it remains what it always has been: an attack on democracy, workers, and the environment. …… Over the past weeks, to salvage CETA’s ratification process, the European Commission, the Canadian Government as well as some EU governments and MEPs had gone into a massive propaganda mode. …….  The latest PR move is a “joint interpretative declaration” on the trade deal hammered out by Ottawa and Brussels and published by investigative journalist collective Correctiv last Friday. It is designed to alleviate public concerns but in fact does nothing to fix CETA’s flaws.


 

For trade deals (Canada) or for foreign policy (Russia sanctions) the EU is not a competent organisation

October 21, 2016

The message from the latest failures of the EU are quite clear. In its ambitions (or should it be delusions) to act as a single state, the EU is a failed organisation. When it does act as a state it is only by oppressing its own dissenting minorities.

In the first of the latest failures, one regional parliament in Belgium rejected the trade deal with Canada (CETA), which prevented Belgium from approving the deal, and which, in turn, caused the deal to be rejected (since it requires unanimity). The point is that even if Belgium had approved, it would have been by strong-arming and suppressing dissent, just as Germany and Spain and France have already done. There is something fundamentally unjust in the manner in which the EU forces small regions to accept policies and actions against their own interests. “Global EU issues” take precedence over local issues. It is bureaucracy gone mad. Canada would have been far better off negotiating 28 separate bilateral deals. It would have been faster (7 years for the EU rejection) and it would have had the flexibility to be nuanced enough to cope with local needs. The message to the world is quite clear. The EU is not a competent negotiating partner and is unable to represent the disparate views within the EU member countries.

The second failure was the drive by the UK and France to increase EU sanctions on Russia for its support of Assad against rebel groups in Aleppo. That the UK and French objective was not so much humanitarian as driven by the need to protect rebel groups that they have been supporting was not given much publicity. However the Italians and the Greeks and others were looking for ways to increase dialogue with Russia and nothing came of the UK / French “initiative”. The EU is proving incapable of bringing together the foreign policy views of its 28 members. And if that is so, one can wonder why one bothers with the expensive and useless and unrepresentative paraphernalia of an EU External Action and the Foreign Affairs Council.

Fractured Europe  (image Counterpoint)

Fractured Europe (image Counterpoint)


 


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