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They are all men aren't they?  There appears to be a woman at the top of the top photo but her head has been chopped off.

Actually, this makes me quite angry. How the hell we can ever hope to achieve gender equality, let alone any other form of equality when hugely important treaties like this are almost entirely put together by white (and probably middle class) men.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 03:35:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking the same thing - but did not have the time to comment, now you did for me too. Wish I could give you another 10!
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 03:43:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I, when I see photos like this, know how right I was to vote 'no' in our EU referendum...

Norwegian women tipped the balance in the second EU referendum (1994)...
I remember discussions on the issue of EU equality legislation, or lack of it.  Gender equality in the EU was 'inferior' to what Norwegian women had achieved at that time (and still is, it seems...).

A 'small' issue in the big scheme of things, maybe, but it makes a big difference...  

With this bunch at the top - not much hope.

 

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 07:52:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When you look at the other photos, above all the full family picture rather than a close shot, you'll see more women -- though the ratio is not much different, I count 8 women (one of them obscured save for a bit of grey hair: the Hungarian foreign minister) and 54 men.

As it happens, I am sad Norway didn't join the EU: you would have tilted  the balance towards a more progressive direction.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 10:22:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Glad to hear that there are a few more women than the picture shows...:-)

Well, I happen to believe that EU membership would have hindered the natural progression we have seen in Norway - on this issue, and many other issues.  There are fundamental differences in outlook (values)and policy on so many levels. As it is, we have to 'fight' the EU regularly on issues that are important to Norway.  If inside, I believe we would have lost our largely bottom-up type of democracy.    

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 11:00:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or you could have made the EU more bottom-up.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 11:14:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would say that is wishful thinking...

In the EU 'democracy' the majority rules...

The EU system has never been bottom-up, and never will be either, IMO.  

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:10:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the EU 'democracy' the majority rules...

Democracy is majority rule. What's your point? Trondheim should declare independence from Norway?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:34:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was no point other than the fact that I believe the EU is too large for a small nation to have any meaningful influence. I obviously did not make that clear enough in my previous post.
by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:48:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't Norway too large for Hammerfest to have meaningful influence? (In fact I think Malta has more influence in the EU than Hammerfest in Norway.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:58:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you serious?
by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 01:15:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am deadly serious. What part seems unserious to you?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:26:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Hammerfest more bottom-up then the rest of Norway? Could Hammerfest then change Norway in its image?

It seems to me that Solveig is answering "very little" on what effect Norway would have in EU, and you argue that it would be undemocratic for Norway to have more effect. If so, then it appears you have answered your own question.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:17:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Solveig:
There was no point other than the fact that I believe the EU is too large for a small nation to have any meaningful influence.

Poland might disagree with that.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 07:48:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poland??  

Poland has almost 39 million people.  Norway has just over 4.5 million.  

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 08:39:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From past events, TBG could have named Denmark (5.45 million) or Ireland (4.3 million), too.

However, what's this Norway-against-everyone-else attitude? Can't you imagine Norway joining up, say, with other Scandinavian countries? That way, due to the higher-than-proportional voting power of smaller EU countries, the Scandinavian block would have 31 (Nice system, assuming 7 for Norway), vs. 27 for Poland and 29 for the four bigs.

Also consider a hypothetical EU-17 in 1996, with Norway and Switzerland as members (3 and 4 seats under the Maastricht system). Then the Scandinavians + Switzerland would have 17 votes (on some issues they could certainly count on Austria too, making it 21), vs. 10 for the four bigs; and all small countries would sum up to 46.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:52:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
what's this Norway-against-everyone-else attitude?

I think you misunderstand my sentiment.  I do not see myself as having a 'Norway against everybody else' attitude. However, I have perhaps interpreted some of the replies to my posts as rather confrontational or "in your face". But no doubt that's because I am unfamiliar with online discussions.  

DoDo:

Can't you imagine Norway joining up, say, with other Scandinavian countries?

Norway works tirelessly with its neighbours - within the Nordic Council, in the EU parliament (and in 'the corridors of the EU'), and in many other international fora.  These co-operation processes are maybe not entirely visible to everyone, but they are going on - all the time.

The hypothetical mathematics of Scandinavian 'block voting' within the EU is irrelevant, IMO because none of them currently see anything to gain from further integration.    

   

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 09:43:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nowadays I feel like you. I used to have a much more open attitude towards the EU and voted for it when it was on the ballot here in Switzerland. But if it should come up again, I probably will vote no.

Like you, I really have learned to appreciate our bottom-up democracy, though I must admit currently I am bitting a little my nails and hope that this weekend it will be again a pragmatic election here in Switzerland. Even if the SVP should win, we still can take up the referendum if they try to impose stuff on us and many new laws have to be but to the people for confirmation anyway. I am just not willing to give that up, especially seeing how this new EU treaty might be forced on to the people in the EU without public discussion.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 11:18:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To the contrary, with Switzerland in the EU, I suspect it would have been a lot harder to ram down people's throats than it will now be in mandatory-referendum Ireland.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 11:20:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But we would have had to give up a big chunk of our voting rights.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 11:22:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would you? Why? And I emphasize, the EU containing Norway and Switzerland as voting members during the Constitution/Treaty process would have been a rather different EU than the one that arrived at the current institutional/power politics.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 11:25:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we would not have been able to put up a referendum to vote on laws from Brussels. Maybe we could have but would Brussels have accepted rejection of laws we do not like and voted against?
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 11:29:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could, say, put up a referendum to force your government to veto a law you don't like in the Council.

I note that AFAIK, the situation is already close to that in Switzerland: you can't have a post-facto referendum on parliament-voted laws, only on constitutional changes, with the peculiar consequence that some day-to-day matters and specifics that would normally belong into a law end up in the basic law. (Or at least this is what a Swiss colleague told me recently.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:39:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OTOH I don't deny that referendum power would probably be more constrained. But for more meaningful discussion, could you give specific examples of EU laws you think the Swiss would have a hard time with?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:42:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will try to repond to you tomorrow - am heading out now. But here for the referendum:

Fakultatives Referendum : Lexikon - Vernunft Schweiz

Unterliegt ein Beschluss des Parlamentes dem faktultativen Referendum, so kann das Volk freiwillig - dies im Unterschied zum obligatorischen Referendum - zu diesem vom Parlament bereits gutgeheissenen Gesetzesvorschlag noch Stellung nehmen. Das bedeutet, dass das Referendum gegen einen vom Bundesparlament getroffenen Beschluss nur auf Verlangen von entweder 50'000 Stimmberechtigten (ihre Unterschrift) oder acht Kantonen durchgeführt und dem Volk zur Abstimmung unterbreitet wird.
Das Volk kann mit dem Ergreifen des fakultativen Referendums über folgende Punkte abstimmen (Art. 141 Abs. 1 BV):
  • Bundesgesetze
  • dringlich erklärte Bundesgesetze, deren Geltungsdauer ein Jahr übersteigt
  • Bundesbeschlüsse, soweit Verfassung oder Gesetz dies vorsehen
  • völkerrechtliche Verträge, die erstens unbefristet und unkündbar sind, zweitens den Beitritt zu einer internationalen Organisation vorsehen oder die drittens eine multilaterale Rechtsvereinheitlichung herbeiführen.

Obligatorisches Referendum : Lexikon - Vernunft Schweiz

Unterliegt ein Beschluss auf Bundesebene dem obligatorischen Referendum, so muss dieser Beschluss zwingend - dies im Unterschied zum fakultativen Referendum - dem Volk und den Ständen zur Abstimmung unterbreitet werden. Das bedeutet, das Volk kann zu diesem vom Parlament bereits gutgeheissene Entschluss noch Stellung nehmen und entscheiden, ob der Beschluss in Kraft treten soll oder nicht.

Es wird unterschieden zwischen obligatorischen Referenden, welche nur von einer Mehrheit des Volks angenommen werden müssen, und obligatorischen Referenden, welche sowohl eine Mehrheit vom Volk als auch eine Mehrheit der Stände (Ständemehr) benötigen.

Dem Volk und den Ständen müssen folgende Punkte obligatorisch zur Abstimmung unterbreitet werden (Art. 140 Abs. 1 BV):
  • Änderungen der Bundesverfassung
  • der Beitritt zu Organisationen für kollektive Sicherheit oder zu supranationalen Gemeinschaften (z.B. EU, UNO, EWR etc.).
  • für dringlich erklärte Bundesgesetze, die keine Verfassungsgrundlage haben und deren Geltungsdauer ein Jahr übersteigt.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 01:33:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, that's interesting. So you really can stop a law directly, rather than just block it indirectly via an amendment. (So maybe the constitutional change thing is valid for referendums resulting from initiatives?)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:25:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And do the small countries really have the clout to make such a difference?
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 11:29:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think they do...
The system is not made to make it easy for small nations to have any influence.  It is skewed to give the larger nations most say. That is EU 'democracy'...
by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:03:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, the small Union members wield disproportional clout compared to their populations.* The reason they don't get much say is that they frequently fail to work together (that's part of what makes the notion of a Nordic Federation so appealing to me).

*And as I wrote about - at length - back in the comment I linked to previously, I think that this is going to be a major problem for the Union down the road...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:21:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ireland is a small country. It almost stopped the Treaty of Nice. Denmark is also a small country. It forced the EU to make Schengen and the Euro less than EU-wide.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:27:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nevertheless, the concern was whether small countries could make a difference to the level of transparency and accountability and seriously challenge the top-down nature of the Union. That's positive change, rather than negative maintainance of an existing status quo. And that's a wholly different beast.

I'm not saying that small countries should be able to make major active change by themselves - that would seem frankly perverse - but you have to concede that those minors whose populations have been concerned about the lack of transparency, accountability and bottom-up decisionmaking have not accomplished much. This is not entirely the Union's fault, because I do believe that if our governments had been serious about pushing for it, Something Would Have Happened. OTOH, the way the Union system is structured makes it entirely too convenient for our politicians to 'forget' about pushing for accountability.

In other words, in many minors the perception is that once you get on the Union train, only your politicians get a shot at trying to control the direction. And historically minor countries' politicians have been - ah - less than vigorous in their defense of transparency in the Union. Or to put it in even simpler terms, the euroskeptics have entirely too much of a valid point for my liking.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:43:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you have to concede that those minors whose populations have been concerned about the lack of transparency, accountability and bottom-up decisionmaking have not accomplished much.

That's partly because recent enlargements, though they increased the weight of small EU members, did so by bringing in governments uninterested in such progressive change and populations too cynical to even expect this of them. (I say this as a sad inhabitant of one.)

I do believe that if our governments had been serious about pushing for it, Something Would Have Happened

On an even darker note: if the populations had been more serious about this, they would have forced their governments to be more serous about pushing it. In my view, there is a quality of self-fulfilling prophecy about Scandinavian Euroscepticism.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:55:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's partly because recent enlargements, though they increased the weight of small EU members, did so by bringing in governments uninterested in such progressive change and populations too cynical to even expect this of them. (I say this as a sad inhabitant of one.)

I don't buy that. The transparency and accountability problem was there long before the expansion. I don't know whether the expansion made a difference one way or the other (on the one hand, it diluted the power of the GER-FRA-UK axis, OTOH it brought in a host of problems, like the Cyprus/Turkey conflict and the Polish Twins and their happy gang of neo-McCarthyists).

On an even darker note: if the populations had been more serious about this, they would have forced their governments to be more serous about pushing it.

Precisely what tools do you suggest that we use to pitch the notion of accountability to our political caste? Every time we turn down an expansion, as we did with the €, it is interpreted as a combination of ignorance and nationalism by virtually all the major political parties, so that's evidently not a viable way of affecting change (well, it'll affect change, but in some pretty random directions). If you're suggesting prioritizing the Union over domestic issues for parliamentary votes, you're in for a rude surprise.

In every survey in which the Danish population is asked about the reasons for its euroskepticism, roughly half the nay-sayers cite lack of transparency and accountability, or some proxy therefore such as bureaucracy or corruption. Which suggests to me that if our Dear Leaders would stop sitting on their collective hands and actually go hell-for-leather in support of substantial reforms to increase transparency, we'd poll a solid majority in favour of the Union. Which is what our political class claims to desire. Yet it seems hell-bent on remaining in the current state of willful ignorance, so precisely what tools do we have left? This is not a rhetorical question, by the way, I would genuinely like to know.

In my view, there is a quality of self-fulfilling prophecy about Scandinavian Euroscepticism.

Perhaps so, but OTOH it's a bit much to expect us to give up a functioning and reasonably transparent system in order to try to make the Union work - especially when, if history is anything to judge by, it's unlikely to work. Add in the fact that our politicians seem more interested in making the people fit the union (euphemistically termed 'selling the Union' is if it were some cheap fast-food that one could pitch in an advertisement), rather than in attempting to make the Union fit the people, and I can't say I blame those of my fellow citizens who wish a pox on the new Treaty.

<rant>

Furthermore, take a look at the way this new treaty was made: Some commission cooks up a travesty of a constitution (behind closed doors, I might add) that is actually a mish-mash of constitutional bits, concrete policy initiatives and vague statements of intent, watered down with copious application of diplomat-speak, so as to make it essentially (and unnecessarily) unreadable.*

Our good-for-nothing politicians then have sheer gall to be surprised when the voters reject that abomination as an insult to their intelligence. Furthermore, they then go on to figure out ways to repackage and resell essentially the same treaty in a new wrapping - except this time the take a quite inordinate amount of care to surgically excise the bits and pieces that would make referendums constitutionally mandated. And they even have the chutzpah to tell us in so many words that that's what they're doing. Put in those terms, is it still hard to understand that some people might get the impression that all those smiling men in suits give less than a fart in a flashbulb what the citizens think?

*Take the preamble, as an example. Instead of simply saying something nice and plain and readable like 'We the duly elected representatives of the People of the undersigned states, in order to form a more perfect Union enact this treaty to take immediate effect in all territories and jurisdictions of the undersigned states' followed by a list of signatures and countries, it contained the next best thing to three pages of utter crap about the deep and significant cultural ancestry of Europe - hell, it was all that some of the saner governments could do to prevent the inclusion of Europe's 'Christian Values' from making the cut!

</rant>

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 02:10:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU has to solve complex coordination problems. To a large extent technocratic answers ARE what's needed. And we know that the public simply does not care to enter into complex issues - they always vote for the demagogue over the technocrat/the wonk (the guy you'd have beer with).

Even on big issus like global climate change or energy security of supply, awareness has been gained by oversimplifying and personalising. Same thing on institutional reform. It's the  British "red lines" - the "Sarkozy dynamism" - the Polish brinkmanship, etc...

People complain about the lack of transparency and the demagoguery but vote for it anyway, when they actually have a choice about it (and if they didn't understand the choice, it's because od the demagoguery).

Even trying to explain something as basic, from a technical pov, as the difference between average pricing and marginal pricing, is beyond what most people will ever bother to learn about.

The problem is not the lack of transparency. It's the lack of care by most people, and their corresponding willingness to be fed lies and disinformation that they vaguely feel is lies and disinformation, but cannot be bothered to actually unravel.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 05:18:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU has to solve complex coordination problems. To a large extent technocratic answers ARE what's needed. And we know that the public simply does not care to enter into complex issues - they always vote for the demagogue over the technocrat/the wonk (the guy you'd have beer with).

I do not have a problem with technocratic solutions. What I have a problem with is that those technocratic solutions are incorporated into the same document that regulates the functioning of the technocrats that make them. For instance, what in the name of the Union are articles on preventing fraud and organizing an inner market doing in the same text as clauses on citizenship and separation of powers? What prevents us from making a nice, clean constitution that covers the establishment of a set of institutions and the powers vested in them without having a hundred and fifty-odd pages of riders concerning specific policies?

Then we could discuss the specifics of those institutions and the specifics of the attached bill of rights without getting bogged down in meaningless details that are important only because they are given the force of constitutional law. I noticed that the original treaty imposed a blanket ban on reproductive cloning, for one thing - how does that belong in a bill of rights? That's a discussion I'd have loved to have had without having to give an up-or-down vote on simultaneously encasing twenty or thirty specific policies.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 05:15:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the devil is in the details: countries won't approve the big issues without the accompanying details.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 05:41:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The transparency and accountability problem was there long before the expansion.

Of course it was. The way I read you, this problem couldn't be addressed because progress there was advocated by small member countries, which didn't have enough weight against the big ones. What I said is that now the weight of small countries is larger, but that didn't improve things because the new small ones don't advocate improved transparency.

Precisely what tools do you suggest that we use to pitch the notion of accountability to our political caste?

Civic initiatives, public-initiative referendums, activism within parties and party leadership elections, practising more varied choice on your party spectrums? If the political caste is so deaf, maybe bottom-up democracy already doesn't work as well as Solveig imagines? (Or is there a Norway vs. Denmark/Sweden/Finland difference?) (And before the above is misread as a cynical dismissal, I note I'd wish we'd have referendums like in Switzerland all across the EU, but with participations above 60%.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:17:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree.

As a partly related issue, I'd add that bringing up "transparency" is the grievance of those that care about what's going on, but are out of the decision process (or on the losing side of the decision process), that they are out of the process (or on the losing side).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 11:20:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Civic initiatives,

Been there, done that. Still doing it, for that matter.

public-initiative referendums,

Not applicable under the Danish constitution.

activism within parties and party leadership elections,

Happening.

practising more varied choice on your party spectrums?

And give less priority to which policy area? Education? Health care? Unemployment benefits? Environmental policy? If you have a strong position on all of those, then party alignment is pretty much determined. In other words, Union policy would have to replace one or more of those subjects. Can't rightly see that happening.

If the political caste is so deaf, maybe bottom-up democracy already doesn't work as well as Solveig imagines? (Or is there a Norway vs. Denmark/Sweden/Finland difference?)

Correct on both counts. The major difference between the Union and Denmark is not in the degree to which our politicians care - it is the degree to which they are able to hide the fact that they don't. Which in and of itself is quite significant.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 05:27:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you think the smaller nations should join just to 'help' EU to become more democratic?  

I would say: make the EU more democratic first, and we  will reconsider...  

 

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:15:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not about size but level of progressiveness. You'd pull up the average and would be roadblocks in another direction than Poland and the UK are today.

I note I live in a smaller EU country, so does Luis de Sousa and Colman.

I would say: make the EU more democratic first, and we  will reconsider...

That's a comfortable position to take.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 12:32:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
It's not about size but level of progressiveness. You'd pull up the average and would be roadblocks in another direction than Poland and the UK are today.

That would be very hard work, and with little hope of success, I think.  

DoDo:

That's a comfortable position to take.

It may sound like a comfortable position...but I am not advocating that we should withdraw from cross border co-operation or trying to influence policy wherever and whenever we have something to contribute. I believe we can do that better from outside the EU.  

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 01:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a comfortable position. It's also not a realistic one.

A more accurate question might be - do you want a neo-liberal monster on your doorstep?

Because without progressive influence, that's what the EU will turn into. And as it heads further and further in that direction, you'll have less and less influence - not more.

Whereas from inside influence might be limited, and you'd certainly have to fight tooth and nail for it, and be prepared to be a nuisance. But you'd have a say, as opposed to no say at all.

Do you really think the corporates and the rest of the neo-lib right is going to leave your national politics alone, just because you're nice people and don't want to get involved in the mess they're making elsewhere?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 07:54:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm...

Sounds as if you want to scare us into joining the EU.

We are not easily scared...we had the Germans in the country for 5 years, remember...

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 08:45:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"We're richer and braver and smarter than the rest of you. We don't need you."

Maybe that's not what you mean, but that's certainly what you sound like. (Or so says the - by axiom triply arrogant - French technocrat banker)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 05:09:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I had a debate with Sirocco to that tune in the olden days.

Wait, it's here, also involved Gjermund E Jansen, and it must be admitted the two made some rather good points on their side.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 05:55:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I used to hang out with Danes a lot in 1998-2000 and you got the same whiff of "we're better than the EU on everything and the EU will just lower our standards".

But the fact is, neither Norway nor Switzerland need the EU, nor does the EU need them. I don't see why as a matter of principle the EU should seek to include any given country. If they want to join and meet the acquis, they should be allowed in. If they don't want to join we shouldn't worry about it, and if they want to but don't meet the acquis it's their own problem to solve.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:13:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we (Jérôme or me) the EU, or simple citizens?

As simple citizens, do you think we can have desires and opinions about various countries joining the Union based on principles rather than that countries' current public opinion? (And can we have an opinion on local public opinion?)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:20:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know why you had to react defensively. Everyone can have an opinion, and I didn't say otherwise.

My opinion is that the EU should not have expansion to any definite borders as a goal, nor should it "set its final borders" (doublespeak for "keep Turkey out") —that's the kinds of principles I sometime find annoying: expansion is a practical matter, not a matter of principle—, and personally I have 1) given up on trying to convince Norway and Switzrland to join; 2) come to the conclusion that there is a value to having small countries like Norway and Switzerland which are in the orbit of the EU but more independent so they can try to do things differently.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:41:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]

neither Norway nor Switzerland need the EU, nor does the EU need them.

I'm sure Norway and Switzerland will solve climate change all on their own too. And I'm also pretty sure that Switzerland would not be so happy if it was somehow made illegal for any EU citizen to hold any money in Switzerland...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 11:24:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU membership is neither necessary nor sufficient to cooperate on tackling climate change. Regarding money laundering... what is the likelihood that the EU will agree to that, and wouldn't that be a problem already with the EEA free market rules? How do decisions get made on what applies to the EEA?

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 11:28:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There seems to be a view that European countries must be either in the EU or condemned to outer darkness and (implicitly) a Third World and/or vassal status.

But Norway demonstrates that is its possible to have your cake and eat it, too

ie it's both/and not either/or and they are free to have a look at what the EU is proposing and then to adapt or adopt it according to taste.

Not that they reject much, and indeed they tend rather to adopt more rapidly, and more comprehensively than the funereal pace of most EU initiatives - which, with enlargement, can only get slower.

In terms of Jerome's point re climate change, the initiative IMHO can only come from energy producers acting collectively and putting to the EU and US alike an offer they cannot refuse.

I believe that Norway is uniquely well placed to lead that process if they could only summon up the self confidence to add to their innate (and currently rather tarnished) sense of moral superiority.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 12:03:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe that Norway is uniquely well placed to lead that process if they could only summon up the self confidence to add to their innate (and currently rather tarnished) sense of moral superiority.

I believe Jerome agrees...

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 12:12:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There seems to be a view that European countries must be either in the EU or condemned to outer darkness and (implicitly) a Third World and/or vassal status.

The EU as "manifest destiny". Me not like.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 12:15:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU is certainly more likely to get anything ever done on the climate change front - unless Norway suddenly decided to stop unsequestering all their carbon and leave it it the ground instead of digging it up.

My point was not about money laundering, but about sovereignty. Those countries that are so proud of their freedom and independence should not have any complaints about the EU taking decisions that would deprive them of their main livelihood and reveal them as utterly dependent on it.

It's easy to have a holier-than-thou attitude when you are the richer, smaller parasite of a larger organism.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 12:47:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
I'm sure Norway and Switzerland will solve climate change all on their own too.

Norway works with, and within, numerous organisations (the EU included) on climate change and a multitude of other matters where international co-operation is necessary.

I'm not sure why you seem to think that it is not possible to be pro-active, progressive, innovative and co-operative outside the EU?

   

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 12:41:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is the ultimate in selfishness. I'll cooperate when it's profitable for me, but not otherwise. Right. Because I value my "freedom".


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 12:53:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh: who knew this?
A major challenge in 2003/2004 was to ensure that the EEA was enlarged at the same time as the EU, so as not to disturb the good functioning of the Internal Market. To this end, an EEA Enlargement Agreement was negotiated between the Community and its Member States, the EEA EFTA States and the Acceding Countries. The EEA Enlargement Agreement came into force on 1 May 2004, thus allowing for the simultaneous enlargement of the EU and the EEA. Most of the elements of the EEA Enlargement Agreement are technical adaptations, but one of the major substantial results of the enlargement negotiations was a ten-fold increase in the financial contribution of the EEA EFTA States, in particular Norway, to social and economic cohesion in the Internal Market (1167 M€ over five years, 600 M€ from all three EEA EFTA States and 567 M€ as a bilateral Norwegian contribution). Another element of the EEA Enlargement Agreement was that the Community would open additional quotas for certain marine and agricultural products from the EEA EFTA States.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 01:32:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that the economic benefits of membership (or any quasi-equivalent access), for small countries, far outweigh the costs, as acknowledged by these countries by their choices.

But of course, the EU is not about the economy.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 02:33:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is certainly not about selfishness.  

Co-operation is by definition consensual, and cannot be imposed top-down.

Norway has had decades of coalition governments, so we know how necessary it is to find solutions that we can all accept - and live with.  

We approach international issues in international fora the same way, I believe -  and with respect for other nations' freedom.  

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 01:53:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You seem to be arguing on the premise that Norway has an obligation to join the EU. Is geography destiny? Has the EU claimed the whole of Europe on virtue of its name?

If not, you could just as well argue that France should apply for membership in the US. Because everything else is selfish.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:12:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to the line of argument which says "we're better than you at everything, why should we join you stupid shmucks"

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 22nd, 2007 at 05:38:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I certainly didn't detect that line of argument.

The Norwegians are free to choose EU policies they approve of and adopt them while the EU is still grinding its way through the process.

Why then should they have to adopt EU policies they don't like?

Maybe people who do that ARE schmucks.....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Oct 22nd, 2007 at 06:43:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The Norwegians are free to choose EU policies they approve of and adopt them while the EU is still grinding its way through the process.

That's the perfect definition of selfishness: let's pick those policies of the group that are advantageous to us while sitting out those that would have a cost, or be inconvenient for us. Solidarity is not a one way street.

"Oh but we're rich, so we would pay all the time". "Oh but we're doing things a lot better, why should we lower ourselves to the paltry EU standards". Back again to our starting point.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 01:56:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...it is not about 'we are rich, we don't need you' - being rich has nothing to do with this.

When Norway first voted 'no' to the EU, we were certainly not rich, so that argument does not hold. There are fundamental issues behind Norway's choice to stay outside the EU, not least her principles and values.    

It seems you have not taken in/listened to (or not understood?) much of what I have tried to explain - but you appear to construe dissent as an 'attack', and therefore you "counter-attack".

I have gained much detailed knowledge about the EU from ET discussions, and I feel I understand more. I find it strange that you do not seem to be interested in understanding the 'other side'.        

The main problem I have with today's EU is the power-bloc mentality. I dread all talk about a common EU foreign policy and army. And, as for the need for the EU to exist to "compete" globally - what's wrong with global cooperation, and why is the EU essential for that?

The EU "leaders" are not people I would trust...and from what you write, I get the impression that you don't trust them either.  The difference is maybe that you believe a future EU leadership is capable of  becoming 'trustworthy' and 'egalitarian'  - I see no chance of that. "Power corrupts"...and all that.  You may call that being cynical, I call it being realistic.  

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 07:41:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

There are fundamental issues behind Norway's choice to stay outside the EU, not least her principles and values.    

The EU is not incompatible with countries' values and principles. On most issues, it sets minimum pan-European standards, but never prevents countries from going further.

And you certainly have more influence from the inside than from the outside if you want these values to be protected


The main problem I have with today's EU is the power-bloc mentality. I dread all talk about a common EU foreign policy and army.

And I would say that the main problem is the lack of a power-bloc mentality. All talk of building up the political legitimacy of the EU (the only way that values will ever be promoted, as opposed to narrow economic interests) is being killed off by eurosceptics, whose (bad faith, or completely opposed to the values you think you want to defend) arguments you seem to believe fully.


as for the need for the EU to exist to "compete" globally - what's wrong with global cooperation, and why is the EU essential for that?

The EU is the only global entity able to set standards of behavior (technical standards, social standards, as well as, for countries that might become members, democratic/political standards) that do not go to the lowest common denominator. That comes from its economic clout and its willingness to use that economic power in a united way. Norway, or France, or Germany, would never have been able to impose standards like those embedded in REACH (the chemicals products directive).

So yes, the EU is essential for global cooperation, as the main entity able to enforce some discipline and willing to show a good example on many topics.


The difference is maybe that you believe a future EU leadership is capable of  becoming 'trustworthy' and 'egalitarian'  - I see no chance of that.

The only way to get a better leadership is to make it more accountable.? and the only way to do that is, oddly enough, to give more political power to Brussels, so that the political debate - and the checks and balances - happens in the right place. A weakened, discredited (by national leaders) EU machinery is worse than a powerful one under the spotlight. But it needs to be powerful to be in the spotlight.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 12:42:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
"We're richer and braver and smarter than the rest of you. We don't need you."

That is not what I meant, Jerome. I was thinking of our 'stubborness', or you could call it resilience...

We have fought hard and long for our independence - 400 years under Denmark, 100 years with Sweden, and the German occupation which is still within living memory.  Giving up this independence is not something we would do lightly.

Frankly, the majority of Norwegians see the present EU as a 'power' that would adversely affect our egalitarian values, and way of life.  Maybe we believe that by staying outside, but still participating earnestly (which we do! We sometimes introduce EU policy before the EU does...), we may have some small positive influence.

As for being rich, yes we are now, but at the time of the first referendum in 1972, we were not. (After WW2 we were the poorest country in Europe - it took Marshall help and a few decades hard work and innovative policies to get our economy moving.)

Arrogance, yes we may have a touch of that...but so do many other European countries...the French included, as you admit.  

Norwegian arrogance, as I see it, is about 'look at us, we have managed to share our country's wealth fairly evenly, what have you done'?          

       

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:47:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...and oil.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:13:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Because without progressive influence, that's what the EU will turn into. And as it heads further and further in that direction, you'll have less and less influence - not more.

Now I believe that the day of the Neo Libs is done as will be evidenced when the whole unsustainable horse's breakfast of a financial system collapses around their heads in the next 12 months.

Whether or not I'm right I'm not at all clear as to exactly who you mean by "progressive influence". It's not immediately obvious, but presumably that's a convenient label for Scandinavians?

Be that as it may, there are clear signs in Norway of a growing backlash against corporate excess (even of the lily livered Norwegian variety - and the whole Neo Lib approach - which has never sat well with Scandinavian values generally and the Norwegian variant in particular.

Sitting on a great deal of oil (still plenty left!) and oodles of gas, and with 2 trillion NOK in the kitty (not that much of it in $ assets/liabilities these days) Norway is extremely well placed to put two fingers up to Pol Pot were he to reappear and be appointed President of the United States of Europe.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 09:19:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a country with that many resources/cash in hand looks like an ideal next member of the axis of evil ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 09:25:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be very hard work, and with little hope of success, I think.

Pulling up the average would be zero work, being a progressive mirror image to the Polish roadblock would not be much work. I think what you were thinking of is pulling up all the rest of the EU to Norway's level. I could refer to Jérôme's reaction there, but say instead that that may happen with time, by a time Norway and some others pull themselves further up.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Oct 21st, 2007 at 06:01:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly!

And we've all seen what good results come from treaties designed and implemented by white men in suit carrying briefcases.

by Mnemosyne on Sat Oct 20th, 2007 at 09:49:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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