The Future of Europe

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The Future of Europe

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 05, 2006 5:48 pm

The future of Europe

Stuck in the doldrums
May 25th 2006
From The Economist print edition

One year after the French non and the Dutch nee, it is time to bury the EU constitution


IT ALWAYS takes time to recover from a shock. That certainly seems true of the European Union since French and Dutch voters decisively rejected the draft EU constitution in a pair of referendums a year ago. For most of the past year the mood across the continent has been deeply gloomy.

The gloom reflects a variety of worries. From Britain to Italy, political leaders of all stripes have been discredited or voted out of office. Most economies have been weak and unemployment has stayed high. Cities (and suburbs) have been convulsed by protests, riots or terrorism; fears of radical Islam have mounted. In foreign policy, Europe has been uncertain in its dealings with a resurgent Russia; and its attempts to stop Iran going nuclear seem to be coming to nothing.

Set against such concerns, the fate of the EU constitution seems trivial. Yet during the past year's “pause for reflection”, plenty of ideas have been put forward by the continent's leaders. In mid-2004 a consensus painfully emerged among national governments in support of the constitution. This time no deal is in prospect (see article). The main obstacle is that many members insist that the constitution, which will soon have been ratified by 16 of the 25 EU members, can be resurrected. Their hope is that the French and Dutch will vote again; and that other countries that are hanging back, such as Britain, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic, can then be prodded into holding their own referendums.

Yet the idea of putting the constitution to French and Dutch voters again is preposterous. Unlike previous treaties, it cannot be amended to give the two countries an opt-out. There is no reason to believe that voters' objections have disappeared—if anything, the EU is less popular today than it was a year ago. Moreover, underlying those objections was a belief that the European project has been carried forward by an elite that has paid little heed to the views of ordinary people. It would be a travesty of democracy for the elite now to order the people to keep voting until they give the “right” answer.

Start thinking about tomorrow, not yesterday

A better course would be for Europe's leaders to forget the constitution and concentrate on their much bigger worries. Top of the list must be improving their sclerotic economies, best done through a serious programme of liberalisation and deregulation. Linked to this should be the preservation of the single European market and its competition rules, which are under attack from economic nationalists. In these areas the European Commission has become a helpful proponent of economic liberalism and even of tearing up red tape, but it needs much firmer support from national governments, especially in France, Germany and Italy.

The other priority for the union ought to be continuing with its expansion plans. The enlargement of the club to take in new countries to its south and east has been one of its greatest successes. Even now, it is only the lure of membership that keeps such places as Turkey and the western Balkans on the path towards being decent liberal democracies. The latest kid on the block is Montenegro (see article)—and the top priority of this new country is, predictably, to join the EU.

At this point, true believers raise the constitution again. Without it, they argue, the EU of 25 (soon to be 27) can no longer function effectively. In any case, a new treaty is required before Croatia joins, since its votes and parliamentary seats were not fixed under the 2000 Nice treaty. They conclude that, without the new constitution (or something like it), enlargement of the club, and indeed its functioning, will grind to a halt. Yet these arguments are tendentious. For all its faults, the EU has worked over the past year. Membership talks have begun with Croatia and Turkey; a start has been made on an energy policy; a budget deal, however unsatisfactory, was struck for 2007-13. Yes, a new treaty will be needed for Croatia and other applicants, but it could easily be a one-page text that simply rejigs votes and seats, not a full-blown constitution.

Besides, any large-scale treaty now has to be approved by referendum in several countries, so the union should face the possibility that it may never get one. That need not be a disaster. Since 1990 Europe has been almost continuously preoccupied by inter-governmental conferences and new treaties to tinker with its institutional architecture. Yet the EU's real failing is not a democratic or institutional deficit—it is what the Centre for European Reform, a London think-tank, has termed a “delivery deficit”. After all, if a club cannot deliver benefits to its members, they may decide to scrap it altogether.


Copyright © 2006 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.
Corlyss
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Post by mourningstar » Fri Jun 09, 2006 7:46 am

Never trust Politics on the citizens who don't know crap about it. :lol: the goverment was probably pissed when they heard they isn't going to be an EU constituion.. . I favoured it though, but i couldn't care less when it got rejected.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Jun 09, 2006 1:32 pm

mourningstar wrote:I favoured it though, but i couldn't care less when it got rejected.
I take it with a law degree and a planned IR degree under your belt, either you have excellent prospects for future employment or you will be over 25 when you finish your education. :lol: 8)
Corlyss
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Post by mourningstar » Fri Jun 09, 2006 4:19 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
mourningstar wrote:I favoured it though, but i couldn't care less when it got rejected.
I take it with a law degree and a planned IR degree under your belt, either you have excellent prospects for future employment or you will be over 25 when you finish your education. :lol: 8)
Corlyss what do you mean? :lol: explain yourself. i don't get it :roll:
"Desertion for the artist means abandoning the concrete."

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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Jun 15, 2006 1:20 pm

mourningstar wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
mourningstar wrote:I favoured it though, but i couldn't care less when it got rejected.
I take it with a law degree and a planned IR degree under your belt, either you have excellent prospects for future employment or you will be over 25 when you finish your education. :lol: 8)
Corlyss what do you mean? :lol: explain yourself. i don't get it :roll:
Part of the reason for the rejection in both countries was the voters didn't think the safety net programs were strong enough, even though they were not the focus or even a part of the Constitution per se. The vote has been referred to as a vote of 'no confidence' in a lot of the European trends, namely the freeing up of the economies to compete in the world of globalization. Since employment is the heart of many of the voters' concerns, my comment addressed the fact that your indifference to the outcome may have more to do with your education setting you up for some very lucrative jobs. You don't have to worry about employment. In France, the recent student riots over the contract provisions underscored that people under 25 form a large pool of unemployment and these people would rather be unemployed with their social benefits than work for a living in an environment where they could be fired. I never understood the argument myself. If they were fired, they'd go right back to the security blanket of the social programs they love so much. Anyway, I assume that when you finish your education, you will be over 25 and if the Netherlands has the same demographic profile as France vis-a-vis 25 year olds, you won't have to worry about being fired when you get a job.

BTW, International Relations was my major in my undergrad studies. I was supposed to go into the State Department, but I couldn't stand the cognitive disconnect implicit in diplomatic service. I would have been fired within a month or lost my values completely.
Last edited by Corlyss_D on Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
Corlyss
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Post by mourningstar » Fri Jun 16, 2006 5:42 am

well, you are absolutley right. you penetrated my ideology perfectly. i for one do not take little concerns on getting a job later on nor do i worry about being fired like i stated with employment latter on . it goes without saying that i will get a job. in that case, you might call me egocentric, but rationality would be more applicable. change is something that needs alot of progressive minds and suppressed conservative minds. for example: the dutch goverment never listened to the people. eventhough most of them felt uncomfertable about the presented ideas. you must know that the netherlands is an chauvinistic country. but i shall not dwell on this. you explained it perfectly.
BTW, International Relations was my major in my undergrad studies. I was supposed to go into the State Department, but I couldn't stand the cognitive disconnect implicit in diplomatic service. I would have been fired within a month or lost my values completely.
So what's your profession?
"Desertion for the artist means abandoning the concrete."

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Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Jun 16, 2006 12:10 pm

mourningstar wrote:in that case, you might call me egocentric, but rationality would be more applicable.
I agree. It's not egocentric to want to take fullest advantage of your assets and avoid needless panic.
change is something that needs alot of progressive minds and suppressed conservative minds.
No kidding! Such minds are having a pretty hard slog with populations who are so risk-averse they would accept decline into equality of genteel poverty rather than the risks of the bounty lying at the end of the globalization rainbow. I don't mean the ol' folks, either. I mean the young folks whose futures are at stake and who should have maximum flexibility. Tony Judt in his most recent book illuminated the mindset for me somewhat, i.e., that the operative emotion in most of their decisions is fear. But to me it's the revival of the dangerously static societies that existed before WW1.
for example: the dutch goverment never listened to the people. eventhough most of them felt uncomfertable about the presented ideas.
So Economist informed me. I swear by Economist.
So what's your profession?
I really had no plans when I graduated. I had taken the Civil Service exam, before the minorities here made it a completely useless tool for hiring purposes. For the first couple of months after I graduated, I helped my mother take care of my dying father. A couple of weeks after he passed, I was hired by the Procurement Division at Cameron Station, then an Army installation in Alexandria Virginia. The rest as they say is history. I spent all of my 35 years and 2 months working for the Federal Government in the field of Federal Acquisition, whether as a contracting officer type or an attorney. I'm retired now.

International relations would have been more glamorous, but like I said, I probably would have been fired within a month. I should have joined the military. I have followed international relations, though, since the Kennedy administration, in part because my father was in Intelligence after he retired from the Army in 1960, and in part because he was getting his Masters and Ph.D in international relations before he died. For a period, he and I were enrolled in the same school, me in the day division and he in the night. One might say it's in my genes.
Corlyss
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Post by mourningstar » Fri Jun 16, 2006 2:52 pm

International relations would have been more glamorous, but like I said, I probably would have been fired within a month. I should have joined the military.
That's interesting. Who was the ruling President? what war was the united states involved in? if it was the vietnam war you might call yourself lucky.
since the Kennedy administration, in part because my father was in Intelligence after he retired from the Army in 1960, and in part because he was getting his Masters and Ph.D in international relations before he died. For a period, he and I were enrolled in the same school, me in the day division and he in the night. One might say it's in my genes.
That's interesting. I am actually thinking of joining the intelligence aswell, after i finish all my degrees though, it makes the profession in laws much more adventurous. you know we are economizing the war on terror. hence it won't be long before the first mass-lawsuits begins. I for one don't hope they put it in the Per-deo work. :lol: :lol:
"Desertion for the artist means abandoning the concrete."

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