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Can Merkel and Macron renew the EU?

by Frank Schnittger Mon May 15th, 2017 at 09:39:23 PM EST

Far be it for me to write a diary on French politics when there are French bloggers here far more qualified than I to do so. But the election of Macron as President, and now his appointment of a conservative as prime Minister are events of EU wide significance. He has been welcomed with open arms by Chancellor Merkel, and has disabused those who thought he might favour Eurobonds or more radical measures to counter the imbalances within the Eurozone.

So is he just a French version of Tony Blair, come 20 years later? Certainly his abandonment of the Socialist party, his creation of a new centrist En March party, his embrace of liberal democratic market led reformist policies, and now his appointment of a conservative prime Minister are reminiscent of Tony Blair's "third way" policies of the 1990's and early 2000's.  

But what made Tony Blair so deeply unpopular in left wing circles was not just his penchant for liberalising markets and privatising public services, but his poodle like craving for approval from establishment figures like the Queen and US President George W. Bush, and eventually his total complicity in the establishment of a false Casus Belli for war with Iraq.


It seems unlikely that Macron will repeat those mistakes, at least not quite so obviously, but will he repeat Hollande's mistake of advocating reasonably progressive policies and then folding abjectly in the face of German opposition? He must know that the European project is on borrowed time, and even the united opposition to the hard right English nationalist forces behind Brexit can only do so much to cover up glaring deficiencies in the EU and Eurozone itself.

The Eurozone, in particular, cannot go on from crisis to crisis in Greece and Italy caused by structural imbalances in the balance of trade between Germany and Club Med states. The hard right undermining of democratic norms in eastern Europe can only be ignored or down played for so long. The European parliament cannot live for ever on it's few conspicuous successes such as the near elimination of roaming charges.

The success of the EU in maintaining relative peace and prosperity for the last 60 years cannot be taken for granted and has been given a new lease of recognition in the wake of Brexit. But what forward looking vision is the EU going to embrace in the wake of the departure of its most recalcitrant member?

The nationalist backlash in much of the EU is in part a reaction against a seemingly unaccountable Brussels bureaucracy taking decisions not to the liking of local elites. But that has always been something of a red herring: EU decisions are made by consensus, usually unanimously, and rarely against the opposition of individual governments. National elites like to blame Brussels for measures they have themselves either actively or passively supported.  

Brexit has demonstrated that this is no longer a low risk way of deflecting opposition onto a larger bogeyman elsewhere. There can be real consequences if the rubes take these blame games too seriously. But there are also real reasons why the European project in general no longer commands the affection and respect it once did: Chief among these have been the failure to deal with structural imbalances within the Eurozone, the imposition of austerity on already impoverished populations, and the failure to deliver any major new additional benefits of membership in recent years.

If the EU had been an outstanding success in weathering the storms of the post 2007 financial crash, in coming to the aid of beleaguered member states, or in dealing with the refugee crisis, far fewer citizens would be questioning its leadership and institutions now. It's all very well looking competent when compared to Trump or May, but really, that is too low a bar to set: the EU needs to set out a positive vision of where it seeks to be in 10 years time, and what it proposes to do to realise that vision.

Would it be too much to ask that in that time the EU could develop common educational, training, child protection, healthcare, procurement, public administration, social welfare, employment rights, equality norms, foreign policy, security and civil defence, sustainable energy, transport, environmental conservation, and infrastructural entitlements, policies, facilities and services which individual member states could opt in to or out of if they so choose?

Much of what is currently done by each national government is no different or very little different from what other national member state governments do in these areas. By pooling research capabilities, experience of best practice, quality of service measurement and administrative tools each member state could aspire to be the best in any or all of these areas providing real, visible, and sometimes measurable  benefits to the citizenry at large.

Individual member states could opt to lead, participate, or opt out of participation in each policy area to avoid a need for unanimity slowing progress to a snail's pace. Agreement on the scope of each initiative - on what should be common to all, and what is best left to local initiative to fashion in accordance with unique or diverse circumstances would be key to avoiding over-standardisation of policies or services.

Above all over-centralisation in Brussels should be avoided. Peer-to-peer decision making processes, perhaps led by a different lead member state in each area would ensure than any such initiatives remain grounded in the real needs of real citizens on the ground. Thus Denmark might lead the Sustainable energy policy area, whilst France led language training and mutual recognition of qualifications. Each project would create a series of online administrative tools and computer systems which other countries could adopt and adapt to their particular circumstances within agreed guidelines.

The focus of such projects should be to assist mobility between member states of workers and pensioners by enabling transferability of health benefits, pension payments, tax administration, car insurance, qualifications recognition, and residency rights etc. Economies of scale would enable better tools to be developed and administered at reduced per capita cost. A best practice developed primarily in one country could be quickly expanded to include all who opted in.

No doubt there will be many controversial areas where either vested interests or genuinely unique circumstances prevent some or many countries opting in to a particular policy area. It will be partly down to the skill of the lead member state in developing processes acceptable and useful to many others.

However one thing seems certain: the EU can no longer rest on past glories and must add value to the daily lives of its citizens in many areas, and on an ongoing basis. Such processes cannot be entirely led by a centralised bureaucracy and should seek to leverage the enthusiasm, energy, experience and expertise within member states.

In some ways, the experience of participating in such projects will have its own rewards: ensuring greater mutual understanding of what is proposed, better design and development, greater identification with its success, and greater pride in its achievement.

The EU badly needs to achieve an ongoing stream of at least minor successes which can make a real (and sometimes measurable) improvement in the quality of life of its citizens. It must seek to involve as many local, regional and national players in this process as possible in order to avoid bottlenecks in a centralised bureaucracy and a lack of identification with a project in member states. Participation must remain voluntary at a national level to avoid accusations of a Stalinist centralism taking hold of the Union.

Above all, an over-arching initiative must be launched to breath new life into an ageing Union, and this cannot come from Brussels alone. It's time to let lose the energy in our regions, our younger people and in our current centres of expertise. HQ doesn't always know best, and modern theories of organisational design emphasise the importance of local centres with relative autonomy and freedom to innovate. It doesn't have to be ideologically driven, although it can be.

If Macron and Merkel are looking to breath new life into the EU, they must first place their trust in centres of expertise outside their own narrow dirigiste and "énarque" led administrations. An EU of 27 Members states must tap into the energies and experiences of all if it is to grow organically and develop into a major force for good for their own citizens, and for the world at large.

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Sadly, I suspect that your very sane and reasonable suggestions for the future of the EU will almost certainly not be followed. Local politics, especially in Germany, trumps everything else. Sic transit gloria.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 16th, 2017 at 05:45:56 AM EST
European Tribune - Can Merkel and Macron renew the EU?
 The nationalist backlash in much of the EU is in part a reaction against a seemingly unaccountable Brussels bureaucracy taking decisions not to the liking of local elites. But that has always been something of a red herring: EU decisions are made by consensus, usually unanimously, and rarely against the opposition of individual governments. National elites like to blame Brussels for measures they have themselves either actively or passively supported.

I think there is more to it then that national elites likes to blame Brussels. I think it is also that the structure encourages them to blame Brussels.

We don't have a EU-wide election where the course of EU is set. We have an election to the European parliament that is technically EU-wide, but lacking EU-wide media (for example EU-operated public service) it is not perceived as an EU-election but as a lot of seperate elections. The EU commission president job could be an EU-wide election, except the groups (in particular the winning EPP) ran away from their candidates, so I dn't think many voters understood that they were voting for the vision present by Juncker or the vision presented by Schultz. The Commission and Parliament also does not set the agenda, as the ECB has stolen powers from the Euro states for themselves and the Euro-group.

While lacking such an election can be described as lacking in democracy, what is important here is that it creates practical consequences in a crisis. First, there is no way to vote out the old and vote in the new. This means that it is hard to change EU-wide course. Second, such an election would give the opposition an incentive to come up with EU-wide solutions, as such elections do on other levels of politics. Third, lacking such an election strenghtens the incentive to come up with a solution that does not include the EU level.

In effect, the lack of an EU-wide election that sets the course for EU, means that in a crisis changing course for the EU is hard and the opposition has an incentive to come up with solutions that split the EU.

Given the last years insistence on full steam ahead into the iceberg, and Macrons history gives me no reason to think otherwise. He actually has some ideas for EU changes, but it is to little if national-level austerity goes on, and to late given how much political capital has been sunk into the full steam ahead course. In other words, I don't think Merkel will go for it, and even if she did it is unlikely to be enough to turn around the economic downwards spiral the Eurozone is locked into.

by fjallstrom on Tue May 16th, 2017 at 01:25:15 PM EST
Current growth projections for the Eurozone are 2%+ for the next couple of years which is enough to reduce unemployment and household debt slowly and perhaps even improve national finances slightly.  Whether this growth spurt survives Brexit and Trump remains to be seen.  Overall it doesn't give national governments much incentive to take risks and change course at this stage.

While I agree that EP elections consist of 27 separate national elections, even most national elections are fought on a constituency basis with local issues predominating. Yes the EP doesn't elect a government directly, but that doesn't mean that the composition of the Commission doesn't change gradually as new national governments are elected and nominate different commissioners reflecting their policy preferences.

It does mean that the composition of the Commission changes gradually over time rather than one whole set of commissioners being kicked out en masse and replaced by another lot from a different party. Whist such gradual change lacks the dramatic appeal of a complete change of government at national level, I'm not sure the focus on personalities is helpful in any case.  

It is policy direction changes which matter and (however regrettably) recent policy directions reflect the hegemony of liberal democratic and conservative/Christian parties throughout most of Europe and social democratic parties haven't offered much of an alternative.  So while we may not like many of the policy directions which have become dominant, it is a little unfair to say they are undemocratic (and I am not in favour of a switch to a US style directly elected President/Prime Minister who then appoints the entire team in his own image).

Overall however, I am in favour of the EP getting greatly enhanced legislative powers - and the responsibilities of Government that go with that. However so long as the EU remains, effectively, a confederation of Sovereign states which guard their own independence jealously, that is not going to happen to any great degree.

While you may regard some of my policy proposals above as "tinkering around the edges" I have to say I disagree.  A lot can be done even with the present configuration of party strengths at national and EU level and a lot of common ground can be found when improved services and value for money for citizens is the objective. It is precisely the almost exclusive focus on big ideological questions of left and right - which never get resolved - and which prevents a lot of incremental improvements in specific areas which - taken together - could make significant improvements in may people's lives and make the EU relevant to ordinary people once again.

It may seem boring and "managerialist" but it is the bread and butter of good governance which impacts directly on people and which make them care more for the institutions of democracy which might otherwise come under threat from the hard right.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue May 16th, 2017 at 02:59:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Any growth is useless so long as neolib policies remain in place.  Austerity puts all growth in the pockets of the Ueberklass.
by rifek on Sun May 21st, 2017 at 04:42:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Macron is not setting a good example for democratic "reform" by towing conventional privileges due his minted offices into the palace, is he?
"There needs to be a prime minister in place so he can lead the battle to win the parliamentary elections," said Bruno Cautres, a French political analyst from the Cevipof think tank. Essentially naming a new PM and a government, members of whom don't have to be elected in France, is aimed at boosting the appeal of Republique en Marche to voters.

Why does France's president name a PM and government before June's crucial elections?

Erdogan probably said something (untranslatable) like that before the referendum that himself in  the role of unitary executive 'president'. Sadly, his mistake in time of war ('commander-in chief') has been to imprison unproductive employees rather than simply "ditch" them in a breadline.

It ought to be some consolation to me to know, Edouard  is agile and will land on his feet like any new FBI director.

But after Rocard lost his position as leader of the Socialist party, Philippe started moving towards the right. ... sporty, multi-lingual and known to be an intellectual, but is also seen by some critics as aloof or even arrogant. ... He also acted as one of Juppé's spokespeople ["surrogates"] during the latter's failed campaign to win the Republicans party primary last November.

All you need to know about France's new Prime Minister Edouard Philippe

But I haven't stopped wondering what --besides cm-- distinguishes Macron from Sarkozy, liberal, cynical Dati patron. Could gender preference be the single most important barrier to successful reform of EU participation in supra-national government?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed May 17th, 2017 at 12:21:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you believe what Macron said in March, Eduard was not the prime minister he wanted.
Emmanuel Macron, candidat à l'élection présidentielle, a "plutôt" le "souhait" de nommer une femme premier ministre s'il est élu en mai prochain, a-t-il déclaré ce soir.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed May 17th, 2017 at 10:04:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's gone further than that. He has said that he would nominate a woman "if possible". Sadly, there were no qualified candidates.

Likewise, there is numerical parity among ministers. But by coincidence, the top five in the protocol rank are all men (and the bottom five are all women).

The top-ranked woman is Sylvie Goulard, who had been widely tipped for Prime Minister but (see above). She is Minister of the Armies (ministry formerly known as Defense, but the President downgraded that because he, constitutionally, is charged with defense...)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun May 21st, 2017 at 01:14:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Can Merkel and Macron renew the EU?
 Would it be too much to ask that in that time the EU could develop common educational, training, child protection, healthcare, procurement, public administration, social welfare, employment rights, equality norms, foreign policy, security and civil defence, sustainable energy, transport, environmental conservation, and infrastructural entitlements, policies, facilities and services which individual member states could opt in to or out of if they so choose?

This would be a good thing. I think models can be found in how the Nordic Council works. I fear that it is tinkering on the margins if we continue with current economic policies though.

by fjallstrom on Tue May 16th, 2017 at 01:27:59 PM EST
The ECB, Eurozone governance and modest economic stimulus may well be on the agenda :

(from Eurointelligence)

Spain jumps on the eurozone reform bandwagon
El País has seen a seven-page paper contributed by Spain's government to an upcoming European Commission report on eurozone governance reform. In this Spain aligns itself with the proposals of Emmanuel Macron. The paper demands the whole package: a countercyclical budget, common unemployment insurance, eurobonds, and risk mutualisation to complete the banking union. This is interesting because it positions Mariano Rajoy as the leader of a Southern country more than as a European People's Party ally of Angela Merkel. In order to make a true eurozone economic government possible, Spain proposes that fiscal and trade imbalance rules be enforced more strictly. The paper admits the eurozone has serious design flaws which were revealed by the financial crisis, and criticises the response as focused in the short term. A well-structured plan for the future of the euro is needed.

The problem with mentions of eurobonds is that they mean different things to different people. So, what does Spain mean by it? Although the paper is short on details, Spain argues, according to El País, that the eurozone needs a fiscal capacity to use against asymmetric shocks. This would take the form of a modest eurozone budget, with debt-issuing capacity, according to the interpretation of El Pais.

Those eurobonds are the real thing, not mere debt mutualisation or the ESBies half-way house. To try to assuage German sensibilities, Spain is on board on the need for risk reduction - meaning removing the incentives for banks to hold their home government's debt - and also on strict compliance with the fiscal rules of the monetary union. However, the paper also says the stability and growth pact is pro-cyclical and needs to be improved, and that the banking union needs to be completed with common deposit insurance.

Spain goes further than just proposing economic reforms. Governance reforms are needed because decisions are taken that seriously affect citizens, without sufficient democratic legitimation. This would point in the direction of making the eurogroup more accountable. As we pointed out when he was appointed, Spain's foreign minister Alfonso Dastis has a long diplomatic career in Brussels and is well respected there. Pushing the agenda of governance reform will be his chance to shine and put Spain back on the map of European politics after years of retrenchment. But it will not be an easy task.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed May 17th, 2017 at 07:40:55 PM EST
I see that and get a bit hopeful.

Then I learn that the Commission this spring took Finland of the naughty list, because they have succesfully depressed their wages. Go austerity!

And of course Greece must raise taxes and slash spending again. The blood-letting will continue until the patient recovers.

So some people are starting to get that we must have demand, but the actions of the system in place is still in full demand suppression mode. And any change depends on Germany were everything points towards a new Merkel-led government this fall, either a continued grand coalition or CDU-FDP. And then, a change has to be pushed through in a political climate were blaming the South has become standard mode and nationalistic sentiments are strong. So what are the chances of any actual change?

by fjallstrom on Fri May 19th, 2017 at 08:44:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The actual change, it's now clear, will be an acceleration of austerity. The program is clear : internal deflation in order to reduce labour costs; it's pure Schröder. Random example : the new Minister of Labour, a former HR director for various big companies, announced 10 to 16% reductions in the numbers of labour inspectors. The labour law reforms, which led to massive long-running protests last year (which, along with a lack of majority for them in Parliament because of the opposition of Hamon and his friends) neutered a lot of the worst changes, are going to be continued by decrees this summer (later to be ratified by parliament).

Yeah sure, Mutti has promised EU reform, solidarity, democracy etc... but only AFTER Macron does his homework.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri May 19th, 2017 at 10:17:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Concerning the French cabinet, named this afternoon.
It would be excessive to read anything particular into the fact that the Prime Minister is from the right.
He's a Juppé boy, they are very close -- might have been PM had Juppé run (a Fillon government would have been very different). The great bulk of the ministers are centrists of one stripe or another who can work perfectly well together. As you will have noticed over the last ten years, whether the "left" or the "right" is in power, nothing much changes on the economic front : the ideologues are steered away from positions of real power. Here the affair is explicit : it's a government of the TINA party. Here is the breakdown of ministers by political party : "civil society" holds a plurality.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed May 17th, 2017 at 08:00:34 PM EST
At this stage we can stop putting "renewal" and Merkel in the same sentence. If she stays on after the elections I have a dark feeling that something bad will happen in that term.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Thu May 18th, 2017 at 11:40:58 PM EST
Are there any lines of evidence we can follow to come to a view as to what that might be? Will the "something bad" be triggered/driven by Merkel's personality, by the people she puts into positions of power, or by the impact of the policies her government will pursue? How would the situation be different if Schultz or someone else became Chancellor?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 19th, 2017 at 01:56:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That "dark feeling" is my gut and negative bias talking. Her way of doing politics has already been discussed ad nauseam. It's not the worst way (nothing wrong with being 'responsive' to the people's will) but issues that require some measure of proactiveness are allowed to fester for far longer than is healthy. E.g. the Euro (an experiment that has arguably failed and threatens the whole Union), kicking the can down the road etc. It doesn't mean things will definitely explode during the next term (though maybe Brexit...) but problems are being set up in multiple fields across the continent that will endanger peace. Those problems are interlinked.

Youth unemployment, inter- and intracultural segmentation, immigration pressures, economic imbalances, stagnation, a Brexit that can go horribly wrong because it requires so many things to go right and so many people to be on their best behaviour, wars and terror on the European doorstep. Meanwhile, I see a lot of complacency and tinkering with boutique projects (especially here in Germany). A recent survey said that younger people see the EU as an economic project. If it fails to deliver it will lose legitimacy - postwar peace and all that is taken for granted. It seems people can only appreciate something if they lose it (watch that space in the UK).

And then come the hopes riding on Macron. As usual Merkel is gonna wait and see whether Macron can swing something domestically. Schultz would probably be more open to ideas. But as can be seen by the allergic/panicking/paranoid reactions to the 'spectre' of Eurobonds (that Macron doesnt even want!) it would be very difficult in Germany to get even to a minimal banking union. Let alone some kind of Eurozone budget and finance minister. Every major step forward would require a treaty change and ratifications while people are getting angrier and angrier.

Maybe Germany manages to invest more and there will be some rebalancing. The money is there but businesses and government don't seem to be able to spend it. Berlin alone needs to invest billions to renovate decrepit schools. But they're not spending available funds because there are not enough people to oversee construction (a late consequence of earlier austerity). Or optic fiber internet that's hobbled by a near monopoly of old copper cables. Or overdue power transmission lines from the North Sea to Southern Germany, this time hobbled by nimbys.

Coming back to Merkel and Macron. The French-German axis was always seen as the motor that drove the EU forward. That was true till the Mitterand-Kohl era. In the Chirac-Schröder era that engine began to lose speed. And now in the Sarko/Hollande/Macron-Merkel era it has come to a standstill because there is a fundamental disagreement about direction. Thanks to Kohl-Mitterand (and also Schmidt-Giscard d'Estaing) for throwing us a wrench with the Euro. Don't expect a willingness for changes here while things look so 'good'. The only catalyst I can think of is a crash Brexit with a major economic fallout.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Fri May 19th, 2017 at 09:48:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem of German conservatism, inertia, and complacency would also be my chief concern.  

What I can't understand is why the other EU26 don't gang up on Germany and force things through more in their own interests.  There appears to be a lot of ideological capture and attempts at imitation which simply can't work for everyone. Germany is only one vote on the Council and needs quite a few allies to form a blocking minority.  Draghi appears to have been doing quite a good job in resisting pressure from Germany, but the other EU institutions don't appear to have a will to get anything done that Germany doesn't like.

True, Germany can block Treaty change, but progressive Treaty change is never going to happen in the currently climate anyway.  Hence the focus in my diary on initiatives that can improve the quality of administration and of life for as many EU citizens as possible without requiring unanimity or Treaty change.

I think you are correct that only a crisis could alter this conservative reactionary mindset, but most recent crises have resulted in regressive rather than positive change. A car crash Brexit could literally damage the German car and other industries disproportionately and force a degree of rebalancing which could benefit southern and eastern member states disproportionately without necessarily reversing austerity as a whole.

However as Krugman has observed, the deflationary impact of austerity measures is proportionate to the rate of change of public expenditure reductions, and thus even a slowing down of cutbacks can enable a (relative) recovery.  It is thus appalling that we are still talking about more austerity in Greece, but the overall economic picture seems much brighter at least until we see the impact of Trump and Brexit.

Overall Europe has been in relative economic decline for a long time now, negatively impacted by a transfer of resources to oil rich states from the 1970's onwards and now more recently by the impact of globalisation and the relative rise of the far east. People have had to work harder, longer, smarter whilst standing still.  Now it takes two full time workers with increased qualifications to raise a family whereas before one worker, often less qualified, could earn enough to raise a family.

None of that is going to change any time soon unless we get a far greater rate of redistribution from the winners of globalisation to the losers and from capital to labour. That's not going to happen without a rebalancing of power from global corporates to nation states, and the larger the state, the better the chance it has of doing so.  That is why I think the long term impact of Brexit will be catastrophic, particularly for the UK, but probably not great for the EU either.  However a lot depends on the degree to which we can rebalance the EU away from German hegemony, and current trends don't look promising...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 20th, 2017 at 08:14:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As for the rest of the Union ganging up on Germany...
I think you underestimate the depth of crisis in which the EU finds itself.
The "illiberal democracies" -- Poland and Hungary in particular -- are happy enoughwith the current economic set-up, as long as they can get away with gutting liberal democracy, separation of powers, all that luvvie stuff the Western europeans think so much of. So we have both countries under threat of Article 7 procedure (suspension of voting rights etc). And now that Juncker has decided to go ahead with legal action on migrant relocation against the same two countries, things could get pretty nasty. There is a much larger group of EU governments which wants to use this crisis to claw back sovereignty. They are also the countries which have strong economic growth because of the common market and remittances from economic migrants. They are not going to be useful allies to the "southern" nations seeking economic rebalancing.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sat May 20th, 2017 at 05:06:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Supporting links:
Article 7 warning to Hungary (the interesting thing is that this is from the EPP, to which Fidesz is affiliated)
Looking at the EU Parliament's vote on a motion, passed, condemning Hungary for various luvvie stuff, the breakdown of the EPP vote is striking... EPP does not share common values.
Polish government closes the door to resettlement

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun May 21st, 2017 at 10:57:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There was always a risk that authoritarian tendencies in some eastern European states would "infect" the EU and slow progress on civil liberties and social progress throughout the bloc. They joined for Strategic (anti-Russian) and economic reasons (access to Single market and EU transfers) and not for any great identification with western European liberal values.

I remain hopeful, however, even without any great supporting evidence, that younger eastern European citizens will identify more with liberal political and social values and be less imbued with the authoritarianism of previous generations.  After all, most of western Europe was pretty authoritarian a couple of generations ago...

The key is economic development, greater European market and social integration, and ultimately, political integration: Eastern European economies cannot rely on remittances for ever.

While one can over-generalise from one example, the history of Ireland may be instructive: Dirt poor until the 1960's, high emigration and reliance of remittances.  Economically socially, and politically backward, authoritarian and religiously conservative.  All transformed in a generation after membership of the EU.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 21st, 2017 at 11:49:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I just hope they get their generation of strong economic growth. Without that, all bets are off.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun May 21st, 2017 at 01:17:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Strong economic growth in the EU in the near-to-middle time horizons is highly unlikely.  Brexit and Austerity interdicts growth in the near term.  Global Warming and Climate Change are the twin barriers in the middle term.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun May 21st, 2017 at 06:30:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"re-balance" trade OpEd!

On Tuesday (16 May), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the proposed EU-Singapore free trade agreement must indeed be ratified by all national parliaments but it clearly draws the line of what is exclusive EU competence and what falls to be ratified by member states.
[...]
In essence, the court says that the EU has exclusive competence to negotiate on trade in services, intellectual property rights, provisions on labour and environmental standards and competition policy - all areas member states have previously been hesitant to leave to EU trade negotiators.

The only areas which fall under so-called mixed competence are portfolio investments and the settlement of disputes between investors and states, ISDS [!]. It is a good and workable result.
[...]
Agreements on investment protection and investments without the management of an undertaking, so called portfolio investments, can be negotiated in separate investment agreements, as traditional bilateral investment treaties.
[...]
Agreements on investment protection and investments without the management of an undertaking, so called portfolio investments, can be negotiated in separate investment agreements, as traditional [!] bilateral investment treaties.
[...]
But what will it mean in practical terms? For Theresa May, the [EU-SINGAPORE] ruling should come as somewhat of a relief. After Brexit, the UK will be able to negotiate an ambitious free-trade agreement with the EU without having risking it being stopped by populists at some corner in Europe.


Trust in EU trade policy boosted by court decision

Freedom of capital!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 21st, 2017 at 09:29:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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