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Public opinion could delay EU entry of Romania and Bulgaria.

by verchenceto Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 11:55:33 AM EST

A couple of days ago, I read the following article in the EU Observer:

Public opinion could delay EU entry of Romania and Bulgaria

16.02.2006 - 17:42 CET | By Mark Beunderman

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - France and the Netherlands will take their enlargement-wary public opinion into account when deciding on the option of a one-year delay on Romanian and Bulgarian accession, diplomats say.

European enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn warned last autumn that the European Commission would delay scheduled 2007 accession by one year if anti-corruption and judicial reforms fall short.

The commission's formal recommendation is due in May.

But diplomats told EUobserver that public opinion will be "a factor" for both France and the Netherlands in handling the delay option, despite the official line that timing depends purely on meeting EU standards.

"No country can disregard public opinion," one French contact said.

French and Dutch citizens' uneasiness over enlargement is widely seen as one reason why they rejected the EU constitution in referendums early last year.

Realistic option?
The accession treaties signed by Brussels with Bucharest and Sofia contain a clause with the option to delay the 2007 entry date until 2008, if accession preparations are insufficient.

But not all European diplomats estimated the option of entry postponement as realistic.

"Something extremely serious would have to happen for accession to be delayed," said one of them, as this would send a "very negative signal" to the region.

Another contact indicated "There is a high probability that the commission will issue a positive opinion" in its May report, pointing to an upbeat non-public interim document by the EU executive currently circulating in member states' representations.

On top of this, France has traditionally been an ally of Romania, and could opt instead to massage its public opinion over other planned enlargements in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

The French parliament recently adopted an amendment to its constitution, securing a popular referendum on every single enlargement after Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.

Safeguard clauses
However, Paris and The Hague might still use Romania and Bulgaria's delay option in the accession treaty as a means to press for tough safeguard clauses if the countries enter as scheduled in 2007.

Also in the event of EU entry next year, the accession treaties provide for an exclusion of Romania and Bulgaria from participation in specific EU policy areas - primarily justice and home affairs and parts of the internal market.

"The real question is not when the countries will become members, but what sort of membership they get," said Marin Lessenski, an analyst at the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) in Sofia.

Bulgaria might well get excluded from judicial co-operation in the EU, Mr Lessenski indicated.

Gergana Noutcheva, an expert at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), said that Bulgaria "could have done more" in reforming its judiciary since the commission issued a warning last autumn.

"There has been talk about reforms, but there has been little real progress. They could have passed constitutional amendments changing the immunity of magistrates, but the judiciary has proved very resistant," she added.

Delay: a good idea?
Policy experts disagree on whether the one-year delay option is a good means to help the two states meet EU standards.

Ms Noutcheva said "keeping uncertainty on the entry date is a good thing because reform in these countries has always taken place under external pressure."

But IRIS' Mr Lessenski stated "a delay would cause a political crisis [in Romania and Bulgaria] which would rather lead to a stall of the reforms."

Katinka Barysch, policy expert at the Centre for European Reform, said the effect of entry delay would be hard to predict.

"The EU generally has more leverage to exert influence when a country is outside, but in this case, the countries would know that they would enter a year later anyway, so there's no real stick."

Being a Bulgarian citizen, it is more than frustrating for me, to come across such commentary.

Idiocy # 1:  

"France and the Netherlands will take their enlargement-wary public opinion into account when deciding on the option of a one-year delay on Romanian and Bulgarian accession, diplomats say."

Since when the Dutch and French public opinion is allowed to decide on my country's future.  The one-year delay of Bulgaria and Romania is a momentous step and, therefore, much more important factors should be taken into account when making such a decision.  What is more, in my view, public opinion is not reliable and should not be considered trustworthy, especially when making such a vital political decision. We all know that the general mass of people, the crowd, is not politically aware and knows little, if not nothing, of policy-making. How is it then justifiable to let people who are not politically sensitive to take political decisions? Politics is for politicians. They are the people that are entrusted with decision-making functions. True, public opinion is a powerful force. Unfortunately, the public is, more often than not, poorly informed, politically speaking, and cannot therefore make an educated decision. It is not my fault, or the fault of Bulgarians and Romanians, that French and Dutch citizens are uneasy over enlargement. There is no such thing as "uneasiness" mentioned in the Copenhagen Criteria, isn't it? Let me strengthen my point further: I believe that referenda are the silliest way ever devised to conduct policy.

Idiocy # 2

"Also in the event of EU entry next year, the accession treaties provide for an exclusion of Romania and Bulgaria from participation in specific EU policy areas - primarily justice and home affairs and parts of the internal market."

Jeeeez! What is wrong with you people? Well, yes, Bulgaria could have done more. Every EU country could have done more prior to accession. No EU member state is faultless in meeting EU standards. In fact, some of the FOUNDING members often break the laws that they themselves have created. This is why the Court of Justice is up to its chin overwhelmed with cases. If I am not mistaken, Article 3 of TEC explicitly states that the activities of the Community shall include a system ensuring that competition in the internal market is not distorted. Well, tell me, how on earth, Bulgaria would be excluded from participation in parts of the internal market but, somehow, competition would not be distorted? As I see it, this situation is in breach of Art. 3.  But, you respectable EU politicians know better. It is not your first time breaking a law.

Don't get me wrong, I am optimistic about the EU, I am also a European Studies student, and I do think that the European Union is a great idea.  But I also believe that there are some things which are profoundly wrong within the European Community. I am also aware, that it is impossible not to be this way, especially when it comes to politics.  But I also know that the Bulgarian people would be deeply disappointed with the EU, if the one-year delay clause is implemented. We did a lot, and it might not be enough for EU citizens and politicians, but it is a precedent in Bulgarian modern history. As the Bulgarian foreign minister recently put it, "In Bulgaria, miracles happen in the last minute. But they do!"


Display:
I support a postponement. Countries should not be allowed to join the EU unless they satisfy all the criteria for joining. I think the postponement should be indefinite thought, so as to put real pressure on the countries to reform.

I can understand your frustration at an eventual postponement, but you should channel your anger at your own politicians for their foot dragging.

by Trond Ove on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 12:49:46 PM EST
I support s postponement. The EU already made a mistake by going ahead too hastily with the accession of the last 10 member states. The "constitution", with the streamlined decision rules, trimmed commission, etc, was supposed to be approved before, not after, the accession. The ball was dropped. The accession of Cyprus was supposed to happen after unification. It didn't. Now we have Greek Cyprus in our midst with the power to veto any EU initiative to solve the Cyprus problem...

Public opinion, and the governments, are hostile to Eastern Europeans. I think it is a shame but you can't ignore the fact. Bulgarians and Romanians probably won't enjoy free movement in the internal market for a few years, just like the newer 10 states haven't enjoyed it in the west. Get ready for Central-Eastern Europeans, the same who have been legally discriminated against for two years, to come up with racist arguments why Romanians (because of gypsies) shouldn't be allowed to move freely.

We seriously need to sort out our house before we can expand to 27 members, and thereis a dearth of political vision to make it happen.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 01:04:05 PM EST
UK experience with enlargement is that, each time, the press stoke up exaggerated fears of the newcomers. Then, when the enlargement takes place, things turn out not to be as bad as anticipated.

We did not exclude people from the last 10 accession countries coming to work in the UK. I presume we will not delay Romanians and Bulgarians either.

by Gary J on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 01:21:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand the fears of the old EU members, although they are not greater than those of the Bulgarian politicians. I hope they are both exaggerated.
I am from Bulgaria and I support the idea of a European Union. I cannot wait for my country to become a member, but I am also realistic. I have travelled a lot and has had the chance to see things with my own eyes. It is hard for me to admit it, but I am not sure if Bulgaria is ready to join the EU. Even if it does, the direct effect or benefits for its citizens will be sort of intangible at least for two or three years. Let us not think that a one year delay will be a tragedy. We shouldn't be discouraged if such thing happens. This will not mean that the EU has shut its doors for us. I even believe it will be healthy for our politicians, and will sober up the government, which will be able to push up more reforms.

I can resist anything but temptation.- Oscar Wilde
by Little L (ljolito (at) gmail (dot) com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 01:45:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is hard for me to admit it, but I am not sure if Bulgaria is ready to join the EU.

I gained the same feeling just before Hungary and Slovakia and the other eight joined. Just for this reason:

...one year delay... I even believe it will be healthy for our politicians, and will sober up the government, which will be able to push up more reforms.

Indeed I do think more reforms are possible while a country still wants to join, after that the governments will want to push their self-interested (or even just hubris-laden) agenda, which unfortunately in most cases for the 10 new members proved to be not progressive. The Cyprus question, the second-class ethnic-Russian citizens in the Baltic, the large marginalised Gypsie minorities in most of Central Europe, and some more consumer, worker, environment protection and anti-corruption legislation would have been issues to push for the EU negotiators.

On the other hand, today's crew at the helm of the EU seems only interested in economic reforms...

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

by DoDo on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:52:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With the current crew at the helm, it's actually a good thing that the streamlined decision process from the "Constitution" is not in place yet.

Metatone Old Drum Technology ™ (used without permission)


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:58:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

What is more, in my view, public opinion is not reliable and should not be considered trustworthy, especially when making such a vital political decision

Let me disagree with you. Public opinion should be counted extremely important for any democratic country. It is a major indicator of the political environment and what the direct effect of the political decisions are. Although not every single citizen is capable of giving an educated opinion, his or her voice should be taken into account, because political decisions are made not only for the educated, but for everyone. And if you only delegate the power to politicians to take decisions without  having the freedom to question and criticize them, you are voluntarily letting yourself being deprived of one of your basic civil rights.

I can resist anything but temptation.- Oscar Wilde

by Little L (ljolito (at) gmail (dot) com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 01:30:14 PM EST
Let's put it this way. Having in mind that the majority of Bulgarians have just a basic idea of the EU, I am not comfortable with the fact that their opinion could be considered reliable, or that of any other populace. You are a Bulgarian, just like me, and I have no doubt that you remember the notorious survey conducted a couple of years ago following the start of the negotiation process for accession to the EU. The poll clearly illustrated that approximately only twenty percent of the Bulgarian population had a clear vision of the EU. Most of them just said that they want to be EU members. Asked why, the majority simply stated "Because it is good." And if you ask them why it is good, I am positive they would not have an answer. Because, let's face it. People, who are not politically aware, as they should be in this case, just follow the crowd and their opinion is not trustworthy, because it is easily swayed. This is also called "manipulation" which, by the way, is a powerful instrument often used by political elites for the sake of power. And this is also true for any other country and its population. A person, or a group of people, who does not have an expertise in a certain field should not be allowed to make decisions in this area.  

As to the democratic bla bla, come on. Such speculations could lead, and have led throughout human history, to demonstrations, riots, and much worse situations. Power is for the powerful, educated, and shrewd guys. The others are the work force. Sounds cynical? But realistic! From the dawn of human civilization, there has been differentiation in society, social classes, and every person knew his or her place. Nowadays, it is just not so obvious, but it is still out there. And the reason that politicians throw dust in the eyes of the general public, is namely because people like you really think that they can make a difference.

Sad, but true.

by verchenceto (veronique@mail.bg) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 04:21:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And do you think most EU citizens have a better idea of what the EU is about?

A big part of the reason why I would have voted 'no' to the constitution was the way that the treaty was presented to "the populace". They treated people like children. There was no debate. The "constitution" was drafted as a way for the european political class to save face, and they called it a "constitution" to try to dupe people into identifying with it.

But the solution is obviously not to decide that an informed minority should make all decisions, but to try and inform the majority. Because, who decides who is "informed" and "worthy of a share in decision-making"? That's a decision, too.

Hence democracy, which is imperfect but better than most alternatives.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 04:29:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I perfectly agree that the educated minority should inform the majority. And this was also my point in a comment that I recently posted as a response to a diary called "The essence of Fundamentalism," that democracy is imperfect, but it is still the best form of government so far, that political and social think tanks have come up with. The ignorance of the people about political issues is one of its weaknesses.
But, still, people are not aware. And it is not their fault, but is still the reality. And as soon as they get informed and politically sensitive, I would welcome the idea that they take part in the decision-making process.

You don't call a lawyer, when you need a plumber, right? This is my point. People that does not have knowledge in a certain domain, should not be allowed to perform its tasks.

by verchenceto (veronique@mail.bg) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 04:55:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And as soon as they get informed and politically sensitive, I would welcome the idea that they take part in the decision-making process.

The decisions made by government affect them.  They, therefore, deserve the right to have a say in policy discussions.

You don't call a lawyer, when you need a plumber, right?

This is the same argument Plato made against (direct) democracy.  What he failed, miserably, to understand was that the elitist model is far more dangerous than the democratic model.  Oil companies know more about oil than I do, but does that mean they should have the right to make the decisions instead of me?  No.  You seem to think that politicians enjoy some kind of "skill" that the rest of us lack.  They don't.  They're people who look out for themselves by voting for proposals that will get them reelected.

Lawyers and plumbers study the proper workings of their crafts for years.  Politicians do not.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:36:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr. Jones, it seems to me that you are countering every word I say. Ok, that is your prerogative as a member of this online community. However, objecting a point that is not there is what you failed, miserably, to understand. And who says that the elitist model is more dangerous than the democratic model? You?

And, yes, it is true that oil companies that know more about oil than you and I do, would make the decisions about their companies. If you are so positive, why do not you go to an oil company's CEO and propose that you make the decisions for today's work load instead of him and his or her associates. I am entirely sure they will let you do so. Just, do not forget to write back and share your implications.

True, politicians do not know all the rules of the game when they enter office. They learn step by step, as plumbers and lawyers do, as every single person does. What is more, politics is not mathematics, it is not an exact science. It is about mindset, rational thinking, proper assessment and critical estimation,and many other mental qualities that you do not seem to understand.

It seems to me that you despite politicians. If so, I do not blame you for calling them unskilled. In your opinion, politicians look only for themselves, and vote for whatever it is, just to get reelected. Well, Mr. Jones, I would like to assure you that there is still living the idea of being "politically correct." No doubt, politics is dirty. But what is not dirty in our contemporary  world? With the same ease you stigmatize and vilify politicians, you might as well slander any other social group. So, go ahead, which is next? The plumbers, maybe?

by verchenceto (veronique@mail.bg) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 08:23:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
objecting a point that is not there is what you failed, miserably, to understand

That happens often in on-line (and not just on-line) discussions. It also happens that you meet on people who don't accept your most cherished, most basic ideas about the world. No need to take offence. (I write this as someone with rather strong disagreements with Drew, though probably entirely in other fields than you.)

yes, it is true that oil companies that know more about oil than you and I do, would make the decisions about their companies.

Methinks Drew was more thinking about energy policy and regulations, things presently outside of the decisionmaking power of those companies, and in the control of nominally democratic-controlled authorities and legislatives. (I.e., you object to something that wasn't there too.) Which is quite right so: oil companies want to maximise their profit, not minimise a country's energy dependence or awoid Peak Oil or guard your health safety.

They learn step by step, as plumbers and lawyers do, as every single person does. They learn step by step, as plumbers and lawyers do, as every single person does. What is more, politics is not mathematics, it is not an exact science. It is about mindset, rational thinking, proper assessment and critical estimation

Here I disagree with both of you. Drew assumes no special skill is assumed, you assume that special skill is all benevolent. I contend there is skill involved, unfortunately it is not the skill to get the best solutions for all but the skill to gain and retain power. There is a selection process. The best we can do is setting the selection criteria - i.e., let politicians advance on the basis of their good solutions to common problems.

Unfortunately, for the very same reason you don't trust democratic opinion, you shouldn't trust the elite model either: those elites are selected by a similarly 'dumb' population. (In a democracy, we are governed by those we deserve.)

It seems to me that you despite politicians.

Well... how old are you? :-) </snark, no need to be offended>

Well, Mr. Jones, I would like to assure you that there is still living the idea of being "politically correct."

I'm not sure you are using "politically correct" in the sense normally used in the English language. Did you mean it as 'doing the correct thing politically'? ('political correctness' in English means to use euphemisms used to awoid normal words that carry an offensive ring, say "black" instead of "negroe" or "mentally ill" instead of "crazy", or even to cleanse out sensitive material from works of art - say a film adaptation of Alexander The Great's life with a love story but without his homosexual relationships.)

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

by DoDo on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:20:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perfect.

Here I disagree with both of you. Drew assumes no special skill is assumed, you assume that special skill is all benevolent. I contend there is skill involved, unfortunately it is not the skill to get the best solutions for all but the skill to gain and retain power. There is a selection process. The best we can do is setting the selection criteria - i.e., let politicians advance on the basis of their good solutions to common problems.

Well, okay.  I'd like to change my vote to DoDo's interpretation. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, verchenceto, this is a blog.  Drop the "Mr. Jones" formalspeak. :)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:55:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the best form of government so far, that political and social think tanks have come up with.
Democracy was not invented in a think-tank.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:03:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And it would be more correct to call it the least awful form of government, not the best.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:05:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried - Winston Churchill
by toyg (g.lacava@gmail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:44:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the truly great Churchill quotes.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:54:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People that does not have knowledge in a certain domain, should not be allowed to perform its tasks.
Please describe the qualifications you think people need in order to "be allowed to" get involved in societal decision making.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:07:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, on one hand you are saying that we should delegate the power to make important decisons to politicians and on the other you're blaming them for throwing dust in our eyes. Do you also believe that politicians are the only ones who have the ultimate knowledge? I don't think so, and it is not correct to underestimate the qualities and the capability to make judgement of all the rest. Also, how do you judge people's expertise? In my opinion, things are not black and white as we all wish they were.
About power: I think it is the common people who give the power to the "shrewd guys", of course not always to the right ones, but still I do believe that we must not underestimate their importance as an element of a society. And I still do believe in the ideas of democracy. You and me and our generation, unlike our parents, have been brought up in the spirit of democracy.

I can resist anything but temptation.- Oscar Wilde
by Little L (ljolito (at) gmail (dot) com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 04:54:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is very important to make this clear. I do not BLAME politicians for throwing dust in the eyes of people. I simply state, that they do so. On the contrary, I justify them because this is the way it has to be done. This is how politics is conducted. The concept of transparency is another made up principle, used by politicians. Nobody of us knows what is going on there, and how politicians make decisions. And we would never know the real truth. We are permitted to know as much as they let us know.

I am not a politicians' poodle, and my parents or close relatives are not politicians. In fact, I do think that some of them do not deserve to be in office. But not because they are not educated, but because of other reasons. And this was my whole point. As I responded to another comment a minute ago, people that do not have knowledge in a certain domain should not be allowed to make decisions that concern it. Yes, politicians are not perfect most of the time, but still they are the people that are close to the issues discussed and have more knowledge than us to deliberate on those issues. And I talk about the best possible decision, not about the perfect one.
Yes, it is the common people that give the power to the shrewd guys, namely because those, the same common people, cannot earn this power for themselves. Being incapable of doing so, they have to elect someone who can. This is why there are leaders in any kind of group. I certainly do not underestimate the importance of the common people as an element of a society. I am also one of them. Everything that I wanted to state was that there are different people for different positions in society.

As I responded to another guy's comment to this diary: You do not call a lawyer, if you need a plumber, right?

by verchenceto (veronique@mail.bg) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:25:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I talk about the best possible decision, not about the perfect one.

Best for whom?

You confuse expertise with interest when looking at the motivations behind political decisions. Also, you confuse expertise with ability to influence people and get support when looking at what makes a politician politician.

The elite of a democracy is not necessarily meritocracy, and even less so in an oligarchy.

Also, history saw too many assassinations, coups, conquests, civil wars, slave or peasant revolts and revolutions for your nice vision of "everyone knowing their place" to having been a historical truth.

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

by DoDo on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:50:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Power is for the powerful, educated, and shrewd guys. The others are the work force. Sounds cynical? But realistic! From the dawn of human civilization, there has been differentiation in society, social classes, and every person knew his or her place.

Sir, you just gave your opponents a new argument to keep your country out of the EU: complete lack of education in the ways of democracy.

I sincerely hope you are not a representative sample of the bulgarian "elite", because in that case, we have enough trolls in the EU as it is, equally and widely represented in all countries.

by toyg (g.lacava@gmail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:41:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Power is for the powerful
What is the source of power? How is it exercised? How do you give power to those the powerful, since they already have it? How did they get to being powerful in the first place? Where they born powerful?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:51:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok I am replying to this as a response to both of your posts. First of all, it is clear that both countries--namely France and Netherlands--use referendums to bring the public closer to the political and/economic decision-making process. This is to say that they respect the ones who brought them to power. Furthermore, lets not forget that EU and every institutional--governmental or not--is made to serve the people and to benefit the people. Now, I know that you may feel reluctant to believe or accept the fact that some people, who in fact have nothing to do directly with your country, have a say in Bulgaria's future. It's a normal feeling, but I don't think you should be so tacky into concluding that nobody should care about their opinion. When u think about it, when Bulgaria enters EU a lot of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) founding will go to the new entering countries, and Bulgaria will be one of the beneficiaries to the expense of France especially. Now, how do you think will the French people react to Bulgarians? After all, why should the Bulgarians have a say in the French's life. As u can see--or I hope you do--the EU has proven to be a very interactive union and since we are all trying to be part of it, we have to accept that is the people who have the right to talk, as they are the ones directly affected by the decisions taken. The European constitution failed because it was initially disapproved by the French and the Dutch, and I think that people have the right to ask for what they think will bring a better future for them. What politicians can do at this point, is to make the public understand that the entrance of new countries will not threaten the present balance in the lives of the already member-states, and that new entrances should not be seen as the reason for future failure. The EU is fairly new in its existence and all the countries are facing identity and sovereignty problems, once the concept of the UNION is accepted and countries as well as people give in to that concept things may have a chance to change. But of course this cannot be achieved if, still at this point, there are people who do not accept the interdependence between states.
by SdRaWkCaB on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:51:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We all know that the general mass of people, the crowd, is not politically aware and knows little, if not nothing, of policy-making. How is it then justifiable to let people who are not politically sensitive to take political decisions? Politics is for politicians.

No offense intended, but this is quite elitist.  Who are you to judge the knowledge of the people?  Does the average Frenchman not know what is good for him?  There's an old saying in America politics: "Everyone is an idiot during an election year."  No.  Everyone is simply treated like an idiot during an election year.  They're not given an alternative.  People are smarter than they're given credit for, and it's time to recognize that.

Politicians serve the people who have elected them, and they can be thrown out, so you can't be surprised by the fact that they listen to public opinion.  That's how they keep their jobs.  Sometimes the outcomes are wrong, in my opinion, but it's better than the alternative.

Unfortunately, the public is, more often than not, poorly informed, politically speaking, and cannot therefore make an educated decision.

You think politicians make educated decisions?  Isn't the entire point of this diary to show that they don't?  I think you'll find that politicians know very little about making smart policy.  (I've spoken with many politicians, at the federal and state levels here in America.  They often know no more about smart policy than I know about performing heart surgery.)  They pander to the people who have elected them -- whether business, labor, or other groups.  They pretend as though they're well-informed, but, in fact, they know no more than the average person in many, and perhaps most, cases.

I'm completely in agreement that Bulgaria and Romania should be granted accession based solely on an objective analysis of reforms.  But the fact that Bulgaria has made great strides by Bulgarian standards is irrelevant.  If a country wants to join the EU, it has got to meet the EU's standards.

You're right that older member break the rules, too, but two wrongs don't make a right, and to say that they do will only weaken the union's chances of success.

I can't say whether I would support a delay or not, because I don't know enough about these reforms and their progress.  And, frankly, it's none of my business, since I don't live in Europe and this doesn't (yet) affect me.  But I think you've got to rethink your views on policy-makers and voters.

The French and the Dutch want to have a say, because it's their future, too.  The best Bulgaria and Romania can do is meet all of the criteria.  When they do, there will be no room for debate.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 02:53:48 PM EST
I hope Bulgaria and Romania will get in the EU soon.

That said.. and as other people said...they have to make some reforms..some of them badly needed.

I am not sure if its better (to speed them up) to leave those countries out for a while or let them in and force them from within...

But still.. things are not clear cut.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 03:31:58 PM EST
Just like you, I want us (I am a Bulgarian) to join the EU as soon as possible and I am frustrated that our accession may be delayed. I am not excited by the fact that the French and the Dutch citizens' opinion is among the factors determining the time of our entry into the EU, either. And yes, you are probably right when you say that, just like most Bulgarians think that we should join the EU because "it is good", most of the citizens of the member states think that they should not let us in because it would be bad if they did. However, I cannot agree with you when you say that public opinion should not matter in decision-making. France and the Netherlands are established democracies and they have a tradition of respecting their citizens' opinion. And although nothing is perfect, the values of democracy are what we aim at. That is why we (Bulgarians) have been working so hard to achieve our long-term goal--membership in the EU--not only because we expect a higher standard of living but also because we want to associate with the values of democracy, to be recognized as a real democracy. And in a real democracy public opinion does matter and it should matter. Moreover, we all know what happened to the systems (the totalitarian ones) where it did not matter.
One more thing: I see you are a realist, which is good, it is pragmatic. Let's not be too skeptical, though. Unlike you, I still believe that the small person can make a difference. I may be naïve...but I think we'll both agree that miracles do happen.
by ccarc on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 03:04:37 AM EST
and crystallize the failure of EU institutions as they are today. Then a minority of countries will be free to start smaller, more integrated groups.

I hate to sound like a "tabloid eurosceptic", but the EU really need to start from scratch without baggage (UK, Eire, many eastern countries)

by toyg (g.lacava@gmail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:50:50 AM EST
I tend to agree with you, I just can't imagine how that could be done.

Maybe you'd like to join Colman's thread on the Constitution now on the Front Page?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:53:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd love to hear why Ireland (who the fuck calls it Eire?) is on that list.

You're right. We should start again with just France or Germany. That'll help.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:57:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
UEFA calls it Eire.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:58:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And the Eirish team maybe?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:59:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was a snark.

Apparently they don't, but sports media do occasionally.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:03:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well unless they're writing in Irish they shouldn't.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:04:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought Eire was the "politically correct", "native speaking" term, they're all the rage nowadays (like saying Beijing for Peking) :)
by toyg (g.lacava@gmail.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 07:53:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, what we need to do is ask the question who wants to stay in the political Europe, and who wants to go back to the European Economic Area?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:59:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Go back and you destroy it all. Nothing will hold.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:00:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Destroy what?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:01:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whatever the EU is or could be. If you think that the failure of the current project will lead to a better one I suspect you'll be sorely mistaken.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:02:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe he wants a bi-level EU, some part of the Economic Area but others of the EU?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:05:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In that case I'll reiterate why that cannot work.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:07:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Back to here.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:07:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can't destroy what it could be. Whether what it is is "a failure of the current project" is an interesting discussion, because what is the current project, exactly? Can we even agree on that?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:05:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See if you can frame the question in a diary, or send me the details and I'll make it into a story ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:06:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hate to sound like a "tabloid eurosceptic", but the EU really need to start from scratch without baggage (UK, Eire, many eastern countries)

Hm, what about...

Italy?

Denmark?

The pro-neoliberal hopefuls in France and Germany?

Unfortunately, there is an awful lot of baggage here for oldest members to just dream about a clean re-start because the current mess is too messy.

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

by DoDo on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:07:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Italy is all for strict integration, introduce all the german and french laws, do it now, do it quick and would anyone please rule the country for us, we are tired of doing it ourselves... the economy is not as bad as greece and portugal (yet) so I don't see any problem there.

Denmark would be happy to stay out, with Norway and Sweden in that little community of them. So no problem there either.

I personally can't see why the main countries (Spain, Italy, France and Germany) couldn't just give the middle finger to the others and push ahead. They would in turn force their economic areas to get in, but on different and clear terms (e.g. Poland please don't fuck around, Ireland please leave Microsoft at the door, etc) and certainly we'd have a proper debate with no "sacred cows". As it is, we are stuck.

by toyg (g.lacava@gmail.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 07:49:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see any problem there.

B.

can't see why the main countries (Spain, Italy, France and Germany) couldn't just give the middle finger to the others and push ahead.

Chirac. Merkel. Sarkozy. Koch. Push ahead in what direction?

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

by DoDo on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 09:19:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You forgot Aznar.

Maybe we just have to admit that we got used to a decade of strong EU construction under Gonzalez, Mitterrand and Kohl, with Delors in the Commission, and that it's natural that a period of stasis follows. Europe is not dying, it's just taking a necessary rest.

DoDo does rightly point out that the political cycle does not favour further integration.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 09:24:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and Barroso...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 09:24:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You forgot Aznar.

No more in office, nor do I expect him back anytime soon. But I should have mentioned Barroso, you make my argument above much better than I could.

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

by DoDo on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 09:44:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe not back in office, but he might take the reins of the PP back from Rajoy. It's a long time until 2008.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 09:49:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
introduce all the german and french laws, do it now, do it quick and would anyone please rule the country for us, we are tired of doing it ourselves...

Well, that route would get B into prison pretty soon...

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

by DoDo on Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 09:45:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hopefully after the general election in a few months :D
by toyg (g.lacava@gmail.com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 08:01:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 verchenceto, I just want to make a process comment here: excellent first diary, thank you. It has stirred up a lot of good and thought provoking discussions, especially in regards to public opinion...a very important idea to consider AND to be worried about (I live in Switzerland, where people still get to vote on whether a person becomes a citizen, and which is often abused to prevent good...but foreign...people from becoming citizens). Look forward to reading more of your diaries in the future!! Cheers!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 09:46:55 PM EST
...gave you a "4" (excellent) rating too...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 09:48:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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