Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nationalism vs Cosmopolitanism or Earth Sovereignty

"May you live in interesting times" was actually an Ancient Chinese curse! These days, since Friday, we are all Japanese (to paraphrase JFK's "Ich bin ein Berliner"). Shocking events since Friday, the earthquakes, the tsunamis and last but not least, radiation! News these days are more dramatic than most scary film scenarios.

Among many other things, they have prompted protests re the use of nuclear energy in France, stress tests of the plans in Germany demanded by Angela Merkel and an EU stress test of nuclear plants initiative.

Can the EU work as "one" on this? Or is it losing whatever community spirit it had in previous decades due to the emergence of nationalism in recent years?

National vs Natural:

"Splitting up? The re-nationalization of Europe" is the topic of a most interesting article in Eurozine based on a discussion between Andriy Shevchenko and David Van Reybrouck. A must read, IMO!

1-2 points from the article (which I fully recommend as food for thought):

1) On the 23 languages in the EU: "And it means that there is no common forum. There is no European public space"
2) Also read how France managed to create French identity in less than 64 yrs!
Via the imposition of French as the single/only language in France, in the 1850s!

IMO, Cosmopolitanism will be "enforced" in EUrope and the rest of the world by Earth's Nature & its "events", ie Nature will defeat nationalism. Because earthquakes (like the ones the Japan) and the resulting tsunamis, volcanos (eg as the one in Iceland and its recent effect on most of Europ), birds (that the flu they may carry), CO2 and radiation pollution etc do not require passports or visas, they have no "respect" for national borders, sovereignty or identities. They remind us that we all 6.9 billion live on the same vessel. These realisations will defeat nationalism and re-activate universalism or cosmopolitanism (citizenship of the world).

Plus what good is one country's no nukes policy if a few miles across the water or land, its neighbour has located one of its own nuclear energy plants?

Plus IMO the issue of use of nuclear energy in the EU could be the topic of the first ever EU citizens initiative. The kind of topic that will unite the EUropean public opinion or Society. Energy: The answer is in the wind and under the sun!

Real catastrophes:

On Monday, FN President Marine Le Pen toured a centter for illegal migrants on Italy's Lampedusa island. "I have come to express my real concern on the ground. The European Union does not have any solution. We are going to see a real catastrophe and the EU is impotent" she said, inter alia (Yahoo! xtra news, AAP).

My comment re "real catastrophe": The ageing EU has capacity & wealth enough for citizens & immigrants. Real catastrophes are earthquakes, volcanos, nuclear pollution etc!

Real internationalists:

"Euroscepticism: liberal, modern, internationalist, moderate and cross-party" is the title of Daniel Hannan's opinion piece in the Telegraph on March 15! For sure!!!!

According to tweet today by the EU Commissioner Mrs Viviane Reding, there are about 16 million international couples (13% out of 122 million couples) in the EU. Maybe they and their children are the main drivers of EUropean identity.

In the meantime, "World braces for Japan economic hit" is the title of an insightful article by Ben White in Politico ( today. Inter alia, he points out that in January Japan held nearly $886 billion in Treasury securities while China $1.2 trillion US (some 4 times the ones held by UK investors). But IMO this is no time for Economics. As humans, we must focus on Japan and the Japanese people and all others in Japan, the heroes working inside the tainted plants, and maybe also think how some technology is good for humankind whereas other is not. And how for an economy to exist, humans are needed. IMO our era is too financial. Is it also too technological?

Only one economics piece: According to RTE Business today, "The European Commission has proposed a common system of working out the tax base of businesses operating in the EU".
Plus also today, the ratings agency Noddy's downgraded Portugal's sovereign debt rating from A1 to A3.

Not very human-centered times!

Approx. 205 million of the world's population were out of work in 2010, according to recent figures from the United Nations. This means that the EU has 11% of the world's unemployed while it has 7% of the world population (0.5 vs 6.9 bn)

Recent Eurostat stats:
Eurostat 1st estimate: Q4 of 2010 Eurozone and EU employment up by 0.1% vs Q3 2010. +0.3% in both vs Q4 of 2009.

Eurostat: January 2011 compared with December 2010 Industrial production up by 0.3% in Eurozone. Up by 0.6% in EU

Industrial Relations, what Industrial Relations?

The Industrial Relations in Europe Conference. The conference, 17-18 March in Brussels, aims to present and discuss the issues raised in the 2010 Industrial Relations in Europe report with an audience of social partners, academics and representatives of the Member States.

Every two years the European Commission produces an Industrial Relations in Europe report, which provides an overview of industrial relations developments in Europe for the previous two-year period. The 2010 edition is the sixth report in the series.

Around 150 participants will be invited to the event, which will consist of four panel sessions each devoted to one aspect of the report:

Session I - Industrial Relations in Europe in the 21st century's first decade
Session II – Negotiating the crisis: the actors of social dialogue
Session III – Industrial relations outcomes: overcoming the crisis
Session IV – The possible contribution of social partners to the Europe 2020 strategy

The conference, as the report itself, will focus on a review of industrial relations in times of economic crisis and on the role of social dialogue in achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

IMO, with a conservative majority in the European Parliament (EPP plus the ECR (Tories etc)) & the EU Commissioners' College and the various deficit and inflation hawks around Europe (not least in Germany), industrial relations are bound to be suffering in the EU and many national levels these days. See also the Eurozone "competitiveness pact".

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