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What can be done? (Or, whither Maastricht.)

by r------ Tue May 12th, 2015 at 08:02:47 AM EST

A recent satire,


Here

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looks like I farted in the elevator on this one, eh?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Thu May 14th, 2015 at 02:41:47 AM EST
... yesterday I had a longer reply something along the lines of below, then kicked the power cord out of my "once was laptop", so the reply died in the middle of being composed.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu May 14th, 2015 at 03:41:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Coming back to the discussion of the Euro, central as it is to the institution which is the EU, what then to do? If the existing political order is unwilling to revisit this very damaging yet fundamental part of the Union, what can be done about it?

Radical reform of the existing political order is what is to be done about it ... the point at issue is how to achieve radical reform. That is always the sticky question ... radical reform cannot be easy in any status quo that has any powerful interests supporting it, and the support of powerful interests is how it became the status quo in the first place.

To the latter question, I am unconvinced by the proposition that, institutionally speaking, repealing Maastricht will signal the end of the EU;

On this, then, as a matter of semantics, blowing up Maastricht via a provoking an EU consititional crisis by refusing to participate in the core new institition added by Maastricht is therefore not the same as "exiting the EU".

This is a movement political question ... since without a large movement pressing for major necessary reform to the status quo, there will not be political parties moving to provoke the necessary Constitutional crisis ... and the movement political question between advocating for exit from the Eurozone exit from the EU is which of the two offers the greatest opportunity for attracting forces to the movement that will be forces for good rather than forces for evil.

It is just casual observation, and those living in the various parts of Europe can address this with much greater depth of understanding than I, but my impression is that the forces attracted to exit from the EU do not seem very promising in terms of what will result from those being a triumphant victorious force in national politics, whether FN in France or UKIP in the UK. So, in the cliche, with respect to the situation of the UK or Sweden, out of the frying pan into a different fire.

Demonizing the ECB and the EMU seems like it is something a movement could do while being at least potentially able to attract more of the interests within a country that I would be happy to see triumphant in a constitutional crisis.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu May 14th, 2015 at 03:39:47 AM EST
very much to heart:

It is just casual observation, and those living in the various parts of Europe can address this with much greater depth of understanding than I, but my impression is that the forces attracted to exit from the EU do not seem very promising in terms of what will result from those being a triumphant victorious force in national politics, whether FN in France or UKIP in the UK. So, in the cliche, with respect to the situation of the UK or Sweden, out of the frying pan into a different fire.

And I have given this much thought and local discussion. I think it is important, and you allude to this, to take local circumstances into account: France and the UK are institutionally very different, starting with but not limited to having a Presidential system versus a parliamentary system of governance.

Now, let's just imagine "the worst," Marine Le Pen gets elected in 2017, beating François Hollande in the second round after the incumbent President squeaks past a split UMP/centre (recently rebranded as "the Republican Party") represented by Juppé on one hand, a strong dissident candidate (maybe even a bitter UMP primary-losing Sarkozy) with an erstwhile centrist candidate bleeding a further 5-8%. This is the PS dream first round scenario.

What happens then? Well, the first thing which happens is that there will be parliamentary elections, and here, the FN cannot hope to win anything like a majority of seats. France has an electoral system somewhat like the Louisiana 50%+1 run-off system it inspired, but with important differences, notably that under certain conditions, more than two candidates can get into a run-off second round. And this can enable an insurgent party like FN to win seats in the present system (assuming here that François Hollande reneges on his promise to introduce proportionality into the system rather like François Mitterand's aborted experiment). But, even assuming it continues its growth in popularity and even passes the 40% bar (FN are now at around 30%), it is highly unlikely they gain anything like a majority - they would need to win all so-called "triangular" run-ofs, and that just isn't going to happen. So, the historic election of France's first female executive will not result in her party gaining power even as she does. The resulting situation will require her party to work with other parties all of whom refuse to cooperate (and will continue almost certainly to do so).

As President, Marine Le Pen will have the power to set forth a team to renegotiate Maastricht, who will likely go to the next Ecofin and set about a new deal. And, as President, because she won't have a majority in parliament, she will need to have this deal ratified via popular referendum where 50%+1 is operable. In fact, she will need a referendum for any initiative she wants to pass due to this parliamentary impasse for her. So, it isn't even a done deal, we can already imagine the UMP and PS out in force to scare voters about the coming disaster (this part of the scenario is worth a diary all by itself) but at least in the case of Maastricht (and probably Schengen too) we can have hope for passage much like when the TCE was rejected, or when Maastricht itself barely passed even before people knew what a cock-up it is. Keep in mind that she wants an orderly, negotiated break-up of the Euro, not a unilateral French exit, though of course she will opt for the latter if need be (which is of course a game theory requirement else her negotiating position is not optimal).

In all this, we should not lose sight of the fact that, institutionally, a Le Pen presidency could not just start kicking out immigrants (at least not any moreso than Manuel Valls already is) or requiring Muslim citizens to eat pork thrice a week or whatever other bugbear the bobo press would have you believe. This is institutionally impossible, as such measures require either parliamentary or formal popular approval, the latter requiring further a certain level of informational cooperation on the part of the same press organs currently busy vilifying her.

So, once out of the frying pan, I am not particularly worried, in the end, about the nature of the fire we'd end up in, and in fact, it is likely, in my view, not even to be hot enough to roast a merguez sausage through and through.

I should take the opportunity to tell you, also, as we haven't really had an exchange in the seven years since, that you were very right about monetary policy when we were, at least in my case rather heatedly, discussing the economic environment and policy reponses in late '08 and early '09. You were oh so right,and I was oh so wrong. I still think it would have been nice to have had a good explanation of what was going on; this was before Krugman and others' cogent summaries were being put forth of course, it was in real-time, but then, my "heatedness" at the time probably bears much of the blame. In ny event, hat tip to you on that, and a very belated thanks.  

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu May 14th, 2015 at 05:26:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're assuming that MLP does need to pass new laws to gain power and/or apply her policy.

At no moment in your post, you contemplate the fact that France has already freedom-limiting laws that perfectly allows for the more destructive parts of MLP program to be applied.

You also forget that police and gendarmerie are notorious supporters of Le Pen policies regarding individual liberties. And you also forget that a dead man cannot win a legal issue.
If you doubt about this, just have a look at the USA...

So what do you plan to say after the first few deaths of black/arab people in France for no reason?

It is obvious that even now, a policeman killing (by error or intent) an arab or a black people in France will be very protected by the judiciary.

by Xavier in Paris on Tue Jun 9th, 2015 at 11:55:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the how, provoking a Constitutional Crisis on the Maastricht institution of the ECB would seem to be straightforward given a mass movement demanding exit from the ECB ...

... parliament passes a law that the NCB is re-nationalized, a new executive willing to operate a nationalized NCB is appointed, the police show up to kick out the ECB-obeying NCB executive and hand the keys of the building to the new executive, and they start operating a new currency with a floating exchange rate.

A pretext why the entry into the economic sovereignty of the ECB was invalid and so it would be an affront to the integrity of Europe's treasured institutions if the nation continued to remain within the ECB without being "entitled" to be might be of use for the legalists, but in the end the fundamental question in the constitutional crisis is how many divisions does the ECB have?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu May 14th, 2015 at 03:51:08 AM EST
If it is not clear dishonesty.

There no such thing as "Maastricht" to renegotiate. Te relevant treaty is Lisbon. The right-wing party that has captured your heart obviously hasn't changed this part of their program in decades.

The idea that the Lisbon treaty will be changed at the demand of one country is unrealistic; as a certain Cameron soon will find out.

No, what UKIP wants - to leave the EU is the more realistic aproach. That is after all an unilateral decision.

And not much grieved over by anybody anymore.

by IM on Thu May 14th, 2015 at 05:02:27 PM EST
Of course Lisbon can be changed at the behest of a single country. Maybe not in the formal treaty text, but in the practical reality.

Simply replace the national central bank governor with one who is beholden to the democratically elected government rather than the ECB. Then back your national central bank when it starts blatantly doing things that it according to the treaties is not allowed to do.

That is also a possible unilateral action.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 14th, 2015 at 11:57:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lisbon rather than Maastricht is pure pedantry; at least here, in France, where we actually had referenda, both for Maastricht and the TCE whose rejection led to that classic EU end run around the popular will both of Dutch and of French voters which is Lisbon, it is a simple matter of clarity which motivates use of the term "Maastricht" as shorthand; those parts of the current architecture of the actual-existing EU which are related to things originally enshrined into EU "canon law" via Maastrict, and this is simply a matter of clarity in political rhetoric, are still referred to as Maastricht in the ongoing debate, at least here in France.

Mention Maastricht, and the average French voter knows we are talking about all the fiscal rules bandied about by German finance ministers (starting with Waigel) and whomever their present proconsul is in Brussels at any given time, equally pedantically, whenever another member state violates this or that rule (which are of course "good for thee, but not for me, in the case of Germany).

And this goes for subsequent related canon law adopted shortly after Maastricht, for example the the subsequent rules around what Prodi called the "growth and stupidity act", proposed and adopted subsequent to Maastricht but clearly in its spirit.

All of this is, for voter and politician alike, referred to as Maastricht. One is very clear about what is meant here; insistence we now refer to it legalistically as that democratic end run which is Lisbon certainly therefore adds nothing to clarity in the debate, though I think we are by now accustomed to the wooden language of EU leaders and their defenders. And, not only is such insistence pedantic, but it is also tone-deaf to underlying concerns as to the democratic legitimacy, here in France, of the Lisbon treaty itself (here again we are also accustomed to the near autistic tone-deafness of EU officials and their defenders in the matter).

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri May 15th, 2015 at 12:57:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Lisbon rather than Maastricht is pure pedantry;"

No, a point of law. Perhaps, twenty years later one shuold adept to the state of art.

And sloppy usage by EU-haters in France won't change a dot.

"but it is also tone-deaf to underlying concerns as to the democratic legitimacy, here in France, of the Lisbon treaty itself"

No by sloppy language and being stuck in the past you don't make any coherent argument about democratic legitimacy. If you have a genuine concern, spit it out and spare me the nationalistic blathering.

by IM on Fri May 15th, 2015 at 10:39:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Lisbon rather than Maastricht is pure pedantry;"

No, a point of law. Perhaps, twenty years later one should adept to the state of art.

As a point in law, it is the Treaty on Economic Union that establishes the institution in question, and not Lisbon.

As a point of law, isn't Lisbon is explicit that Maastricht is the founding treaty for the Economic Union, which it renames the "Treaty on Economic Union".

The only sense in which there is a dispute with Lisbon is therefore in using the name "Maastricht" instead of the name "Treaty on Economic Union", which means that the objection qualifies as nothing but a semantic objection. So long as any legal work done with respect to a Eurozone exit uses the "TOEU" name, it doesn't have any legal relevance what terms activists engaged in movement building choose to use.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 16th, 2015 at 02:19:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Of course Lisbon can be changed at the behest of a single country."

No it can't.

by IM on Fri May 15th, 2015 at 10:26:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"There no such thing as "Maastricht" to renegotiate. The relevant treaty is Lisbon."

But Lisbon amended and renamed Maastricht and the Treaty of Rome, it did not replace them.

If writing for the official EU lexicon, one would of course not say Maastricht, one would say the Treaty on European Union ... but writing for the Eurotrib is not writing for the official EU lexicon, so pragmatically, "Maastricht" is more widely understood than TOEU.

And, pedantically, since the provisions of the TOEU that I was referring to radically reforming so that the ECB was permitted to be a functional institution were not amended by the Treaty of Lisbon, no, my own discussion was not focused on Lisbon, it was focused on the TOEU, aka Maastricht.

As far as Lisbon, it is, of course, necessary to keep reforming what Lisbon reformed, and specifically the Council of Governments should be converted directly into a Council of Parliaments by having a Senator elected for each Treaty of Lisbon Council vote, in the national parliament, by open AV party list vote with a (MPs/(Senators+1))+1 quota for election off of the party list.

And Ministers not allowed to stand for Senator (indeed, in a party list system, one has a ready made replacement in the next back bencher on the party list if one wishes to appoint a current Senator as a Minister).


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri May 15th, 2015 at 02:20:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well it stays nonsense. Relevant are the treaties as amended by the Lisbon treaty. Nothing else.

And good luck with the one country will change the treaties idea.

by IM on Fri May 15th, 2015 at 10:29:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would you be so kind as to spell out by what mechanism France can be compelled to respect the fiscal straitjacket and the common interest rate policy if it were to simply openly flout them?

We can even call it "openly and permanently violating the Lisbon Treaty" instead of "changing the Maastrict treaty," if that will make you answer the question.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri May 15th, 2015 at 11:05:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The most powerful mechanisms would seem to be via the control of the NCB of France by the ECB and the rule that an NCB within the Eurozone must ignore the instructions of national EU governments.

Obviously the common interest rate policy can be enforced by the NCB, since enforcing interest rate is what Central Banks do ... but also the more severe penalties for flouting the fiscal straightjacket involve penalty payments, and with the French Treasury reserve account located at the NCB, payment of those penalties can be enforced.

However, there is no such rule for NCB's outside of the Eurozone.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 16th, 2015 at 02:17:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The most powerful mechanisms would seem to be via the control of the NCB of France by the ECB

France appoints and can fire the chairman of the French NCB. The chairman can sue for wrongful termination - interestingly, the only salaryman in the Union who has that right enshrined in a treaty. But nowhere does it say that such a suit would stay the firing until it had been resolved.

So France can simply fire the entire board of its NCB, chairman included, appoint a set beholden to the democratically elected parliament, and then on the same day they lose in court, fire the reinstated chairman again.

There would be howls of outrage from the ECBuBa, of course, but the ECBuBa can go fuck itself.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat May 16th, 2015 at 04:27:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only thing that Lisbon amended with respect to the ECB being built broken is that it gave a new name to the treaty that built them broken.

I never advanced an "one country will change the treaties idea on its own" idea, so I don't need to answer for it. While the treaties do not dictate a procedure for leaving the Eurozone, seeming to make the Eurozone a monkey-trap, in which a EU member that has made the mistake of joining the Eurozone has no recourse other than EU exit neither do them make Eurozone membership mandatory.

They make it a privilege to be earned, and so there are a number of non-Eurozone members in addition to the two that have opted out ... including one that has widely seemed to adopt "we are choosing to not earn the privilege as an ongoing policy".

Exit from the Euro is a hole in the treaty system, just as exit from the EU itself was a hole in the treaty system previous to Lisbon. Any country successfully exiting the Eurozone will be a precedent that it can be done, and will open up the escape hatch for others.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 16th, 2015 at 01:44:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
" they are very clear and credible."

Unfortunately, these same policy positions are not very popular within its own electorate ( left right did a pretty good brain wash) and what you find "rather unpalatable policies" are the ones people vote for ;-), Marion has a brighter future ( first female president 2027 ? ) than Marine or Philippot IMO.

EU will fortunately die very soon but the hit will not comes from France for sure.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Wed May 20th, 2015 at 09:33:31 AM EST


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