Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

A Peacemaker Remembered

by Oui Mon Aug 3rd, 2020 at 01:18:39 PM EST

John Hume: Origin of a Derry Icon 1960-1974

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

More below the fold ...

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The Set Up?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jul 24th, 2020 at 09:46:56 AM EST

In Ireland we are used to insulting, malevolent, and utterly ignorant commentaries on our affairs in the British tabloids in particular, but also in "respectable" broadsheets like the Telegraph, and supposedly sophisticated magazines like the Spectator.

"Lttle Leo" was portrayed as the EU's Lapdog doing their bidding at the behest of Macron or whoever was the EU bully-du-jour. He was running scared of Sinn Féin and adopting their policies. He was regularly told to shut up and stop interfering as Great Britain went about its Great Brexit business.

In the past week two articles in the British media have offered a startlingly different perspective. The Editorial in the Guardian "an enviable beauty is born", was the less surprising. The Guardian is often more sympathetic to Irish (and Remainer) views, and even features Irish Times columnist, Fintan O'Toole, on occasion to offer an Irish perspective.

But if anything, it was the Economist which was the more gushing this week:

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Poor Spectator Sports

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jul 23rd, 2020 at 08:27:55 AM EST

For a prestigious UK magazine, the Spectator does print some rubbishy articles, easily debunked. Unfortunately this one by Matthew Lynn, Europe's coronavirus rescue fund is dead on arrival," has now disappeared behind a paywall on the Spectator's main site but is still available in their US Edition (linked to above).

This is my riposte published in the Irish Times (second letter down). It begins by praising an Irish Times article, as this is the best way to get a letter published!

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Dutch PM Rutte an Advocate of Thatcherism

by Oui Sun Jul 19th, 2020 at 12:06:53 PM EST

After Brexit and the election of Boris Johnson, it's Conservative Dutch Prime Minister to do Donald Trump a favor ...

'Frugal four' seek smaller aid package

The size of the recovery package has been the biggest bone of contention as the Netherlands, along with Austria, Denmark, Sweden the so-called "Frugal Four" as well as Finland have put their weight behind a smaller fund and smaller portion of grants.

They demanded that any loans or grants should be accompanied by strict conditions to ensure the countries that are under heavy debt carry out labor market reform.

Germany and France have been pushing for an ambitious package of loans and subsidies to member states, and have repeatedly appealed for a compromise.

Hungary's Orban: 'The Dutchman' Is Responsible for EU Summit Disarray

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Sunday that Dutch leader Mark Rutte was responsible for the deadlock at a European Union summit, where leaders were set to haggle for a third day over a vast stimulus plan for their coronavirus-hit economies.

More below the fold ...

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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The new demographics

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jul 18th, 2020 at 12:46:55 PM EST

Text below, in case the above image doesn't render properly...

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France Municipal Elections: The Aftermath - Part 1

by Bernard Wed Jul 15th, 2020 at 08:40:31 PM EST

As the French farmers say: It's only once the cattle fair is over that you can count the cow pies.

After three years of Macron presidency, the municipal elections were seen as a sign of where the French people stand vis a vis the main political parties, and, of course, would these local elections point to any trend for the future presidential and legislative elections scheduled the spring of 2022. Especially after a long story of protests against the Macon-led neo-lib agenda: first, the "gilets jaunes" Winter of Discontent, then the 2019 protests and strikes against the retirement reforms; finally, in the wake of the global movement spurred by the killing of George Floyd, a general protest against police brutality and an endemic everyday racism.

Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger

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Winning Diplomacy

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jul 10th, 2020 at 09:00:11 AM EST


Ireland has scored a few significant diplomatic victories in recent times in getting the EU, and ultimately Boris Johnson, to accept its position on the N. Ireland border and winning a seat on the UN Security Council against strong opposition from Canada.

Paschal Donohoe's election as President of the Eurogroup of Eurozone finance ministers yesterday may not seem like much of a coup to casual observers, but it was gained against strong opposition from Spain's Finance Minster Nadia Calvino, who had been favoured by France, Germany and some Mediterranean countries as an economist with experience working within the EU institutions who would make the argument for a generous response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Covid-19 and foreign holidays

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jul 8th, 2020 at 07:30:58 AM EST

The Irish Times has published an edited version of my letter on Covid-19 and travelling on foreign holidays. The context of the letter is an increasingly polarised debate on-line about the merits of doing so. For the past couple of weeks Ireland, north and south, has been on the cusp of eliminating the virus completely, with only a handful of deaths and between 4 and 24 new cases per day. Some days have seen no deaths at all, and an increasing proportion of new cases have been related to foreign travel.

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Too pessimistic? (Edited)

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jul 3rd, 2020 at 12:55:45 PM EST


Some things will never be the same again and to imagine it will soon be 'business as usual' may well be wishful thinking. Photo: Aine McMahon/PA Wire

The Irish Independent (and Irish Examiner) have published my letter on the possible end of a golden age for European politics. Apparently some browsers aren't rendering the screen grab of the letter properly, so I reproduce below the fold the image, text and link.

Read more... (28 comments, 447 words in story)

Municipal elections in France

by eurogreen Sun Jun 28th, 2020 at 01:26:04 PM EST

I am a citizen assessor today at my local polling place in Lyon: looking up names, and verifying the integrity of the process.

The first round should have been cancelled, as it was held just a few days before confinement. Turnout was, logically, very low, and in particular, elderly electors mostly stayed away, wisely. The government then toyed with the idea of annulling the results of the first round, and holding both rounds of the elections after the confinement; this was unthinkable, particularly in the context, because the lists of Macron's La République en Marche party performed horribly, with no chance of winning a major city in the second round.

The first round was dominated by a "green wave" almost everywhere, with combined green-left lists set to make major gains in many places.

Frontpaged - Bernard

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Green centre right government formed

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jun 27th, 2020 at 02:39:09 PM EST

One of the elemental proprieties of democracy has been enacted  in Ireland today with the handing over of the office of Taoiseach from Leo Varadker, leader of Fine Gael, to Michael Martin, Leader of Fine Fail. The two civil war parties of Ireland are coalescing for the first time in tandem with the Greens.

Bitter personal rivalries and some policy differences have been set aside after the three parties agreed to coalesce on the basis of a 129 page programme for government endorsed by large majorities of their party memberships in the case of Fianna Fail, and the Greens, and an electoral college within Fine Gael.

The formation of the Government brings to an end an unprecedented 15 week hiatus since the General Election last February when no government could be formed for lack of an agreement between parties representing a majority in the Dail. Failure to agree would, most probably, have resulted in a second general election to resolve the impasse.

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New Government to be formed in Ireland?

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jun 16th, 2020 at 11:44:34 AM EST


Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Caroline Quinn/Damien Eagers/Leon Farrell/PA Wire


The Fianna Fail (FF), Fine Gael (FG) and Green parties have agreed a 50,000 word, 126 page programme for government which will now be put to the party memberships of FF and the Greens and an electoral college within FG for final approval. Approval is expected in FF and FG, but the two thirds majority of members required by the Green party constitution may prove a more difficult hurdle. Hence the ? in the title.

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It's not easy being Green

by Frank Schnittger Sun Jun 7th, 2020 at 11:26:49 PM EST

Both the Irish Times: Leadership and the Green Party, and the Independent have published my letter to the editor today:

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Trump Tweeting Violence Against Rioters

by Oui Fri May 29th, 2020 at 02:36:25 PM EST

[Update-1]

END OF UPDATE

Trump took to Twitter last night to threaten military intervention in Minneapolis, saying

"when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

More below the fold ...

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Countering Karlsruhe

by Frank Schnittger Thu May 28th, 2020 at 11:43:51 AM EST

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The Primacy of EU law

by Frank Schnittger Mon May 25th, 2020 at 03:43:08 PM EST

I am upbraided by an email correspondent for my article on Karlsruhe and German exceptionalism as follows:

Dear Mr. Schnittger,

as long time reader of the I usually agree with most of you opinions. However, your comment on the German decision of the Bundesverfassungsgericht misses by far the point in a few instances.

The major issue of the Judge Huber was  that in Germany (and according to Huber also other countries) the Basic Law/constitution sets the highest bar, it cannot be changed by a European court. There was and is a conflict that has to be solved.

"If the German court can be allowed to superimpose its own judgement on an EU policy it doesn't like, what's to prevent all other member states doing the same?" only points to the fact, that you do not understand the issue. To complain that a German judge points to this conflict is therefore weak, the EU is not one country, it is a union of sovereign states, that causes problems. Ignoring the problems solves nothing.

"Is the Merkel/Macron proposal for the EU to borrow and spend €500 Billion a direct response to the Karlsruhe ruling?"

Again a miss by a wide margin. There was never a discussion whether there is support for the countries hit hardest by the corona visrus epidemic, only the legal framework was. The judge Huber did NOT exclude some means, he only requested a better reasoning, this should be easy for the EU. And a larger EU budget as suggested for the 500 billion EUR is of course perfectly within the legal framework given by judge Huber.

"Far from being slow to condemn Karlsruhe, Ireland should be equanimous about the prospect of Germany leaving the Eurozone, if that is what it really wants to do, as the logic of the Judges ruling seems to suggest."

Nonsensical conclusion.

Best regards in the hope to read high quality article in future again.

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Karlsruhe and German exceptionalism

by Frank Schnittger Wed May 20th, 2020 at 02:49:31 AM EST


Michael McDowell
, prominent barrister, senator, Irish Times columnist, and former Tanaiste (deputy prime minister), Leader of the (now defunct) Progressive Democratic party, Attorney General, Minister for Justice, and leading advocate for the neo-liberal policies which devastated the Irish economy in 2008-2011, has written a column in the Irish Times basically supporting the Karlsruhe judgement.

This is hot on the heals of Fintan O'Toole taking McDowell to task for his new role of deficit-scold-in-chief, having been entirely profligate while a Minister of the disastrous 2002-2007 Fianna Fail Progressive Democrat government. As I noted in the comments to that article:

"Deficit Scolds" is the term of art to describe those far right economists (like Rogoff) who criticise all spending when the Democrats are in power and give free licence to Republicans to run up far bigger deficits whenever they are in power - usually on tax cuts for the rich. As Dick Cheny said: "Reagan proved deficits don't matter" when it comes to rewarding the rich, even if this is the most economically inefficient form of "spending" any state can opt for. Michael McDowell fits the description admirably.

But it is his view on Karlsruhe that concern me here. I have responded, in the comments, as follows:

Read more... (26 comments, 864 words in story)

European sovereignty : All Hail Mutti the Great

by eurogreen Tue May 19th, 2020 at 03:34:33 PM EST

A French-German Initiative for the European Recovery from the Coronavirus Crisis

A modest proposal with potentially far-reaching consequences. A founding act of European sovereignty?

I am incapable of saying, writing or even thinking anything positive about Emmanuel Macron. So I will lavish effusive praise on Angela Merkel : she is a conservative, but she is not stupid, nor is she doctrinaire. On a number of historic occasions, she has demonstrated an unstatesmanlike, but crucial, ability to change her mind. Who will follow? Who, in Germany, dare stand against her. And if this proposal goes through, in the twilight of her career, she will establish a lasting, positive legacy.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Test Test Test

by Frank Schnittger Fri May 15th, 2020 at 12:14:18 PM EST

The data above (sorted by total deaths per country) is taken from Worldometer with the exception of two calculated column (in red) of confirmed case mortality rates (deaths/confirmed cases) and % positive tests (confirmed cases/tests) which I have added to illustrate the degree of testing which is happening in each country. Obviously the more widespread and intensive the testing regime, the lower the % positive rate you are going to get. Conversely, countries which only test the most obvious cases, usually on admission to hospital, will return a much higher % positive rate.

Read more... (39 comments, 978 words in story)

Sacrificing Lives to Save Capital

by ARGeezer Sun May 10th, 2020 at 03:24:27 PM EST

The Plan Is to Save Capital and Let the People Die Common Dreams

Whether Americans know it or not, their government is not working for them. Their government is working on behalf of capital. Humans are now a mere second-order, instrumental factor to be considered based on how it affects capital.

This is particularly tragic considering that, for countries with their own fiat currency such as the USA and the UK, capital can be created at will by the treasury/central bank of that country. Granted the USA has more leeway in this regard due to the weight of its currency in the international market. But the government of such a country can always purchase any good or service that is produced in their country without inflationary effect provided such purchases do not produce shortages of resources.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (49 comments, 792 words in story)
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News and Views

 July 2020

by Bernard - Jul 5, 72 comments

Your take on this month's news

 June 2020

by Oui - May 22, 136 comments

Your take on this month's news


 Midsummer Open Thread

by Bernard - Jun 19, 45 comments

It's been a while we haven't had one of these.

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