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EU Constitution embarrassing the UK - so it blames Royal

by Jerome a Paris Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 09:46:38 AM EST

Angela Merkel's recent announcement to push for an ajusted version of the EU Constitution is visibly embarrassing London, whose government has gleefully tried to bury the document ever since the French voted "non" last year. The Independent is quite honest in London's position:

Britain made it plain yesterday that it wants as few changes to the current system as possible, to avoid the need for a popular vote, and called into question the need for any new treaty at all.

The Times was even blunter - and honest:

Britain is aiming to scupper German plans to revive the European constitution in a direct assault on the main project of the EU presidency of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor.

Such a campaign, if successful, would free Tony Blair's successor from his promise to hold a referendum on the document.

But now I am seeing another version emerge, that tries to pin the blame on the French - and cheekily (and without any basis) attributes that criticism to the Germans.

Follow me.


The logic is simple.

Ségolène Royal has stated explicitly that France should ratify any new constitution proposal by referendum. In order to win such referendum, the Constitution would need (to appear) to take into account more social preoccupations. Such shift would make the Constitution unsellable in the UK, while the ratification by referendum would impose that Britain also run a referendum - ensuring rejection. Thus Ségolène Royal is directly threatening a new European crisis because the Constitution would fail again.

Merkel fears Royal victory could threaten constitution

Chancelleries in the capitals have waited for months to learn what the delphic Ms Royal thinks about Europe. Now *some* are dismayed by what they are hearing.

First came the Socialist candidate’s disclosure on Wednesday that she would put any rewritten version of the constitutional treaty to another French referendum in 2009.

Ms Royal now says she wants to add a “social protocol” to the treaty, enshrining Europe’s commitment to workers’ rights, and to change the European Central Bank’s statute, requiring it to focus on growth as well as inflation.

(...)

Ms Merkel’s unstated plan was to scale back and rename the constitution to make it appear less ambitious and less threatening, allowing the bloc’s 27 member states to sidestep public opinion and ratify the text with parliamentary votes.

(...)

If elected, a President Royal would wreck that plan. Not only would the new text be subject to an unpredictable French vote midway through her presidency in 2009, but her decision would put pressure on other countries to hold polls of their own.

(...)

Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, fears that French voters could be disappointed and vote No for a second time. “Ségolène Royal is taking risks with Europe and France’s position in Europe,” he said.

Sego's playing with fire - who will get burned?

It may seem like clever domestic politics, but Ségolène Royal's plan to re-run France's referendum on the EU constitution looks like a disaster waiting to happen: both for France and Europe.

(...)

By announcing a poll in France in 2009, she is increasing the likelihood that the EU will never have a new institutional settlement. If France has a referendum then the pressure will be on others - like the UK, Netherlands and Poland - to follow suit.

A No vote is certain somewhere along the line, leaving Europe in a state of turmoil, possibly leading to a split and the development of a "core" group of countries committed to more integration. Although some in Paris, Brussels and Berlin like the idea, most agree it would be better for the Union to stick together if possible.

Who the fuck are they kidding? Anybody in London that pretends to care about the weakening of France's position in Europe is ... is ... ... words fail me.

And blaming Germans for concerns that exist only in the entourage of Brown is dishonest and blatantly manipulative.

But it simply shows the worry that, once again, the UK will find itself with its back against the wall. A new attempt at a Constitution will need to make some steps (possibly small, possibly only symbolic) to address the grievances of the French. If Germany is serious about reviving the Constitution - and it appears that they are, and it appears that Brown believes that too - then these steps will be taken - in fact, all the steps necessary to ensure a French "Oui" vote will be taken, provided that they are acceptable to the core European countries.

Which of course means a Constitution that is less acceptable to neolib Brown. And, as we all know, if the UK votes against the Constitution, the result will not be to retry until a version acceptable to London is found, but to kick the UK out.

That's the fear - and that game of blaming France for "endangering Europe" simply hides the very real threat endangering the UK's convenient position as a Trojan Horse inside Europe.

Go, Angela, go.

Display:
And, as we all know, if the UK votes against the Constitution, the result will not be to retry until a version acceptable to London is found, but to kick the UK out.

"As we all know"??? That's a pretty brave statement.

It's more likely the UK would get left behind as a core group moves forward - which could be a problem for Ireland.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 09:55:12 AM EST

the UK would get left behind as a core group moves forward

Same difference.

As to Ireland, you guys are in the euro, so why wouldn't you be part of the core group? Just put it to a referendum...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 09:58:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on the consequences: we already can't join Schengen because the UK won't. MInd you, a UK refusal would probably help the yes vote here ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:00:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You need to write a diary explaining Ireland's structural dependence on the UK, which you bring up any time people think of doing something without Britain.

Also, how would a break-up of the UK into England plus Celtic nations (Scotland, Wales, Cornwall) affect things?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:02:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You need to write a diary explaining Ireland's structural dependence on the UK, which you bring up any time people think of doing something without Britain.

It's called "Northern Ireland". We've got an open border with the UK so we're constrained on border and immigration policy. We can't close the border as that would have unacceptable effects on people in border counties.

Thinking about it, I don't think that would have much effect on the enhanced cooperation things except on travel policy: you'd still need passport and border checks, and it's not as if you can simply walk from Ireland to France.

The UK leaving the EU might be problematic - we have to move stuff through them - but that's a matter of negotiating details.

I have no idea what the effect of a splintering UK would have. I doubt a federal unUK would have much effect, but full independence for lots of bits would be interesting, in the Chinese proverb sense.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:11:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah.

All you need is an independent Ulster with an open border.

How Eurosceptic is Northern Ireland?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:15:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the North is very Eurosceptic. It would need huge subventions from the EU to support an independent state - its economy doesn't work very well at all as far as I know.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:17:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Northern Ireland does receive structural funds.

The question is, if the choice was to stay in the Union with England or to stay in the EU, what would happen? Another flare-up?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:23:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd expect a breaking-up UK to alter the political scenario in the North in all sorts of ways, but I'm damned if I could guess the outcome. It's not a stable, linear system!

I mean, the whole point of Unionists is to stay in the Union. Would Commonwealth membership suffice for them? But the North has strong Scottish links. Can you imagine a Kingdom of Northern Ireland and Scotland?

Republicans would be emboldened by a break-up and I'd expect to see violent elements reasserting themselves - probably on both sides. It then depends how that cascades. Remember that originally British troops arrived in the North to protect Nationalists from Unionists.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:28:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't Scotland Catholic, too?

When the "Conservative and Unionist Party" seems bent on getting an English Parliament, Unionism be damned, it seems that Scottish Unionists are not in control of their future...

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:46:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scotland? Catholic? Uh, no:

Just over two-thirds (67%) of the Scottish population reported currently having a religion. More than six out of ten people said that their religion was Christian (65%): 42% Church of Scotland, 16% Roman Catholics and 7% Other Christian.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:52:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I see you've covered why this might be a problem.

What is the demographics in N Ireland now? Aren't birthrate and emigration differentials slowly wiping out the demographic advantage the unionists historically had?

I'd say your six nations side might have a better go at the stade de france with a bit more help from up there...

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

by r------ on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 12:05:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But, they do get help from "up there" - rugby is a "united Ireland" game.
by det on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 02:07:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not know that. Wonder why they don't do football that way.

Well, since you put it that way, and since rugby is the superior sport, perhaps they should consider political boundaries the way they do rugby boundaries.

Suspect the SNP would agree as well...

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

by r------ on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 02:56:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cricket is also organised on an all Ireland basis.

The difference is that rugby union and cricket, in Ireland, are predominantly middle class sports. Association football (or soccer) is more of a working class game and thus more influenced by the passions of partition.

That is my theory anyway.

by Gary J on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 08:54:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Among the children, the Catholics already have a majority. It's close enough to breakeven overall to predict a Catholic majority in a few decades even if the birthrate difference will be eliminated. I'll dig up the statistics in a few minutes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 04:45:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Few minutes became hours, but anyway: check pages 30-33 (pdf pages 24-27) of this pdf, which lists community belonging (e.g. religion or parents' religion) according to age in the 2001 census.

Overall:
Protestants (total) 895,377
Catholics (total) 737,412
(I'd estimate that since 2001, Protestants must have remained about level, while Catholics must have added some 25,000.)

Among those aged 73 or older, Protestants are more than twice of Catholics. In the peak year for Protestant (and a boomer generation peak for Catholics), age 36 in 2001, Protestants still maintain a lead, albeit one shrunk to 20% (14,253 : 11,822).

For every single age 24 years old or younger, Catholics are ahead. On the crest of the next demographic wave (and the peak year for Catholics), age 16, Catholics are 13% ahead (12,321 : 13,918). Although the advantage lessened somewhat among the early and pre-teens, it's again higher among the babies, with the <1 years group showing the record 15.9% Catholic advantage over Protestants.

Note though, among the youngest, there is also a record 9.2% with 'no religious background'.

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 08:08:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Simpler solution: give Ireland back to the Irish.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 12:00:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's the little issue of those nasty Unionist paramilitaries.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 12:01:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what jails are for.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 12:05:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which Irish?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 12:37:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The real ones?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 12:49:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
???

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 12:49:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know, maybe we could get those Irish-Americans to mediate like Clinton with Mitchell (aren't both of those two "Irish-americans"?) and trade the irish-scots in scotland for the scots-irish in ulster. It'd be nicer if those unionists could quit being so bigotted, but since they seem to have a bit of a problem living respectfully and at peace with  neighbors who harbor a different view of religion and history than their own, maybe alternatives are preferable...

Not enough irish-scots to compensate for all the orangemen bigots in Ulster? Maybe send some of the Irish-american diaspora back too and get the balances to foot. Fringe benefit for me - Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity taking over whole blocks of RTE programming, and my own airwaves far cleaner!

Course, there might still be a problem with the french-irish too, all those normans with surnames that don't start with o' and mc'. Seem to recall there was a monument built in Wexford to commemorate the 800th anniversary or so of the Norman landing, so maybe some mediation down there will be necessary as well.

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

by r------ on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 01:06:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
!!!

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 01:19:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oh, i forgot to mention about that monument to the norman arrival - it was blown up.

not everyone thinks it was a good thing, apparently.

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

by r------ on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 03:24:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who would that be?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 12:54:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Being facetious...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 01:08:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman can correct me on this, but I imagine the Irish are not at all eager to find themselves playing the UK in a role reversed repeat of the seventies.  Things are fairly calm now, why stir them up?
by MarekNYC on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 03:34:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
why you "can't" join Schegen if Britain won't? Is it because of Northern Ireland? Is is Britain objecting, or the Schengen countries?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:09:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We'd have to abandon the free-movement area with the UK, which is politically impossible and practically awkward since it would close the Border.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:13:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would you "have" to abandon it? Norway is in Schengen, after all.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:30:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because movement of people without border control is transitive. If A is permitted from France into Ireland without border control and is then permitted to move from Ireland to the UK without border control then A has moved from France to the UK without border control, which is pretty much what the UK doesn't want.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:35:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why not make the easy step of taking advantage of the physical fact that Ireland is an island - any move form Northern Island to mainland UK could require some form of id, whether at the airport (ids checked anyway) or boat?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:38:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because Northern Ireland is a part of the UK and they can't institute border checks between two parts of the UK. Politically impossible.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:40:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are not big on the symbolic side of things, aren't you?

Imagine how Unionists would beel about needing ID to go to the rest of the UK, andnot needing it to go to Ireland.

Plus, as of today, there is no ID requirement in the UK, and no optional national id. You'd need a driver's licence or a passport to go from Northern Ireland to England.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:41:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]

You'd need a driver's licence or a passport to go from Northern Ireland to England.

But you do already. How do you go between the two places other than by plane or by car/ferry boat?

And yeah, I understand about the symbol. Just hide it behind "security". We don't seem to mind in airports.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:55:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you know you don't actually have to carry your driver's licence with you when you drive in the UK? Ot at least so I'm told by Brits.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:56:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Something is wrong in my argument, I'm describing the current situation as unacceptable to Unionists...

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 11:00:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To go to the UK they don't need a passport. To go to France they do. They may need some other ID for their carrier - though I don't know if that's true on a ship.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 11:08:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I looked at the website of a ferry company and they say it is "advised" that UK citizens take some form of ID (though they don't need a passport) with them on the ferry.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 11:18:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They are?

Well, the point here is that Norway would have had to abandon the Nordic open border agreements, and given the choice they decided to join Schengen. The UK doesn't trust Europe and so whould rather close the border with Ireland if Ireland joined Schengen. But Ireland is in a situation of dependence with respect to the Uk here, so they stay out of Schengen.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:35:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, it's about time the rules for enhanced cooperation got relaxed and countries stopped feeling guilty about pushing for them.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:04:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know.

It would be much better if we could all move forward together. I have this horrible vision of multiple overlapping enhanced cooperation areas which would be as likely to weaken as strengthen the EU.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:15:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The enhanced cooperations that visibly worked would attract new members, like the Euro.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:16:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some countries are in all enhanced cooperations. Unsurprisingly, they are the real core, and include France, Germany, Spain, Italy and quite a few others.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 10:29:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Impossible to do.

Enlargement went too fast, starting in 1973.

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

by r------ on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 12:08:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 12:08:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Something puzzles me a bit. In what ways is the UK meaningfully a part of the EU currently? It's not part of Schengen, it's not part of the common currency, it's not part of the TENs. So what the hell is it part of? You can't even say it's fully part of the common market since France made sure to not build a freight rail line to the eurotunnel. As much out of spite as good common sense I'm sure.
by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 02:46:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU has much more elements than open borders, the Euro and TENs.

The UK is part of the EP, the Coulcil, the Commission, and several regulating or planning bodies, it integrated laws, has Strasbourg as higher instance for trials, integrated some standards, had others taken over by the rest of the EU (for example 230 V as standard voltage), has visa-free travel for citizens, tariff-free travel for goods, pays in money and receives some back for specific purposes (though the main benefits beyond CAP money focus outside England: the local language programs, and the structural funds).

Some corrections: the UK is part of several TENs, check maps just in transport. It is on main axes 02, 13, 14 (all in Britain), 15 (well, not a true axis: Galileo), 21, 26. The problem with freight across Eurotunnel wasn't that France didn't built a freight rail access line -- it did, cross-Chunnel freight transports are ongoing --, but that Eurotunnel was denied the opportunity to operate on SNCF's tracks as a private railfreight company (here we see an unkind side of etatism, but probably it could have been under control if Eurotunnel would have been a joint state company).

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

by DoDo on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 05:31:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I knew that freight across the eurotunnel was ongoing but one of the specific complaints made by Eurotunnel is that some kind of access line somewhere didn't get built. On the British side it was the CTRL which came in a decade too late and on the French side it was a freight line, the lack of which they're still complaining about even now. If you can figure out what that's about, I'd appreciate it.

As for the TENs, my impression is that Britain isn't actually doing any work to make them a reality. With the CTRL being the sole exception. What Jerome is saying about gas isn't pretty. And the continued hatred of railroads by the Brits is well-known. I guess they stink too much of service publique.

I doubt voltage meant anything since the difference was small to begin with. Visa-less travel certainly doesn't mean anything because it's a bygone conclusion between rich white countries. The USA doesn't have it because it's devolving into savagery. Which leaves the open market and the european budget, both of which work in Britain's favour because it's a sell-out. The same with taking part in European politics which again it does only for its own benefit and in order to sabotage Europe.

So really, the only way that Britain participates in the EU that is non-trivial, willingly, and not completely selfish, is juridically. And even there, Britain does everything it can to avoid being dragged into civilization. Did you know that Britain did everything to minimize a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights to stop the beating of children?

Much like the USA, I haven't heard of a single unalloyed good thing about Britain. Not in my entire life. And you know what? I can cite good things even about Canada and Australia, both of which are anglo and therefore evil.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Sun Jan 21st, 2007 at 02:33:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Familiarity breeds contempt, or so the saying goes. And my familiarity with anglo countries has certainly bred my contempt of them. Or has it?

Countries ranked by my familiarity with them:

Canada
USA
France
Great Britain
Australia
Sweden
Japan
..

Countries ranked by my hatred of them:

USA
Great Britain
all of Africa
most of central Asia
..
nearly all of latin America
..
Canada
..
Australia
..
France
Sweden

---

So what do you know, familiarity doesn't breed contempt. It's just a coincidence that the USA and Great Britain both top the list.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Sun Jan 21st, 2007 at 03:08:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
on the French side it was a freight line, the lack of which they're still complaining about even now

It may be that a technical term made you confused. 'Path' in English, 'Trasse' in German, and 'sillon' in French denote a slot on a railway line, e.g. leaving room for a train in the timetable. The problem for Eurotunnel has long been just getting a permit to operate on SNCF tracks on its own. Before the last financial crisis, they finally got close to getting it, but then the crisis managers decided to shelve the issue.

Regarding the TENs, there is the giant work of the WCML upgrade. Both in the price tag and in terms of connections with the rest of Europe, the CTRL is so key that 'sole exception' is underplaying it. It indeed came a decade late, thanks Maggie Thatcher. I'm less familiar with roads and ports. I don't know about "continued hatred of railroads by the Brits", but about continued complaints from (growing in numbers) passengers in the silly chaotic privatised 'system'. I guess there are train haters, but unfortunately there are train-hating car-lovers all over Europe. (Comparing the UK with France, the UK actually has 10% more passenger-journeys even without the Tube, though much less passenger-kilometres, a joint effect of a smaller country and lack of high-speed lines.)

Voltage meant much for power system managers (BTW in some places, it was just 220 to 230 V, in others 110 to 230), and involved standardisation in connections if I am not mistaken. No, visaless travel is not a bygone conclusion, you can grow poor or politics can change. You then go on accusing Britain of thinks all EU members do.

Much like the USA, I haven't heard of a single unalloyed good thing about Britain.

Well, name an unalloyed good think about any other country, and I see if I agree it's unalloyed.

Really, this 100 Years War Re-Match some of you in this thread do in place of EU politics is getting weary with an outside view.

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

by DoDo on Sun Jan 21st, 2007 at 07:32:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't find the article I read about EWS and Cargo Rail; too much time has passed. Maybe you're right.

I misspoke when I said British. I meant Britain by which I mean the British elites. Since Blair's policies are a continuation of Thatcher's ....

In my other diary, I list a number of unalloyed good things
http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2007/1/21/4445/15448

a couple of commentators have listed some unalloyed good things which the UK has done. Unfortunately, they were centuries ago.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 06:33:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that was a successful hijack of a thread by Colman. Those wily Irish...

Anybody want to take a shot at my point, or is everybody afraid to wade in a "is ET anti-British" discussion again?

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 04:21:42 PM EST
I dealt with the last already, as to your main points:

While the FT spins the Merkel vs. Royal story in British terms, there is more to it than you make it. Merkel's plan truly sppears to have been a scaled-down version for government ratification, the British press took that probably from the German one. She was attacked for that, for example by Daniel Kohn-Bendit for the EU Parliament Greens.

On a deeper note, Franco-German cooperation was and is the motor of the EU, but Merkel hasn't yet shown much activity in re-establishing the strong cooperation. It's the same story again: national politicians who, despite venturing on the international stage before, have no clue about EUropolitics. I think it will take some years of Merkel-Royal for the two national politicians to 'learn' the EU, and discover what they must do, just like for Schröder and Chirac.

What should really be interesting is indeed if Britain could be pushed to a referendum. What I see in these articles is Murdoch having used a preemptive strike on the Bliar government, which is cowed anyway. Yet, I'm not sure about the outcome of the referendum. There is an effect I observed in some other referenda in other countries, of the centre of the public 'shrieking back' or 'sobering up', when unexpectedly presented with the opportunity of a sea change in a matter they liked to talk loose about. That may be one factor, another could be a nasty spin campaign implemented by the uncomfortable pro-EU side, one making up for lack of open and incisive pro-EU arguments with character assassination and scaremongering.

But if the vote is no, I guess no kicking out would be needed, Britain would go on its own. But do not think that this would be the end of favorable business press comparisons of Britain with the Eurozone. The only thing that will bury that would be Britain joining the Eurozone.

Again on a deeper note, the EU is a failure if it cannot integrate conflict potential countries in some way. For this reason, I want the UK in the EU, now or after a temporary time out in the cold, and want Poland to stick around now that it is already in (with the hope that regular hits on the head will have an educative effect on the political elite on the longer run, and that other members will provide those hits on the head).

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 05:13:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with you about referendums. Although the UK has a very vocal eurosceptic minority, it is a minority. Most voters are suspicious of the EU but not so strongly opposed that they could not be influenced by the referendum campaign.

One of the tragedies of the Blair years is that he never had the courage to defy Murdoch and stand up to argue for his theoretical pro-European views. Remember at the start of his premiership Blair was the pro-European alternative to John Major and the Conservatives.

Blair several times rallied the pro-European cross party campaign, but never gave it sufficient support, so that the pro-Europeans were undercut and got discouraged. I seem to recall someone like Lord Heseltine (prominent pro-European Conservative politician of the last generation) promising that he would never trust Blair again.

If we ever had a referendum, presumably the pro-European politicians would be heard from. I do not underestimate the impact of the "keep tight hold of nurse, for fear of finding something worse" argument on the undecided voter. It was what decided the 1975 referendum in the UK.

by Gary J on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 09:22:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've written the same many times to DoDo, but he's been calling me naive or blinded by my Frenchness (to put it politely), so I'm curious to see how he will reply to you this time!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 12:53:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think Gary J argued that Bliar is Eurosceptic, which you did repeatedly. Also, he speaks about the domestic public arena, but our arguments also concerned his policies and actions at EU level (e.g. in the Council).

And what I'm bothered about is not a simple anti-Britishness. A point both I and Migeru tried to stress is that you cast the conflict and interplay of Eurosceptics, neoliberals, etatists in only a (simplified) Franco-British framework, but the setup is different whether we speak of Scandinavian countries, new members, the Netherlands, Germany or Italy -- and for a European debate with (against) both Euroscepticism and neoliberalism, I'd wish your arguments reflected the latter too. To stress again, Euroscepticism =/= neoliberalism is the most important point for me.

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

by DoDo on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 05:14:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He says, like I do, that Blair failed to convert his purported euro-enthusiasm into actual acts. I say that makes him a euroskeptic in practice, because it showed that even a supposedly europhile leader would not support most things EU-related. It was even worse in a way.

As to assimilating euroskepticism and neoliberalism, let's not play with words. The neolibs are hostile to the EU as a political force, but do not mind using the EU clout to push for neolib "reform". So they use the powers while at the same time denigrating them and bashing them, a truely nasty combination, as it doubly deconsiders the EU - as a pusher of neolib policies, and as an apparently corrupt, bureaucratic, non-transparent out of control institution.

The EU Constitution would have reinforced the political legitimacy of the EU institutions, and, via the EP, transparency. With more legitimacy it could have easily fought off the neolib tendencies of those in power, as the less powerful EP today already shows.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jan 21st, 2007 at 06:16:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He says, like I do, that Blair failed to convert his purported euro-enthusiasm into actual acts.

Except for 'purported', and with the addition of 'on the domestic arena', that far all of us are in agreement.

"Eurosceptic in practice" is one example of your limited and simplified Anglo-French focus.

let's not play with words

Indeed let's not. Using the EU clout to push neolib "reform" is friendliness to the EU as political force. The neolibs are friendly to further EU integration and institutional development, but want it in a way that that clout for "reforms" is enhanced, and resistance paralysed. Outside France vs. Britain, they use the very same pro-business, market-faithful, no-alternative-to-globalisation arguments as arguments for remeining or entering the EU, the Euro, or adopting standards, or the Constitution, or just be enthusiastic about Europe, or to denounce nationalist opponents' views.

Maybe I should recruit you Marek, A Swedish Kind of Death, Nomad, dvx, and a couple of others to write diaries about the neolibs vs. the Eurosceptics and the debate on Europe in each of their countries of good knowledge. Maybe those would also help me explain to you what significant and qualitative difference (for the even worse) Bliar's not being Eurosceptic means at the EU level.

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

by DoDo on Sun Jan 21st, 2007 at 06:42:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
neolibs are smarter euroskeptics who see they can use the tools created by France and Germany for political purposes to betray these purposes and implement free market areas and uniform deregulation and nothing else (oh yes - nowadays, homeland security areas as well).

That puts them at odds with the euroskeptics on means, not on goals.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 12:08:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sigh. Now you are re-stating dogma. It is difficult to argue with another person's axioms.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 05:46:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, Gary J began his reply to me with "I agree with you". What do you think about the subject of that agreement, as expanded on by Gary?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 05:35:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree. But, what do you think Brown would do in such a campaign? Give hints of negative opinion, stay silent and let others do the campaign, give some unenthusiastic alibi pro speeches, or do a serious pro campaign (be it with arguments or character assassination & bullying)?

I ask because from everything I read, Brown does have some marked but not very public Eurosceptic views (and I'd range his one significant standing-up to Bliar, just over the Euro, in there), but elsewhere you argued that there is little or no difference between Brown's and Bliar's views.

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

by DoDo on Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 05:42:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We do not really know what Brown would do. On the prospect of a referendum as on so much else he has avoided taking an explicit public stand. As Prime Minister he would have to speak out.

I presume that Brown accepts, in the abstract, that British membership of the EU is in the British national interest. He has however sometimes seemed uninvolved in the reality of being an EU member.

It would be bad for the prospects of a pro EU outcome to a referendum if Brown followed the Blair policy of not making the pro EU case forcefully.

In the only UK wide referendum in our history, in 1975, the yes side included the bulk of the leadership of our three major parties and a very enthusiastic cross party campaign. The no camp was a lot less organised than the eurosceptics are today. It was an odd mixture of left wingers like Tony Benn (who saw the then EC as a capitalist club), Labour centrists like Peter Shore (representing the early 1960s view of the late Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell, that joining the Common Market would be the end of a thousand years of history) and right wing Conservatives (at the time given little importamce compared to the dissident Labour cabinet ministers).

The overwhelming weight of political and media support was on the yes side. Leading politicians like Ted Heath, Harold Wilson and Roy Jenkins were campaigning  positively as well as warning of the bad consequences of leaving the community.

I think the British people confronted by the solemn warnings of the leading centrist political figures of the day, were persuaded to vote yes rather than risk the uncertainties of rejecting that advice.

Since 1975 the mainstream leadership of the Conservative party has moved 180 degrees on Europe. It is unlikely that any current Tory frontbenchers would be part of a pro EU campaign. On the other hand there is less division amongst the leading Labour ministers than there was in Harold Wilson's cabinet.

Nowadays, with politicians held in even more contempt than they were in 1975, and after decades of almost unanswered eurosceptic propaganda; if Brown does not campaign wholeheartedly for the EU case the prospects for it are fairly dismal.

by Gary J on Sun Jan 21st, 2007 at 01:07:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not fair. I insulted the brits, as expected. It was just a little more oblique than usual.

And, as always, it was a pleasure to do so.

I see why you read their rags - gives for lots more bullshit material to blog about than most other languages...

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

by r------ on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 08:28:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Times was even blunter - and honest:

You don't put. A Murdoch paper. And honesty. Into the same sentence.

If you think the Eurosceptics in the Murdoch press will spin about the Merkel government but not about the Bliar government, then I see another re-fighting of the 100 Years War that is not much helpful in fighting the negative influences emanating from Britain.

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 04:26:19 PM EST
this one I can happily agree with you on!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 05:03:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The solution isn't to kick the UK out but to create a two track EU, with a standing opening to any of the outer circle members who choose to accept the new treaty terms, no negotiation, no exceptions, but that goes both ways.
by MarekNYC on Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 05:24:16 PM EST


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