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

The powers that be in the European Union

by linca Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 06:07:06 AM EST

Craig Willy has posted a blog entry pointing out the actual order of the powerful EU institutions :

  1. European Council (member states)
  2. (Eurozone: Core states)
  3. European Central Bank
  4. (Eurozone: Peripheral states)
  5. European Commission
  6. European Parliament
as well as a summary of how we ended up with this rather undemocratic mode of governance.

The questions that now need to be answered are the usual, that is, how do we get back to a more legitimate way of directing the EU ? As long as the most powerful institution is mostly (except in times of extrem crisis, and even in Greece the winning party played strongly the "security" card) elected on something else than actual policy on the EU - The situation of Europe was barely mentioned in the last French presidential election -, we'll keep lousy politicians that don't care much about Europe. And voting for more leftish leaders won't change that, with the current crop of left-wing will have in Europe.

Maybe we're not ready, maybe too much of us are still caring about the nation state, to actually engage in real UE "federal state" construction that doesn't give all of its powers to the ECB ; in this case, should we (as left-wing, "living in Europe" Europeans) keep on pushing for more EU state building of a state we don't like, or try to start working against more EU powers ?

frontpaged by afew

Read more... (70 comments, 293 words in story)

LQD : Oil Dependency around Paris

by linca Fri Jun 13th, 2008 at 09:50:11 AM EST

ContreInfo ::Eric Le Breton - Domicile-travail : Les salariés à bout de souffle

Le transport est devenu le deuxième budget des ménages, après le logement et avant l'alimentation. Le sociologue Eric Le Breton indique que les Français consacrent désormais 17,5% de leur budget aux déplacements, contre moins de 10% en 1960. La hausse de l'énergie remet en cause le choix des très nombreux rurbains qui ont arbitré entre temps de déplacement et coût de l'immobilier lorsque le baril était à 30 dollars.

Transport is now the second largest part of peoples' budgets, behing housing but before food.Sociologist Eric Le Breton indicates that the French spend 17.5% of their income on transportation, against less than 10% in 1960. Rising energy prices put into questions the choice of many rurbans who arbitrated between commuting time and housing cost were made when oil cost $30.

Interesting graphs beyond the fold !

Promoted by Colman

Read more... (37 comments, 976 words in story)

Food Prices and Agricultural Development

by linca Wed Apr 30th, 2008 at 03:04:02 AM EST

So, food prices are high, riots are happening around the world, the crisis is on... What if this was a good thing ?

I'll link and quote an article by Marcel Mazoyer and Laurence Roudart,two professors in France's foremost agronomic institution, the INAPG. Marcel Mazoyer holds the chair formerly occupied by René Dumont, the first Green presidential candidate in France in 1981.

In this piece, Sustainability of agricultures and globalization, they point out that famine and many problems faced by agricultural workers in the third world come directly from low food prices.

Diary rescue by Migeru

Read more... (18 comments, 884 words in story)

Sarkozy dismisses the French constitution

by linca Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 12:18:01 AM EST

The French parliament has recently voted a government proposal instituting the possibility of keeping in jail, after the end of their imprisonment sentence, "particularly dangerous" criminals presenting a particularly high risk of recidivism : the rétention de sureté or safety retention.

This law, making jail terms infinitely extensive, is shameful and frightening in itself. It was passed after such a recently released criminal kidnapped a kid. It means, essentially, punishing people for crimes they might commit. But Sarkozy wants it to apply to already condemned criminals - notwithstanding the fact that the French constitution, indeed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, explicitly forbids it :

8.  The law shall provide for such punishments only as are strictly and obviously necessary, and no one shall suffer punishment except it be legally inflicted in virtue of a law passed and promulgated before the commission of the offense.

It seems Sarkozy has a problem with this paragraph, and is ready to forget France's institutional rules to avoid it.

Read more... (23 comments, 1463 words in story)

[Updated] Links and thoughts on Société Générale and its traders [with SG's explanation]

by linca Sat Jan 26th, 2008 at 01:12:43 PM EST

Disclaimer : I have worked (not a direct employee, but as a "consultant") for three years and a half at the Société Générale as a computer programmer ; for two years I was working on a program used for risk valuation in the debt financing branch of the SGCIB. Jérôme Kierval, the trader who apparently lost 5 billion euros, was working on the equity branch, DEAI.

Informed partly by my experience there - as a lowly programmer, I had no direct contact with the traders, only superficial understanding of the working of the trading desks -, partly by some links found in various banks, I'll try to make some sense of what happened.

Read more... (26 comments, 1215 words in story)

LQD : Towards an Institutionalist Political Economy - a Manifesto

by linca Mon Dec 24th, 2007 at 05:20:37 AM EST

Many critiques can be made of what has become the main social science used to analyse our societies, Economics. Its paradigms - that each man is a rational utility maximiser, that a free market for them to interact in leads to an optimal state - have to be debunked; as it seems they are accepted as true by policy makers around the world, which in turn has lead to various economic crises.

The science of political economy needs not be reduced to this aspect. If the Left wants to have alternatives to put forward to the "Free Market", it needs scientific tool to analyse the state of the economy. But the currently prevailing Economics won't provide those, as thoroughly grounded is a false vision of societies that are only the sum of their individual members.

Various "heterodox" economical theories are being developed, trying to provide this alternative to the usual economics science.

French researcher Alain Caillé has written about what these approaches agree on, a "quasi-manifesto" towards an institutionalist political economy. It is not only a critique of standard economics, but also a programme on what these approaches must deliver, which tools they must develop.

Diary rescue by Migeru

Read more... (20 comments, 1265 words in story)

Strike day in France

by linca Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 05:06:17 AM EST

Today [October 18] marked the first major protests against Sarkozy's labor policies. Right now Sarkozy has played up the legitimacy given by his election, and is attempting to ram through parliament many reforms of fiscal and labor law, that all seem to favor his close friends in the Medef, the boss's union.

Most unions in SNCF, the French railway company, and RATP, that manages Parisian public transportations, called for a one-day strike. Trains didn't circulate for much of the day across France : only about 50 out of 600 daily TGV journeys actually happened, and most other trains didn't circulate. Public transportation in Paris was pretty much closed.

Around 300 000 people demonstrated in France's main towns :

The main reason for the strike is an attempt of Fillon's government to reform the RATP and SNCF pensions : this kind of reform, by Juppé in 1995, had led to a month-long strike, and forced him to back down. Will this hapen again ?

Diary rescue by Migeru

Read more... (121 comments, 1122 words in story)

The new French government

by linca Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 04:13:31 AM EST

After the second round of the legislative election (discussed in Laurent's thread), and as announced when the first iteration of Sarkozy's government was made, comes the final form of François Fillon's government.

The composition of this government had to be more overhauled than first thought, because of the defeat of Alain Juppé in Bordeaux. Alain Juppé, former prime minister in '95-'97, condemned in 2004 to be ineligible for one year because of in role in the illegal financing of the RPR (predecessor to the UMP), was thought as the most competent man on the right, heir to Jacques Chirac. His encounter with justice had killed his chance to be the next president, but he still was the most important minister in Fillon's government, in charge of Ecology and Sustainable Development. His losing his parliamentary seat meant he had to quit the government.

So, the new Gouvernement de la République Française :

From the diaries - whataboutbob

Read more... (17 comments, 2833 words in story)

The mistreatment of the jobless

by linca Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 06:53:38 AM EST

Our societies have created the miracle of automatisation. Boring, repetitive jobs can nowadays be replaced by machines. Yet, luddist attitude can be found : people see their jobs taken by machines, and their lives broken ;  as unqualified employment dimishes, those who used to undertake it see no hope on the job market. See this article in today's Libération about supermarket casheers whose jobs are being killed by automatisation :

Les caissières sont des travailleuses de force, ne peut-on pas se réjouir de voir disparaître un travail aussi pénible ? Casheers are strength workers, shouldn't we be happy to see such hard work disappear ?
Les caissières manipulent une tonne de marchandises par jour. Nous ne sommes pas contre les nouvelles technologies, mais nous souhaitons que leur introduction soit discutée autour d'une table. Nous souhaitons une gestion prévisionnelle des emplois et des compétences, nous acceptons la transformation de ces métiers, mais que cela se fasse sans casse sociale.Casheers handle a ton of merchandise every day. We aren't against new technologies, but we wish their introduction would be discussed first. We wish jobs and competences' evolutions to be forecast, we accept that those jobs evolve, but we wish that it doesn't cause social problems.

Of course, the social costs are in the end beared by the employers, or society. Unemployment is running high, despite measures to hide it. And now, the chosen solution is to make welfare so obtrusive and threatening that the lives of those having to live on welfare are warranted no privacy. The exemple will be Germany's Hartz IV Plan, as seen through the frightened eyes of French blogs - if anyone from Germany reads this diary, i'd like to know if the vision is exaggerated or real...

From the diaries - whataboutbob

Read more... (2 comments, 1649 words in story)

"The Goal" by Jean Jaurès

by linca Thu Feb 22nd, 2007 at 08:58:12 AM EST

Jean Jaurès, legendary French socialist leader, wrote a small text in 1902 about the goals of Socialism. The French text is here.

I am wondering how much of it resonates in the left today, so I've translated it and posted it here.

The First condition for socialism to succeed is to clearly explain to everybody its goal and its essence; we have to clear many misconceptions created by our enemies, and a few we created ourselves.

Read more... (11 comments, 1376 words in story)

News and Views

 July 2024

by Oui - Jun 30, 136 comments

Your take on today's news media

 June 2024

by Oui - Jun 1, 192 comments

Your take on today's news media

Occasional Series
Click for full list