European Members:

Discussion in 'Politics' started by conntom, May 5, 2010.

  1. conntom

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,176
    Likes Received:
    146
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Boston (MA, US)
    What do you think of the EU now that it has been around for a few years?

    Current problems aside, do you think it is good?

    Should it stay?

    Should it go?

    Does it need to be tweaked and if yes, how so?

    I'm a curious American - in general my feeling is mixed. I need your input.
     
  2. dandelion

    Verified Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,886
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    598
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    UK
    Verified:
    Photo
    Fine time to be asking, we are a bit busy here with an election. Europe has not been an issue in the election, I think because the political parties are deeply divided internally on whether belonging to the EU is good or bad, with strong feeling both ways. So, like the need for major government cuts, its something no one dares talk about.

    Personally I think, how can it be a question? We live in a world where everything important is done by international agreement. The bigger a block you belong to, the more influence you have. I have many more problems with how the UK government works than the EU and tend to regard the EU as a moderating influence on some of the more rabid national government policies.

    Wait and see what happens at the end of the current recession. We seem to be entering phase 2, which is government cutbacks and defaults. By the end of this the Eu will have firmed up into something different. Either it will have scaled back or it will be firmly entrenched as the future of Europe, depending on whether it does well or badly in the upcoming chaos. This will be a good warm up for the real world disaster due in not too long a time when we may or may not be facing global warming issues, but will certainly be suffering major resource wars.
     
  3. conntom

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,176
    Likes Received:
    146
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Boston (MA, US)
    With all the wars there has been in Europe with one area trying to control the land's of another - was the EU just an agreement to all take over each other? You seem to have too many nations in one small area.

    Do people feel the EU will homogenize the continent and cultures will lose their identity? Will it help or hurt in the centuries old battle against cultures outside Europe that have tried to invade Europe?

    It seems your politics and the motivations of your own left and right spectrums are very similar to what we have going on the US right now.
     
  4. Jason

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2004
    Messages:
    9,929
    Likes Received:
    640
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London (GB)
    Current problems aside, do you think it is good?

    The EEC prevented war in Europe, and helped with the reunification once the Berlin Wall came down. It has made trade far easier. It has done much good. But right now it has a democratic defecit which is terrifying, and is led by an ideology which opposes the wishes of the majority of the half billion citizens and which has attempted to take on the markets. Additionally it has policies which are morally indefensible, particularly the CAP which directly contributes to African poverty. Right now it is not a good thing.

    Should it stay?
    I would favour root and branch reform. But I think the decision is being taken out of the hands of people. In the last few days serious people have begun to talk about the break up of the EU (not the Euro, the EU). It is a fringe view (so far) but it is being expressed. It may just be that the markets will take it down.

    Should it go?
    If the markets take it down it will be horribly messy. But look at the photographs from Greece right now. Here the aspirations of a nation have hit the economic ideology of the Eurocrats. This is wrong - morally, theologically. In the form in which it presently exists it should go.

    Does it need to be tweaked and if yes, how so?
    More than tweaks. It needs a decade of passing measures to repatriate powers to the nation states (and to regions within those nation states). Of course this goes against the empire-building instincts of the European civil servants who want what the poiticians call ever closer union. It needs an assault on financial corruption - the Commission hasn't had its books signed off for years. It needs to get rid of the absurdity of a peripatetic parliament (3 weeks in Brussels and 1 week in Strasbourg). It needs to get rid of CAP. It needs to reform the EU parliament so that the Grand Coalition is broken - what we have at the moment in the EU parliament is one party politics. Maybe financial catastrophe could make it happen. But I doubt it. Right now the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland should leave. If France, Germany and Benelux want to re-create Charlemagne's empire then that is up to them.
     
  5. conntom

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,176
    Likes Received:
    146
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Boston (MA, US)
    Jason,

    That was hands down the best and most informative post I have ever read here on LPSG (save anything that included pictures of Christina Hendricks).

    For that, I say a whole hearted thank you. You have given me many subjects to look up and read about.

    I am always curious about Europe as much of my ancestry is from there (I'm mostly English and Swedish)
     
  6. tomthelad91

    tomthelad91 New Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    A lot of people here are 'Scared' of the EU. There have been many polls done which prove that hatred of the EU decreases with intelligence.
    Un-informed people hate the EU because our right-wing tabloid press have spun the EU into some sort of evil super being. The fact of the matter is is that the EU is pushing through reforms and pro-consumer legislation that our national government wouldn't do because they haven't got the balls.

    A good example is the recent volcanic ash situation.

    Every EU nation is now too small to be a world player now, and even more so in the future. Only by uniting can we be strong and compete with the US & China.

    I find the youth are less EU-Sceptic than the old. But we'll see how important the EU is to people by how many votes UKIP/BNP get tomorrow.
     
  7. dandelion

    Verified Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,886
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    598
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    UK
    Verified:
    Photo
    There are some quite long threads arguing about the EU in the politics section history somewhere. Jason is quite anti-EU whereas Im quite pro, and we and others have debated this quite heatedly.


    The Eu began as a coal and steel agreement between France and Germany, The idea was to encourage trade between the two so they would be friends rather than rivals. I think it is fair to say preventing future wars was a significant aim of the EU, but that was not its sole purpose and it was not the sole method for preventing war. The biggest step preventing future european wars was the enlightened approch to reconstruction and helping people after WWII, in contrast to the demand for reparations and punishment after WWI. Plus, everyone remembered what had happened-twice- and felt it imperative never to repeat it. Just about all the founding fathers who had this motivation are now dead, certainly retired from active politics, so the EU has lost this momentum.

    We dont think we have too many nations. We may have no conception of how big the US, Canada, Australia actually are. If anything, quite a lot of people feel their little nations are very important and worth preserving above all. Also dont forget that, for example, Germany as a state was only created in the late 1800s from many sovereign states. Germany is in reality the united german speaking states. So if you think the countries are small now....

    Yes. But other people dont. Hence some marked disagreement.

    Mostly europe has been content to invade itself or take the battle to others outside. I think it undoubtedly helps us defend ourselves from the likes of the US, which is something of an international bully. I think the US agrees with this analysis and considers the EU a threat to US hegemony. At present the EU does not work as a military organisation, though it may come to do so. It has begun to wield political and financial influence as a single entity.


    probably. i dont think the EU is really a right/left issue.
     
  8. dandelion

    Verified Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,886
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    598
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    UK
    Verified:
    Photo
    Jason's right it has a 'democratic defecit'. It also needs to stop passing new treaties without formally asking countries in referenda whether they agree to this. Jason thinks this is undemocratic, i think the EU undermines itself by expanding without clear consent. But...it was never designed to be democratic.

    The EU at heart is an international treaty which establishes an organisation to carry out the objectives of the treaty. The organisation has three elements, meetings of ministers from each member, permanent commisioners who head the staff and a parliament. It was designed so that essentially everything was decided by unanimous agreement of the ministers, who instricted the commissioners what to do. Over the years it has evolved. Unanimous agreement has given way to majority voting in many areas, the commission has been given powers to originate proposals independantly, and parlaiment has been given a right to be consulted, and increasingly also to veto. The effect of this is that absolute control by appointees of the individual governments has given way to a semi-independant beast, loosely tempered by inadequate parliamentary oversight. It is in transition, from a a branch of national government to something run by its own independantly elected government. At heart it remains controlled by the treaties, which still cannot be changed except by unanimous agreement of every signatory. This becomes more difficult the more countries join.

    Some people always have disliked the EU and wish it didnt exist. I think it is inevitable, the whole of history is about small countries combining into big ones. What is important, is to make sure everyone is happy about this. Which is probably impossible, thus there will always be people who oppose it. Just as there are now people who wish for independence of Wales or Scotland within the UK. There is a Cornish independence party too. If the EU had happened 100 years ago, there is no question europe would now be the world capital, probably controlling most of the globe. Im not in favour of invading anyone, but this is the lesson of fighting instead of coming together.

    Mostly the EU is a free trade zone. Despite its growth into other areas, this is still what it is. the countries remain independant, masters of their own good or bad management. Greeces fall seems to be the result of years of lying about the national accounts. Greek politicians have promised their people what they cannot provide.

    actually, im not sure it does. Many of the more recent changes have been those stripping power from the council of ministers and passing them to the parliament. Some national parties and governments see this as a threat, because in effect the EU powers which were previously under their control are being passed to an independantly elected parliament. I see this as a good thing, on the whole, having little faith in the UK government. But it also has to be remebered that all this was done by unanimous agreement of all the national governments, sometimes against the clear wishes of their own people. The EU is precisely what the national governments wanted to make it.


    not least because the Greek government has been, er, lying a lot. Some countries traditionally have a lot more corruption than others, and this naturally affects EU activity in those countries.

    Yes! but its pork barrel politics. Which one will give up having eu offices there?

    No. Every country had an agricultural subsidy policy before joining and now we have a united one. It has always been a source of argument but has been heavily reformed and was never as unfair as it was reported. Other countries, eg the US, have their own versions, because most nations consider protecting their home food growing industry is a strategic national interest.

    This rather reflects the fact that on the whole its pretty powerless. Whats to disagree about? People complain the EU runs everything, but most issues which are politically controversial are still the remit of national governments.
     
  9. Drifterwood

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2007
    Messages:
    15,725
    Likes Received:
    386
    Location:
    Fingringhoe (GB)
    We are working with the Chinese, Russians, Indians, and South Americans to make sure that you, 5% of the world population have 5% of the world resources, but shhhh, don't tell anyone.
     
  10. Jason

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2004
    Messages:
    9,929
    Likes Received:
    640
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London (GB)
    Ultimately the EU is about identity. It seeks to create a nation state of Europe. My identity is with the British Isles. There is no place for me within the proposed new state of Europe. I look at the agony of Greece and wonder how long it will be before the EU inflicts similar agony on my country. I pity whoever is the next EU victim. Maybe Portugal? Or Spain? We have countries, tens or hundreds of millions of people sacrificed on the altar of the ambitions of the EU politicians. Spain now has 20% unemployment and over 40% youth unemployment. This is a lost generation - yet their misery is an acceptable price for the greater good of the Eurocrats building their empire. Merkel describes the Greek austerity programme as "unthinkable" - so Athens errupts in flames and people die because even the unthinkable must be done to defend the European ideology.

    I have come to regard the EU as an evil comparable to the USSR. I've done quite a bit of travel in Russia after the break-up and I'm not making this as a throw-away comment. The USSR was fundamentally wrong because it put ideology before people. The EU is doing just the same. I know a break-up of the EU would be messy, as was the break-up of the USSR. I would prefer reform of the EU, but I have doubts about whether it can be done. Assuming it can't I would like to see it break up.
     
  11. conntom

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,176
    Likes Received:
    146
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Boston (MA, US)
    I have to say I'm impressed with the level of civility in this discussion although there are differing opinions.

    I'm reading closely and learning a lot. Thank you for taking the time to post here.
     
  12. B_crackoff

    B_crackoff New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2010
    Messages:
    1,742
    Likes Received:
    0
    So different from the US politics threads name calling & jeering eh? There are fundamental disagreements here, but no group bullying.

    I'll be quick.

    What do you think of the EU now that it has been around for a few years?

    What started only as a trade union has moved swiftly towards political union, without any domestic votes on sovereignty. Laws are proposed & made, not in public, or by elected officials - you cannot vote them out - not democratic; all meetings are in secret, & it it has the least transparent process outside of China.

    Current problems aside, do you think it is good?

    All these problems were known about pre-Euro. They went ahead anyway -"it's the right thing to do" type thinking, despite the fact that Greece,Spain & Italy should never have qualified for entry, & were as corrupt as a Ghanaian/or Russian Customs officer.

    Bureaucratic & big Govt people like it. The EU extends tentacles into business limiting working hours, ridiculous health & safety regs. etc. & makes us less competitive.

    They intend to Federalise without a referendum, & break up each countries into regions, destroying nationalities, whilst at the same time protecting the rights of non EU nationalities.

    If it were a trading block - fine. But there is no common language or culture to hold people together. This will be enforced from above, & compliance will be mandatory - "for the greater good". Belgium might break itself in two already, & they've been united nearly 200 years!

    It's not pro liberty at all. I want less intrusion into any aspect, & respect the right of any other citizen to have the same. However, the same institution does not allow such surveillance of its elite - it's like Russia.


    Should it stay?No

    Should it go? Yes

    Does it need to be tweaked and if yes, how so? It should go back to a common economic trading area, & all those theiving criminals in it (some of them lead their countries) should be tried, their assets sequestrated, & made to sit on the naughty step for a very, very, long time.
     
  13. dandelion

    Verified Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,886
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    598
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    UK
    Verified:
    Photo
    Just about every country in the EU uses it as an excuse for unpopular legislation. 'The EU made these regulations and we are stuck with them'. In truth, every EU regulation is just putting into practice what the member states decided to do, yes in secret meetings. Exactly which government does not make its decisions in secret? The Eu government should properly be looked at as a joint cabinet meeting of every EU government.

    All this really comes down to a number of people who resent their country being a small part of something else. Do people in the US resent the fact that their home state is part of a bigger whole or do they like it? Most of it is irrational fear of the unknown. In the UK case, some people still think we deserve an empire...
     
  14. Jason

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2004
    Messages:
    9,929
    Likes Received:
    640
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London (GB)
    Indeed Dandelion is right - in the UK the media blames the EU for just about everything. And some of the blame is ridiculous.

    But some of the ridiculous examples are really true. We've had metrification forced on us. A few years back a group of market traders was prosecuted for selling fruit and veg in imperial pounds. The fate of these "metric martyrs" seemed to indicate the level of Eurocratic idiocy. We like our pounds! I know my weight in stones and pounds - I don't have the foggiest what I weigh in metric. I know my height in feet and inches, not the metric stuff.

    Right now the EU makes more laws that have effect in the UK than does the UK parliament. And that's worrying!
     
  15. dandelion

    Verified Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,886
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    598
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    UK
    Verified:
    Photo
    ah.now, an interesting example. The current situation is that traders are no longer being taken to court over this. The Eu produces regulations which individual countries make into laws. Typically the british overdo this and create laws more strict than is required of them. After much huffing and puffing it has been agreed that this was just such a situation where the British were enforcing more than the EU had mandated. Its a classic example. Eu makes a ruling, British make a tougher one. EU gets blamed for tough rule actually made by the british. The westminster parliament loves to make law. I think the final conclusion has been that you can sell fruit in pounds, but you have to also state the price per kilo. The general upshot though has been much more fruit and veg sold 'per bag' or 'each' rather than by weight.
     
  16. Jason

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2004
    Messages:
    9,929
    Likes Received:
    640
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London (GB)
    The problems of the EU can be seen in Greece. Here we have the ECB + IMF in effect setting the budget for Greece. Now if Greece were not part of the EU:
    a) their currency would have devalued around 5%pa for the last decade so the problem wouldn't have happened in this way
    b) in the mess Greece is now in much of the pain would be taken through devaluation.

    But de facto the ECB is now ruling Greece - and the ECB is dominated by Germany. Greece has memories of a brutal Nazi occupation, and just cannot accept this. The public outcry is showing in the horrible scenes on the streets of Greece.

    Europe is not one nation. We are dozens of nations all with our own systems, customs, cultures. People want to co-operate and trade - they want the old EEC - but not the EU. Opinion polls show a big majority of the half billion people of Europe opposed Lisbon, therefore opposed the EU we now have.
     
    #16 Jason, May 6, 2010
    Last edited: May 6, 2010
  17. dandelion

    Verified Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,886
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    598
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    UK
    Verified:
    Photo
    This thread is fast becoming a re-run of 'what will happen to Greece', which has ranged widely over all the ills of the EU. Jason believes the EU must inevitably drive towards a fully integrated and centralised single state. I think this is nonsense, and on the whole see no reason why it need integrate more than it has. It is true though, that I believe over time people will see its immense advantages and want to integrate more. This is a threat to anyone who wants to keep a wholly independent state for whatever reason. Jason thinks Greece demonstrates why this has to happen. I think it demonstrates nothing of the sort, that whether Greece sinks or swims as an EU and euro member needent really affect anyone else very much. Does California's bankruptcy threaten the US? Its hardly irrelevant, either california or Greece, and something would probably be done, but it doesnt shatter the system. The system, california and Greece are all suffering from the current financial climate. WOuld california be doing better if it was an independant country?
     
  18. eurotop40

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    3,524
    Likes Received:
    122
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Zurich (ZH, CH)
    I wonder: Was the UK created by gentle democratically installed politicians? Did Scotland joyfully join in after asking all its inhabitants? Were all people rich and prosperous? Were all people so educated and polite etc? Did the catholic Irish enjoy all rights? Why did Ireland secede?
     
  19. Jason

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2004
    Messages:
    9,929
    Likes Received:
    640
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London (GB)
    The four home nations of the British Isles have come together over a thousand years through processes which were usually painful. And we are still arguing about what is right and wrong. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have nationalist movements (and there are even English nationalists). Ireland has been split for almost a century, still a painful issue.

    There are enormous advantages of working together - the UK has achieved far more than its parts could have done separately. But there is a real downside also. The EU has all the issues of the UK writ large. There are cultural, linguistic, religious and ethnic divides. There are quite simply different philosophies on how to live life. Europeans often get on well. But that doesn't mean the people of Europe want one country. Most people don't have "European" as their identity. Many struggle with a national identity. There are plenty who view themselves as Scots but not British. And the 150 years of unification of Italy was marked by protests demanding its break up. Belgium exists on a map (but is culturally Flanders, Wallonia, plus Brussels where both Flemings and Walloons work)
     
  20. D_Tully Tunnelrat

    D_Tully Tunnelrat New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2004
    Messages:
    1,168
    Likes Received:
    1
    My favorite part of the EU is the stringent food labeling laws. Ergo Parmesan can only come from Parma, Champaigne from Champagne, etc. Of course it does make sense in a purist sort of way, but it still begs the question, if you make a cheese like Parmesan in Joliet, IL, what do you call it? And if you call it Parmesan, should all the people in Parmesan be entitled to the royalties on the name/process, or only the ones that make cheese? I say it not to be entirely flip, but to point out that the level of minutiae, based on civic pride, that gets discussed, and regulated in fine detail in the EU, but larger, far more critical democratic issues about what it means to be a European do not. What's the old expression: All politics are local. It doesn't seem to matter where you are from for it to apply. The EU would be wise to heed the old aphorism.

    As to the US, Dandy, CA would probably be better off if it were independent, as it is currently the 7th largest economy in the world, and a net donor at 20% of all wages to the Feds for the last 20 years. Only recently, under Obama, have we been getting Federal monies back. CA's case, as I documented at some length elsewhere and so won't repeat, is not an apt comparison to Greece, as the debt to GDP numbers don't compare. CA's debt is 1/10th of GDP, whereas Greece's is 115%+. In many ways, CA's entitlement problems are similar to Greece's, which is why we have a fiscal deficit. Many in CA would like to emulate the european style cradle to the grave system of state support. The Repubs here won't allow that to happen, but there is definite "euro longing" here. Perhaps since we have so many transplants...
     
Draft saved Draft deleted