Friday, March 18, 2011

Is it a plane, a UFO or the EU (finally) moving forward?

Is it a plane? Is it a UFO? Is it a mirage? No, it is the EU (finally) moving forward, albeit in a clumsy (and confusing) fashion!

In effect, part of what is happening at the moment in the EU is a move to break away from the UK's "union-blocking"! In the midst of quite complicated systemics and dynamics that do contribute to the difficulty and confusion, but also make ever closer ie deeper union in Europe even more of a must.

More specifically, as I tweeted last Friday, there is an urgent need for a sovereign EU in:
a) energy
b) defense
c) economics (internal market)
d) foods, especially staple ones
yet open to the world (eg with a more "open" policy re immigration, be it of asylum seekers or the so called "economic immigrants")

Part of the world systemics and dynamics are:

1) In recent years the US has left a gap that can best be filled by the EU rather than China, provided the EU evolves into a US of E or a Fed Rep of Europe.

Eg the US was a beacon and a magnet for all people who were suffocating in their natives parts of the planet and who wanted to strive for a better future in an environment where it mattered more where you wanted to go and become and less your background or class or birth rights. IMO after the closing of Ellis Island, that US started to wane. And has become immigrant hostile in recent years. Many more examples of the gap, but not to be discussed in this analysis.

So, a fully united, independent and sovereign EU would be a positive factor in world affairs instead of the current situation (see rise of xenophobia, nationalism, grand standing by France, Germany or the UK, a stance that the American diplomat whose cable was leaked eloquently described (referring to the UK, France and Germany) as Europe's dwarves (see "Manipulating the Political Dwarves of Europe" by Gregor Peter Schmitz in Spiegel International 12/10/2010)

2) China's 2001 WTO entry and its policies have caused major systemic quakes in US & EU, as I tweeted on Saturday.

They have even been a factor in the Euro's probs, IMO.

2 of the interesting articles/analysis that have appeared in recent days are:

"Nine EU countries set out post-crisis growth plan" reported on Friday, March 18, Andrew Rettman in the EUOberver.

"Prepare for a Euro Zone Divided in Two" is the title of an interesting opinion article by Irwin Stelzer, director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute in Washington, in the WSJ (March 21).

They both merit reading as valuable food for thought.

Regarding the topic in Irwin Stelzer's analysis, IMO of the 10 non-Eurozone EU members, 3 of the old EU15, the UK. Denmark and Sweden have willingly chosen to be marginalised by staying out of the Euro. The other 7 are still relatively new EU members (5 since 2004 and 2 since 2007) thus have more "excuses" for not having joined the Euro yet (of course at least 1, the Czech Rep., especially under its current President, seems unlikely to want to join, for ideological (libertarian?) reasons).

But the rapid EU enlargement from 15 to 25 then 27 was not meant to be at the expense of deepening, although it did, but the delay has been long enough that a dynamic even somewhat "clumsy" move forward, had become overdue. Not that the delay was a fault of the new members that after all were "owed" EU membership for the suffering they endured by communism (and for what happened back in Yalta and Potsdam). It gave others the excuse to slow the EU's deepening down. But no more, especially after Cameron's UK Sovereignty Bill. As the governor of the Bank of England reportedly told the Americans (according to the famous leaks), the Euro crisis was bound to accelerate the move towards federal Europe. After all, IMO as well as others', the current Euro crisis is caused by the fact that Monetary Union was not preceded or at least accompanied by not only Economic but Political (federal) union as well (as I said, causality in our times is very complex and not open to simple analyses, so bear with me)

So if Sweden and Denmark find themselves left out of key meetings of EU interest as The Economist notes, according to Irwin Stelzer (in effect the Eurogroup meetings that take place 1 day before each ECOFIN Council of Ministers of Finance and the recent first ever Eurozone Summit), they should recall that the Euro was not decided in 1991/92 (Maastricht) as an optional (buffet) feature of the EU, but as the vehicle for a) making the EU common then single market (by 1/1/1993) more effective and b) moving the EU forward!

And I agree with the view expressed by many that non-Euro membership of an EU country/economy, gives that economy an unfair trade advantage inside the Single Market of the EU. Of course, with life on Earth systemics nowadays being complex and in any case not uni-variable, the insistence of Eurozone monetary policy to focus on inflation only (with the dogmatic 2% target) that has led to many periods of expensive Euro vis-a-vis not only the Yuan and the USD but also the Pound etc, has also contributed to the current Euro crisis (and other factors as well).

But given the systemics and the dynamics not only inside the EU and the Eurozone, but the world (Earth) as a whole, what is happening now is probably the most feasible (but maybe not the best) way for Europe to move forward!

As for the 4 proposals of growth after the crisis put forward by 9 EU member states, allegedly with Cameron's leadership, they seem to make worthwhile reading.

They are the proposals of 9 governments of EU member states, not the 9 states. 3 are Eurozone members (NL, Finland, Estonia). The 9 are basically most of the members of the forum UK-Nordics-Baltics Cameron organised a few weeks ago plus the NL. I should also note that at Davos this year there was an attempt to present and market a Nordic Capitalism model as a model for others, in Europe and the world, to "follow"/copy/be inspired by.

So while the 4 points of the 9 sound in principle good, IMO the Tories must realise that

a) regulation driven burden to SMEs comes from national & local regulations too, not just EU ones! And one could argue that national and local ones are more of a burden than the EU ones (ie the regulations and the directives transposed into national laws).

b) that SMEs need EU-wide uniform regulations, rules, etc, which affects the Sovereignty Tories say that they care so much for!

c) Doha completion within 2011 IMO highly unlikely. Inter alia, Obama has no "fast track".

Now, some relatively harsh reminders for the mostly conservative or liberal governments of the other 8 that submitted the 4 points:

As I tweeted on Friday, the pro open-market govs of Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Poland, the NL, Sweden (& the UK) must realise that "open market" means not only mobility of capital, goods - and services as they recommend (agreed) - but also workers/labor and humans in general. Because labor needs as much mobility as possible in order to "compete" in relative value to the other factor of production, Capital! Oh yes!

Those nations that wish to conserve their "national" (altho the UK is a mini-EU) "sovereignty" are to miss out on the benefits of EUropean sovereignty

Angela Merkel decided to abstain (along with Russia and China in the Security Council of the UN) from the UN vote on Libya. The issue is out of my areas of experience and activity so I will not comment. After all, from what I read the SPD and the Greens did not take a clear stand on the same matter either. The issue I feel competent (as an MBA and as a public policy analyst) to comment on is whether it is indeed electoral concerns in state (laender) elections (one more took place this weekend and 2 crucial ones next weekend) that affect to a large extent the German government's demands on the other 16 of the Euro (and especially the GIIPS (I refuse to use the PIIGS acronym)) in the "Competitiveness Pact". We know of the hardcore austerity hawkish POV of the FDP. But as far as I know, the SPD is not exactly austerity hawkish. So how would a less hawkish stance by Angela Merkel in the Pact cause her to lose votes to the SPD?
Ah, c'est l'Europe!

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