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Your guess at most likely Brexit outcome.

by Colman Thu Mar 30th, 2017 at 11:10:16 AM EST

I thought it might be interesting to collect our best guesses at where we'll be in two to five years time.

Comments >> (33 comments)

Theresa May's A50 letter

by Frank Schnittger Wed Mar 29th, 2017 at 04:55:12 PM EST


The full text of Theresa May's A50 notification letter is available here, and is well worth a read in full. It is a largely unobjectionable 2200 word document, and takes into account some of the previous criticisms that the UK should not be allowed to "cherry pick" those aspects of the EU it likes, to the exclusion of those it does not like.

Overall it paints a positive picture of the EU it wants to do business with as an economic and security partner. So much so, that one wonders why the UK wants to leave in the first place! Membership already provides the benefits the UK says it wants to achieve in its future partnership with the UK.

One is left with the feeling that what the UK really wants is not to be just one member amongst 28: It wants to be in some kind of equal Partnership with the EU27 as a whole.

Read more... (33 comments, 1585 words in story)

Article 50 Day

by Colman Wed Mar 29th, 2017 at 11:13:02 AM EST

So today is the day that the fools running the UK government at the moment send the Article 50 notification to Europe on behalf of the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Telegraph and a pile of xenophobic old people nostalgic for the death penalty, caning in schools and incandescent fucking lightbulbs.

Meanwhile the Guardian have a story about a draft EU Parliament - the democratic one - resolution on Brexit. A few notable things:

  • there may be a transitional deal for after 2019 to ensure that custom controls and barriers on trade are not enforced on day one of Brexit, but that these arrangements should not exceed three years and will be “limited in scope as they can never be a substitute for union membership”.
  • the European court of justice will be responsible for settling any legal challenges during the transition period.
  • the UK will be able to revoke its notification of article 50 but this must be “subject to conditions set by all EU27 so they cannot be used as a procedural device or abused in an attempt to improve the actual terms of the United Kingdom’s membership”.
  • should Britain seek to negotiate any free trade deals with other countries while it is still an EU member state, there will be no future discussion of a deal with the union.
  • there will be no special deal for the City of London “providing UK-based undertakings preferential access to the single market and, or the customs union”.
  • the cut-off date after which EU nationals coming to the UK lose the automatic right to residency in the UK must not be before 29 March 2019, when the country leaves the EU, or the British government will be breaking EU law.
  • Britain should pay all its liabilities “arising from outstanding commitments as well as make provision for off-balance sheet items, contingent liabilities and other financial costs that arise directly as a result of its withdrawal”.
  • the outcome of the negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship “cannot involve any trade-off between internal and external security including defence cooperation, on the one hand, and the future economic relationship, on the other hand”.
We'll see what makes into the final resolution and how much of that reflects the thinking of the rest of the EU institutions. A final deal will require a majority vote in Parliament.

Comments >> (10 comments)

LTE: Pay and Policing in Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Tue Mar 28th, 2017 at 04:09:50 PM EST

Irish Independent: Garda bosses don't deserve respect (Scroll down to second letter)

A report by the Irish stockbroker Davy has found that average public sector wages amounted to €47,400 in Ireland, 40pc more than the average wage in the private sector.

In addition, Davy's calculations indicated that a private sector worker would need to save €590,000 to buy an annuity on retirement that matched public sector career-average salary pensions of €23,000 a year.

It also noted that public servants in Ireland were better paid on average than their counterparts in many other European countries. In the UK, average public sector wages are £26,200 (€30,800), which is on a par with what their counterparts in the private sector earn.

Members of An Garda Síochána had the highest average pay in 2016 at €64,700, or almost twice the average private sector wage. Surely one could expect extraordinary efficiency and competence for such generous remuneration?

Not a bit of it. Garda management is now known to have inflated its breath test statistics by almost 100pc and caused the wrongful conviction of thousands of motorists.

Even more worryingly, it is claimed that senior officers have no idea how this happened, and it seems they have no interest in investigating further. Those in private sector management would be sacked for allowing such conduct on their watch.

It seems clear that Garda management is incapable of running an efficient or truthful operation.

How is the public supposed to respect the law and the law-enforcers when the law enforcers themselves have shown such contempt for their responsibilities to the public?

I have no difficulty with gardaí and public sector workers in general being well paid, but they should have to earn it through the quality and integrity of the services they provide.

Frank Schnittger

Blessington, Co Wicklow

Read more... (2 comments, 971 words in story)

A50 author thinks it's revocable

by Colman Tue Mar 28th, 2017 at 08:53:57 AM EST

In an interview with Politico.eu John Kerr says:

At that time, the rise of Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider was a big worry for mainstream EU leaders and some southern European EU members had returned to democracy only in recent decades. Kerr imagined that the exit procedure might be triggered after an authoritarian leader took power in a member country and the EU responded by suspending that country’s right to vote on EU decisions.

“It seemed to me very likely that a dictatorial regime would then, in high dudgeon, want to storm out. And to have a procedure for storming out seemed to be quite a sensible thing to do — to avoid the legal chaos of going with no agreement,” Kerr said.

[…]

He has argued publicly — and controversially — that Article 50 is not irrevocable. In other words, during the two-year negotiating period set out in the text, Britain could decide not to leave after all and simply remain an EU member. However, he says he cannot imagine how politics in Britain would allow such a U-turn.

I guess the job of the Remainers is to effect precisely that U-turn.

Comments >> (3 comments)

European Elections 2017, next stop: France

by Bernard Mon Mar 27th, 2017 at 08:14:30 PM EST

After the Netherlands, France is next in line in the EU 2017 elections cycle. It'll start in about four weeks from now with the first round of presidential elections on Sunday 23 April.

There are 11 contenders for this first round and only the first two will face each other in a run off two weeks later, on Sunday 7 May.
But French voters won't be done with visiting their polling stations this spring yet: Sunday 11 June will be the first round of "legislative" elections to renew the 577 members of the National Assembly, with a second round scheduled the following Sunday, on 18 June.

To some extent, the parliamentary elections may be even more important to determine the direction of French policies, as I argued in my diary, five years ago.
But let's start with the Presidential contest.

Front-paged Frank Schnittger

Read more... (29 comments, 871 words in story)

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 >> (15 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...

Read more... (14 comments, 942 words in story)

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)

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.

Read more... (15 comments, 652 words in story)

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 >> (37 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".

Read more... (10 comments, 1210 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:

Read more... (68 comments, 1108 words in story)

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)
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News and Views

 15 - 21 May 2017

by Bjinse - May 14, 109 comments

Your take on this week's news

 8 - 14 May 2017

by Bjinse - May 8, 48 comments

Your take on this week's news

 Open Thread 15 - 21 May

by Bjinse - May 14, 21 comments

Shake your business up & thread it

 Open Thread 8 - 14 May

by Bjinse - May 8, 25 comments

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful threads are the cultivated

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