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Should ET make more use of its Facebook page?

by Bjinse Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 08:04:01 PM EST

Because apparently there is an ET Facebook Page. Not that I can modify it or anything.

Discuss. Poll included.

Comments >> (9 comments)

An Independent Northern Ireland within the EU?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Mar 22nd, 2017 at 10:49:00 PM EST

Dr. Nat O'Connor (School of CPSP, Ulster University) has an interesting piece up on the Progressive Economy website on the options for Northern Ireland if it doesn't want to go the full Brexit with the leavers in Westminster. In particular he asks: Could Northern Ireland be an independent member of the EU, or have a "special status" within it? It is well worth a read in full and discusses the options for Northern Ireland under six headings:

    Being inside the European Customs Union
    Being inside the European Single Market
    Holding EU Citizenship Rights
    Participating in EU Programmes (e.g. CAP, Erasmus)
    Common EU Security and Defence
    The "European Project"

My response is included below the fold...

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Happy St. Patrick's Day!

by Frank Schnittger Fri Mar 17th, 2017 at 12:34:48 PM EST


St. Patrick's day has never been a particularly big deal for me: more an excuse for a lie-in or a long week-end away after a long winter. Although almost every Irish town or city has a St. Patrick's day parade which attracts almost every group you can throw a uniform or costume at as well as large crowds of onlookers, it has never seemed to me to be much more than an excuse for a monumental piss-up afterwards. Shure it's no harm to have a bit of craic, might be a typical response.  We seem to be in the process of patenting craic as a uniquely Irish contribution to world civilisation.

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Dutch Elections Results Thread

by Bjinse Wed Mar 15th, 2017 at 10:18:00 PM EST

UPDATED 17-03-2017
Final results:


(source)

Summary so far: by not losing dramatically, another solid win for marketista smiley-face Rutte (VVD), who will take the lead in forming his third government. Labour abandoned: social democratic big tent in tatters. Dutch politics likely to become Belgian: Don't expect a new government before the summer.

Two parties have potential to act as kingmaker for a VVD-D66-CDA government: Christian party CU (economic left and green, but moral blowhards) or Greens.

Comment freely and discuss.

Comments >> (36 comments)

The impact of Brexit on the Irish economy

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 9th, 2017 at 11:32:33 PM EST

There have been many dire predictions of the negative impact of Brexit on the Irish economy, with exports to the UK already down by half a €Billion or 4% in the last year and with some Irish mushroom exporters going broke because their margins couldn't survive the 10% devaluation of sterling that has already taken place. But the Irish economy is facing the twin challenges of Brexit and Trump from a fundamentally healthy position. Total exports to all markets rose by 4% to €117 Billion last year and UK exports, at 13% of the total, make up a continually declining part of total exports.

Read more... (25 comments, 1190 words in story)

Lords vote for a "meaningful" vote on the terms of Brexit

by Frank Schnittger Wed Mar 8th, 2017 at 06:22:33 PM EST

For the second time in a few days, Theresa May's government has suffered a defeat in a House of Lords vote.  Their Lordships are concerned not to give the Government a free hand to negotiate whatever deal it sees fit without having to submit it to Parliament for approval before Brexit finally happens.  However as The Telegraph has noted:

At first glance, the amendment to the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Lords giving Parliament a "meaningful vote" on a Brexit deal may look innocuous. After all, Britain has voted to restore the primacy of its own Parliament, so why should that Parliament not decide on the Brexit deal? That is the argument that advocates will make for the amendment, which may well be endorsed in the upper house and conceivably by the House of Commons next week, since a number of Conservative MPs are said to be minded to support it there.  Yet that argument is flawed and this amendment should not pass.

The flaws are both practical and principled. The practical flaw is found in the effect this amendment would have on Brexit negotiations. It is no secret that some EU leaders still believe that Britain can be persuaded to reverse its decision to leave; the EU, after all, has a history of trying to overturn democratic votes, even referendum decisions, a contempt for the electorate that partly explains why the integrationist project is failing. If those leaders believe that the British Parliament could reject any Brexit deal and instead continue our membership, they will have a strong incentive to offer the worst deal possible.

As usual, The Telegraph sees no irony in criticising the EU for a lack of democracy in the context of an article on a vote in the entirely unelected House of Lords. But there is a bigger problem with the House of Lords vote. A correspondent and European Tribune reader who wishes to remain anonymous writes (by email):

Read more... (21 comments, 1744 words in story)

Tailor made politics

by Luis de Sousa Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 05:48:47 PM EST

2017 is election year in various economic heavy weight members of the EU. The Netherlands comes first, with the suffrage scheduled for the 15th of March.

Polls keep showing the PVV of Geert Wilders ahead, with twenty odd percent of votes, almost double of the record score the party obtained in 2010. In face of such projections the foreign  media focuses almost exclusively on Wilders, the candidate that easily produces sensational headlines with his extreme right rhetoric.

If the rise of Wilder's party is substantial, more important is what is happening with the remaining parties.

Promoted - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (4 comments, 1079 words in story)

Northern Ireland elections results

by Frank Schnittger Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 at 06:40:50 PM EST

[Updated with all counts completed]

Party: % Share of vote : Change since 2016: -> Seats
Sinn Fein 28% (+4% since May) -> 27
Democratic Unionist Party 28% (-1%) -> 28
Ulster Unionist Part 13% (0%) -> 10
Social Democrat and Labour Party 12% (0%) -> 12
Alliance 9% (+2%) -> 8
Smaller parties and Independents 10% (-6%) -> 5
Counting in the Northern Ireland elections has just been completed with all 90 seats filled. Turnout is up 10% from 55 to 65% compared to the last elections in May 2016. Early elections were called when Sinn Fein collapsed the Executive as a result of the "Cash for Ash" scandal and deteriorating relationships with the DUP, the major Unionist party.

The other major issue is Brexit where the DUP campaigned for Brexit and the other major parties campaigned against with the result that Northern Ireland, as a whole, voted against Brexit in the referendum last June. The implications of Brexit for the N. Ireland economy and the border with the Republic were hotly debated throughout the campaign.

Read more... (6 comments, 603 words in story)

Turkey: Thanks Sarko.

by Colman Mon Feb 27th, 2017 at 02:33:09 PM EST

It's occurred to me a couple of times recently to write a review of how Turkey's current problems stem, predictably, from the way the EU, driven by the xenophobic and Islamophobic concerns of the Christian Right. The excellent New European has done a story that saves me the trouble.

A senior Turkish diplomat told me: “Sarkozy started saying that even if Cyprus was solved, even if we met all the membership criteria, Turkey should not join the EU as it was not a true European country. He opposed the opening of many negotiating chapters. What with the Greek vetoes, that was it, really. We were so motivated to reform, but the wind was completely taken out of our sails… It was so counterproductive…”

Turks’ worst fears appeared to be confirmed – the 80% public support for EU membership has slid down to less than
half that. The EU was, after all, a Christian club, went the consensus, and doesn’t
want us. Well, in that case, Brussels can go hang.

“I would go as far as saying that if Europeans had not behaved like that, Turkey would not be in the situation we find it in today,” the Turkish diplomat continued. A man with extensive experience in Turkey’s EU adventure, he pointed out that had Greece not prevented Turkey even opening two key chapters of negotiation on core EU values – Chapter 23 on the judiciary and fundamental rights, and 24 on justice, freedom and security – politicians would find it harder to meddle with the judiciary and sanction rampant rights abuses. “That was pretty unwise of them on all levels. Really short sighted.”

Without letting Erdogan off the hook, EU diplomats I spoke to agree with that assessment. US officials have said the same, and chastised Europe for losing Turkey. The blindingly bad hand played collectively by the EU and several key members, when Ankara was at its most compliant, upset the thin-skinned Erdogan.

Comments >> (15 comments)

Long serving EU Prime Minister to resign

by Frank Schnittger Thu Feb 23rd, 2017 at 04:45:54 PM EST

Enda Kenny, one of the EU's longest serving Prime Ministers, is set to resign in the aftermath of his St. Patrick's day visit to the US and the UK's formal declaration of Brexit under Article 50 next month. Opposition to his leadership of Fine Gael, the largest party and incumbent Government, has been growing since their disastrous campaign and results in the General Election last year. He is perhaps best known for his forthright condemnation of the Vatican in the aftermath of the child sexual abuse scandals which have come to light in recent years: Wiki

On 20 July [2011], Kenny condemned the Vatican[ for its role in the scandal, stating that the Church's role in obstructing the investigation was a serious infringement upon the sovereignty of Ireland and that the scandal revealed "the dysfunction, disconnection and elitism that dominates the culture of the Vatican to this day". He added that "the historic relationship between church and state in Ireland could not be the same again".

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An Independent Northern Ireland within the EU?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Mar 22nd, 2017 at 10:40:53 PM EST

Dr. Nat O'Connor (School of CPSP, Ulster University) has an interesting piece up on the Progressive Economy website on the options for Northern Ireland if it doesn't want to go the full Brexit with the leavers in Westminster. In particular he asks: Could Northern Ireland be an independent member of the EU, or have a “special status” within it? It is well worth a read in full and discusses the options for Northern Ireland under six headings:

    Being inside the European Customs Union
    Being inside the European Single Market
    Holding EU Citizenship Rights
    Participating in EU Programmes (e.g. CAP, Erasmus)
    Common EU Security and Defence
    The "European Project"

My response is included below the fold...

Read more... (928 words in story)

Will European Social Democrats regain some mojo?

by Frank Schnittger Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 04:55:53 AM EST

One of the secular trends in European (and global) politics in recent decades has been the gradual erosion in the influence of social democratic parties and a rise in centre right parties promoting market led globalisation and austerity policies. The more recent backlash against globalisation and austerity has not resulted in a swing back to social democratic parties, but rather in a swing even further right as exemplified by Trump, Brexit, and the rise of far right nationalist parties in Europe.

There may be many reasons for this:

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The Nemesis

by Luis de Sousa Fri Feb 3rd, 2017 at 01:18:22 PM EST

This is a translation into English of an article originally written in  Portuguese for BomDia.eu.

I had in a previous career a diplomatic post where I helped bring down the Soviet Union. So maybe there's another union that needs a little taming.

It was this way that Theodore Malloch described the functions he will soon take by the EU, as ambassador of the USA. This is in no way a lapsos linguae, but rather a symptom of an overt drive by the USA to dismantle the EU. The support provided by the US government to euro-phobic politicians, or the announced arrival to Europe of BreitbartNews (an extreme right propaganda medium whose director integrates the new US government) are other pieces of the same puzzle.

Irrespectively of the credibility one may lend to personalities like Theodore Malloch, it is important to understand the root of this threat to the European Union.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (100 comments, 753 words in story)

Trump calls out Germany over the Euro

by Zwackus Thu Feb 2nd, 2017 at 12:29:12 AM EST

This is interesting.

Trump's trade advis​​er says Germany uses euro to 'exploit' US and EU

The relationship between Germany and the Euro has long been one of interest here. Let's discuss.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (58 comments, 686 words in story)

Austria: No new elections

by generic Mon Jan 30th, 2017 at 02:17:31 PM EST

Since Christian Kern has succeeded the chancellorship there have been non stop rumors of early elections. First came the CETA theater where the socialists stated concerns and the conservatives insisted. The only product was a legally non binding document, popularly derided as a "Beipackzettel", the common term for usage advisories packed with medicine. Entirely unrelated there is apopular petition against CETA and TiPP closing today that is expected to give a strong showing.
Still there were voices that insisted that only the delay in the presidential elections stopped Kern's diabolical plans for new elections.
Now the coalition partners have produced a document that is supposed to be the base for the next 18 months. I skimmed through it below the fold.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (7 comments, 475 words in story)

Open Letter to Attorney General and Minister for Foreign Affairs

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jan 28th, 2017 at 01:06:10 PM EST

Ireland Should Appeal UK Supreme Court Decision to ECJ

I publish, below the fold, the content of an open letter I propose to write to the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charles Flanagan T.D., and to the Attorney General, Máire Whelan SC.

In it I lay out my case that the Irish Government should appeal the decision of the UK Supreme Court that the people and Assembly of Northern Ireland need not be consulted on any decision by the UK Government to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

I am not a lawyer, but believe I have made a solid case - and one which I have not seen being made by anyone else.  I would be grateful for your advice and feedback on the argument, particularly from those of you with a legal background.

Should the Irish Government take my advice and succeed in its action, the effect would be to prevent the UK Government from taking Northern Ireland with it out of the EU without the consent of the people and Assembly of Northern Ireland.  

This would be an application of the provisions in the Good Friday Agreement whereby the signatories agreed that the Constitutional status of Northern Ireland could not be changed without the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

The Good Friday Agreement was created to provide parity of esteem to both the Nationalist and Unionist traditions in Northern Ireland. It protects the Unionist tradition by guaranteeing that they cannot be dragooned into a United Ireland without the consent of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

Equally, it protects the legitimacy of the  Nationalist tradition by guaranteeing their identity and aspirations of  being part of Ireland. Being part of the EU is now an integral part of being an Irish Citizen and the rights of EU citizenship are indivisible from being an Irish Citizen.  Ergo, without the consent of a majority in N. Ireland to a change in its constitutional position, N. Ireland must remain both a part of the UK and the EU.

Under this scenario, the position of Britain will become analogous to that of Greenland - outside the EU and yet part an entity (in that case Denmark) which is within the EU.

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Can an Article 50 invocation be revoked?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jan 27th, 2017 at 01:50:23 AM EST

Much attention has been paid to the recent UK Supreme Court ruling that the UK Government must gain the approval of Parliament to invoke Article 50. That ruling also found that the devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland need not be consulted on the issue. More on that anon. But perhaps an even more significant case is about to come before the High Court in Dublin:

Dublin High Court case to establish if Britain can halt Brexit

A number of Green Party leaders in Britain and Northern Ireland have been named as plaintiffs in a case before the High Court in Dublin to establish if Britain can halt Brexit after it triggers article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Lawyers will file a plenary summons to start proceedings on Friday, hoping for a hearing in March or April.

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales; Northern Irish Green Party leader Steven Agnew MLA; and the Green Party MEP for the South East of England, Keith Taylor, will join Jolyon Maugham QC, a leading British barrister, as litigants in the case.

They are seeking a referral from the High Court to the European Court of Justice of the European Union to determine whether article 50, once triggered, can be unilaterally revoked by the UK government without requiring consent from all other 27 EU member states.

Mr Bartley said the case was about giving people in the UK a legal safety net after Brexit negotiations begin and to offer clarity about whether Britain can change its mind if the negotiations go badly.

"The government claims that it can't revoke article 50. But if it is wrong, the British people would have a safety net that could allow them a real choice in a referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal. They would be able to choose between accepting Theresa May's vision of extreme Brexit or rejecting it."

Read more... (12 comments, 1112 words in story)

The Charge of the Brexit Brigade

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 08:09:30 PM EST

Some observers have been puzzled at how the UK's Brexit stance has grown gradually more hard line, even before the beginning of formal negotiations, and as their expectations of EU disarray and confusion have failed to materialize. Brexit campaigners were quite explicit that the UK wouldn't be leaving the Single Market or Customs Union during the referendum campaign. Now both are becoming unchallengeable Government orthodoxy even though the people were never asked to vote on that basis. Even the Labour opposition has meekly accepted this moving of the goal posts.

Fintan O'Toole has a perceptive and amusing take on this:

Brexit resurrects the English cult of heroic failure

Listening to Theresa May's big Brexit speech last week, I remembered that the English have a taste for heroic failure. Their favourite poem, Rudyard Kipling's If, says that triumph and disaster are the same thing. It also enjoins the English to "lose, and start again at your beginnings/And never breathe a word about your loss."

---snip---

Brexit is a perfect vehicle for this zombie cult. It fuses three of the archetypes of heroic English failure.

There is the last stand, exemplified by Gen George Gordon at Khartoum, another fiasco that quickly became a byword for heroism in the face of inevitable disaster: Brexit is imperial England's last last stand.

There is the suicidal cavalry charge [as in the Charge of the Light Brigade]: May hilariously threatened Europe that if it does not play nice, she and Boris will destroy its economic artillery with their flashing sabres.

And there is the doomed expedition into terra incognita to find a promised land. This kind of heroic failure is exemplified by Sir John Franklin's fatal search for the Northwest Passage in the 1840s.

Read more... (38 comments, 843 words in story)

"The Great Liberation Of France"

by marco Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 02:16:46 PM EST

Just caught this article by Buzzfeed:

"Inside The Private Chatrooms Trump Supporters Are Using To Manipulate French Voters - Welcome to "The Great Liberation Of France.""

Just as I was starting to hope that the left was catching up with the right in terms of online-to-offline mobilisation, reading this article gave me a reality check.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (15 comments, 656 words in story)

Will Northern Ireland elections be non-sectarian?

by Frank Schnittger Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 01:57:20 PM EST

The Northern Ireland Assembly, one of the key institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement, has been dissolved and new elections are scheduled for 2nd. March.  The last elections had been held as recently as May 2016. The proximate cause of the election is the resignation of Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in protest over the "Cash for Ash" Renewable Heat Incentive scandal and the refusal of First Minister Arlene Foster, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to stand aside whilst an inquiry is held.  

Arlene Foster had been responsible for overseeing the scheme as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.  The scheme, which could cost taxpayers as much as £500 Million, basically paid users more to use wood pellets to heat their properties than the pellets cost in the first place. There were reports of farmers heating empty barns just to make a profit on the scheme and that the families of some prominent DUP politicians benefited from it.

In one sense you could claim that the dispute marks a welcome change in Northern Ireland to a political dispute over a bread and butter issue rather than on purely tribalistic, sectarian lines. As usual, in Northern Ireland, the reality is more complex.

Read more... (24 comments, 1013 words in story)
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News and Views

 20 - 26 March 2017

by Bjinse - Mar 20, 43 comments

Your take on this week's news

 13 - 19 March 2017

by Bjinse - Mar 13, 43 comments

Your take on this week's news

 Open Thread 13-26 March

by Bjinse - Mar 13, 35 comments

He was going to thread forever, or die in the attempt

 Open Thread 6-12 March

by Bjinse - Mar 5, 5 comments

Threads are always better in the morning

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