Showing posts with label political union. Show all posts
Showing posts with label political union. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 July 2012

One way for the EU to move forward is ...


The main mistake of Maastricht Treaty was using EMU as step towards Political Union whereas full Political Union was/is actually a prerequisite for EMU (aka the Euro).


So how does one repair the mistakes of the Treaty of Maastricht? 


Well, not Merkel's (bull in a china shop) way, that's for sure!

I disagree with Westerwelle et al. The EU needs a new Treaty ASAP (amend EMU, steps towards political union, etc).

To avoid a UK veto to such move, the UK (and others?) could be offered the opportunity to leave the EU as the majority seems to want in Britain, but with a "good" (for the UK) special relationship of UK-EU as part of the "deal".

Just thinkin!


Sunday, 10 June 2012

What does Europe really need?

Food for thought:

Many, among them George Soros (see eg "We need to do whatever we can to convince Germany to show leadership and preserve the European Union as the fantastic object that it used to be. The future of Europe depends on it", June 2) and  Charles S. Maier (professor of history at Harvard, "Europe Needs a German Marshall Plan" New York Times, June 9)  have called on Germany and its PM, Anglea Merkel. to "save" the Eurozone and even the EU. The latter even suggests a German Marshall on Europe.

But as Soros points out in his Trento speech/comments )see link above) the Euro crisis started with a flawed EMU design in the Maastricht Treaty (for which he blames the "center" of Europe as opposed to the "periphery")and adds this crucial comment: "The first step was taken by Germany when, after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, Angela Merkel declared that the virtual guarantee extended to other financial institutions should come from each country acting separately, not by Europe acting jointly".

As he points out, "it took financial markets more than a year to realize the implication of that declaration, showing that they are not perfect".  That Merkel pinpointed the flaw and limitation of the Maastricht based Euro and EMU.

I would add that Merkel's behaviour in the last 2-3 yrs has turned European political union from a difficult to an impossible mission.

So which are the key elements of a solution to the European predicament?

a) The austerity road? Fewer and fewer yet still many think so.
b) A German Marshall Plan on Europe?
c) An orderly termination of the Euro project, possibly with the beginning of a political union project that may or may not include Germany (a political union of the willing and able (in terms of national Constitutional constraints) not necessarily the same 17 as the Euro, after all such a political union would not include a common currency at first, not until full union was established and working)?

If we accept the premise that the Euro was working until Merkel burst the bubble of a flawed Euro architecture with her post Lehman comments, then maybe, I say, what is needed the most is neither austerity not money or unrealistically urgent (if not clumsy or even barbaric) "structural reforms" in the labour markets etc (economic cold showers for the ordinary people, while popular with many economists and policy makers, can be viewed as a form of "torture") but a concrete affirmation of unity of Europe, the one that Merkel may have burst with her post Lehman comments Soros refers to or Merkel's "micromanagement" of the Euro crisis that inter alia alienated The Greeks and many other Europeans, thus making a political union a near mission impossible (while I( argue, before that, it was difficult already).

What would constitute such a re-affirmation though?

That is Europe current 10 trillion plus survival question.



Saturday, 2 June 2012

EU: Economic or Social engine?

Economic & Monetary Union as a prelude to political union seems to have failed. Time to try Social Union as a prelude?

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The biggest barrier to European political union is ...

 The biggest barrier to European political union (ie a United States of Europe or a Federal Republic of Europe) is not Euroscepticism. It's Europessimism.

In other words, as is the case with social systemics and dynamics -  as opposed to physics or chemistry -  the more people think that European political union is a nice idea but it will not work or happen, the more likely it is (ie the probability increases) that indeed this will not happen or work.


Thursday, 26 April 2012

What can European integration learn ...

1) What can European integration learn from the German Confederation (1815-66) and the German unification (1871)?

I mean both positive and negative lessons.

2) What can "united Europe" learn from the United Kingdom (1801-present)?

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Is the UK the "Austria" of European unification (in 1871 analogy)?

Is the UK potentially the "Austria" of European unification (in 1871 analogy)?

By European unification I mean not the current state of the EU but the potential political union, that would count of a unification analogous (to be compared AND contrasted) with the Germany unification of 1871 and the 20-30 years after that.

One of the policy issues coming out of such analysis is whether the UK can potentially be the "Austria", ie left out of the unification.

Another issue is whether European unification of the depth of the 1871 German one, will lead to stringer or weaker large members of the EU, namely Germany and France. And of course for the United Europe as a whole, and all its components 25 or more or less of the current member of the EU27.



Saturday, 14 April 2012

The EU will not be a democracy until ..


The EU (or Eurozone or Europlus) will not be a democracy until there is a federal income tax (US style).

Until then the richest people (via their national governments - "paymasters") demand a bigger or almost total say in EU affairs. That would not fly in a real "European Union". It does not fly at national level of course (although some try it at that level too).

Saturday, 17 March 2012

From 1952, to 1992 to 2012: Europe 4212?

The 264-319 rejection of a 1950 proposal for a European Defense Community by the French National Assembly on 30 August 1954 brought down with it a 1952 proposal for a European Political Community.

A second opportunity for political union was missed when the EEC 12 failed to gather enough impetus for it during the deliberations for the EU Maastricht Treaty in December 1991 and February 1992 thus establishing only an an Economic & Monetary Union that turned out to be only a monetary one.

In 2012 can Europeans dodge the issue of a European political union again?

Will they follow the steps of the Ancient Greek city states that failed to established a federal union, thus de facto delaying the establishment of a Greek state by some 2200+ years (1830)?

Will Europe have to wait until 4212? And by analogy to the Greeks, what will Europeans have to go through in the next 2200 years? Have they not learned from the Greek city states or the checkered history of the continent of at least the last 1000 years? Or even the last 100?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Does Europe have the wisdom? Apparently not! Others can rejoice!

Europe is way too old not to have the wisdom needed for federal union.

In his Conscience of a Liberal column at the New York Times today: "Starkness Falls", Paul Krugman, professor at Princeton and former professor at my alma mater (MIT - note: Krugman also has a PhD from MIT, yours truly an SB), paints the most clear picture of the EU and the Eurozone I have read or heard in all the 00000s of pages written on the Euro crisis and related issues in recent months.

Read it here

Two short yet key excerpts:

1) "... the message that there will be no such lender of last resort, that there isn’t enough political cohesion in the eurozone to stand behind countries under market attack"

2) "You little know, my friends, with how little wisdom the world is governed"

(2) Can be dedicated to the leaders of the EU, the EZ & its members (27 and 17 respectively).

Maybe we Europeans do not deserve a united Europe because we lack the collective wisdom and solidarity as well as sense of community.

When in the near future Europe has become irrelevant in the world, historians will focus on this period to tell and explain why.

The price of (1) is and will be paid by all Europeans, to varying extents and degrees.

All members are at fault in varying degrees and ways.

a) The UK, France and Germany (and maybe Italy and Spain) are guilty of using the EEC/EU for grandstanding. One can only be reminded of the UK-France, France-Germany, Germany-UK Summits. Plus the 12/10/2010 "US Diplomats in the EU: Manipulating the Political Dwarves of Europe" report in Spiegel International is telling of this. So is the fact that they have kept their individual membership "cards" at all international organisations, including the UN Security Council, the G7/8, etc!


b) the other member states, are guilty of not calling out the big 3 on their behaviour and of not uniting to demand a real community and eventually union.

What the markets have done (since the CDSs invented in the last 90s came into play as major tools) is expose the nakedness of the European project due to lack of real community.

The EU and EZ have proved to be a group of scorpions and frogs (see the relevant fable) in this crisis.

SO with 3-5 members grandstanding & the rest lacking a sense of true community, the EU & EZ have come to this. China, US, Russia et al including of course the "Markets" can rejoice. Although they will too feel the effects. But a potential major node in world affairs is imploding. And Europe will continue to be a loose group (a un-organised "park") of quaint "villages" for tourists to visit. And for the world's true major powers to play games on, economic and other.

Europe has not managed to use its history to wise up. Including 2 wars that became world ones in the 20th century and hundreds in its history. Maybe a real community spirit was too much to expect from a group that includes so many former Imperial or colonial powers. Too many to mention out of the 27.

So, the reality is that Europe does not have what it takes to become an A-List entity in the world. But the world .(Earth) turns and will continue to. With or without "Europe".

Brave old Europe.
Better start learning Chinese.

Sur-le-terrain of the European reality show

In the meantime, sur-le-terrain of Europe, SMEs need uniform European laws in order to have a REAL single market not this Single European Act Babel of 1992.

To work for independents, micros and SMEs the EU SIngle Market needs uniform/single laws, a single tax system, ie full political union.

It's a disgrace 4 the European "union" tht double tax avoidance inside the EU is based on bilateral agreements of the 27! EU federal tax is needed now.

An EU-wide "NHS" would have the economies of scale to survive the hawks attacks on the European Social Model.

An EU-wide income tax system would make intra-EU, intra-Single Market relocation, mobility etc more practical for the average person & firm

EU-wide operators of landline & mobile telephony wld make for a better functioning single market. Same for energy, water & other utllities. And of course banks with offices all over the EU27 territory are needed for a real single market.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

EU: Who kicked the can down the road? (mach 2)

This is a follow up (part or is it mach 2) of my September 5 post:
EU: Who kicked the can down the road? Merkel and Sarkozy or their predecessors?

First of all, one clarification. According to an article (September 7) in emirates247.com "Battle under way for soul of 'United States of Europe" it is not that clear after all if the German Minister of can be counted among the fans of a United States of Europe. According to the last 3 paragraphs of the article, he wrote a column in the Financial Times, in which he "laid bare "my unease when some politicians and economists call on the eurozone to take a sudden leap into fiscal union and joint liability."" According to the same article "... and that the answer to the crisis, despite it being politically painful, is for states to live within their means.".

In the meantime, the Council for the Future of Europe of The Berggruen Institute issued (September 6) a Statement by the Council for the Future of Europe: EUROPE IS THE SOLUTION, NOT THE PROBLEM" (PDF) The conclusions include:

"Supporting European integration is not a matter of solidarity but of enlightened self-interest. It is time to address the big questions in order to preserve the unique European balance of individual freedoms, market economy and systems of social protection. For us, Europe is the only solution."

"Them" includes Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Felipe González, Mario Monti, Gerhard Schröder,
Matti Vanhanen, Guy Verhofstadt, Nicolas Berggruen, Mohamed El Erian, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens (father of the "Third Way"), Alain Minc, Robert Mundell, Nouriel Roubini and Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel in Economics).

Yet as emirate247.com reports, "former prime minister Matti Vanhanen broke from the group's agreed statement and admitted: "I'm not so fond of federalism as such.""

Here is my POV. What Europe, the EU, the EU Single Market ie not only the Euro need is a single political entity, in federal form (eg like the US of America or the Federal Republic of Germany). The fiscal vs transfer union is IMO a pseudo-dilemma because political union means the creation of a federal budget financed mostly by a federal income tax (US style) on persons and companies, administered by a federal (IRS like) authority.

As I have argued before, in tweets mostly, it is actually the cheapest solution out of the crisis, for the average German, Finn, Dutch etc taxpayer. in that via a federal tax by a federal "Euro IRS" the burden will not be falling on "paymaster" countries and their taxpayers anymore but n=on high income earning persons and companies inside the federal union irrespective of nationality or state of residence within the federal union!

IMO Eurobonds alone are not the solution. Or fiscal or transfer union. Only full union. Clear and straight, to be understood by the citizens, without any of the traditional EU or member states' fuzz! For more on this, see my May 9, 2011, post "The EU's No. 1 problem is .....".

Now, we come to maybe the most interesting bit:

While Cameron supports closer integration if the Eurozone becauses he thinks that the needed EU Treaty changes will give him a chance to negotiate in return for allowing the Eurozone to move ahead, repatriation of certain "competemces" back to the UK (from "Brussels"), it seems, according at least to my reading of the 09/05/2011 "Divide and Rescue: Berlin Lays Groundwork for a Two-Speed Europe" report in Spiegel Online International that the Treaty that will move the Eurozone towards political union (uniform labour laws, budgetary "unification" (to what extent we shall see), etc etc) will not be an EU one, but. like Schengen (when it was set up), "hors EU"! That means that the UK, unless it joins this 1st speed union (ultra highly unlikely), will not have a say in it or get to vote on it! Any referendums will be by the participating states! Bazinga?!

That also raises the issue of the role of the European Commission, the ECJ, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, etc, as well as the European Council in the operation of the "EU Mach 2". It seems that the Eurogroup plus other, new, bodies, probably lean, will be set up to do the "job". The EU institutions will continue to operate the affairs of the EU27 but the "EU Mach 2" will have its own institutions. Can there be another way considering that:

a) Cameron wants to use an EU27 IGC to get his way, thus a change in the EU Treaties must be avoided by the rest.
b) Not all members of the EU27 will be participating in this "closer union"?

To be continued!

PS. That would also mean that the "hors EU" Treaty of the core union cannot change the EMU/Euro aspects of the EU Treaty, ie exit from the Eurozone/Euro will continue to be not an option. That IMO means that all 17 of the existing EZ members will participate in the core union, unless they figure out a way of having a Euro member not be part of the core union and still have the who thing work! Does not look likely!

PS2. Times are beyond interesting. But at least there is a reversal of direction, from backwards to forward. Unless of course Angela Merkel and/or the CDU change their minds, yet again!

Monday, 5 September 2011

EU: Who kicked the can down the road? Merkel and Sarkozy or their predecessors?

That is a favourite expression of some commentators re the stance of EUropean policy makers in the Euro crisis.

According to the Irish Times (September 3, 2011), Wolfgang Schäuble "reportedly told a parliamentary party meeting of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) that solving the euro zone crisis was not possible without a successor to the Lisbon Treaty, “even though we know how difficult a treaty change will be”".

It is envisaged that a new European treaty who have to handle far-reaching finance and fiscal powers to Brussels institutions.

Only a few days earlier, Helmut Kohl had this time publicly criticised his former right-hand-person and current German PM, Angela Merkel for her policies re Europe. So had Helmut Schmidt, Kohl social democrat predecessor in the Chancellory of Germany (ie former prime minister). Especiallu about a Germany others could not "depend on"!

In the Irish Times article mentioned above it is also reported that a new poll showed on September 2 that almost two-thirds of Germans say they want more common decision-making in Europe. 53% reject a “United States of Europe”. "Richard Hilmer of the Infratest/dimap polling agency said the results showed a clear aversion to looming euro zone rescue and reform measures. ...“But Germans remain at heart positively disposed to Europe and have nothing against further integration”"

A few hours ago (September 3), Gerhard Schröder, the social democrat German Chancellor (Prime Minister) from 1997 to 2005 (who succeeded Kohl), in an interview with Der Spiegel was kinder to Angela Merkel and spoke in favour of a United States of Europe.

What does this all mean?

In my opinion, it means that we are slowly picking up pace in reversing the current malaise in Europe and in taking the only road that is available, the road to political union in Europe. A US of Europe (or federal republic) that will stand tall next to China, the US, etc. (read Schröder's interview, in German).

Now, as I have written before (and tweeted many time more) the Maatricht European Summit (now European Council) which met in the form of an Inter-Governmental Conference to amend the EEC Treaty in Maastricht in December 1991 made a crucial error by deciding Economic and Monetary Union (the latter meant the Euro creation, the former is yet to materialise) without the foundation of a political union. In other words it decided to create a new currency but one without a country. I have also argued that political union and the single federal laws it comes with, see eg Fed Republic of Germany, a federal head of government (Germany) or state (USA), a federak income tax administered by a federal authority (in the US: the famous IRS), is a necessary foundation not only for a single currency but a single market as well (see the incomplete state of the EU Single Market 19 years after its launch on 1/1/1993).

Those public comments by no less than three (!) former heads of German government, two of which, Schmidt and Kohl, along with Mitterand, Giscard d'Estaing and others, are considered political giants of recent European history have come at a time when it is popular to accuse the current political leaders such as Merkel, Sarkozy, et al as lacking in leadership.

And, indeed, I must admit, reading the comments of Kohl reminded me of an era, not so long ago where one felt that political leaders were leaders and did not govern by looking at the opinion polls all the time or phobic of political cost.

Then I realised that it is some of those giants of European politics that did not manage to decide political union in 1991, when the EEC (then EC/EU) had only 12 members (thus in theory decision making was easier than then with 15, then 25 and now with 27). Who are the 12 heads or state or government that met in Maastricht in December 1991?

They were:
For The Netherlands: Prime-Minister, Mr. Rudolphus Lubbers.
For Belgium: Prime-Minister, Mr. Wilfried Martens.
For Danmark: Prime-Minister, Mr. Poul Schlueter.
For Germany: Chancellor, Mr. Helmut Kohl
For Greece: Prime-Minister, Mr. Constantin Mitsotakis
For Spain: President of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Felipe González
For France: President, Mr. François Mitterrand
For Ireland: Taoiseach, Mr. Charles Haughey
For Italy: President of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Giulio Andreotti.
For Luxembourg: Prime-Minister Jacques Santer.
For Portugal: Prime-Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva.
For the United Kingdom: Prime-Minister John Major.

(source: General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union)

Chapter 8 of europedia.moussis.eu that contains an online version of Nicholas Moussis' well known book: Access to European Union law, economics, policies, shows that (IMO monstrosity) was devised at Maatricht as a compromise. Moussis explains: "... The compromise solution that was found there and then was the partition of European integration into two Treaties (one on the European Union and one on the European Community) and into three construction pillars: the European Community - the first and main pillar; common foreign and security policy (CFSP); and justice and home affairs (JHA)...". Oh my. A legal/institutional monstrosity, something which was/is alas not a new thing for the EEC/EC/EU in the effort to reach compromises, ie in "kicking the can down the road". Read more of Nicholas Moussis' analysis of how this mess of tied up via the next 3 EU Treaties!

So, who is kicking/kicked the can down the road? Merkel, Sarkozy et al or their predecessors?

The least those who are still able to, can do, is speak up now, explain to the public opinion, and thus help their successors lead Europe where it is destined to go.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Merkel, CDU, Obama. East Asian Tigers, leadership, Political Union

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Euro: Reality and realities and other global dynamics

An analysis of current affairs issues.
In vlog format. 10 minutes.

Euro scenarios: The realistic option.
US downgrade, Merkel-Sarkozy, Bear markets, etc!




See also (in text): The real reality of the realities re the Eurozone


Saturday, 6 August 2011

World and European dynamics: 20 years later ....

20 years ago today, the WWW was born. The world was still celebrating the winds of change propelled by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the return of freedom in Eastern and South Eastern Europe (and part of Asia).

The Presidency of the Council was in Dutch hands and the leaders of the then 12 members of the then EEC were slowly preparing for the European Summit aka IGC that was scheduled to take place in Maastricht in December 1991. That decided to create the EU out of the EEC et al and decide on a Economic and Monetary Union (that started in 1999, coins and banknotes introduced on 1/1/2002).

The mere suggestion of China membership of the WTO was unthinkable (it happened 10 years later, December 2001).

76 years ago today (August 6, 1945, the nuclear bomb was dropped at Hiroshima (Nagasaki on August 9).

Today, August 6, 2011 the winds of change have long died down. The winds of doom, gloom, xenophobia, etc etc etc are in full force.

December 1990: I was going from Brussels back to Paris by train and reading, in a well known magazine, about the plans for a single European currency while a few pages apart I was reading about the dis-integration of the Soviet Union. Little did I know that less than a year later I was to work in Brussels and dive into EU policies/affairs.

Times for the winds of change to blow again. Time for political union of the EU. Why? Unless you have been living in a cave for the past 20 years, you can understand why. Come to think of it, even if you have, you can still appreciate why.

One reason? Read this and connect the dots. Unless maybe you think that a social medium of 200 or 500 million "inhabitants" is a Polity or a country. You should not because it is not. Please unplug the matrix.

PS. Some 2491 years ago, in August or September 480 BC, the battle of Thermopylae took place.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Let's not make the Maastricht mistake again

Some are now saying that fiscal union is the solution.

Let's not make the Maastricht mistake again.

Euro, fiscal union, even Single Market need EU political union. Inevitably. Sine qua son.

Friday, 17 June 2011

EU Systemics: Some possible options for Political Union

Option A:

France
Luxembourg
Portugal
Italy
Greece

All 5 are Eurozone17 members

Option B:

A5 + Belgium


Option C:

B6 + Bulgaria + Romania
8 members, 6 of then in Eurozone17


Option D:

B6 + Germany + Austria + Slovenia

9 members, all Eurozone17 members

Option E:

D9 + Bulgaria + Romania

11 members, 9 Eurozone17 members

Option F:

Eurozone17 - Finland - Ireland

15 members, all but 2 of the Eurozone17 members

Option G:

EU27 minus UK, Hungary, Czech Rep., Sweden
In other words, the 23 that agreed to the Europlus pact a few months ago

More options are possible. Will list them plus put more beef in the 7 ones listed in this post in forthcoming post.

A key "technical" issue is whether a political union should include all Eurozone17 members or could function w/o some Eurozone members.
Plus whether it could include and function including some of the 10 non-Eurozone members.

Interesting, times, too interesting, but EUrope has to move forward., someway, somehow, finally.

Feel free to comment via comments to this post or to http://www.twitter.com/npthinking

There is also an "EU Political Union Now!" group om Facebook.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Europe keeps failing in its History and Logic exams!

Can one imagine what the world would be like today of the US states had decided not to create a federal union but created a free trade area (as some Britons and other Eurosceptics want the EU to be) instead?

If the Ancient Greek city-states has created federal union in the 5th or 4th century BC, the world be different today. Rome would have probably more emerged, among other things.

In 2000 years or maybe much sooner, people will be saying the same re Europe!

Why is it so difficult for European to wise up after thousands of years of experiences and unite?

Europe has/is being "played" by the USA, the Asian tigers, Japan, China and others, plus the global financial system. Time to put an end to that or not?

Unless Europe grabs the bull by the horns, austerity in Europe will last. Time to talk of EU interest.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Deepening of the EU and the up side of having 27 members as a pool

Certain member(s) of the then EU15 saw the then upcoming 2004 mega-enlargement (from 15 to 25) as an (sneaky) opportunity to delay if not avert the deepening of the union.

IMO the 2004, 2007 and future enlargements are a moral duty for the EU.

How about deepening then?

Well, what those certain members probably did not realise, then, or even now, is that the up side of having 27 members is that there are enough for a 26, 20, 17 or even 15 member European political union!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The real Greek tragedy of Europe

In the last few months, the word Tragedy or Greek Tragedy has been used a lot by international media.

Yet the real Ancient Greek tragedy was that Greek city-states did not unite into one federal state (back in the 5th century BC). If they had, 400 BC - 2011 AD history would have been quite different.

Europe's real modern tragedy is the same, ie the absence of political union among Europe's states.

And the Greek crisis is one of the in-your-face reminders of that.

Reminders of the absence of political union, military union (Greece No. 1 defense spender per capita in the EU, 22 in the world, 2006 (CIA World Factbook), fiscal union (federal tax and federal budget and of course federal European "IRS"), economic union, etc. No EU-wide "NHS", no EU-wide car registration/plates, no EU-wide job market, no EU-wide online systems in banks (how many banks operate throughout the EU the same way they operate throughout eg a federal country like Germany), etc.
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